Souvenirs Spring 2020 issue

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discover your wanderlust

spring 2020



spring 2020 Souvenirs is a collection of travel and multicultural experiences from students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Souvenirs’ mission is to provide a platform for students to share lessons they learned while traveling and to provide readers with quality information while inspiring wanderlust.

Editor in Chief Paige Strigel Art Director Lily Oberstein Deputy Editors Ana Demendoza Genevieve Vahl Photo Editor Kylie Compe Marketing Director Ashley Luehmann Web Designer Emma Patet

Editors Ana Komro Emma Liverseed Allison Streckenbach On the Cover Kayle Kaupanger Staff Writers Maggie Jay Charlie Kitcat Chandler Maas Diana Powers Ying Yang Contributing Writers Fatoumata Ceesay Kayla Huynh Kelli J. Smith 周方若 / Ingrid Zhou

Contributing Photographers Juliana Bennet Matthew Cardoza Fatoumata Ceesay Levi Cross Jadid Hernandez Amanda Janquart Kayle Kaupanger Daniel Klugman Emma Maxson 周方若 / Colin Zheng WUD Publications Committee Director Carlo Romagnolo WUD Publications Committee Advisor Jennifer Farley Wisconsin Union President Tanvi Tilloo

Through the publishing of our seven student-run journals and magazines, the Publications Committee of the Wisconsin Union Directorate provides a creative outlet for UW-Madison students interested in creating poetry and prose, reporting on travel, music and fashion, or delving into research in science and public policy. We celebrate creativity on campus by providing hands-on experience in publishing, editing, writing and artmaking.



IN THIS ISSUE 7 8 10 12 14 15 16 18 20 21 22 25 26 30 32 36


48 52 54



39 42 44



I can’t tell you how many times I have started and restarted this letter. What can I say, after all? This magazine was written, edited and assembled in a different time. When we finalized the selection of pieces we have published here, our three wonderful bloggers abroad were in the middle of their new beginnings in London, Sydney and Rome. We had plans. We were going to take spring break trips, graduate, accept internships all over the country and globe. As always, we were ready for adventure. But now everything is still. Everything is different — for all of you and all of us. Plans are canceled or on hold. This magazine layout was finalized over countless hours of video calls. We’ve been grounded. In our homes across the country and world, we find ways to remember that we are still the people who said yes to every wild opportunity. The stories stay with us, the photographs bring us back, the memories make us hopeful for where tomorrow might take us. So just as publishing these stories returns me back into a not-so-distant and yet totally foreign past, writing this letter reminds me that I do not know where or when it will find you, or what our world will look like then. So when all we’re only sure of uncertainty, all I can say is this: thank you for taking this journey with us.













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We didn’t call it love. That would have been too scary, made things too real. We were just two strangers from opposite ends of the same country, crossing paths in a foreign utopia. How naturally we fell in love with the land around us — the places and people we experienced together yet in our own special, intimate ways. And how naturally we fell in love with each other, our only care the weight of our backpacks as we hopped flight to flight, destination to destination. Memories remind us of days spent pretending our time was infinite, the knot in our stomachs that reminded us it was not twisting tighter and tighter. Ignoring the inevitable in favor of the bliss we felt in each of those moments — the moments when the fruit was too sweet and the sun too warm to believe it wouldn’t last forever. How lucky we are to have explored the world as a pair. To have navigated a chaotic new blend of sights, colors and sounds that never quite felt real. To have dodged traffic in the streets of Hanoi and trekked through Erawan Falls in the pouring rain. How unfair it feels now, to only have the fading tan, the crinkled photographs, the ticket stubs and postcards. Little pieces of evidence that this short intermission in our otherwise unconnected lives was real. It seems a cruel joke for the universe to play—crossing our paths only for them to quickly diverge. Whether I bump into you at a bar in New York or a museum in Europe, we will never get another night bumbling around Khao San Road. We never slowed down enough to realize that time was moving too fast. That the “far off” end was growing nearer and more real each time we watched that bright orange glow dip below the horizon. We’ll soon forget the scent of our favorite curry and the sound of each other’s laugh accompanying our brutally accented Thai. The way our hair looked after dodging traffic on the back of a motorcycle and the coolness of the early morning breeze as you offered a quick, detached hug as your final goodbye.




Four months, three countries, two one-way flights bound for two familiar homes. The sun will keep setting over our little town in Thailand. The same pink clouds will pepper the sky even if we’re not there to acknowledge their beauty each night. We’ll travel new places and meet new people, scattering little pieces of our hearts along the way. But we’ll always have those four sacred months and that special little pocket of the world that will forever remain exclusively ours. Until next time, SPRING 2020



When I think back to the summer of my sophomore year at UW-Madison, I see a collage of images, conversations, and events that transformed my life. Within two short months, I went from being a farm-raised Wisconsinite who had only ever left the country once, to having lived and traveled abroad in a place with a rich, ancient history: Saint Petersburg, Russia. After packing three years of Russian into two academic years and a summer in Madison through the Russian Flagship Program, it was time to become fully immersed and travel abroad. I chose to study in the city of Saint Petersburg because of the image of the old, imperial capital with its unique Russian twist on all things European. These ideas had been cultivated by my Russian Flagship instructors and tutors who had told me about their experiences in the city, showing me images of the city’s landmarks, canals, and palaces — not to mention that Saint Petersburg is the city of Russia’s most famous and influential poet, Alexander Pushkin. A romantic image was already in place in my mind, but little did I know how much more surreal and emotional its realization would be. Before any of this would come to fruition, I had to overcome my doubts and fears. I worried about how intense the culture shock would be, and about the people of Russia. I was nervous for my homestay, as I did not know much about the person whose home I would be living in for the next two months. Some of my tutors, faculty, and staff from the Russian Flagship Program were Russian and had created a



positive image of friendly and kind people. However, I recognized that just a few people were not necessarily representative of the entire country. When I arrived in St. Petersburg, those fears were washed away Thanks to the time I had invested in learning the language, I was able to communicate with most people with ease, and anticipated cultural differences like stern, unsmiling faces on the streets and the lack of a sense of personal space. I was not prepared, on the other hand, for one of the more natural elements of the experience — the summer “white nights.” Nighttime lasted for only four hours of the day, which made the scenery beautiful in the hours-long sunsets but totally ruined my sense of time. At my homestay, I found out that Olga was an amazing, intelligent person. Despite the fact that she spoke no English whatsoever and I had only started learning Russian two short years ago, during my first night of staying in her home, we sat up discussing the history of the monastery next door and the tomb of the ancient Russian hero Alexander Nevsky. The white nights let us lose track of time until midnight, when Olga realized the hour and quickly whipped up a huge meal for the both of us. Russians, unlike some of the Western Europeans, had no “set time” for eating meals, she said — it was just important to eat three in one day! Perhaps she was just being witty, but this evening, a testament to how far I had come in my understanding of the Russian language, became the first image in my collage of memories from Saint Petersburg.







Involuntariamente criada con dos idiomas, no por elección, por necesidad. POR ANA DEMENDOZA Como muchos que crecieron en una familia de inmigrantes latinos, el español fue mi primer idioma. Mi lengua aprendió a trinar antes de aprender a decir alguna palabra en inglés. No solo fué beneficioso que creciera bilingüe, fue una faceta crítica en mi crecimiento.


No valoré mi bilingüismo cuando era niña. Incluso luché contra esa idioma una vez que comencé a estudiar en la escuela en inglés. Mi mente trabajaba en ambos idiomas, una meta que mis padres esperaban de mí como la primera generación en los Estados Unidos. Incluso, después de que mi rebelión contra el español terminó, todavía no entendía la persistencia de mis padres por mi capacidad de funcionar en ambos idiomas. Fue poco después de cumplir 15 años en mi primer viaje de servicio comunitario que me encontré en una escuela secundaria en Paraguay, ejerciendo mi capacidad bilingüe sin darme cuenta; mientras hablaba con un estudiante unos años mayor que yo, me dijo lo impresionado que estaba de

que yo hablara español. Una habilidad que no valoraba mucho de antemano. Esta fue la primera vez que mi bilingüismo fué reconocido en el mundo fuera de mi hogar, una conversación que me permitió ver el valor de esta habilidad. Aunque esta conversación en una escuela secundaria en Paraguay me abrió los ojos a las posibilidades que puedo lograr con mi bilingüismo, sigo cosechando los beneficios de crecer con un segundo idioma. Ya sea una tendera en Perú o un mesero en Madison, mi español venezolana sirve de consuelo a las personas que encuentro durante mis viajes. No solo que parezco a mis compañeros trabajadores latinos, también ofrezco un alivio a aquellos que enfrentan dificultades para hablar en inglés. Mi bilingüismo no fué mi decisión, fué una bendición dada por mis padres. El español no solo fue mi primer idioma, es el idioma que uso para descubrir más sobre mis raíces. Viajar y explorar mis raíces sudamericanas solo se ha fortalecido con este aspecto vital de mi identidad. SPRING 2020





We travel to different places in different time zones on different modes of transportation and experience different adventures. We travel with different people, with different personalities. Each of them allows us a different viewpoint from which we see the destination. I’m thankful for traveling with my family, who make sure we keep busy throughout the trip. my younger sisters, especially, allow me to see the world through their youthful eyes. They help me learn more about each destination with their enthusiasm and each fun fact they picked up from a travel book. While our walking pace may be slower, their energy levels never diminish and late nights in hotels seem to last forever. I am thankful for traveling with my friends, whose endless laughter and ridiculous song choices never fail to bring a smile to my face. Our random stops and detours lead to unknown destinations and countless unique stories. I cannot think of a different group I would rather be with when getting lost in the middle of the desert without cell service: our fearless lack of planning leading to stories for the ages. I am thankful for traveling alone — for the silence that brings clarity and new perspectives to a busy location. When alone, a crowded terminal turns into a play in which each actor plays the part of a busy traveler with a new life beyond the gate. Like a bird, I have the freedom to go wherever I please or take the time to sit and relax. Meeting like-minded souls has never been easier when sitting in a hostel common room, and planning last-minute outings with them is a breeze.




The memories of these trips remain alive within me during the monotony of daily life. In the future, we may plan unique trips to exotic locations — but with the right people, even a mundane location is made special.


Lately, we have become obsessed with creating and preserving “memories”. In the age of social media, marketable memories have become more profitable than ever. How many Snapchat stories have you seen of a plane wing or a fruity drink on a foreign beach? When we travel, we want to share our experiences. We post photos on multiple platforms and spend countless hours putting just the right filters over original images. Although it is logical to want to share your travels, it can be emancipating to stop documenting every moment of a trip. Do you know the feeling when a camera just can’t capture a view like your eyes can? The photo’s depth is lacking and everything seems dull. While there’s nothing wrong with creating a collection of pixels that can be revisited, observing your surroundings in the moment can bring a great sense of satisfaction. The photos we take serve as visual reminders that can inspire and uplift us. But they also distract us and pitch us into a future time frame. When should I post these photos? What filter will I use? How many likes will I get? Putting the camera down allows travelers to return to the present moment. There is a unique peace in traveling without constantly documenting. Time flows, life seems more vivid, and other senses are heightened. When I travel without documenting, I find myself remembering smells and emotions much more. Our brain is built to preserve our memories; turning on your phone or camera can interrupt this process. The natural art of remembering makes your memories more strongly evocative and colorful. I believe that not capturing every moment makes a journey yours. By not sharing everything, you have stories to tell when you return. You contain panoramic views that belong to you and you alone. No one will ever know about how wonderful that market was, but you will. These secrets, these personal recollections are yours alone. Photographs are beautiful, but so is real life.



TOKYO HEAT BY INGRID ZHOU 阳光照在我们的后颈上 夏风轻吻我们的衣领 木屐踏在青苔上 熏香弥散在空气里 躲避夏日的人们在树荫下走着 印着青蛙的纸扇向我们送来高频率的暖风


在巨大的红色灯笼下 我们在木板上写下对方的名字 被红绳系紧 任夏风轻吻

东京热浪 撰写者周方若 Summer breeze kisses our collars Sunshine touches our necks Clogs step over the moss Incense diffuses under the daylight People find their summer escape underneath shadows of trees Paper fans with frog graphics impatiently sending warm air Standing under the gigantic red lantern We write each other’s names on wooden plates They are tied together by red strings We are tied together by red strings Summer breeze kisses our plates




solo travel


Honestly, I didn’t think I could do it. I really didn’t think I could travel solo — for a month and a half to four countries in Asia — and come home unscathed. Maybe I was being overly nervous, but I never saw myself as a solo traveller and suddenly, I was going away for a while with mostly just myself to rely on. It was scary and somewhat unlike me to do something like that, but I was tired of waiting for others to be available for travel. I was tired of seeing other people jet off whenever and wherever. I wanted to try new foods, see amazing sights and encourage myself to be adventurous. Really, I just wanted to experience it all for myself. And so I booked a one-way flight to Japan for January 1st. Now, I wanted to be strategic in planning for this trip. I started planning and saving a year before leaving. I had originally planned to travel across Europe as well, but realized how lofty that goal was and decided to focus on Asia, primarily because my sister lived in Japan as an assistant teacher in the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET). My plan was to start in Japan, go to South Korea, then head to Malaysia and Thailand. Everything was set and I was ready to go. Except, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something would go wrong. It was my



nerves talking, and I wasn’t going to let that stop me from getting on that flight. I’m glad I didn’t, because for the most part, everything went smoothly. In fact, my trip went far better than expected. I did lose a couple hundred dollars (a story for another time), but I met some amazing people, saw my sister and reconnected with a friend from high school. Most importantly, I ate some of the best food of my life. Seriously, I miss the food the most. In Japan, I saw the bamboo forest, bowed to cute deer in Nara, ate the fluffiest cheesecakes, and wore the kimono, a traditional Japanese garment. I also participated in a traditional tea ceremony where I learned just how much I dislike matcha, though I appreciated learning how important it is to Japan. I’m really grateful my sister took time from her busy schedule to show me around and introduce me to some of her friends. Then it was on to Seoul, a dream that I can’t wait to experience again. Although I was only there for four days, I had the best time exploring famous palaces, wearing the traditional hanbok and going to Korean BBQ for the first time. I also made new friends in Seoul and can’t wait for the opportunity to see them again. When I first planned going to Malaysia, I thought I’d be there for four days at most, just so I could catch up with a friend from UW who moved back after graduation. But I have to say, Malaysia was a welcome surprise. Kuala Lumpur is far more beautiful than I expected, and I felt myself go speechless everywhere I went. It was definitely the most beautiful country I explored on my trip, and I ended up extending my trip to eight days because I loved it so much. In addition, it was so nice to meet up with my old friend Akmal, who took me to a Malay restaurant that featured different traditional Malay dances. Overall, it was a lot of fun.

When I landed in Thailand, it hit me that I was nearing the end of my journey. Already I had been gone for a month, and I no longer had any of my original nerves. I felt like a pro. Things were going as smoothly as they could, and I was having a blast. I took that newfound confidence in myself and traveled through Thailand having the time of my life. It was simply amazing, and I was glad I left it for last. I started out in Phuket, going to the Phi Phi islands (of course) and eating my way through many of the night markets. Then I headed to Bangkok for a few days before going to Chiang Mai, where I touched real-life elephants at a sanctuary. While I was in Chiang Mai, everyone I met asked if I would go to Pai, a small town three hours north of Chiang Mai. At first I was against it because I wanted to spend time recuperating from everything I’d done. In the end, though, I decided to go and check out what everyone was talking about. I spent two days in Pai, expecting that would be more than enough. Boy, was I wrong. Pai became my favorite part of Thailand. I was told that I’d get stuck in the “Pai-hole” and I honestly would’ve if I didn’t have my final flight. Everything from the activities, nightlife and most importantly, food, was amazing. I didn’t want to leave, but it was time to go home. I couldn’t believe it was finally time to head back to the U.S. It seemed only like yesterday I was getting on my initial flight to Japan — but I was also excited to tell everyone about my trip and encourage others to travel more if they could. I thought I would never be ready to travel solo, and it felt so good to prove that I was. I am so proud of myself. I had a great time, and I’m already planning the next time I can go back to these countries. In the meantime, I need to pack for my upcoming trip to Portugal. SPRING 2020








Two summers ago, I woke up on one of our last mornings in London just as the sun started to rise. It was the last place in England I would see before the dreaded return to the Midwest. My bed, fortunately positioned below the ledge of the east-facing window, allowed an abundance of light to flood my eyes at the very first opportunity. Keenly aware of myself again, I grew convinced that this would be my only chance to wander while everyone else still slept. In times like these, you find yourself belting your skirt and quickly moving along Westminster bridge at a pace from which no one can derail you, and without giving it another semblance of thought. It was everything that I had ever read about, a fair June morning just like Clarissa Dalloway’s, walking among the oscillating quiet and commotion that wavers just as the formation of London streets do. It had been an abnormally sunny week in England, enough so that the stuffed animal dropped upright on the foundation of that green bridge looked eerily like new. I curiously photographed it for a chance to theorize a backstory, but it was much too early in the walk to pause for anything, so I carried on. Crossing the River Thames so early in the day hadn’t been on our collective agenda, but I was glad to make it so on my own accord. I had the bridge mostly to myself that morning, a somewhat unnerving realization as light had only begun to cast itself over Big Ben. It was under construction that summer, a fact brimming with an indecipherable degree of irony on one’s first--and possibly only--trip to London in a lifetime. I soon discovered that seeing the smaller machinations of the city wasn’t something I disliked, but preferred. It grew more evident as the day progressed. As the London Eye got smaller and that poor abandoned stuffed dog more obscure, it seemed my world did quite the opposite. With only a few short hours until everyone started to wake up, I urgently told myself that the nature of this small excursion was fleeting, and thus should be something both specific and memorable. So, I walked and walked, only stopping to document something I saw on a bench or grab a cup of coffee from a Pret-A-Manger. Looking up from my cup of coffee, I noticed that I had found myself across from a sign that pointed to a place entitled “The Museum of Happiness,” a very

disorienting realization to have without any moral support. After briefly pondering what it might be, I resolved to avoid it. I figured that there was far more happiness in the movement of the morning than whatever that was. Past the river, or maybe just past 6am, London possessed far more life. Piccadilly circus was littered with groups of students, tourists and businesspeople, most of whom appeared to be headed somewhere in particular — very unlikely the same somewhere, unless it was a morning visit to the National Portrait Gallery. The myriad of gift shops plastered in the faces of the royals and seas of keychains were a campy juxtaposition to the granite and cobblestone. Hyde Park maintained the same variations of life. Bundles of contradictions piled upon one another in a singular space in a way that garnered a significance greater than the acres one could wander. Sound and light delicately splintered itself through the trees in the southwest corner of the park through which I had entered. Foliage hovered above me and I felt an encompassing warmth in the transience of walking in silence, somehow still surrounded by 14 million people. It was there I truly realized the comfort in being elsewhere, alone, and terribly aware. For those several hours, I paced continually, only inhibited by the overwhelming sense that I needed to return before everyone else woke up. That moment eventually came, and I soon found myself back upon Westminster Bridge, again wondering how the toy had gotten there, moving at the same pace in the opposite direction. This time, my path brimmed with photographers and cherry-colored double-decker busses. The sun was suspended in full. I returned and acted as though I had merely gone downstairs for an early breakfast and a chance to read in solitude. I never told anyone. It was a moment of my own. A similar ritual has continued ever since that morning and in every new place I’ve found myself, in a profuse and thoughtful effort to decipher peculiarities at any given opportunity. You can trade a stroll through Hyde Park for one down Hollywood Boulevard or along the outskirts of Pike Place Market and reach the same conclusion I did that summer. It is always humbling to walk exhaustively alone somewhere unfamiliar. I think that’s because in the strange moments such as these, you feel much closer to the world. SPRING 2020



A TOUCH BY GEN VAHL We rumble along dirt roads, dodging potholes in the suv that has enough space for everyone. Mexican culture is built to welcome embracing outsiders like me as their own. Back to abuela’s we drove. Crawling under the stars like a beetle on a leaf, we move, unnoticed. Outside abuela’s, we fall silent, stunned by the silence of the night. Gawking at the same sky as those far beyond me, abuela opens the door and wishes us inside. We debrief over the croaks of night. To bed we must go, a long day to retrace, a long day we anticipate. Winter in México brings a chill disguised by the warm sunshine, 20


reaching summer temperatures by Wisconsin standards. Nighttime proves its deception, sending shivers down your back; a thief of daytime dreams. Layers assembled, ready for bed. Commencing my nightly routine, I head to the bathroom for freshening.

At times, it comes unconditionally, like parents’ unwavering obsession with their kin. But in others, it’s like counting down the days until a loved one leaves, an exact moment when it is gone, empty and silent.

I stare at myself in the mirror, reflecting on my gratitude. What an opportunity I had to travel with my best friend in her home country, coddled by her family’s unquestioning acceptance. After immigrating to the US, they were attentive to include me knowing the feeling of being left out.

We expect luxury as our standard here in the US. Flushing drinkable water, sipping the tap, watering our grass.

My depth of privilege turned on with the faucet as a flood of silence filled the bathroom. Dry, the drain stared back at me, mocking my expectation.

It’s moments like these when a faucet lacks its fruit and makeup to be removed, that we are snapped back into reality, our expectations shifted and we then can understand our touch of privilege.

Running water is like love.

Although different in México, it is really no inconvenience. Expanding perspective actually, realizing we can do without until morning.


Tiny bodies emerge, golden sand tumbling from their shells. Some are the size of silver dollars, others are so small they could perch on the tip of my pinky, or fit in a single drop of saltwater. I feel like a giant, intruding on their seashore village. Each footstep of mine must be an earth-shattering tremor. (Yesterday I interrupted a group of them as they were feasting on a red berry — some scattered, others hid and, in typical Midwestern fashion, I apologized). If you had never seen a hermit crab before, or had knowledge of what they are, they might seem like the most alien of creatures, waving their beady eye stalks and crawling on ten jointed legs. Their claws are the

same shade of the deep purple petals of the island’s abundant bougainvilleas. Despite their name, hermit crabs are social creatures. Rarely on this trip have I seen one on its own, though they can easily seek solitude in their shells whenever the moment strikes them. Perhaps because I am always thinking about travel, the hermit crabs remind me of seasoned backpackers, carrying much of what they need on their backs. I picture them taking overnight flights, traveling to unknown city streets and nesting in their calcified caves when they are tired. They are impressive travelers, borrowing and trading shells, outgrowing their homes and scavenging for new ones. I admire their flexibility, and mostly I am curious about their adventures, of ending up wherever the tide takes them. I wonder if there is a thing or two to be learned from a hermit crab: don’t be afraid to make a new place your home, and learn how to carry your home within you, no matter where you are. MAAS, USA

Today I am lying in the sun on my stomach, hoping one week in the St. Croix sun will make up for three months of a cold winter. With my chin pressed into the mesh of a beach chair, I stare at the sand as it begins to move, almost as if something is breathing beneath the surface.






For almost three years now I have been studying Korean at UW-Madison. What started out as a “I’m just doing this for fun” elective class quickly turned into “Wow, Korean is cool, I need to know more” major declaration. Since this life-changing epiphany, I have thrown myself head-first into studying this beautiful (albeit complicated) language. But of course, studying a language in the classroom and actually going out and using the language are two completely different things. Language is something that is constantly evolving, and you can only learn so much by sitting in a windowless classroom for 50 minutes a day. So when I was given the opportunity to study abroad in Seoul, South Korea thanks UW’s Korea study abroad program, I immediately jumped at the chance. Through this program, I was able to attend Yonsei University (one of Korea’s most prestigious universities) for 10 weeks enrolled in an intensive Korean language program. Of course, language learning was the main reason I went to Korea in the first place, but life is comprised of much more than just school and studying. So what did I get up to during these 10 weeks? I cannot possibly describe everything that I did during this trip. You could spend ten years in Korea and still



“you could spend ten years in Korea and still never experience everything” never experience everything there is to try — there is always something new to discover. But here are some of the most memorable parts of my time in Korea.


Yes, food is number one on this list. You can learn so much about a culture and country just by going on a food tour. In the case of Korea, the most eyecatching aspect was the blend between traditional and modern. Traditional Korean food, such as kimchi jjigae (김치찌개, kimchi stew), naengmyeon (냉면, cold noodles), kal-guksu (칼국수, noodle soup) and bibimbap (비빔밥, mixed rice), are always there for you when you’re looking for something homecooked and comforting. But South Korea, Seoul in particular, is a place that seems to constantly be changing and innovating, and the easiest place to spot these changes is in the food! There was some blending of traditional and modern, such as a “Make Your Own Ddeokbokki” spot (spicy rice cakes), and then there were just completely never-before-seen creations, often in the form of street food. I really wish I had been able to try everything, but I’m pretty certain that my stomach (and wallet) would not have thanked me for that. I found plenty favorites among the meals I did have the opportunity to try Jjimdak (찜닭) includes chicken, rice cakes, noodles, and chicken all

covered in melted cheese. It’s definitely something to share with friends. Then there are souffle pancakes. Do I really need to say more? Lastly, Korean fried chicken. To me, it sometimes seemed like chicken was even more of a staple food in Korea than kimchi. There were so many options for getting fried chicken, and you can even get it delivered anywhere. Literally anywhere. You could be sitting in the middle of a field and they will find you to get you your chicken. This is just one example of the famous Korean fried chicken.

nature Even though Seoul is a bustling metropolis, there were also places where you could escape into nature and enjoy the fresh (although extremely humid) air. My favorite destination was Ilsan’s Lake Park (호수 공원). Ilsan is a city just barely outside of Seoul, a mere 40-minute bus ride away, and was just what I needed to recharge. The park was named so because of, well, the huge lake at its center. Walking around the entire lake took me about 2 hours, not counting the time I took to wander off the path and explore. This is the perfect place to go for a walk with friends or family, but it is also a great place to go alone and take some personal time to recharge focus on yourself. Being in the constant noise of the city, these natural havens are just what everyone needs.



Some of my other favorite destinations included Seoul Forest (서울숲), Namsan Park (남산공원), and Jumunjin Beach (주문진해수욕장).

picture perfect sights I don’t really know how to categorize everything else I saw, so here are just some pictures that I feel kind of need no words to explain them. These sights are what, to me, encapsulate my experience in South Korea. Always seeing something new, something old, and something amazing. One story alone cannot possibly convey the excitement and amazement I felt throughout my entire time studying in Seoul. I will forever be grateful that I was able to actually study Korean in Korea and learn so much more about the culture through first-hand experiences. Of course, I had my share of embarrassing moments and mistakes, but everything was a learning experience. After returning to Madison, I noticed just how much my language skills had improved, and I was amazed by how much progress could be made in just ten weeks studying in a slightly more (okay, maybe a lot more) intensive environment. To anyone who wants to improve their foriegn language skills, my only advice is to live in the language. Being confronted with the language everyday, having to accomplish everyday tasks in the language, and constantly hearing the language from those around you are just some of the little things that can add up to much greater results. In the future, I hope to return to Korea to continue my language learning journey. Coming to know a language in its entirety is no small feat, so taking advantage of every opportunity to study Korean is what will help me reach my goals.






Food is a sense of place A bite of somewhere far away A passport to relive fond memories Of the people you shared much more than meals with An adventure long lost for centuries A time locked in an entree A taste unable to replace





After you’ve unpacked your bags and thrown away your plane tickets, the memories of your adventures still live on through the knick-knacks you’ve collected along the way. At Souvenirs, we know that better than anyone: here are a few of our favorite souvenirs.
















maneki neko cat

This “beckoning cat” is my favorite momento from Asia as it was the first item I bartered for in a Thai market. I studied the Thai language while attending an international college in Bangkok, but I was always anxious about testing my skills with native speakers. The shopkeeper who sold me this maneki neko appreciated my horribly-accented Thai and offered me the discounted price she only gave locals. This will always be my favorite lucky charm and a special reminder of the short time I was considered a true Thai local.

-Emma Patet





My glass flower souvenir holds a special place in my heart. It is from my first time traveling in a new country without adult supervision, it was invigorating yet, I quickly realized how unprepared my group was for our journey. We didn’t know we needed passports to check into a hostel. Took a ferry to the wrong island. Got on the right ferry then got off on the wrong stop. Got lost on the winding Venice canal streets without working phones. But, we survived in one piece, somehow. I picked out this glass piece after we finally got the right ferry to Murano island as a token of the small victory.

-Ashley Luehmann



I’m not much of a souvenir buyer myself, but I’m always on the lookout for a painting from a local artist from wherever I travel. Not only do they function as decoration once I’m back home, paint ings serve as a reminder of the local culture and atmosphere. This specific painting was a gift from my mom’s visit to Cuba from a street artist in Havana. Given Cuba’s limited access to the world outside of the island, I feel lucky to have a piece of the country hanging in my room in Madison.

-Ana Demendoza



My travel journal isn’t a souvenir in and of itself — it was a gift before my first solo trip — but it contains so many tiny evocative souvenirs of the trips I’ve taken since then. It’s where I stuff boarding passes, papers, tags, receipts, postcards, maps, pamphlets, polaroids, tickets and the other detritus of traveling that would otherwise paper the bottom of my purse. The recipe cards from a cooking class I took with my parents in Cinque Terre, the receipt for a latte at the cafe where I had my first solo-travelrelated meltdown, and stains from a spilled curry are just a few of the ways this journal reminds me of all the places I’ve gone.



On a trip to Brussels with my Mom, we bought a tea towel in the gift shop of the EU museum’s gift shop. I thew the towel in the back pocket of my jeans and headed around the city, stopping at every chocolate shop on the way. By the end of our chocolate tour, I felt my pocket and found that it was empty. I was so upset and assumed I’d been pickpocketed. On our way home we saw the tea towel sitting, perfectly folded outside of a chocolate store, reaffirming my faith in people and love for Belgium chocolate shops.

I’ve always been a collector, whether it was postcards, event tickets or brochures, these little tokens help me remember small details about places I’ve been. My collection of embroidered patches started a long time ago, but didn’t take off until my trip to Australia. I collected patches from all my favorite adventures around the country. Having and seeing these patches brings back memories of the places I saw, friends I met and experiences I had while abroad.

tea towel


-Kylie Compe

-Lily Oberstein

-Paige Strigel







At 6 months old, I was tucked away gently on a plane full of strangers, periodically hushed by my parents as I traveled for the first time. To them, this was not just an exotic family vacation or a quick getaway — it was a trip that would take my sister and I to their childhood homes. My parents shaped my first experiences with travel, and there’s no doubt that others can say the same about theirs. But while most recall building sandcastles at a beach in Florida or roasting s’mores on a camping trip in the middle of nowhere, my earliest travel memories are ones from halfway across the world. For those whose parents are immigrants, like mine, childhood vacations entail something much different than the thrill of Disney World or a relaxing lazy river in Wisconsin Dells. Instead, they include a stay at Yāi’s (grandma’s) house in Thailand or a pitstop to Chú’s (uncle’s) neighborhood in Vietnam. It’s where we see the places in which our parents grew up and where we meet our longdistance family members for the very first time. That’s still the case for me today as it was 21 years ago. Each rare trip to my mom’s hometown of Bangkok, Thailand is filled with a long list of people we have to visit: her friends from school, her father’s former coworkers, her mother’s former students, her aunts, uncles, cousins. In this way, travel is something of a necessity — a bridge to understanding the far-away world of my family and the individuals who changed my parents’ lives.

When I get to see those people and places that their childhoods are connected to, I experience the joy it brings them to return home. At the same time, I feel the ache they must have held when they left everything they knew to come to the United States. Fortunately, these trips do their best to make up for lost time, where everything and everyone has changed since they once lived there. It’s here that I’m introduced to new faces and reintroduced to those I met years ago. They practice their English with me, urge me to try their favorite foods, take me to the market where there’s no shortage of fruits I’ve never seen. More importantly, they share stories of their lives with me, patching up the gap of time since I’ve last seen them and pulling together the space that exists between us, which is continents and oceans apart. For me, I travel to reimagine my parents’ lives as they were decades ago. My mom loved eating fish cakes from street carts, writing about pop stars and hanging out with her best friend Hen. My dad helped run his family’s hatchery, spent time playing with his nine siblings and always did well in school. For them, they travel to give me a view of the world that is more than just a relaxing stay at an allinclusive resort. They show me the cultural differences that separate us and the similarities that all tie us together. They show me the world through their eyes. They take me to a place that is their home, and now, mine.



toff There are nearly 6,578 miles separating Madison Wis, from anywhere in the Middle East. This distance can make cities like Cairo, Istanbul or Dubai feel like they are worlds away. However, the Middle East is never far from art history professor Jennifer Pruitt’s mind. The faraway cities of the Middle East are present throughout her office — from the posters on her walls to the stacks of golden Building the Caliphate books that she herself wrote. Pruitt grew up in Urbana, Illinois and went to Smith College, a small liberal arts school on the East Coast. In college, she fell in love with art history — in particular, non-European art. After attending only two lectures on Islamic Art, Pruitt found herself intrigued by the topic and decided to find a way to study more, even if it wasn’t in the classroom. Her senior year, she received a grant from Smith College to spend a month studying in Istanbul. She packed her bags and left the country for the very first time, totally on her own. Jet lagged and overwhelmed, Pruitt arrived in Turkey in the middle of the night. The next morning, she made her way to the rooftop restaurant of her hotel to get some breakfast. She was unsure what to expect, but immediately fell in love. From the roof, she saw Hagia Sophia — the magnificent church, turned mosque, turned museum — situated in the center of the Istanbul skyline. The morning sun shone off of the four minarets surrounding the impressive and vibrant dome on the top of the structure. “That morning I was like, ‘Oh, now this is it. I’ve made it,’” said Pruitt. “It was just a very magical moment.” 32








connecting midwest & middle east

In the many magical moments that followed, Pruitt formed a connection to the cities of the Middle East: a connection so strong it has led her to get a PhD in Islamic Art, spend five years living in Cairo and Istanbul, and take on her current role as the only Islamic Art-specializing professor of art history at UW-Madison.

On April 15th, 2019, Pruitt was forced to think about how the world sees the religious sites of the Middle East. She had long known that not everyone in Wisconsin shares her deep appreciation for Islamic cities and culture. But early in the morning that day, Notre Dame caught fire and the whole world seemed to be talking about it. Within two days of the fire, The Chicago Tribune reported that nearly one million US dollars had been raised to restore the historic structure in Paris. Pruitt watched the tragedy from afar, and as an art historian, was pleased that so many people cared about the arts and wanted to support the renovation of the church — but as an Islamic architecture specialist, she began to think about the treatment of monuments worldwide. The Middle East is no stranger to its holy buildings burning. The great mosque of Giza, the Great Mosque of al-Nuri, and many more have caught fire, or no longer exist for any number of reasons — but American and worldwide audiences don’t often hear about these tragedies or have the kind of universal response seen when Notre Dame burned. Pruitt thought about why the people in her Facebook feed have such different reactions to a church burning in

Professor Pruitt teaches Art History 373: Great Islamic Cities, a course intended for students who don’t necessarily have any prior knowledge about the Islamic Cities. After the tragedy in Paris, Pruitt realized she had the opportunity to help students in Wisconsin form connections with places that they may never have heard of before her class. Her idea? To have each of them create an Islamic city travel guide.

While Pruitt was happy with the results and felt like students had begun forming personal connections with the cities they researched, there is still nothing like having a “magical moment” while visiting one of these cities in person. Her hope now is that perhaps one of the students in her class has been swayed to travel to one of the cities they learned about. “My ultimate dream,” she said, “would be that people would actually go into some of these cities and see them for themselves.”





“I want students to feel connected [to the Middle East] in a way that’s personal, that’s not just academic. [The project is] not just about comparing and contrasting things, but [I want students] to have a more kind of immersive trip, to actually plan a trip to these areas,” said Pruitt. “I emphasized the parts of [travel] that make me feel connected to a city... where you’re going to eat, cultural events you’ll attend, and maps of the places you’ll go, all this kind of stuff that makes you think of [cities] more dynamically.”

By the end of the semester, the students in Pruitt’s Great Islamic Cities course had not only written a travel guide, but also presented their itineraries to the class. Students talking about Sana’a, Yemen displayed images of the dazzling gingerbread style buildings that spread across the city. Students covering Isfahan, Iran, showed photographs of the fairytale-like paintings covering the inside of Vank Cathedral, and those presenting on Damascus brought in tabbouleh, falafel and hummus for the class to eat.


Paris than a Mosque burning in Giza and decided that it isn’t that Western audiences dislike the Middle East, but rather that they don’t have the same relationship with the countries housing these mosques. So she came up with a plan to change that.










Welcome to America’s mecca for the joyously nefarious. Welcome to Louisiana’s remarkable city of shameless excess. Welcome to the madhouse that clumsily fuses old Europe and the modern South. Welcome to Mardi fucking Gras. For nearly a week in New Orleans, I was one of 1.2 million festival-goers swelling the city to three-and-a-half times its regular size. Like tiny pebbles we float with the tide, back and forth, before being spat out with the rest of NOLA’s expendable trash in the ocean of green, purple and gold. Join your fellow screaming imbeciles staggering down Bourbon Street. Join the swathes of colorful floats cruising down St. Charles Avenue. Join their idolatrous groupies, intent on exposedtorso-for-plastic-bead exchanges, however ethically questionable.

But the real deep end must wait. First, beignets and chicory coffee must invigorate the mind, plump oysters must arouse the palate, and buckets of steaming jambalaya swimming with seafood and andouille sausage must revive New Orleans’ most essential element—the soul. And then, in a staggering splash, the deep end is awash as the whole city cannonballs straight in together. The festival of rampant revelry has begun. Neon green Hand Grenades — NOLA’s strongest drink of simply gin, rum, vodka and melon liqueur — are devoured. Secret absinthe bars loathingly acquiesce to the drunken demands of dribbling nitwits. Frenchman Street’s jazz clubs spark with a cymbal then a CRASH: the stumble of their first overzealous victim. “What on earth is going on?” I ask my companion. It is his fourth festival, but he seems as astounded as I. “It’s Mardi Gras dude, do whatever the hell you want.” That’s when the inescapable Louisiana fever dream ensconces me. I see meandering lines to drive-thru bars like laundromats, only with washing machines swirling daiquiris instead of dirty clothes. I see Walter White atop a float, catapulting beads at delirious freshmen. I see a sumo wrestler of a man backflip on a balcony. I see a yeti with fraternity letters shaved into his chest. I see trees drenched in rainbows of beads like weeping willows smothered in LSD. I see a man spew a misjudged gallon of sangria on the parade ground. I see a man lose $100 in three minutes at blackjack. I see a man lose his phone, snap his sunglasses and pose on a police car within 90 minutes. I see hundreds gathered outside Tulane’s The Boot, awake at 8 a.m., sipping Red Bull Vodkas for Fat Tuesday’s Tequila Sunrise. I see thousands of other degenerate pawns intent on having the most shameless and brainless version of fun possible.

I always thought the worst thing about capitalist America was the soulless strip mall, then I see branded cushions, neon hula hoops, and light-up sunglasses tossed repeatedly into nameless crowd upon crowd. St. Charles Avenue is encrusted with palatial plantation houses, and Tulane’s Broadway Street with kooky condos and imposing fraternities. Yet just a few blocks from the complimentary consumerist insanity dwell hundreds of people divided economically, socially and racially. My Uber driver on arrival, Leneir, talks me through the sprawl of neighborhoods on the way to the frat house I’d be staying in. He tells me of the refurbished housing developments ravaged by 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, and how he and thousands of others pursued temporary escape from submerged New Orleans as their only option. He laments how even now, just blocks from Tulane’s esteemed campus, drive-by shootings occur at family-centric bus stops. I wonder, wouldn’t the money invested in needless beads and clutter drape around the necks of others a little more fairly? Yet still, on Bourbon Street, industrious prostitutes pluck away the late night clingers-on. Mobs of virulent racists belch insults at anyone who looks or sounds unlike them; “go back to your country,” they squeal, before attacking with fist and foot. For a city inundated with religion, at a festival celebrating the onset of Jesus’ 40 days and nights in the desert, the omnipresence of moral recklessness is startling. What better represents this than the image of a homeless man, unconscious outside St. Louis Cathedral on Jackson Square, as tourists nonchalantly bypass his ragdoll body — as if he was just another worthless pile of beads? But the citywide lunacy prevails. Choruses of “Wake the fuck up — it’s 2 p.m.!” echo across Tulane’s Greek-heavy campus. Three hours of sleep and it SPRING 2020


begins all over again. Trundle over to the grounds in the back of a U-Haul. Inside the truck’s metal walls awaits the epitome of seediness: a soggy second-hand couch, mounds upon mounds of cheap beer, and enough cigarette smoke to asphyxiate a coal mine’s canary. Ten minutes later you emerge, gobbled up by a similar picture. You find mountains of piss-warm alcoholic seltzer, odious clouds of billowing green and heinous freshman tonsil orgies amongst the oh-somany beads. And again, twelve hours later, you’re back on Bourbon Street lurching from the last bar toward breakfast. There, you guzzle shrimp and grits like the garbage trucks that simultaneously swallow the day’s mountains of plastic beads and general detritus. And with that final clean-up, my six days of manic but glorious hysteria had ended. I returned home — now 48 hours without any sleep, any attempt at hygiene, any form of currency, any form of voice, and any form of dignity — and I struggled through the door. Back to my own haven of depravity: broken glass exploded across the floor, rotten fries festering beneath the couch, and a sprawl of beer cans strewn throughout the living room like well-struck bowling pins. I slovenly tiptoed across the disaster zone toward the shower — my fresh towel no longer reeking of fraternity-induced stale tobacco and beer — to see my roommate slack-jawed at the sight of this repugnant monster who’d stumbled into his house unwelcome, like a decaying home invader. “Jesus Christ, you look, and smell, like shit!” he exclaimed, more outwardly outraged than I’d ever seen him. I faintly acknowledged his offenses before shamefully dragging myself to the mirror. And there it was. I see a man, an anemic gargoyle of a human: eyes sunken, hair bedraggled, teeth yellow and skin jaundiced. Mardi Gras had shown me what may be the glorious pinnacle of America, and I had returned bankrupt, hollow, repulsive; perhaps the worst of everything it stood for.







Away from the tourist-heavy shores of Cinque Terre, far from the well-known Amalfi coast, down the coastline from Nice, France sits Liguria, Italy. A retreat for Italian families on their weeks-long summer holidays, the water’s edge is dotted endless by colored umbrellas and lounge chairs. Near the end of my summer as an au pair for nine-year-old Elisa in Trento, my host family set off for the five-hour road trip from the Alps to the sea. The importance of calling it the sea and not the ocean was made clear early; Elisa scolded me for using the terms interchangeably. The sea, she explained in all her ferocious enthusiasm, is much smaller and much warmer. She was right, of course: the Ligurian Sea stretches just between the Italian Riviera and the French island of Corsica.

On the tail end of the European heat wave which knocked me flat, it was almost too warm to be refreshing. Almost, but not quite. And of course, the most important part for my host mom, Francesca, was to breathe the sea air, l’aria del mare, which she considers essential to health. Though we will spend each day at the sea in the village called Loano, our destination is perched away from the coastline in tiny Balestrino. Our little Fiat winds its way high through blue-green hills until, after a hairpin turn sharp enough to warrant a threepoint approach, we drive through a gate, across a flagstone drive, and up to a warmly lit butteryellow house with evergreen shutters. Nerves triggered by my imperfect Italian struck me shy as Nonna Gina and Nonno Ezio — my host dad Edoardo’s parents

— emerged from the wide-open front door trailed by Fiore, their limping, elderly labrador. Almost immediately, Nonna Gina guides me through the vast garden. We move in linguistic circles, her broad gestures and slow Italian gradually giving name to the wild rosemary, laurel and myrtle bushes crowding the front yard, their soft scents rising through the heated air. Fat, slow-moving bumblebees buzzed through the lavender surrounding the back patio, unbothered by our proximity. “My mother practices wild gardening,” Edoardo says, emerging from the house to join us. “Where it grows, let it be.” Days in Liguria are simple. We wake early each morning at the house at Balestrino. In the SPRING 2020


kitchen, I often find Nonno Ezio holding court with the moka coffee pot and a small breakfast spread, the news playing on TV. Outside, there is a heavy fog on the hills. Through it, a decrepit abandoned village is visible. The bees are still humming — drunk on the lavender, I suspect. Tretre the little tabby cat might rub up against your ankles if you’re lucky and quiet. And as the sun gains strength overhead, we toss towels and sunscreen and books into beach bags, gather Elisa’s sand toys and inflatable raft, and begin to snake through vine-covered hills once again. We wave to the donkeys perpetually grazing roadside and emerge into Loano, navigating to my family’s chosen beach and our designated canvas chairs. That’s where we remain: slicked in SPF 30, feet caked in sand and books acting as sun shields.


Around noon each day, Francesca awakens from the heat stupor to send Edoardo in search of lunch. He returns triumphant, bearing greasy paper bags stuffed with hot, fresh focaccia or farinata, with tomatoes unlike any I’ve tasted before, with sun-warmed fat purple figs sweeter than candy.



After all of that, there’s no choice but to sleep. So we do — my chair carefully dragged into our umbrella’s shade and straw hat tipped over my face to placate my host parents’ (well-founded) fears for my fair skin in the 2 p.m. glare. The heaviness of humid, salty air presses down until I wake feeling as if my bones have melted. I wade into the seawater

just to feel like my body exists again as a thing with structure — that I haven’t actually become one of the near-formless jellyfish happily drifting through the temperate water. How many times did I shake my head in those days, wondering how I’d found myself in a dizzying prelapsarian Eden? When the sun begins to dip, we move in reverse through the morning’s routine, trundling back up the hills, now purple in the fading sunlight. Showers are in order, suntans are examined, Tretre and Fiore are scratched, and a table is set. Its surface is crowded with green plastic liter bottles of acqua frizzante, dishes of trofie pasta doused in vibrant pesto, errant slices of bread and plates of vegetables. Our meals were simple but filled with laughter and storytelling, with memories that fill the house to its vaulted rafters. My tired brain follows the trailing sentences, chasing the conversation and translating until I exhaustedly slouch back in my wooden chair, sipping homemade red wine — “like Jesus drank,” according to Ezio — and letting rapid words fly by. The wine, I would soon learn, was not all Nonna Gina and Nonno Ezio made from scratch. After dinner, Ezio shows me the side shed where fresh olives are pressed into oil — several gallons of which we take back to Trento

to last until the next summer — and the small wooden barrels for homemade grappa and mirto — a strangely sweet-spicy liqueur of myrtle with ac blue-purple color dark enough to appear black in the bottle. One morning, Gina proposes that I learn more about Liguria and Ezio agrees, saying that I should have adventures. From then on,

some days when my host family bundles into the Fiat and down to the beach, the grandparents and I cruise through the hills in their white Jeep. The first time we take this journey, I clench my hands in my lap as we rumble over rutted dirt roads, surrounded by trees not quite thick enough to obscure the near-sheer drop to our left. The wind howls when we reach the place, the highest peak as far as we can see. A small church is filled with pastel ribbons and papers — cards of thanks and blessing requests. We walk the perimeter and Gina points to the place: from where we stand, the edge of the earth. There, she says, the Virgin Mary appeared to a woman decades back. “Do you believe it?” I ask. “Well...” she begins with a smile, “I’m not sure. But sometimes, in a place like this, it makes you believe.” Elsewhere we visit Castelvecchio

di Rocca Barbena, a medieval village abandoned but for fewer than 200 residents. Life moves slowly inside its quiet stone streets. Later, a village called Albenga, where Ezio guides me through its ancient ruins and baptistery. Afterward, we always drive through town, whereI hop out and jog to the beach to flop on a canvas chair for the rest of the day.

After weeks of homesickness and weathering a loss in my own family an ocean away, Ezio and Gina’s gentle acceptance felt like the warmest hug I hadn’t known to ask for. I feel the dread of departure long before it arrives. My final breakfast stretches as far as I can make it, ending with Ezio pressing his and Gina’s phone number on me with his blessing, a promise: whether with family or friends or all alone, I am welcome back to the butter-yellow house in Balestrino. I swallow tears through baci e abbraci, kisses and hugs of goodbye. Just before we clamber into the car for our return journey, Nonna Gina takes my face in both her hands. “At goodbyes, my mother would always say tante belle cose,” she says softly. I nod speechlessly and with that, we’re off. Her words echo in my mind. Tante belle cose: So many beautiful things.






To explore Buddhist temples and beautiful architecture or find a pilgrimage site, come to Bangkok, Thailand. There are more than 400 Buddhist temples in Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand. Walking in this city, I enjoy listening to the ringing bells and seeing the incense slowly rising upon the altars. Everything feels full of mystery and peace. I am not a Buddhist, but for me Thailand is a pilgrimage place to learn about Buddhism, and I



have a stronger feeling toward Buddhism in Thailand than in China. Grand Palace is my first choice for learning more about Buddhism. As a landmark of Bangkok, Grand Palace is the most perfectly preserved, the largest and the most well-known palace of all the dynasties. It is a must-see place for every tourist who visits Bangkok. The requirements for visiting are worth mentioning: to enter the Grand Palace, men need to wear formal trousers and ladies must wear long skirts below the knees. At the entrance, many vendors sell local patterned skirts, and I bought one to wear around my own waist. Entering the Grand Palace courtyard, I was impressed by the magnificent landscape. Large grass fields and bodhi trees with different postures met my eye at once. Among ancient trees, the Buddha Temple and many pagodas inside the Grand Palace are resplendent, unique and exquisite. The roof of the Buddha Temple is quite large with a long triangle shape, rising to the sky to underline faithfulness. During the visit, I was so impressed by the Jade Buddha statue, positioned in the Mahavira Hall. To see the Buddha statue, Thailand’s national treasure, tourists have to take off their shoes before entering the hall to show faithfulness and respect.


There is a big praying area inside the hall, but it is not open to tourists. Though there is no monk or incense burner in the temple, tourists can offer small yellow wreaths, bouquets, and flowers in front of the pagoda. After visiting the Grand Palace, I took a boat to enjoy the beautiful scenery alongside the Taiwan Strait. The high-rise buildings on both sides of the river show the modern atmosphere of Bangkok, while the golden spire and tall pagoda of the Jade Buddha Temple are in another style, showing the more ancient charm of Bangkok. Bangkok is also famous for Erawan Shrine, one of the most popular Hindu shrines in downtown Bangkok. It honors Brahma, a god known for his kindness and sympathy whose four faces are in charge of all affairs in the world, representing career, love, health and wealth respectively. Throughout the day, crowds pay their respects, presenting flowers and incense sticks to gain good wishes. I also showed my respect, praying in front of Erawan Shrine, and enjoyed the faithfulness and self-reflection. Later, I learned that elephants seem to be a symbol of Thailand. While traveling there, elephants can be seen everywhere: people wear clothes with elephant patterns on them, arts and crafts shops display and sell carved elephants of teak, ivory, elephant bone

and other materials in different sizes and shapes. To explore more deeply and feel the spirit of the elephant, I went to the Erawan Museum, which is well known for its giant threeheaded elephant art display. The structure of the museum amazed me: the whole building is the shape of a giant three-headed elephant. The inside of the museum consists of the first floor representing the underworld, the second for earth and the top floor standing as heaven. It combines history, cultures, religions, arts, and customs of faith through time in a beautiful way. For a place filled with peace, beautiful architecture, mystery, and religion, you must explore Bangkok, Thailand.







Why Uluru is not just your next instaworthy sightseeing destination



There is something remarkable about stepping into the photographs you’ve seen and experiencing a place through your own eyes for the first time. It’s never quite as you imagine it in your head, but it still feels familiar. When I first saw a photo of Uluru, I thought, ‘Hey that’s pretty cool,’ and added it to my Australia bucket list. A few years and a couple of geology classes later, I obsessed over the geological processes that took over 500 million years to create such a magnificent sandstone formation. It wasn’t until I actually walked the base of Uluru that I truly saw it for what it was: sacred. But that’s the problem with photos: you see with only your eyes. For the Anangu people of Australia, Uluru is sacred ground, a vital part of their history. Sacred rituals are still performed in the caves at the base of Uluru, and the walls are covered in ancient cave paintings that depict the aboriginese history. The Aboriginals’ Creation stories are a sacred part of their history. Some stories are only passed on to men, some are passed on to only women. The Anangu use the cracks and features of the mountain to explain Creation stories to the younger generations. As an outsider, I was lucky enough to have one of the children’s stories explained to me, but that is not my story to tell. Walking the base of Uluru gave me a deeper appreciation for the historical significance it has to indigenous Australians and how deeply rooted it is in these peoples’ culture. Despite being a popular



tourist attraction, it is sacred land first. Along the walk, there were many signs restricting photography and documentation of any kind on certain stretches due to cultural sensitivities in those areas. Similarly, in Aboriginal culture, it is considered disrespectful to show photos of those who have passed, their names are no longer spoken either, as though they never existed. At the end of the base walk is the Climb, an area where tourists used to be able to hike up the side of the sacred mountain. It wasn’t until October 2019 that the Aboriginals were able to get this disrespectful tourist attraction closed permanently, a triumphant win. The Climb disrespected the cultural significance of the site as it was common for climbers to litter, urinate and defecate on top of the sacred mountain. And yet, many Australians still question why they felt the need to close it. When traveling to cultural sites, please remember that although the site may have no cultural significance to you, it does to someone else. Show respect for those who graciously allow you on their land. While I encourage you to go out and see the world, explore new cultures and learn from them, don’t forget to have the mindfulness to know you are not at home. When you travel, you are an outsider. Cultural norms are different, and you should respect those differences. Wear proper attire, attempt to speak the language, try not to stand out. Immerse yourself in the culture — it’ll be a better experience for you and those around you.





Road trip. What did that make you think of? A spontaneous spring break? A trip to see grandma? Every road trip has a different story to tell. That’s why I love them so much. They’re personal–it’s all about who you’re with and why you’re with them. Road trips are either where you share your most painful memory at 3am in the rural counties of the upper midwest, or where you have a screaming match with your best friend over who’s turn it is to drive. Relationships either thrive or die in your Honda. There’s no in between. Here’s what road trips make me think of: half a dozen unsolved cold cases, eighteen-year-old Zac Efron, and six years’ worth of lost time.



And here’s the story behind the most interesting thirty hours of my adult life. I was walking along a beach in Agoura Hills, California when I got a call from one of my oldest and closest childhood friends, Joy. She was moving back to Minneapolis, and she wanted my help driving her stuff there. From Santa Barbara. I hardly hesitated. “So, when are we leaving?” She could hear my smile through the phone. It wasn’t just my love of road trips or my heinous fear of flying that made this such an easy decision. Joy is the closest thing I have to a sister. We met on the first day of kindergarten, and she’s been family

communicating every big milestone through long text messages, clipped voicemails, and fuzzy FaceTime calls. But in the moments between the milestones — the everyday, mundane occurrences — Joy and I grew up and grew apart. By the time I got her phone call, we had six years of missed moments and lost time.


This phone call changed that reality. Joy was finally coming home.

ever since. We saw each other every day of our lives for ten years. And then things changed, as they always do. When we were fourteen, Joy moved to New York City. It was hard to lose her. And it didn’t get easier. When we were seventeen, she moved to England, and then to Austria, and finally she settled down in Santa Barbara. Or so I thought. I was used to Joy’s adventurous determination. She never stays in one place for too long, and I admire her for her adaptability and resilience. She inspires me. But it hasn’t made our friendship the easiest thing in the world. We did our best to stay close,

I had to arm wrestle my way through the complicated logistics of deciding to drive home. But three days, a trip to San Francisco and a train ride later, I was standing in the dimly lit common room of Westmont College, pitifully attempting to play spike ball with the much more athletic Joy and her friends. We slept on a dorm room floor for about three hours that night and woke up at 5 a.m. to hit the road. We merged onto the highway as a soft golden light washed over the Pacific waves to our right. Our planned route had us heading south towards Los Angeles, rounding northeast through Las Vegas, cutting up the entire state of Utah, the bottom half of Wyoming, a small slice of Nebraska, a large chunk of South Dakota, and finally, the incredibly boring southwest quarter of Minnesota into the cozy suburbs of Minneapolis. Thirty hours. Our plan was to switch drivers every four and keep going until we absolutely couldn’t any longer. The first twelve hours on the road were a breeze — kind of. We wound through canyon after canyon, foothill over foothill, and city through city. Los Angeles was crowded. Las Vegas was iconic. And the miles of deserted mountainous terrain in between



were overshadowed by our true crime podcast obsession. By 14 hours in, we were a few dozen miles out of Salt Lake City. We were tired, hungry, and frankly, terrified. Those eight hours of serial killer mystery podcasts were not it. I I turned on the High School Musical: Senior Year soundtrack for a much needed distraction. “You know, East High is actually in Salt Lake City, not New Mexico,” I said. We sat with that for a minute. “Should we…?” “How far would that be..?” “Wait it’s just twenty miles” “An extra, like, 15 minutes” “Oh my god–“ “Should we?”

It took us about fifteen seconds to agree on this important site-seeing detour. Joy and I had grown up on a steady diet of Disney channel original movies, High School Musical being the landslide favorite. High School Musical was an important memory. A souvenir of friendship revived fifteen years later.


I ran out of the car and started doing a perfectly timed but poorly coordinated dance sequence in front of the main doors.


“Starting route to East High School, 1300 E, Salt Lake City…”


When we arrived at last, we circled the school a few times, looking for the entrance. Finally, we took a hard right and stopped the car just outside of the iconic East High Entrance. “All in This Together” was blaring from our speakers.

It didn’t matter that a few dozen kids were looking at us weirdly through the windows, or that we were two selfrespecting twenty year olds dancing in front of a high school. It didn’t even matter that we were twenty miles outside of our route.

All that mattered was memories of Zac Efron backpacks and convincing our classmates that Joy was Vanessa Hudgens’ third cousin. Bittersweet memories that took us both back. Back to times before we had gotten so old; before we lived in different cities, in different states, on separate continents. Back when we saw each other more than twice a year. A reminder of how things were before all of the moving and changing.So we danced like fools in a suburb of a city that we had never been to in front of judgmental teenagers. And it felt, for a moment, like we had gotten back some of that lost time.









Red sandstone sun full on high tide cliffs—Sedona sky burnt brightly blue




SENSORY OVERLOAD BY ALLISON STRECKENBACH Do you ever walk past a bakery and find yourself transported to the boulangerie in Paris where you bought your daily baguette? You can almost taste your favorite fig spread and feel the light crunch of the crust.

Snow falls and you swear that you can see the snowy Alps in the distance and smell mulled cider in the air. Is this a dream, or are the smooth sounds of samba music floating past when you take a sip of your caipirinha? The color of a stranger’s shirt catapults you into the crystal Mediterranean waters where you once floated, certain that their hue could be found nowhere else on Earth. These are my unexpected reminders of the places I have been. Of who I was in that moment, across the world. I wonder what will be added to this list of mine by the time I am 40 years old — all of the things that I have yet to see. To hear, to taste, to smell. One thing is for sure as I get ready to say farewell to my years writing and editing for Souvenirs, and that is the memories I will never forget of sharing my passion for travel, culture, and contemplation with others. Of exploring the world from afar — or up close — or being instantly transported somewhere else by the words of another. Of memories shared and bucket lists created. Of stories and laughter and joy and love. Of passion put into words, and friendships made. Of times I will never forget. Thank you to all, for this — here at home — was one of my favorite journeys.