Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Blog: Kelly Donovan

News from our Fall 2014 traveling dragons will be coming soon!

In the meantime, turn your attention to the blog of Fulbright Scholarship winner and UNCG/LIHC alumna Kelly Donovan.

Kelly is living and teaching on Kinmen, a tiny island close to mainland China but part of Taiwan.

Kelly has been updating her blog since April, when she first learned that she had won a Fulbright.  Her blog is full of her sharp observations and her fun photos.

Especially insightful and of use to UNCG students is Kelly's blog post on what it took to win a Fulbright.  Her advice touches on the pragmatic (start early!) and the sustaining (find cheerleaders, realize that rejection is not personal).  The entire post is linked below and worth a read.

Kelly's blog is linked to the right under Dragons Abroad.  Follow her and our other bloggers on their adventures!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Navigator, Summer 2014

We take a break from our regularly-scheduled program to bring you the Summer 2014 issue of Navigator, the Lloyd International Honors College Newsletter!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Tim-Tam and Tabitha in Australia!

Tim-Tam and his human friend, Tabitha!

G’Day mate from Tim-Tam in Townsville, Queensland, Australia! We really don’t say that here, but I just like the phrase in general. Me and my human friend, Tabitha, have been soaking up the sun and having many adventures in the land “Down Under.” Of course I can’t tell you everything, why, that would take years! But I shall include the favorite parts of our trip so far:
The first weekend we were here we got to visit Magnetic Island, which is right off the coast of Townsville. It was so beautiful! I have never seen water so blue before. While we were on the island, Tabitha was brave enough to touch some of the animals, including a huge snake! Me, I told the Ranger, no thank you. A dragon’s got to think of his safety!

Tabitha bravely holding a snake!

A momma kangaroo and her joey.

The beach on Magnetic Island

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mario and Luigi Take Lorenzo de Medici!

Ciao from Mario and Luigi! We just got back from the beautiful land of Italy! It is good to be flying through the skies of our homeland again, but we really miss the views from the top in Florence!

Here we are looking out over Florence!
 We had a very full month filled with lots of traveling. Our humans weren’t always thrilled about the plane rides, but we enjoyed being above the clouds (though we wish we could’ve flown ourselves!) Our first weekend there we took a bus ride through the Chianti region of Tuscany. We tried around twenty different types of wine and got to see how it was made. The next day we learned how to use the train system and took a day trip to Pisa. You could feel the lean in the tower as soon as you stepped in, and it took Elizabeth and Lacey awhile to adjust as they climbed all of those stairs! 

Chianti from Tuscany!
Our human friend Elizabeth in Pisa

Our other human friend Lacey pretending to have the strength of dragons!

  Our next weekend we went to Fiesole, Cinque Terre, and Venice.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Jordan and Hong Hai'er in Shanghai!

Hello everyone! My name is Jordan Griffin and I'd like you to meet my faithful friend, Hong Hai'er (红孩儿). His name comes from a character in one of the four Chinese classics, Journey To The West, in which the Monkey King is confronted and nearly defeated by a child clothed in red, the Boy Sage King, who commands the power of fire, when the goddess Guanyin subdues him by bringing his hands together and forcing him to bow.  
Hong Hai'er crossing the Yangzi River, the longest in China and the 3rd longest in the world!
My experience abroad so far with Hong Hai'er hasn't exactly been what one might call a "usual" one. For example, I've already appeared on local television here (twice!), attended two weddings, judged an English competition, and visited neighboring Korea. So if you're looking for an unconventional experience, this post is right up your alley!


Judging a local English competition

Beginning with a brief background, I'm living in a type of home-stay in Yangzhou (about 5 hours north of Shanghai where I'll be studying) with my good friend's family. He's an international student of ours at UNCG who I met when I asked to join him for lunch after seeing him eating alone in the caf one fateful day. One year and 2 trips to China later, here I am making this post and preparing for a year-long study of Chinese language in Shanghai! So if this isn't inspiration for you to get involved in our colorful international community here on campus, then I'm not sure what is. I have been here for about 3 months so far getting myself into wacky adventures and will begin school in about 1 month. You'll be hearing from me in another post after I've started school and can comment on that and I couldn't be more excited!

Typical Chinese lunch
My home-stay family eating lunch

I started my experience by moving in with my home-stay family. We soon visited our town's 东岳庙 Daoist temple and 个园, one of our city's most famous classical Chinese gardens.

Jordan at the classical gardens

Daoist Temple of the God of Mount Tai 东岳庙

个园 Chinese classical garden

I was soon approached by a friend of a friend of a friend (relationships/who you know, also known as 关系 (guan xi), is a crucial part of Chinese life, influencing everything from society, jobs, politics, and business) to participate in an episode of popular local television game show. The first of my media studies / asian studies double major is Media, so I was extremely interested in gaining first-hand experience in the Chinese media industry and getting a look at all the behind the scenes goodies and viewing the Chinese process of television production. I'd later be interviewed on another local television show after watching the action on set.

Being prepped for recording.


The sky really is the limit in China but the lesson here is to push your study abroad to the limit and never be afraid to ask questions; you'll open doors to unique opportunities you never even knew existed!

Kung-pao chicken!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Devlin and Miranda in Bristol

Hello darlings, pleased to meet you!
My name is Devlin, and my traveling companion is Miranda Weavil.

A part of the Bristol, UK skyline fro the 5th floor balcony at the School of Chemistry Building.
I first wanted to provide you with a dragon's eye view of the city in which Miranda and I have been inhabiting for the past six weeks.  Bristol is a beautiful city with the perks of a harbor and hills to explore.  The following pictures depict the landscape and the vibrant festival life.

The Bristol Suspension Bridge
The valley-view of the street our flat is on!
In Bristol, there are many wonderful places to visit.  The suspension bridge and the route home from work provided endless wonder and awe.  It is important to note the increase in muslce strength in your legs when walking 30 mins to work everyday!

At the Bristol Harbor Festival
Within the six weeks of my adventure in Bristol, there was potential for enjoying 60 festivals, which equated to a different party atmosphere every week!  One of the festivals I adventured to was the Harbor Festival.  The Harbor Festival encompassed the foolds and drinks of a harbor town and the carnival-like atmosphere that is fun at any age!  Having a falafel gyro and Whoopi's soft ice cream only expanded on the awesome atmosphere of the festival!

Me scoping out the view from Miranda's lab room window.
I got to enjoy my affinity for heights by making myself at home on the window pane in Miranda's research group in Professor Paul Pringle's lab.  The view was beautiful regardless of the weather!  Our group was very fortunate to be in Bristol during a time of sustained sunshine and temperate climate.  Several lab mates mentioned "the weather is not usually this sunny!"  In my time in Bristol it only rained 5 times in 6 weeks.  So, I just waited for Miranda to finish in the lab everyday so that we could go out and "play."

In the lab
In the lab

I also snuck into Miranda's research lab to sneak a peak at where she worked everyday during the week.  Fume hoods lined the walls of the lab with every chemical I could possibly think of hidden in the cabinets along the walls of the lab.  I snuck a picture of the fume hood that Miranda worked at during her time at the University of Bristol.  I am also hiding at her desk gazing up at an analysis from one of the samples run on ES400 NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) instrument.

Relaxing by the River Thames
Miranda and I sharing secrets of the British Telephone Booth.

London, England was our first weekend trip away from Bristol.  Miranda and three of her flatmates joined me in our adventure to London.  In our time there we got to visit Big Ben, several parliament buildings, Westminster Abbey for an Evening Song service, the London Eye, and several pubs.  Fish and Chips are definitely good if not better than described!  Each and every place we visited was not only amazing, but on par with a once in a lifetime opportunity.  London is not a city in which we could cover all in one day.  So I still have surprises that I will leave for another trip to England in the future!

Enjoying a front-row seat to the London Skyline on the London Eye
Pushing my boundaries was a commonality in our adventures during the weekends away from Bristol.  My companion Miranda got to ride the London Eye even though she is terrified of heights!  While in the London Eye, we got to see the London Skyline at sunset.  From the bird's eye view it was interesting to see the old mixed with the new on both side of the Thames river.

The journey to Stonehenge
Using several modes of transportation in England is necessary.  In order to arrive at Stonehenge we rode a taxi, a train, and a bus.  The scenery was gorgeous and I admitted to staring out the window at the beauty of the landscape in Bath all the way to Stonehenge.
I complete Operation: Visit Stonehenge!
Miranda and I completed another item on my bucket list: Operation: Visit Stonehenge.  The mysterious formation of rocks held a snapshot of time long ago.  Stonehenge as we know it today took a long time to complete.  It would take more time at Stonehenge itself to allow the history to truly soak in.  For now I feel very blessed that I got to experience such a treasure from time.

Miranda and our companions at Cardiff Castle
In Cardiff, there was never a dull moment.  We went ALL tourist and rode the Cardiff double-decker bus.  We got to explore more of the city without the walking distance between exciting attractions.  Cardiff Bay included a trip to the Dr. Who Experience, the BBC sets from outside the building, and a delicious lunch on the dock with a view of the boat races.  We also explored the Cardiff Castle, Natural History Museum, and Millennium Theatre, which were all spread across Cardiff.

Clockwise from top left: Legend, Devlin, Alis, and Theodore.
As a treat for visiting the "Land of the Dragons" in Wales, it was fitting that we met up with my family in Cardiff.  I met up with Legend at the National History Museum: Cardiff.  Theodore was spotted at Cardiff Castle, and Alis was cooling off at Cardiff Bay.

Miranda at the Eiffel Tower
Miranda and I chill at the Louvre.

View from the Eiffel Tower

In my weekend travels to Paris, France, I got to mark two things off my bucket list with Miranda: going to the Louvre Museum and going to the Eiffel Tower!  In my lifetime I have admired the Eiffel Tower, but I didn't realize I would come up close and personal at this time in my life!  In our exploration of the Eiffel Tower it was pouring down rain!  The photo expresses Miranda's joy to be singing and danceing in the rain at the Eiffel Tower.  Just after this Miranda hurt her ankle and I "carried" her the rest of the day.  As a museum-lover, the Louvre Museum was always in my top five to visit.  Miranda and I are sitting in front of the glass pyramid that has the enrance on the other side!  The two hours and thirty minutes wait to get inside was worth it!  The Mona Lisa painting and Minerva statues were only two of the vast array of art and history that I got to look at in the Louvre.

Miranda's flatmates enjoying one of the events in Bristol
The group picture takes place at the Bristol Pride event.  Several of us joined in with the festivities to support our friends.  It was a day filled with the "Express Yourself" motif.  I would like to end with an acknowledgement of Miranda's flatmates and research group colleagues.  They held a significant role in the fun festivals and trips on weekends.  Studying abroad is a wonderful opportunity to spread your "international wings," but building relationships with new people from around the world was invaluable.

Without further ado, Miranda and I bid you cheers and goodbye!

Miranda Weavil (story told by Devlin)
University of Bristol
Bristol, UK

Monday, August 4, 2014

Hayley and Madiba in South Africa

Cape town and Table Mountain from Lionshead
Imagine never having to choose between the beach (surfing, sunning, shark cage diving), or the mountains (hiking, biking, paragliding). Imagine never having to choose between national parks, botanical gardens, and wine lands, or between bustling city centers and laid back small-town communities drenched richly in their culture and history. Welcome to the Western Cape of South Africa where Madiba the dragon and I spent our summer, where all of these things manage to flourish at the tips of our fingers, or should I say at the end of my camera lens? 

Hayley at the Cape of Good Hope
 Hayley and Friends at the Cape Point

Muizenberg Beach Cabanas
Thatched roofs
 These environmental circumstances, shall we call them, holds a culture that gravitates towards almost anything that includes a picnic, an outdoor concert, wine, and a general good time. The result is almost an entire culture of laid-back elegance, where being warm and hospitable is not a compliment you receive for being friendly, but something that’s just a part of your daily festivities. The result is a culture that almost instinctively enjoys one another, but one you can’t quite explain either.

Fried Livers
You see not too long ago, South Africa was a country that hung onto its existence with only a few threads of hope. Like many other countries in the world at the time, havoc wreaked throughout its land as the apartheid government attempted to keep races separate. Britain vs. Afrikaaners, Afrikaaners vs. Xhosa, Xhosa vs. Zulu – the bloodshed was too high for too long until one day President P.W. De Klerk made an announcement. Almost overnight, the apartheid laws were disembodied, prisoners were set free, and Mandela stepped in. With courage and grace, and without a bitter bone in his body he began to stitch the country back together. 

A non-traditional African Dance Circle
Rich in Joy
Hayley and her Learning Sustainability and Community Engagement classmates
South Africa is a beautiful country to say the least, but I think what makes it most beautiful is that its people are not afraid of their history. The circumstances of its past lasted into social issues that are pressing and prevalent today, but it is rare to come into contact with stagnant water. With 11 national languages, 5 of which are sung in the national anthem, there is a continual essence of progress in the social transformation and diversity of the country. At Stellenbosch University, the very place where the apartheid laws were constructed, I took classes from professors who have dedicated their entire lives striving to create a space where everyone from every walk of life does not simply exist but has room to flourish. In class, South African students would discuss the difference between learning how to tolerate one another and learning how to celebrate and enjoy one another’s differences, whilst still sitting comfortably and entirely in their very own skin.

The Sustainability Institute in Stellenbosch, South Africa
Paragliding off Signal Hill
Groot Contantia Wine Farm
I could never explain exactly what a typical South African is because typically, South Africans come from all over Holland, all over India, Indonesia, and Malaysia, they come from all over Britain, and they come from all over Africa. They exist as a melting pot but not actually one that melts at all. You’ll experience a new world and different culture simply hopping around the Cape as every little suburb, nook and cranny has its own irreplaceable and vibrant culture. Many enjoy house music and curry, or rugby and braais (BBQ-ing), or gospel choir and sokkie dancing, or wine tasting and whale watching, or cheetah conservations and organic markets.

Hayley riding an elephant!
Obligatory food photo.
You can imagine my surprise the first time I attended a hot yoga class in downtown Stellenbosch when the instructor and owner of the studio walked in. He just so happened to be an Afrikaans speaking male, who was also a clean-shaven ex-rugby player with thigh muscles that bulged out of his contextually very short rugby shorts and arms that could lift most of us in the class, at the same time, that were bulging out of his vest. I just had to laugh and say, “oh yeah, I’m in South Africa”. Why would I expect my yoga instructor to be female, perhaps with dreads, a tattoo maybe? Or AT LEAST one that actually wears yoga pants. Oh and did I mention more than a quarter of the very packed yoga studio was also very stealthily built males? That’s a glimpse of South Africa.  You never know what to expect.

"Kyasa" means A New Day in Xhosa
Hayley and friends on a sunrise hike in Stellenbosch
The distribution of wealth exists all the way from the very bottom to the very top, and the variety of culture(s) exists all the way from the very left to the very right.

Girls from Zimbabwe
The Grounds of Vision Afrika
Students at Vision Afrika

With high regard to things that are rare and valuable, therefore able to be cherished and learned from, Madiba and I leave with only a handful of things to pinpoint about a typical South African. Generally speaking, typical South Africans are able to work through their history whilst not remaining defined by it, they are some of the hardest working people on the entire planet whilst doing so, and because of this hard work typical South Africans thoroughly enjoy to enjoy one another.

Enjoying one another
Hayley Oosthuysen
The Sustainability Institute
Stellenbosch, South Africa