Pre-Departure: Ireland

As is every decision I’ve made in my life, the decision to travel to Ireland was made on a whim. I had just gotten home from a one-night stand and the uncomfortable reality of living in the same place for the last year had sat it. I was itching to move and experience something else unknown. I Google searched “Countries that speak English and drinking age is under twenty-one” The first result was Ireland and within two weeks, I had picked a program, submitted my paperwork, and had been accepted.

Over the last year I’ve been immensely in tune to the unhealthy characteristics I posses. The one that has been the most damaging is my racism. I grew up with my Grandma saying things like, “those damn Mexicans” and my father saying “Should I hit them cause they’re brown”? It wasn’t until now that I realized how detrimental it was for me to hear those words. I’ve began to notice that my jokes have became more and more racist, and though I label them as, “jokes” there is a degree of truth behind every racist word I speak.

I recently came across a quote by Wade Davis, which has begun to influence my change in thought process. Davis says, “The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.” In this quote, he’s essentially saying that just because other cultures are different from our own, it doesn’t mean they’re wrong. This quote has been influential, as I try to accept and embrace other races and cultures.

The biggest barrier that I aim to achieve while studying in Ireland is becoming more accepting of other cultures. I desperately want to lay my ideologies to rest about other cultures being “wrong” and instead, accept them in all of their beauty. I’m hoping that my traveling to Ireland can be a stepping-stone in my journey to accept other cultures.

There will be a lot of barriers that I face while traveling abroad. I like my solitude, I rely heavily on other people helping me, I get annoyed quickly in the behaviors of others, I’m uptight about everything, I make inappropriate comments, and social interaction gives me anxiety {though luckily I can drink in Ireland to aid in that}. All of these behaviors/luxuries that I enjoy are going to be ripped away from me while traveling over seas. I will be emerged in other people and other culture, the only person I will have to rely on for help is myself, I will be living in a house with at least four roommates, and I will not be able to avoid social interaction. If I want to make my living situation peaceful, I will also need to learn not be so uptight.

Traveling to Ireland is going to be scary and I’m going to face a multitude of barriers. But my hope in traveling is that I can lay be ideologies and uptight behaviors to rest, and can instead learn to be more accepting of other cultures, and a more fun person to be around.

Arrival post

Upon arriving at the airport in Italy I was pretty tired and burnt out from the long plane ride and not being able to sleep. When walking into the airport I knew that I had to go through customs and get my bag and then find my driver to take me to my destination. There was so much going on and all these people running in different places like they usually are at airports. I flew into a rather large airport so there were tons of people. I was also warned about pickpockets so I was scared and over protective and hyper aware of my belongings and where they were at all times. The signs were in Italian and thankfully… also in English. I was excited but nervous and also just hyper aware of my surroundings. I was trying to take in everything but at the same time my senses were overloaded. Everyone seemed to be doing their own thing and had their own agendas. Everyone would just walk around someone who was in their way because they had places to be. At that point I was just so tired I wanted to get to my destination and catch up on the sleep I had missed out on. Upon arriving to my destination I was thrown into a room and told to go up the 5th floor. My first experience of Italy was the extremely creepy elevator shown below. I had no idea how to work it at first and I wasn’t entirely sure it would hold both my luggage and myself. Driving to my destination I realized Italian drivers being crazy was no joke. There was so much traffic and honking everywhere. People would cut each other off and not let other people in. So that drive was pretty scary but on the way I saw some gorgeous buildings and monuments that I was able to quickly snap a picture of.

The actual elevator. Made out of wood.

The actual elevator. Made out of wood.

The creepy elevator that I had no idea how to use. This was the outside cage.

The creepy elevator that I had no idea how to use. This was the outside cage.

A monument I passed leaving the airport.

A monument I passed leaving the airport.

Pre-departure post

Prior to departing I have some pre-conceived notions about Italy and Italian culture and what it will be like. What I know about Italian culture is mainly what I have heard and what I have seen in movies. I assume that they are fast paced culture and use their hands a lot. I also assume they wear muted colors more and wearing bright colors can scream tourist. I can imagine that they frequently are exposed to tourists and can get frustrated with tourists who expect them to know their language, especially Americans, expecting them to know English. Although English is a widely used language, going to a different country, you should never expect them to know your language but try to work with them in theirs. I am excited to experience traveling to a new country but I am apprehensive about the logistics of traveling and finding my way around. I am also concerned about how I will communicate with Italians, seeing as though I have no experience with the Italian language. I am also concerned and hyper aware of what I am will be doing and want to make sure I do not offend or insult anyone. I will do the best I can and the best thing for me to remember is to be flexible and go with the flow of things.

Bright colored clothes

Bright colored clothes

Fast paced environment

Fast paced environment

Using hands when talking

Using hands when talking


Hello, my name is Elaina Snow and I am studying abroad in Sienna Italy.  I am going for three week for the deaf studies program,  I will be taking three classes; Italian sign language, Spoken and written Italian, and deaf history and culture.

I picked this program for a couple reasons.  I am an ASL interpreting major so I was hoping that this will boost my ASL skills both signing and receptive. I want to meet more signers and deaf people to get different perspectives on signs.  Also I have always wanted to go to Europe so this is the perfect chance.  Lastly my grandparents are from Italy and they always cook authentic Italian food and it is so good,  and they talked about how pretty it is so  I decided to pick this program for both educational and personal reasons.


Hello, my name is Sierra McIver and I am going to Siena, Italy with the Study Abroad for Signers program. While in Siena I will study written and spoken Italian, Italian Sign Language, and Italian Deaf culture. I chose this program because I grew up signing and have always loved American Sign Language and learning new languages. This program is for signers to learn a different sign language as well as another spoken language. Studying abroad during the school year is not practical for me because I am in the interpreting program, which requires a few classes on campus each term and so a summer program would be the only opportunity for me to study abroad. This program is only offered in the summer and Italy is a country I have always dreamed of visiting. I have had a few people talk in previous years to my ASL class about studying with this program and then I had met people who had gone and highly recommended going because it was a great opportunity. With all of this, and the timing working out, I decided to apply for this program, which lead me here.

Getting Ready to Leave

Well, once again I am preparing to leave the country. Unlike last time, I actually have time to get everything together.  I’ve got my passport ready and just ordered Euros and my Eurorail pass for when I go. For now, I am working as much as I can for money to spend when abroad. Not to mention that I am soaking up as much of the California sun as possible before I head over to rainy Ireland.

Even better, I am officially healed. I no longer need crutches to get around so walking will not be an issue. I don’t require pain medication or anything that would make the trip itself a hassle. Which is nice. I didn’t want to be forced to go around on crutches in a foreign country.

Me on Crutches

Finally, I know we’re supposed to talk about what we expect when we go. I’m not sure what to expect, most of what I study about Ireland comes from Medieval history. My younger brother has faithfully informed me that I will be listening to electric bagpipe music but I doubt he’s correct. We’ll see when I get there in two weeks.

Until then I’ll keep working so I can have more money to spend on food.


Well as soon as I got off the plane it was raining, probably harder then it does in Oregon, except it was warm rain so that was nice.  As for shorts and skirts; nothing almost everyone was wearing pants and tee shirts.  I probably looked pretty crazy for wearing shorts.

I needed a phone because mine couldn’t find wifi so I asked a desk at the airport and they said that they do not let people use the phones and that i had to use public phones outside,  that just struck me as odd.

When I was trying to get to my hotel I had a car pick me up from my hotel.  These Europeans drive crazy!  People where cutting each other off squeezing in everywhere they could it, it was insane. Another thing I found strange was that there was people trying to sell stuff to drivers that were stopped in traffic,  they were just walking around in the middle of the street.

The last weird thing to me was my Hotel I expected that to be pretty normal, but it was not my hotel was in the middle of a building with other business I had to go to the 5th floor out of 10 to reach the reception office to check in,  There was a really creepy elevator, that only let one person at a time on it was pretty much something out of tower of terror.  It was just strange only one person at a time


Sorry its sideways I couldn’t figure out how to rotate it.  It looks like it is out of tower of terror right!


I think Italy will be fun but a total culture shock.  I think there will be tons of smoking everywhere, pick pocketing, and supper crowded.  I’m guessing it will be hot and sunny most if the time and people will be wearing shorts or skirts.  I think that most places like restaurants have someone that speaks a little bit of English but not all of them.

I plan on trying to dive right into the culture trying to learn words as I go,  seeing historic places, and talking to new people.

I am supper nervous because I have never left the country and I will be alone in a place that doesn’t speak English.  It is also really stressful because of the money situation,  I didn’t have  extra money laying around to get plane tickets and everything else I needed and Financial aid doesn’t come in until June 19th and I start school on the 20th.  Plus learning how euros work,  I’m sure that will be a fun adventure



Last week we had our midterms, and that let me tell you. I don’t think I have ever studied so much for a midterm. I want to say that my KLI midterm may have been the hardest one. I studied for that midterm about one and a half weeks. My mind was so focused on how well I had to do on all these midterms that I didn’t really think about anything else. I want to say that I didn’t even leave the dorm for a week, because all I was doing was studying. Now that I don’t have a job, I find it easier to find time to study, and meet up with friends. Midterms in any school is a pain, but having a midterm in speaking is even more painful. Especially when you don’t know the language that well. I was scared I would walk in and not know a single thing the professor was talking about. Thankfully I managed to understand everything, but my responses weren’t well thought out. I need to work on making complete sentences.

On to a better weekend! As a way to reward myself for surviving midterms I went to two concerts last week. I also had to educate myself on who they were. I had heard about these groups before, but I never really listened to them as much. Thanks to my friends though, I ended up liking these groups, and I think I will listen to them often. The groups are Epik High and Big Bang. The Epik High concert was a rap beat show, so it wasn’t only Epik High but also other rappers. Granted I did not know all the songs, but I still had so much fun and the people I went with also had a great time. I was close enough that I got some pretty good videos, my pictures weren’t so good so I had to get rid of them. This concert happened Friday night and the Big bang concert was on Sunday. For the Big Bang I was also prepared enough to know more than half of the songs they played. Leading to me fangirling a lot. The only bad thing was that, it was super hot. Summer is coming in early I believe and the weather has been hot and humid lately. Something an Oregonian like myself is not use to. Anyways these concerts were the first concerts I had ever been to, and I still can’t get over the music and the atmosphere. I find myself humming their music and just remembering that day with the people I went with. Here are three of the people I went with to the Big Bang concert. Yuogang was sitting in subway. All in all last week was the most dreadful,as well as the most memorable week of my life. Thanks ladies for an amazing weekend!1430064718153

Busy, Busy, Busy!!!

I apologize for not keeping you guys updated on what is going on these past few weeks. So here is a quick run down; classes have already started I am already in my fourth week now, I have gone to a noreabang (karaoke), picked up my ARC on my own, have had 6 quizzes already, went bungee jumping and spent the night at the place where I went bungee jumping. I have done other things as well but so far that is what I can remember. Bungee jumping happened on Saturday, and let me tell you that it was amazing. I went with a group of girls I have gotten close to since I have been here. So close that I even call one of them my daughter XD. What surprised me that most was how cheap bungee jumping was, I thought it was going to be around 70,000 won but it wasn’t even close to that. I did two things that day, I bungee jumped, and did this swing bungee thing that only costed me 45,000 won. Super cheap I think for doing two things. Although taking into account other expenses, it ended up being 100,000 won for the whole day. Anyways, it was amazing what was even cooler and not in our plans was that we are going to show up in the news. Since we were Americans he wanted to interview us and talk to him about why we went and what we were feeling before the jump. You know just the normal interview questions. After the bungee jump we had to wait an hour to get back to the city we were at, and also find a place to go eat. The restaurant we went to was delicious and the lady serving us was amazed at how well we ate. She said we were basically natives! It made me feel super happy, I don’t know why but it did. About the ARC, it was just a proud moment for me because I went all by myself to go pick it up and I didn’t get lost using the subway system. I mean there are only so many ways the subway can go before I realize I am on the wrong one. Noreabang is super fun if you go with people who aren’t shy and are willing to sing. I want once before with some people from my KLI class and then again with almost half of my KLI class because it was my friends birthday. On my friends birthday we spent 3 hours singing and people wanted to keep singing. I was so tired and my I throat hurt. Although only two people have the mic, if you know that song everyone sings with them. Some people even danced while singing. It was just something that I had never done before and I was so happy that I went with people that were willing to sing and dance and just be goofy.

Now, time to get real, classes. Wow, I know I am definitely learning from every single class. More from my KLI class but KLI is everyday for two hours and then almost an hour of studying every night what I learned that day. Speaking of which I have a vocab quiz tomorrow on 102 words. So today is a definite study night. The format for classes here is different, it is like one day it is two hours of that one class and then another day of only one hour. I think it is like a block period or something like that. I think I have a weekly quiz for one of my classes and then then another weekly quiz for the other class. KLI is more of speaking Korean and learning the spelling as well as how to address certain people that are older than you; using honorifics for that individual. KLI is becoming a little bit easier, I can understand more for when my professor is asking us a question or when she is only asking me. I am super nervous for our midterm. It is one day of reading, one day of writing, and one day for speaking. We get graded separately for each one. I have a hard time speaking and using the right terms for what I am talking about, so I know my speaking test is going to kill me. Anyways, things have been great classes are getting harder, but it is not like I don’t know that feeling. Life is good right now, and I have to study right now so until next time! 안녕!!!