First Time Studying Abroad

This blog post is written by Pich K., one of our IEP student council members. He discusses his first time studying abroad: what was exciting, challenging, and his hopes for the future. Thank you, Pich!

As a child who grew up in the countryside and moved to live in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia in the last 6 years, I had never thought that one day I could study abroad as other people did. Even currently I have been living in the United States, it still looks like a dream to me because it is unbelievable that now I am a student of the University of Washington, one of the top universities in the United States and the biggest and the best university in Washington State.

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Phnom Penh, Cambodia

After graduating from one of the universities in Phnom Penh in August 2017, I wanted to further my study by pursuing master’s degree in the United States. As English is not my first language and the English language proficiency requirements of each school is so high and I thought I couldn’t attain it, I decided to apply to the Intensive English Program University Track of the University of Washington in order to improve my English and meet the school’s requirement.

Photo by Katherine Turner. The Block W statue at the North entrance to the UW Seattle campus.

After receiving an email from IELP which stated that I was accepted to study in their program, I was both happy and sad because I had to leave my family for a few years. In mid-September 2017, I arrived at Seattle and my journey started. For the first few days in the school, I looked like a crazy guy who always said “WOW” and “WAHHH” during the time I was toured around the campus. It is very beautiful, and I had never seen this such big and gorgeous campus like this before. Each building has its own unique and attractive style. I spent the first two days walking around the campus, U-District and U-Village as well. There are many stores and international restaurants along the University Way which make me feel that I can live abroad for a few years because there are Asian restaurants as well and their dishes are quite good (I can only eat Asian foods), but little bit more expensive than in my country.

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University Ave, U-District

First day entering a classroom was extremely amazing. I knew no one and I think other students also did. The first two classmates that I knew are from Saudi Arabia. Then I knew many more friends and we are from different countries. I felt a bit sad because I’m the only Cambodian students in the school whereas other countries have at least two students. However, it is a good opportunity for me because I must speak English all the time, so I can improve my speaking skill gradually. After a week, I realized that this program is very helpful for me and I actually made a right decision. All teachers work hard in helping and correcting student’s mistake. As a result, my speaking, listening, reading and writing skills improve day by day. I do love this program and I’m pretty sure that after graduating from this program, I will be able to speak, read and write academically.

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A UW student throws up UW pride at a football game

However, I also met some difficulties. First, even though there are many Asian restaurants, I miss my mom’s dishes so much. To me, her cooking is the best. Second, I always feel homesick whenever I have nothing to do, especially at the weekend. When I feel this way, I really want to go back home. Last but not least, currently I’m waiting to hear a result from graduate schools that I applied. I don’t know whether I will get accepted or not and I’m very nervous. I love UW and I don’t want to move to other states either. I wish I would hear good news from them in couple months ahead.

 

Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Seattle

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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:

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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

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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

Snow in Seattle: Affordable Winter Fun

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While Seattle experiences mostly rain and wind during the winter months, there are beautiful, snow-covered mountains just a short distance away. For many students, winter sports are a great way to spend a weekend, and we are always looking for affordable options. This blog post will help you find the best deals for winter sports and other winter fun in the Seattle area. Have a great December, and stay warm!

Skiing/Snowboarding

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Stevens Pass

  • Learn-in-3 Guarantee: This deal is for beginners who want to learn to ski or snowboard, and is a great value if you are learning. Each visit while in the program includes a lesson, rental equipment, and helmet. After you “graduate” the program, you can access other deals and discounts.
  • College Season Pass: This season pass is the best value for college students, and is available to current, full-time students (IELP students, that means you)!

Crystal Mountain

  • 5-Pack Tickets: If you want to ski or snowboard more than a few times, or you want to go on the slopes with friends, this deal gives you 5 vouchers to use yourself or split between a group.

Snowshoeing

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The Summit at Snoqualmie:

  • You can rent snowshoes at the Summit and snowshoe on their trails! Snowshoeing is a more affordable option than skiing and snowboarding, and still allows you to get outdoors and enjoy the beautiful Pacific Northwest mountains.

Crystal Mountain:

  • You can rent snowshoes and ride the gondola to trails for skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. Crystal Mountain has multiple lifts and the only gondola in Washington, meaning the ride to the trails is as wonderful as the journey down.

Hurricane Ridge:

  • Hurricane Ridge is a favorite spot for beginners. Although they do not rent snowshoes on-site, you can rent them from REI and bring them with you to the trail.

Tubing

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The Summit at Snoqualmie:

  • At the Summit, you can rent tubes and slide down one of their many tubing lanes. This is an affordable option that allows you to get out and enjoy the snow!

Suncadia Resort:

  • This resort offers a tubing hill AND a ice skating rink! For a low price, you can spend a few hours tubing, a few hours ice skating, and then warm up inside a restaurant at the resort.

Runs

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Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis:

  • If you enjoy races but are worried none are happening in the winter, Seattle has you covered! The Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis is a charity run where you can raise money for arthritis and enjoy a brisk walk or run in Westlake Park, Seattle.

Curl up with Hot Cocoa

If you want to remain closer to Seattle and stay warm with a hot drink, we would suggest trying the best hot chocolate Seattle offers! If coffee is more your style, try out one of our many coffee shops around UW.

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Downtown:

  • The Chocolate Box offers delicious, unique hot chocolate drinks, and other delicacies. The location is right next to Pike Place Market, making it a fantastic stop during a fun day downtown.

Near UW:

  • The Chocolati Cafe has locations around Seattle, and the Wallingford location is a short bus ride away from UW. They offer interesting flavors in their hot cocoa, and it is a great place to study and enjoy some treats.
  • Fran’s Chocolate is conveniently located in University Village, and offers a delicious hot chocolate mix for sale. You can bring this back home and enjoy a rich chocolate drink while watching holiday movies!

Gingerbread Village

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  • Every year, the Sheraton Hotel hosts a Gingerbread Village, this year at City Centre. Seattle architecture firms, master builders, and culinary artists team up to create incredible gingerbread structures. This is a fun holiday event that keeps you warm and indoors on chilly, rainy Seattle days. You can view these from November 21 to January 1 at City Centre.

Polar Bear Plunge

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  • One strange Seattle tradition is the Polar Bear Plunge, where Seattle residents ring in the new year by running into the cold water of Matthews Beach Park on January 1st. The Meadowbrook Community Center writes “We jump in the water at ‘high noon’ as a ginormous group of revelers welcoming in the new year with a sense of rejuvenation and renewal as we emerge.” Participate in this Seattle tradition and enjoy one of Seattle’s beautiful parks!

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Photo Credits: National Park Service, Seattle Backpackers Magazine, Actively Northwest, Summit of Snoqualmie, Findwell Seattle, Bon Appetit, Curbed Seattle, Seattle Parks, Feasts of all Seasons.

IELP Student Coordinators: What We’re Thankful For

In the IELP office, the student coordinators are gearing up for Thanksgiving break. However we are spending our holiday, we are all excited to have a break from school and spend time with our friends and families. To get in the holiday spirit, each coordinator answered two questions: 1) What are you thankful for this holiday season? 2) What part of studying or traveling in another country are you most thankful for?

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Isaiah

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What are you most thankful for this holiday season?

I am thankful for music and having two quarters left at UW to spend with my great friends!

What part of studying or traveling in another country are you most thankful for?

I am thankful for the opportunity I had to study in Korea. Living in Korea taught me that the United States’ view of other countries isn’t always accurate, so I am thankful I was able to visit Korea and communicate with locals myself.

Phoebe

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What are you most thankful for this holiday season?

I am thankful for the opportunity to move to Seattle and study at UW. It is wonderful to live in a city I feel so at home in. I am also thankful for my network of friends!

What part of studying or traveling in another country are you most thankful for?

I am very thankful for all the different people I’ve met while traveling and studying abroad. It is incredibly valuable to befriend people from different backgrounds, so I am thankful for the friends I’ve made around the world!

Miranda

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What are you most thankful for this holiday season?

I’m thankful for little things like peanut M&Ms, spicy chai tea, and Friday night swing dancing—in short, all the little things that have kept me sane this quarter. I’m also thankful for my favorite Thanksgiving tradition where my mom and I make Thanksgiving dinner with scalloped potatoes and the green bean casserole.

What part of studying or traveling in another country are you most thankful for?

I am thankful for the opportunity I had to explore a new city in depth. On the last day of teaching an English class in Spain, our students took us out for a tour of their city. I loved seeing the city through a local’s point of view!

Laura

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What are you most thankful for this holiday season?

I am thankful for time to relax. This quarter has been very busy, so I am excited to spend Thanksgiving weekend cooking a delicious meal with my family!

What part of studying or traveling in another country are you most thankful for?

I went abroad for the first time this summer and I am thankful for cuisine from around the world! Food is such a vital part of culture, so I enjoyed getting to know parts of Italy and Germany by the traditional food.

Dana

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What are you most thankful for this holiday season?

I am thankful for people making our communities better in Seattle and across the country! I am also thankful for the opportunity to get a good education at UW and continue my learning.

What part of studying or traveling in another country are you most thankful for?

I am thankful for my time spent teaching in Russia and Azerbaijan because I was able to travel around the country. Instead of just visiting the big cities, I saw smaller towns and surrounding nature. Coming back and telling people about Russian and Azerbaijani culture was also very rewarding!

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Regardless of where you are in the world, we hope we have inspired you to think about what you are thankful for! Have a wonderful holiday season!

Photo credits: Simple Kinder, Dreamstime.com.

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:

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Kimchi (Fermented Vegetables, 김치)

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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.

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Bibimbap (Mixed Rice, 비빔밥)

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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)

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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.

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

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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)

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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.

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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

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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!

History

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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

On the Grind: U-District Coffee Shops

There are few experiences more satisfying than escaping from the rain and cold into a coffee shop. Ordering a warm drink, finding a seat, and studying for a few hours while conversation buzzes around you is a rite of passage for many students. In Seattle, coffee shops are a popular place to work, have casual conversations with friends, and are a favorite meeting place for students involved in IELP’s Language Exchange Program!

As classes become more difficult and the temperature drops, check out one of the U-District coffee shops below for a great place to meet, study, and enjoy Seattle coffee!

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Cafe Solstice

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Location: Extremely close to campus! This coffee shop and is minutes away from Red Square and West Campus dorms. With bus stops right outside the door, it is an easy place to sit before going home.

Food and Drink: Coffee, hand-mixed teas, kombucha, and pastries.

Seating: Plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, although it regularly fills up from mid-afternoon to closing time. The late closing time (11:00pm) makes it a favorite location for students that are night owls.

Cafe Allegro

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Location: Located in an alley off the Ave, Cafe Allegro is close to UW and an intimate, cozy cafe that is perfect to visit on a cold, rainy day.

Food and Drink: Seattle’s “oldest coffee shop” has excellent coffee, chai lattes, teas, and a range of Italian dishes.

Seating: There are plenty of seats and tables in this coffee shop, and people will often stay there for several hours. This is a great place to go if you are going to study or write a paper, as the atmosphere is cozy and the seating is comfortable.

Ugly Mug Cafe & Coffee Roasters

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Location: Located up the Ave near 45th, this is the perfect small, quirky cafe to meet with friends.

Food and Drink: Coffee, tea, other beverages, and a breakfast and lunch menu. They also sell bags of coffee for fans of their brew!

Seating: This cafe is small and intimate, with little tables intended to seat two or three people. Larger seating is limited. This makes Ugly Mug Cafe the perfect location to meet with friends, classmates, and Language Exchange partners!

Cafe Racer

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Location: This is the furthest cafe listed, but it is worth the short bus ride! Located next to Ravenna Blvd., Cafe Racer is in a quieter part of the U-District.

Food and Drink: Cafe Racer has plenty of coffee and tea drinks, but also has a wide appetizer, sandwich, and salad menu. Their brunch and breakfast is very popular with locals, so try to avoid the Sunday breakfast rush.

Seating: Although Cafe Racer fills up in the evenings for drinks, board games, and live music, there is plenty of space during the day. There are two floors in Cafe Racer, with smaller tables, large tables, and plenty of bar space. The large table upstairs is perfect for spreading out with your books and laptop, and also has enough space to welcome friends.

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The next time the rain starts to pour, the temperature drops, and you have some schoolwork to do, visit a U-District coffee shop! Whether you love coffee, tea, or snacks, the U-District has plenty to offer.

 

Photo credits: Imbibe Magazine, Wikimedia Commons, Coffee Seattle Scene, Ugly Mug Cafe – University District, Cafe Racer Seattle.com, Xconomy.

Favorite Taiwanese Dishes

Although our IELP students come from all over the world, food unites us all. We all enjoy  tasting new dishes and learning about the favorite foods of our friends and family. Last week, we spoke to Ting-Wei and Jo-Tzu, Taiwanese STEP students who both love Taiwanese food. Ting-Wei’s family even owns a traditional restaurant in Taiwan! To learn more about their favorite dishes, continue reading below:

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Lu Rou Fan (Braised Pork Rice, 滷肉饭)

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When asked what their favorite Taiwanese dish was, Ting-Wei and Jo-Tzu immediately named braised pork rice. This dish is an important icon of Taiwanese folk life, and is consumed all around Taiwan. However, different areas have slight variations in their dish, such Southern Taiwan using pork with less fat, and Northern Taiwan favoring a greasier version, sometimes with sticky rice mixed in.

Oil Rice (Youfan, 油飯)

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Jo-Tzu loves youfan, or Taiwanese “oil” rice. She told us she has fond memories associated with this dish because it is traditionally served to celebrate the birth of a child. However, you can find this dish at New Year’s meals, temple celebrations, and all around Taiwan! You can even order some at the Taichung train station (pictured below), if you are hungry while traveling. Although most variations include rice, pork, and oil, there are differences in the dish depending on the area and the family cooking it.

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Stinky Tofu (Chòudòufu, 臭豆腐)

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Ting-Wei told us stinky tofu is a traditional dish available throughout Taiwan through stands that sell stinky tofu to locals and tourists (pictured below). According to folk stories, stinky tofu was invented by accident during the Qing dynasty by a man named Wang Zhi-He. Today, stinky tofu is often fried and served with sauce and sour pickled vegetables. Barbecued stinky tofu, where the tofu is cooked with meat sauce, is recommended to people trying stinky tofu for the first time, and is thought to have been invented in Taipei’s Shenkeng District.

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Beef Noodle Soup (牛肉麵)

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Beef noodle soup is a favorite of Ting-Wei, Jo-Tzu, and IELP staff. This classic dish usually uses brisket or shank only, although some restaurants offer a more expensive version with meat and tendon. Although beef noodle soup is common in both China and Taiwan, it is considered a national dish in Taiwan. It is so loved in Taiwan that Taipei holds a Beef Noodle Festival every year, where various chefs and restaurants compete for the “Best Beef Noodle in Taiwan” award.

Tánghúlu (糖葫芦)

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Jo-Tzu’s favorite dessert is a traditional Chinese dessert that is loved throughout Taiwan. Jo-Tzu even said that she found tánghúlu at the Seattle International District-Chinatown Night Market! This snack is usually made with red or yellow hawthorn berries dipped in sugar hard candy. Although hawthorn berries are traditional, other kinds of berries and nuts are sometimes skewered and dipped in the candy. The tangy taste of hawthorn berries go well with the sweet candy coating, which is probably why this food has been loved in China and Taiwan for over 800 years.

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After the interview, we asked Seattle locals about their favorite Taiwanese restaurant in the Seattle area. If you are in Seattle and would like to try Taiwanese food, or you are from Taiwan and missing food from home, check out these places:

  1. Looking for Chai Taiwanese Kitchen
  2. Facing East
  3. Din Tai Fung
  4. Dough Zone Dumpling House (Chinese, Sichuanese, and Taiwanese food)

Thank you to Ting-Wei and Jo-Tzu for telling us about their favorite dishes! This post and our conversations with students don’t even scratch the surface of Taiwan’s culinary history. We encourage you to explore different cultures, foods, and restaurants in Seattle, and to find your own favorite dishes!

 

Photo Credits: Business Insider, Bear Naked Food, i.epoch.times.com, Smart Traveler, Wikipedia, Eater

Celebrate 4th of July this Summer!

Independence Day is one of the biggest American holidays during the summer. Traditional activities include having a BBQ, eating apple pie, watching fireworks, and wearing red white and blue. Even if you don’t identify as American, it’s a fun and easy holiday to celebrate, and there are so many ways to get involved around Seattle! Here are some of the many activities going on in Seattle this July 4th.

1.Seafair Summer Fourth

This free, family-friendly fair takes place at Gasworks Park, only about a 20 minute walk from West campus! There will be food vendors, live entertainment, and “All-American games” such as pie-eating contests and sack-races during the day, with a spectacular firework show after the sun sets over Lake Union.

Event Website: http://www.seafair.com/events/2017/seafair-summer-4th

Credit: seafair.com

2. Family Fourth of July, Seatac 

This festival takes place all day at Angle Lake Park and features a free water spray park with spray nozzles for children to run through, carnival rides and bouncers, and a fantastic firework show at night.

For more Info: http://www.ci.seatac.wa.us/government/city-departments/parks-community-programs-services/special-events/family-fourth-of-july

3. Burien’s Fourth of July Parade

This parade is one of the oldest and most highly attended in King County! Beginning at 3pm and running for about 2 hours, this parade features floats, pirates, marching bands, and so much more! For more information on how to get involved, visit their website:

http://www.discoverburien.org/events/2017/07/04/

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4. Kent Fourth of July Splash

This unique festival features traditional American games from noon-5pm such as pie-eating contests and T-Bird puck and shoot. Kent also provides free shuttle transportation and parking close to Lake Meridian, and of course, no Fourth of July would be complete without a fireworks finale!

Event website: http://www.kentwa.gov/residents/parks-recreation-and-community-services/events/fourth-of-july-splash

Tours in Seattle

In Seattle there are many ways to experience the rich culture and history behind many of our neighborhoods and sites. One way to do this is by tours. Tours are a fun way to learn more about a city, visit place you may have never noticed before, and have an opportunity to ask questions!

Below are some fun tours in Seattle, click on the title to learn more!

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Pike Place Market

Seattle Free Walking Tours

Tours in large cities like Seattle can be very expensive. Seattle Free Walking Tours does not charge a fee and a tip, instead they ask you to “pay what you feel”. This means that you can pay as little or as much as you’d like.

This company offers two tours:

  1. Market Experience Tour
  2. Seattle 101

The Market Tour focuses on Pike Place Market while Seattle 101 focuses on downtown Seattle, Pioneer Square, and the waterfront. The Market Tour is a little over an hour long, and the Seattle 101 tour is about 2 hours long.

Washington Arboretum Tours

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IELP students on a tour at the arboretum

On Sundays at 1PM you can stop by the Graham Visitors Center to go on a tour at the Washington Arboretum! You can learn about plants, ask questions, and enjoy the park!

On the first Thursday of the month you can stop by the Graham Visitors Center at 11AM to go on a Tram Tour! However you do need to register online.

Both of these tours are free. See here to learn more!

Click here to read about when IELP students when to the arboretum!

Olympic Sculpture Park Tour

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The Olympic Sculpture Park

The Olympic Sculpture Park, an outdoor exhibit, is a great place to enjoy the weather and see some cool sculptures! The tour lasts about an hour and you can learn all about the history, landscape, and of course, the sculptures themselves!

Check out the calendar here for more specific dates and times!

Theo Chocolate Factory Tour

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IELP students and volunteers enjoying the free samples at Theo Chocolate

You can take a peek inside the factory of Seattle’s very own chocolate maker: Theo Chocolate! A typical tour is $10 per person, lasts about an hour, and includes chocolate sampling!

They also have fun events such as “Kids Ganache and Chocolate Bark Class” where you spend the day learning how to make chocolate ganache and bark. See here for more information.

On the first Thursday of the month starting August 2016 Theo Chocolate will begin offering 2 free tours that day. Make your reservations in advance!

You can book a tour here.

 

Underground Tour

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Here you can see glimpses of Seattle’s past

In 1889 there was a large fire in Seattle. When officials began rebuilding the city they actually built it on top of some of the older, burnt sections of Seattle! Now there are many passageways and basements underneath the Seattle we know.

The Underground Tour takes people down to the area beneath Pioneer Square. Tickets are $20 for adults, or $17 with your husky card!

Visit here to learn more.