First Impressions: Cathy

After 40+ hours of planes, transits, security, customs and airports, I’ve finally made it to the other side of the world: Scotland – my home for the next semester, where I will be attending the University of Glasgow. I’ll admit that the trip here wasn’t ideal. I spent about 25 hours in total on a plane plus dealing with a missed connection, which wasn’t really my idea of a good time, especially to kick off 2018. I landed in Glasgow at 7pm on New Year’s Day, exhausted and sore all over, but nevertheless, I was excited to start my year off on a new continent.

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View of the University from Kelvingrove Park

In a true Scottish fashioned welcome, the first day I spent here was cold, gray and rainy. It’s quite a bit colder than an Auckland winter, generally sitting at around 1 to 4 degrees Celsius, and my weather app tells me that the humidity is also quite high, making the cold really stick on to you. I made plenty of mental preparation for the weather differences though; leaving a kiwi summer was always going to be hard but I was expecting to not see the sun for about 4 months in Glasgow, so imagine my surprise when the weekend graced us with two days of clear blue skies and sunshine. It was absolutely freezing but amazing to see the city in all its wintery glory.

Scotland and New Zealand have many things in common. For example: some beautiful scenery, a love for fish and chips and comments on our respective accents by the rest of the world. However, there are also some major differences in culture which I’ve been lucky enough to experience already. On the first night, the university organized a social event for all the new international students. I wasn’t too sure what to expect – but it turned out to be a ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee), which is a traditional Scottish (also Irish) social gathering which involves traditional Scottish music and dancing. So yes, I learnt how to do Scottish dances – I can feel myself becoming more cultured already.

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The River Clyde

Another one of the great and unique things about going on exchange in Glasgow is that they also offer classes from the Glasgow School of Art such as sculpting and photography, as well as a bagpiping class and an introductory class to Scottish history. Unfortunately I didn’t have any space in my degree to take any of these, but we did get a demonstration on the bagpipes during our orientation talk!

The University of Glasgow was founded in 1451 and very recently celebrated its 567th birthday. To put a little perspective on that, that is 389 years before the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. The main building was built in a 1400s style of architecture, despite actually being built in the 1870s. Nevertheless, the buildings are stunning and giving off some serious Hogwarts vibes. Most of the campus is on University Avenue, just outside of Kelvingrove Park. There are also several newer and more modern buildings in the campus such as the main UoG library, which has 12 floors!

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The University courtyard – its meant to be bad luck to step on the grass, if you do, you wont graduate!

Although it’s absolutely freezing and kind of damp all the time, Glasgow is a lovely city. Everyone has been super friendly, there’s lots of green spaces and endless roads of cute little cafes, bars, pubs and shops. I’m super excited to see what this semester has in store for me and the places that it’ll take me… places such as Edinburgh this Saturday 😀 To keep up with my adventures, chuck me a follow on Instagram or flick me an email if you have any questions!

Instagram: c2849
Email: chan977@aucklanduni.ac.nz

Adobe Spark (2)

First Impressions: Lauren

Hello all!

It was a long trip here with 10-hour layover in Los Angeles, but all travels went smoothly. I arrived in Guadalajara, Mexico at 5 am and it was still very dark and surprisingly a little cold (nothing like winter in NZ though). Even though it is winter, I didn’t bring many warm clothes with me! It is nice here, but also very different to New Zealand. I went to the local Walmart and took me almost 2 hours to get a few items as the layout, products, prices etc are different. But I am sure I will be in the swing of things soon.

Being from an English-speaking country, it is easy to assume everyone speaks English, but most people in Mexico do not. This has put my basic Spanish skills to the test with the Uber drivers (a lot cheaper here than in NZ) and at the local Walmart. Everyone I have met has been so friendly, I am enjoying meeting new people and learning about the Mexican culture.

Even before my arrival, I was impressed with the amount of support I received. I was added to multiple Facebook groups and invitations to activities they have already planned and been matched with a buddy from Tec.

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Three days after my arrival was Orientation day. I walked to Tec with other students who are living in the same area as me and walking into the Campus, I was amazed. It is so big and has beautiful mature trees. We had an information session about Mexico, Guadalajara and Tecnológico de Monterrey, a campus tour which ended with a Mariachi band and Tacos for lunch, then a time to hand in forms and see the services Tec offers. I was thoroughly impressed with all that Tec has to offer and the friendliness of the staff. We can sign up to cultural activities, from make-up to magic classes or salsa to photography, and there is an array of sports we can also do at Tec.

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The following two days we went into Tec to sort out our courses and timetables. Here, you must attend all your classes as they take a roll. If you have a certain amount of ‘faltas’, you cannot sit the final exam and so fail the course (with no exceptions). So it seems a bit like High School I guess, with class sizes of around 30 and taking a roll, but as one of the most prestigious private Universities in Mexico, I can understand why they are so strict with students paying a lot to attend Tec. I am looking forward to my time here and experiencing a university culture so different to NZ, and the challenges and opportunities this brings.

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I highly recommend getting in touch with students that have previously been to your host university. I met a student via the Study Abroad Students’ Society (SASS) mentoring programme. We communicated over social media and also met in person for a chat. She was very friendly and eager to share her experience with me, giving me insight into what Tecnológico de Monterrey is like and some cultural norms to be aware of. I feel that now I have a bit more of an understanding of what to expect during my time in Mexico.

I feel very blessed to have this opportunity and look forward to the adventures to come!

Hasta Luego,

Adobe Spark (1)

You can follow Lauren on Instagram @laurenabroad_

First Impressions: Atharva

Hello all!

London Heathrow, 8am: It finally sinks in. The feeling that you’re literally on the other side of the planet, with four pieces of luggage, alone. I’ll be honest, I was not mentally prepared for this and had initial doubts, or even minor anxiety. But, I thought “You’re here for a year, better get used to it. Just take a deep breathe”. After some mental prep, I headed off to customs and then to the big Central Bus Station where I was to catch a bus to Southampton.

The National Express Bus took me through the British countryside and some small towns. I was relieved to see a sign on the motorway showing that Southampton wasn’t so far away now. My body clock was a mess and I wasn’t sure if I was hungry, sleepy or both. I was a 6 month old baby stuck in the body of a 19 year old. Soon, the bus arrived at the Coach Station in town and I was able to get a taxi to the AirBnB that I was staying at for the first few days.

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Southampton Common: A large park with open and wooded areas

The couple who I stayed with was very sweet and they even took me down to the local Sainsbury’s (imagine if Countdown and The Warehouse had a baby) just to keep me active and to stop me dozing off on the spot. I had an early dinner and was out cold by six o’clock (still acting like a 6 month old).

I didn’t do much for the next couple of day except eat, sleep and cry – I mean try to get out of the house and explore. As my sleep schedule adjusted to the local time, I felt more active and energetic. The weather was (and still is) super cold, and even colder during the night as it would often dip into the negatives. Although snow isn’t common here, I saw my first snow on the night of Waitangi Day. Winter is in full swing here, and for a person like me, who has survived Auckland’s wind and rain, I took my mother’s advice and wore a jacket (and 3 other layers) when going out.

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“Me trying really hard to smile while cold and wet.”

The city seemed very lowkey and even a bit dull at times. It’s a quiet place (the way I like it) at least during the week, but being a town with two universities, the weekends get a bit rowdy. There’s a big mall, and a giant IKEA which you could easily get lost in and even the remains of a medieval city wall and gate. There are a few parks too. They seem pretty neglected right now, but I’d imagine them being much better once it gets warmer.

A day before moving into my Hall, I did a day-trip to Salisbury (pronounced Sawls-bree, it remains a mystery why and how) and the Stonehenge. My second major is Anthropology and so I was very keen to visit this historical monument. Salisbury town is basically the starter pack for “a small European town”. It ticks all the boxes. Narrow, cobbled lanes (check), small river flowing through the centre and an old mill (check), a large cathedral (check). Bonus points because this one has the tallest spire in the UK.

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The Stonehenge on a cold and misty day.
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The spire of Salisbury Cathedral stands 123m tall.

Currently, I’ve been going to uni for two weeks. It’s still cold, I’ve been dished out assignments already and I’m trying to cut back on eating ready meals and cook for myself. Anyway…hope you enjoyed reading this little slice of my life. Stay wholesome!

Adobe Spark

Accommodation Awards: Daryn

The first piece of advice I would give anyone looking for accommodation is to start your search early. Most Universities will have an application deadline for first choice accommodation, and off-grounds housing becomes much scarcer closer to the start of the semester. It feels a lot better to have a place to stay sorted early, rather than worrying as the semester looms closer!

At UVA there are two types of housing: on-grounds and off-grounds. On-grounds housing is provided by the University of Virginia but with off-grounds housing it’s up to you to find somewhere to live.

As you’ve probably seen in any movie which features a U.S. college, it is very common for students to live in the same room with a roommate. UVA is no exception, so expect to have a roommate in nearly any on-grounds housing you choose. There are options at some residences for single rooms but I would say it’s best to expect to have a roommate – and it is the ‘traditional’ U.S. college experience after all!

Best Community

First up is the International Residence College, or IRC. This is a residence targeted at developing an international community on grounds and consists of approximately 300 students, of which around 40% are from overseas. The IRC is located close to grounds, has single and double rooms, and features common kitchen and lounge spaces. A unique aspect of the IRC is the range of events offered including weekly morning teas, afternoon teas, and breakfasts, along with a range of other events such as Conversazione Grande dinners and trips. The IRC is located adjacent to Emmet Street and is a short five-minute walk to central grounds.

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Best for Shopping

Lambeth Field Apartments, or just Lambeth, are down the road from the IRC, and offer apartment-style housing. Each apartment has two or three double rooms with a living area and kitchen. Lambeth Apartments are a bit utilitarian on the inside than other residences, but are more than adequate for students. Lambeth Field Apartments border its namesake, Lambeth Field, an excellent place to throw a frisbee around or play a game of football. Lambeth is convenient for your shopping needs, featuring its own convenience store, and is situated a ten-minute walk from the Barracks Road Shopping Centre. Lambeth is also a ten-minute walk to central grounds.

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Most Modern Accommodation

The Flats at West Village are a modern apartment block located a five-minute walk from The Corner, and around a fifteen to twenty-minute walk to UVA’s central grounds.

To make up for the longer walk the Flats offer a range of modern amenities including a pool, spa, gym, and lobby area with coffee machines. The Flats has one to four-room apartment style suites, with most rooms having a private ensuite bathroom. The rooms share a common lounge and dining area.

Unfortunately all good things come at a price – modern apartments such as The Flats tend to be the most expensive housing option for students. However, if you like the sound of The Flats at West Village, other modern apartment buildings to check out include the GrandMarc and Uncommon.

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Best Everyday Experience

I personally chose to stay off-grounds – it can work out cheaper, you can get a single room (for those of us not keen on sharing a room!), and you have a lot more choice in terms of the type of accommodation and the location.

The two main methods I used to find off-grounds housing were the UVA Housing Facebook Group and the UVA Roommates website.

As an exchange student if you’re here for one semester like me, it can be difficult to find off-grounds housing. As I mentioned earlier the best strategy is to search early. Often UVA students who are studying abroad will look for people to fill their rooms while they are overseas. I am subletting a room from a UVA student who is studying abroad for the Fall Semester – a perfect situation for both of us!

I’m staying in an off-grounds house which is around a 10-minute walk to central grounds and 10 minutes to ‘The Corner,’ the street adjacent UVA grounds with an assortment of shops and cafes. My room is a decent size, and was furnished, saving me from the hassle of organising furniture.

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Additional Information

Most private leases through apartment companies (such as The Flats) or private leases for student accommodation will be for one year. This means you may be responsible for finding a tenant for the remainder of your lease if you’re staying for one semester. Keep this consideration in mind when finding a place. It is preferable to find a one-semester lease or sublet if possible.

Rooms may be furnished but be sure to find out what this means – one person’s definition of furnished may be different to yours.

No matter where you end up living I am sure you will learn to appreciate the pros and cons of your place during your exchange!

Contact Me

I’ve tried to briefly cover some housing options for exchange students at UVA, but my list is by no means exhaustive. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about housing, UVA, or studying abroad in general!

You can email me at dgov422@aucklanduni.ac.nz, or comment below.

 

Food, Glorious Food: Daryn

I’ve experienced some differences in the U.S. when it comes to food. First are the naming differences: burgers are ‘sandwiches,’ ‘biscuits’ are scone-like delicacies, and soft drinks are ‘soda.’ Secondly is the relative processing of food – it can take a bit of searching to find healthier alternatives such as mostly sugar-free cereals!  I’ll cover a few places around Charlottesville to give you a taste of what’s available around UVA.

My Charlottesville Favourites

Bodo’s Bagels

Bodo’s is a must-try in Charlottesville. It’s a Charlottesville original offering a range of reasonably priced bagels with various toppings such as meats, salads, and cream cheeses made in-house. The possible combinations of bagels and toppings are endless, but my favourites are the egg and bacon on a plain bagel, and the cinnamon sugar and butter on a cinnamon and raisin bagel. It’s an excellent place for any meal of the day and has three locations in Charlottesville for your convenience, including on The Corner adjacent to grounds.

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The Virginian

The Virginian is Charlottesville’s oldest restaurants, first opening in 1923 and is located centrally on The Corner. Its menu includes a range of classics including burgers, sandwiches, salads, and its signature mac and cheese. The restaurant has a lively atmosphere and is decorated with photos and memorabilia documenting the history of Charlottesville and the Virginian. Called ‘one of the South’s most famous eateries,’ in Coy Barefoot’s book ‘The Corner,’ The Virginian should be on your list during any visit to Charlottesville.

 

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The Sheepdog Café

The Sheepdog Café is in the foyer of the Graduate Hotel on West Main Street. The café has an excellent ambience for studying featuring outdoor patio tables and rustic indoor seating. There’s even a walk-up window if you’re short on time! The food on offer includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I would recommend trying a sandwich, biscuit, or the mini-donuts.

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The Pie Chest

The Pie Chest is known for their excellent range of sweet and savoury pies made from scratch. Pies are available in single servings or in family-sized pies. I would suggest trying the Chocolate Cream Pie or the Chicken, Bacon, and Roasted Garlic Pot Pie. The Pie Chest is on 4th Street in the Downtown Mall. It’s a bit far away from grounds but the effort is worth it!

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Honourable Mentions

Roots

I haven’t made it to Roots yet, but take my word, and the words of others, when I say it’s good! The queues here speak for themselves. As for the food, think a refined version of Chipotle – your choice of meat, salads, staples, and dressings. There are a range of set bowls, or you can customise your own.

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Chick-fil-A

Although not strictly a Charlottesville original, Chick-fil-A has the honour of being one of the few chain restaurants to be represented on-grounds. As the name suggests, Chick-fil-A offers all kinds of chicken: burgers, nuggets, tenders, and salads. Make sure that you try the signature Chick-fil-A sauces – they’re a big part of the Chick-fil-A experience!

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Contact Me

Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about UVA or studying abroad in general!

You can email me at dgov422@aucklanduni.ac.nz, or comment below. Follow my time abroad on Instagram @daryngovender_

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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: