Hello all! Summer has finally started here, exams are around the corner, and I’m in full revision mode.
The main campus is called Highfield and consists of faculty buildings such as Life Sciences, Engineering, Law and Business. The University’s library and Health and Fitness Centre are located near each other, with University Road running down the middle. A smaller campus, called Avenue Campus, is situated around a 20 minute walk away from Highfield and is home to the Humanities and Arts faculties.
Just like the University of Auckland, Highfield campus is open and spread out with University Road connecting the inner buildings to Burgess Road. There is also a bus interchange which connects the Campus to the Airport in one direction and four Halls of Residence and the city centre in the other direction. This makes the Campus very busy with students, staff and general traffic during term times.
The campus also has some lawns and small stream running through it. The lawns in particular are swarming with sunbathing students on sunny days. No patch of grass is spared. Southampton Common (or just The Common) is a large park with a few walkways which connect Highfield Campus with Avenue Campus. If you’re in a rush, a convenient bus service takes you there in about 10 minutes.
Avenue Campus, which is next to The Common, is smaller and has two main buildings. These buildings have lecture rooms and a small canteen too, with an open space for students to sit and eat their food and hang out.
I like walking from Highfield to Avenue on Fridays for my Archaeology lecture. The Common is a very beautiful area and great to walk around if you need to escape the stress and anxiety of exams. As for the campus itself, I like the mixture of old brick buildings and modern concrete ones. The bus services are super convenient and free to use if you have a Student Card.
As things start to slowly wrap up, I’d like to say that I’ve really enjoyed spending my time in and around the campus. From catching the bus on rainy days, walking in a couple of inches of snow to enjoying the rare sunshine on a cloudless weekend. With lectures officially over, it’s now time to get stuck in and study. Wish me luck and cheers for reading!
The theme of this blog post is “Campus Life”, which I thought I’d tackle by separating things into two categories: study and extracurricular. We’re talking study expectations, social opportunities; all the goods. Let’s do it!
Trinity as a university is predominantly research-based, and this is absolutely shown in its timetabling—even at the undergraduate level. The stages of undergraduate study are classified with Freshman and Sophister categories, and, within each, a Junior year and a Senior year (i.e. first year students take Junior Fresh modules, second year students take Senior Fresh ones, then third-years move into Junior Soph, etc.) The university is split into three main faculties or schools: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; Engineering, Mathematics and Science; and Health Sciences.
Freshman modules (read: papers, or courses, or whatever you want to call them) under the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences umbrella typically meet once a week, with another one-hour tutorial for compulsory modules. This is markedly different to UoA, and you’ll find your in-class time decreased by at least half—even if you’re entered for the maximum five transferable-credit classes. You’ll therefore have way more time on your hands (I had three-day weeks), but with the lack of in-class time comes much higher expectations of student-led learning. I was expected to read a book—novel, poetry collection, play etc.—a week for each of my modules, plus secondary readings which could range from one five-page section to four twenty-page stints. I’ve actually found it easier to get through course content this way, despite there being more of it, and it’s also given me the opportunity to get out and explore more of the city when it wasn’t so busy.
Classes, like UoA, run for fifty minutes, beginning on the hour, and—unlike UoA—the Arts modules tend to all be taught in the same building, so you’re not dashing from the Engineering building to the Law school, or from OGGB to Commerce A. Just up and down a few flights of stairs! Another difference from UoA is assessment: where most UoA papers are run on continuous assessment—e.g. 50% exam, 25% essay, 15% test, and, like, 10% participation—modules at Trinity are often one-and-done. I had three essays this semester, all worth 100%, and two exams, also worth 100%. This is both good and frightful, but there’s no point in stressing—all you can do is your best, anyway, and at least once those assessments are over, you’re done for that module and you can breathe easy. (I did have three essays due on the same day, though, which I didn’t enjoy. But, on the bright side, I learned really good time management!)
Trinity, like UoA, has heaps of clubs on offer—virtually all the same ones you’d find at our Clubs Expo, a couple of our more niche sports and the legendary Meat Club notwithstanding. Personally, I joined the Literary Society (poetry readings, tea and coffee afternoons, Harry Potter-themed events galore) and the International Students Society. I’d really recommend the latter, as they do discounted trips to a bunch of must-see places; I went to Galway, the Aran Islands, and the Cliffs of Moher earlier in the semester. It was manic in terms of time—constantly go-go-go in between locations—but the peace and stillness on Inis Mór (Inish)more than made up for it. (I’ll see myself out.) I’d recommend joining a club or two, as it can be a great way to meet people if your living situation doesn’t supply you with a bunch of groovy new mates, and lectures themselves aren’t the most social places.
Because of its aforementioned focus on research, Trinity is also a hub for exciting workshops and lectures. If you’re a bit of a nerd like me, you’ll take advantage of the free—free!—talks that are on, literally every day. The subjects are so varied that you’ll easily find something suited to your tastes; a couple of highlights for me were a visit from an Italian sculptor who had had several run-ins with the mafia, and a celebration of Harry Potter’s enduring legacy. (You may be sensing a bit of a Potter theme here. And before you ask, yes, I caved and started playing the mobile game.)
Trinity’s really in the centre of town, too, so it’s only a short walk to the National Gallery, Merrion Square, and basically any other destination you could be after. A few different classes use Marsh’s Library—which is stunning, by the way—as a field trip, but you can go yourself for about €2. Definitely worth it for the history! (Speaking of: definitely use your Student ID to jump the queue, and the fees, for the Book of Kells and the Long Room at Trinity. I may have cried walking up the stairs to the Long Room. Sis luvs books, and all that.)
After living alone in Chile for 3 months, I can confirm what they say – vegetables go off faster when you’re the one buying them. Travellers will often tell you that a great way to get to know a culture is through the country’s cuisine. When it comes to Chile, this statement really hits the spot. Food is undoubtedly a substantial part of the Chilean culture, around which many social norms are based. During my time here, my relationship with food has been an adventure to say the least.
To start, one must talk about the Chilean cuisine itself. In comparison with other countries in Latin America, notably Mexico, there is not a ‘classic’ food style which immediately comes to mind when one thinks of Chile. However, there are plenty of traditional Chilean dishes which I have been fortunate enough to try and I would love to share some of my highlights here. The top of my list would be the humitas, which is a corn based meal. The corn has been cooked slowly with other ingredients to make a kind of thick paste, which is then wrapped up in the corn sheaves and heated until ready to serve. I always eat it with sugar sprinkled on top, a tip given to me by a local woman. They’re such a great size for a light lunch and definitely my favourite treat! Unfortunately, they’re far too complicated to make back in NZ (for my cooking abilities at least!), so I’ll need to eat as many as possible while I’m here! Another traditional dish, also made with corn, is called Pastel de Choclo. It slightly resembles a shepherd’s pie however it also includes olives and hard boiled eggs within the meat mix and in place of the mashed potato it has, once again, some kind of corn derivative.
While these are traditional Chilean foods, they’re not eaten super often. Much more common are the asados (barbeques). These are an incredibly common form of social event, in which friends will gather and cook A LOT of meat for everyone, always with an old school open fire grill. The most common form of asado here in Chile is the classic choripan, which is quite simply small chorizo sausages with bread and usually mayonnaise. This is such a common event that basically every household will have an asado station ready for any family/friend reunion.
Around enjoying the occasional Chilean cuisine treat, my diet has also had to overcome the challenge of cooking for myself for the first time in my life. While I already knew some basic staple dishes (Spagbol, stir fry etc), I really did not have the knowledge of how to feed myself substantially three times a day upon my arrival in Chile. It has been a significant learning curve. Through trial and error, I have gradually improved the quality of my meals (there were a few evenings when I went hungry due to a less than tasty experimental concoction) and I feel myself becoming more ‘adult’ with very new successful recipe added to my repertoire. However, I still have a long way to go to before I become the next master chef.
To sum up, exploring the Chilean cuisine has been a great part my exchange, although perhaps dangerous for the waste line, and hopefully I’ll be able to bring a few Latin American eating tips back with me to the Kiwiland!
The fact that Tec is a not-for-profit private University, where all the funds are re-invested into the university, is evident in the quality facilitates and opportunities. The campus is so beautiful! Unlike University of Auckland City campus, which has a main road running through it, the campus here is so large and very lush. It is a very secure campus, with security at all entrances and thus you need your student ID card to enter. It has many mature trees, hammocks for relaxing in-between classes and in the middle of the campus there is a popular common area with many tables and umbrellas called ‘Cyber Plaza’, which is surrounded by a range of affordable food and drink places.
Relaxing in the shade
All the classrooms are easy to find so I never had much trouble orientating myself around the campus even though it is so big. The classrooms are numbered with 4 digits e.g. 2305. The first digit refers to building the building number, either 1, 2, 3 or 4, which are all connected. The second digit is which floor, again 1-4, and the last two digits are which number the class is. So it is all very straightforward.
Cyber Plaza, the student hang-out. And because we always have great weather here, it is always a very popular spot.
The classes here a small teaching style, with desks on wheels, so you can easily zip around the classroom for group work or to chat with a friend. This is very different to the lecture style we have at Auckland. It is interesting to experience a different way of learning which I find a bit more relaxed and interactive.
One thing I love about the campus is that there are bikes parked up at the various bike stations around the campus that are free for all to use to get from one spot to another. It is really great on a Friday afternoon when you can’t be bothered walking from class to the exit of Tec or if you are running late to class.
There is always something going on at the Tec de Monterrey Guadalajara campus. Some of the activities on campus this semester include a Health Feria where there were various stalls with health checks, promotion and freebies, Valentines Day where you could buy donuts among other things for loved ones, and the opening of a new library service which involved Mariachi and cake. For any other occasion Tec will create some sort of celebration.
There is also a really great gym which is free for all students and staff to use. The gym here has great big windows with a view out to the trees and sports fields. This gives it such a nice atmosphere but it can get very busy. There is a great variety of machines and classes you can attend including yoga, your usual fitness classes, cross fit, aikido and taekwondo. I have been really enjoying a kickboxing class, the gym being a great opportunity to try something new and meet new people (one of my good Mexican friends whom I spent our Easter holiday with I met at the kickboxing class!).
I also have a twice weekly Salsa class. I thought it would be full of internationals, but it is actually really cool as I am the only one in my class. Most of your classes will probably be made up of other international students, thus making the most of thee extra-circular activities gives you the chance to meet Mexican students which is awesome. Tec gives you so many opportunities to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new skills. At the start of May along with all other dance classes (e.g. K-Pop, Hip Hop, Ballet etc), my class will be doing a short dance presentation. This is something quite daring for me, but I think, hey I am on an exchange and I would never do this back home, so why not!?
The only thing about the Guadalajara campus is that it is quite far from the central city. Therefore, at times it can feel like there is not a lot going on and if you want to go into the centre, it will take about 40mins-1 hour by bus. But overall, the Tecnológico de Monterrey Guadalajara campus is really nice. And because there are a million and one things to do, you can spend a lot of time on the campus, thus being a bit out of town doesn’t really matter so much. One of my flatmates has also studied at the Mexico City and Queretaro campuses (having to change due to the Mexico City earthquake in September 2017), and she said she thinks the Guadalajara campus is the nicest. Tec has over 30 campuses across Mexico and as part of 360 International, you can select whichever campus you like. Most University of Auckland students go to a campus in Estado de Mexico, and I was the first UoA student to study in Guadalajara. I chose to study here as I thought it is a bit smaller than Mexico City (six million+ people so Guadalajara is still bigger than all of New Zealand, but less than the 20 million+ in Mexico City), it has a good climate and it is close enough to other places for weekend trips. I have also spoken to other people about other campuses, so would be more than happy to speak with anyone before they select their campus and answer any questions!
While most students on exchange are absolutely raving about the food culture overseas, the UK is a bit of another story. The British have a bit of a reputation for bland food, which I have to agree with to some extent. Restaurants and cafes will generally offer the same kind of food as back home; however, coming from Auckland has set my standards quite high. In saying all of that, there have definitely been some perks of living in Glasgow in terms of food and I’ll be sharing some of my personal highlights.
Being an adult and cooking for yourself
Glasgow is one of the cheaper cities to live in the UK, which my bank account is quite grateful for when I go to do my groceries every week. I actually look forward to my weekly grocery shop – not only does it give me a chance to get to know what kind of food Brits eat, but there’s so many cheap options that I’ve become much more comfortable with cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. I’ve never been a particularly good cook, but some of my favourite times in the semester have actually been spent in my kitchen. I almost never cook when I’m home in Auckland but when you’re living in the halls, dinner time in the kitchen feels like its own social affair. Although my cooking isn’t always successful, I’ve definitely enjoyed having the chance to properly cook for myself on a regular basis. One of my personal favourites is a store called Iceland that stocks mostly frozen foods. You can get a frozen pizza there for a pound! Dangerous, but amazing.
What’s a post about Scottish food without mentioning haggis and black pudding?? For those who don’t know, haggis is a pudding made up of various sheep organs (heart, liver & lungs) minced up with onion, oatmeal, salt and spices. Black pudding is a blood sausage made up of pork or beef, pork blood and oatmeal. I tried both in one of my first weeks here and my verdict is that they’re both …okay. Now I know that’s a pretty underwhelming response but personally, I didn’t think they tasted as weird as they sound but I can’t really say they tasted amazing either.
V for Vegetables
Glasgow is known for being one of the most vegan friendly cities in the world and it’s easy to see why. Along every main street you’ll come across a vegetarian or vegan café or restaurant. In fact, there’s a vegan bar right under my accommodation that has jazz sessions every Sunday which I absolutely love. There are ample vegetarian and vegan options in almost every establishment you go to and some of the things I’ve tried have been SO amazing. The peanut butter shortcake in my favourite café Offshore is to die for!
I’ve been considering going vegetarian for a while now but found that it’s been extremely difficult to do so back home, but here in Glasgow, I’ve noticed that I can almost effortlessly avoid meat for days at a time. This change in eating habits has definitely been an unexpected part of my time here but I’ve really enjoyed taking on the challenge of properly committing to going vegetarian.
Chips & cheese! For some reason people are really into having chips with grated cheese on top, especially after a night out. Strange but also really good.
Irn-Bru (Iron Brew) – the national soft drink. A weird fizzy orange concoction that the Scots are strangely enthusiastic about. Can’t say that I particularly enjoy it but I do love the fact that Scotland is the only place in the world where Coca-Cola isn’t the top selling soft drink.
Fish & chips – I’ve noticed a lot of the chips here have been sub-par but I’ve definitely had some excellent fish on the Isle of Skye.
Tennent’s – it’s not really a true Scottish experience if you don’t go for the occasional pint down at the pub. My go-to beer is a pint of Tennent’s Lager. Kind of like the Speights equivalent in Scotland. It’s brewed locally in Glasgow and I have some very cherished memories of chilled nights out with a pint.
Classes have now finished, as well as my Easter break. Time to actually hit the books and study for exams! 😦 As always, I’m happy to answer any questions you guys have about Scotland and my time here!
To be clear right from the outset: there isn’t a huge degree of difference between food in Ireland and food in New Zealand. (Please try to hold all potato-based japes for the duration of this blog post.)
Many well-known Irish staples – such as shepherd’s pie and fish and chips – wouldn’t look out of place on a New Zealand dinner-table. We share a lot of basic meal components, and while a move to Ireland definitely means bidding adieu to L&P, Whittaker’s, and other uniquely-Kiwi products, there isn’t that adjustment to, say, rice at every meal, or recipes you don’t recognise. Plus, Ireland has its own set of stand-out players: most principally, Guinness and Bailey’s – though as someone who doesn’t particularly like either of them, I can’t offer a comprehensive review: only that you can get them in a variety of forms and people always say they’re better in Ireland! (Fun fact: Guinness is brewed in 51 countries around the world, so no matter what your local Irish pub might be saying, it’s unlikely you’ve got a pint directly from my next door neighbour.)
The food scene in Dublin feels similar to that of Auckland, as there’s a lot of variety in the central city, provided you know where to look. Honestly, I’d suggest becoming That Person and scrolling through Yelp and/or TripAdvisor, or even just giving things a cheeky Google – I’ve found so many great spots just from doing a bit of research. Word of mouth is great, too, so once you’ve made a few friends, maybe ask them if they’ve ventured out into any exciting eateries thus far. (If not, make it an activity!)
While I’ve got you here, I thought I’d shout out a few of my favourite places for a specific recommendation, should you find yourself in Dublin:
Pub food: You can go into any pub you like and you’ll find good, reliable food. But I’d recommend Arthur’s and The Stag’s Head for reliability and convenience. Arthur’s is a short walk from Binary Hub and it has a lot of options on the menu that won’t break the bank, and The Stag’s Head is a five-minute walk from Trinity if a class finishes up late or if you’ve got something at College in the evening and you don’t want to walk to and fro. If you’re looking less for pub food and more for pubs, my favourites are Bad Bob’s and Frank Ryan’s. Bad Bob’s also serves food, and is packed almost every time I go, but it’s just down the road from Temple Bar and they have live music and it’s always fun. Frank Ryan’s is a five-minute walk from Binary Hub and very small but completely worth checking out – their décor, like Bad Bob’s, is brilliant, and they also have a very friendly dog who practically owns the place!
Mama’s Revenge: Placed on Nassau Street, just beside Trinity, Mama’s Revenge is a great spot for Mexican food! It’s fresh, fast, and filling, and you’ll get things cheaper if you show Student ID. (If you’re sitting in, go downstairs! It’s super cute.) (Side note: Dublin is on a bit of a Mexican kick at the moment, apparently – there’s a Boojum on every other street if you’re after a good taco bowl!)
The Market Bar: I discovered The Market Bar by accident, looking for somewhere to take visiting friends, and it is possibly my new favourite place. The menu is diverse and not overly expensive, and the restaurant is gorgeous (if you’re interested in getting the ’gram). It’s also near Trinity, so if you wanted to celebrate the end of a hard day/week/month with some friends, this could be a nice way to do it! The food is organised in such a way that it could be shared like tapas, or you could order things individually. Either way, I’d wholeheartedly recommend it!
Those are some quick recs from me re: food in Dublin. There are so many places and all kinds of cuisines on offer (within walking distance, too!), so I’d definitely encourage researching things yourself. For such a compact city, the options are endless.
There are two options when it comes to food arrangements at the Halls of Residence at the University of Southampton, catered or self-catered. My hall, Chamberlain, is a self-catered hall. The kitchen space I share with my flatmates has drawers, cupboards and basic kitchen appliances such as kettles (for that morning cuppa), toasters (yet to find the setting for a perfect toast, will get back to you on that) and our Lord and Saviour, the microwave. We also have two sets of hobs and ovens/grill.
As for supermarkets, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Coop are where I do my groceries as they are the most convenient and affordable. Speaking of groceries, I’ve discovered that fancy bread tastes really good. I was originally Team Wholemeal, but now I don’t mind paying a little extra for some seeded bread or one with oats and honey. Tip 1: Invest in some good bread! It’s life-changing.
To continue the Pantry Essentials 101 theme, milk here is sold by the pint (1 pint = 568mL), but thankfully they label the bottle in milliliters and litres otherwise I would have to guess how many bowls of cereal and cups of coffee I can make from a pint of milk. On the subject of cereal, they have Weetabix here (look out for the extra “a”), which is exactly like our Weetbix. I’ve currently switched to some hearty Scottish oats which taste even better with sliced banana – and berries, when they come into season. Tip 2: Add fruits to your cereal. You get good, natural sugars and some of your five plus a day.
Finally, Tip 3: Stay away from the Ready-to-Eat Meals aisle! Don’t be lazy and buy microwave food all the time. I know I used to! But then I looked up some easy recipes online for one pot pasta and a stir fry and now Friday dinner is officially Pasta Night, with extra cheese. We just don’t know what preservatives go into packaged takeaway food and its always best to put in some effort and cook your own meals.
As for restaurants, there’s an area called Portswood which I find similar to Newmarket. There’s the big Sainsburys and then small restaurants and shops, one being 7Bone. 7Bone does amazing burgers and fries combos with a big variety of meats, tofu and falafel burgers along with cheesy fries and bacon fries. It’s best to go with an empty stomach because these burgers are heavy! Portswood also has many small cafés, one being Coffee#1 which as a super cozy vibe. There’s small couches to chill on and tables too, if you want to get some work done while sipping your coffee. The café also sells various cakes and savoury items.
Last but not least, I have a quick and easy recipe for you guys. I’m not sure what I’d call it. Maybe “Upgraded Baked Beans on Toast”. All you need is some sliced bread, a tin of baked beans, salt and pepper, Italian seasoning and grated cheese.
First of all, pre-heat your oven to about 200 degrees Celsius. Drain as much liquid as possible from your tin of beans and empty the beans out in a saucepan. Season the beans with salt, pepper and the Italian seasoning. Mix well over a medium flame. Lay out the slices of bread on a baking tray and spoon the beans onto the bread. Top with grated cheese and bake until the cheese melts over the beans! This should take about 10 minutes. And there you go! Other versions include adding chopped onions and cooking those with the beans or using other seasons to flavour the beans. It’s really up to you and you have your very own Upgraded Baked Beans on Toast.
P.S. I’ve also included photos of the places I visited during the Easter break.