Unwrap the “Souvenir”

Editor’s note: We have a new contributor to join our Fall 2019 blogging team! Yuwei Liu, who is an international student at SDSU, is studying abroad in Germany this fall, providing a unique perspective that will greatly benefit readers. Here is her first entry:

“There is something you will keep year after year, always reminds the thing you have said, far from the memories a long time ago” — “Souvenir” by US sprinter Noah Lyles, US pole vaulter Sandy Morrison and Swiss brand Baba Shrimps at 2019 IAAF Diamond League* final in Zürich.

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Introducing the 2019-2020 Be International Bloggers!

From the Andes to New Zealand and locales in between, the 2019-2020 class of Be International bloggers are scattered across the globe and ready to tell you their stories.

This fall, follow along with nine San Diego State University students scattered across four continents as they complete fall semester and academic year study abroad programs, as well as one international student studying in San Diego.

We’re delighted to introduce the newest Be International bloggers! Let them tell you a little about themselves – in their own words!

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A New Worldview After Two Weeks in Mexico

When I was first told that I would need to complete an International Experience in order to receive my B.A. from SDSU, my initial thought was, “How can I get out of this?” I had never flown on a plane before, never traveled anywhere alone, and never traveled anywhere outside the United States. The thought of doing all of this scared me. I also thought that this trip was going to be a big waste of money. I liked the idea of volunteering, but I have never had the urge to travel and see different parts of the world. I had more negative feelings than excited ones about this trip.

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ISCOR major Ashley McMichael talks Fulbright experience in Belfast

With only two-and-a-half weeks to prepare, Ashley McMichael, a freshman majoring in International Security and Conflict Resolution (ISCOR) took on the daunting task of applying for a UK Fulbright scholarship. She spent “a ridiculous amount of time” writing and reviewing her 1,395-word application and 749-word essay. She passed the rigorous application stage and was invited in for a personal interview. McMichael didn’t feel she performed well during that interview, so when she received the acceptance notice, she had to read it several times before she believed that she, indeed, was selected as one of three scholarship recipients from SDSU. “I was completely overwhelmed and in disbelief.”

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Developing Global Citizens

One of SDSU’s goals is to develop global citizens — as embodied by students like 2019 graduate Marjon Saulon.

Marjon was born in Manila in the Philippines but spent his formative years studying at the Kaohsiung American School in Taiwan after a family move. His studies would eventually lead him to San Diego State University as a business major. After joining the student organization AIESEC (Association for International Exchange of Students in Economics and Commerce), a global nonprofit, Saulon decided that the comparative international studies major would be a better fit for a global citizen.

It was around this time that Saulon returned home for the summer to take an internship in Kaohsiung at the Philippines Consulate, giving him the chance to learn more about the real-world applications of his major.

Like many other SDSU students, Saulon had a study-abroad requirement, and he returned to the region to study criminal justice in Xiamen, China. He experienced a familiar area in a whole new way through the lens of his studies and career interests.

Saulon, who graduated in May 2019 and was chosen as an Outstanding Graduating Senior in the comparative international studies major, continues to explore his professional opportunities through his job at the Philippines Consulate in downtown San Diego. He took a few minutes to reflect on the challenges and rewards of his Aztec Experience.

Q:  What advice would you give to incoming freshmen?

A:  I would give three pieces of advice: embrace your independence, get involved in the community and set a foundation for your career.

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They Welcomed a Stranger


Originally, I was going to have my third post be about my routine and other things I’ve noticed in Georgia, but there’s one story I need to tell first.

When I arrived in Tbilisi, I was initially amazed but also disappointed in little ways. One thing that had been advertised to me was how green the country is. I was told that the country was known for its farmlands, vast nature and abundance of farm animals. I had arrived in the city on Jan. 10, so all the plants were either dead or barren, and there were no animals to be found. It shouldn’t have been a surprise to me, but it was a shock. The closest animals I could find were in the Tbilisi Zoo. Even then, the fact that the wildebeest were housed with the yaks was a bit worrisome to me — they aren’t even from the same continent! Despite my shock, I continued my journey within the city and did my best to find stuff of interest among the Georgian post-Soviet infrastructure. As a girl who prefers the outdoors, it was easiest to find things I enjoyed at Lisi Lake, the animal shelter and inside the number of museums within the city limits.

Recently, my friend Mariam has been taking me to her favorite areas in Georgia. We had planned to visit Kahetsi Lake, but the travel agency had canceled with us last-minute. With our bags already packed and a longing for adventure, we approached a random marshrutka, or minibus in English, asked where there were going and if they had room for two more. They were going to Gudauri, a city known for its snow-covered mountains and ski resort, and they had room for us!

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Travel Insurance: You Probably Shouldn’t — *jumps out of plane*

Might as well go big. Life is too short to not do the things you want to do, am I right?

For those of you who have a slight inclination to go skydiving, 10/10 would recommend. It didn’t really hit me that I was going jump out of a plane until the first person jumped out before me. That’s when I thought, “Oh this is happening.” I got convinced to do a higher jump, so instead of 9,000 feet I did 13,000. It was such a rush. Full send.

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Meeting Other Exchange Students Makes an Impact

As I was getting adjusted to my program, and each of my classes, toward the end of the semester I realized that it wasn’t just academia that was having an impact on me but that I was also going to be profoundly influenced by many of the other exchange students. It then occurred to me that I should interview them so that Americans, and SDSU students specifically, get a glimpse of some exchange students from other countries as well as their lives, character, plans and future goals, stereotypes, etc.

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New Zealand’s Terrorist Attack

I wanted to write briefly about a serious topic this week — the terrorist attack that happened in Christchurch, New Zealand.

On March 15, 2019, I was walking to the bus stop after school. There was a youth march happening to fight climate change, so there was even more hustle and bustle around town. I felt a sense of pride that these kids younger than me were fighting for such an amazing cause to better our future. As I was getting onto the bus, I got a text from my cousin saying there’s been a mass shooting in the South Island. My heart sank.

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