Activities at JMU

If we had classes most of the day, the Cross-Cultural program is also about having fun and discovering the United States of America.

JMU group picture

For instance, for the first two week we participated to the “boys and girls club”. This refers to an organization which aims at planning fun activities for kids who cannot afford to travel during summer vacation. After lunch, we would go there and play with kids from 5 to 10 years old. For some it was a good way to improve their English, for others it was a good way to meet and see how American kids interact. But overall it was mostly a good way to improve our stamina! American kids have a lot of energy, turns out.

If every Sunday was mostly free time, we usually had something scheduled on Saturday. The purpose was mostly to visit a bit more Virginia or learn more about the United States of America in general. For instance, the second weekend of this one-month program we went camping. At least that what it was first scheduled, but as rain poured, we only spent an afternoon getting lost in a hike and enjoying the swimming pool. For a bit more sensation, we all went to Kings Dominion the next week. This roller coaster park was full of sensational rides and a water park. Very useful during the summer season!

Kings Dominion

My favorite trip of this program remains our Washington weekend. We stayed there for almost 3 days and it was enough to see most of Washington city. The visit to the National Mall with all these museums was very interesting! I would recommend visiting the African American and Indian American museums which were very fascinating. The plus of this trip was the fact that we had a lot of free time to build our own schedule. And other such as the Shenandoah cavern visit and Monticello!

U.S Capitol (Washington)

Instructive, interesting and fun: those activities were strengthening our brand-new friendships. Actually, I would say that the best thing about this trip is the people I have met. I have built such a connection with them that I have now places to stay in different continents.

The graduation party with two of our teachers

James Madison University Cross Cultural Program

What is a typical day at James Madison University?

Before my departure I realized one thing: I do not know what a typical day at James Madison University (JMU) looks like. So here I am trying to solve this one for you:

First of all, all the participants of the summer program live in a dorm. Which means that everyone has a roommate. Fortunately, the room we are in is huge and the bathroom too. To be precise, each apartment has two bedrooms and two bathrooms with one common room including the kitchen. So be mentally prepared to share your life with at least 4 persons. Personally, I spend most of my free time with my new classmates as we all live on the same floor. However, do not worry, you can also decide to be on your own and discover the city (small city, by the way, be aware).

View on Harrisonburg, Virginia

What about the routine? So, every morning we wake up around 7:15 to prepare ourselves before breakfast. Every breakfast is taken in the cafeteria which is 10 minutes away by foot. You can find everything in the cafeteria: you will see, it is great! Classes are usually scheduled from 9 to 12 and then from 14 to 17. It represents about 6 hours of classes during the weekday. Yet, there is from time to time activity scheduled in the afternoon. The most predominant class would be the Leadership class but there is also the Cultural and Diversity Class and the Global Citizenship Class. This schedule means two things: we have two hours of lunch break and we are free from 17 on! Unfortunately, the cafeteria closed at 19 so we usually go to eat right after class: very early for me and my Argentinian friends. But we eventually get used to it.

The main building of James Madison University

After dinner free time! For most of us, it means relaxing, watching a movie in the common area or going to UREC. UREC stands for University Recreation Center where you can practice any type of sports: from rock climbing to swimming and playing basketball. It has been the most impressive building on the campus. It is huge and there is everything you need. Plus: you do not have to pay to borrow equipment. And for the lazy one (like me) there is what they called a ‘lazy pool’ and a sauna. No wonder why Americans spend so much money to go to University.

For more information related to the activity, see the next article. 

JMU Logo

Whitby

Hello, everyone! This time the post is about another Student Union-organised trip we took last month, to the city called Whitby. It is to the North East of York and famous for being the inspiration for Dracula, after Irish author Bram Stoker lived there and was taken by the Gothic feel of buildings such as Whitby Abbey.

That’s where we started our trip. The bus parked up high and we had a walk down, about 30 or 45 minutes, to get to the city centre. Great because it meant we could look at the city and take in the views.

Collective picture taking of the view.

The view being pictured collectively. 🙂

When we got to City Centre we walked around as a group for a while then took a boat trip together, followed by a good 3 hours to our own before we needed to head back to York. My friends and I decided on fish and chips for lunch (I mean you gotta, right?!) and The Magpie Café is what we were recommended. I’m passing that recommendation forward because it was great!

After lunch we found a beach and hung around there for the whole two and half hours we had. Not much was done, but the good soul cleansing earned as a result was well worth it.:) 

And that’s it! we headed back to York in a bus full of knocked-out people who were too tired to even chat to one another on the bus. a day well spent!

Thank you, Whitby! You are beautiful.

Mafaz

x

International Student Conference 2019 in Bandung, Indonesia!

January 11, 2019, Bandung

Global citizenship is a concept that has become more popular and respected. UNPAR, Universitas Katolik Parahyangan, finds it important to teach young people responsibility, not only as a national citizen, but also a global citizen.

It was very helpful being picked up at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. Today, Friday the 11th of January, started with a bus trip from Jakarta to Bandung. We passed through mountainous areas and experienced the typical traffic jams in Indonesia. We checked in at the hotel and then left for the University where we had an opening ceremony, where Jari represented the international students by receiving a plate, that embraced the Indonesian culture, a few ice breaking games together and ended with dinner. The free time in the evening was spent going out in town together with both local and international students and the first day of the conference had passed.

The opening ceremony where two students had the opportunity to participate and receive a plate of food.

Delicious Indonesian cuisine

January 12, 2019, Bandung

Day 2 had two key lectures, introduction to UNPAR some ice breaking activity as well as learning something traditional, either dancing or making batik, which is a way of producing coloured designs on textiles by dyeing them after having been waxed. Being from a lot of different backgrounds and majors which makes it interesting to discuss together with other students. The mix of students with different experiences opens up your mind and creates another way of thinking.

One of the cultural activities, dancing!

The first lecture was held by Dr. Johan Holmgren from Malmö University with the topic “The Application of Technology to Support Comfortable and Efficient Global Mobility”. We were introduced to quantitative modelling with focus on simulation and optimization and how it can be used in order to obtain a more sustainable transport system. Lecture two was held by Prof. Akimasa Fujiwara from Hiroshima University with the topic “Quality Transport In the Era Of Auto Sapiens”. The AV and advanced technology will change the society but what risks are there, how will AV influence residential choice behaviour and how can the publics acceptance of connected multimodal AVs be measured? Overall, interesting subjects that are covered to raise awareness and maybe something to work with in the future.

We also had the opportunity to listen to two girls who had conquered the Seven Summits as students of the university. Very strong and inspiring young women who challenge themselves.

Dr. Johan Holmgren receives a certificate after his lecture.

Fransiska Dimitri Ingkiriwang and Mathilda Dwi Lestari whom conquered the 7 Summits.

January 13, 2019, Bandung

The third day of the student conference was dedicated to three out of four workshops.  They were designed to give an opportunity to participants to discuss and share opinions regarding specific issues based on different study backgrounds. The workshops were:

  • D. Hilda Leilani Masniarita Pohan – Being Sustainable: The Other Side of Efficient Transportation
  • Dr Mert Tokman – The Role of Transportation and Logistics in Global Supply Chain Management
  • D. Sylvia Yazid – Crossing Borders for A Better Living: Ensuring Safe and Beneficial Labour Mobility
  • Benedikte Borgström – Strategic Transport Logistics and Sustainable Road Freight Transport Markets

Different snacks and drinks during every break, Indonesian food and snacks are highly recommended!

To be able to share knowledge with people from other countries, cultures and societies gives a new perspective and knowledge about other parts in the world. Like most days, after the lectures or workshops had ended, people did what they wanted, either alone or together, and exploring Bandung and the Indonesian kitchen is the best way!

January 14, 2019, Bandung

On the fourth day, we had one more workshop and after that, a field trip to Bandungs Area Traffic Control System, an office that controls the traffic in the city. Being a large group, we were divided into two smaller groups and the other one could explore the area around the area. Due to the heavy traffic throughout the day, it’s important to be able to control the flow, e.g. in case of an emergency, or the ambulance would be stuck. We were shown what they can do with their cameras and how they speak to people who violate the traffic laws.

Group photo outside the Area Traffic Control Centre!

Strolling around in the city of Bandung, not far from the ATCS.

January 15, 2019, Jakarta

Wake up at 5am for a field trip to Jakarta. It’s only around 160 km but it takes a long time due to heavy traffic and the slow pace trucks can drive uphill. Destination was Taman Mini Indonesia Indah where the “Amazing Race” started. The park displays Indonesian culture, with almost all aspects of daily life in Indonesia’s 26 provinces. There is a lake with a miniature version of the archipelago, museums, cable cars and separate pavilions that present a province. The area is big, and the tasks were located over the whole area which made the groups test their teamwork and communication due to a limited budget and choice of movement. It was lots of fun but it seems like half of the teams forgot about the competition and enjoyed themselves in the area instead! Anyways, it was a very fun day and it ended, as usual, with free time where we headed in different directions and enjoyed a day in Jakarta!

Preparation of the Amazing Race in Taman Mini Indonesia Indah!

Explore the culture and the area!

January 16, 2019, Jakarta

This day started with a visit to Tanjung Priok Port which is the biggest and busiest port in Indonesia. They held a presentation and then we were allowed into a sort of control/surveillance room where they described some of their job assignments. After that, we continued to MRT Jakarta Station Office. It started with a presentation and a chance to ask questions about the project. The MRT (Mass Rapid Transport) Jakarta is an infrastructure project that aims to relieve the great traffic congestion in Indonesia’s capital city. And as always, there was no absence of food and snacks, almost always as delicious as it can be expected! The day ended with a bus trip back to Bandung. The site visits in Jakarta were well prepared, interesting and amusing together with the other participants.

One of the tunnels soon in operation

Presentation of the MRT Jakarta project

Tanjung Priok Port

January 17, 2019, Bandung

This was our whole free day so I don’t know what all of the participants decided to do so instead some pictures will be shown.

Taman Mini, Jakarta

Dr Mert Tokman on Global Supply Chain Management

Bandung

January 18, 2019, Bandung

The last day of the student conference, unfortunately, was dedicated to the final project and a closing ceremony. The project was the final challenge for the participants on problem solving and an opportunity to share our ideas. The goal was to design a holistic and systematic recommendation for the mobility and transportation in the hypothetical city of Asgard. We were divided into groups, e.g local government, department of technology and the citizens in the urban area. Constraints were related to the amount of money, conditions of the city and its surroundings which led to lots of negotiations. The project ended with a deal-or-no-deal agreement. Eventually a deal was made and the project was completed.

The closing ceremony started with some speeches from UNPAR and continued with games, shows and receiving our certificates. The final dance was prepared by the local students and it was cheerful and fun it can be, we miss you a lot.

We would like to thank the Malmö University, the International office and Åsa Fagerström for the opportunity. We also want to thank all the lecturers and their interesting teachings during the conference as well as UNPAR, Universitas Katolik Parahyangan, for hosting an amazing, well-planned and fun conference with a heart-warming and welcoming atmosphere. Finally, we would like to thank the local students for being great hosts, tour guides and friends during our stay. A lot of new experiences, cultural understanding and views have made us grow as individuals with new perspectives of problems and things around us. We enjoyed it and we deeply urge other students to participate the upcoming years.

Liverpool

Our trip to Liverpool was on Feb 2nd. It snowed the day before in York and the next day we had remnants that made for a beautiful journey on the bus. Everyone was asked to be at Uni at 8.00 am and it took us around two and half hours to get to Liverpool.

Our first stop was the Liverpool Cathedral

Such a stunning building. It was spacious with great attention to detail, beautiful stained glass and a very peaceful atmosphere inside.

Next we had about 2 hours for ourselves which we took to walk around a little and have some lunch. We went to a burger place and enjoyed some Chinese New Year celebrations on the street.

After that we were on to the main event; The Beatles museum (any Beatles fans?) :

Aptly called The Beatles Story, it’s designed in a great storytelling-as-you-walk way where we got headphones and mini devices (remember walkie talkies? They resembled them a little. Nostalgia: check.) and got to hear different clips with every room we entered into.

This is how the studio looked when the members would record an album. It’s amazing how such a small space can produce great works of art which topped charts for months!

This is the stage in the cafe the band played in for the last time before they exploded into a worldwide phenomena; the picture above to the right is how the tickets looked like. It immediately makes you think of the memories the people who attended it must have..

THE yellow submarine, guys! 🙂

John Lennon’s “White Room” where he wrote few songs. Gorgeous crisp white!

And that was it! A short but sweet trip. My friend and I took some time in between events to rush and see the Titanic memorial and the Yoko Ono section in Liverpool’s museum, but by that point it was so cold my phone decided to conserve battery and switch off. iPhones! Haha.. I managed to switch it back on in the bus just in time to get this picture on the way back to York 🙂

The tour guides were amazing and we wouldn’t have been able to organise such a trip without them; I feel grateful that the experience has been nothing short of great.

Mafaz x

Student Union activities

For the past month or so now, the Student Union here at York St John has been taking care of us in the best way possible. Mingling events, quizzes, food hospitality, trips to other parts of England, you name it. I’ll put some of the events here that took place over the past few weeks. I love going to the Student Union cafe because it’s always fun.

To start with, we had a welcome party for all the international students at the end of the Introduction week. We had dinner together and got to know each other more.

There are students from so many places in the world it’s amazing. We played Bingo and the mission was to find people in the room who fit the descriptions we had on our papers, and we couldn’t repeat a name twice. Really got us to chat to each other!

During the night we also pinned our names to where we came from, on a world map. Hello, Sweden! 🙂

Then we were quizzed on everything British, with a  pretty good prize; tickets to a trip to Liverpool the Student Union was arranging. Pleased to announce, my team won 🙂 (post about the trip here).

On  feb 4th we celebrated Chinese new year with a quiz about Chinese traditions and a lantern-making activity

I had to leave early so I didn’t get to finish my lantern, but wish I had.

Then just couple of days ago we had a Viking event because it is Viking week at the time of me writing this. We had pizza (doesn’t fit the theme but I think the Vikings missed out) then watched a video about Ragnarok and what it is in Norse mythology (if you haven’t heard of it you can watch the documentary Thor: Ragnarok by Marvel Studios. Not too dissimilar 🙂 ).

Then we got to make our own Viking shields; we felt like small kids painting again and it kept us very present. York was populated by the Vikings around 1400 and the city still carries traces to this day, so it was very fitting to celebrate this week.

Next up, Liverpool!

Mafaz x

 

 

 

Hello from York!

Hello everyone, welcome to my first post 🙂 my name is Mafaz; I study English Studies at Malmö University and currently in York, England for the first semester of my two semesters with elective courses. Has anyone been to York before? I’m studying at York St John’s University or, as it’s been dubbed, Hogwarts.

On the first day I got to meet new friends from many countries who were also here for the semester, and we had a mini tour of our own around campus. The university is big! And really beautiful. These are some pictures that I took.

This one is from one of the accommodation buildings, but how nice is the greenery?

Some of us had been to York before but others not. I had absolutely no expectations; I hadn’t heard much about the city, which actually worked in my favor because I felt very present when I arrived as I was seeing something completely new. Official arrival date was 24th January and the first week was all about helping us get settled. We had a 2-hour walking tour that was really enjoyable. We got to know the city and wrote down some tips for places to check out and eat at. Walking around the city made me feel like I was transferred back to the 1400s, very unique.

Apparently this place has one of the best afternoon tea options; I have it on my list of places to visit; I’ll let you know how it goes!

This is one of my personal favourite places in the city, The Shambles street. It deserves a dedicated post, but note the “shop that must not be named” logo. The street is the inspiration behind Diagon Alley and how it looked in Harry Potter. Actually this little street alone has around 4 Harry Potter-themed shops. Pretty cool, right? 🙂

This is where you can start a city-walls walk, we simply passed by it but definitely one to check out, maybe around Spring when the weather is slightly gentler!

The tour ended near the York Minster, one of the most beautiful buildings in the city (and there are a lot).

The details are mesmerizing!

After that we went home and got ready for another day. The Student Union team hosts many events and consists of a bunch of lovely people. The next post will be about some of those events they organised for us as newbies 🙂 Have a lovely time until then!

Mafaz x

 

 

INU Summer School – Hiroshima 2018


Cecilia, Yara, Greta and Eman

29th of July 4 amazing girls, Cecilia, Yara, Greta and Eman, packed their backpacks and started their adventurous trip to Japan. This experience has been very enlightening, the lessons you are about to learn will stay with you for the rest of your life!

To start with, the espresso house in the center of Malmo became our meeting point where we first hugged each other and started to plan the trip. There was no doubt that we were very excited to be chosen for this amazing opportunity, but we also had many practicalities to deal with such as flight tickets, accommodation, the amount of cash, clothing etc.  


Eman, Greta and Yara outside an arcade in Tokyo

We were very lucky to be covered with travel insurance by the Malmö University. However, the insurance covered only our stay in Hiroshima, where the summer school is held. The rest of the time that we were traveling, we had to provide our own insurance.

Even though the Summer school in Hiroshima is an amazing experience in itself, we highly recommend that students experience more of Japan on their own. Since the programme of the summer school is so tight it is not possible to experience other cities in Japan during this time. Therefore, traveling around in Japan either before or after the summer school in Hiroshima gives one a great opportunity to experience other cities in Japan. We started off our adventure by traveling to the beautiful city Tokyo, which is a must if you want to get a proper Japan experience. Both Greta and Cecilia also travelled after the summer school and visited Kyoto where shrines and temples are everywhere to be found.


The four of us having sushi at the Tsukijis fish market. A must if you enjoy a really good sushi!

To travel to Tokyo was extremely easy. The metro system is very well organized. For example, each station name was written in Japanese and under it, an English version was always provided. In most of the stations, we could easily find an information center where people spoke good English. Plus they always provided us with English maps and good directions, sometimes even an advice of where to eat or see. Besides it, the possibility to connect to the free wifi is amazing in Japan. Many places have free wifi and some spots in the streets have access to the internet. At the same time, the Japanese are extremely friendly people and they always helped to find our ways. To be honest, younger people spoke better English and they were a bit more open to stop and talk with us. However, we also had many situations where body language became our tool to communicate with locals.


You haven’t experienced Tokyo unless you’ve done karaoke in costumes

The Summer school in Hiroshima consists of a busy schedule where you get to learn and have fun at the same time. First two days we got to spend it with our country groups, the groups that we had been assigned to represent the countries in the upcoming role play. In these groups, we were a mix of Japanese and international students. We got to know each other and do many fun activities such as visiting the breathtaking Island of Miyajima.
The following day was more emotional because it’s the day where we get to attend the peace memorial ceremony and to remember the time of the Hiroshima bombing that happened on the 6th of August. The ceremony was accompanied with a tour of Hiroshima’s museum, and even the pleasure of listening to an atomic bomb survivor. Rest of our days were spent in Hiroshima university filled with workshops and seminars where we got to experience how the United Nations work and how it’s like to be a part of the General Assembly. Our advice is to enjoy your time, the seminars are important but try to find time to have fun and go out with your newly found friends.


Hiroshima


All the participants at INU summer school with the amazing Ms. Keiko Ogura

Working and eating with our country groups!


In preparation for the UN role play, meetings were held to make allies and secret plans

It is quite important to know that Japan, especially Tokyo is a place with a high amount of tourist and therefore it is important to book the place to stay in ahead. Hostels are a great way of saving money and meeting locals. Furthermore, the hostel that we stayed in had a high standard (assuming that it is this way in all of Tokyo/Japan) Also, during the summer Japan is extremely hot and humid meaning that thin layers of cloth, a hat or ever and sunscreen are recommended. Since it is so hot outside there is always air condition inside and a light jacket is a great idea.


Last photo of all participants at 2018 INU summer school in Hiroshima

To be part of the summer school in Hiroshima was an experience you get once in a lifetime, The people you meet and the things you get to experience will change your view on the world. We are forever thankful for Malmö University for giving us the chance to be a part of this great adventure.

Thanks for reading and taking part in our journey!
Eman, Greta, Yara and Cecilia

The big city life, exploring caves, discussing politics and more – live from JMU

Soon my last week at James Madison University begins. It will be tough to say goodbye to all the friendly people I’ve met here and lived so close to. But before we go our separate ways, we have one more week of projects, lectures and excursions left.

Last weekend was a fun one, when we all spent two days in Washington D.C. We had a guided tour around the big monuments in the National Mall and then visited museums around the area. Most museums in central D.C. are free to enter, so you can bounce around quickly from one to the other. I can’t put into words how much fun it is to have so many great museums lined up one after the other! Later in the night, I met an old friend who lives just outside the city, and we biked around and saw the monuments again but this time lit up against the night sky.

My favorite monument was without a doubt the Vietnam veterans memorial. When you approach, it looks like just a large black stone sculpture. When you start to get closer, you see the thousands of names engraved into the wall showing the American casualties. The memorial was designed by a young college student, and I think the concept it interesting. Instead of listing the names in alphabetical order, they are written according to the date the soldiers were killed or reported missing. It makes for more of a narrative display, compared to what would have looked like a phone book of dead soldiers if the names were shown alphabetically.

Later in the week we visited the amazing Shenandoah Caverns. They were very beautiful! The strange shapes created by minerals traveling with water has been featured in the National Geographic, and it’s not hard to see why. See for yourself in the pictures below!

We were invited to a panel discussion where four people born in the US answered questions about North American life, culture and politics from their personal perspective. It was interesting to hear their different points of view. Something that really got me thinking was when one of the participants said that “local-level politics are where the real meaningful decisions are made”, which should be a reason for people to get involved in what’s happening in their local communities. A problem in the US today is that fewer people go to vote, and focus on the local level seemed to me like a good attitude to have when fighting that problem.

As I’m writing this we have just come back from a very rainy trip to King’s Dominion, a big amusement park about two hours away from the university. It was without a doubt the wildest rides I’ve ever been on. Now it’s time to relax and have a warming cup of mate!

Thanks for reading.

Jakob

Playing with children, camping and studying – first week at JMU

I have now spent just over a week at the James Madison University here in Harrisonburg, Virginia. It has been some very busy days, and I have been sleeping like a baby every night. In this post I will mention a few moments that have stuck with me!

After a few days of settling in, being toured around campus and stocking up on necessities at a huge supermarket, the group went for the first excursion: the Boys and Girls club of America. It’s a daycare for kids all ages, located in central Harrisonburg. Seeing this place compared to a daycare in Sweden was a big contrast. Instead of small groups of children, divided by age, all the kids share a big building with several classrooms, a gym and a small baseball field in the outside yard.

It was very impressive how just a few caretakers could handle almost 60 energetic children running around. However, I think it may be almost impossible to give enough individual attention to the kids. I remember having a personal relationship with teachers at my daycare as a kid, and this experience made me appreciate that more.

The next day, we packed up to go camping at the picturesque Sherando Lake. So far, this was without a doubt the highlight for me! I have always liked being close to nature and the area we stayed in was very beautiful. Our campsite was close to a few different hiking paths, a lake where other campers would fish in the early morning and not far away from another lake where we would go for a swim.

Everybody were in a constant good mood and the trip was a great way to relax. Since I arrived to the US there had been a lot of new impressions, so having some peace and quiet in a pretty forest was perfect. There were even some members of the group who had never camped before, which in a way let me experience camping for the first time again! When I asked another member of the group what his favorite thing about this camping trip was, his answer was the modern amenities that was available at the campsite, like grills for a barbecue, many water taps and even an amphitheater for outdoors movie nights.

In addition to leaving campus for different activities, we’ve had classes with the professors of the Center for Global Engagement. It has been interesting lectures, seminars and workshops on subjects such as diversity, global citizenship and leadership.

Every day we exchange enlightening stories from our respective countries of origin, and they can often be surprising – like how children in Taiwanese school will be taught positive values while in the US the norm is that school “stays out of the raising of children”.

Last but not least, I have to make a shout-out to my classmates from Argentina who always has a cup of the herbal tea mate available to keep you alert and in a good mood!

Until next time,

Jakob