I Have Now Been to Japan!

Posted by Amina at 5:14 am on Monday, March 30, 2009
Filed under Nagasaki, Japan

I’m in Fukuoka, Japan! After a grueling 26 hours – the plane went from New York to Vancouver to Hong Kong to Fukuoka – I am at the hotel, exhausted. I have also discovered two things (of great, vital importance!) to consider when traveling for study abroad: layover times and jet lag.

One: make sure you have enough layover time! I had one hour in Hong Kong… which sounds pretty good, until I realized I had to get from Gate 65 to Gate 19 in approximately thirty minutes (because 1) it takes a while to get off a plane and 2) boarding time was twenty minutes before departure). Needless to say, my memories of Hong Kong International Airport are a tad blurred.

Two: jet lag! Everyone who has traveled across time zones knows it happens… and, when you’re essentially moving thirteen hours ahead, it’s crazy! Although I tried to adjust my sleeping habits, I’m still completely exhausted, and I hear it’s normal for the first few days. To everyone out there who wants to travel: try to adjust your sleeping habits in advance, if possible. Your body will thank you!

Anyway, my first impression of Japan: it’s absolutely beautiful. The sakura (cherry blossom) trees have flowered a bit early this year, which means I didn’t get to see them budding, but still! They’re absolutely breathtaking. And the country is so clean! I’m a bit overwhelmed by it all, so hopefully I’ll later have a more coherent report.

Either way, I’m heading to sleep now. I’ll have another blog post when I’m in Nagasaki, settled down at the school!

<3<3<3 & c(__),

Amina

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Leaving for Japan!

Posted by Amina at 10:35 am on Saturday, March 28, 2009
Filed under General

Hey All!

My name is Amina and I’ll be blogging for the next few months about my study abroad trip to Nagasaki, Japan! I’m usually a student at Brooklyn College – which makes me living proof that you don’t have to be a New Paltz student to go on one of their great study abroad trips – where I’m a senior. I’m writing my English thesis on Japanese literature, which is my main reason for picking this particular program.


The study abroad process is – I won’t lie – exhausting. There are piles of forms to fill out, embassies to visit, things to clarify, doctors to see, and bags to pack (the packing is the worst!) but, at the end of it, it should all be worth it. So for those of you out there who are considering a study abroad, don’t let all this daunt you! Pick a place you really want to visit and go for it!

I hope all of you will continue reading over the next few months – I promise, it should get more interesting! I’ll be flying out tonight, so, when I’m all set up in Nagasaki, I’ll be posting again! See you until then!

<3<3<3 & c(__),

Amina

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A night at the opera

Posted by Molly Jo at 11:36 pm on Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Filed under General

Oviedo has a beautiful theater called the Campoamor, and students get half price tickets if you buy them the day of the show.  There is a dance series this semester and I went to the first one tonight.  The theater is so pretty inside and as you can see the decor is very old giving it lots of character (take a look at the box seats!).  Also adding to the atmosphere are the older ladies in their dresses and fancy fur coats, with gentlemen holding umbrellas for them.  I had such a great time and was so excited to find out about the half price tickets that I plan on going several more times this semester.

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Carbayones y Churros, talk about a sugar high!

Posted by Molly Jo at 6:08 pm on Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Filed under Oviedo, Spain

The things in the first picture are carbayones, the iconic pasty of Oviedo, made of basically sugar, puff pastry, eggs and almond paste drenched in more sugar.
While the name has historical significance which has to do with a big, 600 year old acorn tree that used to stand where the main street is now and led to carbayon(which is actually the Asturian word for oak) being synonymous with ovetense(a person from Oviedo), I MUCH prefer…. CHURROS!!

These are a big part of the reason I haven’t lost any weight while I’ve been here :-)  Fried, chocolaty goodness! (as always, click on each picture to make it bigger!)
~Molly Jo

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My Brother and I With the Fathers of Communism in Berlin

Posted by Timothy at 6:29 pm on Friday, March 13, 2009
Filed under General

DSC_0133

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Memories of my first day!

Posted by Molly Jo at 4:02 pm on Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Filed under Oviedo, Spain

My first day in Oviedo!  January 10th, 2009  It is funny to look at these pictures now and realize that this was the first time I saw these now-familiar places, especially the train station!  (click on each of the pictures to see them full size!)

 

Here’s my first meal… I had no idea what anything on the menu was but the waiter, Carlos, was great and helped Ariel and I figure it out.  Little did I know then that this is a very typical dish here, filete de ternera con patatas fritas (fillet of beef with french fries) of course served with pan (bread) and my usual choice of bebida (drink) Fanta limón or Kas limón (the two main brands of carbonated lemonade, both are excellent).  Everything can be served with french fries here, in place of a baked or mashed potato at home, and very often there is not a need for anything green or vegetable-like to appear on the plate J.  The six main food groups are pan, patatas fritas, carne (meat), chocolate, café (coffee), and aceite de oliva (olive oil).
~Molly Jo

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Windy Day at Stonehenge

Posted by Timothy at 6:24 pm on Friday, March 6, 2009
Filed under General

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English Weekend

Posted by Timothy at 2:10 pm on Thursday, March 5, 2009
Filed under General

A few weeks ago a couple of us went to England for the weekend. Heres what I did.

We took a tram from our dorm then got on a bus to get to the airport. It was surprisingly easy and free to get out to the airport and was only a 40min process. Beats getting to Newark. The name of our airline was EasyJet. Cheap fairs and no seat assignments. Getting on and off the plane was chaos. We arrived in London at around 11:30pm and had to find a way to our hostel London Backpackers. Our only option was to take a train from London Gatwick ariport to Victoria station in London. The ticket was a painful 16 pounds for one way. Once we got to the station of course the Underground just closed and when we asked people how we could get to the correct street they just laughed and said “at this hour?” We ended up getting on a double decker bus costing 3 pounds which took us to where someone told us to get off and transfer to a different bus. Bus never came. Then we had to take a taxi for 20 mins to get to the actual hostel. It was about 30 pounds, but we were there. At 1:45 in the morning. We stayed in a 17 person dorm room and had to check out by 10am which allowed us 6 hours of sleep. To our surprise the stay only cost us each 5 pounds.

On Friday we had a big English breakfast with tea and planned out our day trip to Stonehenge. By the time we got to the correct train station we were told not to go because it was too late in the day. So we took the rest of the day to walk around seeing the sights. We checked into a hostel called Paladini Backpackers which was 21-30 pounds a night. Much more expensive than the night before. We walked along the south bank of the river and toured around the Tate Modern. It was a free museum but you had to pay if you wanted to see the Constructivist exhibit. Which I wanted to see but wasn’t paying 8 pounds for. We then walked across the Millennium Bridge and ate at a pub. Everyone but me got fish and chips. I instead got streak which I haven’t eaten since January. We sampled the local brew which was not as good, or as cold as Czech Republic’s brands. On the way home we passed the London headquarters for Scientology, and like every loyal scientologists, asked the woman at the front desk where an ATM was so we could come back and give them our money. On Saturday we woke up and took a train South to Salisbury to see Stonehenge. It was 15 pounds for a round trip ticket and 2 hours each way. Right as we got off the train a taxi driver “conveniently” asked us if we needed a ride to Stonehenge. He was a pretty nice older guy and took us the long way past one of Sting’s houses and INSISTED we got out and take pictures. So we did just to humor him. This guy had faded “love” and “hate” tattoos on his knuckles so we thought we’d just listen to him. Tickets into Stonehenge were around 5 pounds and we had to walk around it on a designated path. There were tons of crows there, which added to the supernatural scene before us. One of the people I was with bought a 12 pack of Krispy Kreme doughnuts for the train ride and had some left over and since the entire country of London has no garbage cans he had to bring the box along. So like any good American we took a couple pictures of him holding up the Krispy Kreme box in front of Stonehenge. We took the train back to London after. Immediately we got on a train to Liverpool to visit a friend of one of the guys on the trip. The ticket was 65 pounds for one way and 1 pound extra for round trip. It was a two and a half hour ride.  Once we got off we started looking for a hostel. Everyone in England was so nice to us. We’d go to one place and ask the price and they’d tell us about a place down the street that was cheaper. We did this about 4 times before we found one. 60 pounds a night for 3 people. We showered up and watched British TV which was fairly funny. Liverpool is definitely a college town because I have never seen so many people out and about on a Saturday night. I found it interesting that I saw a lot of slightly older people out. People up to the age of 45ish. I don’t believe that I’ve seen that age group out after 10pm ever in America. We went to this one bar where The Beatles played their first show. Sunday was a travel day and we took the train back to London to go on the Underground to go on another train to the airport to fly back to Prague. All in all I really liked England. I noticed that the further North we went the thicker peoples accents were. It took two sentences to understand what someone was saying because we were so used to hearing Czech and having no idea what was going on. England seemed to have its own popular culture where the Czech Republic did not. When you heard of celebrities in Prague they usually were referring to American music and movies and in England it was all about local UK celebrities. I spent more money on this trip than I have spent in Prague that last 4 weeks.

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“If we work in Tandem, there’s no fight we cannot win…”

Posted by Molly Jo at 2:55 pm on Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Filed under Oviedo, Spain

Is there any situation that is not able to be related to the musical “Wicked?” I don’t think so :-) Anyways…

The University offers a program they call “Tandem,” which consists of a series of conversation exchanges between two people, designed to help develop speaking skills in a new language.  My partner’s name is Nerea and she is a native of Oviedo who is studying French.  (She is also doing Tandems in French and Italian!)  We usually meet for an hour, 2-3 times a week and alternate the language each meeting.  It is interesting to see the change in how each person converses when they are speaking in their native language versus one they are less comfortable with, and we have to work to make sure that the person whose language we are using at the time does not end up doing all the talkingJ.

This is a great program and I definitely recommend it for everyone who comes here to study, and also recommend that you look for a similar program no matter where you are abroad.  It is a chance to learn about the aspects of a society that are not able to be seen just by looking, such as what values and opinions people hold, what student and university life—and the life after—is like, what people think about the future, what people think about other countries, and any other topic of conversation you can think of.  We have discussed everything from books, food and movies to traditions, euthanasia and the death penalty!  While learning about all of this, we also keep track in a notebook of all the things we learn linguistically, and meet once a month with an evaluator who helps us by giving us strategies to improve in the areas we struggle with, point out ways we have improved, and track the goals we have for ourselves.

One of the topics we have talked about quite a bit is Bolonia, a new education system that is set to begin in September.  There is a huge resistance to this by both faculty and students, for various reasons, and there have been several demonstrations about since I’ve been here.  Some of the main problems appear to be that the government is not willing to spend any more money to accomplish these changes, businesses will be able to give money to faculties with will be good for business majors and not beneficial to any of the others, and the fact that it is so much untested change all at once.

 

Tandem website: http://www.uniovi.es/RI/estudiantes/uniovi/tandem/i1/

Email where you request a partner: tandemingles@uniovi.es

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Week 4 Highlights

Posted by Timothy at 5:51 pm on Sunday, March 1, 2009
Filed under General

Visiting the Modern Art Museum.

Seeing the inside of a Czech Republic hospital. All it needed was a flickering lightbulb to be completely freaky.

Eating home made pizza while listening to live music at St. Nicholas’.

Running down Wenceslas Square in order to get to class on time and realizing that Im really out of shape.

Hopping on a random tram after class only to end up on the edge of the city. I had to wander through a massive communist style apartment complex and walk 4 miles to the nearest train station in the snow to get back (a different way).

Watching Liverpool beat Real Madrid and Chelsea beat Juventus at the local Irish Pub.

Finding a baby sitting in a carriage outside a bar in the middle of the afternoon.

Buying a Sparta Futbol winter hat that was on sleva!

Having someone yell something at me because I was wearing a Sparta hat. Not sure what it was but it seemed favorable.

Finding the coolest camera store ever. They literally had thousands of film cameras.

Seeing a new media motion art screening of UK artists onedotzero. The event was called Akropolismultimediale. http://www.onedotzero.com/home.php


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