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The big T-city

(Otherwise known, by a girl in my lecture, as the “Wannabe New York”. either way, no complaints.)

by Olivia Bucherer-Ezer, University of Toronto, Canada

Exactly two weeks into my adventure, it’s safe to say Toronto was nothing like I expected it to be… (in a good way don’t worry).

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Bienvenue à Toulouse!

By Sarah Cross, Sciences Po Toulouse, France

I’m Sarah and I’m a PPE student studying for a year at Sciences Po in Toulouse. After what feels like countless months of admin, forms and eventually obtaining a Visa, I finally arrived here to begin my placement. The French bureaucracy has meant nothing is straightforward (partially thanks to Brexit!), so it feels great to have now spent three weeks in the ‘Pink City’.

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Heart and Seoul

by Charlie Timson, Summer School in South Korea

It doesn’t matter how many countries you’ve been to or how many friends you’ve made, moving to a new city for 5 weeks with a group of Manchester uni students is scary. Seoul is so foreign to most, due to its culture and proximity in the world. It doesn’t matter how many shows you watch or articles you read, you still don’t really know what to expect until you get there. And there can be so much paperwork with Covid and travelling you land with a headache and a half empty suitcase wondering what might be waiting for you. This is what was waiting for us.

On arrival we had barely left the terminal, and someone had lost their passport. We panicked but it was eventually found exactly where she’d left it, next to the sink in the bathroom. No one had dared touch it; Seoul is too safe for that. It provided 5 weeks’ worth of jokes towards that poor girl that soon became one of my closest friends. She then went on to leave her phone halfway up a mountain, so she clearly didn’t learn her lesson. At the welcome day we had our own cheerleaders welcome us and an incredibly awkward group photo taken by our cutie international programmes leader Mr Yu, who was in charge of everything.

On my first day of uni I was shocked to find out my Asian art class actually involved painting! I thought it was art history and suddenly felt way out of my depth. That was until the incredibly kind Ms Kim started speaking and at an instance I was at ease. We started painting with ink sticks and her enthusiastic encouragement along with teaching assistant Seungeun Lee made me feel proud of what I had made even if other Manchester students were wondering if what I painted was a tarantula or bigfoot’s hairy toes. It was actually supposed to be a grape tree. Art is subjective anyway.

After our first night out, we struggled to get a taxi until our Korean knight in shining armour Semin arrived. Semin became our own personal tour guide and introduced us to a chicken restaurant that was approved by Gordon Ramsey, a hike up Inwangsan mountain that made me nearly pass out and he took us to traditional restaurants where the food blew my socks off. On a Friday cultural trip, we went to the demilitarised zone (DMZ) where we literally walked through a tunnel the North Koreans made. At the end of the tunnel, through a window we saw North Korea which was eerie. That divide has separated families for decades due to the Korean War.

On a lighter note, at the weekend we headed down to Jack’s game bar in Itaewon to celebrate a successful week where we had games of ping pong with Korean strangers. No night out is complete without heading down to a Noraeban (karaoke bar) to sing cringey throwback songs with those you adore most. In Korean art class during the week my painting got somewhat better with Ms Kim only occasionally saying: “that looks good, but what is it?”

On the next trip to Everland we went on a safari where giraffes poked their heads into the van and one nearly snatched the sunglasses from the top of my head, but it was worth it for a picture. We even experienced cuteness overload when going to the meerkat cafe and having them sit on our knees and chase each other happily. One evening after uni we went down to the Han river and had a takeout chicken picnic with Semin; the weather was still humid, but much more bearable after the sun went down. As the South Korea trip came to a finish, we started wrapping up all the activities we still wanted to do and of course having our last day trip with our new bestie Semin. We spent the whole of the final week with him including him cooking us all my favourite spaghetti dish, going to board game cafes with him, going to Boramae park and him cooking one last meal which was basically a ginormous feast. He made sure to not add too much spice because he knows I’m weak.

At the closing ceremony there was another dance performance and goodbyes from all the teachers in charge. We received our certificates which looked like fancy diplomas, and everyone got a free tin water bottle as a souvenir. We said our last goodbye to Mr Yu who blushed shyly when we said how much we enjoyed the programme. It was going to be strange to leave Seoul, to leave uni, to leave behind friends who were merely strangers a few weeks ago. I didn’t want to leave, but I am forever grateful I even got the opportunity to go in the first place. If you are considering applying for the summer programme to Seoul, just do it. You will get over the initial doubts of whether you will make friends or will like the food, you will get over the long-haul flights, you will get over the anxieties of travelling to somewhere new. But you will never get over the city of Seoul, you will never know a safer place nor a more vibrant one. You will never get over it, it will be a memory you will never let go of, nor would you ever want to.

A Week of Living in Amsterdam

by Aimee Kinniburgh, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Netherlands

As I’m writing this, today marks one week of living in Amsterdam and what a week it’s been. It feels like a lifetime ago I left for Bristol airport and said goodbye to my life in England for the next year. This week has been full of the highest highs and also some of the lowest lows, as is often the case when you pack up your life and move countries. So I thought I would make a list of the most important things I’ve learnt after my first week in Amsterdam. I’m sure this list will only grow throughout my time here but here’s what I’ve learnt so far.

  1. Get. A. Bike. – it sounds obvious but my god life in Amsterdam is impossible without one. Swapfiets will become your best friend, even if they do give you a bike that was too big and too heavy for your small little legs to start with. Some of the best moments of your first week will be when it’s just you, your bike and some music cycling around and exploring the city so just bite the bullet and pay for a bike. 
  1. On top of this get a bike coat. You’ll think they’re ridiculous at the start but trust me you won’t care how silly you look when it’s chucking it down with rain and you’re having to cycle 40 minutes to get home. The drowned rat look is not a good one. 
  1. Campus is beautiful but very confusing so make sure you leave plenty of time to find your lecture halls and seminar rooms. It makes for some very awkward first impressions when you have to walk in late.
  1. Cooking is going to be a whole new experience in Amsterdam. Ovens seem to simply not exist out here so get ready for a lot of pasta and rice in the first few days before you figure out how to cook with only two hobs and find out where to buy spices from.
  1. Going out in Amsterdam is revolutionary. Everyone is so friendly and respectful so take advantage and chat to as many people as you can! It’s the best way to make friends and makes for some very funny stories in the morning
  2. And finally, it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and like you’ll never get settled into your new life. It’s a big deal to move to a completely different country and everything will feel too much at times but even after a week life is settling down so give it time and you’ll be fine!

Hidden gems: Amsterdam edition

By Hannah Wheeler, Vrije Universitiet, Netherlands

Throughout my year in Amsterdam, I was always keen to try and find spots that were beyond the tourist’s gaze. When I met an Amsterdamer, I would often ask what places they recommended and what were their favourite parts of the city. Here are a few places I discovered and fell in love with… 

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MITACS Chapter 4: Saying goodbye + some reflections

By: Eva Kristinova (University of Regina, Canada, Mitacs Research Internship Scheme 21-22)

So there it goes. Just like that it’s time to say goodbye to another wonderful experience, in a wonderful place, having met some wonderful people. Although three months might not seem like such a long time, the sheer immersion of both the every-day and the extraordinary events is enough to produce a tear or two. This is especially the case when, one after the other, all your Mitacs acquaintances, turned good friends, who’s project started before yours, start saying their goodbyes. As I waved to the parting cars and taxis, it all started feeling a bit surreal. In a few days, that will be me in that car.

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Pre-departure & immediate arrival in Canada

By Lola Bianchi, University of Guelph, Canada

So I started writing this blogpost about 10 days before I arrived and my pre-departure experience was one which was very stressful. The closer it got to the flying date, the more apprehensive I became. 

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My First Few Weeks at Mizzou!

By Becky L, University of Missouri-Columbia, United States of America

With the first week of classes coming to an end, I decided now would be a good time to introduce myself and my Study Abroad University! My name is Becky and I’m a second year Biomedical Sciences student, studying for the semester at the University of Missouri – Columbia. Initially I was apprehensive about spending 5 months in the Midwest, but I’ve acclimatised very quickly, mainly thanks to the amazing friends that I have met!

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Arriving Down Under: Adjusting to Life in Sydney

By Lauren Tennant, University of New South Wales, Australia

After multiple push-backs due to the pandemic, and 24 hours of travelling, I arrived down-under in Sydney around three weeks ago. Knowing first-hand the mixture of excitement, apprehension, and uncertainty, I thought I’d make a list to guide you through the transition into an exchange year and offer any tips from both my triumphs and mistakes, alongside my initial reflections.

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MITACS Chapter 3: Remembering to have fun

By: Eva Kristinova (University of Regina, Canada, Mitacs Research Internship Scheme 21-22)

This is the post I have been looking forward to the most! Because whether it seems like it or not, there is a lot to do in the largest city of Saskatchewan (and beyond), even if it is comparatively small by European standards. The best thing about spending the summer in Regina is that there are plenty of festivals and events to attend, and even Canadian national holidays to celebrate. Here are a few of my favourites!

Queen City Ex festival and fair
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Why I chose to Study at the University of Queensland

by Cam Kruger, University of Queensland, Australia

I have always been a keen traveller and inclined to travel the world, so taking part in the study abroad programme seemed like a no brainer to me. After many hours of researching the university destinations as part of the UoM study abroad programme, Australia stood out to me the most, especially Queensland.

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