Hallow….een

No need for an introduction, Halloween was…a disaster! My costumes was a success (Betty Boop) but my friends and I ended up wandering the streets IN HIGH HEELS trying to find a club that wasn’t packed, and later that night, a bus that wasn’t packed. We ended up getting KFC 5 mins before closing time, then waiting for a bus for 2 hours and finally taking a taxi. :/ DISASTER!

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Hectic September!

Soooo… Back again after a busy month of parties, exploring the city, meeting new people and building friendships, and of course studying *wink wink* No seriously 🙂 studying!

I managed to get sick twice so far, along with most students living in the halls. The nightlife here is amazing which makes it difficult to get sufficient rest.

I’ve been doing quite well on the nutrition front, eating healthy and going to the gym regularly.

salmon & veggies

gym

I’ve been to the beach :D, actually swam in the sea, it was so cold that my body was numb and it felt amazing (I think I just realized why i got sick!). My lovely French friends and I have also been to Arthur’s seat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur’s_Seat), we climbed all the way up and had a picnic at the top followed by a choreographed dance to “dancing in september”, footage of that might be revealed someday in the future. I have to mention that Mel B from the Spice Girls was in a (what i think was) a festival tent outside just a few meters from the beginning of Arthur’s Seat, I only realized that after we had gone up and was too lazy to run back down to meet her! 🙁

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picnic

picnic

Made it to the top

Made it to the top

Arthur's Seat

Louis

Axel

Louis

at the beach

So far I’ve baked twice for 2 birthdays, and cut 3 guys’ hair. Fun fun fun!

Charline's Bday

my friends

Axel's haircut

Haven’t had so much time to see my baby sister 🙁 I’ll hopefully get to see her more soon assuming my life won’t be as hectic.

I haven’t managed to get to any skateparks yet 🙁 I’m dying to though so as soon as I get a day off and it happens to be sunny I’ll go out and skate.

Oh yeah, one more new thing done, I went to Musselburgh Racecourse for research for one of my courses (Marketing Research). I’ve never seen a horse race live before, it was interesting and quite fun 🙂

Musselburgh Racecourse

I’ve joined the football team and cheerleading but since I’m sick I’ve only managed to show up one time for each. I’ve also applied to do some volunteering with sports. Time time time! Need more time. And MONEY! I need a job… :/ TIME!

Wow I’ve written over 400 words so far 😀 which reminds me that I have an essay of 700 words due next week!

I’m a blogging correctly?!?! :s /Dania OUT!

Queen Margaret Uni

The Parliament

Pub Crawl

Harry Potter

J. K. Rowling handprint

New beginnings: moving to England

Before coming to Newcastle, I knew nothing neither about the city nor about the country (I have never been to England before). It was also a choice of the university, not the country. I haven’t thought about the left-sided traffic, and I didn’t even consider the charming British accent I have never been too fond of anyway. But then it actually came to arriving at Newcastle upon Tyne. My idea was to take courses related to journalism, which I recently became passionate about, in order to gain more knowledge in this field than studying English Studies in Malmo University could provide me with.

This blog is not a fresh experience, as I have been writing one for some time (and still am). However this one will contain posts concerning my life in Newcastle: my new experiences, insights into the British culture, as well as the local Geordie culture, student life, events and anything else I will get excited about. I am hoping to write 1-2 posts weekly so that this blog accurately reflects my new experiences and adventures in the area. Suggestions for new posts are always welcome, so feel free to do that as well, if there’s something in particular that you want to know.

As they say here in Newcastle, cheers!

p.s. Even though I love taking pictures, my camera broke just before I came here, so all pictures in my posts will be from the internet. However, I am hoping to get a camera soon, so hopefully they will start to appear in my posts soon.

Five days to go!

newcastleuponI can’t believe these are my last five days in Newcastle. It all went incredibly fast and I feel like I wanted to blog more; I should have blogged more. I have so many things to say, so many blog posts drafts started and never finished, so many ideas on what to write. Without wanting to sound cliché, time was, and is, not on my side. My staying here was never boring and I was always occupied with doing something, that being either studying, seeing places, talking with my family and friends, hanging out with my housemate, etc.

My exchange here exceeded all my expectations. I will continue to blog about this until I won’t have anything to say. I will go back to all my drafts and write about the places I loved visiting, people I’ve met, things I’ve learned (because I’ve learned a lot especially about myself). I feel like I’ve grown to be more responsible, more tidy, and definitely more confident. Living in a foreign country where you start with no friends and no idea where the train metro is, brings out the best and worst in you. And then you have to choose between being afraid of going out of the house or just go out, ask questions, get responses, make friends, and get going. There is no choice, really. You have to do these things. Personal growth will not give you academic credits but looking at things in the long run, it’s the main thing one can gain from an exchange semester.

Right now I am wrapping up my affairs here. I have one essay to finish and hand in, and one sit-in exam and then it’s all done. Then packing, crying, saying my goodbyes. Then taking my plane to Sweden, doing more crying, this time out of joy (because as great as this was I do miss my home, boyfriend, friends, etc.). I can’t believe Monday I will meet my three best friends who I’ve missed like I’ve lost my limbs. All I’m thinking is if they will find me changed, if they will understand how much this meant for me, if they will still like me. I wonder if this is a common thing that runs through every exchange student’s head before they go back home.

My plan for my blog is simple: keep on writing. I want to write about the things that have been great and not so great. I would love it if prospective exchange students would read my blog and find interesting information. I want to write about the things I would have done differently and about the things that I’ve done well. The do’s and don’ts. I’ll try and write relevant advises for anyone considering applying for an exchange semester.

I don’t think I will have time to write anything until Friday when I will officially be done with my exams. So I guess this is goodbye, England. You’ve been magnificent. Goodbye Newcastle University. You’ve been one of the most inspirational places I’ve ever stepped in. Goodbye exchange semester. You’ve been one of my best (if not the best) decisions in my student life.  And Sweden: Vi ses snart!

The Magical City of York

Just three weeks to go until I leave this amazing city and am finished with my all too exciting exchange in England. This week I finally decided to do a little tour in this beautiful historical city and capture the “magic” it clearly has. So on Wednesday as it is my day off, I took my phone and my crappy little digital camera (which wasn’t much of a use) and went for a hunt for some nice pictures. Times like these I really miss my SLR camera (damn you, thieves!). Nevertheless, I will let the best pictures I managed to capture with my little Samsung Gio to say it all. So here it is- my own little Game of Thrones!

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London

1424310_10152054122888792_1577068181_nThis week we’ve had a reading week which means no classes. I was a good student enough last week and did all my assignments to not feel guilty of going to London for a couple of days. I left York on Tuesday morning and got back on Thursday. One whole day was perfectly enough to see all the main sightseeings in London and meet up my friends. Luckily my childhood friend/neighbor from Finland studies there, so I had a place to crash for these two nights.

On Tuesday night, my friend and I just strolled in the Westfield shopping mall and ate some Chinese food. We also passed the bridge that played an important role in last years London Olympics. I didn’t know much about it, but my friend had worked there last summer and enlightened me on that.

We woke up really early on Wednesday. I had written down a whole list of places to go and see, so we were determined to finish off the list by dinner. We took the tube (that’s how they call metros here lol) to Waterloo Station and started off from the London Eye. The Eye was way bigger than I had expected. It was also more expensive than I could afford, so I settled only with the pictures for this time. Passing the London Eye, we walked along the South Bank and had a gorgeous view on the the Parliament House and Big Ben. The sun was shining warmly and the day seemed to be favoring us.644511_10152054118253792_1637446164_n

We crossed the River of Thames and got to the other side where Westminister Abbey was welcoming us with a garden full of poppies for the Remembrance Day.

1466194_10152054121103792_1332035486_nBy noon, the weather was extremely nice and warm, so we decided to walk to the Buckingham Palace through St James Park, which was quite close to the Westminister. I was looking forward to see the changing of the guards at the Buckingham Palace. Once we got there, though, for my disappointment the change in autumn is only every other day. I took some pictures and figured I could just come back tomorrow before my train leaves.

I couldn’t have left London without going to Notting Hill, so our next stop was to go and find the famous blue door from the movie “Notting Hill”. It used to be my favorite movie of all times, so needless to say how excited I was was we arrived there. Looking for the door took us quite a while, on our way we actually found the bookstore (also from the movie) first. They had closed the bookstore and now had a shoe store there instead. We passed the market, also noticed well in the movie, and decided to turn back as we realized we had probably missed the door somehow. It wasn’t until we got to the very corner of the street (our starting point) when I suddenly saw the nr 280 (according to Google that’s the one). It was exactly as I had remembered it from the movie. It definitely made my day 🙂

Mr. Grant was not home

Mr. Grant was not home

Our last stops for the day were Trafalgar Square, The National Gallery, Picadilly Circus, Harrods and Oxford Street. I didn’t know much about Trafalgar Square apart the lion statues. Because of the gorgeous sunny day, there were a lot of tourists and British youth sitting on the stairs leading to the gallery. We peeked into the gallery for 15min and saw an exhibition about saints. It would have taken us until the night to see all the floors, so I was happy enough to just take a quick look of the paintings on the first floor. It reminded me the Art Gallery in DC, but I guess most of the art galleries look the same.

I have been to Picadilly Circus before, so we didn’t stop there for long. Instead, we headed to Harrods. I had never been there before and wanted to go in and see the fancy place I have heard so much about. I was determined to buy something and found the cheapest thing in the sweets store. After paying for my strawberry cream fudge, I was ready to leave the store, happily holding on to my green bag saying Harrods on it.

Before meeting my friend for dinner, we also stopped by Oxford Street which was totally decorated for Christmas already. It was full of people running their Christmas errands and for just a second it really felt like Christmas 🙂

537095_10152054132388792_1981470499_nOn Thursday I was determined to go back to the Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guards. I was happy I did, because it turned out to be Prince Charles’ 65th birthday and the guards were on fire lol. They fired cannons in the Hyde Park and played different ABBA songs for his honor. So ironic, feels like Sweden is haunting me wherever I go. It was definitely the coolest things of this trip and a great end for these three days in London.

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I am back in York now and school starts in 2 days. I only have 4 weeks left until I leave, so unbelievable how fast time has gone. It makes me rather sad to think about leaving, but then again, it would be nice to be home for Christmas before I need to go back to Sweden for my last semester.

I am planning to go and explore more of York next week, haven’t even been on the wall yet. Until then, cheers!

 

Hallowscream 2013 in York Maze

For the past 2 weeks, I have worked at the York Maze for this Halloween event called Hallowscream. It basically means that each week from Thursday to Saturday, the maze changes into a Halloween spooktacular where people come and get their scared off of their pants lol. I am part of the team of freaky clowns, scary zombies and other freaks. It has been such a fun time working with all these amazing people. The doors are opened at 6 pm, so we need to get there around 5 to get our make-up done and costumes on. I have probably one of the best characters to play- the three breasted lady lol. There are different houses with different themes and I am obviously at the freak show. Next to my cage I have a fellow freak the Elephant Man. There is also the fortune teller, werewolves our lovely ring-master and a couple of zombie, soldiers and victims are scattered in the maze behind our tent. The people (audience) who come each night is so diverse at this is really the best part of the day to see their reactions. Most of them want to take a picture with me and even though they are not allowed to touch me, 80% of them do. A couple of nasty comments from guys, some naughty little boys, a lot of mentioning of “Total Recall” and some offended oldies is a every day thing. It’s definitely a too fun experience to call it a job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it, ey! Today is our big Halloween night, looking forward to what it has to offer 🙂

with my fellow freaks

with my fellow freaks

Hallowscream 2013

Hallowscream 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

Besides my job at the maze, school has been great as well. I’m still enjoying my courses and have managed to find enough free time to enjoy the societies. Basketball society had a fresher’s party last week which was a lot of fun. We were dressed as farm animals and the second and third years were are farmers. Long story short, it all ended in York’s biggest and newest nightclub called Kuda.

Basketball Fresher's Party

Basketball Fresher’s Party

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week is a little special for York as a city as well. There is this gorgeous event called Illuminating York that takes place form the 30th until the 2nd. As I will be working all these days, I went to see some of it yesterday. It was exactly the same like we had in Sydney in May. Basically, the whole city is in lights and the most famous buildings have different light shows on them. It really is gorgeous!

 

That’s all for now, but it’s never boring in York so until next week 🙂

 

Assessments- same, same but different.

99Back at MAH (Malmö University), my assessments in two years of university have been divided in essays, sit-in exams, and presentations. Sometimes a portfolio makes an appearance but this has been pretty much it. I’m sure this can be very different depending what people are studying, but I will try and only talk about my experience. At Newcastle, things revolve around the same things: a presentation here, an essay there. However, there are certain differences in how this is executed.
You know…same, but different.

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Armstrong building, where I have some of my courses. Yes, I know-amazing!

Yesterday I did my first (and last) presentation at my adoptive university. It was the first time I felt extremely confident about presenting. I’m not the type of person who takes assessments lightly. I don’t have the que sera, sera attitude. As a matter of fact, I get really nervous days before, thinking of all the worst case scenarios that could happen. This paranoia, although annoying to the people around me, helps me in a way. Having all this extremely bad scenarios in my mind, reality never proves to be as bad as I paint it in mind. I always do extensive research, much more than I would need to serve the purpose of a ten minutes PowerPoint presentation, so no question can ever take me by surprise. And they never really do. I’m always super early at school just in case the planets align that day and clog the traffic. And I’m never late. Things like that. But for this presentation I was there only ten minutes early, had a nice chat with the teacher before, started my slides, went through them very naturally, even affording myself the luxury to crack a joke or two on the subject of my presentation. And it went well. So how come? Why did I feel so confident about it? I think it has to do with what happened a day before. The teacher encourages us to come see him in his office and go through our presentation, tell him what we want to do, ask for advice, etc. I did that and I felt extremely confident knowing that I’m not blindly jumping in something like a twenty minutes presentation without knowing if I’m really on the right track. Of course after doing so many presentations back home I knew I was on the right track, but reassurance works wonders. Also, something interesting about the whole thing was the fact that it was an individual presentation (YES!) and not mandatory. Now, this is the different part. In this course, we could do a twenty minutes presentation only if we wanted. If we did it, it would count as 30% of the grade and we would have to write a 3000 words essay as part of the last 70% (due late January). If we decided we don’t want to do the presentation, we would have to write a 4000 words essay that would count as 100% of the grade. It’s debatable which would be the “best deal” but I can tell you that an hour seminar is much livelier with a presentation.

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Original KCACO poster at Barter Books Bookshop. Yes, I was there. Yes, I find it fitting to this post.

Another interesting type of assessment that I will go through in December is a so-called individual presentation that is really nothing like it sounds. It is in fact a debate, done within a pre-established group, but graded individually. The teacher gives us three topics. We choose one and end up in a group with the other people in our seminar who also chose that topic. So we have the group. That group can meet as many times as it wants, or be spontaneous (and insane) and just go to the debate the day of the assessment. There, we have twenty minutes to talk about the subject. This can be as staged as we want it to be. We can have meetings before and script it, knowing who speaks when and what, so we don’t create chaos and talk over each other. If we want to talk more than twenty minutes we can have friends in the audience asking the questions we couldn’t fit in our time. Even though this is a group debate, it is graded individually. Even if you don’t say a thing at the debate, the teacher assigns 3 minutes for every students to say his/her own conclusions on the matter at the end so everyone gets to talk. The grade is all about the quality of what you say rather than the quantity. To me it sounds a bit chaotic at the moment, but I’m sure things will clearer with time. Next seminar we will do a mock debate and see how things will go.

The essays are the same everywhere, except the style of the house is Harvard, not MLA. It seems to be much more official though. To submit an essay I need to submit it online and as a physical copy that needs to be stamped by the department secretary before I can drop it in the teacher’s pigeon box. I also get a receipt as proof that I submitted my work.

So far my courses are going really well, I am very pleased with my decisions. Next assessment is on the 7th November, a case study for the (amazing) Advertisement course. So I guess I should go back to my research now…

Have a nice weekend everyone!

The Lake District

Another great week has passed by with a lot going on. It’s definitely been a busy week as school has officially started and there is no limit on readings. Nevertheless, I have managed to find a steady balance between studying and having fun, and so far it has worked out fine 🙂

Last weekend(well actually 2 weekends ago now), the International student group organized another trip for the exchange students- the Lake District. I had heard so much about it and was really eager to go. Before I could be fast enough and make up my mind, the tickets were sold out. I was quite bummed, but figured I can still do it by myself some time in the future. As it happened, one of my friends had bought a ticket in advance only to find out that she had to go back home to Spain for that weekend. Lovely as she is, she was more than happy to give me her ticket and with only half a day notice I was getting ready to go to the Lake District

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The ride there was quite long, almost 3 hours. On our way, we stopped at this little village where the poet William Wordsworth had lived, and written most of his poems. It was lovely little place with hills on horizon and sheep in every corner. We took some pictures of Dove’s Cottage- Wordsworth’s home and circled the houses nearby.

When we finally arrived to Bowness next to Windermere(the largest natural lake in England), the 3 hour ride was all worth it. The lake was gorgeous as well as the the bright green hill tops caressed by sunlight that you could see from every direction. It really felt like a magical place, no wonder Beatrix Potter and Wordsworth had been fond of it so dearly.

Peter Rabbit heaven

Peter Rabbit heaven

As a poor student, there wasn’t that much to do to be honest. We didn’t want to spend a lot of money taking ferry rides, nor did we pay for the extremely expensive entrance to the Peter Rabbit world. Instead, we settled with a picture with Ms. Potter and decided to visit all the Peter Rabbit stores we could find. I don’t know about the other girls, but I loved it!

To finish up our day more adventurously, Asma, Alina and I decide to rent a rowing boat for an hour. We were so nervous in the beginning and I personally wasn’t sure if it was the right decision. Happy to say, it was the best decision of the day! We had so much fun and saw the whole lake with a way better view than from the shore. The hills were just marvellous as the sun was about to set and the water was opalescing in our direction. We took some great pictures and truly enjoyed our time on water. I also found out that I am a hell of a good rower 🙂

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Visiting the Lake District was definitely something I would recommend. Probably nicer in the summer time, but hey, if you have the chance, don’t hesitate and go in any season, you won’t regret.

A whole week and 2 days have past since Lake District. Mostly school and reading, but also getting a new awesome job at the York Maze. I have been playing a freak/zombie for the past 3 days now and scaring people out of their socks lol. It has been so much fun and definitely the coolest job I have had so far, but I post more about it in next week’s blog.

Cheers!

Greetings from Newcastle, United Kingdom.

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Newcastle University. King Edward VII building.

Today I have been in England for one week and three days. I travelled to Newcastle filled with fears, hopes, dreams, and big plans, all in one suitcase and body. I wanted to write my first post Tuesday, when I was in England for exactly one week but sometimes it’s not that easy. I tried my very best to write something but I kept deleting everything after only a couple of paragraphs. I wanted my post here to be smart, witty, funny, and inspirational. Instead, I think I will just go with honest. So here we go…what I honestly did in my first week in England (ever).

My flight went well and uneventful. Upon arrival, while waiting for my luggage to appear,  I kept repeating the words “ please don’t lose my stuff, please don’t lose my stuff, please don’t lose my stuff” like a mantra. I guess it worked since they didn’t lose my stuff. They lost my colleague’s.

That day I also learned that I should always read the fine print. The Meet & Greet service that promised me someone from the University would come and pick me up was apparently available only for the students who arranged accommodation in the University owned rooms and houses. That, as you may have guessed by now, was not my case. Fortunately, I have the best housemate and landlord ever, and she was more than happy to come pick me up from the airport. When we got home she told me I had mail waiting for me. “Well, that’s weird” I said. But weird was not the right word to describe it, since amazing is a much better fit.

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My letters and cookies that helped me through my first (cold) night in England.

The mail was a small package from my best friends in Sweden, in which they each wrote a letter with all their good wishes for me as well as baked me 4 cookies. I’ve read the letters my first night in England thinking I have the best friends ever. I will miss them terribly but I was happy to know they were glad for me and thought it was a good idea to spend a semester abroad. This small package made of paper, cookies, and good thoughts, is a memory I will always have of my first night in England, when freezing in my bed, I learned how much I am loved and missed at home. Oh, and the cookies are gone. Yum!

Last week was just filled with introductory meetings meant to give us, international students, an idea of what to expect, where to go if we need help, etc. I can honestly say I can find my way around the campus with ease. Everything seemed overwhelming the first few days but after a while you see the logic in things and start to function just like any other student. There are maps of the campus and signs everywhere; and, if that fails, the people are more than happy to give you directions. Which leads me to my next point….

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View over the South Africa War Memorial and St.Thomas Church.

Geordies! Geordies are the people of Newcastle, the friendliest on Earth, the most funny, the best. They speak a very distinct dialect of English called Geordie. It’s Scandinavian influenced (those Vikings…), which makes any Swedish speaker go crazy about it (Ok maybe not every Swedish speaker but it sure interests me).It’s frankly quite fascinating and I hope I will have time to learn more Geordie and write something about it here. The people here are very proud of their heritage and I think they should. Geordies are very funny and welcoming. As a matter of fact, this region is well known for the hospitality of the people here and I sense this every day: when I shop, when I ask for directions, or when I go to a lecture. It’s just a natural wittiness and friendliness they have about them that I love. Sure, people are very nice in Sweden also, but this is another kind of nice- this is a funny, cracking jokes kind of nice. Lovely!

I got to go a bit in the toon, as Geordies affectionately call the town. Newcastle is extraordinary. There is something for everyone and I have a long list of things I want to do. The Millennium Bridge and the Tyne Bridge are amazing, and I want to go see them at night, since they apparently give a spectacular view. Tons of lovely shops and pubs everywhere, and I like to take  a walk before going home through the main street, Northumberland Street, and just window browse or go in and take a look inside a bookshop.

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The Millenium Bridge and The Sage music hall.

Teaching starts next week and I am looking forward to start my classes. Being a tourist is very nice, but I didn’t forget why I’m here in the first place and I’m so excited to see my teachers, hear the first lectures, attend the first seminars, and generally get into the skin of a student abroad.

 

 

Looking at this page, it seems my student-abroad-writer’s-block thing passed, so I am looking forward to report back from the lovely Newcastle Upon Tyne. See you soon!

P.S: My colleague’s luggage has been found and sent back to her. We both have winter clothes now and are having a terrific time.