Only a little more than a month left :( but making the most of it!

I can’t believe that time has gone by so fast and my semester abroad is coming to an end in a little over a month. People were right when they say that time goes by even faster when you are abroad. This is why I believe that one should live in the moment and take advantage of what is around them. Personally, I love to explore new places and studying abroad in Europe has given me the chance to do this since it is not that far to travel to different places in Great Britain and other countries by train, plane or bus.
By the way Happy Thanksgiving to my mates back at New Paltz. Mates is the British way of saying friends. As many people in America enjoy their Turkey’s I will be traveling to Krakow, Poland. Why Poland? There are a couple reasons. One is that I know someone there who I will see on Saturday, it was reasonable to get their on ryan air, and the currency rate is good for the American dollar about 3.3 something pln to one American dollar.
Last Monday I registered for the classes I am going to take at SUNY New Paltz in the spring. For the first time I got all of the classes I wanted. I am graduating this spring and I wasn’t using the SUNY New Paltz mail server are probably the two reasons why.
About two weeks ago when I was in London something happened to my friend which was a wake up call for me. I met my friend at st pancreas train station in London since he arrived a day later than me. I met him and them we went to go wait online to take a picture with the Harry Potter 9 and 3/4 sign and carriage. Right after I realized he was frantically searching through his backpack. He was looking for his wallet which he said he left in the front pocket of his backpack. “He said why did I do that?” I always leave it in my front pants pocket. He couldn’t find it so we spent like an hour searching both stations which we had been to and all the lost and founds. It was not there so we had to get wifi so he could find the number to cancel his credit and debit cards. We went to McDonalds to get wifi and fortunately my phone had some international data to call the states. The only form of id that my friend had on him was his passport and thank god that was not stolen. I lent my friend money and he was still able to go to the Harry Potter exhibit he pre booked. If you haven’t assumed my friend is a big Harry Potter fan. I didn’t go with him to the exhibit because it was expensive and I’m spending my money on a lot of other traveling.
The lesson I learned from my friend ‘s experience of getting his wallet stolen was to be extremely careful with your valuables including my wallet, passport and electronics. Keep them in in front of you or in a pocket inside of your coat. Getting important things stolen is not good and is a big hassle.

life :)

Hello all! Greetings from the train ride down to Cambridge, England. I have to make 2 changes to get to Cambridge on the train, and right now I’m on the second train from Wakefield- Westgate to Stevenage. From Stevenage I will catch my final train to Cambridge. I am spending one night in Cambridge at a hostel there. My plans in Cambridge are to walk around the town and the university, go this meditative yoga talk and maybe rent a bike. Tomorrow afternoon I am taking a bus down to London to visit my family that lives there for the weekend. One of my flat mates is going to meet me there on Saturday.
Besides from traveling which I am doing a lot of I have done involved in /gone to exciting things in Huddersfield and in the nearby areas. I am part of the climbing and mountaineering society. We go climbing every Wednesday at the rock wall in the neighboring town called ROKT. I really like ROCKT it is a very big place with a lot of different rooms for bouldering (climbing not as high and not harnessed in) and really solos for top roping (where you are harnessed in). Next weekend we are going on a weekend trip to go climbing, walking and eat a lot of cheese (everybody brings cheese, grapes or bread and we have a big food fest). I have met a lot of nice people from the climbing and mountaineering society. Last Friday, I went over one of my friend from the society’s house, Varsha, who lives about 30 minutes from Huddersfield. She made me a traditional vegetarian dinner that a lot of people in Yorkshire usually have on Sunday. Also one of the guys from the club took me outdoor climbing in the Peak district.
One thing about Huddersfield, that I didn’t know before I came, is that my religion is a very big minority. I am Jewish and there is one other girl that I know who is also from SUNY New Paltz that is. We have a faith centre on campus, which I usually spend time at between classes because they have free tea/coffee and it’s a good place to do work. There is no Jewish organization on the Huddersfield campus. I have been to the Chabad at Leeds Univeristy which is a 20 minute train ride from Huddersfield and Manchester University which is about a 45 minute trip. My friend Varsha, from climbing society, is very interested in Jewish culture and last Friday night I took her to Shabbat dinner in Leeds. She really liked and wants to go there again.
In addition, I am involved with an organization called Active Travel. This is an organization in the UK that promotes physical fitness when traveling to school or work. They have free bike rentals and you just have to put down a deposit. I got a bike from this organization to use. Unfortunately right now I don’t have the bike because the Huddersfield representative, Chris, who gave it to me needs it. Almost every Tuesday in the early evening I meet Chris and we go on a ride to map out routes to the surrounding villages of the Huddersfield city Centre. Last Wednesday, I helped Chris with a program at the local college, for 16/17year old ESL students, where we took the students on a short ride along the canal and showed one girl how to ride a bike.

Travels!

I wrote this entry as I traveled on the train back from Dundee, Scotland on Friday October 31, 2014. This week I had reading week which is a week where there are no scheduled classes so students can catch up on their work. For me as an international student it’s an excuse to travel and do work at the same time. Last Friday morning I took the train up to Glasgow, Scotland and spent the afternoon walking around the city and went to two different museums there which were very interesting and free! The next day I met two of my American friends from Huddersfield and we went on a 3 day bus tour of the Scottish Highlands. The scenery and nature in the Highlands was beautiful. Though it was raining like cats and dogs two of the three days, but you can’t let rain stop you from exploring. On the tour, I went in a castle, explored ruins, walked on the beach/countryside/hills, walked on a famous battlefield, and saw standing stones for free. Now I won’t have to go Stonehenge, England and pay 35 pounds to see the standing stones which is overpriced and not worth it because you don’t get close to the stones at all.
On the tour I met two other girls from America who were studying abroad at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and they were very nice. On Monday night, I got off at the tour at the Edinburgh, Scotland drop off point. Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and was a very elegant looking city with a lot of history. I spent Tuesday in Edinburgh and went on a free walking tour, to museums, a famous chapel and went on a run/hike to an extinct volcano/hill called Arthurs Seat. I really liked Edinburgh it was a beautiful city and I would definitely go back. On Wednesday morning, I headed to Dundee Scotland to see my friend from SUNY New Paltz who is studying abroad at Stirling University. Since her boyfriend who is Scottish goes to school in Dundee she was staying with him for her reading week. There was an extra vacant room in her boyfriend’s flat so I got to stay there which was very nice of them .Wednesday was a gorgeous day and we walked all around Dundee. The next day we walked around St Andrews (a historic town not far from Dundee which is famous for its golf course and University), took a walk up to an Observatory in Dundee and did some work. Today I am heading back to Leeds which is the major city near Huddersfield and am going to have dinner with a family that I know there. I have to change trains twice but I actually prefer taking trains than buses because it easier for me to do work. I bought a student rail card which gives me 1/3 off of most train tickets.
Next weekend, I am planning to staying local. Maybe go to the Lake District for the day which I heard has nice walks and gorgeous scenery. I have trips planned for most of the weekends after that so I probably shouldn’t do too much so I don’t go broke, stay healthy and keep up with my studies (which are all very important).

Ireland!

Sorry, I’m a little late but I said in my last blog that I would write about Ireland where I went two weekends ago. If anyone who is reading my blog is planning to study abroad in Europe or travel in Europe, which I would definitely suggest to do, you should use Ryan Air for cheap flights around Europe. I flew to Dublin from Manchester for 10 pounds (18 dollars!) which is a very good bargain. I got in late on a Thursday night and the next day I met my friend from Huddersfield, who took the mega bus/ferry there, overnight on a day tour we took to southern Ireland. My friend’s family is from Cork where we stopped on the tour. Also we went to a cathedral/castle and Blarneys stone (on a castle which is surrounded by a beautiful green with trails). When you go to Blarneys stone the tradition which I took part in is to climb up to the top of the partially ruined castle and kiss the stone while you lean backwards (with a guy who helps everyone get a grip of holding the bars even though I didn’t need it).
I spent the next two days exploring Dublin, which was a very nice city. I was very lucky that the weather was gorgeous when I was there. In Dublin I walked pretty much everywhere and saw most of the city’s major sites. Some of these included a free walking tour, went to the Guinness factory, museums/historic buildings, a historic prison, parks and to a botanical gardens/cemetery. I really like this company of free walking tours which is offered in 20 major cities worldwide because they give you a good sense of how to get around the city, see many things, learn about the city’s history, and tip based on your ability or how you feel about the tour. My friend who I was with got the hop on and hop off bus ticket which I bought to, but stupid me bought it for the wrong bus company. However, I didn’t really enjoy the bus and ended up using it only a couple of times. Personally, I would rather walk and explore a new place on my own. In many of the cities I have been to there are usually a lot of signs with arrows pointing the way to major attractions, and if needed I have found helpful people who given me directions.
In Dublin, I stayed at my first hostel which I found to be a good experience. I am not a very high maintenance person and have done a good amount of camping back in the states. All I really need is a place to sleep and if the hostel includes breakfast that’s always a good thing. Before I came to a hostel, I expected it to be full of young people in their 20s/30s which there were a lot of. However, I did see some families staying in the hostel and older individuals. Hostels are the cheapest accommodations since you get your own bed and share a room/bathroom with other people. For future trips I will definitely stay in hostels. Next week I go to Scotland stay tuned for the next blog post coming soon!

Academic Adjustment

I have just finished my third week of classes and they are going pretty well so far. Though the academic system is different here than back in the United States. Many classes meet only once a week for two hours which is called a lecture. I have four classes that are just lectures. Some classes, like my introductory to sociology class have a seminar in addition to a lecture. This is an additional hour where a smaller group of students discuss the lecture in further detail often with group work. The modules that I am taking meet on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday so I have a four day weekend to travel. This weekend I am taking my first trip to another European country. I am going to Dublin, Ireland!
Another main difference in the United Kingdom is that many of the modules or what we call courses meet for the whole year. Since I will only be here for a semester my assessment or grade will be based on one or two big assessments which are usually long papers/case studies. For my modules I am not required to buy any books which is a great way to save money. All the articles and readings are on uni learn which is similar to blackboard. The library has textbooks and books students can borrow for class readings. The only thing which sucks is that the university does not give you any print money. It’s easier for me to read physical copies of documents so I have to spend a decent amount of my own money.
Finally, at the University of Huddersfield you are expected to read and keep up with the reading and course material on your own. There are no reading quizzes or graded paragraphs just your one or two final assessments. Though attendance does matter and is checked by swiping your ID card as you enter the classroom. I have got to go catch my transportation methods to Ireland! I will post soon about my travels and inside some photos 🙂

Been here a little while…and public transit is out to get me

1 Week After Arrival: So the buses hate me (the adjusting period)

 

London is absolutely gorgeous–at least the center of the city is, but as you begin to get further and further from central, this can get a bit dicey.  like Peckham, where my boyfriend and I were staying for our first six weeks. During our first week, we became very close with the loveliest of hosts, a 30 year-old woman who works for a local college. She took us out to pubs and to dinner. It was wonderful. She became a close friend. Her flat, equally as lovely. Her neighborhood…well…it was rundown and sketchy. Although Peckham is what people like to say is “up and coming” it still has a ways to go. But I took it in stride as our host, Rachel, showed us all the cool spots. Needless to say adjusting to the location was pretty easy and fun.

 

Adjusting to some other stuff…not so easy.

 

Take public transportation for example. The trains are easier to understand than back  in the states–when they aren’t delayed or skipping your stop. The buses? They’re operated by people I can only assume are in league with the Dark Lord. They either don’t how up to our stop, pass our stop once we’re on it (and that’s if we’re lucky), or they “change destinations” mid-journey and drop us off in the middle of nowhere. Mind you this only happens to my boyfriend and I, not to any of our friend with whom we’ve compared notes.

 

The other thing that took some getting used to was the food. Whereas in America you can shop for the week, hell, even for the next two weeks, here you can only shop for a few days. We learned this the hard way. We were carrying home seven bags of groceries, grinning with a ridiculous amount of self-pleasure because we had saved so much money and were being so responsible and prepared. One of the local electrical workers kindly offered to eat some of our food, and as we passed him by, he grinned in way that–looking back–must have been one that said “You’ll learn, stupid Americans” because three days later it was all moldy, smelly, and all kinds of things that would indicate inadequacy for consumption. There was almost something supernatural about the way the food seemed to change colors by the hour.

Since that initial week, we’ve learned to avoid buses when we can (but occasionally we still end up with a green loaf of bread).

Cultural Adjustment

Before coming to England I didn’t really think about how England would be different from the United States. There are definitely similarities such as English being the first language which is good because I do not know how to speak another language. However, some of the terms that people in England say are different than terms that we say in the United States.  Before I left people told me that English people call the bathroom the Lu but as I have experienced people call it the toilets. Also, England’s money system is the pound and one pound is equal 1.6 American dollars. The dollar’s value is not very good but since Huddersfield is a smaller city so food and other necessities are cheaper than bigger cities like London.

As pretty much everyone knows British people have a different accent. It does differ depending on what area of the country you are from. Huddersfield is located in North Yorkshire people that I have met from the University who live in this county seem to very patriotic about their area. Some of them haven’t even gone to London. This proves the point that even though you live in England, London can still be a foreign place that one has never visited. Similar to when one says they live in New York and people assume the “city” automatically, but a majority of people do not live in the city. Expanding further on where I am from, New York, most people that I have met are shocked that I am Huddersfield. There notion is why come to this small place called Huddersfield when New York, where you are from, is this grand and majestic place. Usually, I explain to people that I like living in a town not far from nature, and that big cities are nice to visit but not somewhere I would stay for a while.

I have lived in my flat for about 2 and half weeks. My flatmates and I have settled in and every week we try to do a family dinner. I made a family dinner the week of Rosh Hashanah and I prepared foods that my family would eat for the holiday. This past week my flatmate from Germany made German food which was very good. I am not a very good cook, but I make simple things and am attempting to improve my skills. Also I must add that I love tea so England is definitely the right place for me and I even put milk in my tea. Huddersfield is famous for Yorkshire tea which I think is very good.  If you go to a restaurant or some cafes and order tea they give you a personal tea kettle with tea which you pour into a cup. I really enjoy this method of serving tea and I think it should be done in the United States. Stay tuned for my next blog on academic adjustment which I will post soon!

better late than never!

I guess I’m a bit late to this whole posting business. Sorry about that, but gosh have the past few weeks been busy:

 

THE LEAD-UP: 1 week before arrival

The week leading up to my arrival in London amounted to a bit more than a little hassle. I had to say goodbye to my family–both enormous and very local. I had to get all my paperwork together. See a doctor. See a dentist (didn’t actually get around to this one). Put my finances in order. And pack. Oh, the packing. It took over three days for me to figure out how to fit all the clothes, electronics, and books I wanted to bring into one mammoth-sized duffle. People say I shouldn’t have packed any books at all, not even the paperbacks. We compromised. I only packed like 8 books instead of the originally over ambitious stack of 20. So how’d the rest of the packing go? Well, the duffle wasn’t has mammoth sized as I needed.

And to top all that off, yes, I was nervous! Of course I was nervous. I was moving to a new country. London–the setting of my favorite fictional detective!

 

The spent the final few days before my departure in Long Island. These days were more relaxing than the previous ones, but not as relaxing as I’d hoped. I had a few lazy beach days in mind, but the universe stepped in and proclaimed IT SHALL NOT BE!  Instead, I spent most of the time helping my boyfriend finish doing what I’d finished the day before. Oh, I didn’t mention him yet? Well, my boyfriend and I are studying abroad together! How cool is that? Nervous about traveling to London together! People say we’re a power couple. We still don’t really know what that means–but now we have a better idea than we did before. And I think we’re going to continue discovering exactly what that means over the course of our many adventure across Europe.

 

 

First Week in England :)

I arrived in England last Tuesday and I have been adjusting to life there. I spent about three and a half days in London.  I did make one mistake before coming here which was not unlocking my phone so I bought another phone.  There are a bunch of different phone bundles and carriers which was overwhelming. I am the worst with technology so it took me forever to figure out this new phone which was not working at first. There are a lot of these companies and people who sell phones which can be confusing and try to rip you off. However, I did learn a lesson maybe the hard way because I did get ripped off buying a mobile phone. Life is about learning from your mistakes so the next time I deal with something similar hopefully I will be better equipped. Though it is crazy to believe that when my parents came to Europe mobile phones weren’t even a thing.

Besides the mistake I made with my phone everything else in England has been going quite well. When I was in London I walked through different areas of the city, saw the guard change ceremony at Buckingham Palace, went to the British museum, saw the Big Ben, and Parliament Buildings in Westminster. Also I went to the tower of London Museum, visited the Borough Market, and walked over different bridges that go over the river.  I stayed at a bed and breakfast type place for the first two days and then went to stay with family that just moved to London. It was nice seeing my family because I hadn’t seen them in a while and they taught me new things about life in England.  I cannot forget to say that I did have fish and chips which were very good and filling.

This past Saturday I moved into my accommodations at the University of Huddersfield. I took the train from the Kings Cross Station in London to the train station in Huddersfield. I only had to change trains once in Leeds, which is a city about a twenty minute train ride away from Huddersfield. I arrived at my flat in the afternoon and settled in. My flatmates are all very nice and I have enjoyed getting to know them these past couple of days. There are two other girls from New Paltz that live in my flat, one boy from Wisconsin, another boy from Tennessee, a boy from Germany and someone else from Leeds is supposed to move in soon.

The academic calendar at the University of Huddersfield is different than SUNY New Paltz’s academic calendar. Before I came, I knew that classes would start later but I didn’t realize that there would be two weeks of orientation. This week is international welcome week and so far I have received a tour of campus, registered as a student and talked to advisers about enrolling for classes which will be done this week. Also I have spent a lot of time around town with my flat mates. This afternoon I went on a walk to this tower, on the top of the hill I live on, with my flat mate from Germany. I enjoyed the walk and the weather was beautiful. Tomorrow I’m going on the international students’ trip to Ikea and there are some other events going on the rest of the week including a tour of Yorkshire. Our living accommodations do not come with cooking supplies or bedding so my flat mates and I need to invest in those items.

Over the next couple of days I will be completing more registration steps at the university and going to different events. Next week is Freshers’ Week which is catered towards first years specifically, but International students are encouraged to go. There are fairs that encourage involvement on campus where free stuff is given and events to meet new people are held. I am looking forward to getting to know the area better, meeting new people and traveling to different areas in the coming weeks.

Excited to Go to England!

On Monday night September 8th I will be leaving to go abroad! I am very excited and my first stop will be London, England. I will spend 4 days in London and then head up to the University of Huddersfield.  While in London I’m planning to explore the city and visit my uncle and his family who live in London. This will be my first time in Europe and I plan to travel and explore different areas of England and other countries nearby.

At Huddersfield University I will be taking psychology courses which the school is well known for. I found out about this program in my research methods class last year when a representative from the University came to talk about their study abroad program for psychology students. After hearing about this program and going to the study abroad fair I decided to apply. I have only heard good things from people about their study abroad experience and am grateful to have the opportunity to go myself.

While at the University of Huddersfield I plan to get in involved in the cycling club and the outdoors club. Hiking, cycling and rock climbing are three of my passions and I plan to continue pursuing them while I am abroad.  I have heard that northern England, near the Lake District, has beautiful places to hike, cycle and climb. This summer has flown by so fast and I will be leaving very soon. I should probably start to pack. I will write more when I’m in Europe!