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 LadurĂ©e 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