Augie's Blog

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Singapore Flag Singapore
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September 1, 2016
I am at Korea University now and I just had my first class! I truly believe this year is going to be a great year! This university really cares about their exchange students. We had a week long orientation which has helped us immensely prepare for academic an cultural differences here in Korea. Not only that, but the university gives scholarships to Exchange students who do well academically!

The university is located in a part of Seoul called Anam, which is the perfect place for a student. There are hundreds of coffee shops and bistros all around the university, and this is definitely a more calm part of town, which is perfect for studying. The best way to describe it is as if a small University Town in the US got swallowed up by a larger city, yet it kept a lot of its small town charms! It is definitely the best of both worlds!

Living here is extremely affordable in many ways. In school textbook are dirt cheap compared to the US where you expect a book to cost $200, while here they are around $20! When it comes to food the street food of course is amazing, but I love to be frugal and cook. I am eating 3 large meals a day for only $3 dollars a day! Cooking can really cut down on costs a lot!

I am pretty busy which is way better than having nothing to do at all. I unfortunately need to run to my next class but I will update later when I get a bigger perspective. Until next time!

Sincerely,
Augie


August 22, 2016
I have not blogged for a while and for several reasons, but it is now time to get back into the swing of things as this school year is about to start. A short recap for anyone, my name is Augie McClenahan and I am a mechanical engineering student. My sophmore year I spent in Singapore at Nanyang Technological University, and in less than 24 hours I am off for another year in South Korea at a university named Korea University.

As I put the last few things into my suitcase my mood turns somber. I recall last year before I left I was extremely nervous and excited as well. This year both the excitement and nerves are not as great, which comes from the fact I have done this before and the novelty effect has dissipated. My parents are also not as sad to see me go. Last year there was an exchange of tears, but they now realize how FAST a year goes by.

Side Note to all Parents reading this. You blinked and your kids are now in college - think how fast one year, or semester is going to go. I am sure you are forlorn to see them go, but in a few moments, you will be at the airport picking them up and taking them to their favorite restaurant.

Another side note I want both parents and students to know. Before Studying abroad, we students prepare very much and we expect there to be an adjustment phase to a new culture. When I returned however, the reverse culture shock was harder for me then the original shock of arriving in a new country. When I went abroad everyone was expecting me to go through shock and was ready to help me, but very few expected me to go through reverse culture shock and there was less support. I am not saying this is any way shape or form to discourage from studying abroad, I just want people to prepare and know that its is hard going there AND coming back.

Who I think study abroad is for. There are many kinds of study abroad opportunities, the large majority being a few weeks in the summer or during the school year. Going for a few weeks is always the easiest and usually the most fun, however, you grow the least from it. Studying abroad is like an investment, the more you put in, the more you get back. I think anyone can study abroad if they wish, but I do believe different programs and periods of time are better suited for different people. Just like an investment plan, major, and university, one does not fit all.

For students going during the summer, have fun, it will go by too quickly. For students going for a semester or year, be excited and take each day as it comes, there will be challenges, but persevering will really help you grow and learn about yourself. I do believe that with everything there is good and bad, and I also believe that with studying abroad, the good definitely outweighs the bad. As we grow up we are forced to change. Going to high school to college is a big change that forces us to go outside of our comfort zone and grow because of that, and studying abroad is the same. It is another big change in your life and it will put you out of your comfort zone, but you will grow from it.

So to wrap up this random blog update, in 24 hours I fly off for another year abroad to South Korea, and I am very excited. To any parents or students thinking of studying abroad, I do recommend it and if you have specific questions please feel free to email me at mrmeaugie@hotmail.com.

Farewell for now,
Augie


November 17, 2015
Finals Are Here!!

So I am writing this post at 3 AM because I need a break from studying for finals. I have my first final in 3 days, and my last one concluding on December 2nd. They take 3 weeks here which is nice, the probability of having two on one day is low.

Yesterday, with three friends from America, Singapore, and China, we spent the evening listening to music from back home. Everything from Sweet Home Alabama, to Silver Bells (for the Christmas season that has no snow or cold weather here in Singapore). Singing along, talking, and eating junk food led to an amazing night! Bringing up junk food, yesterday for dinner I had the most "American" dinner I have had since I have been in Asia. Yesterday I finally broke, I was done with rice, noodles, dumplings, and any other form of Asian food. I wanted anything and everything that reminded me of home. The beautiful and extremely nutritious dinner included Lays, Oreos, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Cheese, Ritz, Milk, and Gatorade. (Side Note: If you eat 100 Oreos, you will get your daily intake of fiber, unfortunately I only got 17% of that fiber.) So this morning my stomach was in the midst of a civil war, but the means justify the end.

Augie sits on the floor smiling as he takes a study break to eat some cookies and Lays.

I would like to accentuate how weird I feel during the Christmas season here. I walk into stores to be bombarded with Christmas trees, lights, and music (which I normally live for) but it feels SO weird since I am wearing flip flops, and its 85 degrees outside. Last week, I recall waking up from a nap and for a second it seemed like I was back in Nebraska around 4th of July. The lack of diversity in climate has led to some desperate attempts to make it feel like it has changed. I am currently sitting on my bed with 3 large fans blowing directly on me, just so I feel cold enough to wear a hoodie. (My room has no air-conditioning.)

So to conclude this random 3 AM blog post, I am confused with Christmas music, and I finally broke and needed a day without rice. Now to bed, and then more studies for finals. After finals, I am planning to explore much of Singapore, and have many more blog posts.

Signing off for now.


October 22, 2015
Overall everything is going extremely well here. I have been making new friends from all over the world and I have made some great friends from here in Singapore. I went to a Formula 1 race, and a Maroon 5 concert, have been trying many new foods, but more than most, I have been studying. There is much fun to be had here, which is one of the difficulties about studying abroad. It is extremely tempting to do anything but study because there is always a new adventure around the corner, but reminding myself to study and work hard is a good life lesson.

I do not have any major updates as of now, except that in 4 weeks I have my first final, and I need to work really hard to get prepared for that, but thankfully I still have time. My professors are great - friends, food, housing, city - everything here is going really well. I love it here. One thing however, is that even though absolutely nothing is going wrong, there are still times were I miss home, or get a bit forlorn. I recall last week going to my tutorial class (recitation) and like always, everyone was speaking mandarin around me. (I want to emphasize, they can speak both English and Mandarin, but some have better Mandarin than English, and vice versa, and the students around me in recitation all had better Mandarin than English.) On the day of that tutorial nothing was going wrong, and in fact everything was going really well, but for some reason not being able to understand what they were saying reminded me that I was on the other side of the Earth. I started to miss home, my family, friends, hummus and turkey, and the things that are normal back home. Studying abroad has two sides to it, the good and the bad, (I think like the saying, two sides of the same coin.) From my personal experience the good definitely outweighs the bad, but to say there is no bad is a lie. I do not wish for that to scare anyone away from studying abroad, because no matter where you are in life or in the world, there are good and bad things that happen to us.

Another thing that I started thinking about was next year in May when I have to leave, it will be so hard to say goodbye to my friends here, just like how it was hard to say goodbye to my friends back home. That is one of the hard parts of going anywhere new - you have to say goodbye. (Cheesy quote warning "you can't let the fear of saying goodbye keep you from saying hello."). I was talking to a friend here and they quoted someone who I forget and said something along the lines of "don't be sad it ended, be happy it happened." and that is something I need to keep in mind, but more than that, I need to remember not to think too far in the future - I need to remember to live in Singapore and experience Singapore. The future will come, let me live right now.

So that is the main update for right now. Apologies for not the most exciting update, but as of late, studying and getting ready for finals is the norm. Study abroad has a lot of studying that comes with it. In end, I love it here and I am so thankful and blessed to be here. I do not wish to be anywhere else in the world right now - I am here for a reason and I am thankful to be here. Attached is some photos from some fun things I did recently!

Augie and friends pose for picture in front of wall that says 'Wheelers Yard' in Singapore
My great friends! Augie at a Maroon 5 concert in Singapore
Maroon 5 Concert Entrance to Augie's Dorm in Singapore (tropical trees)
Entrance to my dorm Augie attending a Formula One Race in Singapore. A vehicle sits on the course.
Formula 1 Race! A friends pets a campus cat in Singapore.
The campus cats on campus here enjoy humans!!! The entrance to the Formula One event in Singapore.
Entrance to Formula 1!


August 20, 2015
Majulah Singapura!

Singapore is 50 years old this year and the celebrations are amazing! Fireworks, light shows, concerts, and great food - what could be better. I have not been here long, but Singapore is definitely a place that has amazing things around many corners. Beautiful architecture and great food makes this place great as a tourist and for anyone new to the city. Singapore is proud of who it is today. Coming from a fisher village to an extremely developed and international city, it is proud of what it has done, who it is today, and where it will go in the future. Transportation is a breeze, food is clean, cheap, and delicious, and you can buy anything here. Overall this city is amazing and still surprises me many days.

So far I have made many good friends! It was hard at first to make friends with the locals, now it is no problem at all. I am really enjoying it so far here. The culture here is different, certain things are hard to describe, others are obvious. Today I was called on to give an answer, gave the wrong answer, and people snickered and looked at me, like 8th grade again. Maybe I missed some other level of cultural difference, but I am just amounting it to a cultural norm. Also, they teach here for the test, and many times, since students are competing for grades, students will not try and learn something if it is not on the exam. They won't waste their time even if they are curious. The biggest difference, which made me laugh so much when I heard it, is that here, the best are the business majors and accounting majors. When someone can't make it within that field they come into engineering. (So far the classes seem to be easier - we will see if that remains true in the upcoming weeks.) My friend who is a communications major said here that the work is SO much harder than back home in Canada. That might all change in a few weeks, it has only been 2 weeks so far.

My hall is Hall 6, and its culture is different than other halls. My hall is EXTREMELY competitive in Interhall sports (a competition between all halls). I am attempting to join the volleyball team which is difficult. Their training during the week is not for fun, it is to train your muscles and get ready to win, but overall I enjoy it.

The professors here are EXTREMELY willing to answer questions, which is so nice and such a huge blessing. They love to teach. When it comes to getting grades, it seems to be both a blessing and a curse, depending on what you want. I told some other students I wanted an "A" in one of my classes and they all laughed and told me that no one gets A's except the Chinese students who spend more than 10 hours each day sitting and studying. That is one of the bad things about the curves; however, I feel if I learn the material through practice and true understanding, I can grab an A. For me it is now a fun challenge, I want to get at least one "A". Overall all is going well.

Singapore white bridge with arches
View through several buildings through arches.
Image of nighttime skyline in Singapore
Nighttime view of building with surfboard on top
Louis Vuitton building on the water
Cool looking round building
Singapore celebration going on with statue spraying water out of its mouth
Nighttime celebration in Singapore with lights
Helicopters flying across Singapore during a celebration
Singapore celebration with people sitting at a concert at an amphitheatre



July 27, 2015
China! Oh glory gracious is China a complex country. One thing I realized is that it is such a large country with such rich history. Each region is so different! Food that is extremely common and eaten everyday in one region is never seen in another. I have been in the classroom 6 hours each day teaching English and with extra work outside of it; however, the friendships I have built with my students will last a lifetime.

When it comes to cool landmarks and nice places to see, I have visited several here around Xi'an, such as the Terra Cotta Warriors, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and the ancient old city wall. The city wall is such a central part of this city. The city within the wall is considered the downtown part and it has stark contrasts such as the old Bell and Drum Tower, right next to a huge new shopping mall. Stark contrasts such as that are becoming more and more common in an old land with rich history that is developing so fast. This city is growing too, and very fast. The size of this city is enormous in size and all I see is skyscrapers in every direction, as far as I can see. With a metropolis this large, pollution does become a problem, and in the photos seen here, the pollution is considered "not that bad".

Overall, I have been having a great time here, and I think the largest lesson I have learned while here is that it really does not matter where you are, but who you are with. While China is a very different land, the biggest similarity is that even here in China, people are people, good and bad. The friends I have made here have made the time great and I am so sorrowful to have to say goodbye soon.

Image of Old City in China
Image of Old City Wall in China
The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda building in China


June 12, 2015
"I'm going on an adventure!" - Bilbo Baggins

Bilbo and I have something in common, the fact that we are both going on an adventure to a new land we have never been before. On June 23rd, I will be leaving to head to Xi'an China to help teach English at Xi'an Jiaotong University. After being there for one month, I will head straight to Singapore to study at Nanyang Technological University for 10 months. In total I will be gone for 11 months and this will definitely be an adventure.

My sister is coming home soon to spend the last few days with me while I am still in the states, and we will do many traditional American things one last time - going to the CWS for some good baseball, eating cheeseburgers left and right and indulging in some homemade pie. This is definitely going to be a hoot and a half and holler of a time and it still has not hit me that I will be leaving in 11 days. I am packing and getting everything ready, but reality will probably not hit me until I walk off the plane. As of right now, I am so excited and ready for this new life, and I cannot wait to get there. I will update with more details and stories once I get there. As for now, to all you reading, have a beautiful day and remember to Carpe the rest of this Diem.

Image of China and of a major city's downtown lit up at night