Halfway done

Halfway done

It is a blast and unexpected year!
I can’t believe it is almost the end of my second year at LVC. Things go too fast, I have met a lot of good friends and taken many interesting courses that inspire my career. I never thought that I would have a chance to stand in the top of News Museum looking down Pennsylvania Avenue in DC with law class, never thought that I would present in the Inquiry this year, and never thought that I would climb an 800ft mountain to have the most beautiful view. LVC never fails to surprise me with academic and student activities opportunities.

I can’t wait until my junior year at LVC. I am planning for my internship and a cooperated research with my professor. On the other hand, next year will be my third year in college, then one more year and I am done. Four-year seems so long but it turns out too short. As people say ” I am a part of all that I have met”, I have met so many people in LVC and learned a lot from them. Also, I left a part of my youth here, at LVC.

One day when I graduate from LVC, I won’t ever forget the memories in LVC. Those memories will follow me everywhere I go.

 

International Food Festival 2018

International Food Festival 2018

 

It was crowded, busy, and exciting!

There were about thirty countries participating in the event this year. I and My hosted the Vietnamese table. After the continuous debate about what we would make, My and I decided to make “Banh bot loc” (transparent cake) which comes from Vietnam’s ancient capital-Hue. Under my expectation, it took us from 2 pm to 12 am the day before the food festival to prepare half of it. We began again on the next day and finished up right before the food festival. It was a tremendous working task. However, My and I enjoyed it so much. Both of us had never made “banh bot loc” before even though it is one of our most tasteful and common food. The preparational stage gives us so much experience of being an authentic Vietnamese, also it brings nostalgic feelings of home.

Even though the cake was not perfect (we made it a little bit chewy), I am glad that many LVC students like it. One of my friends even stopped at our table and helped us advertise the goodness of the cake for other friends. We even run out of food before the end of the day!

This is my second year participating in the food festival. The spirit of the festival never changes. People come here with the absolute willingness to learn about different culture and to have a real experience by enjoying food cooked by natives or study-abroad students or professors. Thanks to the food festival for giving us the chance to introduce our culture through food to many LVC friends and professors.

Giant’s Causeway

Giant’s Causeway

After being here since January, I finally made it out of Belfast and ventured out to the Northern Coast on a Game of Thrones tour. The tour was more amazing than I could have imagined.

While I really enjoy Belfast, I was beginning to feel stifled. With the constant rain, same views, and non-stop studying, I was in need of a break. The Game of Thrones tour was an event offered through the Queen’s residential life at a major reduced cost of most Game of Thrones tours. We were shown many filming locations along the North Coast and given insider secrets of the filming of the series.

The weather on the day of the tour was complete rubbish, but I didn’t even mind. Winds that almost knocked you over, rain that pelted your face, and cold that left you numb could not compare to the experience of the North Coast. The views were unbelievable and the smell of the North Sea is my new favorite scent. The tour lasted from 9:00 in the morning until 6:00 at night, and it was well worth the money.

While we saw many amazing places, my favorite location was the Giant’s Causeway. While it is smaller than most pictures make it seem, it is not any less magnificent. There is a small walk (or shuttle bus ride for £1 each way) down to the Causeway, and the walk is half of the experience. There are costal views to see along the way and you can take a few minutes to really breathe in that coastal air and relax. As a college student relaxing does not come easily, but I’m learning to enjoy myself in this country.

Unplanned Tuesday

Unplanned Tuesday

I received an email late afternoon Monday saying that my Tuesday class was cancelled due to the strikes that have been happening at Queen’s. Due to pension cuts, professors across Queen’s University have been striking in protest. Some professors can’t afford to strike, some are not as affected by the strike, and some are taking action and joining the picket lines. Three of my classes in the last week have been cancelled due to the strikes, but I did not expect my Tuesday lecture to be cancelled due to having an essay due at the end of the week. To fill my time, I decided that I might as well try and get my hair cut.

I’ve been in Belfast for almost two months now, but it’s been probably close to five or six months since I got a haircut last. My hair was becoming long, tangled, and unmanageable, and I decided enough was enough and I’ll get a haircut to commemorate my time here in Belfast. I didn’t want to spend much on a haircut since there are so many more things I’d rather spend my money on over here, so I went on a hunt online for a cheap salon near me. I ended up finding a beauty school in center city Belfast that offered £6 haircuts, which is extremely cheap, the only catch was a student would be cutting my hair. Thankfully, I’m a poor student myself, so I figured what do I have to lose?! I originally planned to get my hair cut Monday after a class, but the salon was closed. I left and decided I’d come back later in the week, or next week after it’s supposed to stop snowing.

With my class being cancelled, I ventured out into City Center early Tuesday morning, while most of my fellow students were still asleep. I found a small door with the name “Academy Hair and Beauty Training School” leading to a narrow staircase that took me up to the hair studio. It was a nice studio with a lot of students, some working on people, others working on dummy heads. I was helped right away, and left with a lot less hair and a longing for summer.

          

 

Even though it was supposed to snow, the morning was bright and beautiful! I explored some of city center and went shopping while I was there. When you find yourself in Belfast on a sunny day, no matter what your plans are you just feel the need to explore and take pictures. On my way back to campus, I stopped by the student center to just get a look at the strikes happening. At the student center they were giving out free crepes, so I even got a small brunch for free!

         

I left for a haircut early in the morning, and got so much more than I bargained for.

New Year, New Goal!

New Year, New Goal!

To many of my friends in here, we have been in 2018 for two month and 15 days, but to me, today is the first day of 2018 according to Lunar calendar. Lunar new year is much important to me as Christmas to many Americans. It is the time for family gathering, it is the time when every body experiencing nostalgic and excited feeling at the same time, and it is the time for us looking back what we did last year and setting new goals for the next year. Last year, I met a lots of people, some of them become very special to me, I traveled to 3 continents, 8 countries, and become Global-ed Club’s leader in LVC.

This year, 2018, I have a bucket-list to achieve:

  1. Get an internship in the States
  2. Finish the collaborative research with my professor
  3. Travel to Thailand in the summer
  4. Do an independent research

I will never be fun if there is no challenge. I wish that I can cross out everything in my list in the next 365 days. Then I will create a new list for the year after that ^^

 

A Month So Far

A Month So Far

Probably the best part of living in Europe is how close you are to other fascinating countries. This past weekend, I got my first experience of that in Paris. A challenge for myself was trying to wrap around another, completely different culture than the already complex one that I am currently learning back in Spain. However, the city of Paris had so much to offer that I didn’t myself getting distracted while navigating through the City of Lights.

It was the first trip that we planned as a group together, and now we wanted to see how it would work out. Something we got to experience that never happens at LVC was subways. Now with how vast of a city Paris is the metro became a reliable resource to get to multiple destinations quickly. I myself have experienced subways in Boston and New York a couple of times, and I can assure that they are not easy. Unless someone has taken the time to figure out what station is closest to your destination, which line to get on that is the quickest, and which stations operate those kinds of lines, it is very difficult. Looking back through the hassle of dealing with urban transportation, it actually made me feel more confident in preparing for a life in the city if needed.

The main highlights of Paris were visiting the Eiffel Tower and The Louvre. It would almost be impossible to spend an entire weekend in Paris and not have a chance to see the tower. The weather prevented climbs to the top of the tower, but it was still fortunate to get a glimpse of it, especially at night. After an early morning flight on Friday, it felt good to take some time to get to the city and get a crepe after seeing the Eiffel Tower. The next day was when the fun started. Some of us woke up early to get a tour of the famous catacombs. It was a nice history lesson that culminated with a dark past of France. After a nice French breakfast at a nearby cafe, we hit the metro to go see the famous Arc de Triomphe. Once profile pictures were decided and Snapchat stories were complete, we broke off again. I joined a group that visited the Louvre, which houses the famous Mona Lisa. It was hectic seeing so many people trying to get a picture of Da Vinci’s finest work. At the end of the day, it was an enjoyable time being able to see the many parts of Paris that make it a continuous tourist destination. This might have only been my first trip to another European country, but this gives me more motivation to explore the endless possibilities offered here.

 

Food for Thought

Food for Thought

Have you ever thought about how often you use Pillsbury Grands or Crescent Rolls in your regular life? You’ll most likely have some during the holidays at least or see a video recipe about them on Facebook at least once a week. They are so convenient and quick to make! Can you imagine a time in your life when you didn’t have a simple ingredient that was so convenient that you did not even think of it as being just that, a convenience? That is what it is like to go grocery shopping in Northern Ireland.

Don’t get me wrong, they still have common college staples like bread, Nutella, and cup noodles, but for actually making meals, they do not have so many common foods that you would naturally think they do.

For Superbowl Sunday, I wanted to make some of my flat mates some traditional Superbowl foods like Philly cheesesteaks (Go Eagles!), buffalo chicken dip, and a quick dessert like biscuits coated in cinnamon sugar. Easy foods that I could make simultaneously in an hour at two at most. Unfortunately, those 15 minute recipes become 1+ hour recipes in the UK because you have to also make the “pre-made” foods that we don’t consider pre-made. For a Philly cheesesteak I would have to buy a steak and cook it and cut it super thin, there is no Steak-Umm here. Buffalo chicken dip is still fairly easy to make, but the local grocery stores don’t sell canned chicken, and I don’t have a crockpot to use over here. Finally to make a simple dessert, I would need to buy four other ingredients that I will hardly ever use again just to make some biscuits. In the UK they don’t even have what we call biscuits! The closest comparison is a savory scone, but even that is not the same food since scones are more dense.

So next time you go to make pigs in a blanket or when you’re eating buffalo chicken dip this Sunday or you walk into Walmart and see a selection of everything you could really imagine, think of how privileged you are to have so many options.

Just The Beginning

Just The Beginning

It is hard to believe that for almost the past month, I have been living in Spain. That amount of time while staying here has given me the opportunity to immerse myself in a fascinating culture that requires hands-on experience to understand. The experience almost feels like a rollercoaster that all of your friends keep telling you about. It may look scary from the outside, but putting yourself on the ride gives you a completely different interpretation. Other than finding places in Europe to travel to, my time spent after class usually involves walking around the city of Valladolid. It may not be the first city tourists would expect from Spain, but that just makes staying here even more captivating. The underrated value shown in Valladolid has allowed me to appreciate what it offers to its inhabitants. Also, spending time with other students from the United States has not only increased my social network but in sharing the amazing memories with as well. There are always going to be those moments where you feel like the challenge is too great and that you don’t know how to fix it. My only advice: never think about packing early to leave for a country you have spent your entire life in. The only time you should be thinking about packing is when for a weekend bus trip to Barcelona, or a weekend flight to Paris with nine people you have known for two months, some for only one. It is our duty not only as students but as human beings, to explore the vast world outside our doorstep. To become better individuals starts with becoming better travelers. I have plenty more memories in store during my semester here, and I can’t wait to find out what they will become.

Welcome to Belfast

Welcome to Belfast

Queen's University Belfast
Queen’s University main campus building

I have been living in Belfast for two weeks now, and I’ve been learning little by little how this city operates. Changing from a small campus like LVC and moving to a city-wide campus like Queen’s University of Belfast has been quite a change. With a large campus, I now have a fifteen minute walk to class, which means that I can’t wake up ten minutes before my class and still be early. Most of the time, it feels as if nothing has changed and I’m just going to class… until I walk outside and see century old buildings and double decker busses.

Belfast Gardens
The local Belfast Garden green house with the library in the background

Most of the time the it’s raining in Belfast, but on the rare occasion there is a little sun, and sometimes, like yesterday, even some snow. Out of all of the weather I’ve encountered, rain is my least favorite. I’m not much of a fan of snow, but I prefer Belfast snow to Belfast rain, simply because I’m not drenched from head to toe by the time I get to class. When they say it’s always raining in Belfast, they are not exaggerating. Belfast in the snow is beautiful though!All of the old buildings covered in a fresh layer of white. Belfast and most of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are not equipped for the snow and people mostly stay inside when it snows. The country does not have much salt for the snow and they do not have snow plows, so it’s hard for most people to navigate in the snow.

As for classes, I only have four classes, instead of five to six, and they meet less frequently, so I have a lot more free time on my hands. Classes only meet once a week for about two hours instead of two to three times a week for an hour.It will be nice when I finally venture out and explore more!

 

written by: Stefanie Davis

2017: A personal Reflection

2017: A personal Reflection

We can count only two days and the year is no longer 2017! But 2017, what a year ! It meant a lot to the person I am and yet to become. I feel compelled to provide the meaning of the year we are about to bid farewell from a personal level. 2017 had been the most unique year I ever faced in my entire life so far, it came with tremendous changes to the whole landscape of my life. I was forced to grow, to grow emotionally and intellectually . This growth was influenced by people, people who came in their different fashions in my life. I have a lot of people I can’t even start naming whose impact deserve my sincere appreciation.Hats off to you all!

I am eternally grateful to all those people who realized the potential in me when it was still vague to most people even to myself. Initially, some had no reason to associate with me but that could not stop them from coming into my life, I hope they continue infiltrating other people’s lives as they did to mine. I am a better person today than I were yesteryear or even yesterday. I have met some of the most amazing people with whom am humbled to be associated with, the  list of their names can be tedious. It is important to the self me to note that, at most instances during my 2017, with that great departure from the other of the world  to this other side of the world , changes and adjustments became inevitable .

Some amazing place , somewhere around the world is quietly watching me grow from somewhat a naive young man into a sound, responsible, informed  and wonderful man ready for the realities the world . 2017 had room for all this to culminate. I got exposed to the other side of the world, in biology this could be a different ecosystem that enables a creature to widen its foodweb . Like Apostle Paul in the Bible would question, “What shall we say  then” I will answer that as an expression of gratitude to Almighty God! The Lord has been merciful and good to me.Thank you Oh God!

It is in this year that I saw myself doing first snow sledding . My first trial on the sled board , I guess perhaps made cordination get off my body, I was just moving downhill with incoherent cordination, I could feel my lack of flexibility. I improved though with more trials.

I close my 2017 with some beautiful memories that I will take with me in my entire lifetime. These are memories made for myself.

I pray God provide a blessed  2018 to my family, relatives, friends ,beloved ones and myself!