Category Archives: Student Blog

Ready for the Riviera! … I think

me rock

Hello any travel-loving people reading this!

I’d like to introduce myself: I’m Stephen, I’m a college sophomore, I study Math and Finance, and I come from the sprawling, metropolitan oasis of technological advancement that is New Hampshire (Haha. It’s a joke.)

I’ve only ever left the US one time to travel the “courageous” 200 miles to Canada. So I’m kind of nervous to travel the 3,000+ miles to the French Riviera. That’s like 15 times farther. I’ll be travelling under the CEA program, and I’ll be studying at the SKEMA school of business right outside of Antibes. I’ve looked it up on Google maps street-view and it looks awesome. Seriously.

Right now I’m slowly knocking things off of my “To-do” list I made back in April, and I’m down to ‘pack yo stuff’ and ‘go to the dentist.’ Besides those, my passport is fresh, my visa is stamped, and my ticket is booked. But don’t let me fool you; there are a TON more steps for study-abroad preparation: getting a phone, canceling subscriptions, checking in with your bank, exchanging currency, buying adapters, researching the town and country, etc. Not to mention actually learning the native tongue.

I took French in high school, so I only have a loose grasp on the language. Thankfully, none of my classes will be taught in French. I plan on trying to immerse myself with the French culture through the food, local bars (I’ll be legal in France! If you’re reading this, sorry Mom!) and restaurants, and especially the beaches. Did I forget to mention that Antibes has 16 miles of coast on the Mediterranean? Beaches all day, everyday (another joke, calm down Mom.)

But in all seriousness, I do plan on giving 100% effort with my school work. I’ve given up on Googling “differences of French and American college classes,” and I’ve come to except that I can’t really know what to expect. The only truth I know is that there’ll be billions of differences and all I can do is try and absorb, learn, and explore them.

My top worry isn’t actually the differences. Right now, it’s the packing. How many bags should I pack? Am I packing too much clothes? Not enough? My Google search results have been battling each other between the two points of “You don’t want to be over-encumbered by all of your bags! Only pack the essentials.” versus “You only need to carry your bags for a day, so take whatever you can carry! And keep room for trinkets to bring back.” I’m sitting here, with my scale balanced on both ends, having no clue which side I should agree with.

But enough about worries. I’m obviously excited to experience a whole new culture, and I’m also looking forward to meeting my roommate with whom I’ll be sharing a nicely furnished apartment. Our apartment will be a stone’s throw away from the sea-front, and it is located on a street that hosts a fresh-foods market everyday. I probably couldn’t ask for more. Except for a dryer; we have to use clotheslines.

Well, I think that’s enough pre-departure worries and excitements. By the time my next post goes live, I’ll be living in the sunny Riviera. I’ll be sure to include a ton of pictures, thanks for reading!

-Stephen M Dicillo

Hello all,

Two weekends ago some friends and I went to Chengdu for our three-day independent study weekend. Chengdu is a great city. It’s cute and clean and warm with a lot of cute coffee shops and shopping streets. We all instantly loved the city, even our friend that kind of hates China, loved Chengdu. She also thought she hated tofu but it turned out there was, in fact, a tofu for her! (I’m a big tofu fan so I counted this as a slightly personal victory.) In Chengdu we went to Le Shan Da Fo (乐山大佛) which is a mountain that has the world’s largest stone Buddha. My friend Alex and I were the only ones who wanted to wait in the really long line to see the Buddha from the base of the cliff and it was really incredible, I love the pictures from that day. Definitely one of my favorite things I’ve seen in China!

The second day we hiked Emei Shan (峨嵋山). It was really foggy, so in the way of a view there wasn’t much. However, when we were hiking up to the Golden Summit (and I had done no prior research) but I was thinking you know, “Goldennn Summit” pff yeah right. But then we got to the top where there was a HUGE, GOLDEN, multi-headed, Buddha statue and temple. It was really beautiful and a great surprise.
The third day we saw…PANDAS! They are just as cute as you would imagine. The zoo is huge and looks more like an ecological/botanical park than a zoo. It was also super cheap for a whole day in a beautiful park with pandas: only 58RMB for the student entrance fee which is less than $10. The panda’s enclosures are very open, they have low fences and the pandas have a lot of space to roam or just sit and eat bamboo. There are also peacocks that have free range of the park. One flew from a tree and landed right next to us, we all flipped out.

About our upcoming trip! We just finished one of our four big Chinese tests and tomorrow we are heading on a two-week field research trip along the ancient route of the Silk Road! This is organized by the Alliance study abroad program and the Silk Road is the theme of our study abroad program in Xi’an. I’m really excited about my capstone paper for the Silk Road class. For my capstone I decided to focus on Uyghur music (an ethnic Muslim minority group in China concentrated in the Xinjiang region). I’ve started my research and the literature is so interesting on Uyghur music! Most of the articles have to do with how the PRC appropriates minority music for political purposes through state-sponsored concerts and how this affects the image and identity of many minority groups by exoticizing and even feminizing them. On our trip I hope I will have the opportunity to talk to some locals about Uyghur music and maybe even see some live Uyghur music performances. Foot Hand Fish Panda1 Panda2 Peacock

Our itinerary looks amazing. We will be visiting old oasis towns in both Xinjiang and Gansu province.  A really broad outline:

First stop is to Dunhuang to see the Mogao Grottos and take a sunset ride on camels (ahh! :0)
Then it’s to Urumqi for some hiking, a mummy museum and a cultural exchange with local college students.

Then Kuqa to visit Xinhe, a musical instrument artisanal village. Then we’re going to a desert and a forest (in the same day).

Then to Kuqa’s Grand Mosque and Grand Bazaar and afterwards to Tianshan Shenmi Canyon.

The next day we will go to Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves and the Subashi Ruins (these are desert Ruins of an old Buddhist temple).

We will then make our way to Aksu for a visit to Tianshan Shenmu Park and dinner with a local farmer family. Then back to Urumqi! To see the Xinjiang Grand Bazaar and then back to Xi’an.

I can’t wait! Will post pictures when back in Xi’an!

China1China2China3

These are pictures from the few days we were in Beijing. As a group we went to the Hou Hai lakes and explored one of the remaining Hutong neighborhoods which surround the lakes. The Hutong’s are neighborhoods of old, one-story, traditional houses and travelling through them gives you a feel for what it would be like to live in ancient, dynastic Beijing! We navigated through the neighborhood’s narrow alleyways in rickshaws and were able to have a homemade meal in one of the Hutong houses. It was delicious! The remaining Hutong neighborhoods are being preserved as most have been destroyed due to new construction projects. They are also big tourist attractions and around the lake are some really fun shopping/eating centers. The lakes are also absolutely gorgeous and it was great just to take in the scenery there :)

 

Crystal Wegner

 

Current State of the Union at Bond University

67851_10151898885213587_881143379_n

So far there are two days that have stuck out as extremely culturally different: Australia Day and the Superbowl. January 26th was Australia Day- sort of like our 4th of July. When I say sort of I mean not at all. In America, the 4th of July truly is a national holiday and you are insane if you don’t celebrate it or at least attend a barbecue. Here, it’s fine if you do nothing. Which is basically what I did, I just had a lazy Sunday. My Australian friends warned me not to get my hopes up and told me that it wasn’t a big deal, yet I was still disappointed. I ended up spending the night stargazing on campus near the lake and talking about our time in Australia so far with two of my American friends. Which wasn’t bad it was just different. ‘Superbowl Sunday’ here was actually Superbowl Monday and the game kicked off at 9:30am. I watched the game on a projector screen on campus while doing homework– a very different superbowl watching experience than what I am used to. It didn’t help that I wanted the Broncos to win and they got slaughtered.

On a more positive note, 2 weeks ago I went to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary with some friends. It was amazing. I got to pet kangaroos, hold a koala, watch a crocodile get fed and walk around various other animals! It was a unique experience and they would have nothing like it in America. There were children running free from their parents petting the kangaroos and very little regulation, however no one was doing harm to any of the animals. I spoke to one of the volunteers and he said that most of the kangaroos were born and raised here. The koala I held was a bit over a year old. I got a picture with her as well. That zookeeper said that each koala only gets held for pictures for 30 minutes a day, and after every 3 days they get ‘a day off’. So they are not handled too often. I have always wanted to see those animals and the wildlife is a huge reason why I came to visit Australia. I looked into volunteering there, but they have a 6 month service requirement and I will only be here for 4 months. It was still a great experience and I had an amazing day.

IMG_6399

Interacting with wildlife was one of my main goals during my time here and another one of my goals was to get SCUBA certified. I started the course and have 2 more dives left until I am officially certified! During our first session we had a few hours of classroom/theory stuff and then worked on a lot of skills in the pool on campus. The week after that we went on our first actual dive near Cook Island about an hour away from campus. The first dive wasn’t so great because I could not see a thing due to my mask fogging up. The water visibility wasn’t clear already and I literally could barely see what was next to me…it was equally frustrating and scary. I switched masks for the second dive and it was AMAZING!!! Being underwater for an extended period of time and actually getting to swim with the fish and other animals was so cool. It was a shore dive so we just jumped into the water from the shore (pretty self explanatory) and next week we have a boat dive. I hope the weather is nice and that the visibility is better. The dive instructors are awesome- so nice, informative and helpful. Diving is tiring but it’s an extremely good time and it’s addicting. It also helps that one of my best friends, Meaghan, is my dive buddy :) I cannot wait to get back into the water again and can’t stop thinking about it!

On Friday there is a spring festival/gala to celebrate the Chinese New Year, organized by the Chinese Student Association on campus. I’m going with most of my Chinese class. Someone in our class is performing a Chinese song so that should be fun. And after that there is some sort of Valentine’s day event. Luckily I have a red dress with hearts on it which can dually function for both events because you are supposed to wear red to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

My images still aren’t loading so I’ll attach a link to my flickr page. I update it every few days, adding photos and descriptions underneath them. Enjoy! :)

-Shannon

http://www.flickr.com/photos/115609200@N03/

Hello!!

1013863_10151908027798587_2005328989_n

My name is Shannon Freyer. I am a middler at Northeastern University, majoring in Behavioral Neuroscience and minoring in Chinese (you may be scratching your head right now, I often get that reaction, I understand how it seems to be a strange combo). I am especially interested in veterinary medicine and animal husbandry. I plan to pursue a career in animal care after graduation. As for the Chinese minor, I love Chinese characters and I believe that it is extremely important to know more than one language and that it can open many doors for you.

I am currently studying abroad in Australia. The area I am located in is the Gold Coast which is in the state of Queensland. I am at Bond University, a school about 4 times smaller than Northeastern with a very different environment. I have always wanted to go to Australia, and here I am now, living my dream.

I have been here for a bit over two weeks now and have passed the honeymoon period. We’re in our second week of classes so I am actually beginning to have work to do…who knew. Right at this very moment I have just gotten out of the shower after a relatively tiring day. Today I: had a 2 hour Chinese class, skyped with my dad, worked on a psych presentation for about 2 hours, watched half of the movie stepbrothers, went to a scuba club meeting, and went to ResWars. ResWars is a dorm competition at Bond that is on every Wednesday throughout the semester- different sports are played each week and each dorm is battling to come out in first. My dorm, the Accommodation Centre (AC), is mostly americans, and apparently we have a reputation of winning to hold. Tonight was dodgeball and it was nice to be the one playing instead of reffing (I ref intramurals at Northeastern). The girls from the AC came in 2nd and the boys from the AC came in first. So that was fun.

Bond is a pretty amazing place; everyone is friendly and welcoming. Having Australian friends is so fun and I am learning heaps from them (heaps being an example of my Australian-English vocabulary). I am accumulating a list of words that I am learning here to make a small-ish dictionary of terms that I have learned. The accents are easy to get used to, most of them are not that thick. It feels funny to be considered a ‘foreigner’ here- it can be comical at times in situations but it is also stressful. I feel very pressed to make the most of my time here and then have to remind myself that relaxation is a must as well. Getting used to my surroundings, meeting people and planning what I want to do, where I want to travel and what I want to be involved in on campus are the main things that I have been up to.

My friends and I have planned a trip to Bali for the end of February. I have joined scuba club and am planning on getting certified with the club and go on a few of their diving trips. I have joined ResWars and signed up for soccer. This weekend I am going to the koala and kangaroo sanctuary about thirty minutes from school. I joined the beer appreciation club. These are just a few things and I am planning to do so much more in my time here as well. I am still on the lookout for a REALLY good cup of coffee. And by really good I mean whatever I can get that is most similar to Dunkin Donuts. Yes I am a Dunks girl and am proud of it. There is a starbucks by one of the beaches and I got a coffee there- it was very nice. My friend Nicola calls starbucks ‘starchucks’ because she thinks it’s gross and it makes her want to throw up (upchuck). I got a laugh out of that one.

When technology begins to work in my favor I will attach a few photos of the absolutely gorgeous campus and a photo of myself as well so you all can see the face behind these words. Cheers! (No one says g’day mate here, hugely incorrect stereotype)