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.

busy days, or rather, weeks

I realise it has been ages since I last updated. And a lot have happened since then. I have been busy with not only school, which to be honest isn’t that hard here in Thailand, but also with travelling. This blog post might be quite lengthy in the regards that it has been a while since last update.

Let’s start talking about the school, Rangsit University, here I am reading 5 courses all in the spectrum of communication arts, not really the same line of subject as I study at Malmö, which are linguistics and literature, but rather courses regarding the field of mass communications. If that makes sense. Then I also have a class in Thai language, as I am indeed in Thailand and knowing some local lingo really helps you out. Three of these courses the level is ridiculous low! Like I could compare it as first year in upper secondary school, if even that. The “lectures” last for about an hour out of the scheduled three hour block. The teacher read from a printed out power point and give tiny extra explanation to those. And that’s it. For the midterm in one of these courses, Introduction to Mass Communication, contained 4 basic questions that took me 10 minutes to answer and for the other course we were to have a presentation about the elements of journalism. So I had prepared a power point, being ready to present in front of the class, something I am always dreading. Came to class and turned out I just had to sit in front the teacher and read straight from my notes. Although I like this professor, he is this old Thai man, who used to be a journalist, whom have terrible English, but always wants to talk to me about Sweden. Last week he asked me where I was from, and I said “Oh you probably don’t know, but a small town called Timrå, just north of Sundsvall” whereas he replied with his broken English, “I’ve been there, when I was young and handsome! Haha, and ice hockey!” He is so nice and fun. But now I’m getting side tracked.

Then there is a photography class, which I enjoy, and where we every week get a homework to take some specific photos. It’s an easy going and fun course. Then the last course is Principles of Public Relations, a course I didn’t think I would find that interesting, but my course coordinator here, Dr Ten, really recommended it since they have invited a guest professor for this term, so I choose that one as well. And I must say, I do not regret it at all. It is by far the best and most interesting course! The guest professor is an Australian woman (oh how I have missed that accent) whom been teaching all over the world, as well as working in PR for years. She’s so engaging, passionate and so present. Probably one of the best teachers I’ve had. Finally a course that hold the standard of higher education. After have gone half of this course, it has gotten me really interested in working within PR, something I’ve never thought of before.

Now let’s move on to travelling and what I have been up to when I’ve had time off.

Firstly I went on a trip with the Rangsit international collage department, called the local wisdom trip. Basically most of the exchanges students this term along with some Thai students that’s part of the buddy program came along. We took the university bus early in the morning for about 3 hours out to nowhere, thanking back now, I sadly can’t remember the name of the place. Here we started by getting in small boats along the river, where we were to plant some mango tree in the mud. And not mud like on the ground on a rainy day, but like mud so deep it reached my upper thigh, almost my hips at some places. That was fun and terrifying. Me with my bad balance I almost fell down so many times, but was able to stay up with the help of branches and other steady people’s hands. One guy in our boat filmed this experience, so will try to insert his video if you’d like to have a look. Then we got in to the boats again and drove from the river out to the open but calm sea. We stopped by an open house out in the middle of the sea for lunch. After lunch it was time for some water sports, such as kayaking, swimming or doughnut after a jetski. I did the two latter combined with some tanning on the deck. The doughnut though, so much fun! My partner even fell in the water and had to climb up again which isn’t the easiest thing to do when wet. After a few hours we went back to the mainland, for some more water games, this time in a small water adventure park. Totally spent we went back around dinnertime, but due to the heavy traffic that Bangkok is mournfully blessed with it took longer than it should.

Next trip was to an Island owned by the Thai Navy called Samea San Island, and where you can’t get to unless you have a Thai person driving you. I went with Theresa and her Thai buddy Mellie and her friends. We drove there early in the morning and when arriving, it was like paradise! White fine sand beaches with crystal clear water. And barely any tourists, like seriously Theresa and I were the only non-Thai people there, ha-ha! In the evening and back on mainland we went to a night market and had a few beers at a traditional Thai bar. The next day we went to another navy owned beach, but this one much more popular with the tourists. As usual I got burned, even though my devoted use of SPF 50+. There is no escaping it for me, those damn red pigments I was blessed with.

The weekend after that Pattaya was on the schedual, and for the sole purpose of the Maya Music Festival. Pattaya being famous as Thailand’s sex trade city, isn’t really something for us, and us being me and four Finnish girls, but who can resist a good house music festival, with a sick line-up only 3 hours away eh? So we had rented this apartment away from downtown Pattaya in the more calm and family friendly Jomten beach (I think it was called). The festival was amazing! Can’t wait for Summerburst this summer in Stockholm to experience the feeling again. Next two days was just spent relaxing by the pool and a brief outing to Pattaya centre for a quick look and a well needed greasy pizza.

Next stop, Ayutthaya, the previous capital of Thailand. A city filled with old and broken, but amazing and majestic architecture. Me, two Finnish girls, Riina and Laura, along with Riinas brother that was here for a visit, rented a tuk tuk with the driver to drive us around to all the old temples and sites that needed to be seen. It all took 4 hours and was amazing, so much history in this place. If ever in Bangkok, I truly recommend going there as it’s only about an hour away.

The day after that I went to Hua Hin by myself to get some relaxing by the sea. Here I didn’t do much then enjoying the sun and sea. One evening I went to a night market and bough some bargains and had a glass of wine at a Swedish bar. My first time speaking Swedish face to face to someone since arriving to Thailand.
Went back to Bangkok and spend most of the weekend in downtown Bangkok along with Riina, her brother, Laura and her friend who was here for a visit too. We among some things went to the JJ market, the biggest one in Thailand, picked up some clothes and a small handbag. We also visited Khaosan Road, a must for tourists for a massive dinner along with some cooling cocktails. We also visited the famous rooftop bar located on the 64th floor in the Leuba hotel. This rooftop being famous from Hangover part 2. The view was nice and all, but the drinks were ridiculous overpriced. A simple Whiskey Sour costed almost 200 Swedish kronor! Which everywhere else in Thailand would be like not even 50 kronor. And there were nowhere to sit, no chairs nor any tables. So we took some photos, drank our cocktail and left.

Next trip was the one I’ve been looking forward to ever since I found out I could actually re-enter Thailand on my single entry visa, by simply applying for a re-entry stamp. Hong Kong! With my love for big cities, this was so exciting. And I can safely say I love this city and will try to return sometime in the future to explore more of the city. We had a bit of unlucky with the weather, it was foggy (which to be fair HK is famous for) a bit rainy and for us cold with mare 15 to 19 degrees, and coming from 36 degrees, brrr cold! Every day we were out walking and exploring for 12-14 hours. Since it was so foggy, we couldn’t go up to Victoria Peak, which is a park up in the mountain that is supposed to offer an amazing view of the city. We went to a museum, ate Chinese food, did some shopping (hello new converse shoes for more than half the price in Sweden!), went to an Irish pub and was caught in a swarm of drunk British guys when they found out we were Nordic. Stumbled on a show of traditional Chinese dance. Not to forget to mention, everyone spoke English, and good English, which was nice for a change! But yeah, 3 days was not enough for exploring Hong Kong.

Moving on to less interesting subject of weather. It is starting to get hotter and hotter now. And I am not liking it. Today we had 38 degrees in the SHADOW, which in the sun feels like 45, with a humidity of 60%. Five minutes out and I am sweating. Gross. And hotter it’s going to get next month. Would it have been the dry heat that I had in Australia it would have been fine. It is the humid and sticky air that’s killing me. I was sitting outside of the international service centre today, and on one of the tv’s on the wall a video from a Thai girl’s exchange in Sweden started showing (they show videos of places to get more people to go on an exchange) and there were a bunch of photos of snow and autumn, it made me really miss Sweden and to be able to dress in layers, cosy jumpers, coats and big scarfs. I am having a great time here, but yeah wouldn’t mind going back just for the cold!

That’s all for me this time. Have a good day wherever you are,
Sara

“Let’s go get lost. Let’s go get lost…”

Hi from Coventry!

I have not been writing here for so long!

Actually, I have been quite busy lately. I had two course papers to submit this week. Also, I somehow managed to catch so-called fresher’s flu twice, and, of course, I was travelling.

This time, I am going to cover the part about travelling around the UK.

I guess when people decide to go on exchange, they do not think about the education in a chosen university or country only. Culture, history, places to visit, various attractions, food, etc. also play a significant role when selecting a destination for your studies.

IMG_3991Well, at least for me it was the case. When I was choosing a place to go for my exchange, I was also considering how interesting it would be to live in that country. As I love travelling and exploring new places a lot, I wanted to go somewhere where I had never been before. That is how I ended up adding the UK universities to my exchange studies application. I thought that it would be amazing to live, study, and travel in this country for a few months. Must say, I was not mistaken!

IMG_3988It has already been almost 2 months since I moved here. And I have already managed to visit quite a few wonderful places in England. Coventry has a very good location. It is right in the middle of England. So it is really easy to travel from here, and it does not take that much time to get to different parts of the country.

Alright….

The first trip (except the one around Coventry) I did in England was to Birmingham. But that one I already covered in my first post, so not going to write about it again :D.

DSC_0156The first weekend after I had arrived in England I went to London! I was absolutely excited about going to the capital. I went there by coach with a company that organises trips around the UK for students. It was a very short trip, though. We left Coventry at 7am and were back at around 7:30pm. The ride took approximately 2,5 hours, which with all the traffic jams in London was not bad at all. As it was my first time there, I wanted to see all major tourist attractions. First, we had a short guided tour around and, then, had a few hours to explore the city on our own. I met 2 girls on the coach, so we decided to explore the city together. (These 2 girls later became my travel buddies and good friends, too.) That day we saw Westminster Palace with its famous Elizabeth Tower that has Big Ben on it, Westminster Abbey, guard change at Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, Somerset House, Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London Tower, Tower Bridge, and the London Eye. We did not use any public transport that day, just went on foot. After walking around so much, we got on our coach and headed back to Coventry. That day was amazing! The weather, my company, everything was perfect. And, of course, I fell in love with this beautiful city of London!

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Only a week later I went to Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon by coach with the same company. The first stop was in Oxford. We went to Christ Church there. A very lovely place, which could be of a great interest to all Harry Potter fans because some of the movie scenes were filmed inside it. We also saw that famous university of Oxford. Looks nice and very old! However, in order to get in, you have to pay. So we did not go inside. We also walked around and did some shopping for souvenirs.

 

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In the afternoon, we headed to Stratford-upon-Avon. The town is quite small and very cosy! The most famous thing there is a house where William Shakespeare was born. So if you consider yourself an admirer of his work, then it must be an interesting place for you. I personally enjoyed visiting both towns.

 

And the next weekend, we went on a day trip to Cambridge. One more town famous for its prestigious university. We visited Fitzwilliam museum, one of the university buildings, saw a Mathematical Bridge, and went punting. It was a lovely day in a lovely town!
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In the middle of October, I went to London again to do more sightseeing and to celebrate my birthday.  But that time I got to spend 3 days there, so I managed to see and do way more things. I was also well prepared that time. After having had consulted with a couple of my friends on what were the must see and do things in London, I created my own itinerary.
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So very early on Friday morning I took a train to London. The trip took only 1,5 hours. The first day I did not see many new things in London. I went to see Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Tower Bridge and Westminster again but this time in the evening, when the illumination was on. So beautiful! Also, I visited China Town and had some Chinese food that day. It was really good!

 

On Saturday morning, I headed to the National History Museum. It was fascinating! So many wonderful exhibits. And the building is stunning. Later, I passed by Harrods (for those who do not know, it is a very fancy and ridiculously expensive department store). I did not buy anything and felt quite weird there. 😀 Later, I checked out Covent Garden, went to London Film IMG_4986Museum that was holding an exhibition “Bond in Motion”. As you can understand from its name, the exhibition was dedicated to James Bond films. 23 vehicles that were used in the films were exposed there. After the exhibition, I headed to see MI6 building. (You can see a connection between this place and the exhibition I guess. :D) I took a few photos and moved on. By then it was already getting darker, so I decided to go to Westminster to enjoy the sunset and the beautiful view there.

IMG_4973I started Sunday at the Brick Lane market. There I got myself a birthday cupcake and a smoothie :D. Later I checked the surroundings and found lots of amazing graffiti there. The next place on my list was the British Museum. The museum is enormous! There is so much to see. I got tired after 2 hours there so decided to move on. The underground train took me right to Camden Town – a district with a vibrant atmosphere that is full of various markets, interesting stores, music venues and numerous food places. I had sort of dinner at a street food market there, and also bought a small souvenir for myself. In the evening, I planned to go to the London Eye. So after finishing my meal, I headed back to the city centre. I was super lucky because the queue for the tickets was pretty short. The view from the top of the IMG_4987London Eye was fascinating! It definitely was worth the money!

So, that was the last thing I did in London during that trip. So the next morning, I got on a train and headed back to Coventry for my afternoon class.

 

DSC_1271My next trip was to Liverpool – the Beatles city. We saw Museum of Liverpool, Titanic memorial (the ship was assembled there), World Museum, Liverpool Cathedral and went to the Beatles shop. This city was a bit different from all other places that I had visited before. Still it was really nice.

 

DDSC_1278uring the Halloween week (yes, in England they seem to celebrate Halloween the whole week) I went to Warwick Castle with my English friend that I had met in Sweden last year. Warwick is situated only 40 minutes away from Coventry by train. So again, it was really easy to get there.

The castle was built in 1068 but it is still in a very good condition! It was also nicely decorated for Halloween. We went to the Dungeon there to listen to the history of the plague in Britain. It was kind of a scary place, I must say. But we had lots of fun.

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And the last trip I went on so far was to Manchester last weekend. We checked out the Football Museum, Manchester Cathedral, very beautiful John Rylands library, Town Hall, and went shopping. We also wanted to see the stadium but there was a game that day. So we did not dare to go there.

 

That’s it for now. My next trip is going to be to Stonehenge and Bath this weekend. I’ll write about it here later for sure. Guess it’s going to be fun.

Thanks for reading!