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Seb: Housing at UBC

Hi everyone! After six weeks of travelling through the United States and Western Canada, I now find myself at the University of British Columbia! I want to start off this blog series by talking about housing because this is definitely something I wish I’d known more about before I came here.

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First of all, the University of British Columbia (UBC) isn’t really located in Vancouver. It’s about a forty-minute bus ride from downtown. This creates a beautiful campus environment, with everything from swimming pools to beaches to walking trails to supermarkets to sports stadia.

With such a large and beautiful campus, unfortunately this creates massive (massive) demand for on-campus housing.

But that’s fine, I thought. I’m an exchange student. I’ll definitely get accommodation on campus.

See, the thing is, UBC doesn’t actually guarantee residence for exchange students. I knew that when I applied, but figured it was more of an escape clause for them in case of exceptional circumstances.

Unfortunately, that’s precisely what happened to me! Back in June, about a week after everyone else started excitedly chatting about which hall of residence they had been accepted into, I received my wait list position via email. It was almost 3000. No that’s not a typo. A wait list of three thousand people for housing for the Fall semester. Yikes! Apparently the total waitlist was as long as six thousand.

My understanding of the housing system is that it’s pretty much a lottery. Despite doing everything I was supposed to – choosing my preferences, applying early, paying the application fee – I still didn’t get a place.

Fortunately, I wasn’t the only person in that situation. From anecdotal evidence, I’d guesstimate that about a quarter of exchange students this semester found themselves with no housing. Finding accommodation, as a student, for just a few months in a city like Vancouver (with a rental market that makes Auckland look pretty tame) is not an easy task.

Naturally, this put a lot of stress and pressure on me just as I was heading into my Semester 1 exams back in Auckland. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to find a sublet on-campus through Facebook, but I know I was extremely lucky to have done so.

Overall, I didn’t feel like the probability of not being assigned housing was adequately communicated to me by UBC and it just caused me a lot more stress than I had anticipated.  I also didn’t like being left in the dark while all my friends had received housing offers.

If you do find yourself in this position, don’t panic! The best advice I can give is to join all the relevant Facebook pages and find a group of people who are also looking for accommodation so you can search together. Also, if you’re going in the Spring Semester (Auckland Uni’s Semester One) apparently there is less demand, so you may have better luck! Expect to pay somewhere in the region of CAD$700 to $1200 for a room in a shared unit close to campus.

UBC is a great place but, goodness gracious, the housing situation here is a really challenge. But if you can make it through it, then it’s totally worth the effort! UBC are responding to the huge demand for on-campus housing by committing to building 6300 new beds in the next 10 years. For us exchange students, that can’t happen fast enough!

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Sunset at Wreck Beach, just a 15 minute walk from my residence. Not bad, huh?

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Simone: First Week in Australia

Hello everyone! As this is my first blog I will introduce myself. My name is Simone Wielenga and I have gone on exchange to the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I study a Bachelor of Arts and Commerce conjoint majoring in Psychology, Criminology, Marketing and Management.

I’ll tell you a little bit about my first week in Australia. When I first arrived, I could immediately feel the climate difference. Queensland has very mild winters compared to New Zealand with their average temperature sitting between 21-24 during the day and on hotter days it can reach 28-29 degrees. I flew in on a Sunday and had orientation on the Monday and Tuesday, so we had a relaxing afternoon/evening so I could get up early the next day.

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Orientation

I highly recommend you attend as many orientation sessions as possible because the information they provide can be very useful both when you start out at a new university but also further into the semester. The sessions covered things like Australian native animals on campus (so you knew they weren’t dangerous), how to enrol, how to make friends, who to go to for help, where international students can hang out and many support services available on the campus. They had an ID printing centre which you could go to on your first day to get your ID card automatically printed within seconds! I thought this was pretty cool technology because back in Auckland we have to wait to get it mailed to us.

St Lucia Campus

The University of Queensland’s Campus is beautiful! It is the biggest campus I have ever laid eyes on and to me it felt like a community. Everything you need can be found on campus, from doctors to dentists, multiple cafes and restaurants, multiple sporting facilities, endless areas to study, a newsagent, flight centre and more. The St Lucia campus is located 15 minutes away from the city and has many lakes surrounding the outskirts of the campus and a lot of bush everywhere which was a nice environmental change for me as I am used to studying on the City campus at Auckland University. My parents flew over with me for the first week of orientation before the semester began to help me settle in to my apartment and so I was able to travel along the sunshine coast and visit my hometown region for a few days.

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The Sunshine Coast

After two days of Orientation in Brisbane, my parents and I drove up to the Coolum Beach, stopping at Caloundra, Kawana, Mooloolaba and Maroochydore on the way. My hometown is Caloundra where I spent 4 and half years growing up (from the ages of 7-11 and a half) and going back brought back many good memories from my childhood. We stopped there for a couple of hours and had a nice walk along the boardwalk by the beach. I spent 3 nights in Coolum and explored Noosa on the first day. Noosa is one of the larger towns in the Sunshine coast with many suburban areas with canals and along the Noosa river. It has many beautiful beaches to visit and nice boutique stores (mainly in Noosaville and Noosa Heads). My parents and I visited the Eumundi markets which has been around long before I even went as a young kid. The Eumundi Markets is one of the largest markets in the Australia with over 600 stalls!

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At Coolum beach

The Markets have almost anything you may be after, like Jewellery, herbal medicine, clothing, food stalls, homeware, art, crafts and much more. We also had a gourmet restaurant style meal at the Surf Life Saving Club in Coolum. These Surf Life Saving Clubs are usually established in most towns by the sea in Queensland and have amazing food for a reasonable price. I highly recommend you check them out if you come to Queensland! The other two days were spent exploring Coolum and relaxing by the beach. Coolum is a very relaxed beachy town with a smaller population of residents with many boutiques and cute cafes. Believe it or not but it is warm enough to swim and sunbathe on the beach during winter here!

That’s the end of my first week’s experiences in Australia. Keep an eye out for my next Blog where I’ll talk about my trip to Byron Bay for a weekend and about Industry nights I’ll attend through the UQ Psychology Students Association and the UQ Criminology and Criminal Justice Society clubs.

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Travel – John

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A café in Penang, Malaysia

To travel to other countries from NZ, it can be costly and uncomfortable due to its remoteness. But from Singapore, travel options are easily accessible and there are so many locations to choose from! Out of all the places I went to during my exchange, I’d like to introduce you to the two best places that I would recommend going to or else this blog would be too long and boring. Keep in mind that this is only out of my own experience and I’m sure there are many other awesome places to explore depending on your personal taste, so don’t be confined to these places!

  1. Bagan, Myanmar (Burma)

From my knowledge, the city of Bagan applied to UNESCO for recognition as a world heritage site but is not yet accepted (I’m not 100% sure of its current application status). Bagan is an ancient city of Myanmar and it is full of pagodas (Buddhist temples) everywhere you go which are mostly banned from climbing for maintenance reasons. But while our stay in this city, we asked some locals if there are any pagodas that are open for climbing and a few teenage locals led us to a secret pagoda that we could climb on to watch the sunrise/sunset. We were grateful that we finally got a chance to climb a pagoda but their ultimate purpose was to sell some painting. We thought it was a win-win deal so we just bought one for them. Our main purpose of visiting this city was to watch the sunrise and the sunset. Especially during sunrise, the hot air balloons would fly over the air with birds flying and I managed to get a satisfactory shot of them both with the rising sun. Getting up at 6am to get this shot is tiring but let’s say I did it for the gram 😀

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SUNRISE was beautiful – there are special places to see the sunrise and it’s always good to ask locals for advice or do sufficient research in case you might fail. The big black dots are the hot air balloons and the small dots are the birds flying. You can also ride the balloons if you pay but we thought it was just way too expensive and risky
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SUNSET was also beautiful – we paid to get on a boat from a nearby river to watch the sunset and it was a great idea indeed
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On a side note, the boats do look quite dodgy and looks like they’re about to collapse in any minute so just make sure you can swim. We took the risk and managed to survive but our boat was quite shaky
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E-bikes – this e-bike is the best transportation method you can possibly get in Bagan. With it you can explore the whole city as the city itself isn’t so big. There are no ubers, grabs or whatsoever. There is also an option to hire a driver for a day but it was too expensive and we thought it would be fun to ride e-bikes instead. This was the best part of Bagan for me to be honest, it was so fun
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Pagoda (temple) – I forget the name of this pagoda but Bagan is said to have three main pagodas described by a local as the biggest, the most beautiful and the oldest (from my memory). Finding these temples aren’t that hard so it’s best to explore every one of them possible until you get sick of them!
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There are so many dogs lying or strolling around pagodas and the city in general but don’t touch them just in case, you know, things happen
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It really is a thing for restaurants in Bagan to decorate tissues like this inside a cup
  1. Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai is a very chill city and also has a number of interesting tourist attractions. It’s a city that I want to visit again if I have the chance to travel around South-East Asia again. The food here is great and the best part is, the locals aren’t too eager to sell stuff to you just because you look like a foreigner. I just loved how the people I saw in this city were all chill and looked satisfied with their lives.

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“Sah wah dee kraap” – Ronald Mcdonald from Chiang Mai airport
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The best beer I’ve tasted so far in my life. Part of the reason why I want to visit this place again
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This restaurant is called Lemongrass Thai cuisine. We tried Pad Thai, Pad See Ew, and Tom yum soup and all of them tasted fantastic
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Chill vibes of Chiang Mai streets make it an attractive city too
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This temple is called Doi Su thep and it’s on a mountain. I’d recommend booking a tour guide package to go here. From up the hill, you can enjoy the night city scenery of Chiang Mai
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These elephants are intelligent. They know how to draw paintings, play football, troll their trainers by not giving them their hats and when you give them money they dance to express their happiness
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“Tuk tuk” taxis are a convenient method of going around places when you’re not going too far
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White tigers’ visuals are 11 out of 10

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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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Reflections – Lucy

Hi guys! So, this is my final blog for the semester! I had my last exam a few weeks ago and I am still waiting for my grades. I still have a few weeks ‘til I leave South Korea and I am going to make sure I travel, eat and shop a lot during my remaining time. Since this last blog post should be a wrap up of the few months being here, I will first start with a summary of my highs and lows and then my final thoughts.

 

Highs

Almost every moment of my stay here in South Korea was a high for me. Studying at Yonsei was different but it was great. The food here is cheap and delicious. Travelling was my favourite part though. I made myself busy almost every weekend to travel around South Korea. That way, I did the most travelling I ever did for four months in my entire life. Every Friday night, I would be excited planning for the weekends and considering where to go next. I especially enjoyed going to historical landmarks and I loved listening to the explanations of meanings of monuments, buildings and artefacts. I really developed an interest in Korean culture and history and my understanding of South Korea is now of a whole different level. This was one of my biggest goals when first coming here and I am really proud to say I have achieved it successfully.

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MBC Broadcasting Station, Ilsan

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SeoDaemun Prison Museum: where Korean liberation activists were imprisoned during the Japanese Colonial Period

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Korean Independence Gate
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CheonggyeCheon River

Lows

I found it really difficult to pick the lows during my stay. But one thing that did really stress me out was studying in Korean! As I mentioned in one of my previous blog posts, I took three papers at Yonsei and out of the three papers, I took one course in Korean and the other two in English. The Korean taught course was a pretty difficult course as it concerned Public Economics. I really struggled learning economic jargons in Korean and understanding the Korean Economy and past and current government policies regarding public economics. This course was obviously the most difficult for me and I spent most of my study time studying for this course. I personally recommend you all to take courses in English unless you are very fluent and confident in the foreign language. Korean is my mother tongue language and I speak fluent Korean so I assumed it would not be different from studying in English. However, learning about Public Economics in Korean was definitely the biggest challenge for me. I did see a huge improvement in my understanding of the Korean Economy and I did develop a higher level of Korean vocabulary. So, I guess all the hard work did pay off after all!

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Study Notes for my Korean taught course
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“Write myself a Letter” Booth

Final Thoughts

I remember the first day of Yonsei University, when I was late for my first class and had no idea where the lecture room was. At that moment, it really hit me that I was in a completely different environment surrounded by complete strangers. I remember how scared I was then. Nevertheless, as I made friends and as the campus got more familiar, it really felt like home.

Staying in South Korea for the past few months was amazing. It was a big step out of my comfort zone and it really helped me learn so much about not only South Korea but about myself too. Living in a completely different environment really motivates you to see yourself and your life in a different perspective. I hope anybody (and everybody) reading my blog posts are now more motivated to try out this amazing 360 exchange opportunity!

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Korean Street Food (Less than NZ$15 for the whole lot)
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Changdeokgung Palace

Any Questions? Contact Me!

If you guys have any questions about studying in Yonsei or South Korea, feel free to contact me via my email: lucyoh1224@gmail.com

I will have lots of tips on how to study at Yonsei and some good ideas on what to do to make the most of your stay in South Korea!

Final Good Bye!

I am actually now heading to Singapore in a few weeks. I have applied for a consecutive one semester exchange programme at Nanyang Technological Institute in Singapore. I won’t be writing for the 360 ambassadors blog during my stay in Singapore, but if any of you are coming to Singapore this semester or if any of you have any questions about exchange study at Singapore, then feel free to email me too! Thank you guys so much for reading my blogs and all the best for all the opportunities ahead of you!

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Reflections – Caitlin

Tomorrow will officially mark 6 months since the day I left NZ to start my adventure here in Chile – and what an adventure it has been. Looking back on my time here, I can happily say that the exchange was everything I hoped it would be – I met amazing friends, learnt a new language, and most importantly experienced a markedly different culture.

There have been so many elements of this exchange that have been super awesome, but if I had to point to one in particular which stands out, it would have to be the people I have met. I have been so fortunate to be part of a really cool community of international students who come from almost all corners of the world. I have learnt a huge amount about other cultures and religion that I didn’t even know was lacking from my knowledge base! But on top of that they’ve just been a really great bunch of people to hang with, travel with and party with. When you’re all alone without family and friends in a new country, making good friends is super important and so I’ve been hugely lucky that I met such awesome people!

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My wonderful flatmates, who have been my Chilean family away from home

The city of Santiago, while it does not immediately give off the same vibe as its bright colourful neighbour city Valparaíso, has definitely grown on me throughout the passing months. Being placed at the foot of the snow-covered Andes definitely gives it a certain charm, especially during sunset when the mountains literally glow pink (I’m guilty of stopping on multiple occasions during this time of day to take pictures – I suppose I’m still a tourist). I for sure will miss my view of the snow-capped mountains from my bedroom window, although I won’t miss the cold which has also come with the winter season. My house was built in a beautiful old villa style, but unfortunately this also means it lacks any form of insulation. Therefore, my hot-water bottle has become a permanent extension of my body for the past 2 months.

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Santiago city with an Andes backdrop

While living abroad definitely has its perks, it also makes you appreciate the familiarity your own country. You realise how much you took for granted, and surprisingly its just the small things like knowing exactly which brand of food you need to buy in the supermarket, drinking coffee with fresh dairy milk, or even salt and vinegar flavoured chips. And of course there are the bigger things as well, like spending time with your family and being able to express yourself fluently in your first language. Therefore, although I absolutely have loved my exchange here and wish it could go on for longer, I definitely also have a list of things that I am going to eat/drink as soon as I get back to kiwi land! (I’m missing that whittakers chocolate like crazy, have to confess).

At the risk of sounding cliché, my exchange has been a super great experience in that not only have I had a blast but have also learnt some serious life skills in terms of organisation and surviving on my own. Although I’m of course looking forward to coming back home, I know I will miss this funky country and the awesome people I have met along the way.

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Ski trip to the Andes!

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Reflections – Tate

This post comes to you from a bedroom in Kingsand, Cornwall, which is my new set-up for the next little while. I am here, and not tucked up back home in between semesters, post-Mediterranean holiday, because of the university I’ve been writing about for the past few months: Trinity—and the fact I’m in the process of extending my time abroad so that I can spend more time studying there.

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My feelings towards my time in Dublin are overwhelmingly positive. It’s probably easiest explained in the spiel I’ve found myself giving any time someone asks me about being there: “Everything I’m learning about feels so immediate, because so many of the writers I’m studying have come through Trinity, or lived in Dublin, or been so close geographically that it’s far more accessible and real than it’s possible for them to be in New Zealand. The history—buildings hundreds of years older than even the first glint of any Treaty on New Zealand soil—is right there. Oscar Wilde’s houses, and Yeats’s; sites of risings and revolution now right on my doorstep. The city never feels intimidating, as some can, and once you’ve got your bearings you’ll find yourself devising shortcuts and favourite routes and you’ll be engaging in a light College Green jaywalk ahead of the LUAS with the best of them.”

Okay, so maybe I don’t wax quite that poetic when I’m describing my experience, but I’d say I get pretty close to it. And they’re truths.

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Don’t get me wrong, there are absolute, complete stressors: administration and enrolment at Trinity is entirely different from Auckland; immigration appointments can provide long wait times and make every single person involved anxious; if you walk two streets off your normal route you can be lost in the depths of suburbia—but these are difficulties you’d find anywhere, in some form or another. They pass, and you can get down to the business of enjoying your experience. (That said: homesickness hits the best of us, though it can be helped through social media. The time difference for me ranged from 11 hours to 13, but I managed. Wrecked my best mate’s sleep schedule, and mine, but it can be dealt with!)

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I’ve found that what I got out of the experience massively outweighed the anxiety I felt at times (story of my life, really). Dublin is a great place to move if you want an international experience that is truly independent, but also not vastly different from home. The sense of humour is the same, and the same rugby games get broadcast in the pub. (I was the sober friend on a Literary Pub Crawl and almost gave up on the rest of the night because I spotted the ’Saders—y’know, the usual.)

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I built a nice little routine for myself in Dublin: trips to Lidl and the ways to walk; cinemas I’d go to on occasion and which shops to avoid at which times because they’d be manic. I made friends from around the world (though unfortunately none from Ireland—a downside of international accommodation). I had an absolutely brilliant time, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Ta ta,

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