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A quick lesson I learned from these Olympic Games is that the Organizing Committee seems to love light displays.

Take a walk up to the PyeongChang Olympic Plaza in the evening and you’ll find the city could put Las Vegas or New York City to shame.

Drone shows entertained the crowd from above, laser beams accompanied music from the medal ceremony stage, and there are several light up tunnels that make the perfect photo backdrop.

We don’t get much time off here in South Korea. Data Collections, lectures, on the bus, off the bus, dinner here, and cultural event there make most of us just want to sleep when we get the chance.

Today is my last “day off” but my internal body clock still woke be up at 6:00 a.m. with no chance of dozing back to sleep.

I packed for the trip home.

I watched some Netflix.

I showered.

And then I started to walk.

My destination was Starbucks (yes I know South Korea has great cafés and coffee shops but they don’t open until 11:00 a.m.) to do some homework before my meeting this afternoon. I had a general idea of where it was so I just decided to wander the side streets of Gangneung.

figure skater mural street view in Gangneung

Walking around a city is the best way to really get to know it and its people. I found boutiques, small businesses, more coffee shops, and even other ethnic restaurants I have been longing for when I grew tired of kimchi.

Tea Shop in Gangneung Italian restaurant in Gangneung

I understand why the Organizing Committee chose this area. It’s a quaint city with lots of personality and I as walked around this morning I realized this is why I chose travel and tourism as a career.

 

To open up others minds to the possibility that we are quite similar in hopes of creating a better understanding of culture and a greater determination for peace.

I was lucky enough to be training at the Half Pipe slope when Shaun White redeemed himself of his Sochi disaster. Waking up early to get to the mountain was rough, but you can feel the excitement and anticipation building when the runs began.

girl standing in front of half pip slope

The cheering room section was filled to the brim, and the stands were filled with people waiting for the prodigal son to return. The first run was amazing and he ended up with a score of 94.25 The second run kept us on our toes with a score of 55.00, and when that final run score of 97.75 came up on the big screen, eruption of cheer followed that could be heard for miles.

Shaun White's Run 1 score

The television broadcast does not do the half pipe justice. The hills are massive and the amount of air the boarders get is not for the faint of heart. The Japanese athlete, Yuto Totsuka, that was carried off by the medical team just shows just how dangerous this sport can be. He’s only 16 years old and yet competing with athletes as experienced as Shaun. I have so much respect for these athletes and hope Yuto returns to the slops healthy and ready to give the veterans a run for their money.

Half Pipe

Greetings from the floor of Detroit Metropolitan Airport!

girl sitting on the ground doing homework.

Dr. Neirotti has tried to give us as many tips and tricks for traveling, especially for mega events like the Olympics and her motto throughout the course has been “Be Flexible." I think we all have tried to prepare for the unexpected as much as possible but our trip to South Korea has definitely been an adventure already.

Our first lesson in flexibility was when our connecting flight got changed a few days before takeoff. Heather and I took it as a blessing because it gave us more of a layover before our international flight.

Our second lesson happened when we arrived at our gate this morning to see our flight was delayed, turning our 45-minute layover into a 12 minute-layover.

So now we have started in Philadelphia, got to Detroit, about to fly to New York-La Guardia, then a quick cab ride to New York-JFK for a red-eye to Seoul.

Flexibility is a virtue. But this is exactly why travel is so essential. It causes us to think on our feet, and look for solutions rather than problems. If anything, this has prepared us for what hiccups may come in PyeongChang.

So, I would like to create my own motto, “one man’s flight delay, is another graduate student’s study hall.” See you soon PyeongChang!