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Finland »

I had very little knowledge of Finland before arriving there. All I knew is that it was cold, really cold.

The second I got there I was greeted by this beautiful, slender, blonde girl named Mari who spoke English more properly than me. She was my tutor and luckily, she was one of the very few Finnish students with a car to carry me and my two oversized suitcases to my new student apartment. Read the rest

The First Beach – Perth, Australia »

This image captures the moment that I walked onto a beach during my study abroad experience in Perth, Australia for the very first time. Some friends and I had taken a short road trip north from Perth to visit a national park and go camping.  We found the perfect spot to set up camp behind some sand dunes at the end of a very twisted, old, and forgotten road.  After climbing over the dunes for a bit we finally arrived at the beach.  It was small, vacant, and beautiful.  This image reminds me of the immense excitement and happiness I was feeling at that moment. I had several months of adventuring and exploring in store for me and I felt so content.  Being back here in the US makes me feel a bit detached from my experiences in Australia.  Having these pictures to look at helps me to remember all the good times and makes me feel very thankful that I was able to spend a semester abroad.  Aussie Aussie Aussie!!!

“You can walk up and down the same road for an entire decade and always find something new in London” Advise given to me by a Londoner »

This picture details my first time that I was able to go into the City. On the first day that we were able to go into the city , which was about two days after arriving, my host University (University of Roehampton) took all international students out into the city for what called a “Photo Frenzy”. It was a way to help get to know our way around the city, which consisted of dividing into groups of people and attempting to figure out the Tube, Overground and Bus system. Our team got lost, and that was the best part! While we were getting lost we stumbled upon Westminster Abbey and Parliament! Which is where this picture was taken! It was absolutely amazing and stunning. I feel this picture perfectly covers the aspect of this city. After being in London for three months, there are still so much more to see. As I was informed several times by several individuals(ranging form professors, flatmates, parents of flatmates) who were born and lived in London, you could live in London all your life and still discover something new.

Che Bella Italia »

Burano, Italy. A small island town near Venice. I chose this picture because it is one of the most beautiful pictures I took of one of the most beautiful places I went in Italy, where I studied this past semester. The vibrance of the houses combined with the tranquility of the water is a good metaphor for Italy, where the people are very animated and colorful like the houses, but the society and the day is very leisurely and calm, like the water. To this day Burano remains one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my life and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to visit while I was abroad.

Tokunoshima, Japan »

This is a picture of me and a few friends on the highest point on Tokunoshima Island Japan. The guy on the right is actually a Willamette alum, who I met by chance during my stay there. It was about an hour long hike to the top in which we had to be weary of the “habu” (poisonous snakes) that lived in the surrounding forest.

Chilangolandia aka Mexico City »

On Top of the World »

During my mid-semester break in Perth, Australia, a group of 14 students, including me, road tripped 14 hours up the coast, to hit Karijini National Park. It is one of the most beautiful places in the middle of the outback, with lots of gorges and hikes. This picture was taken at the top of Mt. Bruce which is the second tallest mountain in all of Australia. It took us two and a half hours of serious hiking to make it up there. It was quite a feet, but the journey and the view at the top made it all worth it. There was no other moment like that the entire trip for me. It reminded me that hard work, laughter, and good friends can get you anywhere in life. Whether it be a job, a personal accomplishment, to just a really tough hike, it was completely worth it.

Wales »

This image was taken in Snowdonia in Wales and is possibly my favorite picture from my time abroad. Although I studied in Leicester, England, I took a trip out to Wales with some friends and we decided to do a hike in Snowdonia. Winds were blowing furiously and the ground got marshier as we went, but the views were spectacular and the isolation from technology and industry was indescribable. My friend took this photo of me on my camera while I wasn’t paying attention and I love that it captured a moment of peace in the midst of all of the chaos of being abroad in a completely foreign place.

Kutna Hora… A creepy history but a beautiful town »

Kunta Hora is famously known for the bone church, Sedlec Ossuary. This ossuary is a small Roman Catholic chapel that contains 40,000-70,000 bones that were placed in a decorative arrangement. The reason for the mass amount of bones was due to the exhuming of skeletons and staking them in a pile in the chapel. Between 1703 and 1710 Jan Santini Aichel designed the new front entrance to the chapel in Baroque style. In 1870 Frantisek Rint was employed by the famous Schwarzenberg family to make a masterpiece from the mass pile of bones.

The town of Kutna Hora is an adorable town in central Czech Republic. We had a wonderful day exploring not only the Ossuary, but two Catholic churches and the mysterious streets around town. Above are some highlights from our day trip and the beautiful town.

GRANADA!! »

That’s me eating snails as a tapa in the bar right by my apartment. I was with my host mother and compañera de casa, totally in love with the newness of it all. Studying abroad was all about trying to things, eating new things, going to new places. I think you can tell by my face that I was pretty excited. Sometimes it was difficult to adjust, but then you remember you’re in Spain, and it’s going to be okay. There are so many tapas to eat.

Turkey »

A mid semester excursion from Istanbul to the south of Turkey for some deep water soloing was a highlight of my time abroad. Affordable domestic flights and over night buses made seeing the country easy and practical. Few things rival a week of climbing on the Mediterranean coast.

Study Abroad in Spain »

The Alhambra and Sierra Nevadas are important and famous landmarks of Granada, Spain.

Hallstatt, Austria »

Hallstatt, Austria

Pinhole Photographs in Rome, Italy »

These images were taken near the art campus at John Cabot University in Rome, Italy. Both were taken as part of my pinhole photography class, so both were shot with pinhole cameras. I made my camera from a small 6×9 inch wooden box with a hole the size of a pin cut into one side.

Photographing ancient buildings and structures throughout my semester abroad helped me learn to observe all of the small details present in structures in Rome. The first photo depicts 3 statues along the top of a church adjacent to the art campus. This inside of this church was extraordinary; however, every single church throughout Rome was comparably decorated and similarly beautiful. Studying fresco painting in close proximity to these gorgeous structures was pretty magical because if I was stuck on how to depict something in my class, I could walk next door and closely observe the work of masters who lived centuries before.

The second photo is of a street performer outside of Castel D’Sant Angelo. This ancient castle was where cardinals, priests, and the pope met before the Vatican was erected. Now a museum, it is a popular tourist destination. In Rome it is common for street performers to gather outside of famous landmarks and popular tourist sites. I remember the day that I took this photo, it was an ordinary day in class, but looking back on it now, the fact that I got the opportunity to take this picture is remarkable. Using a primitive form of photography to document these sites and structures helped me improve my observation skills and my ability to “see as an artist.”

I feel that both of these photos capture the degree to which I felt inspired (very) while studying in Rome. In the next 10 years, I would love to be granted to opportunity to return and create more art.

Argentina 2014 »

Ave 9 de julio

The 8 months I spent abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina were phenomenal! Not only did I learn more about myself and how to carry myself through different groups of people, I learned more about the importance of establishing an international civil community. Read the rest

Prague »

Baroque Church, Old Town Prague

Living the Dream »

Hanging on my wall above my bed is a picture from a calender of the golden temple in Japan.  The calendar had been a gift my father had brought back for me from Africa.  It was a themed calender that contained pictures of some of the most beautiful and culturally distinct locations around the world.  As I flipped through it I remember thinking how amazing it would be to go to one or all of the places captured in the glossy photographs.  Two photographs caught my attention, one was a waterfall in Bali, and the other was the golden temple in Japan.  When I was done with the calender, I cut these photos out so that I could continue to enjoy them, dreaming of the day that I might get to see them in person. They represented my larger dream to travel, and more specifically to live in Japan.  Almost six years later, I stood at the very building that I had so admired, living out my dream as a student in a foreign country.  To actually live out a wish or dream that I had had so many years before is a feeling that is almost impossible to describe.  It contains happiness, satisfaction, nostalgia, and a little bit of sadness.  For once you have accomplished a dream it is the end of one journey, now I have to go searching for a new aspiration, a new goal.  I can only hope that I am lucky enough and driven enough to rise to the occasion once again.

Igloos and Ice Shots in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden »

Chilling in the Arctic Circle

Traveling to the north of Sweden was a breathtaking adventure from seeing the Northern Lights to dog sledding and a night filled with frozen shot glasses. Nothing prepared me for the beautiful frozen tundra with colorful lights dancing across the snow. If I had been told a year earlier that I’d be visiting an indigenous group of Swedish natives and drinking reindeer stew from a wooden bowl I would’ve told them they’re crazy. Read the rest

Don’t look them in the eyes! »

This is a photo taken on a mountain called Arashiyama in Kyoto, Japan.  This mountain is a Japanese macaque monkey sanctuary.  From the base of the mountain it is 30 minute hike to the top, where you can purchase bags of peanuts and apple slices to feed their troop of over 170 macaques.  These little guys are known for stealing from visitors, so watch out!

Hiking Mt. Fuji »

While in Japan a group of us JSP students decided to hike Mt. Fuji or as they refer to it in Japanese, Fuji-san.  The hike went over the course of two days.  We took a bus to the 5th summit where everyone starts hiking.  We left there around 12-1pm and were immediately drenched by a sudden downpour of cold mountain rain.  We pressed on,  hiking until around 4pm where we stopped at a Yamagoya (mountain hut).  We stayed in the mountain hut, dried off, ate dinner and rested until 11pm where we left and continued our trek with the goal of reaching the summit of Mt. Fuji by sunrise.  We made it to the top with about 20 minutes to spare.  The sunrise from the top was amazing and seeing the sun’s rays slowly pierce through the sea of clouds was truly an enlightening experience.  I definitely recommend hiking Mt. Fuji  o anyone staying in Japan for a period of time.  That being said I don’t think I would ever do it again, as they say “everyone should hike Mt. Fuji once, but only a fool would hike it twice”.

A Day in Hiroshima, Japan (Spring 2014) »

This photo was taken at the river by the A-bomb dome in Hiroshima, Japan. On the day my group and I visited Hiroshima, hundreds of middle school and high school students thronged the park and museum grounds. Many of these students were organized and singing like a choir. I took special notice of this particular performance as it was being filmed and conducted in a very organized and formal manner. Their voices in song floated over the river and added an odd serenity that contrasted greatly with the sight of the A-bomb dome. It was interesting and a little sad, considering the horrors Hiroshima faced as a result of the atomic bomb. Yet in the voices of these students one could detect something like hope for a better future, if not one free of nuclear weaponry. (Definitely click on the image for better resolution).

Prague, Czech Republic (Spring 2014) »

Shimmering

I decided on this photo largely because it was taken in naivety, within my first week abroad. We had been walking as a group through the hustle and bustling commotion of the city and all the while I was too awe-stricken by the sheer beauty of Prague to even notice. I took this photo with the intention of capturing the beauty of Prague on the water and conveying the sentiment of serenity that is ever-present in such an environment, as it is certainly one of my favorite features of the city. Nevertheless, it is important to note that in hindsight I find that while this image is certainly a start, it does not even begin to scratch the surface of how gorgeous, dynamic and captivating Prague truly was.

Coming Full Circle »

Cliffs of Moher 2011 & 2014

When you study abroad in the spring at University of Leicester, you are fortunate enough to get a full 5 weeks off for Easter break. I didn’t know what to do with myself besides travel! I was able to connect with my Willamette friends and traveled to France, Italy, Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, England, and ended my trip in Ireland. This was one of the reasons I had gone abroad. Read the rest

My First View of Central London »

This picture was taken from my first day in Central London and about a week into my study abroad trip. The American students of Roehampton University broke into groups to run around Central as part of a scavenger hunt to get to know London. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this picture perfectly represented London in a way that I didn’t understand the first day. It was beautifully sunny which never happened when I was in London but highlighted the fact that London can make you hate it when it is cold and rainy and yet make you love it again the moment the sun comes out. The view of the Parliament Building and Big Ben show how rich London is in its history and how this can be juxtaposed to the trendy Southbank I was standing on when I took the shot. London is a mix of the old and new in a way that makes it endearing. The Thames represents the booming industry which made London the international metropolis it is today.

On my last day in Central London, I sat in relatively the same spot and, again, watched the sun go down on. I remember feeling the same mix of excitement and worry that I felt on the first day although this time the feelings were about leaving, not coming, to London. For this reason, this spot will always have a warm spot in my heart tucked in with everyone and everything else I love in London and which now makes it feel like home to me.

February »

What a CRAZY month. I really enjoy writing these travel posts but things have literally never been more busy, and unfortunately stressful. There’s been some shit going down within the program, but it’s finally getting resolved, and I’m doing this to remember some good moments throughout this month, so here’s a condensed version. Read the rest