A Few Observations About Paris….

Okay so I know its been a little while since my last post! what can I say, its been pretty crazy since I got here… getting used to an entirely different academic and bureaucratic system, adjusting to weather and making new friends. I thinks thats possibly my favourite thing about exchange so far, the people you meet from different corners of the globe, different cultures and languages makes it so much more interesting.

Two of my friends from Canada and the Netherlands in front of Notre dame

Two of my friends from Canada and the Netherlands in front of Notre dame

On a river boat cruise past the Eiffel Tower

On a river boat cruise past the Eiffel Tower

I’ve been trying to really soak up Parisian life, taking in the Louvre on rainy days, hanging out in cafes and hitting the cozy Irish pubs when the snow hits…  and the snow has been hitting VERY hard..  especially weird  when speaking to friends and family back home in Australia while its 40+ degrees, and I’m looking out my window at a snow storm..

A few things i have noticed about Paris ;

Apple store in the Louvre...

Apple store in the Louvre…

They are VERY stylish:

its no wonder that Chanel, Dior and Louise Vuitton are all based in Paris.. people here wear a lot of black and neutral tones. Where at home I am quite happy to adopt the uni student uniform and rock up to an early morning class in trackies, ugg boots- and occasionally pyjamas- i’m not sure I would dare here- the typical attire just for class being sleek jeans and chinos, trendy nikes and chic boots, matched with oversize sweaters, clasp purses and some pretty fantastic coats and scarves. EVERY day is an occasion here… and i must admit, I quite like it.

The que to enter the Abercrombie and Fitch store on the Champs Elysee

The que to enter the Abercrombie and Fitch store on the Champs Elysee

Cold Weather simply means another jumper:

They are not deterred by the weather AT ALL! at home anything below 0 and you’ve got a hell of a job getting me to leave the house.  life here continues but with a few extra layers, people are still out at the clubs and pubs, shopping and eating out on the streets. I find it really odd, in australia everything simply shuts down and people dont leave the house unless they HAVE to … Parisians really do make the most of it…

One of the canals after a snow storm...

Smoking is a cultural MUST.

My theory is that its so freaking cold most of the year that smoking offers a form of warmth for the hands..Clusters of people stand outside buildings lighters in hand, chatting a blowing smoke tails into the air. In reality It seems to have more to do with the general attitude of life here. Parisians and perhaps the French in general have a decadent and self indulgent nature… they want chocolate they eat the gaddamn chocolate and they dont feel bad about it… Temptation isnt seen as so much of a sin here as an inclusion to everyday life.

Wine is a cultural must....

Wine is a cultural must….

Living in Paris Breeds ‘Snootiness’

There is a HUGE population of homeless people and children in Paris. When i first arrived i could not believe how many people were sleeping in train stations and over heat vents on the street- maybe its partially ignorance, or that I haven’t seen this level of disadvantage in Australia, in any case its a pretty profound thing to see. the first day i was here I had little homeless children of about 3-4 coming up to me begging for money. I found it so heartbreaking. saddly have become quite used to it, everyone says ‘you give them money they will continue to harass you’ and that ‘many of them really have homes but beg as a way to make money’,  I’m ashamed to say I have found myself doing as the french do and ignoring them.  Dont get me wrong, it breaks my heart to see the situation that these people are in- but it is just a part of life here, and if you were to feel sad for every disadvantaged person you see, you would never get on with life here, its just everywhere. Maybe this is where the famous ‘snobbish’ french attitude comes from; they ignore the things they would rather not see…

Homeless man and three puppies, all asleep on the street

Homeless man and three puppies, all asleep on the street

On a lighter note…

Paris is a melting pot of ethnicities and cultures, I live just down the street from ‘little middle east’ where they have Halal stores and little lebanese restaurants making the best couscous! Only a few streets over is a hub of chinese, japanese and indian stores… Its one of the appealing things about Paris is that there is always something different to discover just around the corner or down an alley way. you just have to go for a wonder and see where you end up… although in my case it has generally meant ending up in a store drooling over a pair of shoes..

EIffel Tower at night

EIffel Tower at night

Sunset over Paris

Sunset over Paris

The End – 5 things I’ll miss most in the USA

 

It’s such a shame that my time in the USA has come to an end. Depressingly, I  have returned to Australia and the real world of house hunting, finding a job, and enrolling in new subjects. On the plus side I get to see my family and friends… I have definitely left the United States with plenty of unforgettable memories due to the memorable experiences I had. So I thought the best way to end my blogging is with a classic top 5 countdown of the things ill miss the most about my student exchange, number one being the most missed.

 

5.Walmart, Macy’s, and everything in between

I never ever thought I would be saying this, but since my return to Australia’s expensive retail I’ve started missing some of the USA’s best shopping spots. Shops like Walmart and Macy’s offer identical, if not better, quality products for sometimes half the price of what Australian outlets provide. I also yearn for the variety of products the USA offers, it seems they have so much more choice in absolutely everything. The food is cheaper, the clothes are better, and cheaper, and shopping seems to be so much more convenient with thanks to shops like Walmart that offer virtually anything you need. My solution to this heartache has been found however… Macy’s online now delivers to Australia – YAY!

IMG_0854 IMG_1558

4. Ice-skating, Ice Hockey and Snow

In complete contrast to the NRL I follow in Australia, college ice hockey was the in thing in Oswego. Many Friday and Saturday nights were spent supporting the SUNY’s Lakers as they played neighbouring teams. Ice Hockey equalled royalty in Oswego, and going to games showcased intense school spirit on and off the rink. As SUNY Oswego had their very own ice rink, wishful students were able to hire skates during the weekend. I took advantage of this on several occasions, and fell flat on several occasions. It’s not as easy as it looks, but it is really fun. I can’t think if many places in Australia where I can go ice-skating.

68385_515929761751913_850361728_n 305966_4521469870601_1175232345_n 486987_10151545540314746_162782701_n

3. Easy Work at SUNY Oswego

It turns out the rumours are true. Study in the United States, although different, is considerably easier then in Australia. The workload is heavier, but simpler. I will miss being able to write essays and reports on anything I feel, and being generously marked for doing so. I will also miss group exams with permission to use A4 double-sided notes while answering questions. I must admit although it was easy work, I did learn a lot  – so it still works.

 

2. Oswego Night Life

Living in a small college town in the United States definitely has its perks. Every night of the week there was 6+ bars open to serve the thirsty students of SUNY Oswego. Some nights of the week consisted of 50c Yard Glass and/or mug refills, $9 Fishbowls that contained 24 shots of alcohol, and $2 Coronas, as well as $1 tacos and burritos – all enjoyed responsibly of cause. This was sadly missed as soon as I re-entered the Sydney nightlife.

IMG_0952 IMG_1133 IMG_1351

1. Friends

This will sound very cliché, however it is the honest truth. My global exchange allowed me to make life long friends. Thanks to the exchange I have made close friends from Bolivia, Brazil, England, Nigeria, New Zealand, the United States (obviously), and most importantly, Australia. During my time at SUNY Oswego I grew very close to a few Australian friends, two that reside in Brisbane and the other in Melbourne. At the beginning we were pushed together because of our obvious likeness, but as time went on our friendships grew stronger. These people and the memories I made with them will remain in my life forever, and I plan to visit every single one of my Australian and international friends in the future.

418938_4148457683311_993662661_n-1 427808_515926648418891_2099587003_n 28061_4944005076152_1591953863_n 76116_4100235588426_197688651_n

 

Anyone considering doing a global exchange should apply now! It was the best time of my life so far!!!

Waterfalls, whales, caves…and yet another festival.

Well, first semester over in Sweden is now done and dusted, and the time has gone surprisingly fast! And I have been a very bad blogger, in not keeping you guys updated with everything that has been happening here, but one of the reasons it has gone so fast is that I have been astoundingly busy. The last semester has been so rich with experiences (both educational and otherwise) that I have barely had time to stop and take it all in! And has it been fun? Hells yeah! So much so that I have organised to stay here for the second semester also. This is pretty much confirmed, although I am still waiting for the official go ahead from immigration. (the wheels turn very slowly there) There is so much I want to tell you guys about, but before I get too involved in what is happening now, I have one more “catch up” post about Iceland…I actually started writing this over a month ago, so it would be a shame not to finish it!!!

In my last post, I had just finished the walk from Þorsmörk to Skógar. After my very lovely lie in the morning after I decided to spend the morning checking out the Skógar Folk Museum. This is an awesome little place, with an indoor “formal” museum with relics relevant to the cultural history of the area and an outdoor section with reconstructed traditional dwellings, including a church, a schoolhouse, and (my favourite) old farmhouses complete with grass roofs. There is also a totally awesome transport museum – they link everything together really well, so it is more like a journey through Iceland’s history than just looking at old cars.

My favourite room in the Skógar museum.

The reconstructed farmhouses – and you can go inside!

How awesome is this old-school snow mobile?

After getting a fill of some local culture, it was time to head back to Reykjavík for some music culture. The bus ride back had a commentary, which included some history of the places we were travelling through and also some snippets from Icelandic Sagas, which are a collection of historical writings/folk tales written between 1000-1500. And of course we had to stop and check out a couple more waterfalls. 🙂

On arriving back in Reykjavík I headed straight back to the local campground – I didn’t think it would be worth pushing my luck trying to find accommodation as Culture Night is even bigger than Pride, and once again I had not booked anywhere to stay. So, all set up and showered up, it was time to head into town and see what was going on.

Culture Night is predominantly a music festival, and although there are other events (displays, exhibitions) going on throughout the weekend, Saturday night is the “big event”. There were a number of stages set up around the city, and the local music venues also had stuff going on, so there was pretty much something for every taste. Russell Crowe was one of the “guest stars” this year, and one of the other Aussies in Reykjavík told me he turned up unannounced at their hostel earlier in the day for a jam! I started the night in a smaller venue where they had one of Iceland’s young metal bands playing, and then cruised around the town going between stages and venues. The atmosphere was really nice – although they allow drinking in the streets, everyone was really chilled out – aside from the people who where there to party hard, there was also a really big family atmosphere and it was nice to see people of all ages mingling together in the streets. The night culminated with an awesome fireworks display.

Starting out the night listening to some local talent.

Russell Crowe on one of the four “main stages” around the city.

Fireworks signalling the official “end” of Culture Night.

After the fireworks, I spent the rest of the night chilling out at one of the local pubs, where the music continued well into the night. The night ended well after dawn (it was midway through the afternoon when I finally made it home) after befriending a local who had a keen interest in all things scientific, particularly in physics. This man had the most amazing book collection I have ever seen, including first edition texts from many prominent scientists and scientific ethicists and philosophers. His particular interest was disproving Gödel’s incompleteness theorem by finding a theory of everything (ToE) – certainly an ambitious task! Needless to say, we had a very interesting (and argumentative night) touching on many aspects of current, past, and potential scientific knowledge and philosophy.

My last few days in Reykjavík were busy ones. I spent one day checking out the city itself, now that there was a reprieve from the rain! Part of this included a walking tour through the city. Walking tours are something I really love to do when I get to a new city as I tend to walk mostly anyway, so it helps to orient yourself to the city lay out and you get to learn a bit about the history and culture of the place also. And Iceland has a vibrant and colourful history and culture. 🙂

I was going to caption this, but I think the photo speaks for itself.

I was going to caption this, but I think the photo speaks for itself.

The colourful back streets of Reykjavík.

The colourful back streets of Reykjavík.

An elf stone. A whole family of elves live in here. Seriously. See the door?

An elf stone. A whole family of elves live in here. Seriously. See the door?

Bikes and flowers. Two of my favourite things.

Bikes and flowers. Two of my favourite things. In the same place. Together. Cool.

The Radhus (city hall). If you look closely there are portholes in the mossy wall, representing the city's seafaring history.

The Radhus (city hall). There are portholes in the wall, representing the city’s seafaring history.

This dude really wanted his photo taken and spent quite some time posing for all us tourists.

This dude really wanted his photo taken and spent quite some time posing for all us tourists.

Looking up the hill to Halgrímskirkja.

Looking up the hill to Halgrímskirkja.

Look - blue sky! A lovely Icelandic summer afternoon.

Blue sky! A lovely summer afternoon.

Looking out over the city from the top of Halgrímskirkja.

Looking out over the city from the top of Halgrímskirkja.

An example of some of the graffiti that decorates this already colourful city.

Some of the graffiti that decorates this already colourful city.

Harpa - the performing arts centre.

Harpa – the performing arts centre by day.

And Harpa in her full glory at night.

And Harpa in her full glory at night. (it looks much better in person)

Any trip to Iceland would not be complete without a whale watching tour, so I spent an afternoon out on the water catching up with some Minke whales. The whale tourism industry is in opposition to the whale hunting industry, and the tour operators asked us all to please avoid whale eating – the other whale oriented tourist activity in Iceland. (most locals are not that keen on eating whale – < 5% actually do) As I wasn’t overly keen on chomping down on some whale carcass anyway this was not too hard to agree to.

The afternoon out on the water was lovely, and we were even lucky enough to see the last of the puffins, albeit from a distance. (it was the end of the season, so they were leaving the harbour, not the planet!)

A Minke whale - for a big creature they are *very* hard to photograph.

A Minke whale – for a big creature they are *very* hard to photograph.

View of the mountains around the harbour - and a gull!

View of the mountains around the harbour – and a gull!

A sparkly, sparkly ocean - such a beautiful place to spend an evening. :))

A sparkly, sparkly ocean – such a beautiful place to spend an evening.

Then it was time for some more outdoor adventures. So I headed out to Þingvellir National Park for some snorkelling. Now even though it is summer, snorkelling in Þingvellir is not such a simple thing. We were to snorkel across the Silfra rift, the spot at which the American and Eurasian tectonic plates are (slowly) separating. And we were snorkelling in a glacial lake, to the water temperature was, oh, say 2 or 3°C. So all dressed up in thermals, puffy heat suits, and dry suits we were set to go. Being glacial water, it was incredibly clear and clean, but even with only a small part of our faces uncovered it was incredibly cold!

After lunch we headed down into the caves, which was a pretty cool way to spend an afternoon. And the surrounding National Park was absolutely gorgeous. 😀

The beautiful Þingvellir National Park.

The beautiful Þingvellir National Park.

Ready to head down into the cave...

All ready to head down into the cave…

This rock. It looks like fire. I *love* this rock. :))

This rock looks like fire. I *love* this rock.

And that was it. My time in Iceland was over. I could write so much more about this wonderful, diverse little country, but I think it may be time to tell you a little bit about the country I am actually living in – Sweden.

So I am going to leave you with a photo of where I spent my last day in Iceland – sometimes there is something nice about having a late afternoon flight. 😀

The Blue Lagoon. Tourist central, overpriced, but a totally unmissable experience.

The Blue Lagoon. Tourist central, overpriced, but a totally unmissable experience.

a Quick Video- Sunset at the EIffel Tower

Wanted to share a video of sunset at the eiffel tower, it was taken from the balcony at the hotel where I was staying… not to make you jealous or anything 😉

 

Letting it all sink in..

Hi

I’m Jessica Anderson, I’m a third year psychology student who has just begun an exchange in Regina, SK, Canada

It’s been almost a month since I left home to set out on this big adventure, firstly stopping at Vancouver to look at the sights (such as the aquarium, conservatory and a few major parks) and to get slightly more acclimatised to the winter weather. Although I was later to find out that the temps of -10 were nothing compared to the temperatures that I would experience at my new home in Regina.

Within the first few weeks I began to settle in to the new routine of living in shared and catered accommodation in Luther Residence and began to start classes and make new friends. This also led me to go to one of the Cougar’s (the University Basketball team) games and also to participate in ice skating with some of my friends on what I thought was a massive ice skating rink and even witnessed a zamboni.

I explored the Saskatchewan Royal Museum, the majority of downtown Regina and also last but not least Walmart which is home to everything and anything that a person will ever need including McDonalds and a Tim Hortons (which I am led to believe is the most popular coffee chain in Canada)

Still got heaps of adventures to go 🙂

Christmas with United Kingdom and returning home…

The people you meet maketh the place

 

I have never been one for site seeing or photos. I enjoy the people along the way, the stories they tell and the experiences we have together (hence the lack of images of London City). As my time in London came to a close I was invited to share in christmas with my good friend Billy and his family in Brecon in Wales. There I met the Big Brecon Dawg (You can check out his raps right here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWwVrFXejYs) himself and met some lovely welsh ‘country folk’. The family was interesting and fun. The first night was spent getting to know the family over some fine welsh Red, the second we were introduced to more of the family (Uncles, Aunties, cousins and family friends), and the third was spent exploring Brecon for all its glory.

Jacob's blog photos4

Tanika and I with The Big Brecon Dawg

Brecon had a beautiful welsh country side and was a nice little town of approximately 5000 people. It is situated in what is called ‘The valleys” and hosts one of Wales’ most famous events, The Brecon Jazz Festival. Outside of the town contains a famous site of Wales, called the Brecon Beacons (Two tall mountains). On the sunday, Billy took us on a guided tour of the town and expressed the stories and tragedies of the town, even taking us through the cathedral village.

Jacob's blog photos1

Billy and I in front of the Brecon River

Jacob's blog photos

Christmas with the Shepherds

The return home was just as exciting as I managed to feel the after effects of a lot of Welsh food and fine Welsh wine by being sick continuously until we arrived back home to London. This is why we don’t treat ourselves too much!

The following week we were invited to go to the Boyce family for christmas dinner. This is the family that I stayed with when I first came to London. The dinner was superb (as always) and I was spoilt with a couple of London T-shirts just to prove everyone that I HAVE actually been to London. We followed through the night with continuing completing our last assignments and were able to live the life of true Uni Students by not sleeping AT ALL. Before Billy left I was graced with a birthday cake he and my other Welsh friend Ffion had made. This cake was accompanied by the Australian National Anthem playing in the background…

Jacob's blog photos2

Billy, myself and Ffion with the cake they had made

My last day I was joined by Rhys, Tanika and my good friend Paul. Rhys had bought me a nice new british jumper (which I wear regularly) and they had all come to help take down the Fort. We journeyed out to the Airport together where Paul got in lots of trouble for attempting to take photos of me going through customs… He just deleted it before almost being arrested. My flight home was quick as I managed to sleep the whole way and when I was awake I just thought about what everyone would be doing back in London.

Jacob's blog photos5

This is Paul and I being very confused…

I still think about them and what they are doing. I miss it a lot and I look forward to returning one day. Now that I am home safe, the joys of social media allow me to keep in contact with the close friends I made along the way. They are what make the exchange program so important and such an incredible experience.

Jacob's blog photos3

Sporting the British jumper from Rhys and saying goodbye to Ffion… Brave smiles

I was met at the airport by my father and brother, and my brother shouted me to a night out, where, undoubtedly, I wore that London T-shirt with absolute style and grace!

J

My brother Joel and I, repping London styles!

Despite missing everyone, I am glad to be home in the heat. I know it is cliche, but no matter what I will always call Australia home…