Reflections – Cathy

It’s hard to believe that my semester abroad has finally come to an end and we’re back to the reality of going back to UoA for semester 2 in the Auckland winter. I feel like reflecting on the past 6 months will be full of clichés, not to mention impossible. How do you even start to sum up the most adventurous and full on 6 months of your life? But hey, let’s get right into it anyways: I’ve had the absolute time of my life, I’m met and befriended so many amazing people from all over the world and it’s been an amazing experience that I’d recommend to everyone.

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I’ve been tagged in this by my friends more times than I can count. Source

I’ve been back in Auckland for just over a week now and there’s definitely been some ups and downs. It’s been great to see family and friends again, I’ve definitely missed the feeling of being home and not living out of my backpack and drifting from place to place. It also feels surprisingly normal to be back, almost as if I never really left because things are just going on exactly the same as they were when I left. On the other hand, coming back to winter after the European summer is definitely a bit of a bummer and it’s definitely been a challenge to get back into studying after being on holiday mode for so long.

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Spent my last few days in Europe sunbathing on the beach and exploring Santorini which was absolutely unreal

Throughout the semester I did feel as if I wasn’t making the most of my time away because I wasn’t travelling or going out with people, but in hindsight I’m totally ok with the times that I’ve stayed in and just enjoyed living in a different city. Everyone has a different experience when they’re abroad, and at the end of the day it’s about enjoying your time there. Personally, I’m really happy with how I spent my semester. Being able to move to a new city where you knew pretty much no one to start with and make it your home is an amazing feeling to come away with. There’s also nothing like that feeling of wonder when you’re looking at something that you’ve only ever really dreamed of, and being able to say you ticked that off your bucket list. For me, these two things are what makes everything worth it.

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Stopped for a few days in Singapore on the way back home because why not?? I’ve always wanted to see the Gardens by the Bay and they were every bit as amazing as I anticipated!!

I think one of the beauties about doing a semester abroad is that it’s hard to get it wrong; no matter what country or university you pick, you’re bound to have a ton of adventures. You’ll never know what you’ll do, who you’ll meet or where you’ll end up, but it’s pretty much guaranteed to be a good time. I was on the fence about doing an exchange for quite a while before I decided to go for it, and I’m so glad that I did. I came back with so many more experiences and cherished memories than I ever bargained for and I’d jump at the chance to do it all over again.

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The iconic Duke of Wellington statue. Seeing this will always make me super nostalgic and glad that I ended up in this amazing city

This is the last post I’ll be doing for the 360 Blog. It’s been an amazing journey and it was super cool having the opportunity to share that on here! It’s back to uni for me now but always happy for questions and feedback ❤

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Quirks of Great Britain – Atharva

In my six months of living in a small city on this little island, I’ve learnt a thing or two about its people, places and culture. So, here’s a mish-mash of quirks and some differences that I have noticed between the UK and New Zealand.

The people:
The Brits are a mighty tea-loving people who never stop complaining about the weather or the state of the government (Brexit is still fresh in memory). Some things that distract them from this moaning include a Royal Wedding (I must confess, I watched it live instead of studying for an exam) and a summer’s day where the temperature just enters the twenties and everybody has a sudden urge to sunbathe. When someone asks you “You alright?” or “You ok?” it doesn’t mean you look funny or have just tripped over and fallen. They want to know how you are. If you have the sniffles or a cough, you’re not just “sick” but rather “ill” or “feeling poorly”. Brits also come in different accents ranging from the industrial Northern, the sing-songy Welsh, to the BBC News refined accent and others that I still need subtitles for. Nonetheless, they are one of the most hardy bunch of folk I have ever met.

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Buckingham Palace and Victoria Memorial. Union Jack on the mast means Old Lizzie wasn’t home.

The places:
The British Empire gave us Imperial Units then went “Wait, this Metric thing is catching up, huh?” and stuck to their precious imperial units. Distances on roads are measured in miles, so “London 120” on a motorway sign is in miles, not kilometres. You may also pass the odd “Speed bumps for the next 200 yards” sign. I still don’t know how long a yard is though. The place names here don’t always sound like they’re written. For example: Salisbury (Sawls-bree), Leicester (Les-ter) and Worcestershire (Wus-ter-sher). Staying on the theme of place names, small towns can often be boring so locals come up with entertaining names for where they live. My two favourites being North Piddle and Petersfinger. Furthermore, I think every small town follows a very similar format. If I was to make a starter pack I’d definitely include a small river, one main cobbled street with a marketplace or square and of course a church that’s at least 300 years old. Bonus points for original Tudor houses and a working mill.

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Greenwich: Probably the only place where they show you how long a yard is.

The culture:
As culture varies with geographical region and age, I can best comment on urban youth culture. It’s not too different from Kiwi youth culture with an emphasis on socialising and the odd night out. I do think young Brits have better fashions sense and a greater availability of trendy clothes as major European brands and “fashionable” countries such as France and Italy are not too far from Britain’s dull shores. Unfortunately for us, New Zealand doesn’t have much of an exposure to world class brands and their products, leaving us with a more limited choice. Media of course plays a huge role in youth culture and shows such as The Great British Bake Off and Love Island are greedily consumed by the British masses.

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Old and New: The Shard stands tall behind the walls of the Tower of London.

Overall, I’ve growth to appreciate the unique mannerisms of this little nation that once controlled a fifth of the world. It’s had its ups and downs in history for sure and I only wish it success and progress for the years to come, and during whatever uncertainty that lies ahead.

God save the Queen,

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Behind The Scenes – Cathy

As cliche as it is, I’ll be writing this post on my travels during my semester abroad. I know that most of my friends must be thoroughly sick of me and my travel posts on social media, but c’mon, this is pretty much a once in a lifetime opportunity. Part of the reason I chose to do my exchange in Europe was because I got a severe case of travelbug after my last backpacking trip here 2 years ago. There’s just so many places to see and explore, and having budget airlines such as Ryanair and Easyjet made it far too tempting.

My trip over Easter break wasn’t particularly well thought out – the majority of my planning involved sitting in a cafe on my phone checking Skyscanner and Hostelword to see where the next cheap flight was. All I had were some vague notions of places I wanted to see and that I needed to be somewhere sunny and warm (despite how much I love Scotland, I felt like I needed a healthy dose of vitamin D in my life after 3 months of snow and rain). I spent my Easter break of 3 weeks hopping around London, Toulouse, Barcelona, Malta, Naples and Portugal, seems like a random mix of places nowhere near each other, but all I did was see what cheap flights there were from each city and strung this trip together. I went to all of those places except London by myself. Although I would’ve loved to have joined some of my friends on their adventures over break, my last minute and spontaneous planning made that extremely difficult and besides, travelling alone was a challenge I was ready to take on.

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Comino, Malta. New Zealand is obviously the most beautiful country in the world but Malta sure gives us a good run for our money.

Solo travel is an experience I’d recommend to everyone. There are definitely a lot of challenges, tough times and breaking points, but it’s amazing to have the freedom to go wherever I want at my own pace and only be doing the things I wanted to be doing. It was completely up to me whether I wanted to be on my feet all day, or to take a nap in the afternoon, or spend the day sitting in the park reading a book. There’s also definitely a sense of accomplishment when I finally made it back to Glasgow after 3 weeks. I planned and booked everything by myself and I managed to make all my flights, trains and buses and to the hostels. Logistically, everything went as smoothly as I could’ve hoped.

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Naples, Italy. Gorgeous sunset with Mt Vesuvius in the background. Was an absolute hike to get to this view but I loaded up on pizza and gelato straight afterwards.

There’s this notion that travelling alone as a young female is dangerous, and I’d just like to say that it’s absolute nonsense! There’s danger everywhere you go and as long as you’re aware of your surrounding and take precautions, I wouldn’t say solo travelling is any more dangerous than wandering around Auckland by yourself.

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Barcelona, Spain. View of Barcelona from Bunkers del Carmel and finally enjoying some warmth and sunshine. There’s also no shame in asking strangers to take a photo of you on your phone.

I also wanted to make a note and say that it’s totally OK to feel lonely at times and to take a break when you’re travelling for long periods of time by yourself. There’s definitely been a few days where I’ve just gone for nap in the afternoon or just sat in the park and read a book. Don’t feel like you need to always be on the go and making the most of your time there – remember you’re on holiday! It’s easy to get sucked into believing that every minute of travelling is amazing and fun. Although my Instagram game has definitely improved from my travel snaps, obviously I’m not going to be posting pictures of being in a cramped bus at 3am or feeling deathly seasick on the boat ride to Comino.

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Valleta, Malta. I actually can’t get over how amazing this country is – walking into the upper Barrakka Gardens makes you feel like you’ve walked into literal paradise.

Cathy’s Top Tips

  • Skyscanner, rome2rio, Google maps (offline) are all your friends – would be ideal to have a phone plan/ provider that lets you use data across the EU. GIffgaff is an excellent one based in the UK with great deals for students
  • Bring your student ID or proof of age for concessions on transport and attractions (doesn’t work everywhere but always worth a shot)
  • Always bring a towel and jandals
  • HEADPHONES ARE ESSENTIAL – Spotify Premium is a great investment – download all the music and podcasts that you can or else your head might cave in on your 8am flight with a crying toddler. Having a book is a good option too – I finished a whole novel on my trip
  • Be aware of your surroundings!! Trust your gut instinct and remember it’s better to be safe than sorry. I decided to sit around at the bus station in Barcelona for an hour at 6am waiting for it to get lighter before walking to my hostel. Also if you’re feeling a bit shifty about the areas that you’re in, ask your hostel reception about what areas to avoid.
  • Let friends & family know about your plans. Although nothing unfortunate happened on my trip, it’s always a good idea to have someone check in on you to make sure everything’s ok!
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Porto, Portugal. Absolutely gorgeous and underrated city! Unfortunately it looks a bit underwhelming because of the weather. There are also basically no photos of me in Portugal because I only had about 4 outfits with me and I had started to resemble a raccoon with the dark circles under my eyes by the end of the 3 weeks.

As always, happy to answer any questions! I’m currently in Poland with my parents who are up to visit and it’s a whopping 25 degrees! Hope everyone back in Auckland is staying warm.

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Campus Life – Cathy

It’s hard to believe that in another 2 weeks, exams will be over and my time in Glasgow will be coming to an end. Honestly, the thought of that breaks my heart a wee bit (or a lot).

One of the reasons I’ve loved my time here so much is the campus life and student culture in Glasgow. Let’s start with the campus itself; one of the biggest features of UoG is the Main Building which gives off some serious Hogwarts vibes. I’ve been here for a full semester now and walk past the building pretty much every day that I’m at uni, and I sometimes still get awestruck by how it looks, especially on the rare days where we see a few rays of sunshine.

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She’s a right stunner in both the snow and sunshine

Another iconic feature of UoG is the Cloisters, where graduations are held and have also featured in TV shows like Cloud Atlas and Outlander!

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Just 2 kiwis from Auckland having the time of their lives in Glasgow ❤

The West End houses a large majority of UoG’s students, making it super student-friendly and convenient. Having come from Auckland, it’s really nice to be able to walk everywhere I need to and not having to deal with commuting or traffic every single day. Uni is only a 15 minute walk away from my accommodation, and there are plenty of supermarkets, cafes, pubs, and bars minutes away from me. I generally don’t even take the bus or subway anywhere as everything’s so close and I actually like walking. Even a night out in town on Sauchiehall Street is doable on foot within 30 minutes.

Despite all the cool things to experience on exchange, let’s not forget that we’re here to study as well. I’m not going to lie, I have sometimes forgotten that I’m here to try and maybe learn a few things. As a conjoint student, I’ve had a bit more flexibility with which classes I could take. This semester, I’ve ended up taking all first and second year classes which are counting towards electives back in Auckland. In all honesty, I feel like I’ve put in less effort in academics this semester than I would in Auckland because I chose to do lower level elective classes. But I’ve gone to almost all my lectures, I promise! Very motivational since the lectures mostly aren’t recorded like they are in Auckland.

Outside of class, I’ve managed to keep myself fairly busy. I’ve been making good use of the uni gym in the Stevenson Building (or fondly known as ‘Stevie’), and going fairly regularly to fitness classes and the netball drop in sessions. Would highly recommend the Supercircuits class – absolute killer of a workout, but the feeling of achievement and endorphins afterwards is unbeatable. I’ve also decided I wanted to try a new sport and found myself joining Farflung, the Glasgow uni ultimate frisbee club. Joining a sports club is something I couldn’t recommend enough to anyone coming to Glasgow. Everyone in Farflung has been super friendly; I’ve learnt a whole new sport, met a whole bunch of great people and even ended up going to a rookie tournament out in Stirling which has definitely been one of the highlights of my time here.

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Early days of my professional Ultimate Frisbee career. Photo courtesy of my friend Tascha

This semester has actually flown by so fast, and I’m really happy with how I’ve taken to living in Scotland. As always, happy to take on any questions and comments!

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Campus Life – Atharva

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!

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Food, Glorious Food – Atharva

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.

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A Burger and Fries combo from 7Bone. It’s not exactly pretty but it makes up for it in taste!

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.

Thanks for reading and see ya next time!

Adobe Spark

Accommodation Awards – Atharva

Hello all! Firstly, I’d like to say that I am now a certified adult. How, you may ask? The other day, I bought a box of eggs and checked all six of them before putting them in my trolley. It makes me quite proud and a little emotional to witness this transformation in my personal character. Anyway, onto the main topic of the blog…

I’ve now spent a good month at Chamberlain Hall. The “hall” is in fact a group of five buildings called blocks, named A-E and all built in a loose semi-circle. My room is on the third floor and in Flat A. A “flat” comprises of 10 rooms and a shared kitchen and dining area. I share this area with nine other amazing people who are really amazing (they read my blog, so I had to chuck in a mention). Chamberlain Hall comes under Glen Eyre Halls Complex, a complex of several halls which are all in the same area.

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Blocks A, B, C, D and E of Chamberlain Hall. (Google Maps)

Glen Eyre is about a 10-15 minute walk from the University and is serviced by a couple of buses. I walked to and from Uni during the first week, before I found out which buses to catch and their timings. Thankfully, that cut my freezing ten minute trek down to a warm and seated five minutes.

Speaking of, the weather has been horrible for the past few days. Folk here experience a similar weather phenomenon as we do back home. Just how we get the odd polar blast from Antarctica which brings bone-chilling southerlies, here they get winds from the Arctic and Siberia. The recent one being dubbed the “Beast from the East” which has resulted in snow and UK-wide disruption. Just as we recovered from that, a snow storm from the Channel came up on the first day of March and dumped some snow, overnight.

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I made my first snow angel and ended up with a wet bum, but it was worth it!

Since the weather is like this all day, I’ve been staying in my room, cranking up the radiator under my desk and working through some assignments. Fortunately, all rooms have radiators (at least in my Hall) and double-glazed windows which keep us alive and warm.

My room consists of an en suite toilet and shower, a double bed, a wardrobe and a desk and chair for me to do my work on. It’s one of three categories of rooms which you can choose from. The other two being a smaller room with en suite facilities and a non-en suite option. My parents and I thought it would be best to go for the bigger, en suite room because I’ll be spending a comfortable six months here (before moving out during the summer break) and then hopefully coming back to stay at Chamberlain or any other hall in the Glen Eyre Complex for Semester 1.

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Here’s a little drawing of my room. It’s not a mess at all. I can only blame the poor lighting for no actual photos.

So far, I’ve successfully submitted a couple of assignments, made some new friends in my lectures and labs and gone out a few times with my flatmates. Once this snowy weather goes away soon, I should be able to emerge out of my bunker and do some groceries. So that’s me for the time being. Thanks for reading…See ya soon!

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