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55 posts categorized "Global Navigator Voices"

WEEK 3: SANTO DOMINGO

My favorite excursion from the entire trip, and I feel like everyone can agree with me on this, was when we stayed at Caño Hondo for three days. It was such an amazing experience, and we all had a blast while we were there. 

 

Caño Hondo was basically a hotel built in nature; our hotel rooms were LITERALLY spaces carved inside a mountain. We got to enjoy the natural pools, great food, and wonderful music. It was a way to disconnect from devices and spend quality time with each other. A true bonding experience.

 

We departed from Caño Hondo on Saturday morning to take a beautiful boat ride in which we got a glimpse of the mangroves. We spent over an hour taking in the view of the mountains, and afterwards we arrived at Cayo Levantado. We spent the rest of the day there, where we enjoyed a beach with clear waters and sand that felt nice to the touch. 

 

On Sunday, all of us opted to take an almost 2 hour long hike across a mountain.  There was a lot of slippery terrain which caused a bunch of us to fall into mud. It was a difficult hike, but so incredibly fun. By the end we met the boat crew and took a tour of the mangroves and caves.

 

The whole adventure was so different than anything I have ever experienced in the US. It was super calming and almost therapeutic to be surrounded by so much nature at all times. By the end we all felt tired but somewhat rejuvenated! Our trip to Caño Hondo was surely one to remember, and definitely my favorite excursion.

-Ayan R.

'Global Navigator Voices' is a collection of blog articles and pictures by our very own high school study abroad participants. Follow their adventures before, during, and after their experiences abroad!

WEEK 3: GUANAJUATO

We’ve done so much here in Mexico. I have to say that going to Mexico City has been my favorite expedition. We did so much over there, like go to the National Museum of Anthropology and Frida Kahlo's House. We were very busy those 3 days, so we most definitely got much done. I also went shopping in Leon with my host family and some friends. We picked out outfits for each other and it was great!


In contrast to my life in the US, I never really go to other cities, or even other parts of Chicago. I mostly stay at home or around my neighborhood. I also never go shopping, nor do I enjoy it, in the US. However, I’ve realized that shopping WITH FRIENDS is very entertaining. I’ve learned much about myself while I’ve been here in Guanajuato. I’m really going to miss it.

Here is one of my recent class assignments:

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-Brandon L.

'Global Navigator Voices' is a collection of blog articles and pictures by our very own high school study abroad participants. Follow their adventures before, during, and after their experiences abroad!

WEEK 3: NANJING

My first favorite excursion thus far has been going to Shanghai for a weekend. But since I essentially summed that over last blog, we'll talk about my second favorite excursion (and pretend it wasn't in over 100°F weather).

We went to Sun Yat Sen's tomb, as well as the Ming tomb. Dr. Sun Yat Sen was the founder of the Republic of China (not to be confused with the current People's Republic of China). He, and others, helped end the feudal monarchy system in China, laying the groundwork for a democracy.

Here are a few pictures!
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Taking a rented bus (大把)! This is different than usual -- usually we just take the subway. It was nice because the bus was well air conditioned.

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Arrival! Here’s the gate.

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Aaaand on top of it being over 95°F out, we had 392 steps to climb to the top.

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But the view was SO worth it. You could see all of Nanjing.

Then, we took these trolleys to the next stop, conveniently nearby -- the Ming Tomb.

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Vroom vrooooom

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Our brave lead program leader/language instructor leading the way.

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In we go….

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Looks can be deceiving -- this isn't a turtle. It’s a dragon!

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Through a tunnel…

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A little dark and creepy, but hey, that’s part of the adventure.

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Climbing…

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Coming close…

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Entering…

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Arrival! A large and spacious and colorful room.

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Now to go all the way back!

Aside from my sarcastic comments, and though at the time I didn't enjoy it, two weeks later I look back and think about how this excursion was actually fun. I liked it because we were given time to explore on our own, but not too much so that we got lost or were simply fooling around.

That’s the thing about this program -- they give great balance between your own free time, and time to learn together as a group. Even if it weren't purposely structured to teach us how to be independent, it does so anyways.

We take about one field trip per week, and every single one is different. Some we visit classic historical sites, and some we visit the newer parts of town. From both, we’re given a golden opportunity to not just observe, but also to experience the culture. It’s truly a blessing to be here, and I plan to finish out the last week of the program with no regrets, learning as much as I can from what cannot be taken in at school. After all, the world is our classroom, isn’t it?

-Sarah H.

'Global Navigator Voices' is a collection of blog articles and pictures by our very own high school study abroad participants. Follow their adventures before, during, and after their experiences abroad!

WEEK 3: RENNES

As part of the program, every so often the whole group of participants goes on "excursions" to places outside of Rennes. I love going on excursions because I get the chance to learn more about French culture and history while visiting some of the most beautiful locations. Our last excursion lasted all of this past weekend, and we visited five different locations.

I've made a video highlighting just some of the wonders I experienced while on the excursion. Enjoy!

Rennes Excursions

-Elena M.

'Global Navigator Voices' is a collection of blog articles and pictures by our very own high school study abroad participants. Follow their adventures before, during, and after their experiences abroad!

WEEK 3: SHANGHAI

I can’t believe that week three has finally ended and in a week all of us will be departing home or to our next destination. In these past three weeks, we’ve done a lot together, but my favorite by far would have to be going to Disneyland.

Although this was an optional excursion, I’m so glad I went. Disneyland is known to be “The Happiest Place on Earth”, and that’s just what it was. It was so much fun to experience Disney in a whole new language and see how different Disney is compared to back in the states.  Although we had to wait in hour long wait times in 103 degree F weather, that didn’t stop us from having fun and getting to know each other better.

Shanghai Disney is not your average Disney in America; they have different rides, different food, and definitely a different spirit. One of their well-known rides, Tron would have to have been my favorite.  Its super high speed and it’s just such a good ride. It takes you from like 0 to 70 in seconds and it’s just such a good ride that words can’t even describe. Although I won’t be returning to Shanghai Disney for a while, I’m so glad I got to experience it with such amazing funny people.

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-Benjamin L.

'Global Navigator Voices' is a collection of blog articles and pictures by our very own high school study abroad participants. Follow their adventures before, during, and after their experiences abroad!

WEEK 3: MADRID

Week 3 in Madrid has left me virtually speechless! This past week has been absolutely amazing; we toured Santiago Bernabeu Stadium (home of Real Madrid Futbol Club), visited the old Royal Palace here in Madrid, and today I am just getting returning from an awesome weekend spent in Valencia.

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Since I am such a big soccer fan, getting to tour Bernabeu Stadium was like a dream come true. I was able to walk through the stadium where some of my own soccer idols have stepped foot and played. Seeing the trophies, the locker room and walking out on the field, it was all an incredible feeling. This was definitely one of my favorite parts of my summer abroad in Spain.

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Visiting the Royal Palace was very exciting. Although taking pictures while inside the rooms of the palace was not permitted, I can tell you seeing all the paintings, art work, and architecture was pretty amazing. When we walked out of the palace into the courtyard we were able to see the view of the entire city. It was a breathtaking view.

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This weekend the entire program went to the city of Valencia for the weekend. We went to the beach and visited a few museums. This is the first time I was able to get to the beach this year and it was ironic that it was in a whole other country, considering I’m lucky enough to be only a few minutes from the beach back home. It’s not everyday you get to swim in the Mediterranean Sea! While there, we were able to see beautiful architecture and a really cool plaza located behind a church. We had talked about some of the festivals held in Valencia during class, and we actually went to a museum about one of them. We also went to a restaurant and enjoyed eating paella, which is a typical rice dish here in Spain. We took a nice boat ride through the rice fields after.

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As I begin my last week here in Madrid, I've been thinking of the amazing sights I have seen and beautiful places I have been fortunate enough to visit. I have been lucky enough to have been placed with an incredible host family that treats me as I am a member of their family. While I am looking forward to seeing my family and friends back home on Saturday, I truly am
going to miss my time here. It has been a true learning and growing experience.

-Emily C.

'Global Navigator Voices' is a collection of blog articles and pictures by our very own high school study abroad participants. Follow their adventures before, during, and after their experiences abroad!

WEEK 3: SEOUL

Hello everyone! The trip is over now, and it's time for me to write the final in-country blog (T^T). As I write this, I am in the air flying home, but by the time you all read it I will be in my house (probably sleeping). This trip has been an amazing experience, and I have grown so much. I LOVED all the excursions we went on. Before I pick a favorite excursion from the trip, let me tell you about the things we did during our last week in Korea.

On Monday, we went to the MBC building, the home base of MBC, a broadcasting and music company in Korea. While there, we got to tour all the attractions, including a holographic kpop concert and a virtual reality tour of the grounds. We got to see the room where the news anchors broadcast live, but they weren't broadcasting anything at the time. We also got to see the room where idols come and do interviews, but unfortunately, there were no idols.

On Tuesday (the hottest day we were there), we went on hike along the Seoul City Wall, an ancient wall that ringed the border of Seoul in the Joseon Dynasty. Now Seoul is much larger, so the wall is located in the heart, marking where the city was before it expanded. As we walked (in full sun) we were supposed to pick up trash to “preserve the beauty of the wall” but in Korea, someone comes and picks up trash every morning so the hike was kind of pointless. It was very beautiful though, and there were lots of street cats in Daeharko (The neighborhood we walked through) so it wasn't all bad.  

The whole outing was definitely worth it though because, completely not on purpose, we walked straight through an area where a drama was being filmed. We actually got to see the actors during a scene which was really cool. It was even more special because the female lead that we got to see is actually a kpop star! She was a member T-ara which is an old-ish kpop group. That makes 3 idols we have seen!

The next day, we went to a traditional Korean art museum. There, we were given wooden blocks with the outline of classic images from Korean art, and were taught how to paint them by traditional painters. The block I painted was of a coy fish leaping out of the water, symbolizing success in life. The jumping coy represents this because of the myth that if a coy jumps over a waterfall, it will become a dragon. It symbolizes working hard and achieving your dreams. Kinda cheesy, but I like it.

After that, we went to Insadong, a long street made for tourists. We were there at night and it was a magical experience. There were glowing lights in the trees, and shops selling beautiful fans and souvenirs. There was really good food (including a stall selling cake on a stick in the shape of the poop emoji). We just walked around for a few hours, shopping and enjoying the scene. It was very beautiful, but the mood was slightly dampened by the knowledge that we were leaving soon.

On Thursday, we met up with the Korean high school students for the last tim,e and after a (not very good) musical we all went to the Han River for a goodbye picnic. The Han River is very beautiful at night and we had really good fried chicken for dinner. There was a little stage right on the edge of the river so me and GaYoung wanted to go take pictures on it to remember the moment. She decided to run there but the path was COVERED in mud so as soon as she stepped out, she fell (quite gracefully actually) and her whole right side was caked in mud. After we had gotten GaYoung cleaned up and taken our pictures we had to say goodbye for the last time. I was sad (but not crying) until we got on the bus after saying goodbye, but when I saw GaYoung waving at we through the window I lost it. Now, I'm not an emotional person, I cry very, very rarely but I cried the entire bus ride back to the dorms. I haven't cried like that in years (I'm serious about that) so it actually felt really good.

On the last day, we watched everyone's video projects from throughout the trip (which was really embarrassing) and had a little party with our language teacher, YuJeong. After classes, we hung out in Shinchon (the neighborhood closest to Yonsei) and got boba tea for the last time. Afterward we went to Korean pork barbeque for the farewell dinner. The restaurant that we went to was actually owned by YGE, one of the Big 3 kpop companies in Korea. After that we all said our goodbyes to each other and our amazing coordinators and teachers. Back at the dorms, me and my friends hung out for the last time until about 1 am and then we said goodbye (T-T) and I went back to my dorm and (started) packing.

If I had to choose just one excursion as my favorite I would probably pick our trip to Andong, especially the KBS historical drama set. It was a beautiful day out and we were the only ones in the set so it was very unreal. It was made for drama filming so it is very beautiful and clean and everything is in perfect condition but it is also historically accurate (I think) so it really feels like you at in a different time. Peeps, Lukas, and I spent the entire time walking around together and going into the buildings. I'm not sure we were allowed to go into them but if you pull hard enough, some doors will open. There wasn't really anything special inside the buildings, but it was really quiet and dark; it really felt like a Miyazaki movie (if you’ve never seen a Miyazaki movie I can't stress enough how good they are, you should definitely check them out). In one building, there was a kind of tea ceremony going on where you could go in and people would serve you tea.

I definitely wanted more time there, I could have spent the entire day exploring the village. I only really got to see a small portion, so I definitely want to go back. The drama filming set wasn’t like anything I have seen in the states because it has so much history. It itself might not have been very old, but it represents Korea’s ancient history. Nothing in America has much history except for the Native Americans; but we pretty much destroyed all of their culture. Korea has such an old history, culture, and traditions, that is one of favorite things about Korea. Sometimes I wish we had an older culture here but I also know that being young is in part what makes America different. I love both America and Korea, I guess I'll just have to visit them both!

Thank you all for reading my blog, I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. There will be more posts though, just not about Korea. If you're still interested, stayed tuned!

-Isabelle B.

'Global Navigator Voices' is a collection of blog articles and pictures by our very own high school study abroad participants. Follow their adventures before, during, and after their experiences abroad!

WEEK 3: SANTO DOMINGO

My favorite excursion from the entire trip, and I feel like everyone can agree with me on this, was when we stayed at Caño Hondo for three days. It was such an amazing experience, and we all had a blast while we were there. 

 

Caño Hondo Vídeo Montage

  Montage

Caño Hondo was basically a hotel built in nature; our hotel rooms were LITERALLY spaces carved inside a mountain. We got to enjoy the natural pools, great food, and wonderful music. It was a way to disconnect from devices and spend quality time with each other. A true bonding experience.

We departed from Caño Hondo on Saturday morning to take a beautiful boat ride in which we got a glimpse of the mangroves. We spent over an hour taking in the view of the mountains, and afterwards we arrived at Cayo Levantado. We spent the rest of the day there, where we enjoyed a beach with clear waters and sand that felt nice to the touch. 

On Sunday, all of us opted to take an almost 2 hour long hike across a mountain.  There was a lot of slippery terrain which caused a bunch of us to fall into mud. It was a difficult hike, but so incredibly fun. By the end we met the boat crew and took a tour of the mangroves and caves.

The whole adventure was so different than anything I have ever experienced in the US. It was super calming and almost therapeutic to be surrounded by so much nature at all times. By the end we all felt tired but somewhat rejuvenated! Our trip to Caño Hondo was surely one to remember, and definitely my favorite excursion.

-Ayan R.
'Global Navigator Voices' is a collection of blog articles and pictures by our very own high school study abroad participants. Follow their adventures before, during, and after their experiences abroad!

WEEK 3: RENNES, FRANCE

Week 3: Excursions à gogo

Bonjour from the third week in Rennes!

We’ve finished up this week by taking a weekend trip to the coast, at a little town called Concarneau in the more western, Cornouaille region of France.

This has been, by far, my favorite excursion -- we stayed in a hostel on the beach, and had some free time to go exploring on our own before and after dinner. Sans tour guide, me and a group of friends took the opportunity to explore the historical “Vieille Ville” enclosed area of the city, now home to a series of creperies, bakeries, and souvenir shops. A small stage had been set up in the city square for a concert that night as well, so we got the chance to enjoy a bit of music before returning to the hostel for the night to stay in our rooms of four to six. 

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 The trips between Rennes and Concarneau also included a few stops for meals and further exploration of the local towns. On the way there, we first visited Pont-Aven, a small town known for its many art galleries and boutiques that we explored on our own time after eating our packed lunches for the day. We then made our way to Quimper, where we followed a tour guide through some of the more important parts of the city, like the Saint-Corentin Cathedral, before exploring the many street vendors and shops on our own. 

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The river at Pont-Aven, Pictures from the Château de Trévarez

On the way back, we visited the small towns of Locronan and Trevarez. At Locronan, we had about an hour to see a few shops and art studios, where me and a few other students picked out matching dresses and little gifts to bring home for friends and family. We made friends with a few local dogs we met before heading into the restaurant “Le Prieuré” for lunch. After another hour on the bus, we arrived at the Château (or castle) de Trévarez, an enormous mansion with amazing views of the surrounding landscapes, complete with sprawling gardens and pathways lined with hortencias (the emblematic flower of the Brittany region). On the inside of the house, we read together about the history of the castle and its owner, noting the little differences between the explanations in English and in French.

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 Aside from the breathtaking views and adorable little shops, this excursion has been my favorite for two main reasons: first, we’ve had more freedom than ever before on this weekend trip, and second, this has been the excursion that to me felt most unlike anything I could possibly do at home. Language immersion itself is a unique experience that isn’t open to most high schoolers, but to be immersed in language and culture through independent historical and geographical discovery is beyond anything I could have hoped for when I imagined what kinds of “excursions” we might go on during the trip. Hearing from restaurant staff about regional ingredients in food, seeing actual rooms in the Château that were bombed during World War II, and interacting with locals left and right has left me in awe. I’m happy to have come this far, and I look forward to our last week in Rennes. Stay tuned-- until next time, à bientôt!

-Sarah T.

'Global Navigator Voices' is a collection of blog articles and pictures by our very own high school study abroad participants. Follow their adventures before, during, and after their experiences abroad!

WEEK 2: BERLIN, GERMANY

I love my new home here in Germany, but it is very different from my home in the United States. For example, my roommates and some friends woke up to see the sunrise from Tempelhof Airport which is an abandoned airport that is now home to refugees, and a park, but when we wanted to get food after, we realized that most cafes or other food places were not yet open.

Typical Day:

7:30- Wake up with my roommates to Dancing Queen

8:30- Either cook something in the kitchen or grab something from the cafe downstairs

9:00- In class

10:30- Class stops for a 15 minute break

10:45- Class resumes or a guest speaker appears

11:45- Class is out for lunch

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(Juice run during lunch from No Need for Fancy Names)

1:00- Class resumes or an excursion

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(Afternoon excursion to The Jewish Museum)

5:00- Free time starts

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(Exploring the streets of Berlin)

7:00- Dinner

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(Making dinner with my program leaders)

10:00- Curfew

 

-Ellie M.

'Global Navigator Voices' is a collection of blog articles and pictures by our very own high school study abroad participants. Follow their adventures before, during, and after their experiences abroad!