Finding Familiarity

Here in Korea I live in the dorms for international and exchange students at Korea University. Our dorms quite literally are on the top of a mountain and even in the few weeks I have been here my calves have gotten so strong. As a Sutherland Hall veteran, I have to say this hill puts…

New Passions in a Big World

My “why Korean” story has never been the most straightforward narrative nor were my goals very specific when I first watched a YouTube video teaching me the basics Hangeul. I grew up listening to K-pop with my brother and would secretly watch Korean dramas in the back of my seventh grade classes when I was…

The Start of a New Journey

Hello! Hola! Привет! 안녕하세요! My name is Hannah Faulkner and I am a rising fourth-year student (where has the time gone?!) here at the University of Pittsburgh. Coming from a small town in North Texas, I credit foreign language classes and cross-cultural education as the impetus for the expansion of my worldview and the kindling…

To Find a Common Language

Throughout my program in Batumi I would often use the Russian phrase найти общий язык when speaking to people about my adjustment to Georgia, when making new friends, and when seeking understanding with my Georgian host family. Найти общий язык means “to find a common language” and usually people use this phrase when expressing the…

Finishing Strong: A Letter to My Past Self

It’s been almost two months that I have been in Batumi, but the person I was when I stepped off the train six weeks ago was so different from the person packing up her suitcase and confirming her flight back to the United States in just a few days. There has been significant progress towards…

The Prospect of Permanency

I tell my friends constantly back home that Georgia is an underrated location on all fronts: for tourists outside of former Soviet states, for business and investment, for food and wine connoisseurs, and for the increasingly popular pool of ‘digital nomads’ around the world.  If I were to become a full-time resident of Georgia, I…

The Power of the Notes App

I have a Notes app entry called “Georgia Chaos Log” where I chronicle every challenging  or humorous moment of my abroad experience that I don’t want to forget. Some of these entries include helping my host mom put out a kitchen fire, conspiracy theories about Americans that I hear, or getting hit with a door…

Lessons from a Grocery List

I think the conflation of my three biggest takeaways from the first half of my program in Georgia occurred in the middle of a Spar supermarket at 6pm on a Monday night.  It’s not the most glamorous setting nor is it the most exciting story I have to tell. It was not even my first…

A Walk on the Boulevard

I honestly did not depart for my program in Batumi, Georgia with many expectations. Most of these expectations revolved around Russian language learning goals and what I had heard from my Georgian friends in the US: that Georgia is a chaotic, yet warm, country.  The expectation I had about the chaos and hospitality of Georgia…

Kartlis Deda Every Day

In Tbilisi there is a large monument on one of the hills overlooking the city called Kartlis Deda, or Mother of Georgia. Kartlis Deda is supposed to be the quintessential symbol of the Georgian spirit throughout history. In one of Kartlis Deda’s hands she holds a sword for those coming as enemies, and in the…