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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.

 

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.

Allwein Scholar

Allwein Scholar

 I am Mai Phan, an international student from Hanoi, Vietnam. I am majoring in Global Studies and Politics.

As I said in my previous blog, one of the reason that I choose LVC among twenty colleges that I applied to is  the generosity of the college. I am coming here as a Allwein recipient. John Bowman Allwein Scholarship is the most prestigious scholarship that LVC offers for students. The scholarship not only covers for the student’s four undergraduate year, but also provides $2,500 stipend for each of four years for research, travel, or study expenses like studying abroad, collaborative research, internship, books. In addition, I have Dr. Jeff Robbins as my scholarship advisor.

First year of college, I used my stipend to study abroad in the Netherlands from mid-may to mid-june. It was a fantastic experience that I never forget. Besides accomplishing six credits from the multiculturalism and human rights class, I did travel to five different European countries. The trip has increased my knowledge about the world as well as people from other cultures.

Therefore, it is my honor to be an Allwein scholar. In the future, I will use the stipends to do some cool and constructive things!

Typical Tuesday

Typical Tuesday

Intro

My name is Isaac Reese and I’m a third year Criminal Justice student at Lebanon Valley College who is studying abroad at Kingston University in England! I arrived at Kingston University September 12 and will be studying for one semester till December 16. I am living in the Middle Mill residence halls on campus here at Kingston. The University is located in the town Kingston Upon Thames and is a 15 minute train ride away from London. I am interested in volleyball (sports in general), music, and exercising at the gym. I decided to study abroad because I have never travelled to another country before and I wanted to change that immediately! I was not sure what to expect when I arrived in England because I’m from a small town and not a lot of people have the opportunity to travel like I have. I would have not imagined a kid from New Oxford Pennsylvania going this far away from home because it simply just does not happen and I wanted more then New Oxford could offer.

 

 

St. Paul’s Cathedral London England

 

 

Tuesday’s at Kingston  

On Tuesday’s I have one class and that is popular fiction from 2:00-4:00. My day will start at 9:00 usually and I will have a bowl of cereal or I will make myself a ham, salami, cheese, pepperoni, mayo sandwich. I have no experience cooking so I’m still learning how to cook more difficult things and I am enjoying it! Next, before class I will go grocery shopping at the Kingston Centre where I shop at Aldi and Sainsbury’s where the prices are cheap and the selection is very good. The farmers market is my next stop where I can get carrots, potatoes, onions, lettuce, raspberries, blueberries, and bananas but the selections are endless! Grocery shopping is a frequent task in England because food is fresh and there are less preservatives in food so it will spoil quicker then in the United States. Walking to class from Middle Mill is a nice seven minute walk with many different ways to go because of trails, roads, and alleys. This is my smallest class of the four courses I am taking at Kingston with only 34 students. The classrooms table and chair, not the typical desk and chair at some colleges and universities in the United States. The course is made up of lecture, class discussion, and small group discussion. This class also has a seminar that meets on Wednesday’s and Thursday’s for one hour making the total course three hours in length. In this class we will be reading and discussing romance, fairy tales, and comic/horror novels. After class I usually make dinner, talk with my flat mates, work on homework, plan weekend trips to new places, or I will go into the town centre to explore!

Courtauld Institute of Art London England

 

What is so different here?

The one thing that is normal in Kingston that I am not used to is the amount of walking and how it is sometimes the best transportation and I like it! The other forms of transportation are taking the bus, the underground (the tube), or the above ground rail. I have used all forms of transportation and they are all excellent. Once, when I was in London I used all four transportation services in one night to get back to my residence hall! My favorite aspect about my host country is the amount of different people I meet everyday. Kingston University is such a diverse student population and I enjoy meeting people I might never meet or talk to in the United States. I was surprised at the large number of United States students studying at Kingston when I first arrived because there are many in my residence hall blocks and in my other classes.

What’s next?

I have so much to talk about with all the other places I have travelled! My next few posts I will try to catch up everyone on the places I have been to. Fill free to follow my Instagram account: @reeseisaac. If you don’t have an Instagram, follow me on Facebook page Isaac Reese. I can be reached by two emails at imr001@lvc.edu OR k1732994@kingston.ac.uk. If anyone has good recommendations on where to visit please tell me because I’m always looking for a fun place to travel over here! I have lots of pictures to post so stay tuned and sorry if I’m writing to much, I’m just having a great time and studying abroad has been the best decision of my life and I hope it never ends. Cheers!!

 

Trafalgar Square London England
Hamilton Gardens

Hamilton Gardens

“Hamilton doesn’t have much going for it, except the gardens. That’s about it.”

The common attitude among the New Zealand students is that you have to leave Hamilton if you want to see and do stuff. However, despite the negative attitude towards Hamilton, I’ve only ever heard great things about the gardens. Since the weather was really nice on Sunday, a few of us decided to go there. The gardens are free to the public, which was surprising since you have to pay admission to go almost anywhere back home.

The gardens are broken into different sections with different themes. My favorite gardens, the Italian Renaissance and Indian Char Bagh, were from the Paradise Collection. It felt like you were entering a totally different country when walking into each area. Other gardens in this collection were the Chinese Scholar Garden and the Japanese Garden of Contemplation. It’s crazy that all these gardens in one place can have such different vibes and moods when you walk through them. From the feeling of being Europe to the serenity of Japan, there is so much culture included in the Hamilton Gardens.

Indian Char Bagh Garden
Italian Renaissance Garden
Chinese Scholar Garden

In addition to the Paradise Collection, the gardens also have a Productive Collection and a Fantasy Collection. My favorite Productive Collection garden was the “sustainable backyard” which showed how a space the size of a backyard can be transformed into something you can use to live off of. Sustainability is an important issue in today’s world and having this space exemplifies how families can use their own backyard to help the environment. The Fantasy Collection included gardens such as the Tudor Garden and Tropical Garden. The Tudor Garden featured sculptures of mythical beasts which I thought were really interesting to look at. Since it is winter, the sculptures brought life into the gardens that weren’t fully in bloom. However, despite being winter, the gardens were still gorgeous. I can’t even begin to imagine how pretty they must be in the springtime.

Tudor Garden

16 things an Irish student loves at LVC

16 things an Irish student loves at LVC

  1. There are fries literally everyday. Criss cross, wedges, old bay, crinkle cut. Don’t know what to get with that chicken? Fries. What about that sandwich? Fries. How about that ice cream? Fries.
  2. Everyone holds the door open for you. It doesn’t matter if you’re literally 20 feet from the door, someone will probably still hold it open for you.
  3. Why are there so many puppies on campus?! It’s amazing! If my university at home had that many puppies I don’t think I’d get any work done.
  4. Sports are taken very seriously. If you play a sport expect to practice 6 days a week and possibly twice a day. Compare this to Northern Ireland where you might practice once or twice a week and have a game on a Saturday.
  5. Slang like “What’s good?” and “Came in clutch” just don’t make sense to me, but then neither does “What’s the craic?” (Irish slang meaning ‘what’s up’ or ‘how’s it going’)
  6. Redbook trips are so freaking awesome. Free trips to New York City? Yup. Hersheypark? Yeah. Skiing? Uh-huh. Phillies baseball? Of course.
  7. We got to ask the President for an extra day off because the football team beat Albright. That is literally the coolest thing ever. I don’t even know who plays sports in my university at home, never mind go and support them and get a day off for it.
  8. I’ve never experienced anything like the UG. Music I’ve never heard in my life (we don’t really listen to rap music in Ireland) and sweat running down the wall. Sure it’s all part of the college experience, right?
  9. Walking tacos in the C-Store are honestly my favourite college food. I could eat those things for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  10. The professors actually want to get to know you. They want to see you do well in their class and facilitate that as much as possible. Some even have you meet their family and go to their house for dinner. Yes, that really happened.
  11. An Irish accent on campus will literally get people you’ve never met coming up to you and asking you to “just say some words”, followed by me having no idea what to say in response.
  12. A lot of people like to tell you that they’re Irish too (no matter if its 2.43% Irish), but that’s okay because who doesn’t want to be Irish?!
  13. Racquetball is my new favourite sport. Everyone on campus has played at least once and it can get very competitive.
  14. I always forget about the sales tax they add on at the register in Turkey Hill or any other store off campus. Basically it’s a complete guessing game as to how much I’m about to spend.
  15. College academic life is very different. Participation and discussion is 100% required and can sometimes count for up to 30% of your overall grade. You will have homework every night and quizzes throughout the semester, instead of one big exam at the end.
  16. But most of all, I love the people of Lebanon Valley College and how proud they are of their College. It’s an amazing place and community!
The beginning of my adventure…

The beginning of my adventure…

My Lebanon Valley College study abroad journey began back when I first applied for University in Northern Ireland. Although I didn’t know the specifics at that point, I knew I wanted to spend a year studying in America and so this became important to me when choosing to study at Queen’s University Belfast. I knew they had a great Study USA programme and as soon as I could, I applied, was interviewed and got a place on the scheme!

I trawled through a list of about 100 colleges throughout the United States, but finally settled on Lebanon Valley College. At first, it stuck out to me because it was close to many places on the East Coast like Philadelphia, New York City and Washington DC. The campus also looked amazing and it seemed to give a real sense of community and acceptance.

The weeks before my departure date, 22nd August, were the slowest weeks of my life. I was in complete excited anticipation of what the year would hold, as well as a bit of nerves and worry, as expected. Finally, I was off to Dublin Airport on a cold summers morning (but it wasn’t raining for once), knowing this would be the last time I’d see my family for 4 months before I came home for Christmas break. My Mum had cried every day for about a week by this point, but I was determined that I would only feel excitement the morning I left. It suddenly hit me and reality set in when I had just said goodbye to my parents (with Mum in floods of tears and Dad as cool and collected as ever) as I walked through security at the airport. I let out a few tears (this is the first time Mum and Dad are hearing this, oops) but quickly gathered myself and excitement rushed back in while waiting in line to go through United States of America pre-clearance. The only thing I wasn’t looking forward to was the 17 hours of travelling ahead of me.

Late on the night of the 22nd August I arrived at Lebanon Valley College. I had been picked up by Caitlin Murphy, my amazing International Advisor, and got my first look at where I’d be living for the next year as we drove from Harrisburg to Annville. Caitlin has been such a brilliant help this year when I’ve needed something, haven’t been sure how something worked or when I just wanted someone to chat to. Caitlin, Jill and the whole Center for Global Education deserve a lot of recognition for the massive amount of work they put in and the pure passion they have for their jobs and for making a LVC a more diverse campus.

I’ve never slept better in my life that night, despite the anxious thoughts and worry. I was to be up at my first orientation session at 9am with the rest of the new International students. Orientation was incredible as I met so many new people so quickly and made lifelong friends in those first few days. It was overwhelming, as it is for any new student starting College, but at the same time exciting and new. I was ready for the experience and open to meeting as many new people as possible.

I quickly found out that the LVC campus really is as beautiful as it looks on the website and I knew I had come to the right place. The people have also played a huge part in my life here. They truly are a wonderful community who are willing to listen to new people, learn about new cultures and are just genuinely kind and caring. This is definitely the reason why I haven’t been properly homesick (sorry Mum and Dad). The LVC community are my adopted family.

At this point I figured I’d just share some photos of my first few days and experiences at Lebanon Valley College. More posts coming soon!

My first day at Lebaon Valley College!
My first day at Lebaon Valley College!

 

So so hot!
So so hot!

 

Flag raising ceremony
Flag raising ceremony

 

Group of International students
Group of International students

 

First baseball game- Phillies
First baseball game- Phillies

 

First trip to Walmart
First trip to Walmart

 

I slid down this, I'm not joking
I slid down this, I’m not joking

 

Hangzhou

Hangzhou

The first time I heard of the West Lake was during our trip to Beijing. We went to the Capital back in September during the first month of our study abroad experience. Our program visited the Summer Palace after walking most of the day through Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, both political and cultural relics of China. The Summer Palace was beautiful; resting adjacent to a picturesque lake that I presumed was naturally formed. Little did I know that the entire grounds of the palace were seated on the soil that was dredged up to form this man-made lake. The lake was created by workers hauling buckets of earth and depositing them nearby, surmounting in a great hill that is at the center of the Palace grounds. I wondered what the inspiration was that would drive the Emperors of ancient China to build such a place. What were they trying to replicate? It was the West Lake in Hangzhou, over 1,300 kilometers south of the Capital.

 

Hearing of the Lake’s beauty, and considering how the emperors of old replicated it in the Capital I was eager to finally see the original lake. We departed from out dorm for Hangzhou around 8:30 in the morning last Saturday, taking a high speed train from Shanghai Hongqiao Station, arriving just in time for lunch. Meeting a local friend of our program coordinator, I was glad to have the chance to practice my Chinese and learn about the area. We headed over to restaurant near the station. There we had a family style meal chock full of local dishes including dumplings, seafood balls, meat, and vegetable dishes. There was not one thing on the table that I didn’t like, and my favorite was a peanut dish. They were soaked in a kind of vinegar sauce that made you pucker; they were so good I had to get a doggie bag to snack on them later.

 

From the restaurant we walked through the downtown area, past a canal and some old-style residential areas. I noticed the streets were much less crowded than Shanghai or Beijing, Hangzhou being a city of only 8 million. This comparison would have shocked me before coming to China, as the closest city to my home, Baltimore, has just over half a million residents. But now, having lived in a city of 24 million for over three months, the streets of Hangzhou felt relatively unoccupied. It was somewhat refreshing.

 

We passed Halal restaurants and western-style coffee shops, heading towards the lake. Here the crowds became denser, waiting to walk across a small arch bridge then along a zigzagged path that spanned part of the shoreline. Our group made it out onto the bridge and got a quick photo. Next to the lake shore, we saw the beautiful lake and surrounding mountains. Off in the distance to the left was a pagoda, and out on the lake there were many boats ferrying people about. We would find out where the boats would take us the following day. We ventured along the shore, walking through several parks where people were playing folk instruments, singing songs, and dancing. This is one thing I will miss about China, how the older generations fill social places with music and life. It makes me smile.

 

The next day we took a boat across the lake to an island where we found trees bursting with fall color encircling three small pools. The island was small and we were able to explore it in its entirety in about an hour, snapping a ton of great photos with the beautiful backdrop nature provided. Taking the same boat back to shore, a bus was waiting to take us to the next destination, one of the biggest Buddhist temples in all of China. Through a short spat of traffic around the lake, we made it to the temple grounds in good time. First we saw Buddha’s carved into a cliff face, I estimate there were as many as 20 of them strewn about the rock. A placard revealed that some of them were over 1000 years old. I enjoyed this place because it was truly ancient, whereas in some other tourist destinations the structures I found had been reconstructed within the last 20 years or so. As were the temples that we would see next, which were rebuilt during the 1990’s. Still they were a sight to behold, housing massive Buddha’s and occupied by the devoted. We burned incense, explored the temples, and headed back on the bus to our final stop in our tour of Hangzhou.

 

The Ancient Cultural Street that the driver took us to reminded me a lot of the area surrounding the Yu Gardens in Shanghai. Full of handicrafts and local treasures, this place was also crowded with tourists, even a few westerners. I tried to stay off the crowded main street, so I stuck with our local friend Tom for this part of the trip. He took me into some traditional Chinese medicine stores, which I found fascinating. They had a barrel of free tea and boxes upon boxes of natural remedies. People sipped tea and discussed with the shop’s proprietors (who wore white lab coats like doctors) about their ailments and such. I did not dabble in any of the cures, though. Maybe the next time I am in China I will. We left the cultural street late that evening and began our journey back to Shanghai.

 

It had been a long day, and the bus ride back was relaxing. I reflected on the city and our activities there, and I wish I had known about the treasures of Hangzhou sooner.  It would have made a great place to do some personal travel and really get a feel for the town. To me it seemed the people there were in less of a hurry than Shanghai, where the streets and metro lines are full of the daily rush hour drama. Having run the gauntlet of rush hour transportation in Shanghai, Hangzhou was a welcomed break. I enjoyed the trip very much and hope to go back in the future.

Rise

Rise

Something I’ve learned while studying alongside Chinese students and studying under the local professors it is that the world is about to be turned on its head. Their creativity, work ethic, and devotion to success cannot be compared to the students of the United States, who seem to have fallen far behind the rising global standard for education in my opinion. Additionally, any class taught in the U.S. on Asia and the Pacific cannot compare to the firsthand experiences gained from living here. The more visible indicators of Asia’s rise, including the increase in share of global GDP and prevalence as a manufacturing superpower are clear, but I do not think the capture the pace at which the change has begun to occur.

Any walk down a street in Shanghai and you will see young professionals, dressed to a T moving hurriedly through the swarms of pedestrian and electric scooter traffic, their phone conversations drowned out by frantic honking. Shanghainese spoken loudly by shop owners and slurred over intercoms at bus and subway stations, cab drivers hailing passengers rather than the other way around. Open stalls where peddlers sell fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, and stranger things that I’d rather not mention are commonplace. Overladen scooter-bike hybrids full of bottles that can fetch 10 Mao (about 5 cents) take part in the hustle of city life, where each person is trying to earn their stake. Hurling themselves into a world of commerce and progress, some westerners would question the tactics these people are using to eek out a meager living under the feet of foreign brands. But I think it is for just that reason that these people will scrape and claw to gain ground in any way that they can. They have been under the Louis Vuitton boot, the heel of Prada, behind the screens of  our Apple phones, melted down into the plastic toys, sanded into the furniture and shipped to the west.  As long as this machine grinds unceasingly, the west may still have the advantage. But I think something else will happen. Chinese ingenuity can’t be kept under the thumb of the west for much longer. Collectively the people are advancing at a mind boggling pace. It is time we start teaching children in the U.S. Hanyu.