Within six months of living in Albacete, Spain, I began to speak Spanish fluently. I did not take Spanish classes during that period. The people I met right after my move to Spain were blown away by my level of Spanish after three months, during which I experienced a sort of language explosion (parents should be familiar with this phenomenon). I should admit, however, that I did not start exactly from zero.
Earth, Wind & Fire – September
Cover (Rock version)Colton Dixon – September
Day 5 June 11th 2013 Ocho Rios Montego Bay Miami New York
I jumped out of bed spontaneously. How did I not hear the alarm that should’ve went off twice? How did I wake myself up? We only had had two hours of sleep after returning to the hotel drunk, but managed to get ready within 10 minutes to catch the cab to go to Montego Bay Airport.
There were only a handful of cars that we saw on the road before getting to Montego Bay. The sun was slowly creeping up, and Onyxcia was fast asleep in the back of the cab. The serenity was a perfect backdrop to the conversation I had with Jason, our cab driver.
Day 4 June 11th 2013- Runaway Bay Discovery Bay Margaritaville It was our last full day in Jamaica. Tiffany and I wanted to head back to Kingston since we missed the Bob Marley museum and the main parts of the Devon House. However, we found out that the taxi would cost us $100 a person. How about we go to Nine Mile, Bob Marley’s hometown, instead? The cab ride there was expensive as well (view my post about how taxis in Jamaica work), so we decided to explore Runaway Bay.
Day 3 June 9th 2013- Runaway Bay Ocho Rios Dunn’s River The shuttle picked us me and Tiffany up to go to Mystic Mountain Ocho Rios. The Sky Explorer that took us to the top of the mountain provided a beautiful view over the lush green scenery and the Caribbean.
Day 2 June 8th 2013 Runaway Bay ??? Spanish Town Kingston
In what has to be one of the most extremely rare moments of my life, I woke up before 7 am on my own. I don’t think I’ve done that since I was a little girl excited to open up my Christmas presents.
After eating a big breakfast at the buffet and agreeing to venture down to Kingston for the day, we headed to the pool. I went for a swim, got a cocktail from the pool bar, took some pictures with a snake wrapped around my shoulders (there was a guy walking around with it) and then took a nap under the sun. Tiff joined a group of people playing volleyball. Once a while, I’d hear a familiar voice yell “good job guys!” “nooooooo!” “awwww man!!” She was having a good time.
Day 1 June 7th 2013 New York Miami Montego Bay Runaway Bay On the plane, I pointed out to my friend, Tiffany, that there was a guy wearing a Boston University t-shirt walking towards us. Turns out, his seat was the empty one right next to mine. “Did you go to BU?” “Yeah.. Did you?” We both studied economics, but didn’t have a single mutual friend. We chatted for awhile about our roommates, professors, jobs, and places we used to hang out in Boston and then both dozed off. Funny how we probably would have never spoken to each other had he not worn that shirt.
“If the Earth were a single state, Istanbul would be its capital.”
– Napoleon Bonaparte
Istanbul is one of those places that will instantly wake up your five senses. Random strangers and invitations, strong Turkish coffee, colorful carpets, soft silk scarves, salted yogurt drinks (Ayran), pistachio-flavored Turkish delight, the voices of the muezzins that call the Muslims to prayer, and the sweet smell of Hookah from the outdoor bars are still vivid in my memory.
Some people and tourist guides refer the Aya Sofya (also spelled Ayasofya) as the Hagia Sofia, which is the Greek name. On a side note, many Greeks still call Istanbul Constantinople, just to piss the Turks off. Ok, some of the items on this list aren’t really secrets.
Do you see Jesus and Mary right between the Arabic calligraphy that says Allah and Mohammed? The Aya Sofya is the only building that served both Christianity and Islam. The building was constructed as a church under Emperor Justinian in year 537 (Astonished by the Aya Sofya’s beauty, Justinian claimed that he outdid Solomon upon seeing it for the first time). The Islams converted it into a mosque in year 1453 as soon as they conquered Istanbul. Ataturk finally converted it to a museum in 1924.
An excerpt from a novel I’ve been working on (although I haven’t written anything at all recently):
My hope, tarnished like an abandoned bicycle chained to a tree for years;
As the bicycle, my aspirations chained to the harsh physical realities;
Every time I meet someone new, it’s the same script over and over again.
A: Where are you from? Me: Korea A: North or South?
New Jersey has produced a fair amount of seminal rock — the Four Seasons, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, the Misfits and the Gaslight Anthem — in part because the guitar strap fits so snugly around the chip on the shoulder that goes with being from there.
Portugal itself is quite underrated as a travel destination. It’s similar to Spain, although it feels more subdued. Things move even more slowly. Everything is cheaper, and there are notably less tourists. The food is more flavorful, and its portions are more generous. If you’re in Europe, and want to see spectacular beaches, one next to the other, that aren’t saturated with tourists, I highly recommend Lagos, Portugal. If you’re up for a nice two hour walk along the cliffs on the coast, you can start from Praia da Batata, and pass beautiful beaches such as Praia Dona Ana, Praia Pinhão, Praia do Camilo, until you reach Ponta da Piedade, where there is a lighthouse. Praia da Batata has to be the most beautiful beach I’ve seen that’s right in the city center.
First, let me quickly go through the reasons that people commonly list for learning a new language.
1. You gain a new perspective.
Each language you speak alters the way you view and interact with the world, especially if they are from regions that are culturally very different. For example, I know for a fact that I become more respectful and cautious when speaking to older Korean adults. Obviously, the custom in each region plays a huge role, but the language itself does as well. For example, I saw a Korean TV program that showed footage of married couples getting into arguments while one was teaching the other how to drive. A therapist recommended using the formal tone (in Korean, using the formal tone changes not only the vocabulary, but even the grammar) while conversing in the car. The couples became much more considerate and stopped snapping at each other over time. It’s not difficult to understand how language can evoke completely different emotions. Think of freedom fighter vs terrorist, advance vs invade, chat up vs holler, etc.