April 13, 2007

Summary

Vacation Blogging Overview

Over the past semester, blogging has allowed us to remember our most influential trips around the world. We were able to share the culture, history, and people we encountered with the rest of our group members. It was very interesting to look over each other's blogs because they each dealt with a different part of the world; from Asia to Latin America to the Pacific Islands. We described major events from our trips in our blogs and provided links with more information about things we mentioned so that the other group members could learn more about areas that interested them. Also, posting photos helped us visualize everyone's experiences. The descriptions, links, and pictures from each trip made all of us want to go back in time to relive some of our experiences and possibly take a vacation to one of the other locations our group members blogged about.

Blogging was fun and interesting!! It gave us a way to get to know each other better over the semester.

Posted by scheemo at 06:52 PM

del.icio.us Review

del.icio.us!
When given the assignment to bookmark a website on del.icio.us daily, I have no idea what del.icio.us was and did not think it would be useful for anything but this assignment. This belief stayed with me until I downloaded the del.icio.us extension for Mozilla and I had to do research for two final projects.



After downloading the the Mozilla extension, del.icio.us became much easier and much more convenient to use. Instead of flipping between windows or tabs and copying the link to the website you were trying to bookmark, I can now simply click the "TAG" button located on the task bar of Mozilla. I tag a lot more websites now, and for reasons other than that I have to for class.



Also, as the year winds down, I have two final projects to work on and do research for. del.icio.us has allowed me to easily keep track of important sites I have found for my projects. These sites are also easily accessible thanks to the tagging feature.



Unexpectedly, I have found del.icio.us very helpfull and easy to use over the semester. I was skeptical at first, but now use it almost daily because I want to, not because it is required.

Posted by kmquinn at 02:37 PM

del.icio.us Overview

I love del.icio.us!


At first, I didn't like the website. It was such a pain trying to tag websites by going back and forth between del.icio.us and the website I wanted to tag. Then, after our group assignment that we did about Mozilla Add-Ins, I downloaded the del.icio.us add-in, and it became so easy to use!



This semester, I have had used del.icio.us for mainly three different topics. I have been trying to figure out what I am doing this summer, in regards to what classes I would be taking, and if I were to apply for the Intensive Second Year Chinese Program. del.icio.us helped me get to the application and course guides easily when I needed to search for them.



I also used it a lot for my group Blog. I looked up sites relating to China and all of the places that I visited. It was very convenient because people in my group that I traveled with have websites and blogs that have pictures that I used for my own blog (with their permission). I was able to get to the specific page of the site that I wanted using the Mozilla del.icio.us Add-in.



Lastly, I used del.icio.us for my job. I work for a company in downtown Ann Arbor, called DirectIncorporation. We file trademarks and incorporate businesses. I am the only non-lawyer that files tradmarks, and I was just learning as we were assigned the del.icio.us tagging. It has helped me keep track of all the websites that I need to go to to research international classes and look up similar marks that have been previously approved. I have also been starting to tag the Secretary of State websites for certain states so that I can easily do name searches for people who want to start to incorporate. It has been very helpful and has made my job less annoying when I know exactly what website I want to go to without having to Google it, or search through my email for the link that my boss has sent me.



Overall, I have had a good experience with del.icio.us. It has helped me with school and work, and has made being online a little easier for me.

Posted by cdesimon at 02:37 PM

Costa Rica

The End
Overall, my volunteer/adventure month spent in Costa Rica was a blast. The first two weeks were fun and it was really rewarding to do something that helped make a difference. While in the village, Aranjuez, I made some great friends and some unforgettable memories. The second two weeks were also a blast. They gave me a chance to see almost the entire Costa Rican country. The people in Costa Rica are great. I never felt uncomfortable or unsafe. I am very glad I took this opportunity. It was the trip of a life-time!

Posted by kmquinn at 12:02 PM

April 12, 2007

del.icio.us Review

Before taking BIT200, I had heard of del.icio.us, but had never used it. Until this year I did not bookmark sites, even on my own computer. I don't know why I did this, but I just liked typing in sites and keeping everything in my head. As I started to use the Internet more and more, I began bookmarking sites on my computer. My list in Firefox is very long (it takes up the whole screen and I have to scroll through them).
After installing the Del.icio.us add-on by Yahoo!, I immediately found the application and social bookmarking concept useful. The concept is very useful, but more of a convenience than a necessity. I only used my del.icio.us account several times on another computer, as I do not often use another computer besides my own. Even then, I found it more efficient to just type the web address or search for it on google. The only true use I have found for del.icio.us is checking a website to see if software has been updated. I only used this for one program though, as most programs have a built in updating function.
Del.icio.us was interesting to find new sites listed on the main page. I never searched for a specific topic through del.icio.us but just stumbled across some popular tags and found sites interesting. From this I did learn new information regarding new technologies and internet marketing techniques. Many others were just random sites that I have already forgotten. Del.icio.us is useful when you found a specific site awhile ago and must now recall it. You can easily find it by searching your tags only. If I find a site I will check regularly, I either add it to my Firefox toolbar or browser bookmarks because they are more accessible and more efficient that using del.icio.us. The concept is interesting and seems useful, but is truly only worthwhile when rediscovering old sites or randomly browsing other people's tags.

Posted by scheemo at 04:42 PM

April 10, 2007

China

Missing China


I miss China a lot now. Blogging especially makes me miss it. Looking through pictures, trying to find the right photo to describe what I want to describe brings back a lot of memories. It was especially hard to pick only a few things to blog about! Looking through other websites to tag and add to my blog allowed me to catch up with what is going on at the Universities that I left and the places that I visited. I looked through some of the blogs that my friends that traveled with me had posted, and I discovered notes and pictures that I didn't know were taken (both a good and bad thing!). One of the best things was discovering new pictures that other people on my trip had just posted.



The China Video we made to show our trip has a lot of inside jokes and memories. It even shows a video we made about our Wushu attempts. Looking over the pictures from the Great Wall, Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven makes me want to go back. It was an amazing trip and I met a lot of new people, and made some great friends. I am taking Chinese now too because of the trip, and it has been considerably harder this semester compared to last semester. Also, my motivation to take it has been down, because I am not continuously reminded of why I am taking the class, and knowing the importance of the language. Blogging about it has kept me a little more motivated than I would have been if I didn't because it is a little reminder of why I chose to take it in the beginning.

Posted by cdesimon at 09:18 PM

April 09, 2007

Hawai'i

July 3, 1999 - Waipi'o Day

This morning we are heading for the Hamakua Coast where the Waipi'o Valley is. This valley is well protected and not very well known as only 10% of the population of Hawai'i have been in to the valley.

Waipi'o Valley


This was the most picturesque and beautiful scenery I have ever seen. The valley was covered in lush, green vegetation and the ocean was the bluest I have ever seen. The trip down the valley was interesting as the van could not hold everyone, so we had to get out and hike a good distance. Early morning exercise woke everyone up.
In the valley, we visited Cain's Taro Farm. There we planted taros and played mud soccer. Mud soccer is so much fun. Everyone was covered in mud from their head to their toes. After soccer, we weeded another taro field and harvested another field.

Taro Fields


The work was surprisingly hard, but was fun. However, the lunch was disgusting. I had never tried poi before, which is made from taro roots. It is a native Hawai'ian dish and is absolutely disgusting!!! Luckily, lunch also had chicken! After lunch, we went swimming at the beach for a while and then headed back to the hotel. Everyone was exhausted from working the taro fields, but the site of the Waipi'o Valley will remain with me as one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen.

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Posted by scheemo at 05:28 PM

April 06, 2007

Costa Rica

Ocotal
We arrived at Ocotal, on the Pacific cost, around noon. We spent the day at a beach laying out, reading, and swimming. The water was really warm and the sand was black.
It was so nice to finally be at a beach; we had been so busy with the travels that two days relaxing at the beach were just what we needed. Once we were sick of cooling off in the salt water, we headed for the pool for the rest of the day. Around 4pm the rain came and we headed toward our room. After showers, it was dinner time. We went to a local restaurant which was very good. We were planning to go out after dinner, but we fell asleep instead; Costa Rica wore all of us out!

The next day we were up early to go snorkeling. We saw dolphins, stingrays, octopus, squid, and a lot of pretty fish. It was a lot of fun. Once we finished snorkeling we relaxed on the boat a while until heading back to the resort. The rest of the day was spent next to the pool listening to music. It was a perfect last day and ending to our adventure in Costa Rica! The day ended with a beautiful sunset and a fun night hanging out in the Ocotal village.

Posted by kmquinn at 05:20 PM

April 03, 2007

China

FOX
My favorite part of the trip to Tianjin was not staying at Visit Tianjin Medical University! with the other students to learn about Traditional Chinese Medicine, but it was going to a student's home for dinner. We were paired up with a Medical student who toured us around Tianjin and the university. The trip to Tianjin was during our last week there, and so we all wanted it to make it the best week yet. Dr. Yen set us up with families of the students who were in Tianjin, to have dinner with them. My student was a boy who called himself Fox. He was a nice guy, quiet, but excited to show me around. He also was chosen to have some students in my group home with him for dinner



Fox also had two other girls from my group come to his house. His house wasn't far away, but we did need to take a taxi there. We needed to catch a taxi on the main road, so we had to walk to get there. We walked by a park where there was a large TV tower and a pond. Around the pond, they had lots of roller skates lined up, which people could rent for some time. They roller skates looked kind of sketchy, but there were lots of people having fun skating around the park. There were even older men who look like they finished work, and came to the park to have fun. Probably the funniest image was a train of men roller skating together. It was weird from our perspective, but everyone there looked like they were having a great time.







We took a cab to his apartment, which was small, but very well-kept. His mother and father reminded me of my grandparents, and were very excited to see us. They offered us tea, and gave us little presents, which were figurines of babies from their city. They wanted to teach us how to make dumplings. Fox's mom and dad worked together making the dough and filling the dumplings with meat. We even got to try. Dumpling-making is an art. You have to pinch the top of the dumpling about 12 or 13 times, otherwise its bad luck. And the folds have to overlap. They can't just be pinched that number of times. It was really hard. It took us a while to make all the dumplings that we needed to have for dinner, but we played on their piano and had watermelon while talking to Fox and having him translate to his parents.



The meal was the best meal I have had in China. They put other food on the table besides the dumplings, like duck eggs and a type of green leaf. It was all delicious. Fox and I spoke about how my grandfather made homemade wine, and he insisted on having me try some "Chinese wine". I said ok, and he came back with a small bottle of clear liquid. I was very confused. He poured some for each of the American students, and we tasted it, but it had no similarity to grape wine. We didn't realize that it was rice wine, and liquor. We couldn't finish it after one sip, and Fox didn't want to waste it, so he had to drink three glasses of the wine. It was a big mistake, and a cultural misunderstanding. He was so nice to let me try Chinese wine, but our definitions of wine were different. Poor Fox was drunk for the rest of the night.



It was a fun night, though. Meeting his parents and cooking with them was exciting. They even had a dog, which was surprising, and a good thing to break stereotypes that I've heard that Chinese don't have dogs as pets because they eat them. They loved their dog, and it was very friendly. We took pictures at the end of the night, but we didn't want to leave. It was nice to get away from the student/school side of China and see how real families live. It was a good way to end our trip, with a Mom and a Dad that we had been missing for a month.




Posted by cdesimon at 07:53 PM

April 02, 2007

Hawai'i

July 2, 1999 - Waimea/Paniolo Day

Today we walked to the Hulihe`e Palace. This is not a real palace, but was used as a royal summer house and is now a museum with walking tours. It was somewhat boring but also educational about the Hawai'ian royalty and their lifestyle.

Hulihe`e Palace


Next we visited the Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve. Petroglyphs are inscriptions in stone detailing typically stories involving people and animals. These particular ones detailed the traditional Hawai'ian lifestyle.

Petroglyphs


The last stop of the day was in Waimea at the Parker Ranch. This is a historical museum, rodeo and ranch. We watched a 45 minute video about the history of the ranch and Paniolos, who are the Hawai'ian cowboys. We were given a horse drawn carriage. The horses names were King Arthur and Prince Charles. Also, we saw several cowboys training a colt and got to practice lassoing. I was horrible but it was fun to attempt to be a cowboy for a day.

Parker Ranch


That evening we left the Kona side of the Big Island and headed back to the Hilo side to stay in the Hawai'i Naniloa Hotel.

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Posted by scheemo at 01:56 AM | TrackBack

March 30, 2007

China

Tianjin


We woke up at 6am to pack our things and head to Tianjin. We took the bus to the train station after some of the Chinese students said good-bye to us. The Beijing train station was very nice. It was a huge building with a giant clock tower and marble floors and beams. Outside was a large granite area leading up to the train station with large groups of people scrambling around, or sleeping on their luggage. We found a passenger resting area that you had to pay to sit in with worn lounge chairs. We took turns watching the luggage their while we went to go have breakfast. We went to a Chinese-style diner where we had soybean milk in a large bowl, English muffins with sausage, hard-boiled tea eggs, and fried dough. After breakfast, we got on the train. We were in "soft-class" which was first class. It was 35 yuan, about 4 dollars. Really cheap.







I sat across from two Australian people. They were creating joint degree programs with Curtain University in Australia, and Chinese universities. They were not so much interested in what we were doing in China, but American culture. They told us how they hated that American channels like ABC and Fox take over Australian TV. They also asked us if Americans ate steak every night and always drove big cars that used tons of gas. Then they started talking about politics. They were telling us how they dislike President Bush, but that their prime minister gets along well with him because they are both conservative. They asked us more questions, and talked more. Talking about politics was slightly uncomfortable, but we later changed the subject to marriage and life. The woman told us to find a husband who will compromise with you and look at you as an equal. She said that he should share the responsibility and the sacrifice. It was an interesting conversation, but every second I felt like I was being watched and judged. It was very intimidating. We talked for the hour and a half that it took us to go to Tianjin, and then we went our separate ways. We should have asked for a business card, or some sort of way to keep in contact, but their personalities were so standoffish, I didn't know if they really liked us.

Posted by cdesimon at 06:42 PM

Costa Rica

Monteverde
After a very long and VERY bumpy bus ride we arrived in Monteverde (Green Mountain). Monteverde it a nature reserve in the Cloud Forest. Once we settled into our rooms we attempted to spend our afternoon by the pool; however, the weather had other plans - it started raining on us. So, we retreated back to our room. We all read and slept until it was time for dinner. We ate at a really nice and delicious Italian restaurant. We all called it a night after dinner because the next morning we had to be up at 6:30 am!

The next day at Monteverde was spent horseback riding and zip-lining. The horseback riding was so much fun, and we didn’t get wet this time. We rode around the mountain and in the forest. They even let us gallop. My horse, Pico, was a little moody though and didn't like to run.
After horseback ridding we ate a quick lunch and headed zip-lining through the Cloud Forest. I felt like Tarzan. We flew through the trees on 11 zip-lines and over the trees on one the highest zip-lines in the world (660ft high!). It was amazing (and a little scary)!! From the highest zip-line I could see the Pacific Ocean, which was a 5 hour drive away!

The next day we headed to our final destination, Ocotal!

Posted by kmquinn at 04:15 PM

March 26, 2007

Hawai'i

July 1, 1999 - Honaunau/Kealakekua Day

This morning we visited Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. This is considered a place of refuge for many as the traditional Hawaiian lifestyle is preserved, from the ancient temples to the wooden carvings.

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau


There was also a one of a kind spotted sand beach (it was white and black from the volcanoes). The park is also known for its preservation of sea turtles, which we saw. We were given traditional Hawai'ian religious performances, which I throughly enjoyed. However, the best part of the day had not yet come.

After visiting the national park, we headed to Keauhou Bay to catch a boat that took us to Kealakekua Bay to snorkel and swim. This bay is famous for having the Captain Cook monument. Captain Cook was the first Westerner to step foot on the Hawai'ian islands in 1778.

Captain Cook monument


Snorkeling was one of the most fun activities I have ever tried. There were many tropical fish that was amazingly close to you. The ocean floor was fairly deep and there was no coral, but there were still an abundance of brilliantly colored fish. I had an underwater camera and managed to get up close with several fish.

Fish while snorkeling


The night concluded by everyone staying in the water, but relocating into our hotel pool, and everyone went to Dairy Queen for ice cream on a hot Hawai'ian night.

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Posted by scheemo at 01:42 AM

March 23, 2007

Coast Rica

Volcan Arenal
After traveling by canal boat and bus for most of the day we ended up at Volcan Arenal; the second most active volcano in the world. We stayed in La Fortuna which is a tourists town at the base of the volcano.
Once we got our rooms and unpacked we went to the Baldi hot springs at the base of the volcano. There were over 10 separate hot spring pools you could go into; the further up the side of the volcano you went, the hotter the pool was.
Some of the hot springs were too hot to even go in (152 degrees!!). It was a relaxing night and felt very good after half a day traveling on a bus. Once we returned from the hot springs we headed for the pay phones to call home. Finally, it was time for showers and bed.

The next day we headed closer to the volcano. We ate breakfast at a small local place and headed for our adventure on the side of the Arenal volcano. We took zip-lines across canyons, over rivers and over waterfalls. I cannot even describe how beautiful it was. We went on a total of 6 different zip-lines; one was 1.5 miles long.


One of the waterfalls in our adventure was 240ft high. We repelled next to this waterfall. It was pretty freaky when you looked down at the 90ft of free-falling and 150ft of repelling I was about to do; but, once you started repelling, it was amazing! The waterfall was beautiful! We finished the day by horseback riding back down the side of the volcano. As we were riding it began to pour on us. We finished the trip soaking wet. It continued to rain into the night. We all settled in our rooms, played cards, and watched movies until we feel asleep.

The next day we headed closer to the Pacific side of Costa Rica.

Posted by kmquinn at 11:40 AM

March 21, 2007

China

Tienanmen Square
We did a lot of tourist things when we went to Beijing. We went to Tienanmen Square, which is the largest square in the world. It has a large monument to Chairmen Mao in the center. It is heavily guarded by guards who walk in large groups, like two rows of marching soldiers. It was the site of a student demonstration, where the guards came with tanks and students died.









We wanted to take a picture of the group with a large banner in front that was in Chinese and said GIEU Beijing University of Michigan and we set ourselves up, and asked some American tourists to take the picture of us. (because we were scared of someone running off with our cameras) Dr. Yen asked one of the guards earlier to see if we could take pictures with a sign, and he said yes. We started taking pictures, and a large group started forming around us. People were staring at us and taking pictures of us, like we were celebrities. The group was pretty large, and guards started noticing. All of a sudden, the guards ran up to us, yelling and telling us to stop taking the photos, that the banner needed to be a certain size, and then another one said that we couldn't have a banner at all. It caused a big commotion, but our picture turned out well!!!

Posted by cdesimon at 05:07 PM

March 20, 2007

Costa Rica

Tortugero
Tortuguero is on the north Caribbean side of Costa Rica. The place we stayed at was along a canal in the Torugero National Park. To get there, we had to travel in a small river boat. Once we arrived and put our stuff in our rooms they fed us lunch. After lunch we were able to layout and relax by a pool for the rest of the day; if was heaven. After a very rich dinner and day in the sun we headed back to our huts for bed.

The next day we went kayaking through the canals. On our two-hour adventure we saw a few crocodiles (cocodrillos in spanish). It was pretty cool. We went as far as we could down one branch of the canals. Once we hit a tree that was impossible to get around, we headed back to our resort. We spent the rest of the day by the pool playing cards.

The next day, we made our way towards the middle of Costa Rica.

Posted by kmquinn at 10:22 PM

March 19, 2007

Hawai'i

June 30, 1999 - Kona Day

Today we visited the Kona Coffee Living History Farm. Hawaii is known for growing tropical plants such as pineapple, bananas and coffee. We saw how they farmed and picked coffee beans, and participated in the harvest. It was very tedious work as we stripped the beans off the plants into a basket. There were literally hundreds of acres with coffee plants, making for a long harvest.

Kona Coffee Living History Farm


Our next stop was the Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden. We went on a tour of the most beautiful garden I have ever been in. There were so many colors and the tropical plants smelled wonderful. We started with the plants that lived in the ocean around Hawai'i. Then we climbed a hill to see high elevation trees. The site of the entire garden from the top of the hill was break taking.

Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden


At the Onizuka Space Center, we watched a movie about space travel and Hawaiians who have been astronauts. Hawaii is famous for having great telescope locations on top of Mauna Loa. The displays were fascinating because of my interest in space. It was a very educational experience.

Onizuka Space Center


The remainder of the evening was spent shopping at the Kona Coast Shopping Center, the Hard Rock Cafe and in the pool. Today was a very busy day as we traveled to three destinations, but it was very educational and the gardens were beautiful.

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Posted by scheemo at 12:52 AM

March 16, 2007

Costa Rica

Ecolodge
We finished our second day of whitewater rafting by 1pm in the afternoon. Once we helped put the rafts away we spent the rest of the day traveling to our next location; an Ecolodge in Limon, on the Caribbean cost.

The Ecolodge was in the middle of nowhere. We had to take an army truck through rivers in order to get to the lodge! It was like we were on the Oregon Trail. Once we got our rooms and were settled in we had a spaghetti dinner; this food was really tasty. They also treated us with their special "Cocoa Locos" as a welcome the the Ecolodge.
After a long day we all headed to bed early in our little huts.

The next day at this lodge was kind of uneventful. We all relaxed, played cards, read, walked around, etc. The food, again, tasted delicious. After two nights at the Ecolodge we traveled Oregon Trail again and made our way to Tortugero.

Posted by kmquinn at 05:38 PM

March 14, 2007

China

Chinese Sports
Since we were at a sports university that had 7 gold medalists at the Athens Olympics, Dr. Yen wanted us to take Wushu lessons. We had a tour of campus, which was primarily sports training facilities. We went to the large gymnasium, which we could see from the highway driving to the school, and had our lesson there. Our teacher was a small woman who didn't speak English. We had student translators. She started us off with Tai Chi, which is a slow Chinese sport/relaxation technique which makes you control your breathing and movements. We had to pretend to hold a ball in our hands and push it back and forth. Our leg movements corresponded to our slow arm movements and it was more difficult that it looked.



Then she tried to teach us wushu. It is a sport, which to me, looks comparable to karate, but I'm sure if you asked a wushu major, they would disagree. There are fast movements that are combinations of kicks, spins and jumps. She made us practice in pairs so that she could evaluate us easier. In our pair, we had to do kicks from one end of the gym to the other when it was our turn. It was mortifying. I was horrible, especially in comparison to others in the group who are ice skaters and could spin pretty easily.



We were all pretty bad if you compared us to the others in the room, though.The wushu majors did a demonstration for us, and it was amazing. They used long sticks and knives to pretend to battle people while spinning and kicking. Our favorite was the "Wushu Boy" He was very short, but incredibly talented. He did a routine for us where he pretended to act like an angry dog. He growled and kicked and spun everywhere. It was actually really frightening. The best part was when he did a spin in the air and he was parallel to the ground. I wish we could have watched him all day, but eventually our teacher wanted us to practice more.




Posted by cdesimon at 04:13 PM

March 12, 2007

Costa Rica

Work Ends and Travel Begins
White Water Rafting

We started our adventure across Costa Rica with whitewater rafting. We traveled for half a day and made it to the Pacquare River. by 12 noon. My friends and I chose to do the “aggressive? rapids which simply meant that our guide purposely tried to flip us and took us through the roughest parts of the rapids.
I was a little scared at first but then ended up having a blast!

We went about 4 miles down the river to a lodge where we spent the night. The lodge was decent, although there was no electricity, and the food was amazing. The food could have seemed even better than usual because we had been living on rice and beans for two weeks. After dinner we laid around, played cards, and just relaxed by the river.

On our second day at the river lodge, we went on a hike into the jungle; it was a workout! We made it to a beautiful waterfall which we could slide down like a water slide. After another hour or so of hiking we found a 20ft waterfall that we jumped off of! I was a little nervous but once I jumped I wanted to do it again. It was a lot of fun! We had the rest of the day off and just relaxed by the river and in some hammocks.

The next day we finished our whitewater rafting adventure by traveling 8 more miles down the river through class III and class IV rapids (class V being the biggest).
Although a bit scary, they were a blast and the river was beautiful. White water rafting was my favorite part of our second two weeks in Costa Rica.

Posted by kmquinn at 05:30 PM

Hawai'i

June 29, 1999 - Kawaihae Day

Today we are moving to the other side of the Big Island. The bus ride was long and very crowded. We stopped at Pu'ukohola Heiau, a national historic site. At the visitor center, we learned about the history of Pu'ukohola Heiau. There is a Temple of War built by King Kamehameha I which looks like a fortress.

Pu'ukohola Heiau


Afterwards, we visited Hapuna Beach Park for lunch and swimming. We also buried some people in the sand. It was a very relaxing several hours.
Then, we left for Kailua-Kona. Along the way, we passed lava fields where people spelled out words with white rocks.
We arrived at the Royal Kona Resort, unpacked, had dinner and then had free time.

Posted by scheemo at 12:18 AM

March 09, 2007

Costa Rica

Childrens' Fair
On our last day in Aranjuez, the village was having a childrens' fair. Kids from schools throughout Puntarenas. came to our small village for a day of games, races, dancing, and a skit by myself and the other 12 volunteers I was with.

It was really hot out that day and shade was hard to find but other than that, it was a great day for a fair. The students wore their uniforms and each school had a sign displaying what village they were from.

They marched around the school and the soccer field and finally settled in front of the stage. They were all excited to see what skit the out-of-towners put together. We did a skit that showed the kids what we were doing at the farm and why. We tried to make it fun and interactive but the language barrier was limiting. Luckily myself and two others knew how to speak a little spanish so we narrated the play while the other volunteers acted it out. The kids seemed to enjoy it, but maybe they were just laughing at our poor acting and small spanish speaking ability.

After our skit the games began! We watched the relay races and kids running around. A few of us joined in on a little soccer game. The kids were adorable.

The day of the fair was the perfect way to end our time in Aranjuez. We were sad to leave but excited to begin the adventure part of our trip.

Posted by kmquinn at 05:45 PM

March 07, 2007

China

Central Conservatory of Music

Later on the trip we traveled with Dr. Monts and Dr. Yen to the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, which was in the 2nd circle. This is a grade and high school where students live and study traditional Chinese instruments. We arrived at a large building and they took us to the 3rd floor and we sat in a large conference room with reclining black chairs and a large wooden table set with water bottles for each of us. We met with the President of the school who once again exchanged gifts with Dr. Monts and took pictures. We received a tour of the school by a Chinese student with a thick British accent. We walked down the hall and show individual practice rooms with students playing the piano. One student was pointed out as one of the best. The building had dark marble floors and walls by the elevators and while marble everywhere else. We were shown a "typical dorm" which turned out to be a guest dorm room that looked like a hotel, and nothing like a real one. I didn't understand why they would never show us a real dorm room. There was a little garden and courtyard that had a small pond and flowers with every color of the rainbow- like a secret garden.

We also saw the theater where the preformances take place. It was amazing, with huge gold organ pipes with green and red detailing. There were the perfectly lined chairs and music stands on the wooden stage and a brand new wooden piano. Everything else in the theater was red. They claimed that the acoustics were the very best.


After this, we drove an hour to the 6th circle where there was a satellite school, which was in a more rural area. It was brand new and cost more money, partly because it was not funded as much by the state. The President was a famous Chinese musician. She was very happy to have Dr. Yen there, almost to the extent of being overly nice. She wants students to go to Umich because it will raise the prestige of her school. She had her students perform for us, playing traditional Chinese instruments and the piano. They were incredible. They ranged in ages from 4th grade to 9th grade. It was really amazing how well these students could play, and how dedicated they were to playing at such a young age. It made me think of how different our education is, and the differences in what we value in education.



Here is another link for information in English!

Posted by cdesimon at 08:01 PM

March 05, 2007

China

The Great Wall
The Great Wall deserves a bright heading because of how mind-blowing it was. We went to a part that wasn't the most popular spot to climb. There was almost no one there. We left at 9 AM and got there around 11. The walk up to the Great Wall was intense. I didn't realize that you had to climb a mountain to reach the wall. We climbed for a good half hour. This is a mountain with steep steps that I still don't understand how I did it. Once we got up to the wall, it was not a road, it didn't cut across the top of the mountain, but conformed to the mountain. It rolled all over the tops of these hills, and there were huge steps and steep stairs to climb up and down.





We mostly went uphill. We started at the 8th watch tower, which they would send up puffs of smoke to signal how many men were approaching. One puff meant 100 men, two meant 500, and three meant 1,000 men. They would send these puffs up life a chain, from one watch tower to the next. We walked to the 11th tower, then stopped to each our packed bag lunch, which was interesting, since it was packaged by BSU. It had hard boiled eggs, sausage (don't ask what was in it, because we still don't know), a sweet roll, and some water. Not a traditional American lunch.







We saw a lot of people from all over the world on the Wall. There were two or three Michigan grads who called out to us, since we were all in bright yellow Michigan shirts. We climbed up to the 20th watch tower, which was almost a vertical climb. It was very scary. When we looked behind us, we could not even see the step behind us unless we looked straight down because it was so steep. When we got to the top, the rest of the wall was in ruins, so we couldn't keep going. I started to write my name on the wall, and the guard yelled at me. Oops.





The view was unbelievable, and it was so hard to imagine the history behind it all. Just thinking about people creating this, and actually using it, hiding from their enemies, and fighting for their lives on this wall was so hard to believe. No one wanted to leave that top tower. (not only because of the view, but because the walk down looked deadly) When we finally got down, we were exhausted, but decided to do a little bargaining for some souveniers. And then we took the bus home. It was the BEST part of my trip!

Posted by cdesimon at 08:24 PM

Hawai'i

June 28, 1999 - Kupuna Day

Today we visited the local Kupuna Center. Kupuna is Hawaiian for the elderly. Upon entering, we were greeted by a chanting lady and were given yarn leis. We prayed in a circle and then started activities the elderly had set up for us. First, my group made a bracelet by weaving straw. Then, we learned a traditional hula dance. The song was called the Hukilau and was about fishing. This was surprisingly fun and easy. Next, we learned to play three notes on the ukulele.

Ukulele


At the final station, we made a game similar to the one where you try to catch a ball on a string in a little cup.
After a short snack, we sung Cleveland Rocks and then danced with the Kupuna to the Electric slide and the Macarena. Then, they sang and danced traditional Hawaiian hulas for us.
Our next stop was the Hawai'i County Building. There we met Mayor Stephen K. Yamashiro and had our questions answered.
Next was the Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo, the only one in the United States. We had a map to fill in where the animals were, so the experience was somewhat educational. My group watched some monkeys being fed.

monkeys


The coolest site was beautiful peacocks walking around freely with their feathers spread out.
Back at the dorms, we had free time to play soccer, volleyball or indoor baseball. The day was very educational and I got to see some animals native to the rainforest which was a once in a lifetime experience.

Posted by scheemo at 09:44 AM

February 27, 2007

Hawai'i

June 27, 1999 - Kilauea Hike Day

Today we visited Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. This is why I had come to Hawai'i: to see active volcanoes and erupting lava. After a quick stop at the Visitor Center, we began our hike hike through Kilauea Crater.

Culdera


The crater floor consisted of very sharp lava rocks and my feet actually got hot. One guys shoes actually started to melt! We passed a cinder cone and spatter cone (which are different types of volcanoes).
After we hiked, we had lunch and ventured inside a lava tube. A lava tube is typically a "pipe system" underground for a volcano through which lava usually flow to the ocean. This particular lava tube was inactive and turned into a lighted walkway.

Lava Tube


With the guidance of a park ranger, we went in a closed off area of the lava tube that was pitch black. You couldn't see your own hand in front of your face!
After the lava tube, we went to another lava field to look for the world's lightest rock, reticulite. I didn't find any.

Reticulite


A girl fell and cut herself while walking through the lava field and was rushed to the hospital for stitches.
Back at the University, we had dinner and learned an ancient stand up hula. We also made crafts including a tshirt, a sketch on a cloth, memo pads, and could get temporary tattoos.
The day was amazing but I was disappointed that I did not get to see running lava or a volcano erupt. It is very rare that tourists actually get to see it, but I will eventually one day.

Posted by scheemo at 01:51 PM

February 25, 2007

China

Touring BSU

The next morning we got up and had out enormous breakfast, this time with the whole group. We met with Dr. Monts and Dr. Yen to have breakfast, but we were a little late. Our plans had changed from the itnerary. In the morning we met with the Vice President of BSU. We walked to the office in the rain. The said that rain was very lucky. We walked into the administration building which was all white marble, and we walked into the office- a huge room with boxy black leather chairs and dark wood, and a large table in between. The chairs were in front of a large cloth picture of a scene in China, and framed with two large China pots filled with plants. The Vice President was a tall Chinese man, almost the same size as Dr. Monts. They met each other, and were served tea, that they never touched. Dr. Yen was amazing- he was the translator the entire time. They greeted each other, said that they hoped to set up a relationship between the two universities. It seemed a little superficial. They exchanged gifts, smiled, gave us pins and business cards, and that was it.


They showed us a video in the room after the administration left. It described BSU, which is the #1 sports university in China. In Athens 2004 it turned out 7 or 8 gold medalists, in wrestling, weightlifting, and other sports. I didn't realize how impressive the University was, judging by its small size, compared to the giant University of Michigan.

Check out Beijing Sport University!

Posted by cdesimon at 07:30 PM

February 23, 2007

Costa Rica

Work Break!
Today, Friday June 1, 2006, was our day off after 10 long days of work on la finca (the farm). We traveled in a van for about 45 minutes toward the Pacific cost. We then hopped on a river boat for about an hour.
The boat brought us through canals and into a bay area. We stopped by a rock and snorkeled for a while. It was really beautiful and colorful. We even found an octopus hiding in the rocks. After a couple of hours snorkeling we made our way to Tortuga Island.

The beach on Tortuga Island is one of the few white sand beaches in Costa Rica. Most of the other beaches have black sand. It was beautiful, warm and relaxing. We played in the water, climbed a palm tree, played beach soccer and laid in the waves. It was the perfect day off. It also gave my friends and I a chance to get rid of our farmers tans. While we were on the island we saw a caged Macaw that was used as a store front attraction. Our leader, Rodolfo,made sure to call the police at the end of the day to help free the Macaw because it is illegal to hold them as pets in Costa Rica.

The last stop of the day was the Island Prison of San Lucas (now a wild life reserve). Our tour guide said that when the prison was running it was comparable to Alcatraz. The deserted island and old prison buildings had a very creepy feel to them. The prison was set up of a few large buildings that would hold about 150 prisoners at a time. There were no separate cells for each prisoner; they were all clumped into one room. The murderers were with the thieves and the men were with the women; it didn't matter.
In one a the prisoner buildings was a famous painting of a life-size women. The painting is not famous because of what it is, the painting is famous because of what it is made out of, blood!

Finally it was time to leave the creepy prison and go home. It was a great free-day.

Posted by kmquinn at 05:16 PM

February 20, 2007

Hawai'i

June 26, 1999 - Hilo Day

Today we visited Hilo. Downtown, we went to the Pacific Tsunami Meseum and learned what causes a tsunami, as well as, the devastating 1946 and 1960 tsunamis that struck Hawai'i.

Tsunami

Afterwards, we went shopping at gift stores, surf stores and the Hilo Farmers Market.
Hilo Farmer's Market


We had lunch in a park and were told traditional Hawai'ian folk tales and legends. Then we went sightseeing at Rainbow Falls and the Boiling Pots. The boiling pots are named so because when it rains, it appears like they are boiling over into the next "pot".

Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Falls

Boiling Pots and Pe'epe'e Falls
Boiling Pots


After the tour, we visited Borders to hear Jesse Rivera play Hawai'ian music.

The evening concluded by attending the O-Bon Festival, a Japanese festival to honor the dead, in Honomu. Obon literally means "lantern festival." We were given a tour of a Buddhist temple and participated in a traditional Japanese dance.

Posted by scheemo at 01:49 AM

February 17, 2007

China

Traditional Food and Shopping

The day after I got there, we were still waiting for some students to come, so Dr. Yen decided to take the students that had arrived out in downtown Beijing. He wanted us to get a taste of real Chinese food, so he took us to a traditional Beijing restaurant. Inside it looked dirty, compared to American standards. It looked run-down and dirty. It was a small place, with small round tables, but many chairs crowded around it. There was a fridge filled with bottled green tea and water, that we could take, or we could have a small cup of hot tea. Dr. Yen would not let us order. The first plate that they brought out was a large heap of green mush, that was tofu, but unlike any tofu that I have ever had in the US. Later, after some dumplings and beef, they brought out tripe. I had never had it before, but it is a specialty there. I did not particularly like it, and I was trying to smile the whole time I ate it.


After lunch, we went to a large shopping center. It was full of knocked-off goods. The basement had booths and booths of fake designer sneakers and purses, along with other accessories. The thing was that each booth had the same thing. Everyone was trying to sell the same knocked-off thing. The other three floors had clothes, traditional Chinese goods, paintings, jewelry, and anything else that you could imagine.



The sales men and women would approach me and name a high price, and then look at me, and say "I give you better price because you're a pretty girl." I would try to bargain, but it was hard at first because I didn't know how low I could go, and they would say that they couldn't lower the price because they had to support their family. This made me feel bad for them, but also, later realize that they knew exactly what to say to make me feel for them, and pay for a higher price. Needless to say, I got ripped off after I spoke with some of the Chinese students at BSU.

Posted by cdesimon at 07:47 PM

February 16, 2007

Costa Rica

Working Hard
We were woken up bright and early by the rooster that lived right outside our window. After making our way out of the mosquito nets, we headed to the farm to start our day. Our days were routine... Every morning of the two weeks we spent at the farm we had the same breakfast; eggs, white rice, black beans and coffee. The only variation was in the type of eggs we got. Lunch and Dinner were about the same; white rice, black beans, meat, and juice. For these two meals the variation came with the meat.

The first day was the worst. Being from Michigan, I was not used to the sun being so intense. As the week went on, we began to adjust to the heat and sun. However, every night, after a day of hoeing and raking the grass and bushes, we were all exhausted! Most afternoons it rained because we were in Costa Rica during their "winter." That means it was the rainy season. The afternoon rains gave us a nice break in the day. But, unlike Michigan rains, the rain did not cool off the air.

The farm owner was Rodolfo. He did everything and anything to keep up the farm. My three friends and I became very good friends with Rodolfo. Rodolfo helped us improve our spanish speaking skills and we helped him improve his english skills. He even let us hold one of the Macaws!

Most of the rainy afternoons were spent playing cards with Rodolfo and drinking coffee. There is nothing like Costa Rican coffee! We also made trips into the village during our siesta. We would get ice cream and soft drinks to help us cool off in the middle of the day.

At the end of the day, between dinner time and shower time, we usually had group discussions. Our leader taught us about the culture and other important aspects of Costa Rica. I learned that the most important environmental issue in Costa Rica is deforestation. Also, Costa Rica's primary sources of revenue are coffee and bananas.

After a long 10 days of clearing the field, feeding the Macaws, cleaning the cages and a few birds trying to attack my friend, we were allowed a much needed day off.

Posted by kmquinn at 11:55 PM

February 15, 2007

Hawai'i

June 25, 1999 - Marine Day

The weather was overcast (yes, Hawai'i has clouds too) but extremely hot and humid. Today we visited a marine biologist and learned about some of the fish and other sea-creatures that live near Hawai'i. There are tons of tropical sea creatures native to Hawai'i and found no where else in the world. Also, there are dangerous animals with poisonous bards, such as sea urchins. Although they rarely cause death when treated properly, they scared me since we encountered them later.

After lunch we were given the opportunity we had all come to Hawai'i for: THE BEACHES!!! The waves were larger than what I had ever seen before, but not as large as the "surfer" waves everyone recognizes as characteristic of Hawai'i.

At James Kealoha Park, a snorkeling instructor gave us lessons on how to snorkel (it's really not complicated at all). We snorkeled in a tide pool, which is where rocks and lava have extended into the ocean forming a protective cove for marine life to flourish in.

James Kealoha Beach

We had to wear tshirts while snorkeling because the sun was too hot and our backs were exposed on the surface. There were tons of colorful fish, but the sea urchins scared the living daylights out of me.

Sea Urchin

Sea Urchin


We also found a sea cucumber and got to hold it.

Sea Cucumber


The day was very eventful, but the trip had only begun!

Posted by scheemo at 01:08 AM

February 11, 2007

China

This past May, I interned in Beijing and Tianjin, China in order to explore the health and sports management field and the impact of the 2008 Summer Olympics that are coming to Beijing. It was through the UM program, GIEU.
On May 6, I had to catch my flight early in the morning, and I really didn't know the other students that I was flying with. I flew with three other students, along with my site leader, Dr. Yen. We had a 6 or 7-hour layover in Newark, and then spent 15 hours on a plane to Beijing. When we arrived in China, we were greeted by a little Chinese man, who was very cheerful and because of that, we affectionately named him Mr. Charisma. We had to take the elevator down to the parking lot, where there was alittle van waiting for us. Everyone in my group was able to fit into the elevator, except for Mr. Charisma and I. In China, when people fit into any space, it means that they are literally on top of the person next to them. There is no room to move at all. This was a common trend throughout the entire trip.

The language barrier was pretty intimidating at first. In the elevator Mr. Charisma kept trying to ask me simple questions, like how my flight was, and if I was excited to be in China, and I kept answering his questions. Although he could ask me questions, I don't think he understood much because he just kept looking, smiling, and nodding at me with a blank face. The ride to Beijing Sport University was about 45 minutes in a tiny van. We saw lots of bikes and tiny cars. We also passed a huge count down sign to the 2008 Olympics, which was exciting.



We finally arrived at the University, and were greeted by a giant statue of Mao at the front of the University.



We then settled into the dorms, which were very nice. Since there was a 12 hour time difference, we all went to sleep right after we got in our dorms.

Posted by cdesimon at 03:38 PM

February 09, 2007

Costa Rica

The Trip Begins
This past summer I joined the International Student Volunteers on a volunteer/exploration trip for a month in Costa Rica.

Me and three friends went to Costa Rica with 80 other student volunteers from universities throughout the United States. After a very long trip, about nine hours, we all arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica. Once we gathered our luggage, we climbed into a travel bus and headed for Heredia. Heredia was our base city; when we arrived in Costa Rica we stayed there, when we re-grouped after two weeks we stayed there, and when we were getting ready to leave we stayed there.

After cleaning ourselves up, we headed out to gather mosquito nets and work boots. Once we had everything we needed for our volunteer project, we headed to dinner. Ironically we ended up eating at a little Chinese place right next to our hotel; so much for introducing ourselves to the Costa Rican culture.

The next morning we headed out to our project. Me and 11 other students loaded into a van and headed toward the Provence of Puntarenas. We were assigned to a Macaw farm for the first two volunteer weeks of our trip. For two weeks we were to work each day at the farm in order to aid towards the survival of the Scarlet Macaws in Costa Rica. The Macaw farm was located in the very small village of Aranjuez. It was about an hour off the Pacific coast. The town had a population of less than 500 people. It consisted of a Church, two markets, a school, and a soccer field. After a bumpy ride down long dirt roads we finally arrived at the farm and the small yellow house that would be our home for the next two weeks.

The Scarlet Macaws, las lapas in spanish, are endangered in Costa Rica. The farm we were about to spend two weeks at was home to many of the Macaws left in Costa Rica. The Macaws could fly free, but they always came back to the farm; where the food is.

Posted by kmquinn at 10:23 PM

February 08, 2007

Hawai'i

During the summer of 1999, I traveled to Hawai'i with People to People on the trip of a lifetime.

June 24, 1999
The flight, originating from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, flew to Houston, Texas lasting two hours. After a several hour layover, we continued on Continental Airlines to Honolulu International Airport on O'ahu. The flight lasted eight and a half hours (much of which were spent sleeping)! We transfered yet again to a Hawaiian Airlines flight to Hilo International Airport, which lasted another hour. Finally arriving at our destination, we were greeted by locals with fresh flower leis.
Traditional Hawai'ian Lei

The total amount of time spent flying, waiting and driving to our destination was approximately fourteen to fifteen hours. This consumed an entire day and everyone was exhausted.

We stayed in the dorms of the University of Hawai'i at Hilo. Each dorm was two doubles with a conjoined bathroom. After such a long day, everyone just unpacked, ate, socialized and went to bed eager to start our adventure the next day. Although the realization that I was in Hawai'i kept me awake for some hours into the night, my exhaustion got the best of me.
University of Hilo Dorm

Posted by scheemo at 12:42 AM

February 07, 2007

Topic Announcement

We are blogging about past trips we have been on along with interesting facts about these places. We have each chosen our most memorable trip to discuss. We will include links and pictures about these places to describe our experiences. Enjoy reading our blog!

Posted by cdesimon at 03:59 PM

Welcome!

Christina De Simone
Kristin Quinn
Mike Schiemann
Section 004

Posted by cdesimon at 03:55 PM