Iceland

University of Auckland students have the opportunity to study at the University of Iceland.

An increasingly popular tourist destination, Iceland is primarily known for its beautiful and awe-inspiring scenery. University of Auckland students have the opportunity to spend one or two semesters in Iceland.

Let’s hear what our students have to say…

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Joanna:
I landed in Iceland without knowing a single person, without knowing what to expect, yet as my departure date steps closer one calendar block at a time, my heart aches as I say goodbye to this beautiful place I now call home. Living in Reykjavik has been
like discovering a soul mate in the form of brightly coloured houses that resemble toys, and a creative energy that seems to have painted everyone in the vicinity. It is a quaint city with so much personality. Tiny cafes, comfortingly cozy with mismatched armchairs, candles in wine bottles and aged books on peeling shelves. The record stores that invite you to sit and listen to music in peace as the owner offers espresso in white china, and always, always looming in the near distance, the giant mountain range Esja with its snow-capped peaks. This city is individual, with fearless, beautiful people donned in impeccably artistic outfits as they sip their coffee. There are no fast food stores, no American pop music blasting from shop doors, no clichéd ideas of what a modern city should resemble. It’s unlike any other place… I mean, the people believe in elves! What a surreal dreamscape.

I have been here for nine months. When I first landed I felt lonely and despondent just thinking about how far away from home I was, but within a few days I had made friends and began to feel less afraid of exploring. Erasmus is an international student network organization that operates around Europe, and the group here in Iceland organized excursions such as hikes and activities such as pub crawls, along with parties in a local bar every single weekend. For the first three months I lived in the student dorm which was newly built and better than any student dorm I could have imagined.

I would often go on road trips. Driving outside of the small city is breath taking… There are so many spots that are perfectly sublime. Icelandic people have a strong connection to nature and work hard to protect it, with 85% of the country’s energy coming from renewable sources.

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Andy:
Iceland is a great country for outdoor activities and carries a reputation of being
environmentally friendly, in a way it is like the New Zealand on the other side of the world. The people there speak Icelandic, a unique language that is still very similar to the language of their old viking ancestors. It is common in Iceland to eat lamb, seafood, skyr (similar to yogurt) and liquorice. If you want to be more adventurous you could try the fermented shark (Hákarl) paired with the black death liquor (Brennivín). The living cost in Iceland is higher in comparison, but if you stick to buying groceries at the Bonus supermarket it is not as bad. Agriculture is more difficult to grow in their soil, so they either import or grow them using geothermal heating in greenhouses. All of the electricity in Iceland is derived from renewable sources and you will never run out of hot water.

The classes in the University of Iceland were taught in a familiar way that is not so much different from Auckland and it was not difficult to make friends as other students were also eager to meet new people. During some of the group assignments Icelandic students can seem unengaged, this could be because English is their second language and that many of them had families to take care of which I found surprising. I travelled almost every week in Iceland to a different part of the country, because there are just so many things to see. The most popular destinations are along the ‘golden circle’ and the south coast, but you shouldn’t miss going to Snæfellsnes in the west, Akureyri in the north and the Westfjords in the northwest. It is easy to go on a trip, find enough friends to fill up a rental car, book your hostels then off you go. Camping and tramping are also very common in Iceland with many routes to choose from in the highlands, but be careful to not risk it during winter. The weather in Iceland can also change abruptly so be sure to bring appropriate clothing. During the spring and summer months puffins migrate to the country which is something that cannot be missed. The days get super long in the summer where the sun never sets and super short during winter where you only get 4
hours daylight. Iceland is a country where the nature takes charge with unpredictable weather and drastic changes in seasons, it has amazing landscapes and the largest glacier in Europe (in area) that can easily be seen. If that does not impress you, then go for the aurora borealis.

For more information, email us at 360international@auckland.ac.nz.

 

Elizabeth’s Guide To Britain

Elizabeth’s Completely Biased Guide to the Best Cities to Visit in Britain

In the five months or so I’ve spent in England, I’ve done my fair share of travelling around Britain. There’s not a place I didn’t enjoy going, but there are definitely cities I preferred over others. So if you ever find yourself in not-so-sunny Britain, I’ve compiled an extremely biased guide to the best places to visit and the best things to do there!

  1. Sheffield, England

Best things to do: Cathedral was lovely, if you’re an Arctic Monkeys fan (like my flatmate, hence the reason for our trip) there’s the pub they played their first gig, the town hall is pretty to look at, and the Winter Garden is great!

Why it’s number 14: it was perfect for a day trip, but there was nothing stand-out that we did while we were there, not helped by the grey weather that plagued us the whole day, it doesn’t have buildings as pretty as cities like York and fewer cute little shops to walk around

 

  1. Liverpool, England

Best things to do: World Museum (incl. a little aquarium and an exhibit on Māori in New Zealand!), walking around the Albert Dock and the lock gates, and the Beatles Museum (I actually didn’t go but obviously if you’re a big Beatles fan you should go!), I also loved walking by the ocean – for the first time since I’d arrived in England ocean (even in the hail that started while I was walking)!

Why it’s number 13: a rainy day puts a dampener even in the best of cities and it certainly did with Liverpool, while I really enjoyed the museum, I’m not a huge Beatles fan and most of the tourist stuff seemed to be geared towards that. I’m also pretty sure I was the only tourist in Liverpool on the day I was there start of January. I was busy taking pictures of the beautiful old buildings by the train station and got odd stares from everyone who walked past me.

  1. Nottingham, England

After four months in Nottingham, I’ve got a lot of recommendations on what to do if ever stumble across it.

Best things to do: Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem (oldest pub in England!), walking around the lake at the University (definitely the prettiest part of the city), Wollaton Park (where they filmed Wayne Manor for the Dark Knight Rises and I only visited for the first time two days before I left even though it’s only a 15-minute walk from my flat, it’s also got deer!), Greenhood Coffee in Beeston (purely because it’s my favourite café), Nottingham castle is perhaps the least exciting castle I’ve been to but if you’ve got a couple of hours to kill you might as well!

 

Why it’s number 12: Nottingham will always be my favourite city in the UK. But the reasons I love it (the university, the people I met, the good cafes and bars we found) don’t scream for others to visit. Number one in my heart, number 12 on this list.

 

  1. Manchester, England

 Best things to do: People’s History Museum – an absolute gem! Full of political history and an exhibit on the Suffrage movement (which was unfortunately closed when I went there), Old Trafford if you’re a Manchester United fan obviously (but I didn’t go so I can’t tell you how good it was)

To be honest that was about the extent of my ‘things I did’ in Manchester despite going multiple times throughout my exchange. I’ve got family who live just outside of Manchester so I made lots of day drips into the city when I went to visit them in Oldham. But because I was with them I didn’t do a lot of sightseeing or touristy things (mostly just ate, drank, and was merry). I also don’t have any pictures at all of Manchester which is absolutely terrible!

 Why it’s number 11: first and foremost, Manchester is a big city, with lots of great shopping and incredible food, but I didn’t find there to be much great sights to see or tourist things to do (although there were several museums that I didn’t manage to get to that I’d go and see if I went back) – hit me up if you ever want food recs though!

  1. Lake District, England

Best things to do: going on walks and enjoying the views

Why it’s number 10: possibly the most surprising thing about moving out of New Zealand was how much NZ has ruined me for other countries. I take the beautiful landscapes for granted, when travelling around and going to places like the Lake District (and to some extent also Snowdonia and the Isle of Skye – both higher up on this list) I can’t help but feel like I’ve seen things just as beautiful (if not more so) in New Zealand, also the weather was not great which didn’t help matters at all. It was still absolutely beautiful though and I’d recommend a visit if you like nature!

  1. Glasgow, Scotland

Best things to do: god bless Glasgow: home of the best McDonalds of my life! (10/10 recommend McChicken Combo at the Argyle Street branch), visit the University (apparently wasn’t in Harry Potter, but it sure looks like it – it’s stunning!), The Stand Comedy Club (absolutely hilarious show that we saw and its reputation indicates it’s probably always this good), Gallery of Modern Art, apparently there’s another Art Museum as well which my friends went to before I arrived and adored, walking in Kelvingrove Park

 Why it’s number 9: looking back on the city there wasn’t a huge amount that stood out, I just really liked the vibe of Glasgow (and Scotland in general!), apparently the nightlife is incredible but we got unlucky and chose a rubbish club (this is one of the problems of going out while travelling)

  1. York, England

Best things to do: the Little Shambles market area (cute little cobbled streets and boutique shops), a walk around the city wall, York’s Chocolate Story (chocolate tour!!), lunch and a pint at any one of the cute pubs dotted around the city, York Minster (I didn’t have time to go inside because I was on the chocolate tour instead but my flatmate went and loved it!)

 

 Why it’s number 8: I thought York was adorable, the Old Town where we spent the day was what I’d always imagined an archetypal British town to look like: brick buildings, cobbled streets, grey skies, etc. It was also the city in the UK where all the chocolate families lived (not like Willy Wonka but ones like Terry’s and Rowntree) and there’s not much better on a town that prides itself on chocolate. There’s not tons to do there, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it as more than a day trip, but the day we did have was super fun!

  1. Durham, England

Best things to do: Durham castle is really pretty and the tour is super informative and only £4 for students, Durham Cathedral is beautiful and where they filmed some of the scenes from Harry Potter (Snape walking down a corridor, Ron vomiting up slugs), and it has really cute little streets to walk around.

 Why it’s number 7: I was absolutely charmed by Durham! Really similar to York in the cobbled streets, old town England kind of vibe. The reason it beats York is because I loved the tour of the castle so much and the cathedral was really cool too! The only thing I don’t recommend is taking the 7pm train home on a Saturday night – it will be full of English people drinking, which is not very conducive when you’re trying to get your head around international child relocation law.

  1. Isle of Skye, Scotland

Best things to do: I can’t remember the exact spots but just driving around and taking in the stunning scenery that the North of Scotland has to offer! My friends and I went on a tour because public transport doesn’t really work up there, but I’d recommend taking a car if you have one/want to hire one – it would make everything so much easier.

 

Why it’s number 6: even though I just talked about how NZ has spoiled me for a lot of the nature the rest of the world has to offer, the Isle of Skye really was stunning. Just lots of really beautiful scenery meant that it had to be high up the list.

  1. Conwy and Snowdonia, Wales

 Best things to do: Conwy castle (the only thing we did besides eat lunch in Conwy but it’s awesome!) and a walk up Snowdonia

 

Why it’s number 5: I’ll be the first to admit that nature and I do not have the best track record, but goddamn it was worth my eternal suffering to see Snowdonia. It was an absolutely stunning mountain and we hiked to and up part of it on an absolutely stunning day at the end of March. Good weather + fantastic scenery = A+. Conwy castle was awesome too! It’s mostly ruins and not in use, but a fun stop on the way to Snowdonia.

  1. St Andrew’s, Scotland

Best things to do: walk around the University, visit the ruins of the Cathedral, St Andrew’s Pier, the café where Will and Kate had their first date!

 

 Why it’s number 4: I adored St Andrew’s! We went on New Year’s Eve during the day and my friend’s friend who lives there acted as a tour guide taking us around the best spots and telling us all about St Andrew’s Traditions. It was incredible because the town was nearly empty (all the students were away for the holidays) and having someone who knew where all the good spots were was amazing. I’m also in love with the Royals and so seeing all the spots Will and Kate were supposed to have hung out was definitely a highlight (the café they had their first date Northpoint also has really good food and a beyond incredible Malteasers hot chocolate)

  1. London, England

Best things to do: go to a West End show (Les Mis was the best musical I have ever seen in my life), British Museum (I only managed to do a quarter of it on my first visit and never made it back because there is so much to do in London!!), Tate Modern, Tower of London, Hyde Park – esp. Winter Wonderland if you’re there over Christmas!, the Harry Potter Studio Tour (although it’s a bit outside London), brunch anywhere in Soho (recommendation: The Breakfast Club – they have four branches around London), brunch in Notting Hill (recommendation: Farm Girl) Camden Markets, Portobello Road markets, Houses of Parliament tour if you’re into politics (I adored it), Buckingham Palace – I realise pretty much all of these are the standard tourist things to do in London but I loved them all (and London is so big that four visits still wasn’t enough to get through even the touristy stuff!)

 

Why it’s number 3: London has been my number 1 ‘To Visit’ holiday destination for as long as I can remember, and it did not disappoint. I went there four times in the five months I spent in the UK and each time there were more new and exciting things to discover. To be honest the only reason it’s not higher up on my list is because I expected London to be amazing – and it was, but I feel like my top two destinations stood out more to me because I didn’t have all these incredible expectations going in.

  1. Brighton, England

Best things to do: brunch anywhere (recommendation: New Club and Bill’s), do a day trip to the Seven Sisters and the surrounding area to go for a fantastic walk, relaxing on the beach, eating the best doughnuts of your life at Brighton Pier, Brighton Pier in general (although not the Haunted Mansion ride – the biggest waste of £4), the Royal Pavilion, wandering around the shops in the lanes

Why it’s number 2: Brighton stole my heart from the moment we checked into our amazing hostel and it has kept it ever since, there was nothing I didn’t like about this city and if a job popped up I would move there in a heartbeat. It had a relaxed and slightly hipster vibe about it that reminded me a bit of Wellington and I adored it. There was something incredibly relaxing about wandering around boutique shops all day, eating fantastic food, and then sitting on the beach enjoying the sun. (Controversial opinion: I loved the pebble beach – it would suck for swimming but is so much easier to sit on because you don’t sand everywhere)

  1. Edinburgh, Scotland

 

Best things to do:

 HOGMANAY! If you’re in Europe for New Year’s you can’t get better than Edinburgh’s annual Hogmanay Festival – complete with torchlight procession (one of my top exchange moments) ending in a spectacular firework’s display, massive street party to bring in the new year, displays of various Scottish arts (from dance to poetry to music), and finishing it all off with a traditional Scottish ceilidh on New Year’s Day in the stunning National Museum of Scotland. I cannot recommend this experience enough.

Mum’s Great Comfort Food – my favourite restaurant in Edinburgh, I have been for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Try their deluxe hot chocolates (as featured in my previous post) they’re incredible! Plus you can get traditional bangers and mash but you get to choose the flavour of your sausages and the flavour of your mash! So beautiful.

The Stand Comedy Club – there are no words to describe my love for stand-up comedy and Edinburgh is one of the best locations to do it. I wish I was there for the annual Edinburgh Fringe Festival but if you’re like me and can’t make it up then (or afford it – I imagine accommodation is insane around this time) then The Stand is your next best place. I think they have comedy of some sort most nights and (as far as I’m aware) it’s always brilliant! I went twice – once for a standard Saturday night gig with more experienced comedians, and then once on a Monday for their £3 newcomers’ night. They were both hilarious shows and I would go every week if I lived close.

Enjoying a drink under Edinburgh Castle – while I found the castle itself overpriced for what it was, one of my fondest memories of Edinburgh is cracking open a couple of ciders with my friends on the lawn in front of the castle on the one sunny afternoon I got in the eight days I was in the Scottish capital

 

Walking up Arthur’s Seat – Edinburgh’s hill stop has great views of the city and while it’s not an easy walk up, it’s definitely do-able in converse so it’s not like a proper hike or anything if you’re like me and fitness isn’t necessarily your strong suit.

Calton Hill – I like the views from here better than Arthur’s seat. It’s closer to the city so you see more of the buildings in detail. Plus it’s a cruisy ten minute walk from the bottom.

Edinburgh Christmas Markets – if you’re there over Christmas it’s lovely! Not much else to report other than I love Christmas so Christmas markets make me ridiculously happy.

Why it’s number 1: Edinburgh is competing with Melbourne, Barcelona, and Portland for my favourite city I’ve ever been to. Steeped in history, incredible vibe, lovely people, so much to do. I can’t recommend it enough. I went twice – in winter and spring (although it was still cold), and even though I’m a complete sun baby, I still thought it was the bees’ knees. I don’t quite know how to describe why I love Edinburgh so much, I just do. If there’s one city I recommend you go to while you’re in the UK, this one is it!

Also would 10/10 recommend going here on exchange itself if you can! We don’t have the option for law but my friend went for commerce and science and loved it. Even though Nottingham is incredible, I’m still sad I never got the option to go to Edinburgh!

It’s a wrap

Going through this post again and adding in all my pictures has just made me miss Britain even more. I can’t recommend it or the cities I’ve talked about enough! I hope this has helped you all find inspiration of the places to visit if you ever make it over to the Queen’s country. You definitely won’t regret it. Also if anyone in Edinburgh or Brighton is reading this and looking to hire a graduate law/politics/history student – I’m your girl!

Hope everyone’s exams went well!

Elizabeth

Campus Life: Shirley

It’s not hard to imagine what is most exciting, most intriguing and most anticipated for an exchange: The new experience. Sometimes it is easy to be blinded by the places to travel, the new foods to try and the activities to do that it overwhelms a very big aspect of this experience, notably achieving a different academic perspective. For me personally, I would definitely like to start by confessing that all and everything fun and amusing became a front runner as a priority with this journey, which therefore put my academics more so on the back burner than what I am used to back at home. I thought to myself, it would be an absolute crime if this opportunity of all opportunities was spent sitting inside studying my precious days away.

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I did take me a while to see that university and campus life is inclusive of having a good grasp on what is going on, and discovering McGill along the way with its similarities and differences is not a hindrance to the experience but a part of it. Looking at these pictures of the beautiful campus and feeling pride towards being a part of such a diverse and strong student community there, it really does form a great part of the journey. A lot of aspects were very much on par with what I was used to at Auckland. Others, whether it arose simply because it is a different university or due to the fact that I am in a particular situation on exchange here, took some time to adjust to. Leaving behind for one second all the other envious bonus advantages from being overseas that comes to mind whenever somebody goes on exchange, I think that it is fairly important that the reality of education and spending a lot of time immersed in an academic setting is told.

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With regards to that, these would be my personal top five campus life related advice I would have loved to receive had this been a year back when I was planning my exchange, and would certainly now help others to have a better idea of what to expect.

 

  1. In the lecture room setting, expect to work a little harder if you want those social relationships.

 

Exchange students come in all forms, some are naturally more outgoing while some like to take it slow and build relationships at a relaxed pace. But meeting people back at home university is a different game to doing it in a new place. It’s so important since for me at least, my relationships within my cohort always give me an academic support that I find extremely useful. In saying that, it is definitely more difficult to break into established groups and simply put, more effort and courage is required than it would have been starting your first year where everyone was openly looking for friends. Just remember though, everybody is super friendly and generally people love a fresh new perspective. And if anything, you’re on exchange! What have you got to lose?

 

  1. Do everything that you want to do, but don’t feel upset if you can’t do everything.

 

Without a doubt any university will burst a whole myriad of clubs involving sports, music, hobbies and so much more that offer a very vibrant experience. I would definitely recommend them as they certainly are enriching and act as a very nice way to meet new people. As an example, my French conversation mini-course definitely helped me brush off my language cobwebs and I have meet people who I have made memories with already and will keep in contact with in the future. But it’s important to accept that with all these priorities on the list, you realistically cannot to it all. It is healthy to achieve a nice balance of what you want to do vs what you can do, so that it can be integrated into the campus lifestyle without feelings of overwhelming stress and fatigue. If you have the energy, do it. But don’t mistake it for pushing yourself too hard.

 

  1. Take the time to understanding the personal requirements of the courses you have picked.

 

My story will help clear this particular point a bit more. Of my papers, the ones which deemed a good match for what would have been my third year level at home was a first year maths paper and a fourth year structures paper. Having full confidence in mathematics and finding structural design the most difficult component of my civil degree, you can imagine my surprise when I scraped by with abysmal maths grades while soaring through with high scores for structures. This insane outcome taught me something I think every exchange student must accept: You have to take some time to evaluate what you need to dedicate more time to in terms of study because it isn’t necessarily the same as before. This will help with study efficiency and productivity to leave more time for all the other travel and leisurely things that are waiting.

 

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I expect that everybody wanting to go on exchange is looking for one thing within campus life – something different. So the best thing that you can do is to be prepared for it all as best you can and enjoy every different thing that comes with it which will make for some interesting stories when you get back home. After all, nothing beats a good but unpredictable story.

Keep up to date with my adventures through Instagram (shirleyxjiang) and my personal travel blog (http://pageparisienne.blogspot.ca/) J

 

 

 

5 Things You Will Master On Exchange

New Year, New You. Or should we say, new experience, new you! You will return with many good stories (to annoy your family and friends with), a whole load of confidence (I can do anything!) and become a master of these 5 skills!

    1. Navigation

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Although the GPS is a very handy tool to help you find your way around, it’s also good to know your directions and how to read maps. You’ll become an expert on knowing which bus route to take (and which not to take), which train will get you to where you want to go (and not take you in the opposite direction) and how to look out for landmarks! Yes, it can get stressful if you lose your way, but it’s all part of the experience in terms of navigating your way through a new environment and thinking on your feet (quite literally)!

      2. Communication

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You’ll become a pro at picking up the words and phrases that you need to get by. Especially if you’re going to a country where you don’t understand the native language(s), you’ll surprise yourself at what you can learn and interpret! Who knows, you’ll start to talk more with your hands and become so skilled at the art of gesturing!

     3. Time management

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There is no time like the present! Your time management skills will definitely be put to the test as you balance your studies, co-curriculars and travel. You’ll get better at knowing when to show up for things, how to plan your time and ensure that you complete your assignment on time so that you can enjoy that hike or weekend getaway.

     4. Independence

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Adulting! Yes, independence is a large part of adulthood. You will be awesome at fending for yourself because you will be responsible for everything (yes, is sounds daunting, but trust us, you will impress people when you get back with your independence).

    5. The art of conversation

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If you were shy before, you won’t be after this! Chances are you will be studying in a place where you don’t know anyone. This presents the perfect opportunity to make friends and network with people that you meet! Although it can seem scary at first, take a leap of faith, be brave and chat to people! Start off with basic conversation starters (e.g. Where have you come from? What do you study?) and work your way from there. Pretty soon, you’ll be a natural (and make a lot of friends)!

Tell me more!!!

Come see us at 360 International during our office hours. You can get advice on available exchange programmes, how and when to apply, and more. Also, if we haven’t convinced you, come anyway. Because we will!

  • We’re located in the Kate Edger Student Commons on the 4th floor next to iSpace.
  • Office hours are from Monday to Friday, 2pm-4pm.

Also, check out our website for more information:

And, in an act of shameless self-promotion, follow us on social media:

Campus Life: John

Hey!

Having spent the past three months at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), I think that NTU’s campus is an amazing place to live and study in. NTU’s campus feels like a town itself even though it’s just about 2km2 in size. It has everything from hairdressers to supermarkets.

Let me show you around!

1Welcome to The Hive! It’s one of NTU’s two iconic buildings, designed to look like stacked dim sum baskets! I have my business classes here.

2Let’s go inside. On the lowest floor, there is a student-managed restaurant where you get your favourite coffee, snacks and pasta.

3This is the Art, Design and Media (ADM) building, the NTU’s other iconic building. The coolest feature about this building is its accessible grass-covered roof.

4Feel free to walk up to the roof anytime. It is a great place to hang out during the evenings when the weather is cooling. One thing I noticed in Singapore, no one ever lies down on the grass to relax like in New Zealand.

5Now, let’s head over to the Sports and Recreational Centre. If you like running, you can do it here at the outdoor running track.

6Also, take a dip in the pool whenever you like.

7We can play some outdoor sports here next time! We can choose to play basketball to archery outdoors. If it’s raining, we can head indoor and play sports such as netball, badminton and squash.

8Let’s go to the canteen. We will rent the e-scooter because it’s fun and convenient. You can also rent these scooters at one of their pods located around NTU using our smartphones. But if you do not feel like riding the scooters the next time, you can always rent a bicycle or take the free bus provided by NTU.

9.jpgOther than the canteen, there are many more places to eat from a variety of eateries from cafes, McDonald’s to hawker-style food. The prices of the food here at the campus are mostly lower than outside eateries.

10.jpgMoving on, let’s head to Giant, one of NTU’s two supermarkets – which you can see on the left. Next to it is 7-Eleven which is a 24-hour convenience store.

11.jpgLet’s take a visit to the Chinese Heritage Centre’s museum. Isn’t it cool to have a museum located right in NTU?

12.jpgIf you look towards the opposite of the Chinese Heritage Centre, you can see the Yunan Gardens which is a relaxing place to do your evening walks.

13.jpgThe Nanyang Lake is located close to it which is another good place to de-stress.

14.jpgNow, let’s make our way to the North Spine building. Inside here, there is always have a big screen that is always showing live performances of music artists. I love it. It sets the atmosphere.

15.jpgOver here is the Student Activities Centre at the North Spine building. Shall we play the PS4? Or would you prefer playing either foosball, table tennis or pool?

16.jpgWell, that was a fun game. I will show you the global lounge now. Over here, they always have 9 TV screens showing different channels. You can choose which channel to listen to with your headphones plugged into the controller next to the chair.

17.jpgI guess I shall end the tour with the library. This is one of NTU’s nine libraries. You can book a private pod for your group meetings or study with one of those dual-screen computers.

Hope you liked the tour!

Questions?
I am always happy to help anyone interested in going exchange to Singapore. Make sure to comment on this blog post, and I will reply whenever possible. Alternatively, you can email me at jlee575@aucklanduni.ac.nz

If you want to check out more of my pictures, please follow my Instagram account: johnleekw. https://www.instagram.com/johnleekw/

Cheers!
Adobe Spark (2)

Campus Life: Rena

Well, it’s almost 2 months since I’ve arrived in Japan and I can safely say I’ve settled well here. One of the major difficulties that I experienced during my first month was adjusting to the balance between doing assignments and attending events during the weekend. I went out during most of the weekends, either sightseeing, teaching English to local students, or hanging out with my host family. It was really tough for me in the beginning, but I have definitely challenged myself and gone out of my comfort zone.

Courses:

At Fukuoka Women’s University, I am taking 5 Japanese Contemporary culture courses (JCC for short), 4 Japanese language courses (grammar, integrated grammar, conversation and Kanji course) and an independent research course named ISP. The hardest course for me is definitely Japanese language. We have 4 levels; beginner, elementary, intermediate and advanced. Back in UoA, I’m actually suited for the pre-intermediate level as this my second year of studying Japanese. I had a choice to take either level 2 or level 3. In the end, I chose level 3 because I wanted to challenge myself and since I’m just here for half a year, I didn’t want to learn things that I already knew. This explains why I haven’t tried many of the Fukuoka specialities dishes, I’m too busy to enrich my taste palate!

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 Here’s my timetable for the semester. Each course is one hour and a half long. Compared to the standard 4 courses I take back at home, 10 is a very big change!

Class style:

Except for Japanese, I have one JCC once a week. The courses are not set in a lecture style as they are in UoA, but rather in a tutorial style. The courses are held in a classroom, and the teacher will explain the topic for the first 40-60 minutes, then we will be given worksheets to do in class or topics to discuss on. After that, we will discuss the answers with the teacher.

Presentations:

Before coming to Japan, I already knew that doing presentations is a common thing in Japanese universities. As a matter of fact, I did my first ever individual presentation on vending machine culture in my food and environment course yesterday! Presentations usually go for 5-10 minutes long and are usually done by an individual or 2 people. I have many more presentations coming up in the future so I’m glad yesterday’s one went well. I’m off to a great start!

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My friends presenting on Hakata Dialect in our Linguistics course

Field Trip:

As you can see from my timetable, the Wednesday slot has been left blank. This is because we usually have field trips on Wednesdays. For my first field trip, we went to the Fukuoka City museum and Disaster and Prevention center. We also have a field trip report due the following week and it makes up the coursework for my Hakata history course.Speaking of field trips, I just came back from visiting a shrine called Umi Shrine and watched a live Sumo tournament. It was so much fun!

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One of the main attractions in the Fukuoka City museum is the King of Na gold seal which was found in Fukuoka. It’s 99% pure gold and shows that the oldest Japanese kingdom is actually in Fukuoka

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Definitely one of the coolest things I’ve experienced here

Glover Magazine:

Our university also has a student magazine. I had the the most amazing chance to be interviewed by the reporters and my interview landed on the front page of the magazine!

It made me feel really special to see myself on the cover page. Being the first and only student from UoA was a bit of a struggle for me during the first few weeks here because it seemed like the other exchange students already knew the university life from their former exchange students in their home universities. Seeing the magazine will always remind me of how accepting the people are here and that Fukuoka will always be waiting for me when I come back.

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Hey, that’s me!

Kasumi-sai:

Last weekend, my university hosted their own 2-day festival. Us exchange students had our own booth where we sold Krapow rice from Thailand and Swedish chocolate balls from Sweden. We also performed a song on stage which we practiced for a month.  The turnout on both days was incredible despite the bad weather on the second day. It was such a cool experience and we even made profit! (159,000 yen in total and we got 3500 yen or $44.8nzd each)

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Swedish chocolate balls in cups that we decorated

 

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Campus:

Fukuoka Women’s University’s campus facilities boast a gym, a sports auditorium, an ATM machine, a Café, a convenient store, a library, an infirmary and a cafeteria.

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So in love with this campus!

If you have any other questions concerning campus life at FWU, please do not hesitate to contact me! My email address is: Renachua.room8@gmail.com

またね!

Adobe Spark (13)

Food, Glorious Food: Bianca

As you can tell by the title of this blog, it is about one of my favourite things: FOOD! I will warn you now that this post ended up being a lot longer than I planed… Before coming to Spain all I thought of when someone mentioned Spanish food was paella, tapas and Spanish tortilla BUT there is so much more especially when you come up north. The most famous foods around the food are those that are typically eaten in southern Spain, while you can also find a great deal of these in northern Spain (for example I have been eating Spanish tortilla for breakfast nearly every day) they also have their own culinary traditions up here.

Traditionally Asturians are farmers, Shepherds and fishermen; this is reflected in the local gastronomy. The native breed of cattle here is prized for its milk and over 10 different types of cheese are produced from various milks in the region, 6 of which I have been lucky enough to try. They are delicious! I have always been a huge fan of goat’s cheese and they do it really well here, there is even a restaurant where, among many other types of pizza, you can get goat’s cheese pizza, delicious! The most famous cheese of the region is a blue cheese called Cabrales cheese; I will admit that this is the only food I have tried so far that I do not want to try again. It is a very strong blue cheese and as someone who does not usually like blue cheese, it was way too much for me.

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Asturias has 1300km of coastline and their history as fishermen means that seafood is also a big part of their food. One thing that I couldn’t get over to begin with is how much tuna the people here eat! I do live a catered uni residence and at least 4 times a week we have tuna, be it tuna steaks or tuna in the daily salad. I admit that I have come to really enjoy having tuna in my salad but we also have the option of tuna in our breakfast rolls and anytime I go to buy an empanadilla there is always a tuna option. The slightly more unusual seafood dish that is very famous here is Pulpo or Octopus. This is a dish that is also very famous in Galicia. The way it is served here is cut up octopus tentacles on potatoes seasoned with paprika. I was quite apprehensive to try this for the first time but octopus doesn’t really have a taste, it is just the texture that is a bit strange.

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I have found two new favourite foods since arriving in Spain, Emapanadillas and Cachopo. Empanadillas are pretty similar to empanadas that we know from Argentina; however here they are they are made with two different kinds of pastry. My personal favourites are those made with fluffy, flaky pastry, rather than those made with a short crust kind of pastry as these can often be too dry. As I mentioned earlier will there are many varying options for filling you will always find a tuna option and I have found that this is often one of the better options. Cachopo is similar to cordon bleu. It consists of two large veal filets that are fried with breadcrumbs and served with potatoes and preserved capsicum.  What makes it special is that it is filled with ham and cheese between the two filets and that one portion of Cachopo is big enough to serve 2-3 people. It has become my new go to meal when I can afford to go out to dinner and I have had it a few times but the best one was at a restaurant called ‘El Gato Negro’. This is a wonderful restaurant with many typical dishes and very popular with the locals, but I would highly recommend if you are going with a group of people, we almost didn’t get a table!

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I will try and keep the next bit short so this post doesn’t get too much longer but I cannot talk about the gastronomy of Asturias without mentioning Sidra. It’s not too difficult to make the link from the name that Sidra is Cider, the traditional drink of Asturias. It is made from locally grown apples and has been produced since ancient times. The Sidra is always bottled in the same dark green glass bottles (so it is really easy to recognise) and there is a very special method to pouring and drinking it. The waiters serve the Sidra by holding a large glass in one hand and the bottle in the other; he raised the bottle over his head and lets the Sidra fall into the glass which creates some carbonation. This method of pouring is called escanciar and is really hard to do well. Tradition also dictates that no more than a few centimetres of Sidra is poured at once and it must be drunk immediately. The best place to go to drink Sidra is a Sidreria and some of the best are found in Calle Gascona, it is here that you can also find one of the best restaurants in Oviedo: Tierra Astur.

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Side note: Los Premios de la Princesa de Asturias

I imagine it was covered in the news in New Zealand, but for anyone who may not know; the All Blacks received a Princess of Asturias Award just last week. The awards ceremony was held in the theatre here in Asturias and I found myself outside the theatre in the crowd while the All Blacks were receiving their award for sport. Among the other winners for this year were noble prize winners and a musical group from South America. The All Blacks also hosted a training session for rugby players here in Asturias as part of the lead up to the awards. These are some of the most prestigious awards in Spain, so congratulations to the All Blacks!

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