October, 2010

New International Friends in Spain!

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Jen Yeh in SpainHey there! My name is Jen Yeh and I’m a junior studying accounting and international business. I’m currently in Pamplona, Spain at the University of Navarra for fall semester, and it has been unlike any experience I’ve ever had. Despite the nearly 22 hours of traveling, Alexa and I (the other exchange student from UW) arrived in Spain relatively hassle free. The weather here though at the end of August was humid and unbearably hot for us. So during the first few days of exploring, we nearly melted in the heat. We didn’t realize that the “siestas” between 2pm-4pm everyday, where most the stores are closed, was when everyone hid from the hottest part of the day.

 As for my living situation, I had originally contacted two Spanish girls to live with, but after two weeks of trying to survive in a smoke-filled apartment, I had to move! Thankfully, I was able to find another apartment with two other Spanish girls who are much nicer, and somewhat more hygienic. The meal times… lunch is generally around 2pm and dinner around 9pm. At first that was somewhat difficult to adjust to, being use to eating lunch at 1130am and dinner at 530pm or 6pm! Pamplona itself is a fairly small city, but considered medium-sized in Spain. It’s a bit on the yellow side, but is also surrounded by mountains, and the Pyrenees Mountains are only a two-hour bus ride away. After running nearly all of Pamplona, I was able to find decent running by going towards the nearby towns, Cizur Menor and Cizur Mayor.Spanish SweetsExciting Travels

 It really is incredible the amount of people I’ve met and gotten to know from all over the world. During the first day of orientation, there were people from Australia, Ireland, Iceland, Germany, China, Taiwan, Portugal, Ecuador, Mexico, Italy, Poland, Belgium, Korea, England, France, Brazil, Czech Republic, Canada, Thailand… the list goes on. It was crazy. Some of them had perfect English that I automatically thought they were American. We met at 10am and sat through information sessions for a few hours, had a gigantic pan of paella for lunch (which I couldn’t really eat since it consisted of chicken and a type of seafood that literally looked like snails..let’s just say Spain is not at all vegetarian friendly). Registering for classes was a bit more stressful. We spend the first few days going to classes we think we might be interested in and then we don’t actually solidify a schedule until a couple weeks later. But it works out in the end, even if it is a month later haha

Being in Europe has made me realize how multi-lingual everyone is. Nearly everyone is able to fluently speak two languages, at minimum. When Alexa and I traveled to Bordeaux, France, our waiter spoke English to us, Spanish to the table next to us, and French to another table.  On a side note, the pace of life in Spain is definitely much slower, in contrast to the constant go go go attitude at UW and in the states. Anyhow, until then!  Beach Time!Study Abroad Friends

Spice of Spanish Life!

Thursday, October 21st, 2010
Mexican Dinner Night with Jen and our International Friends

Mexican Dinner Night with Jen and our International Friends

Hey guys! My name is Alexa Parker and I am a junior studying Business and Spanish at the University of Washington. I am currently in Pamplona, Spain for fall semester studying at the Universidad of Navarra along with Jen Yeh, another student at the Foster School. Having this opportunity to explore Spain and Europe has been amazing and I am sad that my time here is halfway over.

The University of Navarra has an extensive international program that makes meeting people and getting integrated into the University so easy. At first this University seems unorganized with figuring out class schedules and registration but I promise that everything does work out, it just happens a little slower than in the United States. I am living with a Spanish girl and I seriously recommend rooming with native Spanish speakers if you have the chance. With meeting all of the international students, it is very easy to speak English most of the time, but my roommate forces me to practice my Spanish.

Pamplona is in the northeast of Spain right on the French border, which means it is relatively close to the rest of Western Europe. The town itself is pretty and quaint but small, at least compared to Seattle. If you are interested in traveling I would advise you to take some weekend trips, which are easy and not terribly expensive if you can go through the budget airlines. So far I have made it to San Sebastian and Valencia in Spain, as well as London and Bordeaux and have booked trips to Barcelona, Geneva, Berlin, Lisbon and Rome. It’s so crazy to think that two months ago I was sitting in Seattle never having been out of the United States in my life. Hasta luego!

How are you going? – Australia’s: How are you doing?

Thursday, October 7th, 2010
Sailing with Locals

Sailing with Locals

It has been busy in Australia over the past weeks. My internship is nearly over and studies will be finished by the end of this month, except finals which usually take place during the middle of November. It is weird to have a few weeks to study for final exams while at UW we have a weekend to do so. I have just returned from my outstanding spring break. It was amazing as I really got to know more of what Australia is all about. Friendly people, good beer, great food and fascinating nature; I visited several places during my 10 days.

First of all I went to Melbourne for some days to see this phenomenal city which all Australians love. It is a very sophisticated town with a unique food culture from all over the world. This place will blow your mind if you are into performing arts, architecture, art and design of any kind, sports, and everything beyond. In addition, I visited the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, located in the southern state near Melbourne.

Melbourne City -- View from Wall Memorial

Melbourne City -- View from Wall Memorial

Next, I went on to Cairns and this beautiful place called Port Douglas, just north 1 hour from touristy Cairns. I stayed in the YHA (Youth Hostel Australia) during my entire trip and I really have to say that it was great. My friends who recommended it to me didn’t lie! You really get your monies worth as they have great facilities and services. In the city we had a BBQ rooftop garden and in the other place there was a pool and spa and much more. Nevertheless, the most valuable was the advice staff gave me on what trips to book and with which operators.

Up in Queensland, I visited the oldest jungle on earth as well as the Great Barrier Reef. I was really stunned as I have travelled to over 25 countries already but have never seen something like this before.  Two hours north of Port Douglas is Cape Tribulation, which is the only spot in the world where two World Heritage Sites meet each other. These are the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef which consists of over 3000 individual reefs stretching along the coast for 2000km.

Helicopter View -- 12 Apostles, Great Ocean Road

Helicopter View -- 12 Apostles, Great Ocean Road

Australia has so much to offer and I need to return someday to see it all, or become a backpacker who works and travels throughout all of Australia. My next trip is coming up in November when I will visit New Zealand but you don’t need to go far to experience amazing Australia. You can find some of the world’s most beautiful beaches just a few hours north of Sydney and enjoy life. Life is good and I will see you all back at UW in January.

Barron Falls -- Kuranda Scenic Railway

Barron Falls -- Kuranda Scenic Railway

4 Mile Beach -- Port Douglas

4 Mile Beach -- Port Douglas