Monthly Archives: May 2015

IU South Bend Students are in Florence!

Studying Abroad in Italy: Preparing for the Unpredictable

We were all very diligent with our packing. Light and comfortable clothing were a must for the warm Italian summers, or so we thought. Unfortunately, all of the students that I traveled with to Florence for a Study Abroad Program with IUSB did not pack warm enough! A drizzly, cool Florence greeted the 22 of us. The perma- cloud and rain covered Tuscany for a good four days. A group trip to Sienna was the event we all took part of, and as we huddled around our fantastic tour guide, freezing and wet, I could not help but think to myself “how could we have prepared for this?”

Florence 2015

The first of three tips I have for being unprepared is, be prepared to be unprepared! A scattered number of students brought hoodies with them, but most were stuck with thin cardigans and long sleeved button up shirts. Luckily, because the cities we have traveled to are tourist attractions, there are many vendors that sell hoodies, umbrellas and ponchos. Buy them! Being miserable and freezing is not worth saving the 20 odd Euro you would save. Secondly, never wear sandals unless you are going out to dinner. My fellow female classmates splished and splashed their way through Sienna in cold puddles of rain and up slippery hills during our tour, I was very thankful to have my Nikes on, albeit soggy. Lastly, if you have Wi-Fi in your apartment, dorm or hotel during your Study Abroad experience, always check the weather before you leave for the day and grab your umbrella if there is even a chance for rain.

Blog post by International Programs intern Jackie Thornton

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Asian American and Pacific Islander Month Part 2: Japan and Korea

For this post in the Asian American and Pacific Islander Month series, I will discuss Japan, the Korean Peninsula, and the contributions of Japanese Americans to Southern California.h2_JP1847

Japan is an island nation that is part of an archipelago containing 6,852 islands. The four largest islands, Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku comprise 97% of Japan’s land area. In Kanji, the Japanese logograph (sometimes called “characters”) for Japan means “sun-origin”, which is why Japan is commonly referred to as the “Land of the Rising Sun.”Capture

For much of its history, Japan was an isolationist nation, until 1853 when the United States forced the nation to open to Western trade. This caused turmoil in the country until the Emperor Meiji formalized Western practices and banished the samurai, who were considered by some to be traitors and racists. The “opening” of Japan led to widespread immigration of Japanese, first to Hawaii and then to Southern California to work as day laborers and farmhands. The immigrants employed Japanese irrigation techniques allowing parts of California to increase yields, and allowing cultivation of previous unusable land.

During the Second World War the United States government ordered the interment of American citizens of Japanese descent. This act was applied unequally; those who lived in the west coast were interred, but in Hawaii 1,800 of roughly 150,000 Japanese-Americans were interred. There has been no explanation for these inconstancies, but a general thought was that Hawaii was backward and not really “American.” Interesting enough, although several aspects of Japanese culture were banned in the camps, Japanese Americans still managed to keep alive several of their traditions. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which provided redress of $20,000 for each surviving detainee, which helped bring to light this grave injustice by the US government.

Korea is a peninsula that has two separate sovereign nations: the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea). North Korea is bordered by China to the northwest and Russia to the northeast, while South Korea only borders North Korea.Shipjang_KNTO-6

Because of Korea’s proximity to other nations, it has been controlled off and on since recorded history. China, Japan, the Soviet Union, and the United States have all meddled in the internal politics of both North and South Korea.

Taekwondo is the national sport of South Korea and has quickly become one of the most widely practiced international sports. Taekwondo became an official Olympic sport in 2000.WTF_Taekwondo_1

In the next post in my series, I will discuss Southern Asia.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Month

Because May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Month, I would like to briefly outline some major points that I feel make East Asian Studies critically important for understanding modern society. This is especially true when you live in the United States as East Asians and other people from the Pacific Rim have contributed to the growth and vitality of the United States. This series will focus on a few regions or nations over the course of several blog posts and highlight their major contributions to the larger world around them, or interesting anecdotes about the area.

EA1                       EA2Asian American and Pacific Islander Month is a celebration of the culture of East Asia and the Pacific islands. It was originally named Asian Pacific American heritage month (APAHM) when it was began in 1978. It was designed to commemorate Asian-American and Pacific Islander contributions to the building of modern American society, specifically the first Japanese immigrants that arrived in the United States in 1843 and the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869, which was predominantly constructed by Chinese and East Asian immigrants. Now we will talk about the first country: China.

China is one of the oldest countries in the world and has had a great influence on culture and art throughout history. With 1.35 billion people, China is the world’s most populous nation and Chinese is an official language of Singapore and Taiwan. In the United States, as mentioned above, predominantly Chinese immigrants built the western half of America’s first transcontinental railroad in 1869, while many Irish immigrants built the eastern half. A lesser-known fact is that Chinese immigrants also built the levies in California’s Sacramento Valley.EA4There are also numerous Chinese contributions today. Classical music contributions, as well as the more stereotypical martial arts, food, and tea are common contributions from modern China. Tai Chi has been shown to have numerous health benefits including stress reduction. Tai Chi is often described as meditation in motion and promotes serenity by using gently flowing movements and is ideal for both old and young. And of course, China is a premier economic power in both production of consumer goods and financial support for countries with emerging markets throughout the world.EA3

In the next post, I will discuss Japan and Korea as well as the contributions of Japanese immigrants in American society.