Bye Coventry, England

My Erasmus exchange semester in England has already come to an end. Actually, I am writing this from home. A couple of days ago I took my last exam at Coventry University and flew to visit my family in Russia before going back to Sweden to continue my studies there in a few days. Now, as I have a very short break before immersing in a new semester, I decided that I should summarise my exchange studying experience shortly.

It is quite strange to realise that my exchange semester is over. Four months flew so fast. Without a doubt, I enjoyed living and studying in the UK a lot.  It surely was an unforgettable experience. I travelled a lot, learnt many new things, met a few nice people and, hopefully, grew personally. I will cherish memories of my adventures for the rest of my life.

In my previous posts I managed to cover highlights of my semester. In my last post, which was a month ago, I wrote about my plans for the winter break holidays. During that period, I travelled a bit more. I flew to Ireland for a few days. There, I stayed in Dublin and made 2 day-trips to the Cliffs of Moher and Belfast, Northern Ireland. Then I went to Scotland again for Christmas. I stayed in Edinburgh and also went on a trip to enjoy breathtaking views in the Highlands. I was back in Coventry for the New Year’s Eve. After that, the exam period began. The exams were alright. Of course, preparation time was quite stressful and not fun at all. But in the end, I believe that I passed everything. So I left with a clear conscience.

I am very grateful to Malmö Högskola for giving me this great opportunity to do exchange studies and share my experience on this blog.

Thank you for reading! Take care!

Hello Winter Break

Hi, are you alright?

The time flies so fast. Yesterday I had my last lecture at Coventry University. Unbelievable! So probably it is time to write some sort of summary of my semester here. Although, it is not over yet, I am not leaving. I still have to take 3 exams in January. But before that I have 3 weeks of holidays that I am going to spend travelling, celebrating, and (hopefully) revising for my exams.

I have already written a few posts about travelling around the UK. It probably made some of you think that I did not really study here. 😀 Well, I did. In fact, I had 4 assignments to submit, among them were two typical essays, one book review, and one group wiki.

There was nothing special about the essays and the book review. I would say, they have pretty much the same requirements here as at MAH. But group wiki was something unusual, something that I had never done before. It also was a group assignment. We had to create a wiki page (something very similar to a real Wikipedia page) about a specific topic. It was not hard to do the assignment from a technical point of view. Everyone in the group had access to the wiki from their own computers. The platform used for it was not tricky to understand either. The only difficulty concerning this assignment was connected with agreeing on how to do it. Because all people in my group were from different universities (all exchange students) with different ideas how to write and present information, we had some disagreements. But I guess, it is a normal part of group work anyway. However, this definitely was not my favourite assignment. Anyway, we managed to make a more or less decent wiki in time. 😀

Apart from submitting those assignment, I also had to attend all my lectures and seminars, which I did. As I already told in one of my previous blogposts, they track attendance here. So it is very important to go to all your classes.

As for the exams… As I have already mentioned, I have to take three. One for each of my modules. I will have to write two essays in two hours for each exam. Two of the exams are going to be unseen. So now I just have a list of 10 topics for each one of them that we studied during this semester, and have to revise everything. The third one is going to be a seen exam. I already have a list of questions, so can start writing my answers.

To sum up shortly, I cannot say that I liked all the modules that I was taking here, but in general it was okay. Not always the classes were interesting and well-organised. But nothing is perfect. I still feel like I have learnt a lot here. And that is what matters, right?

Alright, let’s leave aside the studying part. Yesterday we also had the last party of the semester. It was a Christmas party. But it was also the last day in England for my best friend here. So we went out together, had fun and said bye to each other. It was sad. Farewells always are… It is just an integral part of exchange studies, though. Making friends and then saying goodbye. But isn’t it amazing how people can become good friends in a very short period of time. Of course, not everyone will stay in your life after it. But nowadays technology is everywhere. So it is very easy to keep in touch with your exchange friends even after you go home. People just need a desire to do that!  Those who want, will always find a moment to call or text their friends. Distance is never an obstacle for true friendship, right? And how wonderful will it be to reunite one day. Well, what I am trying to say here is that you should go on exchange. It will be hard and sad sometimes, but most of the time it will be a fantastic experience.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading!

Trip to Stonehenge and a Weekend in Scotland

Hello!

Last time I posted here, I mentioned that I was going to visit Stonehenge and Bath. So that trip happened a couple of weeks ago. Also, a week after that trip, I made another one. As it is obvious from the title of this post, the trip was to Scotland, where I spent 3 days.

Stonehenge

IIMG_5819 believe that there is no need to explain what Stonehenge is. Most people must have heard or seen pictures of it. At least it is considered as one of the most famous sites in the world. 😉

This trip was organised for students by the same company that I went on a few trips with before. It took us around 2,5 hours to get to Stonehenge by coach. We had pre-booked tickets, so as soon as we arrived there, we went to explore the site. The ticket to Stonehenge includes an audio-guide and a bus ride from the visitor centre to the stones. Unfortunately, visitors are not allowed to come close to the stones. So we had to enjoy the view from about 10 metres distance.

IMG_5747Stonehenge is probably not the most exciting place to visit in Britain, but I really enjoyed it. So I would recommend going there just to see it with your own eyes.  However, I must say that it looks bigger in the pictures. 😀

We were given around 1,5 hours to explore Stonehenge, which was enough to walk around, take pictures, and even drink a cup of hot chocolate in a local cafe. After that we headed to Bath, which was only around an hour ride away from there.

 

Bath

IMG_5820This town is named like that because many years ago the Romans found hot springs in that area, so they decided to build a temple and baths there. That is how the settlement appeared in that place. Nowadays, the town has a few wonderful sights. Among them are the Roman Baths, the Pump Room, Bath Abbey, Pultney Bridge, the Royal Crescent, and the Circus. My friend and I did not go inside the baths because the tickets were quite expensive, but instead we took a stroll by the river, visited other sights, and had lunch in a local restaurant. After a long and exciting day, we headed back to Coventry.

Weekend in Scotland

IMG_6696Accommodation and transportation for this trip were arranged through the same company as my previous trips. So the only thing I had to do was to find interesting places to visit and create my own itinerary. Also, I should mention that all together, we were around 270-300 students from Coventry, Birmingham and Warwick universities going on that trip on 6 coaches.

Day 1 (Friday)

IMG_5879We left Coventry very early on Friday morning. The plan was to go to Glasgow for a few hours to do some sightseeing and then head to Edinburgh in the evening. It took us a little bit less than 8 hours to get to Glasgow.  We arrived there around 2pm and were given 3 hours of free time to explore the city. I joined a group of Dutch girls to walk around the city together. We went to the Gallery of Modern Art, checked out George Square, which is the main square of the city, passed by the university, visited Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis. The last two places impressed me most of all. The cathedral looked amazing and the view from Necropolis was fantastic.  After that we returned to the coach and continued our journey to Edinburgh.

IMG_6698When we arrived in Edinburgh, we found out that the hostel that was booked for us was just horrible. The windows were broken almost in all rooms there and everything was extremely gross. But we could do nothing about it. Good that we had to stay there 2 nights only. After 2 hours of confusion connected with allocation of the students, I finally managed to find a free bed in a room for six. After dropping my stuff in the room, I went to have dinner in Italian restaurant with those Dutch girls. Also, a club night was scheduled for that day. So at night, we all went out to have some fun in a club in the old part of the city.

Day 2 (Saturday)

DSC_1779In the morning we were offered to follow a 1,5-hour guided tour around Edinburgh. I really doubted that walking with 200 more people would be a good idea (as it turned out later, I was right!), so I decided to explore the city independently. First, I had breakfast in a café and, then, my long and exciting day began.  I went to St. John’s Episcopal Church and walked in Princes Gardens, after that I climbed up Castle Rock, where Edinburgh Castle is situated. The view from the Rock was marvellous, and I immediately fell in love with the city. Then, I paid for the ticket and IMG_6652entered the castle. On the territory of the castle, you can find a few museums and follow a guided tour. I visited almost all museums there, took many pictures but did not follow the tour. After 2 hours of exploring the castle, I decided that it was time to get going farther. Following the Royal Mile (the main street in the old town), I walked down to the Scottish Parliament and Palace of Holyroodhouse (the official residence of the Queen in Scotland). I did not pay to get in, just examined the palace from the outside. After that, I decided to go hiking in Holyrood park, which was nearby. The main sight in the IMG_6582park is Arthur’s Seat, which is a peak of an extinct volcano in Edinburgh named like that after numerous legends about King Arthur. The height of the peak is 250m. Getting to the peak of Arthur’s Seat was my goal, so I started my journey up there. I have no idea how much time it took
me to get to the top, maybe 30 minutes, maybe an hour. I really do not know, I was so overwhelmed by the view as I was getting higher and higher, so I was not paying attention to anything. When I got to the peak, I was on my last breath but it was definitely worth it. 😀 The view from up there was breathtaking! I could see the city and its surroundings in full view. I took around 500 pictures there and spent more than an hour on the top. But then, the sun was slowly setting, so it was also time for me to start getting down. When I got back to the DSC_2406old town, I found a restaurant to have dinner and rest a bit. It was still quite early to go back to the hostel then. Therefore, after finishing my meal, I decided to explore the city in the dark. Eventually, I found myself at the Christmas market. It was huge. They had a few attractions and many various stalls with souvenirs, sweets, drinks and street food. I indulged myself in a glass of mulled cider there. The atmosphere at the market was fantastic, it gave me a feel that Christmas was already around the corner.
When I felt that I had seen everything and taken enough photos of the place, I headed
back to the hostel to meet the others because a bar crawl was planned for that night. We went to 3 different places and ended up in a night club. After the whole day of walking I was too tired to party, so I left everyone and went to sleep.

Day 3 (Sunday)

IMG_6686I woke up quite early on Sunday. I did not have too much time for sightseeing that day because we were supposed to meet at 3pm at the hostel to get on our coaches and head back to Coventry. So in the morning I passed by the Christmas market again, bought a cup of hot chocolate for breakfast there, and continued my trip to Calton Hill, where Nelson monument is situated. This hill also provides visitors with a great view. So I let myself walk around and enjoy it. Later, I went down to the National Museum of Scotland, Grassmarket, and St. Giles Cathedral. After visiting those places, not so much time was left until our
departure from Edinburgh, so I decided to eat something. Before I went on that trip, one of my friends had recommended me IMG_6697one nice café in the old town, so I went there. I also bought postcards to send to my friends and family before that. So I signed them as I was enjoying my cup of hot chocolate in the café. After the lunch, I walked through the city once again, dropped my postcards in the mailbox, returned to the hostel and got on a coach.

DSC_2577The ride back was not smooth. Halfway to Coventry, the coach that I was on broke down, so all people from it had to squeeze into other 5 coaches. I was lucky because I had a seat, but a couple of people had to stand in the coach all the way back to Coventry. We came back to our town around midnight. Tired and happy I got to my room already dreaming about my next trip to Scotland.

Thank you for reading!

“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!

Studying at Coventry University

Hello!

After a couple of weeks of classes at Coventry, I can finally tell something about the education here. In general, educational system in Britain seems to be quite similar to the one we have in Sweden but, of course, it has some differences. So in this post I will try to provide an overall overview of what it is like to study @ CovUni.

Same as in Sweden, students don’t have too many classes a week. Students are expected to complete most of their studying in the library or at home using books and online resources. Most students here are supposed to take up 3 modules that make up 30 ECTS in total. Everyone (at least among exchange students) is free to choose modules that they would like to study, and then they have to complete their timetables themselves. However, unlike Sweden, where students have different timetables each week, here it’s fixed and doesn’t change from week to week. Students just need to choose their modules and complete timetables wisely in order to make the most out of their exchange studies here. (For example, I completed my timetable the way that I always have Fridays off, which is wonderful because I have long weekends so I can travel. 😀 )

All modules at my faculty consist of lectures and seminars that take 4 hours of guided studying a week – 3 hours for lectures and 1 hour for a seminar. So students have to spend only around 12 hours a week at the university. During lectures all you have to do is to listen and make some notes (you don’t even have to write a lot because lecturers always have all important information in their presentations that are available online). There’s no discussion or questions from a teacher at the lectures, so students are not expected to say anything. Also, documentaries or other movies might be shown during the lectures. However, they are not followed by any discussion. Seminars are, on the contrary, very interactive, therefore everyone is expected to contribute to a discussion. Also, students usually have to prepare some readings or perhaps even some sort of a presentation for this kind of classes in advance. Some students might also find field trips in their timetables but, unfortunately, they are unavailable for the Erasmus students (apparently you have to pay for those in advance).

Exams… Well, it’s too early to talk about them now, I guess. All I know is that I have to write course papers for my modules. Most of my course papers are due the period of time between the middle of November and the beginning of December. Other than that, I will also have traditional in-class exams in January. But I think I will write about it in more details when I know more about it. 😉

Semesters here are shorter than in Sweden. Studies for autumn semester usually start in the beginning October and finish in the middle of December. Then students have a three-week Christmas holidays, that are followed by a two-week exam period that lasts until mid-January. After that spring semester begins. But already in the beginning of May academic year is over.

It’s worth mentioning that attendance is a very important thing here. Students must attend all lectures and seminars. Teachers literally check if you’re present or not at each and every lecture or seminar. In case a student misses several classes, he will come across some problems with the university staff. (So far I have attended all my lectures and seminars, so I don’t know what exactly they do to those who skip classes. Hopefully, I will never know about that by my own experience :D)  It feels a little bit like being at high school, though. Well, students can do nothing about it, so we just need to make sure to always sign a registry form when we go to a class. In case a student gets sick and unable to attend a class, he or she should notify a teacher about it in advance in order to avoid problems.

Despite all the hassle with attendance tracking, the atmosphere in the classes here is pretty informal. (Just like in Sweden.) Teachers often joke around and may talk about everything with students. Also, the staff here is very international. Coventry teachers are coming from various countries from all over the world.

I guess, that’s it about education here for now. Just one more little thing about my studies here. During the first week of studies, one of my teachers decided to change timetable for his module which led to a clash in my timetable. So I had to withdraw from that module and pick something instead. Unfortunately, I’m not taking Journalism anymore. Instead, I’m following a history module (The Making of Modern America) now. The new course seems to be pretty interesting as well.

So I guess, everyone should be aware of unexpected changes that might occur even after the beginning of a semester and look for some other modules to have a backup plan just in case 😉 .

Thanks for reading! Have a fantastic day and don’t forget to apply for exchange studies!

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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kfc

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! 🙁

swans

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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

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!

 

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!

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.