[Temple of Heaven 天壇 / Beijing, China]
I experienced such a transformative year living on my own in China. I learned a tremendous amount about myself and how to live an independent and self-sustaining lifestyle abroad.
The primary lesson to take away from my time here is: put yourself in opportunities of success. By challenging myself to sink or swim with the decision to live there, I was forced to experience the country, immerse myself in the culture, and make mistakes.
Take me back?
[Giza Necropolis / Cairo, Egypt]
My appreciation and admiration only grows exponentially when I look at my study abroad pictures knowing moments like the one pictured above were undoubtedly once in a lifetime moments. What you see is my Egyptology Art and Architecture class, led by the renowned Dr. Salima Ikram, walking through the Giza Necropolis to lead us towards the Great Pyramids.
Every weekend was a new field trip, a new adventure, and a new learning experience; this class challenged my critical thinking and deduction skills and instilled an appreciation for historical art, the integrity of the Ancient Egyptians as a people, and the underlying social and religious constructs involved with every landmark.
More stories to follow on my blog. Stay tuned ya’ll!
[Times Square, New York City, NY, USA]
Me during a blustery March evening in this chaotic tourist trap. NYC has always been my dream city and it is where I’ll be moving soon enough. Concrete jungle where dreams are made of…
Green Ram Temple in Chengdu, Sichuan, China
[青羊宫 “Qing Yang Gong”]
How very sense-arousing Chinese temples are these days. In one, you might hear the pious chanting of bald monks, clutching on to prayer beads, robed in the most vibrant orange. In another, you might smell the pungent burning candles and floral incense used for prayers and offerings. Maybe, you will find yourself in a zen-like state as you take in the tranquil flower gardens, peruse the temple grounds, or interact with the turtles, overcrowding the ponds. To my bemusement (or to the delight for others), you can find a meal at the vegetarian restaurants connected to the temples, or better yet a Starbucks - if you want to get your white-girl on. For those that are exceptionally lucky, you might even encounter a monk driving into the temple grounds in a black two-door Mercedes-Benz with chrome rims, chatting it up on his new iPhone before he starts his religious duties.
Regardless of what you encounter, temples in China are representative of the rich cultures and longstanding traditions in China. Whether it be a Buddhist, Taoist, or Confucian temple, each one serves as a historical, architectural, cultural, and religious gem.
Beware: It is easy to get desensitized to temple-touring because many temples have numerous and striking parallels. Furthermore, others may be cheaply restored (over use of not-so-authentic concrete everywhere). Don’t let these distractions take away from the architectural beauty and tranquil ambiance of it all. So everyone reading this, go get your temple on.
Thanks for the kind words! I greatly appreciate it : )
My advice is to travel any chance you get and make opportunities for yourself to do so.
A good way to start is through your school (my high school had a senior service trip to Nicaragua) and there are many more offered on a college level. And remember, there are scholarships and research projects that will fund your travels with some work!
Best of luck and let me know what happens and if you have any more questions. Cheers to you new traveler!
No surprise to anyone, McDonald’s is a ubiquitous presence around the world. And as a personal mantra, I will try any new food, but I know what you’re thinking… “Why go to Egypt only to eat McDonald’s?”. Valid question.
Trying this McArabia was within the first week of arriving in Egypt which also happened to be during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. In this month, there is fasting from sunrise till sundown, so it became rather difficult to find food during the day at local establishments. However, global chain restaurants remained open - thus me eating the above meal. Being there during Ramadan was a bit of a culture shock, not only because food was harder to find, but also because when we (fellow study abroad students and I) did eat or drink we chose to do so out of view of practicing Muslims, simply out of respect.
So what exactly is a McArabia? It is grilled chicken or kofta (spiced beef) between toasted Arabic style pita bread with lettuce, tomatoes, and garlic mayonnaise (delicious). And of course, obligatory french fries that seem to be standard across the world. I like the idea of eating at Mickey D’s in other countries, see how it differs from the ones stateside. As for this McArabia? I’m lovin’ it!
Jase was on the ball for reserving me! He thinks he’s the lucky one…
Zumbathon with Von Gossi as a fundraiser for Typhoon Haiyan relief. (In conjunction with the Rush Fitness Complex and the Filipino American Association of the Triad). MARAMING SALAMAT
Tagalog Vocabulary Lesson: Bayanihan
Bayanihan ([ˌbajɐˈniːhan]) - a nation, country, town, or community working together towards a common goal.
There is no direct English translation but its etymology originated from the sense of community formed between neighbors when working together to move a family’s entire stilt house.
The Filipino people, humble, kind-natured, hospitable, and warm, will show their resilient and strong nature once again, by surviving this disaster. What is guaranteed is that Filipinos will laugh, smile, and thrive despite being pushed to the limit of devastation. Together, their sense of bayanihan will transcend any set back or disaster.
Hi Marc, I’m Vince! Thanks for the Tumblr love and I appreciate you taking the time to write a compliment. It takes a surprising amount of dedication to post my own material - so it makes me smile that you enjoy it. There is plenty more to read too!