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The End of the Beginning

By Emma Phillips, Singapore Management University, Singapore.

With exams and the first semester coming to a close, one of the main things on my mind was the fact that after spending every day with new friends from all over the world I would have to say goodbye to a large majority of them.

Here is how we spent one final week together on the most spoken about Indonesian island, Bali.

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Returning home from Mizzou.

By Becky Light, University of Missouri, USA

Compared to a lot of my friends at Mizzou, I was lucky to finish my finals early in my final week. This meant that I had enough time to enjoy my last week in the States. I went out for a final dinner with the girls from my dorm; Texas Roadhouse is a must! This was a really nice way to say goodbye to the people who had looked after me in my dorm and taught me so much about American culture.

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College Football at IU

By Megan Bateman, Indiana University Bloomington, USA

One response I always got when telling people I was studying abroad in the US: get ready for football season. I didn’t quite expect it to be as big of a deal as it is, but I should have guessed just by the amount of university merch everyone wears on campus on a day-to-day basis. Everyone is so proud to be a part of IU and football game days is one of the main ways to show your support. From the tailgates to the actual game, you can be sure to clear your Saturday’s when it is game day because everyone you know and their dog will be going to the football game. And for great reason too!

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Homesickness Tips

By Christevie Ngoma, University of Toronto, Canada

Growing up in London and going to University in Manchester, I honestly thought homesickness was not going to affect me. I spent two years living away from home, and one of them was in a pandemic! So I thought I was an expert on dealing with being distant from family. I thought wrong.

Being a 5 hour drive away from home is one thing, but being an 8 hour plane journey and literally being in a different time zone is another. I did not expect to struggle with missing friends and family to this extent if I am being very honest.

Homesickness looks different for everyone, and can come at different moments. It comes when it’s my friends 21st birthday and everyone is celebrating but I can’t be there. It comes when I see a really good party in Manchester and all my friends have gone without me. It comes when my parents are showing me the new shed that they got in the garden, and I know I can’t see it till summer. Sometimes Homesickness only lasts a day, and then sometimes it can last a week. Particularly for me, I’m not going back home for Christmas, so I know I’m going to feel the brunt of it a lot during this December. At the end of the day, Homesickness is a completely normal feeling when you’re living out the country.

Here are some tips on how I’ve dealt with it!

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Polish food you have to try!

One of the best parts of studying abroad was trying lots of different cuisines. I love trying new food, so I was very excited to try lots of Polish dishes when I arrived in Warsaw, and they didn’t disappoint! Below are some of the things you should try if you end up studying in Poland or have the chance to visit.

  1. Pierogi

Pierogi are filled dumplings that come sweet or savoury. I had these on my first day in Poland and they quickly became a favourite. They are super hearty and filling. The most popular fillings are meat, sauerkraut with mushrooms, spinach, buckwheat, potatoes with fried onions, sweet cottage cheese with raisins and seasonal fruit. You can get them either boiled, baked, or fried, but traditionally in Poland you eat them boiled with butter and onions on top.

2. Placki Ziemniaczane – Potato Pancakes

The authentic Polish potato pancakes are a traditional comfort food eaten all over the country. The base is always potatoes, grated onions, eggs, and flour, flattened and fried into savoury pancakes. I very clearly remember having this after I had spent the day hiking in Zakopane. I was so exhausted and went to a traditional milk bar for some food to rejuvenate me. These pancakes served with stew, sour cream and cheese and a side of Rosół (Chicken noodle Soup) which really hit the spot.

 

Top Tip!

If you’re in Poland and you want to have traditional food for a good price, avoid tourist restaurants and head to a milk bar. Milk bars are a type of Polish cafeteria which during the Communist era provided government-subsidized traditional Polish cuisine at low cost and they’re just as popular today!

3. Żurek soup 

This unique and humble soup is popular in many West Slavic states, but the Polish version is traditionally eaten around Easter time. It’s known as the Polish Ryemeal Soup and is made by fermenting the cereal (Rye) and cooking it with sausage, bacon, or ham. It’s creamy, smoky, cooked with lots of garlic and is not as sour as fermenting suggests, it’s more a rich savoury sour taste. I made everyone who came to visit me try it and they were all just as impressed as me. Sometimes it comes served in a bread bowl which is the most warming meal on a cold winter’s day. 

4. Oscypek & Bryndza Cheeses

Who doesn’t love a good traditional cheese? Traditional Polish cheeses like Oscypek and Bryndza are made with sheep’s milk from the mountain meadows of south Poland, the Tatra Mountains. They’re made by smoking in a wooden oven or hut called a Bacowska. The process is so well known that to preserve the tradition and methods, the production is given an EU subsidy which allows the shepherds and cheesemakers to continue the processes. 

I had this for the first time at a Christmas market in Wroclaw, wrapped in bacon and served with a cranberry sauce and it blew my mind!

5. Pączki 

These Polish doughnuts are dusted with sugar or bits of dried orange zest and filled with a sweet filling like a jelly or jam. The flat I lived in in Warsaw was on the same street as the oldest most traditional donut shop in Warsaw and I quickly became a regular there. There were queues down the street every day and you had to be there early before they sold out. They were wrapped up in paper, tied with string and had a stamp of authenticity.

6. St. Martin’s croissant – rogal święto Marciński

This is a croissant with white poppy-seed filling traditionally prepared in Poznań and some parts of Greater Poland region on St. Martin’s Day. I used to have these for breakfast on my way into uni a lot!

Me and my friend took a trip to Poznan took part in a St Martin’s croissant cookery class. It was a lot of fun to be hands on and make them ourselves and we learnt a lot about Poznan’s history. 

Thanksgiving and Finals Week at Mizzou

by Becky Light, University of Missouri, USA

As everyone warned me, the last few weeks of the semester have been jam-packed. In the weeks since Thanksgiving break, I have had lots of assignments and exams to submit, alongside finals week and trying to make the most of my last few weeks in the States.

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A guide to maximising spring break – Aussie edition

by Lauren Tennant, University of New South Wales, Australia

In October I was in full swing of my first full semester at UNSW and the 14th October marked my final deadline before ‘reading week’ aka spring break. Myself and 8 friends headed off to Byron Bay, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, and Rainbow Beach in what was my first time leaving Sydney since arriving in August. Studying abroad in such an incredible country like Australia means it’s even more important to be organised with uni work so that you are able to squeeze in as much travel as possible. So, hopefully some of the below pointers are useful.

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1 MONTH TILL CHRISTMAS

by Lola Bianchi, University of Guelph, Canda

It’s the end of November and I swear I can already smell the pigs in blankets and mulled wine from across the pond. Like I said in my previous post, I still have an insane amount of work, and it’s very frustrating as everything is always worth 10/15% of your total grade and as such it makes it hard to tell how much work you are supposed to put into it or what the expectations are. However, all my grades have been very good so far, which in a way is frustrating as I never do this well at home, and this is a pass/fail year.

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Let’s BeReal About The Workload

Work smart, Not hard.

by Olivia Bucherer-Ezer, University of Toronto, Canada

In the flurry of signing onto an exchange year, sorting out accommodation and figuring out how to fit 30kg of stuff you probably don’t need into a 23kg suitcase I almost forgot that I was moving across the pond to attend university, learn and do work. 

Once the novelty of new lecturers, peers, new libraries to explore and campus to navigate wore off a little, the reality of attending Canada’s most prestigious university set in. 

my tongue seems to make a stronger feature in this blog than my work ethic...
my tongue seems to make a stronger feature in this blog than my work ethic…

As someone who is prone to becoming stressed from work, I was surprised that I wasn’t losing my mind over the amount being dished-out. Reminiscing over the glorious panic attacks I used to have at the beginning of first year, merely because I couldn’t workout how to login to my university email or find the link of a reading I really didn’t need to do, actually taught me more than I could have imagined at the time. 

Learning to emotionally detach from work when it is a pass/fail year is the best way to get assignments ticked off the list without it impeding on your social life. Not to say, you shouldn’t try, but rather do what needs to be done, and take extra care over the things you enjoy. 

giddy in the libby
giddy in the libby

As such, the work at the university or Toronto has taught me heaps beyond just what the content consists of. How to manage my time, balance university with socialising and detach from work not worth stressing over have been key to both mental and academic success! 

helps that the libraries have a good ol' view
helps that the libraries have a good ol’ view

The takeaway of this blog post is not to discard university life, after all that’s the big reason for doing an exchange; to experience a new style of learning. Instead, engaging in work – especially the parts you most enjoy – while understanding your limits ensures you have the energy to enjoy the rest of what a year abroad has to offer.

As someone wise once said, work smart not hard. 

Managing homesickness – some (hopefully) helpful advice!

by Aimee Kinniburgh, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Netherlands

When moving abroad, so much of what you’re told is positive: you’ll make the best friends, you’ll experience new cultures, you’ll learn so much about yourself. Of course, all of this is true and already my year abroad is turning into one of the best years of my life. However, what I think people often miss is that whilst you experience some of the highest highs, that also comes with experiencing some of the lowest lows. This isn’t in any way to put you off going, I fundamentally think it’s one of the best things you could ever do. But given all of this I thought it might be a good idea to write about my experiences with homesickness and some of the ways I found to deal with missing your home comforts and life back home, in the hope that maybe this helps someone else feeling this way, or in the least act as some free therapy for me!

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Academic life at The University of Warsaw

By Greta Gibbons, University of Warsaw, Poland

The workload of an Erasmus course at the University of Warsaw is a lot less than what is expected of a normal academic year at the University of Manchester. This is great during your study abroad as it meant that you have a nice balance between studying and doing things like socialising, travelling, and enjoying the change of lifestyle and culture.

This was also a great opportunity to study a wide range of subjects that had never been on offer to me before in Manchester. I studied the following modules on the Law Erasmus+ programme. 

  • Criminalistics and Forensic Studies 
  • EU Food Law
  • EU Medical Law and Bioethics
  • International Organizations
  • Mergers And Acquisitions
  • Mixed Jurisdictions Worldwide 
  • Applied Criminology
  • Commercial Law and the Basic Institutions of Company Law 
  • Constitutional Law 
  • Freedom Of Speech in The Us Supreme Court Jurisprudence
  • Legal Mediation 
  • Polish Criminal Procedure

All of these were super interesting and engaging topics to study and the lecturers were top class. My favourite class was criminalistics and forensics as it was very hands on when we were analysing fingerprints and DNA samples.

As well as the nature of academic life in Warsaw, the campus itself was so beautiful too, which makes it an enjoyable place to study. The botanical rooftop library garden was a real highlight. 

Overall, university life at the University of Warsaw was incredible and I would really recommend a applying for the academic side of the university alone, not just the amazing city it is in!