Things I learned studying (&living) abroad in England… My last post

Bailey’s Café and Tearooms, located on 7 Museum St across the street from the library. Credit: from the café’s Facebook page.
The place is neat and cozy with lots of natural light coming from the big windows, and the food is delicious. Their Cream Tea is my favourite.

I promised in my first post that I’d give you an update on the café that was recommended to us by the Student Union upon arrival, and let me say it is wonderful! I’m passing that recommendation along because it ended up being the place I went to more than any other place beside university. I’d be there multiple times a week and took friends and family for a break as I was showing them around York. Ok, back to the article.

It is few days until Christmas in a long year of mostly staying where we are. I see the irony of posting about boarding an airplane and going abroad in the middle of a pandemic. But, don’t you think that is exactly why it is good to talk about it? To hope for an open world again, to be able to move freely, or at the very least, escape a little, and talk some clichés.

“Learn a new language! Improve your job opportunity! See the world!”… etc. If you were to ask for a good reason to move abroad for few months, there’s a good chance that one of these answers above would make an appearance. While all these reasons are plausible in the general sense, I always felt that there was something missing, and I think it’s because the real benefits are in the little things that change slowly, but steadily. From my experience, an opportunity to go on exchange should not be missed for these reasons:

People are equal… but different.

It could be that I was part of the English program —which many international students pick— and went to England —a distinctly diverse country— for my exchange semester, but encountering people with varied backgrounds has been one of my favorite things about my experience. I’d classify myself as an introvert, so by no means did meeting different people mean lots of high-energy activities. Instead, I loved the quiet conversations, exchanging stories about where we grew up and what we used to do in our free time.

The Student Union’s café became part of a routine. Every week, Monday 5-7 pm was always reserved for activities and meeting friends I did not share classes with, and getting to know new people.

While underneath everything we all share an undeniable humanity, getting to know how the differences between mine, my friends’ and acquaintances’ circumstances have shaped a unique journey for each of us is nothing short of refreshing. It was like new life perspectives just few conversations away. The weekly meetings we used to have at the Student Union’s café were especially great, and something I looked forward to every week, because the chance to sit with new people and get to know them is something we can’t just order online or routinely have in the background. It always felt fresh, and that made the hard parts of moving, such as missing family or feeling homesick and far away, feel easier.

Of course, we can’t overlook the hassle of moving countries, which turned out to be even bigger and messier than I thought it was going to be. Documents to print, fill & send, visas, lots of back and forth emails, etc. It gets hectic, but despite it all, I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat, and I hope you do too, because you come alive seeing the world with a fresh eye when you meet someone who’s different from who you know back home.

The added responsibility of living alone is not that bad

I found the new routine of having to do everything myself to be freeing, since it allowed me to make my own schedule and fill it according to how I wanted, instead of being a burden. That part of being independent is probably what surprised me the most, since I thought it needs adapting, but found it so automatic. Of course, if you already live on your own in Sweden then you’re familiar with the situation, but if you’re not, don’t worry. You may find it to be the least of your worries. It really is true that what you may think is the problem turns out to be trouble-free, and what you thought is easy ends up being complicated (like getting the paper work done).

The benefit on your CV from having an international experience will show on your face first.

When you come back, it’s true that having been abroad benefits your job opportunity, but why skip ahead. Have you ever been next to someone who has just come back from a trip or travels a lot? Then this situation will sound familiar. They start talking about it and couldn’t stop. From the journey to the airport until they came back. The flight, the hotel, the food, the buildings, not sparing a detail. And you wouldn’t want them to, because you see their faces light up with excitement as they speak that they just take their phones out to show you the pictures and videos they took.

That’s what you get living abroad. Except it’ll be more than just few hours worth of conversation. You’ll remember things at random and text your best friend about them immediately, and other things that will stay with you when you come back. I remember I took a spontaneous, day long, why-not roadtrip to Yorkshire Dales with my cousin when she came to visit once, and to this day it’s one of the best days I had that I speak of often. We were a small group and had a great driver who told us fun information about the places along the way and took us to the best places that he knew from experience. Also, I tried Yorkshire Tea for the first time in a little café in York and now that I’m back home I get mine from The English Shop in Malmö because I don’t drink any other type anymore (don’t laugh). It may sound like these little nuggets are trivial, but I’d argue that they are memories in the making, and in today’s world, these seem to be worth increasingly more. Don’t miss out on them while you can.

Little dinky cafés such as this are the most unique thing; every place has its own design.
This was in a little village we stopped at during the road trip.

■ The journey will end, likely faster than you think.

The way I know this is both funny and heartwarming. It was during an afternoon lecture of one of my favourite courses that I studied. We were working individually like we had gotten used to for the previous few months, when the teacher suddenly said “Ok everybody, thank you for these past few months. I wish you the best in the future. Finish your work and pack up because, as you know, today is our last lecture”; I was so taken aback that I thought he was either joking, or speaking metaphorically, that we wouldn’t have more lectures but would surely still come to class for, I don’t know, practice or a seminar? Nope. Last class; finito. I felt like time was stolen from me, and then had a laugh that I actually wanted the course to go on for much longer, which is a weird feeling if you’re a student —a creature who never wants classes to go on for long—. I realised at that moment that I had been so present I lost track of time, and that York’s journey has ended. Bittersweetly.

Just like this one. We’ve come to the end. This is my last post and it’s been a wonderful journey being an editor on the site. I learned a lot while trying to put this adventure in writing, and I hope that the pieces entertain you and help you make an informed decision about going abroad. Say yes, take risks and live your best life. Good luck! 🙂

Mafaz

x

The Shambles

Let’s be honest: no one likes to read about boring history, but this street is one you’ll want to know the story of (and maybe potentially visit? 😉 ).

I should preface by saying that it’s been a long time since my last post. I came back to Sweden at the end of Summer and thought I’d do one last post about the city. My time in York is officially over, and it has been one of the greatest experiences I’ve had; one I will look back on with a big smile. So, I thought a great way to end my documentation of the trip is a post about a quintessential York attraction; The Shambles street.

The street is rarely this empty, so I felt really lucky to be able to catch this picture one early morning. 🙂

The Shambles is an old street that used to house butchers’ shops. It’s all in the title, as Shambles is actually an Old English word that meant “a place for slaughtering animals”. Resembling a meat market, the street was the location in which animals were slaughtered and made ready for sale. Cut to now, and the street does not even have one butcher’s shop, but has instead become a tourist attraction that is almost never empty. What’s more, if you’re a Harry Potter fan, you might recognise it because it’s the inspiration behind the great Diagon Alley! How fun?! 🙂

The street is divided into 2 parts. The street itself and the Shambles Market. The street is ideal both for shopping or to simply walk along it and look at the shops and the intricate little items they sell. (Being the inspiration behind Diagon Alley, there are 5 Harry Potter-themed shops in this little street alone, and that’s if I haven’t forgotten one!)

I was very lucky in that I passed The Shambles every day on my way to uni, so I grew a connection to it. Early morning class and I’m barely awake? I passed it. Afternoon class where tourists filled the shops? I passed it. Finished class at 5 pm and it’s pitch black and cold in the Winter? check. So many memories, and it feels great to have lived with it as part of my “normal” for few months instead of experiencing it only few times.

The Shambles Market runs parallel to the street and has everything from food stops to clothing and art stands, and even a small farmers’ market that especially sells fresh produce on Saturdays. It’s great for buying some vegetables and fruits but really more so you can feel like you live in the countryside as you fill your shopping bag with what you know is local and cannot be gotten anywhere else. 🙂

A little farther down the road there are two shops that caught my heart; Hebden Tea shop and Minster Gate Book Shop. Hebden Tea has few more shops in the city and aside from having a wide variety of teas to choose from, they always have some brewed tea to try while you pass. I don’t think I’ve ever passed without trying what they have. Especially good on a cold day. 🙂

The Minster Gate Book Shop has the coziest feeling a shop can have. It’s small and radiates warmness, and although the books are organized in broad categories, they are for the most part placed randomly, so you discover as you go. It brings back the feeling of being “lost” in literature, and spending a long time flicking through different books, many of which you haven’t seen or heard of before. There are books on the shelf, on the floor and along the steps as you climb up the stairs. If York has the feeling of going back in time then this shop best expresses that feeling.

There are more shops that can be mentioned (the vintage jewelry shops along the street, the sweets shop making great-smelling fudge every morning, or the little shops selling tweed scarves and hats to make you feel like Sherlock), but we’ll be here all night, and I wouldn’t wanna tell everything, since words can only match the experience so much 🙂 So I’ll wrap by saying the cold of Winter was balanced by the warmth and beauty felt as you walk in The Shambles with a cup of hot chocolate, or if it’s Summer and too hot, then the ice cream from The Market will make it a worthwhile trip still. All in all, to say it’s a must-visit is an understatement.

Mafaz

x

Activities at JMU

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

JMU group picture

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

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

Kings Dominion

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

U.S Capitol (Washington)

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

The graduation party with two of our teachers

James Madison University Cross Cultural Program

What is a typical day at James Madison University?

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

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

View on Harrisonburg, Virginia

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

The main building of James Madison University

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

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

JMU Logo

Whitby

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

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

Collective picture taking of the view.

The view being pictured collectively. 🙂

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

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

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

Thank you, Whitby! You are beautiful.

Mafaz

x

International Student Conference 2019 in Bandung, Indonesia!

January 11, 2019, Bandung

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

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

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

Delicious Indonesian cuisine

January 12, 2019, Bandung

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

One of the cultural activities, dancing!

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

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

Dr. Johan Holmgren receives a certificate after his lecture.

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

January 13, 2019, Bandung

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

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

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

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

January 14, 2019, Bandung

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

Group photo outside the Area Traffic Control Centre!

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

January 15, 2019, Jakarta

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

Preparation of the Amazing Race in Taman Mini Indonesia Indah!

Explore the culture and the area!

January 16, 2019, Jakarta

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

One of the tunnels soon in operation

Presentation of the MRT Jakarta project

Tanjung Priok Port

January 17, 2019, Bandung

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

Taman Mini, Jakarta

Dr Mert Tokman on Global Supply Chain Management

Bandung

January 18, 2019, Bandung

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

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

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

Liverpool

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

Our first stop was the beautiful Liverpool Cathedral..

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE yellow submarine, guys! 🙂

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

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

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

Mafaz x

Student Union activities

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

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

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

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

Then we were quizzed on everything British, with a  pretty good prize; tickets to a trip to Liverpool the Student Union was arranging. With the efforts of my teammates, we won. Yay! (post about the trip here).

On  feb 4th we celebrated Chinese new year with a quiz about Chinese traditions and a lantern-making activity. Safe to say it wasn’t easy for me, but the thrill of doing something new that introduces you to a new culture made it very entertaining.

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

Then just couple of days ago we had a Viking event because it is Viking week at the time of me writing this. We had pizza (doesn’t fit the theme but I think the Vikings missed out) then watched a video about Ragnarok, the ancient Norse apocalypse. (for more info of it you can watch the documentary Thor: Ragnarok by Marvel Studios. Not too dissimilar. 😉 ).

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

Next up, Liverpool!

Mafaz x

Hello from York!

Hello, everyone!

Welcome to my first post. My name is Mafaz; I study English Studies at Malmö University and as I write this I am currently in York, England for the first semester of my two semesters with elective courses. Has anyone been to York before? The university I’m in is called York St John’s University or, as it’s been dubbed, Hogwarts. 🙂

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

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

Some of us had been to York before but others not. I had absolutely no expectations; I hadn’t heard much about the city, which actually worked in my favor because I felt very present when I arrived. I was seeing something completely new. The first week was all about helping us get settled. We had a 2-hour walking tour around town by the Student Union’s staff, where we got to know the city and write down some tips for places to check out and eat at. Walking around the city made me feel like I was transferred back to the 1400s, very unique.

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

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

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

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

The details are mesmerizing!

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

Mafaz x

INU Summer School – Hiroshima 2018


Cecilia, Yara, Greta and Eman

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

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


Eman, Greta and Yara outside an arcade in Tokyo

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

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


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

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


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

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


Hiroshima


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

Working and eating with our country groups!


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

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


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

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

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