Mid Semester Break Road Trip

For mid-semester break, I was lucky enough to have my brother and my father visit me. We rented a car and explored Victoria and New South Wales. We saw the ocean and the desert, and tried to spend as much time possible in the sun. Here are some photos from the trip!

My dad, brother and the Sydney Opera House

Nymagee – an old mining town

Crimson and King parrots!

The London Bridge along the Great Ocean Road

 

Mid-semester break=travelling!

So in South Australia there is a spring holiday for two weeks, some say it’s meant for studying but surprisingly I spent it on other activities… In two weeks I travelled to Byron Bay in New South Wales, Surfer’s Paradise in Gold Coast and to Kangaroo Island on the shores of South Australia, the best two weeks of my stay in Australia for so far 🙂 -Vappu

First destianation was Byron Bay known for surfing and undescribable beaches. With friends we visited an almost desolated beach with crystal clear water, we watched the sun set sitting on a hill next to a lighthouse while sipping wine, and we kayaked our wau through mongrove trees and wildlife. This picture is taken from the kayaking tour and the view were amazing. 

The water was so warm and clear you could just hop off and push the kayak instead. Tha sand was white and you could see fish swimming around. It was a paradise.

Here is our group on a snack break on the kayaking tour. We learnt a lot about the ecosystem of the river and saw a pelican! Not to mention the tan hehe. As you can see from the picture, I haven’t spent nearly as much time in the sun as my friends.

Next destination was Surfers Paradise. In Australia university teams compete against each other in different sports and I participated on this year’s Australian University Games. We went there with a beachvolley team from the Flinders’ volleyball club. The week was wonderful, days we spent on the beach playing beachvolley, and evenings we spent on theme parties and making new friends across the universities. The best part to me was jumping to the pool with the team after a long day of sports. And the sand got stuck to your skin because of the sunscreen so one can imagine what we looked liked after the games hehe. But Surfers Paradise definitely was a paradise in a sense, not for a minute did i think about school work during that week.

The last destination was the desolated Kangaroo Island where there was no phone reception in most places and we were surrounded by amazing nature and wildlife. This picture is taken from FLinders Chase Reservation Park where we saw turqouise ocean and some fur-seals laying in the sun or playing in the water.

The night we spent in a woolshed turned to a hostel, again no phone reception in the midst of nature. We were served with amazing BBQ through out the trip and we definitely enjoyed it after hiking. Surprisingly we didn’t see that many kangaroos but echidnas, seals, sealions and loads of birds.

And here are the sealions! Most adorable creatures ever. Mostly they were laying on the beach and chilling but some of them were curious and came to sniff us. Did you know that their closest relative on dry land is a dog? For sure I didn’t.

This picture was taken at the Remarkable Rocks in Kangaroo Island. They are a strange rock formation that was created when magma cooled down after a vulcano eruption. We took the chance to sunbathe on the heated rocksand admiring the ocean and enjoying life. And currently I’m back at the university focusing on school work but for some reason I have a huge urge to travel haha.

Adelaide highlights

Life in Australia has been quite extraordinary for me for so far. Due to technical issues I haven’t posted in the first month of my stay here but here is an overview of the best moments here in Adelaide since my arrival! -Vappu

Trip to Cleland Wildlife Park

On the very first week the international services of Flinders Uni arranged a trip to the Cleland wildlife park where kangaroos, wallabies, Tasmanian devils and all sorts of birds go free (okay not the Tasmanian Devil, it’s called devil for a reason). Kangaroos are super social! The koalas were unfortunately napping so not that much material on them. The nature in general is much richer and greater than in Sweden or Europe. Even in the midst of the campus here we have a lake and woods. On the other hand, the campus is in the suburbs so it’s fairly peaceful here.

Hallet Cove Beach Day

Hallet Cove Conservation Park is located in South Australia on the coast, and with some exchange students we made a day trip there. It’s very hilly full of cliffs and beaches and great views as you can see. As it is the Australian winter now it’s still pretty chilly, around 15 degrees daily, but the sun is very strong so on a sunny day it gets nice to spend a day outside. After hiking we returned to Adelaide to the Glenelg beach to check out the sunset. There is nothing more beautiful but a calm ocean and the vibrant colours of the setting sun playing on it.

Wine tour to Barossa Valley and wine tasting

Australia is known for its wines and especially Shiraz. Wine is also much cheaper than in Nordic Countries, cheapest we have found is 4 litres 10 dollars (around 7 euros/60 Swedish crowns) hehe. Again we joined a trip organised by the Flinders international services. We visited two wineries with excellent wine and some magnificent viewpoints on the Adelaide hills.

In general Australia is a very welcoming country and people here are helpful. Life is joyful here and I imagine when it gets warmer Adelaide will truly blossom. The university takes very good care of the exchange students and there are a lot of activities at hand. I play volleyball at the Flinders volleyball club and on mid-semester break I’ll also be joining Australian University Games in Gold Coast, I’m sure that will be one of the best times here.

-Vappu

Barossa Valley Wine Tour

This Saturday, Vappu and I went with some other international students on a wine tour in the Barossa Valley. We went to two different wineries, as well as the whispering wall, and some other points of interests. Here are some pictures from our most recent adventure!

The Whispering Wall – What can be said at one end can be heard perfectly from the other.

Delicious chocolate wine, by the fire!

Vappu and a Magpie!

Louise’s first kangaroo sightings

A view of Barossa Valley

Hiroshima Diaries 広島

Hello Dear Reader,

Since you’re here and reading this blog post I assume you are in one of these groups: The first group is the students who want to admit/who has been admitted to Malmö University and they would like to know more about their (future) universities opportunities. For these people, this blog post might not be helpful. First, university is more than just travelling to other countries. University is an experience that is going to affect the rest of your lives dramatically. So, if you’re deciding on which university to choose solely based on its “social” facilities, I’d recommend looking at other things. Nevertheless, Malmö University provides enough opportunities and you did/are going to make a good decision by choosing here. The second group is the academic or administrative staff who are curious what the students are writing in this blog. I’ve nothing to tell them either as no matter what I write here, they’ll probably read it until the end. The third group is the internet surfers who ended up in this website. To them, I say welcome. This blog post would be a nice way to kill time. And final group is the students who are planning to apply INU Master’s Summer School or who are already admitted to the seminar/summer school.  This post would be most useful for you.

Before I applied to this school I had so many concerns. For sure the biggest concern was money. Despite the 80,000 JPY stipend, going to Japan is not a cheap business. I’ll tell you one thing about it: I brought back quite a lot of money despite buying all the weird Japanese stuff. Travelling to and within Japan is quite expensive and it makes you miss Skånetrafiken ‍♂️ however, food is so cheap! It’s incredible how cheap the food is. To be honest, I couldn’t believe for over a week and despite knowing the exchange rate I was still trying to convert. A large lunch box costs around 40-50 SEK which is a gem.

The second concern was, as a self-declared “nerd”, if this summer school would be

Visiting Hiroshima is such a humbling experience that everyone should try at least once

useful for my future. It’s difficult to answer as it’s been just 4-5 days since the school has ended but the experience was worth it. Apart from the cliché “It’s such an intercultural experience with people from all around the world, it’s a great opportunity”, I can also say it was informative enough. Not in an academic sense -I’ve a major in political science and international relations plus now I’m studying international migration and ethnic relations, so yeah, obviously I knew what is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and how can we improve the global standards- but in a social sense.  I gained a nice network of people. Every student who joined the master’s summer school had a great academic background, the lecturers who joined the event were also an asset for me. In the end, I learnt new stuff on the rights of people with diverse sexual orientation and gender identity, Hiroshima, A-bomb attacks and Japan. Overall I give 7/10 to the summer school.

 

New friends from all around the world! This is the best thing this summer school gave to me

Many of the participants arrived in Japan a couple of day earlier to travel more. I also flew to Tokyo rather early in order not to suffer from jet-lag but I didn’t travel much. I’d recommend going to Japan at least 3-4 days earlier and going to Kyoto, Osaka or Fukuyaka. I’ve not been to any of them and I regret it so much. Japanese bullet trains (shinkansen) are cool and it doesn’t take much time to go to these cities. If you want to see Fuji you really need to spend a couple of days earlier or later for that occasion.

The pink area is Higashi Hiroshima in greater Hiroshima Prefecture

 

You’re going to Hiroshima Prefecture, not to Hiroshima. These are different things and if someone had told me this before I’d be more careful about my decisions. Think that you’re going to Stockholm metropolitan area, Stockholm is within that area but if you live in another city that’s around 40-50 min. away that means you’re going to spend most of your time in that city: It’s called Higashi-Hiroshima (literally eastern Hiroshima -they didn’t think thoroughly) and Saijo.

Saijo is known for being the sake capital of Japan. There are many breweries, take your time and visit them. They’re not very touristic so don’t expect people waiting for you at the gates, in some cases you wouldn’t even believe you’re entering to a brewery, it’s a friendly and warm experience. Saijo’s streets are narrow and people are so kind. I was sceptical about the hotel but it was just great! For around 400 SEK per night, it is just awesome! You get to use the free spa and public bath as well and the breakfast buffet is good. Ignore the fish-heads, rice and noodles that are offered for breakfast though. In comparison, I paid 500 SEK per night in a capsule hotel with shared room and bathroom in Tokyo.

 

The minute of Silence for the victims of atomic bomb attacks in Hiroshima

The most unforgettable moment for me was joining a panel with a “Hibakusha” or a survivor of the atomic bomb attack. Keiko described each detail she could remember. I’ve never thought I’d be moved by the panel that much. Travelling inside Hiroshima was an incredible experience too. Hiroshima was rebuilt after the attack and there were only a couple of buildings that survived the attack. This means the city is more or less 70 years old and I don’t think this experience can be put into the words. I’d recommend everyone to visit the city and breathe in the air. It is such a humbling experience.

 

Master’s students are divided into the US and Russian groups for the UN role-play. In

The master’s students that represented the US and Russia in role-play.

fact, most of the events you are going to do you will be divided into the country groups. In some cases, only the country groups will be present so you may not see other people from different country groups. Moreover, get ready to be called by your country group. I was in the Russian team and throughout the school, many people called me “The Russian guy” despite I’ve no connections to Russia.

 

We went to the nearby island Miyajima together with our country groups. However, it was too humid and hot for me. My phone’s battery died out of the heat and I really couldn’t enjoy the beauty of the island. Moreover, the island was very touristic and crowded, adding the heat and humidity to this meant I couldn’t enjoy it much. Prepare yourself for overly friendly deer, they eat paper! Keep your tickets safe!

Similar to the deers in Miyajima island, crows in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park can be a problem.

 

Japanese shrines are similar to each other. I’m not impressed by any of the shrines I’ve been. I assume it’s because Japanese culture refrains from showing off. Some small shrines are just wooden structures with nothing in them. However, my view is extremely subjective, many people in the group enjoyed the temples.

You’re expected to wash your hands before entering the Shinto shrines. Japan combines Shintoism with Buddhism and in most cases, it is difficult to differentiate which religion’s shrine you’re visiting.

The workshops and lectures have been great experiences as well! During the 10-days-long summer school, you’re expected to learn more about the atomic bomb attacks and Hiroshima, prepare yourself for the UN role-play and finally the real deal: present your paper and discuss another participant’s paper. The summer school was easier than I thought, however, I wished we had more days which would allow the school to be a bit looser. Almost every day, I came to my room at the hotel around 6-7 pm, very tired. After dinner and resting a bit, you don’t really have much time to do things. Therefore, if you arrive in Higashi-Hiroshima at least one day earlier, you can travel within Saijo as well. Don’t waste your time with going somewhere else if you don’t have time. Hiroshima Prefecture is a quite large area, there are so many things to do, landmarks to see. Saijo is a nice experience as well and it doesn’t take a day to visit the whole city. Japanese people cannot really speak English, it’s better to know at least the basic greetings and travel sentences. However, as I said earlier they’re very friendly and kind, they’ll do whatever they can to help you.

 

The UN Role-Play is a great way to understand how international politics function

In the final day of the summer school, the UN role-play takes place. Because I had similar experiences before my group basically crashed the debate! (Un)Fortunately, the resolution did not pass. What is unfortunate is that actually, the resolution was a great gain for the global politics and universal human rights. If the draft resolution had passed, the countries were required to decriminalize same-sex relations and put afford to fight against discrimination on the basis of SOGI. However, as we represented Russia, we did whatever we could to change the draft resolution. Consequently, the final resolution became a redundant paper. Indeed, the UN General Assembly has no binding powers but we tried hard to make the resolution as vague and as meaningless as possible. In the end, most countries voted no for the final resolution, which was a quiet victory for us, despite we worked hard to make changes, the final resolution had many articles that any Russian delegate to the UN would say no.

 

Finally, I recommend everyone to try and be part of this experience. Similar to other things, there are pros and cons, positives and negatives of this summer school as well. However, it is such an experience that will make you ignore all the negative sides.

 

 

 

A Visit to the Peace Memorial Museum In Hiroshima

5th of August, 2016

After a night of barely sleeping at all, maybe because of the heat, or simply because of the excitement about being in Japan, I wake up at six in order to go to Hiroshima City with the rest of the INU students and staff. We are staying in Higashi-Hiroshima, a small town located east of Hiroshima city and the bus ride takes about an hour. A lucky few are able to sleep almost the entire trip, while I tiredly stare out the window, allowing my gaze to scan all the mountains and forests that we pass on our way.

When we finally arrive in Hiroshima City, at the Peace Memorial Museum, it is a herd of tired and confused people trying to navigate the site in search of answers to where we are supposed to go. Someone who looks like they know what they are doing wave us in one direction, and we do as we are told, ending up at the entrance to the museum. Inside the museum we are handed leaflets and audio guides before we make our way to the exhibition.

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The A-Bomb Dome

Not quite knowing what to expect I enter the exhibition, and the first thing I see is a life-size model of three persons, all of them with loose skin hanging from their dirty bodies, clothes ripped, and all wearing an expression of extreme pain. Horrifying. Even though I have read a lot about the effects of the atomic bomb, and how the burns from the radiation heat would melt the skin of the human body, having it visualised in front of me makes everything I’ve read feel extremely real.

The museum is filled with stories from survivors and unfortunate victims of the bombing, personal belongings have been donated by survivors and relatives, and they are all accompanied by a description of the person who it belonged to, their full name, age, and occupation followed with what happened to them after the bombing. The statistics, 150 000 dead, become real and the numbers turn into individuals as I walk through the exhibition. People with lives just like ours. People who went to school or work on the morning of the bomb, people who never returned home, some who just disappeared on that day, never to be seen again, perished in the flames.

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The Children’s Peace Monument

It’s overwhelming and shocking. There is a lot to process and all the small details of personal lives hit hard. One of the most heartbreaking displays is a collection of small paper cranes, folded by Sadako Sasaki, a girl who survived the atomic bombing at the age of two, but later suffered from leukaemia due to the radiation. She folded 1000 paper cranes, and, as per tradition, wished to be cured, but died in the hospital. She became the inspiration and model for The Children’s Peace Monument, a monument to commemorate the thousands of child victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

We move on from the museum to a hall where we get to listen to Keiko Ogura, a survivor of the bombing, or Hibakusha as they are called in Japan. She was eight years old when the bomb fell and her stories about the fear, the bomb, the fire, and the cremation of often unidentified bodies is hard to listen to, but it is very important that it is heard. She doesn’t only talk about what happened in August 1945, but continues to talk about how it is today, what it means to have been a person who was in Hiroshima. How it is to feel like you need to hide who you are because people are scared that there is something wrong with you because of the radiation that spread all across Hiroshima on the day of the bombing.

And she talks about the silence. The silence that had somehow become the norm amongst survivors, to not talk about what happened because of the guilt. The guilt of having survived something so horrible while others suffered immensely before they died. The guilt of being alive while others perished in the flames of Hiroshima, of having lived all this time while others disappeared. 

Despite the horrors faced by the Hibakusha, Keiko Ogura talks about the hope for the future, and about forgiveness. She asks us all to bring this story to our families and friends, share it, and help make sure that something similar will never happen again. That no one should have to suffer like they have, and that the most important aim to prevent this is to abolish the use and creation of nuclear weapons. Despite everything she has been through, she still believes in a future free from war and nuclear weapons, and if that isn’t one of the most inspiring acts of forgiveness and hope I don’t know what is.

A view of Hiroshima City

A view of Hiroshima City

/ Kajsa

Hello from Australia

G’day, how is it going?

So this is the first time I’m writing a blog post at this blog, and I figure that it might be a good start with introducing myself to you readers. My name is Rebecka, I’m 20 years old and from a small village in the south of Sweden. Usually, I’m studying Peace and Conflict Studies at Malmö University, but right now I’m doing one year as an exchange student at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia. The units I take here is within Murdoch University’s program ”Security, terrorism and counterterrorism”, I have just finished my first semester down under and the units I took this spring was about terrorism, counterterrorism, global security in general and also the US and Australia’s foreign and security policies. The units I’m going to take next semester is about democracy and international politics, relations and security, the difference from the last semester is that these units are more about the theories than practice and not specified to a specific country as the other units were (they all had a focus on Australia and the US).

First the plan was that I would only be here for one semester but halfway through it I felt that I hadn’t taken all the units I wanted to take here at Murdoch University and therefore e-mailed Malmö and asked if there were any chances that I could stay for one more semester, and to my great joy – there was! So here I am, still in Australia – my new home, having winter break and waiting for another semester to begin. All the internationals who was only here for only one semester have left by now and it’s quite quiet and I would lie if I say that I don’t miss them. After all, we were like a family, and the goodbyes were harder than  I thought it would be – maaaany tears! But I guess that’s a part of studying abroad, and in like 2 weeks new internationals arrive and a new family will probably be created.

By now, I don’t have that much to write and tell you but if you want to, and can read Swedish (or just use google translate) have a look on my private blog in the meantime http://nouw.com/rebeckahillbertz.

/ Rebecka Hillbertz

We the peoples of the United Nations

On the day of the official nomination of the new Secretary-General to succeed Secretary-General Kofi Annan, outiside the United Nations Headquarters, flags fly in the north end of the building, on a sunny fall day. 9/Oct/2006. UN Photo/Mark Garten. www.unmultimedia.org/photo/Being at the United Nations Headquarter in New York is truly inspiring. It is a place full of life and energy, which everyday invites for discussions about the many world-challenges: poverty, inequalities, climate change, wars, and terrorism… The aim of the UN is to be an organisation that promotes Peace and Security, Human Rights, and Sustainable Development; for all. I am lucky to be here, and to experience this, not least in this exciting period when the 2030 Global Development Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (the SDGs) are starting to be implemented, and when the call for actions are critical.

However, something that I believe hits most people when they arrive here, is that the UN consists of its 193 Member States, which together need to agree on what should be done for having a better world. Process and progress can therefore be slow, and many people ask themselves if the UN actually is doing any difference? And if the world could become a better place for more people? I think the simple answer to both of these questions is YES. Just as the UN Charter begins with the powerful words “We the peoples of the United Nations…” it recognizes that the rights and responsibilities to act do not just apply for the people currently working in the UN-system or working with politics, but it includes ALL people in the world, from ALL nations. The world-leaders are (hopefully) doing their best to tackle the challenges facing humanity today, but we the peoples need to do the same. Everyday. Everywhere.

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In addition, I know that I am extremely fortunate to be born in a wealthy country with one of the best welfare-systems in the world. This makes it possible for me to travel to different places, meet new people, learn about their cultures, and get new experiences. At the same time, many young people around the world will never get the same chance. The opportunities and choices in life are still very different depending on where we are born. And not everybody has a voice that is listen to. We need to change this, and the Sustainable Development Goals is a framework for everyone to do something.

During the five months I am doing an internship in New York, I wish to contribute with two things:

  1. Share some of my own experiences from my time at the UN. Showing how the UN works and that the UN should be a place for all, because it’s principles (the Human Rights, Equality, Peace and Security) should be part of everybody’s lives.
  2. Try to give voice to the people who do not have the same opportunities and choices, and hence, strive for changing this notion. For instance, I will be doing interviews with young people who push for change and are showing that we the young peoples are actors too.

I hope that it could contribute to create a little bit more knowledge about the UN, the SDGs, and the role of youth, as well as inspire more people to take actions. Because we the peoples should all be equals.

What will be your contribution for transforming our world?

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