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!
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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!

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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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Accommodation Awards: Matt

At UNC, exchange students are given a variety of housing options to choose from. I will give you guys a run down on the on-campus housing situation over here and give my opinions of the pros and cons for each option.

At UNC, if you select on-campus housing, you must decide the location and style of dorm you prefer. UNC can be split into three parts: North Campus, South Campus, and Mid-Campus.

North Campus dorms are corridor style, meaning that you will be sharing a large bathroom with people on your floor. North Campus is convenient location wise. You are within a 5-10-minute walk from most of your classes and Franklin Street. These dorms are very pretty and historic, however they tend to be occupied by older students so depending on your floor, it might be a little quiet.

South Campus dorms are suite style. Each suite contains 4 bedrooms sharing a bathroom. South Campus tends to be occupied by younger students, so it is louder than North Campus. There is a bit of an uphill walk to class, but really, I have not found this to be a problem.

Mid-campus also has suite style dorms and is more of a mix of both North and South Campus.

As for myself, I opted to live on South Campus. My dorm is Morrison Hall, and houses roughly 800 students.

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Morrison Hall

The dorm has 10 floors and a large basement area which includes a study room and a games room. There is also a basketball court outside and a nice green area to relax in the sunshine. 

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Games Room

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Despite being located on South Campus, I have found the location to be very convenient as it is next door to Chase Dining Hall and Rams Gym. Being the farthest north of the south campus dorms, it only takes 15 minutes to walk to the pit and to class. Also, it is right next door to the football stadium, with the basketball stadium only a 10 minute walk away. Franklin street is a little bit far to walk, however there is a free bus to Franklin called the P2P that stops outside Morrison every 15 minutes. Buying a bicycle would be a pretty good idea to cut the journey time also and I know of many exchange students who have done so.

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Chase Dining Hall

As mentioned before, my dorm is suite-style. If you do opt for on-campus housing, be prepared to share a room with a roommate. It might sound daunting at first, however you will get to a point where you will barely notice that you are sharing a room with another person. Nevertheless, it is a great way to meet Americans from the get-go. Below are a few more photos of my dorm.

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Is it beginning to look a lot like Christmas?
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Sorry about the mess!
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View from the 10th Floor

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Food, Glorious Food: Harriet

If Lyon is the gastronomical capital of France, and French cuisine is often seen as the finest in the world, that makes Lyonnais food the best in the world, right? My first two months here have certainly put forward a good case, much to the dismay of my wallet and waistline. It’s not just the traditionally-French food, but all the different styles of cuisine in Lyon are worth forking out for, in more ways than one.

Firstly, I have to apologise for the lack of photos on this post; I’m the kind of person who can’t not eat or drink when there’s something delicious sitting in front of me. Even the coffee photo below is fraudulent – I had already vigorously stirred the sugar into my cup before remembering I needed a pretty pic. Luckily, my friend wasn’t so greedy!

Undoubtedly the best aspect of food in Lyon is the passion the French have for fresh and locally-sourced produce. Every single day, there are multiple different farmers markets set up around the city, so everyone has a conveniently local and regular place to get their fresh fruit, veges, meat, cheese, seafood and baguettes. My local market is about a five-minute walk from my house, and lines the Saône river with stalls of all kinds of delicious and cheap produce. I so wish I could transport the market culture to New Zealand with me when I come home.

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The best French cuisine in Lyon can be found at a ‘bouchon’, which is a specific kind of restaurant which serves traditional Lyonnaise food, of which there are twenty certified establishments around the city. At most bouchons you order from a set menu, which gives you an appetiser, an entrée, a main dish and a dessert. Cuisine at a bouchon is not for the faint-hearted, with the main dishes heavily focused on meat, and not just the cuts we are used to. Luckily the appetiser and entrée are incredibly filling, because from beef tripe to chicken liver cake to ox tongue to calf’s head, the main dish choices are not always incredibly appealing. However, it is so interesting to try their traditional tastes, and a bouchon has a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere which makes the whole dining experience worth it. And with a cheeky bottle of Côtes du Rhone on the side, it is sure to be a good night.

Despite their expertise in the kitchen and the vineyard however, there’s one thing the French are yet to master, and that’s a good cup of coffee. The only place in Lyon I trust with the barista machine is an Australian-owned coffeehouse, Slake, which actually has the kiwi fan-favourite Flat White on their menu and knows how to get it right. And I’m not a huge coffee drinker, so when I can tell the difference between a bad cup and a Slake cup, that’s when you know it’s good.

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Please feel free to message me if you have any questions about studying in Lyon/France or abroad in general, I am so happy to help with anything you want to know if you are coming to Lyon next semester or wondering where to apply to! Email me at harrietjkeown@gmail.com – and keep up to date with what I’m up to on my instagram at @harrietkeown!

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Food, Glorious Food: Rena

As you may know already, food culture is huge in every country. However, in Japan, the Japanese take food and food culture to the next level. From ice cream vending machines to fake food in restaurant street displays, Japan has had its head in the game of the food industry probably since forever. Though I would love to cover all aspects of food culture in Japan, I have not had the time to try all the specialty dishes of Fukuoka as I’ve class everyday which means homework and tests every week.  (⌯˃̶᷄ ﹏ ˂̶᷄⌯)゚Because of this, I spend most of my time exploring the kitchen of my unit. This brings me to my first section of this post- Meal prep!

Meal Prep

I tried meal prepping for the first time 2 weeks ago and it was a success!  I made minestrone soup and it actually tasted decent. I even bought some in a food flask which I bought at AEON (a Japanese supermarket) one day and it turned to be the day I didn’t spend a single yen! The minestrone lasted for about 5 days and I had it with rice.

 

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いただきます! I spent roughly 800 yen ($10nzd) on the groceries. I ended up using 3 packs of bacon, half a cabbage and 2 potatoes for the soup.

 

Desserts

Tenijn has many cafes and dessert shops and there’s a myriad of confectionery to enjoy while you’re here. You can either go for traditional Japanese desserts such as mochi or settle yourselves in a quiet but bustling western café and be served slices of cake or pancakes. I decided to go to a café called Ivorish with my friends because I heard really good things about it before I came to Japan. I also went to a small café that only serves pancakes called ‘幸せのパンケーキ’ which literally translates as ‘Happy pancakes’. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth but I honestly enjoyed the desserts at both places. Japanese desserts and sweets aren’t as sweet as Western desserts so if you’re a fan of pancakes, crepes, French toast or cakes, definitely keep that in mind when you’re here!

 

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Even though this café has 2 floors, we still had to line up and wait for 10 minutes. You can easily see why this café is so popular though, the presentation and taste of the food was a solid 10/10!

 

 

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The fluffiest of pancakes! We paid an additional 100 yen ($1.23 NZD) for the scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. So worth it (^▽^)

食堂 ( Cafeteria)

This is where I usually spend my lunchtimes at uni in between classes. We have a convenience store, a café and a cafeteria on campus. The school cafeteria in particular is my favourite place to have lunch because you can mix and match dishes and side dishes every day. We currently have an autumn menu which uses local ingredients that are in season. I usually spend roughly 400 yen ($5 NZD) for lunch and it consists of a main dish and rice.

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The interior of the cafeteria
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A few examples of what the cafeteria offers. You can even get a dinner set during the evenings which costs 400 yen ($5NZD

 

Fast Food:

Like every country, Japan has Western fast food restaurants. So far, I’ve only been to Mc Donalds but I managed to take a picture of the KFC menu here. Besides Western fast food, Japan has a large range of Japanese fast food places. My favourite fast food place is probably Yoshinoya, because their beef bowl is absolutely delicious (and cheap!). Unfortunately, I was so immersed in my food that I completely forgot to take a picture. ごめん!

A fast food restaurant I would highly recommend is ‘くら寿司’( Kula Sushi) It’s a sushi-train style restaurant but it also serves desserts, shaved ice and rice dishes. If you’re a vegetarian, you can indulge in cucumber maki rolls and inari which is made from tofu skin. Each plate of sushi is only 108 yen with tax ($1.35 NZD) and there are plenty of sushi options to choose from! Kula Sushi is different from the other sushi train places because one you’ve had your full, for ever 5 plates that you put in the slot, you have a chance of winning a small prize! Totally not necessary but it adds a touch a fun especially you’re too full to move and just want to stay in the restaurant a bit longer.

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A few fast food places I’ve been so far. The green drink from Mc Donald’s is a green melon float, which is also a popular flavour of soft drink in Japan. Also, shrimp avocado in a sub, anyone?

 

I can’t be the only one who thinks this is low- key gambling(⌒▽⌒)But if it means eating more food to increase your chances of winning an adorable gift, I’m all up for it!

 

Fukuoka Specialty dishes

This sounds terrible and it is but… I haven’t had much of Fukuoka’s gourmet dishes yet. Fukuoka is home to Udon, Tonkotsu Ramen, Mentaiko (salty and slightly spicy fish eggs) and Motsu Nabe. Fukuoka is also famous for its Yatai stalls along the Nakasu River and it home to Asahi Breweries. I will definitely try all of the dishes in the near future so if you would like to see more about Fukuoka’s food culture and its Japanese culture in general, you can follow me on snapchat (chuarenafelice)

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I leave you with this bowl of Tonkotsu Ramen at a small shop 10 minutes away from my dorm. Tonkotsu is made with a pork bone broth and thin noodles. Super cheap and it has lots of flavour!

 

Honourable mentions:

If you’ve made it this far into my post, you will be blown at what vending machines in Japan sell. I’ve seen some selling cigarettes and beer (No age restriction). I honestly think they’re so cool and wish NZ had more of them.

 

 

またね!

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Food, Glorious Food: Shirley

Anybody who knows me will be able to say without hesitation that this is the post for me. How is it possible to complete an experience without trying out all the flavours of the region, spending endless hours reading mouth water articles and sniffing out the hidden gems within the city? Even in the two months I have been here now, I have already gone to crazy limits like lining up for half an hour at midnight to have that authentic poutine, or posing as a different person on two different days to get another taste of the new brownies they’ve created at the chocolate shop. And sure there were some very shameless moments of whipping that camera out to get the best angle, wishing that somehow technology could help retain the scents and flavours in reality, but I would of course brave that for these delectable bright photos and wonderful experiences.

In fact, I’m not even that embarrassed because food appreciation is everywhere in Montreal. It is literally bursting through the city no matter how distinct the neighbourhood is and where you might happen to stroll past. The tasting culture here is so high that one of the most recommended activities that someone may ever find themselves being advised to try is to go on a walking food tour, where the city and all its charms can be discovered step by step while the fuel of classic foods and satisfying flavours makes the incentive for the next destination ever the better. The university even gave us as exchange students various opportunities to experience all of this with their own hosted tours – and what better way to make new friends on a sunny weekend but to stroll down the streets of Montreal with a famous bagel in hand and a nice iced drink to go with it?

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There is definitely no lack of good food, and while the city prides itself with its stunning and cafes each with a unique flair as well as the vibrant atmosphere which comes with causal bars and restaurants, there is no lack of variety either. Running all the way back to the classics here which I was most excited to try as somebody who has never set foot in Canada, all the way to modern hybrids of different flavours and combinations. It would be an endless mission to taste even a portion of what is there to offer, although I have, without question of course, gladly accepted this strenuous challenge. Smoked meat sandwiches, out of the oven bagels, hearty poutines, fresh salads and colourful juices, warm coffees, sweet beavertails and decadent desserts… Those only make up the tip of the massive iceberg that has me yearning for more. And with the transition into the colder months now, the options are endless and there is no doubt I will continue enjoying taking pictures of all of these even if I get a fair few more worried glances cast my way.

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But as much as eating out can be amazing and without a doubt some of the best conversations, the best laughs, the best memories were created with outings like that for me so far, there are always other options. In the shoes of a student trying to travel as much as I can, you can imagine that when the dreamy haze parts and reality hits in the form of a very depleted looking bank account, it doesn’t take major maths skills to know that those are only ‘treat yourself’ moments. Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t a single week that passes by without several of those, but living independently means you can get creative. I understand that cooking isn’t something a lot of us have time for nor have a heap of experience with, but it’s all a fantastic learning experience when you have so many others around to share tips and tricks from their parts of the world. I actually love developing this skill because it helps me to become healthier, more budget friendly. And of course it proves to myself that I, as well as any student capable enough to set their mind on exchange, can make some delicious food and innovate at home too.

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See if you can spot the homemade good sprinkled in there, but I’ll let the photos speak for themselves, not to mention I absolutely die for how vibrant these pictures look! After all, there’s not much more I can say without feeling hungry again!

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

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