The worldwide Augustana College experience

So.. Jack Daniels anyone?

Dear Sydney,

Why must I say goodbye to the Australia Vacation? Do I REALLY have to work full time in the gorgeous place with wonderful weather and no shortage of sunshine? MUST I sit at a computer from 9-5? Yes, I know. I’m going to hell for complaining about working in Australia. But for real, it’s been the next hardest transition of the trip so far. After not working or even going to school for over a month, I’m not just returning to a couple hour long classes, I finally had to enter the world of adulthood and start working full-time (minus Fridays of course :P ). Therefore; my attention span is untrained again and lasts little over 20 minutes at a time, business attire feels suffocating and tedious, actually putting make up on and straightening my hair daily has become a chore worthy to be compared with laundry, and the indoors for 8 hours straight gives me cabin fever.

However, I digress and I admit I really do have an amazing opportunity on my hands. In case you didn’t notice from my earlier posts, yesterday was my unofficial first day and interview with the International Company, Brown Forman. Since a majority of you may not know what that is, Brown Forman is the parent company for a number of name brand liqueurs. These liqueurs include but are not limited to; Jack Daniels (it’s full line including the Winter Jack , 1907, & Gentlemen Jack), Southern Comfort, Canadian Mist, Finlandia Vodkas, Chambord, Jagermeister, and Herradura Tequila. Stop there right? It’s obviously already the coolest place ever to work, especially in Australia where they drink 2x the amount of Jack Daniels than Americans do.

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Blessings from Down Unda


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The day has finally come! For the past year, myself and 48 other Augustana students have been preparing for this day. We’ve written essays, filled out lots of paperwork…I mean lots and lots of paperwork, and learned all there is to know about the Australian culture. I’ve saved every dime, nickel, and penny, and have done my best to avoid my Starbucks cravings and nail polish addiction. For just a short time, I’ve endured the snow, ice and wind, so that on January 2,nd I can really appreciate the 90 degree weather I’ll be living in for 9 weeks.

All of this preparation has left me packing and re-packing for the past week. Two months and two 50lb bags– the struggle, my friends, is real. But, nonetheless, I have done it. Two 50lb bags, a purse, and a backpack, and we’re off!

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Hello Sydney Australia

My amazing Boyfriend, Austyn My loving family! Mom = Kelly; Dad = Steve; Weirdo girl = sister named Sarah First Day in Sydney! First night out in Sydney with some of my Roommates! Amazing rocks to climb on and potentially die if your stupid on.. welcome to carefree Australia Don't judge me.. I look awful More deadly rocks.. and me


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East Asia Term 2013 – Retrospective

It was strange landing in Chicago after 10 weeks in Asia. The flight was from LAX, just before noon, and it was almost uncomfortable to be around people that openly speak English. It seems like a blur, but for an obvious reason: our route started in Kyoto, Japan and ended in Beijing, China.  In between we coasted along Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Hiroshima, Matsuyama, Beppu, Kumamoto, Tokyo, Taipeh, S.A.R. Hong Kong, and then got to China to see Shenzhen, Guilin, Wuhan, Kunming, Li Jiang, Chengdu, Xi’an, Chengde and Beijing, and topped it off with 5 days of Honolulu. It is hard to put it all in one little blog, but I’m warning you, it might be a long one.

Augustana’s expedition with 74 students and 4 professors flew over Greenbay, WI to get to Japan; just a strait line over the North Pole. Japan was a shock in every sense, since humidity was high and we came from a pretty mild summer in the Midwest. However, Kyoto was a great place to have a culture shock since everything that is ancient in Japan is in the Kinki Prefecture. While in Kinki, we were able to make one whole-day excursion to Kobe, a city that was devastated by the earthquake in 1996, and Nara Prefecture, home of Todai-Ji temple and one of the biggest Buddha statues in the world. I also got to visit old friends, Yuki Serizawa and Masami Arai at Kobe City University for Foreign Studies, and they took me to the traditional archery class, Kyudo.  Kyoto and Nara are two of the only places that were not bombed in WWII, thus they represent true Japanese heritage.  They were lucky not to have military bases that should be bombed (unlike Tokyo and Osaka that were carpet bombed).

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Hong Kong through a typhoon

Landing in Hong Kong was everything but a normal procedure, since we were going through a turbulence in the middle of the biggest typhoon in 30 years, but I really started freaking out when captain turned on the seat belt sign, as well as Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (Spring, of course), at which point everybody exhaled and closed their eyes, as if they are being hypnotized to a very certain and painless death.


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Gangnam Stylin’ in Matsuyama with the locals

Our third day in Matsuyama, professors and directors of the program arranged a whole afternoon for students with the locals. Bill Cahill ’14 and myself were lucky enough to be hosted by Michiko Izumitani, Associate Professor of Leadership and Communication at Ehime University in Matsuyama.

Michiko and her family wanted us to to have the best time in Matsuyama, which she absolutely achieved. I didn’t really know what to expect from a Sunday afternoon with a Japanese family, and what ended up happening is that we just had some fantastic family time. Our first stop was a local shopping mall, where we just went for a walk and got some groceries for dinner. Since Michiko went to college in New York, she knew exactly how to get the most of our day, perfectly understanding cultural differences and what could be appealing to us. We stopped by at a local conveyor belt sushi bar and bought enormous amounts of sushi.

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If this is Osaka, what is Tokyo like?!

Due to some (un)fortunate circumstances, I had to leave the group for a day and go to Osaka. Even though all the Augie kids had tons of fun in Hiroshima, I was glad to leave for a day and see Osaka at its finest because it is the second largest city in Japan, after world’s biggest metropolitan area, Tokyo. Unlike the sushi place in Moline, real Osaka is everything but cheap. When I got to Osaka Umeda train station, I was surprised because that was exactly what I would expect Tokyo to be like: commercials and billboards EVERYWHERE, street performers on every step and crowds of people rushing, and I swear if you stop walking or don’t know where you are going, somebody will run into you (hate to enhance the stereotype).

I stayed a night at Yuki Serizawa’s place, and Yuki was an exchange student at Augie last year. She is a senior studying International Relations at Kobe City University for Foreign Studies, and wanted to show me around Osaka and welcome me to her home. Even though Serizawa family’s hospitality cannot be described with words and I thoroughly enjoyed staying with them, I tried to spend as much time possible in the city of Osaka, since I only had a day and the city has metro population that is bigger than that of Chicago.

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Hospitality 101 in Hiroshima

Riding on a bullet train from Kyoto to Hiroshima at a speed of more than 200 miles per hour was an extraordinary experience, but getting to Hiroshima was nothing I could ever imagine. Modern, clean and welcoming city that was exterminated off the place of the earth only 68 years ago by an atomic bomb and is one of the most beautiful places I have been to. Right behind the Atomic Bomb Dome, the only building that survived the attack on August 6th, 1945, is the most impressive park with a museum, called Peace Memorial Park.

Since we were all tired and sluggish from the night before in Kyoto where we had a social shindig with some locals, the only thing we were looking forward in Hiroshima is bed time. However, waking up early was great so we could go and see why Hiroshima is advocating for world peace past 68 years. After interactive museum and park tours, we got to meet two people that survived the atomic bomb attack and wanted to share their horrific experience. They are both World Peace Advocates and try to bring people from all over the world to come to Hiroshima to see and feel that nuclear energy should not be on this planet as a weapon of mass destruction. They compared 5000 degrees of Celsius during the detonation to both temperatures of the Sun and the Hell itself, as they saw human bodies melting and walking down the streets while they were just kids at the age of 8. Past three years, Hiroshima had over 380,000 foreign visitors, which makes it the most popular tourist destination in Japan, following Kyoto and Tokyo.

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First time in Kyoto

After 16 hours of flights and bus rides Chicago-Tokyo-Osaka-Kyoto, we arrived to ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto. The Emperor of Japan, believed to be the ancestor of Amaterasu, the goddess of the Sun, lived in Kyoto for centuries until mid 1800s, when he moved to Tokyo. Overall, Kyoto looks like what you would expect to see in Japan as far as history and architecture. Buddhist and Shinto temples are on every step, with monks walking on the street in their robes and wooden flip flops (and white socks, of course). Even though downtown area is modern and it has a great city vibe, you can still run into a smaller temple that is hidden between two brand new buildings. Kyoto is the only ancient city that survived WW2, which is why it is one of the biggest tourist attractions not only in Japan, but in the whole world.


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