Ciao Ciao Ciao

Hello readers,

It is that time again – blog post from Madrid.

I am just back from a four day weekend in Italy. For those wondering how and why i’m going to all these different countries just for weekends – there are a couple of explanations. Firstly I don’t have class on Friday – instantly a long weekend. Secondly, flights in Europe are very cheap, a lot of the trips we have booked our flights there and back for under 50 euros. Thirdly, with cheap flights and air BNB’s – our weekend trips to other countries are actually cheaper than weekends in Spain.

My friend Isabelle from the USA and I  first flew  into Rome, where we spent the day running around the city. I have been to Rome a couple of years ago, but it was just as magically.  We saw the classic tourist destinations around the city, such as: Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, parts of the Roman Empire.  Picture this- dinner at an Italian restaurant, temperature about 25 degrees, eating both pizza and pasta with a man playing his accordion in the background, followed by gelato next to the Trevi fountain.

Later that night we boarder the bus to the Amalfi coast, with an American company Bus2Alps. Fun fact: 105 people on tour, 1 Australian, 1  South African tour guide and 103 Americans. At early hours of the morning we arrived to our hostel in Sorrento, where we stayed for the next three nights.

Our second day, we caught a ferry to the wonderful of Capri. It was breath taking! We spent the day exploring the island.  Some of my highlights would include: Getting into a five man row boat and  entering into a cave that had the bluest water I had ever seen. Another highlight was taking the single man chair lift to the top of the island where you had 360 views. The tour boat around the island was another breath-taking moment. It was one of those pinch me moments, as everywhere you looks is like a post card.

As you could imagine our days were filled with carbs and a little dairy.  With several stops at Gelato shops throughout the day and pizza and pasta for lunch and dinner, it is safe to say that I gained a couple of kilos.
Our last full day was spent in the fabulous Positano. It is very touristy but 95% of the shops only sell Italian goods. From food to clothes to many amazing pieces of art. Laying on a sun bed looking to the right and seeing the famous picture perfect view of the houses and water, reminded me just how lucky I am. Huge shout out to Mum and Dad for supporting my endless dreams and goals and a huge thank you to CSU GLOBAL for allowing this opportunity, i’ll be forever grateful.

Our final day before we flew back home to Madrid, we visited the famous ancient town of Pompeii. It is very hard to comprehend everywhere you walk and see is thousands and thousands of years old (and the amount of people from all over the world who visit it). Safe to say Italy was an incredible weekend.

Will be in Madrid for the next two weeks- talk soon.

(Reminder for photos- add me on instagram @jsargee or on Facebook – Jess Sargent

Ciao,

Jess xx

¡Vamos!

Hello wonderful readers,

Time for another quick post from Madrid. I’ve officially been here a month now and I can honestly question where on earth did the time go? I guess I can just apply the classic quote “Time flies when you’re having fun”.

Let’s start with school, i’m officially at the three week mark and I feel mostly settled. I have been assigned groups for most classes to start large assignments. Unlike most subjects back at CSU, here  my marks come from one large assignment/presentation, the final exam and then class attendance and participation. The groups make it the large presentation more fun, I mean how often are you with people from all around the world conducting a presentation together. Spanish classes are definitely my favourite even though I find them the most challenging. I would like to say that my Spainish is good but it’s really not. I’m better than when i arrived but i’m at the slow part of learning now, where it feels like you take one step forward and two steps back, I will get there though.

I don’t think there has been a day where we haven’t spoken about a trip to somewhere. I have officially booked majority of my trips for the next couple of weekends. Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to go San Sebastian for the weekend, which is at the top of Spain, not too far away from the French boarder. It was simply beautiful, with  a couple beaches, great food and perfect sunny weather. I honestly didn’t want to come back to Madrid. I feel settled in Madrid now, it is home. The residence with the girls is great and i’m starting to get myself around by foot and metro without using google maps.

Last weekend we went right to the bottom of Spain, to a city called Malaga. It was again another great weekend with a beach, wonderful food, views and history. Unfortunately one of my friends was pick-pocketed here which dampened the mood on the Friday, nevertheless with some Tinto, Sangria (Sweet wine based drinks) and a huge fashion show down the middle of the main street, the mood soon changed for us all.

What’s next?
Well tomorrow I fly to Rome with a friend to then do a tour for a couple of days at the Amalfi Coast. The weather forecast looks great and i’m so excited.

Upcoming trips include: Copenhagen, Scotland and Ireland.

Post soon, sorry again for no pictures- unsure whats wrong with my wordpress account.
Don’t forget to follow my on Instagram and Facebook to see pictures.

 

Jess xx

Sweden is not like Australia. 

Obviously it’s an entire different country with it’s unique culture, geography, demography language, norms, values and lifestyle. But that’s really the point of exchange isn’t? To dive into another culture and have it envelop you, thus changing your world view and helping you evolve as a person and become all culturally aware and stuff.

I love that Sweden is so different – it’s something I’ve never experienced before. Total immersion in a new culture with not one other Aussie in sight. Travelling around Europe with my backpack earilier I felt the only people I met were from Australia!

Headline: The Disease is Spreading. Australian Backpacker numbers on the Rise coming to steal your countries culture!! (At least for a little while at least before they head home for a good ol’ fashioned Aussie summer) 

I’m sad to say I am the only Australian at the whole University! No one from home to comfort me with understanding of my phrases and most importantly the extremely sarcastic Aussie humor. Closest to home is either a Kiwi or my pal Eamon from CSU currently studying in Gothenburg.

What I found the most challenging – other than the fact that it’s considered completely insane here to ask to pet someone’s dog!!! #outraged – is the difference in study habits and expectations. For example (specifically relevant to my study).

Subjects studied;

  • Aus – 4 subjects 1 semester for a full course load
  • Sweden – 2 subjects over 1 semester for a full course load

How the subjects period’s are set out;

  • Aus – 4 subjects spanning one semester
    • Each with one lecture (1-2 hours) and tutorial (1 hour) per week
    • Both at the same time each week unless something goes wrong
  • Sweden – 1 subject per term
    • Ranging from 1 to 4 lectures a week (3 hours) and one “Sem” (80 mins) every 2 or 3 weeks
    • No formal organisation – simply organised for whenever the tutor and Sem manager (never the same)can make it for that week

Ps. A “Sem” is a seminar. A group will host one during the span of the course – teaching the students about the material prior to the sem and applying it to a case study selected by the lecturer. You get marked (for your final grade) on your willingness to contribute in these Sem’s and the caliber of the things you do say.

Assessments and exams

  • Aus – ordinarily 3 assessments evenly spread out during the semester and one 50% closed book exam for business subjects ( I am completing business subjects overseas). And this system to me is normal and civilised
  • Sweden – No assessments during the term except for one’s committal to and participation in Sem’s making up 40% of your grade and one 60% open book exam at the end of the term.

 

It’s just taken a bit of getting used to is all. Everything’s just set out a little bit differently here. To me it initially sounded harder than 4 subjects are once with it’s full on  lecture schedule and Sem’s as I had no idea what they were. But it’s actually turned out the opposite… It feels like I do no work at all. Yet I write out all my lectures to the letter, I listen in class and produce what I need to for the Sem but as there is no assessments to write (essays or reports, etc.) I am at a loss for what to do with my time.

For lack of something to do uni workwise I went to Barcelona for the weekend! Best thing about studying in Europe is it’s proximity to every other nation – no country really more than 4 hours away flying!!

 

Only issue I’ve found with the European system of study is that with no fee’s and a minimal workload most European students lack commitment to and desire to succeed in subjects. One international has failed a basic marketing course 4 times. 4 TIMES! He just doesn’t care because it doesn’t cost him and he can just redo and redo the class till he cares enough to pass it and move on. Also don’t think I’m putting words in my mouth – he told me this himself. There is no drive to succeed as it costs him nothing to fail. That’s probably the best and main motivator I have!; If I fail it’s another 1000 dollars or something back home.

But that’s just another way Sweden, MDH and it’s students are different from Aus, CSU and it’s students. Having a blinder of a time none the less though!

xoxo Gossip Girl

 

 

Little Observations

What I think is great about MDH is that instead of just one week of O Week activities like CSU there are three! We get three weeks of organised social activities that range from trips to IKEA to pub crawls. I’ve gotten to know so many lovely people that are incredibly helpful! And let me tell you helpful people are required because actually figuring out anything MDH is a nightmare.

First of all they don’t make it especially easy, particularly for international students to get started. The amount of hoops you have to jump to simply get your student card is ridiculous, but the thing is that they know it’s hard and they apologise for what we have to go through to get started but it’s not like they’re going to change it for future students because their outdated yet security concious system is in place. So getting started in MDH in Sweden may be a little harder than anywhere else in the world (I wouldn’t actually know only having done this exchange) but with patience everything works out. After three weeks of being a student I have finally got my MDH card as proof.

But enough about technical mumbo jumbo! Let me tell you about what I’ve picked up so far;

  • Swedes are exceptionally good at speaking English which is both a good and a bad thing as I have and feel no need to have to learn the language. Little bit of a bummer but that can be handled because…
  • …the Swedish language is so hard! The sounds they make with their mouth and throughout a mere sentance don’t make sense. It’s like their mouth is working overtime at a pace I could never reach!
  • Swedish people are exceptionally reserved. Eye contact walking the streets and around Uni is avoided and trying to start small talk with a Swede results in a funny look from them thinking you’ve gone mad.
  • Swedes are not exceptionally reserved when they start drinking. It’s like the term social lubricant takes on a whole new meaning here. They come completely out of their sober shells and they are more than happy to talk to you and even initialise conversation.

FYI: WHEN YOU’RE AWAY FROM HOME THE PERSON YOU MISS MOST IS YOUR DOG.
Hands down. Your human relatives know where you are, why you’ve gone and when you’re coming back. Your dog probably thinks you’ve DIED!

  • Therefore the hardest part about reserved swedes is whilst they walk around with their dogs they don’t want to make contact with you but you want to stop and talk to them just to pat their dog! But it’s a cultural norm to keep to ones self and it’s killing me!

Other than those small things it’s pretty nice here. Lovely, super beautiful people everywhere. It’s 20 degrees most days with sunshine which I’m told is unheard of for it’s warmth but hey I’m Australian and I brought the weather with me 🙂

I’m so excited for when it gets cold though! Bring on my first WHITE WINTER #Newexperiences!

PS. when you get here all anyone is capable of talking to you about is;

  1. Australian Wildlife
  2. That they want to travel to / live in Aus

So brush up on your knowledge about Aussie wildlife and all things relating to the Aussie housing market!

It’s All Happening

Hello readers,

I am currently sitting in the library of Comillas, it is rather new, clean and quiet. My timetable has been sorted and i’m finally starting my first official week of University here in Madrid.  I have classes Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. This means of course long weekend travels here i come. Today being Monday is going quicker than i thought which is lucky as class doesn’t finish until 6pm. My classes include: Current issues from a Spanish perspective, Trade and Investment, Spanish and Comparative Culture.

The time here is already flying by, almost every girl has moved into our residence. It is like organised chaos with so many girls coming and going to different universities and activities, which is kind of how i would explain Madrid and Uni a little. For example we eat lunch here sometime after 3 and then dinner is sometime after 9.  The earliest i have eaten dinner is 8.30pm because we went out for dinner. Then if you are to go out for just drinks that usually doesn’t have until around 10 and then if you go to a club, you don’t go until 2am. This is why the Spanish have siestas, which are incredible by the way.

The travel plans are well and truly underway, with trips booked and trips still in the planning progress. It is so great being around people who are exchange students just wanting to travel as much as possible. Another bonus  is being in Europe, where it is actually cheaper 90% of the time to fly to another country rather than somewhere in Spain. For photo’s please follow me on Instagram or Facebook (as this blog doesn’t want to let me post photos).

Confession: it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, Spanish is actually really hard. I found it very difficult trying to learn it before i came here despite all the resources i had access to and now i’m here it’s still not easy. I have Spanish classes here twice a week, that are really fun and the absolute basic (which is exactly what i need) however it is very challenging trying to remember words and pronounce them correctly. I know i will get better but for now.. no español.

 

Bye for now,

Jess

xx