China Checklist

Written by Eric Gong, Foster undergraduate

Here’s Five Things That I was able to do:

1. Got a Bike (Early September)

In my last post, I briefly mentioned my bicycle. However, I wasn’t able to pay the full respects that its due. This is my way of amending that. 



I’m borrowing the bicycle from distant relatives here in Beijing, which is what it looks like  too. The relatives live near the Beijing Zoo, so I was able to ride from around there back to school. Despite all the people and cars, I enjoyed the opportunity to ride a bike again. Walking around everywhere was getting a little old. And it was fun to see some of the city.

Most people’s first reaction to my bike is usually laughter—though I don’t find it all that funny. I think people must be under the impression that I actually bought the thing, which in that case would be that I’ve been swindled out of my mind. Really, if this wasn’t a family artifact, then I’d have to get paid to ride it. But hey, it looks pretty nice. Picture me riding.

2. Olympic Stadium (Early October)

I vividly remember watching the 2008 Olympics and really like the Olympics in general, so dropping by here really was a no-brainer. We didn’t actually go in the stadium*, so I wasn’t able to do my Usain Bolt impression. Maybe that’s for the better


*Decided against it cause of money and time

3. They Could Be Royals (Early October)

I was also able to visit the Summer Palace, which ended up being one of my favorite places. Unfortunately, I forgot to put in the memory into my camera when I left. That meant that my phone was left up to the duty of pictures. To my surprise, it was more than up to the task. The views inside really were spectacular.




4. Biked Across the City (Mid October)

I got the crazy thought that cycling across Beijing with the school’s cycling club would be a good idea. So we left at 9:00 pm and I got back to my room at around 2:00am. The last 10 kilometers was the worst part because cause there were no sights to left to see and I wanted to sleep. Despite this and the pollution,I thought the experience was a good one. It was fun being able to see this city at night, including Tienanmen Square andthe lights at 后海. And hey, I got some exercise in as well. The 50 kilometer trip was well worth it.

5. APEC Holiday

Thanks to the APEC Conference that was being held, all the students in Beijing got an extra five days off at the beginning of November. I spent that time at 张家界 with some classmates. 张家界 is said to be the inspiration behind the film Avatar. I’ve never watched the film, so I’ll let you be the judge of that.


Posted by goabroad - February 9th, 2015 - 0 comments - Permalink

Second Chances

Written by Eric Gong, Foster undergraduate

Yup, I gave it another try. After I tried 臭豆腐 (stinky tofu) in Taiwan a few years ago, I swore that I would never try it again. It tasted just like how it smelled and I honestly despised the taste. It looks as if my resolve has weakened over time. My food philosophy has evolved over time. Local foods and fermented foods are both of greater interest to me.  臭豆腐 fit into both of these categories, so when I was in 长沙, I decided to go for this local specialty*.


*Hard to see in the picture, but this type of 臭豆腐 came in a soup. It is made differently than the Taiwanese kind. It smells about the same though.

One of my friends gave his assessment and I think it sums it up pretty well: “It just tastes like tofu”. I’d agree that it really just tasted like tofu, green onions, and chili peppers. It’s the after-taste that’s special; lingers in the mouth for quite a while, which was certainly not a plus for me. But 臭豆腐 has now moved into a zone closing to acceptance. I’m still not fond of it, but this polarizing Chinese snack could probably warrant a few more tries from me.

Posted by goabroad - February 6th, 2015 - 0 comments - Permalink

Climate Challenges in China

Written by Eric Gong, Foster undergraduate

Beijing’s air can get really dirty, and when it does, it stays dirty for days at a time. The pollution puts a hazy tone on everything. It really is no fun when it happens. It’s too hazardous to go running. People have to wear masks*. The smog clouds the sun. Everything is gray.


*Without one, some people start coughing. It’s never been that severe for me. But for me, my throat feels really dry and I start to feel my lungs

For reference, Seattle’s Air Quality Index is a 40 on a bad day. Beijing on a good day is around 100. However, there are the very best days, which are around 40. But then the winds blow the smog away. And everything changes.  Beijing is better when the skies blue. But the gray ones make us appreciate the wind.




Posted by goabroad - February 6th, 2015 - 0 comments - Permalink

Day Trip to Utrecht

Written by Emily Zehm, Foster undergraduate

A friend and I decided to spend one of our Saturdays exploring the city of Utrecht, which is about a 40-minute train ride away from Rotterdam Centraal Station. I had heard that it was a cute little town and was excited to check it out. I am so glad I did because this day ended up being one of my favorite days of my study abroad experience.

We spent the morning walking up and down the cobblestone streets and seeing the main sites like Sint Willibrordkerk Church, Domtoren, and Domkerk. After that we explored some of the shops, and walked through a tiny farmer’s market with a huge selection of beautiful, fresh flowers. We then walked through the Utrecht University campus before grabbing dinner at a nice restaurant on the river.

To end our trip we followed these lights on the ground in order to get self-guided, nighttime tour of the city. These lights are embedded in the cobblestone and are supposed to give tourists a nighttime experience that they call “Trajectum Lumen.” The lights ended up being pretty far apart and relatively hard to follow, but it was still a fun adventure. Utrecht is much smaller than Rotterdam, but it also has a lot of charm and character. I would highly recommend visiting this city for anyone that is studying abroad in the Netherlands!



Posted by goabroad - February 4th, 2015 - 0 comments - Permalink

Getting Oriented Abroad

Written by Emily Zehm, Foster undergraduate

For International Business Students studying abroad at Erasmus during fall quarter, there is a mandatory orientation that is a 3-day, 2-night excursion. For my orientation we all took a bus to Maastricht, Germany. All of the International Business Students stayed at a hostel together where we got the chance to listen to guest speakers, get to know each other through group discussions, and participate in fun games and bonding activities. I left this orientation really feeling like I had made some close friends.

We were also paired up with a “buddy” who is a matriculated student at Erasmus University and is in charge of helping us get settled. My buddy’s name is Yanbin, and he gave me some advice on how to succeed in my classes and where I can purchase a bike. For anyone reading this that is going to Erasmus make sure that you join the Facebook group titled “Commodity Market Rotterdam”. This is where people post about anything they are trying to sell, and you can find a ton of secondhand bikes this way!

My favorite part of this orientation was the last night, where we did a talent show. It seemed a bit ridiculous and juvenile to me when we were first told we would be doing it, however, it turned out to be a really good bonding experience and a lot of fun.


Posted by goabroad - February 4th, 2015 - 0 comments - Permalink

Making International Friends

Written by Nancy Shao, Foster undergraduate

One of the best decisions I made in Korea was signing up for the intensive Korean language classes. Even though it was two hours every day Monday to Friday, I learned a lot of Korean and really bonded with my amazing classmates. We had people from the Netherlands, England, Phillipines, China, Canada and America all in that one classroom. It was the first time I was in such a diverse situation. We all became really close friends and it makes me sad to think we will probably never all be gathered in the same place again.


Our teacher was really nice too even though she didn’t speak much English, we would communicate with bits of Korean, English and Charades. By the end of level 1, we learned how to order food, tell time, haggle and read. Reading is really important I realized. You just feel so insecure when you’re in a country where you are illiterate. You don’t know where you are if you can’t read road signs and it’s hard to find restaurants and even the bathroom. Life got a lot better in Korea after I learned how to read. It was like the world finally started making sense. Karaoke was definitely a lot easier. I also realized I lived next to a lot of fried chicken and beer places.


Posted by goabroad - January 26th, 2015 - 0 comments - Permalink

Dressing the Part

Written by Nancy Shao, Foster undergraduate

Some friends and I went to a tiny palace in Insadong called “Unhyeongong”. The reason we went to this one instead of the larger and more famous Gyeongbokgong was because there was no entrance fee for this one and our primary goal was to take Hanbok pictures! A must do for every foreigner traveling to Korea because we are all curious to see how we look as a citizen in the Joseon dynasty. I should’ve worn a shirt without a collar though because we had to wear the hanbok over our normal clothes and my collar showed so I had to tuck it in. My friend Rebecca had to wear a child size one because all of the other ones were too big for her. You can tell because it had a velcro closing instead of the normal ribbon you tie in the front. We did get some nice pictures and the weather was quite nice as well. 



Posted by goabroad - January 26th, 2015 - 0 comments - Permalink

Spa Day in Seoul

Written by Nancy Shao, Foster undergraduate

A Korean friend took us to one of the biggest jjimjilbangs in Seoul “Dragon Hill Spa” or “Yongsan Spa”. The big sign says students who took the Korean college entrance exam can get in for free. It makes me wonder if we ever got any perks for completing the SAT. Well we probably don’t have it as hard as they do so they deserve a relaxing day in one of the best spas in Seoul! When we first entered, we were met with pictures of famous Korean celebrities that have been to this jimjjilbang. Among them were “Girl’s Generation” and the cast of the hit variety show “Running Man”.



The jjimjillbang is really big and has an arcade, spa, movie theater, PC room and a restaurant. We ate dinner in the restaurant and our Korean friends taught us how to make “Sheep Hair” by rolling up the towels. I’ve only seen this done in the dramas but it was on my “to-do” list. I proudly wore my sheep hair around the spa.


Posted by goabroad - January 26th, 2015 - 0 comments - Permalink

The Beautiful Cinque Terre

Written by Mayowa Laniran, Foster undergraduate

I hiked and explored Cinque Terre, which are beautiful and colorful towns on the Italian Rivera. The journey from town to town was about two hours of hiking, but well worth it each time, and I got to eat some great food along the way. Since it was still September, the weather was great, and the group I went with decided to get on a boat to go explore the two towns we were too tired to hike to. Cinque Terre is definitely one of my top recommendations of places to visit in Italy.


Posted by goabroad - January 23rd, 2015 - 0 comments - Permalink

Casa di Clooney in Como

Written by Mayowa Laniran, Foster undergraduate

Como Lago (Lake Como) is a place where the wealthy keep vacation homes and I see why. Como Lago is about an hour from Milan, and the town of Como offers a lot for such a small area. We took a trip with ESN, and got a boat tour of the entire lake, the coolest site was George Clooney’s house. With over 100 exchange students participating, it was a great opportunity to meet new friends. A sky tram took us up to the mountains of Como, where we were able to look down on the city for a very cool view. There were an endless strip of mansions up there, and lots of cool sites.

Posted by goabroad - January 23rd, 2015 - 0 comments - Permalink