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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In the End, a New Beginning

I have been procrastinating on writing this last post, summing up my experiences while studying abroad in Haifa, Israel. It seemed so final, especially since I’ve been telling everyone to keep their eyes open for this post because I would be sure to put a kind word in for them. It just seemed so awkward, so absolute, so terminating. The last thing I wanted was to feel — or have any of the associations I made feel — was that this was it. The end.

It is not the end.

It is a new beginning.

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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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The Dead Sea Brings Life … Literally!

For the past month or so, I’ve had a terrible bout with pneumonia. Even now as I sit and write, I still feel some effects of the lingering illness.

Nothing is worse than being ill while traveling and studying overseas. It makes it very hard to focus on the curriculum, difficult to obtain a good night’s rest and even harder to enjoy any new functions or activities that may arise while being in a new location.

Homework? Who wants to do homework when you can’t sleep, eat or breathe?

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‘Sorry, I Can’t Speak Chinese Very Well’

When I first started looking at programs for my semester abroad, I never thought that I would end up in Asia. In fact, I had my heart set on either Spain or Australia for a while. However, when I stumbled across a program at National Sun Yat-sen University in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, I just had to look into it.

At the time, Taiwan was quite mysterious to me. I had had layovers in the country, but had never stepped out of the airport. My extent of what I knew about the little island was that there was constant argument over whether Taiwan was a part of China or not, and that the main language spoken there was Mandarin Chinese. I’m not quite sure what it was about the program that won me over, but a little voice inside my head told me that this was the perfect place for me.

So, taking a huge leap of faith, I applied for the university, and started packing my things.

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Cyprus, Here I Come … Again!

Previously, I wrote about a trip that several friends and myself took to Paphos, Cyprus last semester. You can read that post here.

However, how many of you have ever ended your semester feeling completely drained and realized you needed a time of rest, peace and relaxation? How many have ever wanted to just set that heavy backpack down and fall flat on your back and not move your body for at least a week?

Well, I was feeling that way. That’s why I took the opportunity to do a return trip to the Island of Cyprus!

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Learning A New Language Is Like Climbing the Highest Mountain

After a young friend and I finally went through the hassle of our home state’s airport check-in process a few months back, we began to discuss what crosses we would bear once  we began classes at the University of Haifa International School in Israel.

Now mind you, she and I had to already overcome several obstacles during the process of planning our study abroad adventures. Here, I will digress a little and offer an example of a challenge I had to face in order to achieve the goal I’d set for myself.

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