Get a glimpse of Japanese culture! INU, Hiroshima

Konnichiwa!

今日は!

FALLING IN LOVE WITH TOKYO

2nd/3rd of August

Before  arriving to Hiroshima, I had an occasion to spend two wonderful days in the vibrant and dynamic city of Tokyo, staying in Nezu district with other Swedish representative- Heidi. This surrounding is perceived as  the location filled with the atmosphere of the traditional shitamachi neighborhood, informally called “good, old Tokyo”. Our cozy hotel was the first  stop in the way of getting to know inexperienced by us so far Japan.

Architecture in Tokyo

Architecture in Tokyo/ day

Architecture in Tokyo. By night

Architecture in Tokyo/ night

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tokyo crowd

Tokyo crowd

 

 

 

 

Variety keeps your mind surprised

Variety keeps your mind surprised

Japanese hospitality in the reception and in the bar, explanation of bathroom manners, experience of tiny, highly functional and compact spaces and some extra help or tips regarding sightseeing- all that we were given for a starter. Being outside, in a heartbeat  I felt stunned by the coexistence of the buildings/objects that were enormously huge or contradictory tiny -all that smartly and archly  mixed, giving me the fresh perspective on urban tissue. Two days spent in that attractive, oriental city showed me how creative human creatures and how humid the weather can be.

Nippon にっぽん

Nippon にっぽん found in one of Tokyo’s flats

JAPANESE HOSPITALITY AT  HIROSHIMA UNIVERSITY

4th of August

After two days of pure sightseeing it came the time for switching into even more international and educational environment of Hiroshima and INU Summer School. With high excitement and expectations of great adventure, we headed to the Hiroshima Prefecture, a city called Saijo, where we arrived recognizing extreme warmness and humidity with our bit tired bodies.

There we found the hotel, which was very well equipped and located close to the main station or the University, as the tour guide indicated. After quick meeting with Vesna (main coordinator in HU), and after receiving keys, we went out for the food and fun hunt! After few hours of adapting to the new surrounding, our Swedish crew joined the rest of the hotel guests and headed to the University, were our facilitators and authorities welcomed us, showing greatest wills of hospitality. The first meeting with all representatives was very exciting! We had best food served on tables and wonderful minds to discuss with. That place will definitely remain in my head as the beginning of all further good 🙂

HOW THE SPIRIT OF PEACE CAN BE SENSED IN HIROSHIMA

5th and 6th of August

These two days were absolutely moving and experiencing. First, we have visited Peace Memorial Museum, focusing on our country groups we were assigned to, making new connections and getting to know people better. What was also better known, was the story of Hiroshima and hard times it went through. And people from this city, who bravely decided to rebuild damaged places, re-creating hope and peace among inhabitants. We’ve heard personal stories from an Atomic Bomb Survivor, Keiko Ogura, who presented her point of view and shared the story of this horrible day civilians were given. From her words grief after losing some friends or family members was evident and presenting very dismal reality of that time.

trip to Miyajima

trip to Miyajima

After this meeting it was rather hard to focus on pleasurable things but all summer school participants made this time peaceful and thoughtful, enjoying rebuilt Hiroshima, all diving in sun. Lunchtime then was the perfect excuse for us for discussing and planning. That’s how we decided to have a short trip to Miyajima- heaven-like island with many deers walking freely on the streets among tourists or local people!

What we did the next day, was also extraordinary and brought us a lot of second-thoughts, as we were participating in the Peace Memorial Ceremony and a

Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima

Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima

guided tour that delivered us extra thrills as it was enriched by very meaningful stories from local people. We were also given a try of regional cookies and cup of really decent geen tea- matcha. More about green tea you can find for example here: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2041.html

 

The evening was magical and very integrative- we were participating in the Lentern Ceremony.

 “The experience of watching the warm lights of some 10,000 lanterns as they float tranquilly down the river in the dark of night, each bearing wishes for peace from the gathered attendees, has a powerful, almost other-worldly quality. The participants in this event include not only Hiroshima locals, but also many visitors who come from far and wide.” (http://visithiroshima.net)

 

GETTING TO KNOW THE SITUATION OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE

7th-11th of August

Those days were given over the presentations, multiple discussion panels and workshops, which were broadening our horizons in that way that we got to know the stories of Indigenous Peoples from many corners of the world. We had been given the chance to understand the differences in the way of treating Indigenous Peoples by governments of different countries. Diversity among master students participating in the whole event provided deeper insight  into the problem, expanding it into areas of more developed  and complex issues.

Part of Hiroshima University Campus

Part of Hiroshima University Campus

By reading all the papers submitted by our colleges, preparing our own presentation concerning chosen topic and by  asking questions directed to others, commenting on the strength, we were supposed to learn as much about the case as possible. Each meeting was conducted by the Master’s programme convenor, who was ensuring that everyone complies with the time limit.

My own paper work had opened the whole panel session and was based on the topic: Sustainable Development Principles as perceived by States and Indigenous Peoples; Juxtaposition or equation?

By presenting my findings and answering questions I hopefully have inspired my young friends to deal with problems of our focus in that way that they get simpler and more likely to be solved when decently discussed at the very beginning with both sides- States and Indigenous Peoples to that extent that the common content is reached and sustainable goal fulfilled along with the sustainable process. To depict the conflict situation I have used the samples from laws of opposite sites: the UN document, the concept of sustainable development, 11 descriptions and Aboriginal the Crane and Crow story containing  twelve laws altogether.

Bobby presenting his findings

Bobby presenting his findings

After presenting all the papers and analyzing it all together, as the final conclusion of the course in Hiroshima there came the time for the role-play of UN. As the master’s students, me and Sam, we were chosen to different country groups to represent them and take care of their interests, attempting to influence the positions of other students.

Final Dinner at Hiroshima University

Final Dinner at Hiroshima University

SPONTANEOUS ATTENDANCE IN SAKE FESTIVAL

12th of August

Due to my fleeting illness, I had decided to prolong a little my stay in Saijo (just one day), which turned out very well, as me and one of the newly met Japanese friends, we had spent some quality time wandering or using bikes travelling around the Saijo city. That day was topped out by the Sake festival, where the local community used to dance and sing to karaoke and celebrate the tradition of producing  Sake out of local rice.

Saijo Temple

Saijo Temple

Sake festival in Saijo

Sake festival in Saijo

That event was complete surprise for us, as we were just passing by with bikes, but lured by some very tempting, pleasant and kinda hypnotic sounds, we decided to see what’s happening and we ended up sitting among celebrating and letting the memories grow in our heads.

Unforgettable!

Regards, dear readers!

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

I got to visit Tokyo!!!

Before me coming to Hiroshima to participate in the INU seminars, I got the chance to spend a couple of days in Tokyo. I have never before been in Japan but it has always been on my bucket list so it is quite awesome that I was given the opportunity to go to Japan a couple of days before the start of the seminars in Hiroshima.

I arrived on the 1st of August to Tokyo from Copenhagen and later that day Karolina was joining me. We hadn’t really met before, but luckily it was super great to have someone else to explore Tokyo with. A day later we joined up with Eren to walk around Harajuku and Yoyogipark. I really enjoyed Tokyo but it left me wanting more because 2 days is not enough time to really explore Tokyo and everything it has to offer.

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Hi From Hiroshima!

This will be our first blog post from us here in Hiroshima. We want to give you a short introduction to who we are and what this INU summer school is all about. We are 5 students from Malmo University that are coming from five different programs. The group consists of three bachelor students and two master students, and we are attending the same school, which is the Hiroshima University but two different courses.

IMG_2212

Here we are with our beautiful t-shirts representing Malmö Högskola.

From the left we have Eren Demirbas who is studying a BA in International Relations, next to him we have Karolina Piatkowska studying a MA in Leadership for Sustainability , then Heidi Dimon Djurhuus studying a BA in International Migration and Ethnic Relations, last to the right is Sam Pither who is studying a MA in Political Science: Global Politics and Societal Change. In the front we have Kajsa Gullberg studying a BA in English.

The INU programs overall is Global Citizenship and Peace, and this year the special focus is on the rights of indigenous peoples all around the world. We have different workshops where we get to learn about different issues that affect indigenous peoples in different parts of the world.

All the workshop will lead up to the final day of the UN Role Play where we all have different country groups assigned to us were we have to fight for the rights of the indigenous peoples of our country.

This is a great opportunity for us to meet students from all around the world, from Australia to Peru, and learn more about their perspectives on these issues as well. We are super happy to be able to experience such a different culture as the Japanese, and to also get an insight into how it is to be at a Japanese University.

You will be hearing a lot from us this week with posts about our experiences.

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?

sdg_cgiar

 

The French University system as I understand it

Salut!

I made it! I completed my last lecture at SciencePo Bordeaux today! What a strange feeling, the semester passed by so quickly. Feels like I just arrived a month ago but it´s already way more. Now I have two weeks to prepare for the exams and write one essay, seems doable. In this post I´ll talk about the french university system and my experiences with it.

Science Po is a grand ecole, so technically not a university but is very prestigious. As an Erasmus student it felt like a “normal” university, when you see how the program is for the regular students you notice a difference. There is no Bachelor/Master system, the equivalent to both is 5 years. Students have to apply and go to the entry test, I witnessed this last week, so strange to see all these kids and parents at uni. SciencePo does not offer a lot of spots, it´s highly competitive and to get in you have to have outstanding good grades (not that great, if so you would study in Paris). Also something strange: exams on Saturday mornings, I mean WHYYYY?? Students have a large choice of courses and usually do a one year exchange. They have “culture generalle” courses, where they literally learn general knowledge (extremely franco centric, never heard of some people that they constantly talk about, who´s that Gambetta guy again?). All other things seems rather straight forward and students do the same things as any other student does around the world.

Now to my impressions. I´ll have to disappoint you: I´m not impressed SciencePo!

I had rather high expectations. I knew that the French right insanely long exams, have a very strict structure for their essay and that they not the most academic (they don´t really get referencing for example). But overall I thought that I would be kinda challenged here. But no. At this point I actually have to praise Korea University, I learned a lot of things that I can apply in various courses. NEVER thought that I would think this way! In some way te French and Korean system is similar since critical thinking or just “thinking” is nowhere to be found. The professor does this monologue, students transcribe the lecture (WORD FOR WORD) and just reproduce knowledge in the exam. This is not how I imagine university to be and especially when your studying something as much contested (literally everything) you should be able to have some sort of opinion!

I talked to some people, and asked about their opinion concerning the education. The Erasmus students are disappointed and we all agree that our home university is way better. Other regular students praise that SciencePO are very well equipped for their masters and jobs, this is probably true just makes be even more concerned about the french university system (CAN IT GET EVEN WORSE??).

So overall,academically I haven´t received the quality that I had expected.

Now to some positive stuff, you wouldn´t believe it but there are some!

Some of the professors are excellent (!!!). Most of my professors are highly dedicated and really know their stuff. One of my profs did this phd in Somalia, such a rebel (warning: ambiguous for the sake of humor). Others just are hilarious, I always enjoy listening to the jokes of my french lecturer, he comments on everything in a very implicit way. I always have a good time, especially when he mocks French politicians. I attend lectures where I learn things which are relevant, where other points of view are presented and we have discussions. But somehow I feel like this is just in the English Track courses, the French ones are lecture-based oral. I show up to all the lectures, take notes (bullet points) and critically process what was just said. One professor really pushes through his own perceptive but he is very honest about it (“In my opinion…”). He always states that we can argue against him, ähm not happening in the exam, he´s very intimidating. I think of counterarguments in my head instead, practices your debating skills 🙂

Another great things, we only have finals and that´s it. No extra reading only recommended ones (and let´s face it NO one reads those). I have a lot of free time besides lectures to have fun and enjoy France, since I never go to the library as there is no reason to do so. The system requires you to go to the lectures (you should, since some professors don´t do ppts) and then revise for the exams at the end of the semester. Overall a pretty nice student life. No bug research papers that keep you super busy for at least a week like in Malmö. Most of the exams are multiple choice or orals (loves those).

Since I got finals coming up I´ll be studying and being productive (feeling like a real student). Probably gonna study in my room, since the library is under construction and it gets really noisy at some times.

Hope this was interesting. Maybe you´d love the french system, everyone as they please. I don´t however I love Bordeaux, my Erasmus and every day here. Could not have changed a thing looking back. Bordeaux was the right choice and it got me somewhere academically besides from improving my French: I realized that Malmö is awesome and that I will never ever study in France!

Have a great week!

Lena

Bordeaux Life

Salut!

I´ve been rather unmotivated to write something on my blog, apologize for that, however since the semester is coming to an end soon (SAY WHAT?), I feel like it´s time to make a little summary of the last weeks.

Barcelona

Those of you who read my last post, who had I was on Winter  break. After going to Paris, I went to Barcelona, with a short stop in Toulouse. Barcelona was great, definitively a place that you should visit. I stayed at a friends place who´s currently on exchange in Barcelona. I haven´t seen her for a while so it was great to catch-up and just be able to explore the city together. Since, I´m a hardcore tourist, she had to show me the highlights of Barcelona: Sagrada Familia, lots of other Gaudi buildings, the beach and the Monet museum. All the Gaudi things are insanely overpriced, but you absolutely have to go inside the Sagrada Familia. It is simply breathtaking! All the other things are kinda optional, dependent on your budget. A must is going to the Pintxos street, where there are only pintxos (tapas ) bars.For me Barcelona is a city to “live”, since it has a fantastic location (mountains and beach) and offers lots of great opportunities to have fun; whilst Paris is a city for culture and beauty. It was a coincidence that another friend of mine from Malmö was in Barcelona at the same time, we met in the evening. That was really nice. One day I met up with a friend from my exchange in Korea. She studies in Barcelona so introduced us to some very cool non-touristy places. It was great to see her again and also met her friends.

I went to Barcelona by bus, always via Toulouse. I met another friend in Toulouse, she´s on Erasmus there. It is amazing how many of my friends I managed to see in such a short time. Toulouse is a nice city, lots of cool tiny streets and some interesting spots (Bordeaux is way better though!).

After the awesome vacation it was back to uni.

Bordeaux

Spring has arrived in Bordeaux, making the city even more beautiful! Since it is warmer and doesn´t rain all the time I´ve been outside way more than the last months.

I´ve been to Cafe Darwin several times, it´s a hipster cafe in a former factory. Always a highlight. We have at least one picnic a week. Both the lake and the Jardin Public are great spots to have a picnic. Everyone brings wine and snacks and then we just chill and enjoy ourselves.

The fun faire was also in town for a month. I love roller coasters, so I was super excited. I did two rides with my friends. One was really extreme and very long ( the last few seconds were rather painful), with a great view over the city.

I´ve also visited St. Emillion. It is mostly famous for it´s wine and pittoresque center. It is very very small, so I advise you to go there around lunch time, eat something and then walk around. We went with ESN. We first visited a Chateau and saw how the wine was produced and later on walked around the city. It was a very beautiful warm day. If you´re in the area it´s a nice place to visit.

Since the weather is nice it´s way more fun to go to the markets in Bordeaux. There´re so many different ones, you can go to a market everyday. My favorite is the one along the river, which is mostly a food market (ready to eat). Marche de Quais is amazing. Especially the seafood is rather cheap and of a very good quality. Oyster lovers will be amazed. It is kinda touristy but so nice and lots of locals go there as well.

Over ERASMIX (Erasmus association) I got a really cheap ticket for a concert. It was at 11 in the morning and only for an hour. I liked it a lot since it was short and they played pieces from three different composers. I still haven´t managed to go to the Opera, which I definitively have to go before I leave. Just being in this beautiful building must be amazing.

Easter

Easter this year was very different to what I´m used to. It as the first Easter t hat I wasn´t home to celebrate it with my family. In France Easter isn´t really a big thing, the stores are mostly open like usual and I even had to go to university on Friday (never done that in my life). Most of my friends stayed in Bordeaux over Easter. We had picnics and did a lot together. On Easter Sunday I made an Easter egg hunt with my friends, that was so much fun and they really liked the German chocolate. With great company and fantastic weather, I wasn´t that sad that I didn´t spend my Easter at home.

Wine

I still go to the wine tastings every week (they know my name!). With my french class we went to a wine museum. It was interesting but by now I know where the Merlot and the Carbarnet Savignon grows and all of that. One night we were invited to a museum to celebrate the entry of Spain and Portugal to the EU, we obviously had wine from these two countries. It was nice, free wine and food. We had to dress-up and everyone looked super fancy. At first we were all disappointed since the speakers talked so much and we thought we would have a real dinner (sitting at tables, Buffet etc.). But the wine and finger food were really good so that your mood changed quickly.

Sorry that this post is kinda all over the place. I´ll write some more posts which are focused on specific topics, since I´m nearly at the end of my Exchange. I´ll reflect a bit on the university, the city itself and France in general. Hope you like this post anyway and will keep on reading my stuff.

 

Lena

 

 

 

Expectations vs. Reality III

This is the final post from me. I hope these few posts have been/will be helpful to anyone going to or consider going to Coventry University 🙂

Coventry is, as my British girlfriend very poetically put it, is ‘the armpit of England’. Nothing happens in Coventry. Besides, the entire town is just dirty, everything looks dirty and run down so there’s not really much to look at. The town closes down completely between 4 and 5 on weekends and then there’s Sainbury’s left that’s open, which is one of the more expensive places to go grocery shopping.

There’s nowhere really you can go for walks other than the center of the town which is all seen in less than two hours, not really any green areas and the closest cheap supermarket is 20-30 minutes away from the town center. All in all its not the most amazing town in England. Birmingham is only 20 minutes away on the train which of course is a big plus!

Coventry University hasn’t done a lot to welcome us exchange students. The induction days here was filled with short presentations about a lot of different things that weren’t relevant for Erasmus students at all (some of the people from Coventry even pointed it out themselves at the start of their presentations). A lot of the presentations were even aimed at Master students; however, most of the people that were at the presentation were Bachelor students.

There was no ‘get to know each other’ things at all during the three induction days, there wasn’t even anything like it after the induction days. All together I didn’t feel anything was done from Coventry University’s side to welcome the exchange students properly or to make the move to a different country easier.

All in all, the entire stay in Coventry has been a big let-down. Academically I haven’t gotten anything out of this term, and had I known it would be like this I wouldn’t even have applied to Coventry. I feel like I’ve wasted a term on this, instead of doing some better, more academically challenging courses back home at Malmö University. And I know I’m not alone with this feeling.

If you want some easy credits and to stay in a pretty regular and boring English town for a few months, Coventry might be something for you. But if you want to learn something useful for your further education, then Coventry isn’t the right place. Sadly.

Expectations vs. Reality II

Continued from my last post 🙂

I have six exams all together in my three courses and the longest of them is 2500 words. I spoke to some of the British students and they told me that this is the longest paper they have ever had to write – I’m doing all second year courses.

Some girls from my child language class even tried to have the deadline moved, because “three weeks aren’t enough to write 2500 words” … I was shocked when they first started pushing the teacher to move the deadline. However, they tried at three different occasions to get him to move the deadline. I’ve never experienced a bigger lack of respect for a teacher than this!

My exam in Short Story Workshop is also very different from anything I’ve ever experienced. We have to write a short story about anything we want. There’s no instructions at all, just that we have to write 2000 words, any genre and any theme we want.

Furthermore, the teachers give us feedback through the entire process. One of my teachers sits down with us, reads our entire story and gives us feedback on it. This is BEFORE we hand it in as out final exam in this class. It seems very strange to me that they are allowed to read our exam paper and correct it before the deadline.

I have spoken to people and heard from my friends about other people’s experience of Coventry University. People from other universities in Sweden, from Korea, France, The Netherlands, Germany and Spain, and everybody has the same experience as me. My Korean flat mate said “I haven’t learned anything” about my Shakespeare class. My flatmate from the Netherlands has started to view the entire stay in Coventry as “a long vacation” and spends a lot of time going on trips.

Other people are, like me, just waiting to go home, simply because there’s nothing to do here. There’s not a lot of school work, the town in pretty boring, and there’s not endless money to spend on traveling.

When I first got accepted into Coventry the choices I had when it came to accommodation was VERY limited, I could only choose between two places – Singer Hall and Priory Hall. One catered and one self-catered, however, both without en suite.

I chose Singer Hall, because it wasn’t catered and I wanted to be able to make my own food and not feel bad if I went out for dinner sometimes (on a side note it should be mentioned that catered only includes breakfast and dinner Monday-Friday).

Singer Hall is placed just outside the city center, but everything is still only 10-15 minutes away. I’ve really enjoyed living at Singer Hall up until a few weeks ago. Most of all it just looks like a residential area on the outside, it doesn’t scream student accommodation which is really nice! We have a cleaning lady coming 2-3 times a week sorting out the shared areas and most of the time it has been pretty quiet.

However, a few weeks ago the people living above me started making crazy amounts of noise from around ten at night until somewhere between one and three in the morning. I have several times called security, as it ONLY happens on school nights never in the weekends and it has resulted in me missing several lessons, simply because I don’t sleep.

Security does absolutely nothing. If they can’t hear anything when they open the front door to the flat upstairs they just leave again. I’ve spoken to the reception about it, still nothing happens. It has now been going on for basically every night in around a month and no one does anything. It is driving me and the other girls in my flat insane!

Another bad thing about Singer Hall, is the fact that they switch off the heat several hours during the day, it’s starting to get warmer outside so it’s alright now, but back when I first came here I spent the evenings wrapped up in my quilt because it was absolutely freezing. It is printed in our welcome papers that they switch off the heat, so there doesn’t seem to be much that can be done about it. Nevertheless, It gets really, really cold at times, so if you’re coming to Coventry in the Fall term bring some gooood jumpers!

… One more post to come! 😀