The Waiting Game

Posted by Gabrielle at 7:10 pm on Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Filed under General

I’m getting more and more anxious as time passes and all my friends have already returned to college. I’m ready to get everything started!

I’ve been thinking about all the things that will change about my daily life for the next 5 months. Besides not seeing my family or friends, I have no TV and i won’t be up on movies! (I don’t know what i’m going to do without Scrubs in my life.)

I’ve also been thinking about the places i want to visit while i’m staying in Italy. I want to get to Palermo, Sicily and check out the Cappucin Crypt: underneath the catholic church, there are hundreds of mummies from the 1600′s, when the mummification process was legal.

I’ve been trying to make the most of the next two weeks by going out with friends and family. I’ve also taken to eating the occasional burger and fries, knowing that it’s probably not going to be the same in Europe.

I’m also extra-nervous about flying. I don’t know why I’m so afraid, considering I’ve done it before. So I’m also taking the time I have to convince myself it’s not so scary by finding out as much info as I can about how planes are safer than everything else.

One good tip I can offer to other students who plan on going to Italy in the future, is that the visa process is long. I spent about two hours waiting in the office, which was like an underground DMV, complete with uncomfortable chairs, and angry people behind glass. My advice is to get there 15 minutes before it opens and bring a book.

…and so the waiting game stretches on, with 11 days left until my departure.

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Bonjour!

Posted by Margo at 11:18 am on Thursday, January 25, 2007
Filed under General

So here I am, sitting in the Lotus cafe in Besançon, France. I don’t even know how to start describing the past few days. It’s just been a whirlwind of new experiences and plenty of culture shock. One would think that there is not a huge difference between American and Western European cultures, and I suppose there’s not, but there are a lot of little things.

The bathrooms in our dorms, for example, have neither toilet paper nor toilet seats. There also seems to be much more attention to the environment and not wasting resources. To take a shower, you must press a button and the water comes out for about 10 seconds. To keep it going, you have to continually press the buttom. I’m sure a lot of water is saved, but it can get pretty cold. Also, lights in hallways either have motion sensors or you have to press a button and they stay on for 30 seconds or so.

Perhaps the biggest difference in the cultures, however, is the sense of history. It’s everywhere. The city that I’m in now, for example, is not very well known. It’s in the east of France near Switzerland and not terribly large. Still, near the center of town, there are Roman ruins and Julius Cesar wrote about an existing Gaule village here when he came. It’s amazing to look at these Roman ruins which are thousands of years old and to know that below that there’s even more.

I haven’t had too much of a chance to explore the rest of the city yet. Every day we have orientation which consists of grammar review for our placement test next monday. There are 10 people here from New Paltz, Plattsburgh, and Buffalo and we’re all at slightly different levels but we’ll all be taking classes at the CLA which is the applied linguistics school in the Universite de Franche-Comte, the region that Besançon is the capital of.

This city is also really interesting because it has a large international student population. It’s been hard to really meet anyone because classes haven’t started yet and most French students go home on the weekends and we’ve been spending weekdays doing our orientation. Tuesday nights at the University Cafe is a night for international students to get together and Thursday’s are a big night to go out. I didn’t get to go out Tuesday because it snowed and the bus system shut down (our dorms are about a 20 minute bus ride from the center of town) but I’m hoping that I’ll be able to meet some other people tonight. I hope to update more soon but I have to get back to campus and take a nap now. Jet lag is still a factor but hopefully I’ll be fully adjusted in time for classes to start a week from monday!

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Waiting and Wondering…

Posted by Lauren A at 5:02 pm on Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Filed under General

So here I am sitting im my room writing my first blog. Well, these last few weeks have felt like I have been in school with everyone else. The amount of paperwork and forms that have to be filled out, copied, re-filled out, and sent, is amazing. Along with the “pre-departure” work, I have been doing research about what I want to do when I am there. The great thing about this trip is that my sister will be studying in Adelaide, Australia the same semester as me. My mom and dad are wondering how the continent will handle the two of us!

While there, my sister and I plan to meet in Melbourne, travel, then she will be flying back to Sydeny at the end of the semester and we will be staying an extra two weeks to backpack up the coast towards Brisbane…or at least that is what we hope to do!

I am really looking forward to skipping winter all together considering that it is summer over there. 86 degrees is just fine by me. I will be stuying in Sydney which is a huge city. I have never lived in a city before and can’t wait to. Being an art major, the city is a great opportunity for me to expand on my knowledge of the art world, and be introduced to new galleries and museums that I could have only dreamed of going to in my life.

Along with studying and traveling I hope to play Field Hockey while I am there. (It is one of the biggest sports next to rugby) I have been in contact with the University of Technology’s Field Hockey team and they want me to come and play on the club team. It consists of about 10 mens teams and 6 womens teams. The competition ranges from new players to players who have been on national teams and some even in the Olympics. Practices are only 1 day a week and games are on Sundays. This will be a great way for me to meet new people and stay in shape, I am totally excited.

I am excited and nervous to leave, to meet my roomates and to be thrown into an unfamiliar place for 5 months. I can’t wait!
Cheers for now,

Lauren

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Sick in London

Posted by Penny at 12:31 pm on Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Filed under England,General,Study Abroad 101,United Kindgom

Penny Schouten by Penny Schouten

It’s never fun to be sick.  It’s even less fun when you are traveling.

I accompanied our London Intersession program earlier this month to make sure that things were running smoothly, to meet with our partners in London and then fly to Scotland to meet with our partners at the University of Dundee.

I accomplished a lot in the first four days–I helped get the students settled into their accommodations and set the faculty up with cell phones; met with Toby, my friend/colleague from Middlesex, who was just getting over a cold (BTW, I blame him for my illness!); met with my friends/colleagues from Kingston University; and finally, toured the campuses of Middlesex and met with faculty there.

And then it hit me.  It started with a sore throat and quickly developed into a snotty, choking, life-draining mess.  I was scheduled to leave my accommodations and go to Scotland two days later and although I tried to force myself to do it, the reality was I was way to sick to travel.  I moved in with one of our faculty members and slept for 2 days.  My schedule for the rest of the trip was:  drink tea, watch daytime telly, drink tea, read newspapers, sleep, drink tea, watch night-time telly, sleep.

So, I can tell you what’s good on UK TV:  Jeremy Kile is the Ricky Lake of English confrontational reality television.  His guests are usually young couples disputing the DNA of their children or proving their spouse cheated on them by forcing them to take a lie detector test.  Gripping stuff! 

Then there’s a whole host of celebrity reality shows–Soapstars Superstars where UK soap opera stars enter a singing competition a la American Idol; Just the Two of Us, also a singing competition that pairs a celebrity singer with an untrained soap opera star; and Celebrity Big Brother, where mainly minor and washed up celebs live in the Big Brother house under the watchful eye of the nation.

Celebrity Big Brother ( http://www.channel4.com/bigbrother/index.jsp ) caused protests around the world because one contestant, Jade, was racially bullying another contestant who was Indian.  It raised all sorts of issues about class and racism, sponsors pulled their adverts, protesters clashed–the power of media is frightening.  Jade,who is only famous because she appeared on a regular UK Big Brother, has been evicted from the house and is now in fear for her life. 

Fame is not for everyone, you only have to look at Lyndsay Lohan, Danny Bonaduce, or Richard Hatch (1st Survivor winner in case you’ve forgotten him already).  And while I could now go into a diatribe about how anyone can be a celebrity nowadays (Did you see Time magazine, Dec. 25,2006 issue?) or discuss class/educational level as it relates to Jade’s behaviour, but I won’t.  This is supposed to be about traveling while ill.

So, I was sick, but I was sick in London!

So, I’m now back at work with no plans to travel anytime soon, even though my horoscope says I should.  I’m still recovering and I’m looking forward to not living out of my suitcase for a while.

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Back to school…

Posted by Roksana at 10:45 pm on Thursday, January 18, 2007
Filed under General

…at New Paltz, not Nagasaki Daigaku. I wish I were, but I have to try and graduate some time soon. Luckily for me, AIM and LJ work wonders for keeping up with the exploits of friends still in Japan.
I will be taking Japanese 202 this semester, the usually last Japanese class students take. After that, they go off to Japan, or stick around in the Fall for Japanese Conversation, which is a class that prepares you for the different Japanese Language Proficiency tests. This includes ungodly amounts of Kanji (slashy character) learning. I was flipping throught the Kanji section of the 202 book, and I’ll be darned; I know all of those characters. Good chunk of vocab too. I suppose all the time I felt like I was drowning in intensive Japanese classwor, I was actually surpassing the knowledge of the text.
Make no mistakes about it; Intensive Japanese at Nagasaki is hard. Insanely hard. Three chapters each week are covered, in addition to other English language courses, in addition to host family life, in more addition, to making friends and doing actual exploration.

I’m gad to be going back to school however. I’ll come back to Japan when I’m good and ready again, maybe this time less intensively studenty.

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in an overly price internet cafe in southwark!

Posted by Lauren at 3:03 pm on Thursday, January 11, 2007
Filed under General

Hey all. Right now I’m at a ridiculously expensive internet cafe in Southwark waiting to see the play The Enchanted Pig at the Young Vic theatre.  We’ve done so many things this past week and I’m sorry I haven’t had a free moment to even go on the internet, plus places close super early here.  I’ll write what we did each day:

Sunday: We went to see Big Ben, Parliament, the London Eye, Westminster Abbey.  We walked through the cloisters at the abbey, and took tons of pictures.  I had the best hot dog of my entire life from a street vendor.  Then we took the tube to Tower Hill, and took a guided tour of the Tower of London, which was amazing.  We saw the Tower Bridge, which is my favorite thing so far and also saw the ice skatin rink by the tower of London.  We got to see the crown jewels there and also the ravens that stay on the grass there.

Monday: Had our first theatre class which was interesting and then our first play- Mary Poppins at the Prince Edward theatre. It was amazing but much bleaker than the movie.  After that we met up with some of the art students from Burton (Dave, Adam, Zeil) and went to Moonlighters- a club right on Greek Street in Soho.  We stayed there for awhile and then took the bus back for the first time. It met at Trafalgar Square which is beautiful with huge statues. I want to go back there during the day and ride the lion statues!  We sat on the top of the double decker bus which was really cool. Oh and in class we got our London Secrets group which is going to be our joint project with the art students.  I have Margot, Casey, and Jackie in my group and we’re going to do a photo collage.  Our London secret was that our person hated their hairdryer not working and thought that the stairs leading to the tube were like entering the depths of hell.  I don’t know…we’re going to work something out with it.

Tues: Today we had our group meeting for London secrets at 10 am in Burton.  We figured out a plan of what we’re going to do.   After that my flatmate Michelle’s friend from London (James) came to visit us, so we went to 2 pubs w/him.  I find it amazing how you can walk into a pub at 11 am and there’s tons of people packed in there drinking pints.  After that we got fish and chips again at a snackbar and walked around by the British museum alittle.  Later on, we met up with James again and saw the London eye at night.  We walked along the south bank which is beautiful at night and all lit up.  We got good picture of St. Pauls.  Then we went to the National Theatre to see Therese Raquin which was an absolutely amazing play.  I loved it, it was very intense though.  It’s great because they sell tiny things of ice cream during the intermission and it’s delicious!  We went back to the flat after and caught up with some homework.

Wednesday: Class 10-1, got lunch in a cute cafe, went to Leicester Square to get discounted tickets for Rocky Horror Show, got AMAZINg seats for only 25 pounds, then Chalyn, Becca and I went to the Clink Prison Museum on the South Bank.  It was really cool and had a good student discount.  we also saw the Millenium Bridge and the globe theatre. Later on we saw Rocky Horror show and it was so much fun, everyone was dressed up and dancing. 

Thurs (today): we went to breakfast at a little place near our flat, then went to meet up with the group at the Globe theatre for our backstage tour and workshop.  It was amazing and much smaller than I thought it would be.  We even got to stand on the stage!  Then we went to the Tate Modern which is right next door, went down the huge slides, and walked over to this cute little italian restaurant and got dinner.  Now we’re next door to the Young Vic and about to go see the Enchanted Pig which is a pantomime sort of reminiscint of Beauty and the Beast.  They’re waiting for me so I better go!#

Cheers!

-Lauren   

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Posted by Lauren at 12:48 pm on Saturday, January 6, 2007
Filed under General

Hey everyone! I’m officially in London! Right now I am in an internet cafe near Leicester Square and I have to type fast because I am only paid for a 1/2 hr.  The trip so far has been fun, though it’s only the 2nd day.  The flight was completely fine and went much faster than I expected.  We arrived around 9:30 am and went on a coach bus to our flat.  We are flat 32 Burton St near Russel Square.  Chalyn is my roommate, and my other flatmates are Jenna, Michelle and Becca.  We’ve been doing everything together so far.  After we unpacked alittle, we went wandering around outside trying to find a place for dinner.  We met up with this kid Dave and got Indian food for dinner.  Then we hurried to the FSU where we had our orientation.  It was extremely hard to find.  After orientation we went grocery shopping.  The flat is huge and has a kitchen, so we can cook some meals for ourselves.  We went back to the flat after since we were exhausted and jetlagged, had a glass of wine and all talked, then went to sleep.  Tonight we plan on going to a few pubs and hopefully meeting up with some other New Paltzers.

 Today we woke up late by accident, and hopped on the Tube (which is pretty much just a replica of the subway but alittle easier to understand) and attempted to go to Camden Town for Market, however, the NOrthern Line wasnt running from Leicester SQ and we got confused so we just went to Leicester Sq instead.  We saw this adorable little carnival and walked through the square.  We also walked through Chinatown and Soho.  We ate dinner (fish and chips and a pint!) at this adorable pub called Lions Den in soho.  Now we’re in here for 1/2 hr and then we plan on taking the tube or walking to Covent Garden before it gets dark.  I’m really having a great time so far and am so glad that I came on this trip.  I love London, even though the outlets are horribly confusing and we think Jenna’s hair straightener exploded.  Everyone here is really nice and helpful though.  The only scary thing are some of the cockneye men on the street grab your arm and scream ALLO! at you.  It’s kinda funny after awhile though. It seems safer here than in NYC though.

Anyway, I will update when I find another internet cafe though they seem to be in abundance here.  HOpefully i’ll develop an accent by then :o)

CHeers!!

-Lauren

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The Wonderful Nagasaki Teachers

Posted by Roksana at 1:24 pm on Friday, January 5, 2007
Filed under General

Since my time back home, I’ve come to miss Nagasaki Gaidai. I have my wonderful memories to draw from, and who Im particular about are the Profs at NG who teach the English langauge courses (lest you place into such a high level langauge class that it jsut doesn’t work).

Prof Mark Tiederman was the first Nagasaki teacher I met. He met a good majority of the the JASIN students at Fukuoka airport the day we arrived and was able to give us a semi navigation of everything. He also told me that the Japanese dont have an equivlant of ‘bless you,’ for sneezing.

Mark has live in Japan for about two decades.  He started out his career as an intermediary between Platville, Wisconsin and Nagasaki Gaidai. Every year Mark throws the Halloween and Christmas parties. Both JASIN and regular students attend these; the JASIN students longing for home, and the Japanese students wanting to see what Halloween is all about. The Christmas party is less populated as during that time, alot of the Gaidai students are having graduation parties and the assortment.

Mark teaches Peace Studies and Japanese Culture. All the lectures are in English, and textbooks can be bought through the prof or online. There are also some donated copies in the library from former students. Hes a bit high strung but he is very good to know in terms of outdoor hiking aspects and general living as a foreigner mentality.

The other main English speaking Prof Seb Fulluer Sainoo is amazing. Hes a fine British man who has only been in Japan for about 8 years Seb speaks excellent Japanese and his Kanji is impeccable. He spent his college years in a Japanese univeristy learning about archeology, and has a participated in certain historical events. Seb participated in Kunchi Festival, a very old and far reaching matsuri held each and every year, with alternating neighboorhoods, as the first Caucasian/Westerner to do so.

He has impeccable Japanese manners and his sense of humor is engaging (favorite joke: Keeping ‘abreast’ of the situation).  He understands the Japanese people just because he’s been in such frequent and able contact with them for so long.

Seb teaches Japanese History. He’s fairly lax in his teaching simply because he’s so very well versed and believes the students will learn if they want to. Seb is also involved in many conferences around the better part of Asia. He’s a definate favorite of the students at Nagsaki Gaidai by JASIN and regular students. Extra credit is awarded for keeping a scrapbook of the many things you’ve done and seen during your stay in Japan.

 There are other profs of course, but these are the main people, the men with whom you’ll have a lasting association with if you happen to go and travel to Nagasaki throught the NP exchange program.

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