Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Seattle


In a big city such as Seattle, there are many New Year’s Eve events that are expensive and require lots of advanced planning for you and your friends. For many students, this is unrealistic. Today’s blog post will highlight fun, inexpensive, all-ages events that will make you excited for 2018!

Where to watch fireworks (beginning at 12:00 AM, January 1):

  • Seattle Center: You can watch fireworks from the base of the Space Needle and other areas around Seattle Center! This prime location fills up quickly, so make sure to go early (around 10:00 PM) to find a spot. Take public transportation, as the area experiences a lot of traffic and closed streets on this day.
  • Gas Works Park: If you want to watch closer to UW, you can take a quick bus ride to Gas Works Park. The view of the Space Needle is partially obstructed, but it is still an excellent place to view fireworks.
  • Lake Union: Lake Union offers a stunning view of the fireworks, as well as plenty of close restaurants and bars.
  • Kerry Park: Kerry Park is the most infamous parks in Seattle. With a stunning view of Seattle Center, this is a prime location to watch fireworks. However, Kerry Park is relatively small, meaning it will fill up quickly.
  • Alki Beach Park: Alki Beach is a gorgeous location, close to water, and with a distant yet unobstructed view of the Space Needle. Take the King County Water Taxi over earlier in the day and enjoy an incredible view at midnight. Since it is by water, bring a blanket and take a place near one of the beach fires to stay warm.


New Year’s Eve with Ivar’s: One of Seattle’s most famous restaurants, Ivar’s, has one restaurant on the pier. This means that you can enjoy food and a view until the fireworks begin. This is a wonderful way to enjoy a classic Seattle dish while welcoming the new year.

When: December 31, 9:00 PM

WhereIvar’s Salmon House on Northlake Way

Price: Free + cost of food


Winterfest New Year’s Eve Celebration: Winterfest happens all winter long at Seattle Center, but there are special events for New Year’s Eve! There is live music, dance, and other fun activities for hours before the fireworks. Then, when it reaches 12:00 AM, you already have a great view of the fireworks.

When: December 31, 8:00 PM (Ring in the New Year at Seattle Center); 10:00 PM            (Dance Party at the Fountain)

Where: Seattle Center – the Armory and Fountain

Price: Free


Bellevue Square Celebration Lane: Bellevue Square has a holiday-themed parade (named “Snowflake Lane”) leading up to Christmas, but they start “Celebration Lane” the day after. You can watch this New Year’s-themed parade anytime from the 26th to the 31st, and is sure to get you in the spirit for 2018!

When: December 26-31, 7:00 PM

Where: Bellevue Square

Price: Free


First Night Tacoma: This event features live music, food, and activities for people of all ages. If you want to explore another city and ring in the new year with a large, energetic crowd, check out First Night Tacoma!

When: December 31, start time around 6:00 PM (view schedule online)

Where: Event is centralized around Pantages Theater. Route is within Broadway between S. 7th, and S. 11th

Price: Buy a button online or in-person. Prices vary depending on time of purchase.

Light Shows:


One of the most enjoyable, inexpensive holiday experiences is a light show in a Seattle zoo or garden. These outdoor spaces are decorated with colorful lights along plants, fences, and pathways. This creates a beautiful, bright scene to stroll through. These light shows occur close to UW (Woodland Park Zoo), in Bellevue (Bellevue Botanical Gardens), or further away in Tacoma (Point Defiance Zoo), so you can check them out wherever you are.

Wildlights (Woodland Park Zoo)

When: November 24 – January 1 (closed December 24 & 25), 5:30-8:30 PM

Where: Woodland Park Zoo

Price: $11.95

Zoolights (Point Defiance Zoo)

When: November 24 – January 1 (closed December 24), 5:00-9:00 PM

Where: Point Defiance Zoo

Price: $10.00 at Front Gate, $8.50 online

Garden d’Lights (Bellevue Botanical Gardens)

When: November 25 – December 31; 4:30-9:00 PM

Where: Bellevue Botanical Gardens

Price: $5.00


We hope you enjoy your Winter Break, and celebrate New Year’s Eve with family and friends. We wish a joyful 2018 to you, your family, and friends!

Photo credits: Lake Union Seattle, Pinterest, Red Tricycle,  Seattle Bloggers, Bellevue.com, Huffington Post

Bonus Post: International Education Week #IEW


We at International & English Language Programs are excited to celebrate global competency during International Education Week! International Education Week (#IEW) is a joint initiative between the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to promote programs that prepare students for a global environment. Here at IELP, we are passionate about helping future leaders learn and grow at the University of Washington. We are so excited to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide!

Keep up with our #IEW posts on Facebook and Twitter. This week, come to the 13th floor of the UW Tower to view a display by IELP staff and teachers saying what we admire, appreciate, and love about our students. Stop by and take a look!

Have a great International Education Week!

Favorite Korean Dishes

This quarter, we have been discussing our favorite dishes with our IELP students! No matter where we are from, we all have a dish that reminds us of our family and culture. This week, we are highlighting Korean dishes and sharing our student’s favorites. To learn more, continue reading below:


Kimchi (Fermented Vegetables, 김치)


Kimchi is a delicious mix of salted and fermented vegetables. It can be served as both a side and main dish, and there are a number of variations depending on the region, family, or personal preference. There are records of fermented vegetable dishes dating back to 37 BCE, and there was even a poem written about fermented radishes in the 13th century. Although kimchi has been a traditional dish in Korea for centuries, kimchi is now becoming more common in the United States. You can find kimchi in American health food stores, and it is lauded for it’s nutritional benefits.


Bibimbap (Mixed Rice, 비빔밥)


Bibimbap, literally translated as “mixed rice,” is a bowl of warm rice topped with vegetables, chili pepper paste, soy sauce, or fermented soybean paste. A raw or fried egg and sliced beef are common additions. The name “bibimbap” was adopted in the 20th century, although there are records to the dish dating back to the 16th century. The dish was traditionally served on the eve of the lunar new year, and was also a common dish for farmers during harvest season because it is an easy dish to make for a large number of people. The dish is also heavy with symbolism, with the colors representing different parts of Korea and human organs.

Bulgogi (“Fire Meat,” 불고기)


Bulgogi, literally “fire meat,” is thin, marinated slices of beef or pork grilled on a barbecue or skillet. The dish originated in North Korea, but is very popular in South Korea. Today, you can find bulgogi in South Korea anywhere from a fancy restaurant to a ready-made dish at the grocery store. During the Joseon Dynasty, the dish was prepared for the wealthy and nobility. Today, you can find bulgogi-flavored hamburgers at fast-food restaurants in South Korea. McDonald’s in Korea even sold a bulgogi burger (pictured below) before it was removed due to a possible food-contamination case.


Japchae (Stir-Fried Glass Noodles and Vegetables, 잡채)


Japchae is a sweet and savory dish with a type of cellophane noodles, assorted vegetables, meat and mushrooms, and seasoned with soy sauce and sesame oil. Although it was once a royal dish, it is now a popular celebration dish served on weddings, birthdays, and holidays. According to historical records, the dish was first made in the 17th century for King Gwanghaegun’s palace banquet. The king liked the dish so much that he promoted the chef to a high-ranking position, and japchae became a fixture of Korean royal court cuisine.

Matang (Candied Sweet Potato, 마탕)


Matang is chunks of fried sweet potato coated in hot brown syrup. It is sweet and crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, and topped with black sesame seeds. Matang is a popular kid’s snack in Korea, and you can find it as a side in Korean restaurants. There are records of matang originating in China, but it is still a very popular snack in Korea.



After exploring traditional Korean dishes, we reached out to Seattle locals and asked them if they have favorite Korean restaurants in Seattle. A lot of the best restaurants are a little outside of Seattle, so we suggest making a day trip to Lynnwood if you’re interested in eating at Ka Won. If you want to explore Korean food, or want to have a taste of home, check out these places:

  1. Ka Won, Lynnwood
  2. Trove, Downtown Seattle
  3. Chan, Downtown Seattle
  4. Bok a Bok Fried Chicken, South-West Seattle

Thank you to our Korean students for inspiring us to explore Korean dishes! This post only covers a small portion of traditional Korean dishes. We encourage you to explore different cultures, foods, and restaurants in Seattle, and find your own favorite Korean dishes!

Photo Credits: foodrepublic.com, Chowhound, Pinterest, How to Feed a Loon, Facebook.com, Kimchimari, Maangchi, Wikipedia.

Halloween in America: History and Traditions


Halloween is a beloved holiday for many Americans. Children and adults alike love to dress up in costumes, go to parties or trick or treating, and eat sweets and snacks. With all of the decorations and hype around the holiday, many people do not know the history of the holiday in America. Furthermore, people visiting the United States may be unaware of our American traditions. Through photos and stories by IELP staff, we invite you to learn more about Halloween!



A Halloween party in 1924.

The original American colonies were mostly Puritan, and were against celebrating Halloween due to it’s association with evil and mischief. However, an influx of immigrants in the late nineteenth century helped popularize Halloween.


Trick-or-treating increased in popularity as Americans began to dress up and go door-to-door, asking for food and money. While the history of Halloween was traditionally tied with ghosts, tricks, and witchcraft, there was a movement by neighborhoods to make Halloween about community and celebration. This was followed by the removal of “frightening” or “grotesque” descriptions of Halloween by parents and in newspapers, which made the holiday lose most of its religious overtones by the twentieth century.

Modern Traditions

Some traditions have remained from the early days of Halloween, but there are new traditions that are popular, especially within American colleges.


Dressing up for Halloween is popular among people of all ages. In American colleges, finding a costume and dressing up for Halloween parties is a fun activity for many students. As pictured above, our IELP students love to dress up in fun costumes for our Mid-Quarter party!

Popular costumes include classic spooky costumes (skeletons, pumpkins, witches, and scary characters), animals, fairy-tale characters (Little Red Riding Hood, princesses), and pop culture references. Some people dress up in simple costumes, and some people like to go all out!


Many students love to spend a couple hours with friends or family and carve a jack o’ lantern! This popular Halloween activity is known around the world, and is very popular in America. In many homes, you can see jack o’ lanterns lit with candles on Halloween night!


Another Halloween tradition that is emerging in some American homes is “the Teal Pumpkin Project.” Homes with a teal pumpkin outside the door mean that the home is giving away non-food items, or non-allergen treats. Although most college students do not go trick-or-treating since the activity is meant for children, it is fun to know why teal pumpkins are popping up around Seattle!


It is not uncommon to find a house in America that has Halloween decorations. Although usually not as complex as the one pictured above, many houses will be decorated with fake cobwebs, pumpkins and gourds, and other spooky decorations. While many countries celebrate Halloween, America is distinctly extravagant with decorations.


For adults, and especially college students, there is no better way to celebrate Halloween than watching scary and classic Halloween movies. Horror movies are popular in every country, and loved year-round, but Halloween is a great time to re-watch your favorites.

There are some American movies made for children and teens that are not scary, but have a spooky element and are popular viewing during October. If you are interested, here are some favorites of our IELP staff: Halloweentown, Hocus Pocus, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Beetlejuice, and Casper.


Whether you dress up, carve a jack o’ lantern, or watch Halloween movies, IELP wishes you a happy Halloween!

Photo credits: Pixabay, Pinterest, History by Zim, IELP, Wonderopolis, Anoka Halloween, Bustle.com

April Events You Don’t Want to Miss

As a student living in Seattle, you never want to miss the most beautiful season of the year: the spring. You can go hiking in the national park, see the cherry blossoms on campus, and have a picnic with your friends at Gas Works Park. In addition, there are lots of interesting events and activities happening around Seattle in April with thousands of people participating. Let’s see what is happening in April and be part of the community!

1. The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Time: April 1-30, 2017

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival was inaugurated in 1984 by the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce to attract more visitors to see the tulips in Skagit Valley. Today, the festival is composed of a variety of fun events including art shows, gala celebrations, concerts, tours of local shellfish, and cheese operations etc. Two major events during this period are Downtown Mount Vermon Street Fair and the Kiwainis Salmon Barbecue.  The tulips will bloom depending on their own schedule during the festival. Don’t worry if you can’t make it on the weekend when the tulips started blooming!


2. Seattle Restaurant Week

Time: April 2-6 and 9-13, 2017

Seattle Restaurant Week is a ten-day celebration of food in King County that always takes place in April and October. The dining celebration features over 165 restaurants in King County. All the participating restaurants will offer a three-course dinner for $32 (some restaurants even offer $18 deal) with an appetizer, entrée, and dessert with at least three options under each course. It is absolutely a great opportunity to have some awesome Seattle food!


Seattle Restaurant Week, The Seattle Times


3. National Park Week

Time: April 15-16, and 22-23, 2017

National Park Week is America’s largest celebration of national heritage. As you have read from our previous posts, Washington State has lots of resources of national parks. So why don’t you take the advantage of the resources you have, discover and make connections with the nature? During these days, all National Park Services that charge an entrance fee will offer free admission to everyone. The fee waiver will include entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees.


Credit to Pinterest


4. Seattle Cheery Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival

Time: April 21-23, 2017

The Festival first started when Japan’s former Prime Minister, Takeo Miki, sent 1,000 cherry trees to Seattle on May 8, 1976 in commemoration of the long friendship between people of Japan and Washing State. The Festival is free with beautiful sakura, cherry tree, and traditional Japanese music and dances.


5. National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY) 

Time: April 27-30, 2017

NFFTY is the world’s largest film festival for emerging directors. It is the premier showcase for young directors who are 24 and younger from all over the world to express their voices and their understanding of the world. The festival includes film screenings, filmmaking workshops, panels, concerts, and a gala opening night.


There are lots of events going on our campus as well. Make sure to check out our Campus Calendar regularly to keep updated about what is going on in our school! Go Huskies!

How to Improve your English

This blog post was written by Almaprok Alkarami, a Campus IEP student.

In order to enhance your speaking skills, the first thing you have to do is create a comfortable environment for “language immersion”.

  1. If you have never been to an English speaking country, try to combine different activities:  read blogs, articles, listen to music you like (don’t forget to pay attention to lyrics, as you can learn some new colloquial expressions from them), watch series and TV shows in English. These are effective ways to learn expressions that you may not find in textbooks. While practicing any of the activities above, try to guess the meaning of words from their context before looking them up in the dictionary.
  2. Think about language-learning as a gateway to new experiences. As a graduate student, learning a language has always been about focusing on the experiences that the new language would open up, from “visiting theme parks, to enjoying poetry and folk-rock festivals, to learning about photo-essay techniques.” In other words, I think of fun things that I want to do anyway, and make them into a language-learning opportunity. Many of my advisors shared this advice. Find one in the language you’re trying to learn for future careers. almaprok
  3. Make new friends. Interacting in the new language is key — it will teach you to intuitively express your thoughts, instead of mentally translating each sentence before you say it. Find native speakers near you. Search for an American native speaker or set up a language tandem online, where two volunteers help one another practice their respective languages.

almaprok friends

Using the Libraries at UW!

Libraries are excellent places to borrow books, study, do research, or complete your homework! Here at the University of Washington (Seattle Campus) there are many libraries – the East Asian Library, the Law Library, Drama Library etc. However the two major libraries on campus are Odegaard Library and Suzzallo Library.


Students at UW call Odegaard Library “Ode” (pronounced Oh-d)

Odegaard Library has three floors – the bottom floor has a lot of tables for studying in addition to white boards! You can ask for white board markers from the information desk near the doors.

The second floor is full of computers and printers; you only need your UW netID and password to be able to use the computers.

The third floor is a quiet floor – loud talking and noises are not allowed. This floor has several bookshelves for research and a lot of desks for studying in silence. Monday- Thursday the library is open 24 hours! However, you will NEED to have your husky card with you if you want to be in the library after 7PM.


You need your husky card to be in the library after 7PM

Suzzallo is another great library! It has several floors and a lot of study space available. On the third floor there is the famous Reading Room. Students call it the Harry Potter Room because of the architecture style. This is a silent study space. You can find more study spaces in Suzzallo here.


The Reading Room is a beautiful, quiet study area

If you want to check out any books from the library you only need to use your husky card. Bring the book to one of the help desks and they can check it out for you! You can also check out movies from the Media Centers in the libraries.


This is where the Media Center in Suzzallo is located

Don’t be afraid to ask the librarians at the help desk for help! They love questions!


Find a Help Desk if you have questions!

You can find the hours and contact information of the UW libraries here

Getting to Know UW’s Campus


This map of campus can be found online here.

It can be a little difficult to find your way around UW’s campus. Here is a virtual tour of the UW’s Campus. For new or prospective students, it is good to know major landmarks on campus in order to get around. For current students, you may learn more about buildings you see every day!


Red Square is officially called Central Plaza.

Red Square is truly the heart of UW’s campus. Known for its red brick, Red Square is located between two major libraries: Odegaard Undergraduate Library, which can be seen on the right side of the photo, and Suzzallo Graduate Library. Be careful though! The bricks are super slippery when they are wet!


Suzzallo Library on a rainy day by Katherine B. Turner

When facing the Suzzallo library, if you turn to your right you will see a big fountain. Drumheller Fountain is another major landmark on the UW campus. On a sunny day you can see a beautiful view of Mt. Rainier – This spot is called Rainier Vista.


Drumheller Fountain with Mt. Rainier in the background by Doug Plummer

To the left of Drumheller Fountain is Guggenheim Hall. Guggenheim is where our new students take their placement tests!


Guggenheim Hall is where new IEP students meet on the first day of orientation!

If we now go the opposite direction from where we came, past Red Square, we can see the Quad! The Quad is one of the most photographed parts of the UW Seattle Campus. During the Spring time when the cherry blossoms bloom, it is beautiful!

Cherry blossoms on the UW Quad. Katherine B. Turner/ UW

Cherry blossoms on the UW Quad by Katherine B. Turner

Another beautiful spot on campus Sylvan Grove, is somewhat difficult to find. Known as the Sylvan Grove Theater and Columns, this outdoor space of land has four Ionic columns from the original University of Washington building, back when it was built in 1861!

Sylvan Grove Map

Sylvan Grove is located near the fountain

Sylvan Grove theater can be accessed near the fountain. There is also a path on East Stevens Way. Each of the four columns has a name: Loyalty, Industry, Faith, and Efficiency; together spelling LIFE.

Sylvan Grove Columns on a sunny winter day. Photo by Katherine B. Turner/ UW

Sylvan Grove Columns by Katherine B. Turner


George Washington Statue by Katherine B. Turner

Another major meeting spot and landmark on the UW campus, is located near Red Square. The George Washington Statue can be found just before entering Red Square from 15th Avenue. He is located between Odegaard Library and Meany Hall. This is where IEP Students meet to go on activities!


The UW Tower is where the IELP office is located: on the 13th floor!

And last but not least: The UW Tower! This is where our offices are – on the 13th floor! Most of orientation for new students will be held here. If you have any questions or concerns please visit us here. We are open from 8AM to 5PM on weekdays.

Free First Thursdays!

On the first Thursday of the month many museums in Seattle are FREE!

Here is a list of some museums and links to see more. You can find more free Seattle museums  here.

The Center for Wooden Boats


The center for wooden boats is a maritime museum where you can rent boats and go sailing or rowing! You can also enroll in sailing classes, woodworking classes, boat building classes for kids and much more!

The Center for Wooden Boats is located right next to MOHAI – another interesting museum which is free on the first Thursday of the month!

Admissions is ALWAYS free, however rentals may have some fees or suggested donations.

First Thursday Art Walk

First Thursday art walk takes place every month in Pioneer Square from 6PM to 8PM. This art walk is the first art walk in the USA! Many art galleries in the area will open their doors to introduce their new exhibits and artists to the public, there are also  public art installations between galleries as well.

Henry Art Gallery


The Henry Art Gallery is located on the UW campus right in front of the George Washington Statue.

Admission is ALWAYS free for UW students (with their husky card) and children.

Admission on the first Thursday and every Sunday is free for everyone!

Burke Museum


Like the Henry Art Gallery, the Burke Museum is located on the UW campus! The Burke Museum exhibits objects that demonstrate the natural and cultural heritage of Washington State such as plants, animals, and Northwest Native art.

Admission is ALWAYS free for UW students (with their husky card).

Admission is free for everyone on the first Thursday of the month!

Washington Park Arboretum


The Washington Park Arboretum (a type of botanical garden) is FREE for the everyone. If you’re interested there are tours on Sundays starting at 1:00PM at the Graham Visitors Center. Look at the schedule here.

The Washington Park also includes a play field and the Seattle Japanese Garden. You can get to this park from campus by a short bus ride on either bus 43 or bus 48 headed south.

Interested in the parks in the Seattle area? Look at some more cool parks here!