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Harper Ganick
Hyderabad University, India
An Excerpt from her blog post at 
http://harperganick.blogspot.com/2012/09/going-goan-goa.html

At least twenty people decided to travel to Goa, which sounded like a lot of fun because it is basically just a giant beach and tons of people I know would be there. 
We were all changed and on the beach by 10am, and thats where we stayed for the rest of the day. The others we knew that had already been there were kind of wandering around the area with their rented motor bikes, but we saw them throughout the day. The beach was beautiful and hot. The sand, other than being absurdly annoying, was made up of very small pieces of shells,  so if you looked closely it was full of  beautiful colors. I collected a few really fascinating shells. While the beach was fabulous, it did have a major downfall: Indian women.

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Alanna and her horde
As soon as we laid out on our towels we were immediately surrounded by Indian women trying to sell us jewelry, trinkets, henna, ect. And they wouldn't leave. I mean, I felt like a total bitch but the only way to get them to go away was just to completely ignore them. You couldn't say "No thank you," or "Maybe later," because as soon as you gave them an inkling of attention they latched onto you like a spider monkey. Eventually they wandered away, but Alanna had it really bad. She just couldn't ignore them, so I'm actually not sure if she had any beach time without being surrounded. Even though the rest of us were trying to ignore them, they would just sit at the edge of our towels and stare at us. I was getting extremely hostile so I had to put in my headphones.

I just had a problem with the whole system revolving around these women. Some of these sellers were children who should've been in school, and I have always had a huge problem with working/begging children. Some of the other people that we met up with said that the women that were following them openly admitted to be beaten if they didn't sell enough, and they said it as if it was just no big deal, because to them thats an acceptable norm. Another woman, visibly pregnant (or at least with a tumor/cloth bump) told Diana that her husband wouldn't give her money to go to the doctor. Even if these stories were true, which they probably were, the entire exchange is solely targeted towards Westerners. The groups of women don't congregate around Indian families on the beach. One time Diana even pointed to an Indian couple and said, "Why don't you go ask them?" and the woman said "No, they're Indian."

I refused to buy anything or even acknowledge these women, because I would not support their system. Yes, it might've given them money that day, but it's an unsustainable and abusive system.

Really this is just a continuation of my hatred of being targeted because I'm white.


 
 
Tara Townsend 
Yonsei University 

Wow where did the days go? Seems that once you try and enjoy your time abroad the days just fly by and you don't even realize it. I guess for me in between my low moments and high moments time decided to skip merrily by without even a glance back. I am enjoying my stay in South Korea and slowly learning some words; all while meeting new people= great! Word of advice from someone who is going through the the adventure (being abroad), you really have to be willing to let go a little bit to really see what the country has to offer. I know being stuck in one frame of mind can be a survival thing, but at the same time that can hinder having a good time with complete strangers on campus. This morning I was walking to get some coffee with my roommate and I saw this guy sitting by himself looking like someone stole his best friend. I was feeling quite sleepy and happy so I motioned that he should smile and he did, I don't know if that made him feel any better; but that simple act of making a smile could possibly make his day much better.
     I am realizing as I continue to stay in the city and in South Korea, that most people will not smile unless they are with friends or family. They have what I am coming to figure out two faces- nothing bad about it; but when they are around complete strangers they have a straight no laugh face. This face can flip at the drop of a hat if family or friends come into view, strange I know but it has worked for them. For me personally I try not to adopt this style from the people around me, though when you are in a new place we all try and adopt to fit in.

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   To switch the subject now, yesterday was a really fun time with my peers who were from the states and some who were from another country. We traveled it seemed all over Seoul and I finally got to ask a Korean friend of mine questions that I've wondered about Korean people. Surprisingly, he answered them with no hesitation while incorporating what he learned while in the USA. If he didnt have the answer he wasnt shy to admit that he didnt know. This was good mental stimulation for me, because when I am with other Korean people they have a hard time knowing what to say or they get really shy, or they don't know how to express in English well. So to have my friend talk to me confidently and at what I consider "normal pace" was good. 

Let's hope for more good times and fun adventures!! Annyeonghikaseyo(goodbye)!

 
 
Harper Ganick
Hyderabad University, India
An Excerpt from her blog post "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" 

Last Saturday some friends and I went and visited the Qutb Shahi Tombs, which I learned about in my Lonely Planet before I even got here. We've been meaning to go and see them for a few weeks now, but we've gotten side tracked or been away from Hyderabad. No one here has even mentioned them to us as a suggestion to "go see" and we didn't know anyone who had been to them so far, so we really had no idea what to expect. In fact, I really just expected an old grave yard with some ancient "mausoleum" type structures. Not for the first time, we were totally unprepared for the reality that is India.

These tombs were all pre-Moghul, ranging from the 15th to 17th century, and all in various states of decay. However, their disrepair made them all that much incredible. Each tomb, like a smaller version of the Taj Mahal but in stone, still has an attendant, and the actual tombs inside are still decorated with shawls, incense, and flowers.
After the first tomb there were another ten, at least, behind a fenced in area. Some were smaller than others, but all were beautiful. The vegetation and life growing through the hundreds of year old stone made them even more beautiful than they might have been when they were first erected.
Not only were our surroundings amazing, but the day was great too; hot, blue skies, and not too humid. Unfortunately I chose to wear jeans that day... We spent all afternoon there, just wandering around and taking pictures.
 
 
Tara Townsend 
Yonsei University

It's happened.. I wasn't sure it would, but it's happened. I am experiencing what most would call the "drop" or  after the honeymoon feeling that one gets when they travel to somewhere new. I thought for me that Korea would stay interesting for about a month or two, yeah not happening. Yet I'm okay with that, hmmm... I must really be growing as a person, me being okay that something is becoming boring. In the past I would throw a fit that something was becoming boring or dull to me, but now I'm accepting it and going with it. I've talked with fellow students at MC about the feeling and they are all like, "hang in there," "it's to be expected," I'm not quite sure what they were expecting me to do, what freak out? Hahaha I guess I could freak out and go crazy but my inner person is really relaxed and waiting to see what's going to happen next. I know for some people though, they can't seem to sit still and let things come naturally, always in a rush. Usually I would be right beside them, demanding the next thing to happen on my time.
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   After coming to Korea, I've become even more chill/relaxed which I don't mind. It's weird being in Seoul though, the busy city like its American partners (NYC and LA) never sleeping but always awake. I didn't think I would be in a busy city and like it, yet here I am taking in everything around me. The hustle and bussle of people, buses, cars, and seems to never stop. Here I am away from the quiet of my hometown to the roaring of Seoul Korea--who would of thought?? I got the chance to talk with my roomate from Japan and she couldn't believe I was studying abroad, the only thing I could do was just laugh. If she couldn't believe it, how did she think I felt?! I knew it would happen someday and well I demanded it happened when I wanted it to. Now that I'm on this adventure I'm glad that I did decide now, I wouldn't change anything about it. 

Wonder what's going to happen on my next adventure? Hahaha every moment is an adventure :) I've enjoyed the past couple of downtime now it's time to get out and see the city again...