A Cultural Illumination in Justice

The recipe of a successful study abroad experience typically carries a checklist of core requirements: enthrallment in culture and society, academic captivation and meeting the right people.

You can have two out of the three and still call it a wonderful experience — but my personal list can go on, filled with checks that have made my study abroad experience one of the most memorable trips in my short but fruitful college career.

As a result, I am coming home with an extra beat and note to add to the incessant rhythm and melody of my life.

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Lessons From a Samurai

If you had told me four months ago that I would have the chance to be able to swing a real katana, I probably would’ve laughed in your face. I would respond with something like, “No way, I’m way too clumsy for that.” However, a few weeks ago I got to do just that, and I learned quite a bit from it too.

Some friends and I had been planning a trip to Japan for some time. One of the reasons we went was that one of my friends was from Japan and was about to start a summer internship in Tokyo. So, jumping at the opportunity, we decided to have a last hurrah before the end of the semester and the four of us proceeded to book our tickets and accommodations.

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Coming Home; The Biggest Culture Shock of them All

I’m now back home after what was an amazing, life changing experience in Thailand. I know that the people I met will be friends when I come back to San Diego for school and the life lessons I learned will stick with me forever.

After starting the program in Chiang Mai, we spent the remainder the last 5-6 days in Bangkok. Bangkok is, as my former JMS teacher would say, is an “entirely different animal.” Bangkok is much more populated than Chiang Mai and a lot more busy.

Every night the city streets would be bustling with street vendors and tuk tuks and taxi drivers.

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Leaving My Heart in Ho Chi Minh City

I can’t really pinpoint where to begin with this beautiful city, but as my second week comes to an end I can only say this place has only amazed me more and more with each passing day.

Residing in the city of Ho Chi Minh and being surrounded by the locals has allowed me to have one heck of an experience thus far. Through the food, the culture and the people I’ve met, this experience has reminded me again how much I love traveling!

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Remembering Akko

Studying abroad has provided me an amazing immersion into different cultures, people, languages, foods and so much more. Not only have I had the wonderful opportunity to study and learn the ways of the Israeli people, but I have had the chance to visit so many other places that I probably never would have had the chance to see otherwise.

Recently — not too long after being diagnosed with pneumonia, and with the condition still lingering for some unknown reason — I was invited to take a boat cruise to Akko, Israel (also known as Acre). The boat ride was lovely. It was more like taking a relaxing cruise ship into the unknown and coming upon an historic walled city rising from the sea.

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New Experiences in Thailand

To say I was under-prepared for this journey would be an understatement. I wasn’t under-prepared in the sense that I didn’t know how to navigate airports by myself or travel in another country alone. As cheesy as it sounds, I was under prepared for the amount joy and pure fun that would happen on this program.

My first impression of Thailand was that it is more industrial than I imagined. A lot of the movies and pictures you see of Thailand are of the gorgeous beaches and thick jungles. Which is true — there are many beautiful beaches and being in the jungle here feels like you’re either on a movie set or on another planet.

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