Friday, May 8, 2015

Amanda and Lloyd in Wales!

Hiya! Alright? Lloyd here and I’m studying “flying” abroad in Carmarthen, Wales with my human Amanda Neff. I’m buzzin’ to FINALLY have some more humans to communicate with because I’m so tired of talking to sheep! They are so annoying! The sheep love to mock my red scales so I scorch their bums with my fire breathing skills, but my human always tells me to behave because they can kick us out of the country! 

Anyhoo, Amanda and I are really enjoying life here in Wales. Luckily, Amanda doesn’t have to go to lecture that often so I see a lot of her! Welsh classes meet once a week and they don’t have any homework or revising except for a couple final papers and presentations, so Amanda and I spend a lot of time traveling from Thursdays to Mondays. It’s so fab when she takes me around our host country. We spent our first few weeks traveling Wales and England with the International Office. We saw awesome sites such as Llansteffan Castle, Whitesands Bay, and the Roman Baths! Although all were equally ace, I think my favorite was Whitesands Bay because my human allowed me to soar through the sky with the lush Welsh countryside below my wings. It was so surreal! I also enjoyed the Roman Baths because we were there on Valentine’s Day and I got to laugh at Amanda and her friends while they swooned over English chaps serenading the passersbys with love songs. Not to mention how brilliant the Baths were!
Me and my human in front of Llansteffan Castle

Selfies with Amanda at Whitesands Bay

Me at the Roman Baths

During the month of April, Amanda had three weeks off for spring break. Her family came over for two of those weeks and she was kind enough to take me along! We went to London, Paris, Munich, Salzburg, and Toledo, Spain. My favorite city was Toledo, Spain because it was so different from anywhere else I’ve been. Spanish architecture is so unique; whereas, the other countries’ architecture primarily stems from heavy Roman influence. I also loved Spain because THERE WAS NO RAIN. Do you know how hard it is to fly while rain is constantly beating down on your scales?! It’s rough people! One of the nice things about living in the UK is that the world literally is at your footsteps so take advantage of it!

Me at Normandy Beach

Me at Dachau Memorial Site

Me with the rooftops of Toledo

The craziest experience I’ve had while being in the UK was when Amanda and I were coming home from Spain. Amanda forgot her school letter that proved that we were allowed to be in the UK so they put us in a holding cell! I WAS SO STRESSED I STARTED BREATHING FIRE. After some trial, Amanda was able to retrieve and online copy of her letter and we were released. Luckily, Amanda and I look back and have a good laugh on our detainment in a foreign country. A big part of study abroad is learning how to go with the flow. Travel does not go as planned. You will get into sticky situations, you will get lost, you will cry about it, and you will figure it out.  It teaches you to embrace a whole new level of maturity and independence. 

My absolute favorite thing about flying abroad is train rides with my human. Although I enjoy being able to spread my wings, I also love sitting on a train listening to the plethora of UK accents while watching the sunset and the rolling green hills. The train also allows a lot of time for thinking, reflecting, and journaling which is what my human loves to do. 

Me on the train

On our last train ride, I asked Amanda to share with me some advice that I could give you upcoming study abroaders. A quote that has been really close to Amanda’s heart the past few days is “Enjoy the little things in life for someday you will look back and realise they were the big things”. Late night walks to Tesco (UK Walmart), castle climbing, arguments over which accent is right, bellowing laughter, nights at the Union, long days in the airport, conversations over tea, these are some of the little things that have become the things that define Amanda’s study abroad experience. Love the little moments. Remain in them. Do not with them away. They are precious. They are special. The little things are definitely the big things.
I’ll see you lot in the G! Taa!


Amanda Neff
Trinity St. David
Carmarthen, Wales
United Kingdom

Monday, May 4, 2015

Kelly and Orwell in Hull, England!

Hello from Hull! Or Kingston upon Hull, if you want to be really specific… but everybody here just calls it Hull, or ‘Ull (that’s what the locals say… the accent is a distinctive one) 

Me, and my dragon, Orwell, love it here so far! This is especially true now that Spring has arrived and the weather has brightened up. I spent a lovely afternoon in a nearby park last week. The English do love their parks. 

Pearson Park

But, Hull is great, even when the weather is not as lovely, as is sometimes the case in England. Despite having been bombed badly during the air raids in World War Two, the city has a rich history. William Wilberforce, known in England for his campaign to abolish Slavery, was born in Hull; I have visited his birthplace house and museum a couple of times, now. Andrew Marvell, the metaphysical poet, was also from the area near Hull. The city’s main Parish church, Holy Trinity, was attended by both Wilberforce and Marvell and was originally constructed in the 13th Century. The. 13th. Century. 

Kelly at the William Wilberforce statue in Hull

Reflection of Hull's Holy Trinity Church

I have had the opportunity to travel, over weekends, and during our three week Spring Break and have visited some wonderful places!  

The Brontë Sisters were from Yorkshire, the English county that Hull is in,  and, being a lover of the novel Jane Eyre, I could not resist a weekend trip out to their hometown of Haworth and the Brontë House museum. The countryside there is beautiful! Orwell thought so, too. 

Bronte Parsonage

Hawforth, the Bronte hometown

I have had the opportunity to visit several other cities and towns in England as well: Nottingham, where Robin Hood is a bit hyped up, but the contemporary art gallery is fabulous. Leeds, which is a great city, and Kirkstall Abbey, right outside of the city, is now one of my favourite places in the world. I have also been to York, Manchester,  Liverpool, and Scarborough, where the beach is beautiful and there’s a castle… oh, how I love England.  

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Aditee in Northern Ireland and Beyond!

Hello everyone! What’s the craic? The past four months in Northern Ireland have been the best by far! I’m currently studying at Ulster University in Coleraine. With the beautiful scenery and friendly people, it was very easy to adjust here. Northern Ireland has some beautiful places to visit such as Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede bridge, and Dunluce Castle to name a few. Studying abroad has given me certain opportunities that I would have never imagined like traveling to so many different places! 

I recently got back from visiting London, Paris, Venice, and Rome! For Easter vacation my sister and I met up in London to start our adventure! We saw the tourist locations such as Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the London Eye. We strolled through Hyde Park and had afternoon tea near the Kensington Palace one day as well. If you ever do get afternoon tea, definitely try the Victoria sponge cake! Being Harry Potter fans, we also visited The Making of Harry Potter Studio, which features the actual props and sets used in the movies!

Aditee considers transferring to Hogwarts

Big Ben

Our next stop was Paris! Paris was amazing with its history and great locations to visit. We visited the Palace of Versailles, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, and Arc de Triomphe. We also had as many macaroons as we could get! The ones from Ladurée are the best. 

The palace of Versailles

The Eiffel Tower

Next up was Italy! The food in Venice and Rome was too delicious. It was hard saying goodbye to the amazing gelato. Going around in Venice was unique because they use waterbuses. Also, every time you crossed a bridge, you got a glimpse of a gondola! The tiny street shops in Venice were also the best where they sold unique souvenirs such as vases, glasses, necklace pendants and so much more made from Murano glass.

A canal in Venice

Gondola traffic jam

There was so much to see in Rome as well! Seeing the Colosseum, ruins, Vatican, Sistine Chapel, and Trevi Fountain were surreal because of the history associated with these places. Unfortunately the Trevi Fountain was under construction and throwing coins was not permitted. 

The Colosseum

Trevi Fountain, under construction

Studying abroad has been quite the adventure and definitely a learning experience. I’ve made some great friends during my time here and seen some amazing places! If you are looking for a place to study, Ulster University is a great choice!

Aditee Mahajani
University of Ulster, Coleraine
Northern Ireland
United Kingdom

Monday, April 27, 2015

Danielle in New Zealand!

I’m loving New Zealand and if it would not mess up my graduation plan, I would consider staying another semester. It is such a beautiful country; everywhere is like a scene from a postcard. Speaking of postcards, I have accumulated a lot. The original plan was to send them back home, but I think I’ll just use them as pictures I couldn’t personally take with my camera. Good thing I never promised that I would send any postcards. 

My little dragon companion is only a special guest star in my pictures. He is very lazy and prefers to spend his time near the window basking in the sun. Occasionally, he will go to lay on the beach.

Classes are going well, but my focus has been on experiencing as much as I can in the little time I have here. My Uni hosts field trips every weekend to different events around the North Shore, such as night markets, hot springs and horseback riding. The night markets have been my favorite; I was able to eat from every type of food stall imaginable and then pick up some cool clothes and knick-knacks. Luckily, I came in the right semester for all of the cultural events. I was able to go to a lantern festival for Chinese New Year and the annual Pasifika Festival, which showcases music, food, clothing and traditional items from all of the Pacific Islands. 

During our two week Easter break, a group of us traveled around North Island. We unsuccessfully dug for hot water at Hot Water Beach. We hiked to Cathedral Cove and Stingray Bay in Hahei. We stayed in Rotorua, the home of geothermal pools, for a few nights. We visited the glowworms at Waitomo Caves. We had a free drink at the Green Dragon during our Hobbiton tour. We hiked through Tongariro Crossing in Taupo. You don’t know adventure until you’re crawling up a snowy, rocky mountain in simple tennis shoes. At one point, you had to use a chain to climb one peak and at another you literally slide down the tallest peak of the mountain. 

Common dolphins in the Hauraki Gulf.

Hahei, the site where Narnia was filmed. 

We might be too tall to be hobbits.

The beginning of our 6-8 hour hike up snowy mountains, past sulfur lakes and through active volcanic regions at Tongariro Crossing.

After that once in a lifetime hike, we spent our last days of the break in Wellington. We visited museums, historic churches, Parliament and on the last day, we went ocean kayaking. It was the best and we are planning to travel around South Island during our study break before exams in June. 

There are still some things I cannot get used to. The most inconvenient is that most stores close at 5. My flatmate explained that it is the effect of World War 1. New Zealand had gone into a depression, so all of the shops closed early and were not open on the weekends. It was only a few years ago, that stores even opened on the weekends, but they still close early.  Apparently, bars had closed between 6 and 8 and it’s only recently that they stay open past 10. Another peeve is the internet. It is amazing if you can find a place with Wi-Fi, miraculous if it is free. The internet you do have is not what I’m used to. On campus, I can rarely connect to the internet on my laptop from my flat. If I go to the academic buildings, I can usually only connect to Facebook and the school website. Overall, it has been fun and at times, challenging. 

I cannot believe that I am half way through my time here and I’m excited for all that is still to come. 

Danielle Hill
Massey University
Auckland, New Zealand