2017 International Photo Contest Tournament: Round 2

It’s time once again for the SDSU International Photo contest, featuring photos submitted by SDSU students! This year we’re choosing our People’s Choice Award through a 40-photo tournament, with winners decided by online voting right here on the Be International blog. Voting is now open for Round 2 below, so pick your favorites of the 20 photos remaining!


The theme of this year’s contest is “Defying Imagination: Images that depict something that you did not expect, or that helped you imagine life in another context during your international experience.”

The contest was open to domestic students on study abroad programs and international students studying at SDSU. For more information on the contest and to view past years’ winners visit this website.

You will vote on images head-to-head, with the winners of each vote advancing on to the next round. Voting in each round will be open for one day.

Please note: voting for the first place, second place, third place and honorable mention has already been conducted and will be announced and displayed during Family Weekend. The People’s Choice Award is… less scientific. SO VOTE EARLY AND VOTE OFTEN.

And now, the voting:

Berber Music vs. Street Art by Bordalo II

Berber Music

Location: Marrakech, Morocco
Narrative: Walking the streets of Marrakech, I felt uneasy. I found myself spinning in circles trying to avoid motorcycles and pestering salesmen. Suddenly, I heard one sound above all. It was unlike any sound I had heard before, but somehow it was familiar to me. I followed the noise which led to this man. I was nervous to be in a new place, perhaps even afraid, but his music and his smile brought me comfort.
First Round result: Defeated Plaza De España 97-81.

Street Art by Bordalo II

Location: Lisbon, Portugal
Narrative: This photo showcases extraordinary street art by Bordalo II, who was born in Lisbon in 1987. I was astonished by this giant raccoon installation made from tires, damaged car parts, appliances and other trashed objects. This artwork helped me understand that there is no limit to creativity. It also opened my eyes to the amount of waste production which could lead to serious ecological problems if we stop recycling.
First Round: Defeated Through the Castle Door 147-112.

Pinwheel Dreams vs. Fascinating Fireworks

Pinwheel Dreams

Location: Kawagoe, Japan
Narrative: Every summer at the Kawagoe Shrine people gather to celebrate, and write their dreams and wishes on wind chimes. This picture shows a woman wearing her traditional yukata, standing in the middle of her dreams, and the dreams of others, wondering how many will come true.
First Round: Defeated Ideal Home 148-41.

Fascinating Fireworks

Location: Tokyo, Japan
Narrative: This photo was taken my last night in the suburbs of Tokyo. I wanted to take photos of passing trains’ reflections in the river; however nothing came of it. While walking home, I noticed kids playing with fireworks under a unique bridge and was able to capture the moment. I believe this shows that even if you cannot find what you are looking for, if you keep your head up you can find something even better.
First Round: Defeated Flip flip, hooray! 95-87.

Fleeting Sakura vs. Tradition Speaks Volumes

Fleeting Sakura

Location: Kawagoe, Japan
Narrative: While I was wandering the backstreets of Kawagoe, a sudden gust of wind blew against a single tree, sending cherry blossoms into the air for a fleeting moment like a scene out of a drama and unlike anything I could ever imagine. The split second during which petals filled the alleyway highlighted how Sakura to many Japanese are a metaphor for the fleeting, bittersweet nature of youth; similar to how my time abroad flew by.
First Round: Defeated Playtime 122-65.

Tradition Speaks Volumes

Location: Beijing, China
Narrative: This photo captures the life and pure serenity of China. There is a greater meaning in traditional buildings as it reflects the respect and appreciation of Chinese history and culture. Walking along these unpaved paths, so close to the water, I was able to be in tune with the beauty that surrounds me.
First Round: Defeated Speechless 145-134.

Golden Slumbers vs. Where Worlds Collide

Golden Slumbers

Location: Lima, Peru
Narrative: This photo was captured in a park that uses fountains as art displays and as ways to celebrate the Peruvian Culture. The water droplets appear as if gold pieces floating in space or streamers falling down from the sky. The gold color symbolizes one of the country’s greatest resources.
First Round: Defeated Sistine Chapel Ceiling 190-49.

Where Worlds Collide

Location: The Andes Mountains, Ecuador
Narrative: The Andean galaxy. Apparently, passed mankind’s blanket of smog and pollution, our celestial nebula is brimming with these things called stars. As I took this shot a wild realization slapped me awake — this is the glorious spectacle we should all be taking in every night. Stargazing should be a commonality for us all, not a rarity. No contamination, no blockage. Just a pure, untainted cornucopia of distant worlds.
First Round: Defeated Uneven Balance 115-56.

Spaceship vs. Snow Struck


Location: Liverpool, United Kingdom
Narrative: Shocked with the amazing architecture and the reigning silence in the Central Library of Liverpool, surrounded by books and letters … I imagined myself in a spaceship traveling out to explore new worlds. Reminds me of my first days in England realizing that I was out of my comfort zone trying to adapt to a new culture and environment. Represents the beginning of my experience abroad.
First Round: Defeated Tranquil Imagination 209-97.

Snow Struck

Location: Yokote, Japan
Narrative: “It’s snowing!” As a kid born and raised in southern California I would never thought I have the opportunity to say those words. I never imagined leaving home and not knowing how beautiful the world could be under a blanket of snow. Japan with its beautiful scenery knows how to display its beauty and it only made my inner child only want to scream that much more as my fantasy was reality.
First Round: Defeated Pastel Fairytale 137-63.

Typical Tourist vs. The Land of Lavender

Typical Tourist

Location: San Diego, United States (submitted by international student)
Narrative: I was typically taking one of those touristy photographs at Ocean Beach (of a lifeguard hut numbered 2 ) when I noticed a couple’s reflection in the window. It was a beautiful coincidence, to catch with the sun setting, and I couldn’t help but feel a connection between the number two and this couple.
First Round: Defeated Das Märchen 375-96.

The Land of Lavender

Location: Greoux-Les-Bains, France
Narrative: Already exhausted from our morning excursions, I was honestly not going to get off the bus when it pulled off the side of the road. But as soon as my feet touched the edge of the sweetly scented lavender bush, I suddenly felt so overwhelmed with this vast sea of purple in front of me. My favorite quote rang true in that moment … “How rare and beautiful it truly is that we exist.”
First Round: Defeated It Takes a Village 120-52.

Above the Clouds vs. Catedral de Leon

Above the Clouds

Location: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Narrative: Who knew that the cheapest plane ticket would lead to the most rewarding experience of my life. Although you needed to reserve a spot a month prior to climb Mt. Kinabalu, an ad in my hostel advertised one extra spot so I took it. After a 6 kilometer hike to base camp and waking up at 2 a.m. to climb the last 3 kilometers, I found myself 13,435 feetabove the clouds, watching a glorious sunrise.
First Round: Defeated Grand Buddha 114-44.

Catedral de Leon

Location: Leon, Nicaragua
Narrative: Studying in Managua, Nicaragua, I was surrounded by tall city buildings, fast cars and so many people. When I traveled north of the city I came upon Leon, Nicaragua, and I found myself surprised by how different it was from the capital. The European culture mixed with Nicaraguan culture was seen in this city. The Catedral de Leon is the centerpiece of the city and on the top of the church people can walk and see views of the landscape.
First Round: Defeated Volcano Surfing for the First Time 93-61.

Mindlessly Grazing vs. Kindness of the Heart

Mindlessly Grazing

Location: Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
Narrative: While hiking through Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, my program and I stumbled upon a herd of grazing cows. They were seemingly oblivious to the beauty of the cascading waterfall behind them. The scene called for a moment of introspection, as we questioned what sights we often took for granted while going through mundane, daily routines and brought a new appreciation for everyday beauty.
Final Round: Defeated Bo-Kaap Houses in front of Lion’s Head 118-84.

Kindness of the Heart

Kindness of the Heart

Location: Ludian, China
Narrative: One student I taught surprised me with her kindness and gifted me with a purple elephant named Elly. She wrote me a note that said, “As the saying goes, to have friends from far away is a joy and I now have a friend from America, such a joy. Elly will keep you safe during your journey abroad.” Throughout my travels in China Elly accompanied me, reminding me of the unexpected kindness from my student.
First Round: Defeated The Children of Zojo-ji Temple 132-76.

Ponte Vecchio at Night vs. Gateway

Ponte Vecchio at Night

Location: Florence, Italy
Narrative: Absolutely breathtaking and defying all of the scenes in my wildest dreams, the lights twinkle along the Ponte Vecchio at dark. I would stroll by this picturesque scene nightly to take in the serene sights and ponder life in this magical city.
First Round: Defeated They Alleys 133-57.



Location: Dornie, Scotland
Narrative: Observing the Eilean Donan Castle of the Scottish Highlands in such a docile state made my imagination run wild, back to a time when this castle was the western gate to the country. I thought of the families who occupied the castle and defended the region for over 700 years. This imposing monument was a gateway into the past, and was a standout among many highlights from this program.
First Round: Defeated Venice of the North 87-67.

Integration vs. My Moment of Awe


Location: Seoul, South Korea
Narrative: Hongdae, an exuberant neighborhood located in Seoul, is where the distinct Korean culture and customs are uniquely exhibited in a modernized fashion. Hongdae houses numerous restaurants, galleries, markets, and performance stages, allowing people like me to not only see but, altogether, live the unimaginably integrated life and culture.
First Round: Defeated A Queen’s View 86-79.

My Moment of Awe

Location: Barcelona, Spain
Narrative: During my travels as an international student one of the first place I went was Spain. While there I visited one of the most famous attractions the Sagrada Familia. I was humbled by the Sagrada due to its scale and detail and while there I felt for the first time in my life true awe: the feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear and wonder.
First Round: Defeated The American Dream 69-64.


See more student-submitted international photos by following SDSU Be International on Instagram.

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