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I made it! Quito, Ecuador.

The entire airport/plane ride experience went way better than I could have ever imagined. Everything was on time, all of my bags made it fine, both the staff and passengers were incredibly helpful, and I met some really nice people on my way to Quito who gave me great advice.

Once I got to my homestay (around 3:30), I unpacked and immediately went out with one of the other interns to go explore Quito (easier said than done, considering population-wise it’s 3 times the size of Portland.) We went around to a park that had some amazing crafts for sale–I fell in love with all the colors they used. We also ordered food and had no idea what we were getting. But by the time it came, we had paid $2 for delicious cheese and vegetable soup, rice, beef, french fries, avocado,and tomato. Best part: my stomach totally held up on the first day.

Quick observations made about the country in less than 15 hours:

-People on the roads asking for money will actually get in front of cars when they’re stopped and do tricks, like juggling. Others sell oranges or bottled water.

-You could not pay me to drive here. It’s terrifying. I can’t seem to pick up on any basic rule that people follow to make sure not to crash. I’ll have to keep watching and see if I end up picking up on anything.

-The driving thing kind of goes hand and hand with being a pedestrian. So far I will only cross at crosswalks, and we waited until there was a sea of people in the street before venturing out. Sometimes there are security guards (different than the police) that cross with everyone to make sure cars stop.

-There are street dogs EVERYWHERE. Most of them seem cute and harmless, but you’re supposed to shoo them away with your hands or feet, because you  don’t know when one will get aggressive or if they have rabies (super small chance).

-My Spanish sucks. Luckily, when people see us, they seem to slow down and exaggerate pronunciation, which is super nice. Even after they do that, I pick up about 1/2 of what they’re saying. Also luckily, most people here are super animated about what they’re talking about, so I can make decent guesses by their actions and facial expressions. I’m really excited to start my classes on Monday.

-So far, people have been really nice. All day yesterday the kids would get in trouble from their parents for staring. Most of them seemed to be pretty intrigued by my hair.

-Believe it or not, this place gives me allergies. I figured if I didn’t have them in Eugene, I’d be in the clear for practically anywhere. I was wrong. Thankfully someone had warned me about this possibility before I left, and I picked up some allergy meds that will last me a while.

That’s it for now! So far, my first few hours here have been wonderful. I can’t wait to keep sharing what I see. Today I think we’re headed to the supermarket — thank goodness because I’m not used to this whole “only drink bottled water” thing. :)

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My first two weeks in London,

I’ve only been here two weeks now but it feels like I’ve been here forever. I’ve made so many friends from all around the world and have been having so much fun getting to know them. I don’t even know where to begin when describing the differences between England and America. I think the first major dose of culture shock I experienced was walking into the local grocery store on the first day. I was expecting to see similar brands and ways of storing food but everything is SO different here. It takes me forever to pick out a few groceries because I have to read every little description. They don’t have Alfredo sauce here and they don’t refrigerate their eggs in the store. Their sweets selection is HUGE and I have found that I have an indescribable love for gummy candy (which I know is bad for me but they taste so good here!) Cost has been a big shocker as well. Everything is very expensive compared to back home but I am learning to live on pasta and sharing meals with other people.

A huge difference between the city of London and the town of Monmouth is not only the size but that there is literally always something to do here. There is so much to see that I know I won’t even get to experience a slice of it by the time I leave in December, which I’m not sure I even want to do (leave, I mean.) I really love it here.

I haven’t done much “touristy” things yet aside from the photo scavenger hunt during our orientation week. I’ve been so busy getting to know people and getting absorbed in the London culture that seeing all the touristy sights as rarely crossed my mind. I don’t have classes Tuesdays-Thursdays which is the exact opposite of most of the friends I’ve made here so maybe I can start to explore the town on my free days. I haven’t went into Central London since the photo scavenger hunt during week one but I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know the area around Roehampton and visiting some of the more local spots.

London is so huge but there are always friendly people you can stop and ask for directions from. I haven’t gotten used to the backwards roads and I doubt I ever will. Traffic here is disgusting and I am still learning to allow enough time to get to my destination. Taking a four mile bus ride takes around a half hour at the least. Everyone drives so close to the car in front of them that riding the bus gives me such anxiety wondering if the driver is going to stop in time. Honking always makes me jump but people honk at everyone here. There are a lot more motorcycles here than back home and many of the riders seem to make up their own laws on the road. People run red-lights like no big deal and J-walking is completely legal. Texting and calling while driving is illegal here but just like home I always see drivers on their phones. I usually walk to the crosswalk just to be sure I’m not going to get hit by a bus. There is painted words on the ground by each main crosswalk that tell you which way to look down the road which is super helpful. Buses are everywhere you look but around campus double-decker buses are more rare. I was so excited the first time I rode on a double-decker but the excitement soon faded–they really aren’t as cool as they look on TV and in One Direction music videos. It is hard to get up and down the stairs while the bus is moving so I usually opt for a seat downstairs if I can find one.

I feel like I fit in so much better here than at home and even when walking alone at night (my accommodation building is a good 20+ minute walk from main campus which is annoying but my en-suite room is way nicer than some of the rooms on main campus) I feel safe. I know London has crime just like any other place in the world but I haven’t felt like my safety was threatened one time since I got here. A group of English students (a lot of the English people I have met have told me they like to be called “English” rather than “British” because “British” is all of the UK, not just England,) basically adopted me into their group as the “favorite American” right when they arrived on campus. I spend a lot of time with them and they never cease to put a smile on my face and make me feel at-home. A lot of the English people question me about the use of guns in America and I have to assure them that not everyone owns a gun back home and it is rare that someone carries a gun with them out in the open.

I’ve found that having to describe Oregon as “the state right above California” has quickly gotten old. And telling people that my home town of Salem, Oregon, isn’t where the witch trails were held has also been kind of annoying. When introducing myself here I always have to repeat my name multiple times but that is just like how it is at home so I am used to it. It amazes me how the English people I have met here don’t really know anything about the Hawaiian islands when the Hawaiian’s have such a strong history with England. The last Hawaiian princess was sent to school here in England near the end of the 1800’s and the Hawaiian state flag is the only US flag to have another countries flag inside it (the English flag, the Union Jack.) I feel so inspired that I can sort of follow in the footsteps of Princess Kaiulani and study abroad in England. We actually passed a restaurant while on the bus last week called “Leilani’s Restaurant.” My friend noticed it before I did and right away we decided we have to stop there for dinner some time soon. Seeing my name like that was such a shock to me I can’t even explain it.

Here are some things I have learned since I arrived here:

  • “kip” is another word for nap
  • English people do drink tea, that is a true stereotype
  • alcohol is a huge part of the English culture but they drink it socially more than anything
  • a “hoover” is a vacuum
  • English people greet one another by asking, “are you alright” instead of “how are you.” (The first time I was asked this was on my first day here when I was walking into a restaurant. I was so confused by the waiters question that I think I responded rudely by saying, “yeah?” in response…)
  • I haven’t met one English student who said they didn’t like America, they all want to visit America and a lot of them have already been to New York and are shocked that I haven’t traveled there myself (then I have to remind them how humongous America is compared to England and that New York is on the complete other side of the country from Oregon.)
  • McDonald’s are so rare here and tastes a lot different than back home but have queues all the way out the door (no one says the word “line” here, it’s always “queue.) Most McDonald’s are two stories and are way nicer inside than the McDonald’s at home.

I was worried that I would struggle with homesickness being away from my parents for the first time in my life but I think I am doing well. Sometimes the evenings are difficult when I’m alone but I know that my new friends here are only a Whatsapp message away. (Whatsapp is a free texting app you can use when you have access to wifi.) I greatly appreciate the skills my mom has showed me when it comes to making friends with strangers. If I was an introvert like I was when I was younger, I can honestly say my time here would have sucked.

PS– Nana, I cannot thank you enough for the selfie stick you gave me for my birthday. I used to think they were silly but after using one they are actually pretty awesome. It has really come in handy here. 12006099_10207523475554602_6034074452720661555_n   12004678_10207523473194543_7892003916137840326_n   12003992_10207547493835044_1502648933969447353_n

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Welcome to the Emerald Isle

This is my first blog post, and as I understand it, I’ve fallen somewhat behind. I will, however, remedy that with one post -this post- that will cover all the necessary business I have so far neglected, i.e pre-departure as well as my arrival. And from here on out I will keep up-to-date entries every week detailing the various goings on here in Dublin, Ireland, my home for the next eighty or so days. Luckily I’ve been keeping a small journal on me at all times, and will be able to transcribe my actual notes from the last (quite eventful) ten days here on my blog. Sound good? Cool.

Pt. 1

My name is Nathaniel Dunaway. I’m twenty-two years old and I’m from Prineville, Oregon. It’s a small town located smack dab in the center of the state, at the edge of the High Desert. People associate Oregon with rain, but where I’m from its dust and sunshine and cowboy boots, year round. I attend Western Oregon University, where I study theatre and film. I hope to someday soon have a career in both. I am an amateur film director and playwright, as well as co-founder of Body in the Window Seat, an independent film production company. Since 2013, we have produced three feature length independent films.

Now all of this is necessary information because it all lends some explanation to why I’m currently writing this while seated at a generic dormitory-style ikea desk inside a student housing complex in Dublin, Ireland. My being here in Ireland is the culmination of a lot of hard work, stress, and patience on the part of myself and my girlfriend Shannen Brouner, who is right now just on the other side of that wall right there. It is a victory for us to be here, no doubt about it. Ireland was not a random choice for me, or a second choice, or a hard choice, or even really a choice at all. I’ve always felt a strong personal connection to Ireland, and though part of it is my genealogical heritage (my grandpa D.L. Bryant always said that our ancestors came to America on a prison vessel from Ireland, and that very well could’ve been the truth), a stronger connection exists beyond my familial bond. It’s a connection to words; to stories. Irish theatre is the best that has been produced anywhere in the world (in my opinion, of course); George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Sean O’Casey, Samuel Beckett, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Lady Gregory, John B. Keane, W.B. Yeats, Marina Carr, John Millington Synge, Conor McPherson, Martin McDonagh, Dion Boucicoult, and that’s just the playwrights! If we include novelists, mention must be made of James Joyce and Bram Stoker. Nearly all of these writers have impacted my life, whether in high school or college, and they’ve helped to create this bond I feel toward the Emerald Isle.

So here I am.

Pt. 2

The only mention I make in my journal concerning the trip prior to its undertaking is from June 17 of this year. It goes like this:

“I’m terrified that something is going to prevent Shannen and I from going to Ireland this fall, but I’m staying optimistic. I really want this to work out.”

Well bud, looks like it worked out. There’s not a whole lot more I can say in regards to my feelings during the pre-departure phase of this adventure. I was terrified. I still am. But I’m here. That’s the important thing. I’m here. I’m here with Shannen, in Ireland. We made it. What did I expect from Ireland? I have no idea. I guess rain, and Irish accents. I expected school to be difficult and clothes to be expensive, neither of which are true. I expected to feel lonely, and I do sometimes. I expected the opportunity of a lifetime, and I’m living it.

The following is dated September 13, 2015 at 10:39 AM:

Its breakfast time here in Dublin. Shannen and I arrived mid-afternoon yesterday on a flight that has been dubbed the Notorious Flight from Philly. After a six hour delay, we were finally in the air, and after another six hours of flying, we landed safe and sound in the sunshine of Dublin. After standing in line for immigration (during which an ugly-as-sin Aussie meathead passive-aggressively cut in line ahead of us), Shannen and I braved the interrogation of the polite yet intense immigration officer.

“Shannen with an E, then?”



He issued us our 90 day stamp on our passports and we were on our way. On site coordinator John Hayes met us outside of the terminal. John is an immensely friendly man with an impressive beard. He led us briskly to our shuttle, which carried us to our home away from home: Shanowen Square. There, we met our roommates. Our roommates are also from the states. There’s Zach from Colorado and Hannah from California.

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Lyon Week 2

This week was packed full of sightseeing in Lyon. We explored almost the whole city by foot. We had a guided tour of Vieux Lyon. Which has the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière, the ancient Roman ruins (2000 years old) and many old churches and buildings. It is really fascinating how the French take pride in their architecture. They will do everything possible to restore old buildings instead of just knocking them down like we do back in the states.

New construction here is built around existing building and this juxtaposition of the old and new brings a lot of charm to the city. I believe the French do this because they truly believe France is the best place on earth and what has been made here should never be destroyed but merely enhanced when necessary.

Below are some pictures I took of Vieux Lyon while exploring the city:

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Another part of the city that we explored is called La Confluence. This part of town is completely different from Vieux Lyon. La Confluence is the newest part of the city. In a way it reminds me of the United States with all its new buildings and modern architecture. However, the main difference is as I previously stated is that art in the French culture is very important. As modern as La Confluence is, it is not boring in any way. It is as visually pleasing as the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière which is much older. For the most part, in France they don’t build building just to build them, but to enhance their cities.

Below are some pictures I took of La Confluence:

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Another aspect of the French culture that is well known all over the world is their love of food. I have always known that the French eat very well. I knew they had some of the best restaurants and cuisine in the world. But, what has shocked me the most is how even when they prepare their own meals at home how much effort they put into their food. Meal times are almost sacred here. I thought this would be different with younger French people, but it’s not.

I live with 4 other French students and each of them has a passion for great food. They will easily spend one hour every night making their dinners and lunch is no different. They cherish their meals here. This is completely contrary to our American culture of popping  a TV dinner in the microwave and calling it good. The way they treat food here is something I will easily get accustomed to!

C’est tout pour le moment!

Au revoir

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Arriving in France


The Charles de Gaulle airport was surprisingly quiet when I arrived late Tuesday night. I was expecting the airport to be full of people hectically trying to catch their flights. But to the contrary it was  peaceful and calm. After stepping off the plane and seeing all the boulangeries and patisseries in every corner of the airport it finally hit me that I was finally in France. I honestly wasn’t very excited to be in Paris. This is probably because I hadn’t slept in over 24 hours and jet lagged had most definitely kicked in. Also I was really nervous about getting my checked bags (before leaving I read online that the airline had a bad record of losing luggage). Thankfully everything made it across the Atlantic just fine.

The most interesting aspect of Paris was how many people spoke English and how well they spoke the language. Almost everyone that worked in customer service spoke English, all the servers, cashiers and information desk employees spoke English. A few times I actually forgot I was in France! On top of this, the amount of advertisement in English all over Paris was surprising. The majority of the ads were in English with French translations at the bottom. Really shows how important and international English is.

Oh, and the French LOVE The Weeknd, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a song in one day as much as I heard “I can’t feel my face”.

Another huge stereotype that was broken shortly after I arrived in Paris was that the Parisians are stuck up and rude. This was most definitely not my  experience. On my way to the hostel I got lost through the cobble stone street of Paris for about 30 minutes until a kind older women walked me all the way to the hostel. It took about 25 minutes to walk all the way there, without her help I would have been wondering the street all night long.

For now that is all!

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Posted on September 24, 2015 by | Leave a reply

Week 3 in Florence!

This post is coming a day late, though I must confess that since I have been sick all week with a horrible cold and a severe lack of familiar medications so I spent more time resting than exploring. The highlights of my week included the usual classes, many trips to the store for more tissues, a few much needed gelato runs, and a trip to IKEA on the free Sunday IKEA bus. I probably should have stayed home for the IKEA outing, since I really wasn’t feeling well enough to go, but it was an interesting experience seeing how a store that I am so familiar with in America can still feel similar and yet very different. At first glance, it looks very much the same. Similar furniture styles and prices, modern kitchens and bathrooms (though I haven’t seen many since I’ve been here), and the same Swedish meatballs IKEA has become so famous for. Upon closer inspection though it is possible to notice the subtle differences such as the bidets in the bathrooms, slightly different kitchen supplies, the fact that everything is in euros, and of course, the language barrier encountered when ordering the Swedish meatballs. Along with my IKEA pictures I included some gelato I had this week as well as some street art commonly seen on the streets of Florence. There are several of these chalk pictures and they are cleaned up at the end of every day and recreated every day for the tourists benefit. I was also able to take a short bus ride with my study abroad program, CIS abroad, to the town of Fiesole. The view was spectacular, but due to the lack of light (it was an evening trip) I wasn’t able to adequately capture it on camera. I did, however, try some delicious and weird chips that I plan to buy later (barbecue and mint flavor!) and ate a yummy chocolate thing from a small market on the way back from the trip. Hopefully I will have some more interesting pictures next week after I go to Octoberfest on Saturday!

Ciao for now!


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First week of classes at Roehampton


I am already a terrible blogger because I have been in England for almost three months and am writing my first post.

Classes at the University of Roehampton started this week and I am feeling pretty rough with Freshers Flu from last week which was Freshers Week. It was so much fun though, partying, making  new friends and getting close with my flat mates, I am having a lot of difficulty sorting out my modules, whoever does that is doing a poor job of making sure everything works.

When it comes to living in London, it is amazing. Being English and having been here so many times, I did not experience any culture shock and I love having half my family so close. London is my favourite city in the world and so far I am absolutely loving living here.

More to come!

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Ireland Bound

Hi everyone!

My name is Shannen Brouner and I’ll be quite honest about my first post, I am technically behind in my blogging and am writing this first introductory and “pre-departure” post from my room in Dublin, but using my personal journal entries and memory as reference.

So, I’m Shannen, a fifth year and transfer student at WOU. I started my first two years at Central Oregon Community College near my small hometown of Prineville, and am now attending Western, soon to graduate with a BA in Communications. I enjoy reading (primarily fantasy), watching movies and television (Parks & Rec and The X-files are two of my favorite shows right now), geocaching, watching theatre, crafting, taking photos, eating, and sleeping, among other things. I’m characteristically studious, shy and quiet, I never learned how to ride a bike, I was on PLUS team last year, and I’ve never traveled to another country (and only a bit around this one).

I’m sojourning in Dublin, Ireland with my partner of over three years, Nathaniel. Just like him, I’ve wanted to travel to Ireland for a very long time. I know embarrassingly little of the country’s history and culture, but, like many, am drawn to it’s stunning beauty and (what I hear of its) charming and friendly people. I’ve got Irish blood in me somewhere and am a bit of a sentimental heritage traveler because of it. I’d like to go to the river Shannon which I’m (obviously) not even named after and find some link in either region, pub, or person to my mother’s maiden name Mahoney, we’ll see how it goes. I’d really like to get the experience of traveling across the world (and an English speaking country seemed a good place to start), make new friends from all over, learn about the country from the country, photograph Ireland, enjoy a pint, have fun, explore, learn something about myself, and go on an adventure.

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Week 1 London 2k15

Hi guys! I hope you are all having fun on your adventures!

Freshers’ Week has finally come to an end and it is safe to say Freshers’ flu has got me in its clutches. This past week has been full of adventures, parties, and meeting new people. Now I am stuck in bed watching Netflix, but it was worth it. Being here has made me an expert at public transportation. Everyone here uses it. Most of the English students didn’t even bring their cars with them to school because they don’t really need them. It is so interesting how different the views on public transportation are over here compared to in the U.S. Personally, I like the public transportation. I find it less stressful.

Over the past week I have made quite a few observations. The first is that everyone smokes all the time. It is a huge part of the social life here. People go out for a smoke in groups, hang out, chat, and meet new people. At any time of day I can walk outside my building and there will be anywhere from 3-10 people out there smoking.

Another thing I have noticed is that people here are just as fascinated by my American accent as I am by their English one. This makes total sense, but was still surprising at first. I have met countless people who think it is incredibly funny to try and speak like me. They watch a lot of American t.v. so many people are actually quite good at it. Others tend to go for either the Southern or “valley girl” way of speaking. I find it quite amusing.

Lastly, no one knows where Oregon is. If they do it is because they are studying geography. I cannot count how many times I have said this phrase in the past week- “Do you know where California is? It is the one right above that”. I have also had a lot of people ask me what is cool about Oregon or what there is for tourists to do there. Many of the people here want to visit the United States someday. Obviously, I always mention the beautiful scenery, but I have been unable to come up with much more. Any suggestions?

Classes start this week. Wish me luck!


My group for a photo frenzy thing we did on the “Harry Potter” bridge.



Greenwich (the first trip of the Social Programme)

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Week 4 Queretaro

I can’t believe that my trip is almost over! This past weekend we visited a town called Tequisquipan and it was awesome. We were able to visit a winery and tour it and wine taste and then after go to a big water park. We had so much fun – felt like vacation to be able to swim and be in the sun. I noticed a strong cultural difference at the water park here than in  the United States, there were no lifeguards or anyone watching out at the big slides. But no one was hurt and everything went smoothly, it kind of made me wonder if we go a little too overboard in the United States.

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