December, 2007

Blog finale de la France…

Friday, December 14th, 2007

Joyeux décembre tout le monde!

I hope everyone is doing well and getting ready for Christmas soon! Everything is going well in Nantes but I’m seriously craving some snow. The last month has been very busy with lots of family visiting, exams coming up very soon, and still so bordeaux.jpgmany things I want to see / do/ eat in France.

At the end of October, I made my way down to meet Ellie in Nice for a week of traveling the Côte d’Azur. The coast was absolutely beautiful but I actually preferred the life once we got further into the heart of Provence. Never having truly wine toured before, I had the pleasure of learning all about wine from the experts at Chateauneuf du Pape and other renowned wineries in the region surrounding Avignon. Being that I was with the chef of the family, Ellie and I enjoyed one amazing meal after another… often shutting down the restaurant, which in France means eating until 11 or 12 at night, so I was quite proud of us. (more…)

Kobe University, the campus

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

About 70% to 80% of Japan is forested and mountainous which is probably why the architects decided to stick a University on the side of a mountain, literally. The city of Kobe lies to the north of Osaka bay and is a main port town, and just to the north of Kobe are the Rokko mountains. It is these mountains which I climb every day to go to school. I have been here for about 2 months already, and as I look back upon my days at the UW I long for the wonderful flatness of the campus and its ease on the legs. However walking is not one’s only option, there is a bus that travels up the mountain for a fixed price of 200 yen, but since I’m somewhat of a “kechi” or stingy person, I enjoy the hike up as long as I save my 200 yen everyday. There is one positive aspect of the University’s location, once you reach the top the view of Kobe is magnificent, and there are many locations on campus where you can sit down to eat lunch while soaking in the vast landscape.

As long as I’m talking about money-saving, I will delve further into this topic which is of great interest to many foreigners living in country with quite a high standard of living. Especially now with the appreciation of the dollar to the yen, I am literally losing money just by letting my U.S. sit in a bank in the U.S. But current exchange rates are besides the point, what I’m basically trying to say is that Japan is really really expensive in my opinion (yes the two “really’s” are really necessary). Some examples:

-Train ticket everyday= 140 yen x 2 ways = 280 yen = $2.50

-Bus ride= 200 yen x 2 ways = 400 yen = $3.58

-Lunch= about 500 yen = $4.47

-TOTAL: $10.55

So that comes to… (more…)

End of First Semester

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

As winter break approaches, it seems strange for me to not be packing up and returning home with all of the friends I’ve made here. Their semesters are over, but I still have one more remaining, so we are in very different places in life. This semester has been amazing, filled with trips and sights that I never thought I would see, but it has also been sort of draining. All of us American students are on a mad rush to see as much of Europe as possible, so school gets put on the backburner at times and money is thrown around for “time of your life” trips. I don’t regret booking trips to London, Stockholm, Athens, Paris or any of the smaller trips around Ireland; I just wish the dollar was stronger so that each trip didn’t hurt the wallet so badly! Although school has been fairly easy compared to classes back home, I was a procrastinator and it was a little stressful at the end when the papers are due and the exams are pending. I don’t know what to suggest to other students traveling abroad, except to not worry about taking out loans or borrowing money from your parents, because although it is spent very easily, it helps the semester really form to your ideal picture of what life is like in another country. Keeping my mind on the fact that I was in Ireland, I learned to not let the little stuff get to me and I had a great semester because of my mindset. I can’t imagine how next semester will go, or for that matter, what life will be like upon my return to the states, but I do know that I’m living a very lucky life right now and I aim to see as much as possible before coming home. After one more exam, I’m off to the south of France for Christmas with a high school friend and then a bit more traveling before classes commence for second semester. It’ll be a strange way to celebrate, without my family celebrations but this entire year has been out of the ordinary so far and I’m loving it!

3 Months in Spain

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

It has now officially been 3 months since I left Seattle.  That figure astonishes me.  I suppose I could now consider Granada as my second home, since I have never stayed three months in one place, other than Seattle and Renton.  The last month has been very eventful for me: I have gone on three weekend trips away from Granada, I finally found a group of guys to play soccer with, I aced my midterms, I have met lots of new people, I have eaten lots of tapas, I grew out a sweet mustache (which is gone now – sorry Grandma), I got my first Spanish haircut, and I have had a lot of fun!

WEEKEND TRIP #3:

On Friday Nov. 16, I took a train with some friends from Granada to Sevilla.  It was about a 4 hour train ride to the West.  We stayed in a very nice youth hostel, which was fun because we met a lot of cool young people from all over the place (Australia, Canada, Italy, US, Mexico, etc.).  Sevilla is a very beautiful city (more…)