Sweden: Summer 2017

I took a comparative media class in Lund, Sweden for two weeks in July, and explored Sweden, Denmark and Germany.

Lund Cathedral and Swedish + Scandinavian flags
The class was led by an East Stroudsburg University professor, and the majority of students I traveled there with attend ESU. In the comparative media class, we discussed differences between media in nine countries, including our own observations from Sweden and the States. We also took excursions to two media companies, a viking town and Kronberg Castle in Helsingor, where Hamlet is based.

Viking town

I attended class every weekday morning from 9 a.m. until around noon, explored southern Sweden in the afternoons and studied for the next classes at night. I enjoyed the nightlife with my classmates on weekends, as well as visiting Copenhagen, Denmark and reuniting with Jacqueline, my flatmate from my England study abroad, in Germany.

Art in Malmö, a park in Lund and a cafe in Ystad
I studied on Lund University’s campus in Skåne, Sweden. Skåne is the southern part of the country from Helsingor to Malmö, which is connected to Copenhagen, Denmark by the Øresund Bridge. Besides Lund, I visited Malmö, Ystad and Stockholm in Sweden, along with the Danish cities of Helsingor, by ferry, and Copenhagen.

Boat and a bridge pillar in Stockholm

Lund and Malmö were the prettiest and had the most personality of the cities I visited in Sweden, while Copenhagen was the most fun and interesting for me. I rode a virtual reality roller coaster at Tivoli Gardens, explored Rosenberg Castle, went out in the Meatpacking District, climbed the Round Tower, witnessed breathtaking church interiors, walked through Freetown Christiana and strolled along the famous Nyhavn canal district.

Nyhavn
Changing of the guard in Copenhagen, view from atop the Round Tower, Danish flags and Rosenberg Castle

During the final weekend of my trip, I visited Jacqueline in Germany. I had not originally planned on visiting her until on the flight into Copenhagen. I was watching the flight’s map as we were landing and could see Frankfurt relatively close to Copenhagen, and wondered “doesn’t Jacqueline live near Frankfurt…” I immediately messaged her on landing and asked what the closest airport to her is. She said Cologne, I found a cheap last minute RyanAir flight and asked if I could visit for a weekend.

Dom Cathedral
While in Germany, Jacqueline introduced me to radler, a German style of beer with sprite. I had beer with lemonade last time I visited Germany, but this was my first one with sprite. I am not a big beer drinker, but I enjoy radler!

Line on the cable car and me and Line at Panorama
We climbed the Dom Cathedral, visited a Lindt chocolate factory, saw a Panoramic view of the city and rode a cable car from one side of Cologne to another!

Next up: Gishwhes 2017, Senior year updates and Salem, MA!

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Study Abroad Broadcast Journalism Final Projects

I took a broadcast journalism class when I studied abroad at Sunderland University in England.

Broadcast journalism was definitely the most challenging class I took abroad. I began the class with no previous broadcast experience. I had no clue what a “package” or a “vox” was and no idea how to record a phone interview. But I quickly learned.

I worked with the rest of the news team to produce radio and TV news shows for Spark FM’s “Word On Wearside” each week. I created multiple news packages for both radio and TV throughout the term, learning from each one.

Below are my radio and TV packages for my final project:

Check out my other journalism work on my newly updated e-portfolio!

ESU Global Week 2017

ESU surpassed my expectations for this year’s Global Week celebration by bringing in baby goats and other exotic animals and hosting informative and entertaining events last week.

The baby goats were the first highlight, as part of the World Fair. We knew a camel and yak would be on campus from the flyers, but those baby goats were an adorable surprise for many. The brown one was especially hyper and seemed to love interacting with people, running towards human hands and jumping around to catch our attention.

Stickerbush II the porcupine and Houston the armadillo were nice surprises, too, because I had never seen either animal before besides in pictures.

Also at the World Fair, I tried snacks from around the world, learned about Native American culture through a tee-pee display of everyday objects and had my name drawn in Chinese characters.

I attended a Peace Corps volunteer panel the next day, where returned volunteers shared stories about their experiences with the Peace Corps. This panel gave me another opportunity to seriously consider for my future because it combines two activities I love: travel and service. And with the Peace Corps, like study abroad, you experience the culture by living somewhere for an extended time period, in this case two years.

Speaking of study abroad, ESU published an article about my study abroad experience on their homepage! Check it out!

The next major event during Global Week this year was Relay for Life. During Relay, campus clubs and organizations raise money for cancer research and stay up for 12 hours walking around the track. There are games and activities throughout the night to keep energy up, but I could not make it all the way from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. But I stayed until 4 a.m., which is longer than I stayed last year!

I participated in Relay with Phi Sigma Pi, the Honors Fraternity that I will be an official brother of this Friday. I am excited to join this family and I am proud that after three years at ESU, I finally found the group of people that I click with.

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Me and my fellow Phi Sigma Pi initiates

Global Week ended with an international festival, which featured performances from ESU’s Step Team, arts and crafts, a fashion show and dinner from around the world.

This week is not only Easter weekend, but also tech for “Little Shop of Horrors,” which opens this Wednesday. I am on run crew for the show and I am ecstatic to be working on a show again since I last worked on “Midsummer Night’s Dream” freshman year.

Experiencing Reverse Culture Shock

One of the reasons that I have not posted in a while is because I’m dealing with reverse culture shock.

What is reverse culture shock? And how is it different from culture shock?

Reverse culture shock is when you experience a sense of disorientation and even sadness or depression when returning to your home country after an extended period of being away. Whereas culture shock is a feeling of homesickness when you first move away from home to a place with a different culture than what you are used to. You do not need to experience culture shock to experience reverse culture shock, and vice versa.

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View from Sunderland’s City Campus on my first day in England.

When I studied abroad in England, I did not experience culture shock. Instead, I was excited to embrace a new culture and jumped right into it. And I think that’s what made my reverse culture shock hit so hard.

I have nothing tying me down in Pennsylvania, where I have been stuck my entire life besides the four months I spent abroad and when I have taken on short vacations to other states. I am not really close with my family, who basically all live within 20 minutes of each other, and my only friends in the state are those at university. My best friend from high school lives in Florida now and only visits a few weeks throughout the year, and all my friends from study abroad live in either different states or different countries.

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Dara, the first friend I made in England, and me with a snowdog.

I made friends my first day in Sunderland, which was surprising because it took me a few months to make the friends I have at East Stroudsburg. Yet, I became closer with my study abroad friends in those short four months than I have with my university friends that I have had for almost three years.

Making these friends, along with all the memories we created together, and seeing how close we became, made it tough to leave them and come back to a place where I have close friends, but not as close as I need them to be.

I still keep in touch with my British friends, Sunderland Dance Squad, my flatmates and other people I met during my travels. And this has helped me transition back to life in the States, but it also makes me sad because we are so far away now.

I have been back in the States for a little over two months now and I am dealing with being back better than last month. But, it is still difficult. Especially because I can no longer call the house I grew up in or ESU “home” without getting a weird feeling because these places have never felt like home as much as England or Scotland (for the five days I spent there) has. And I honestly think it is because of the friends I have made and the welcoming atmosphere of the people and their culture.

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Edinburgh, Scotland

I know I will not be able to live in Pa. much longer and feel happy. I am not even sure if I can live in America, even though I have not seen enough of this country to know if there are other cities here that will make me feel as welcome as the UK.

I know I am young, but I am also going to graduate university next year. I do not want to be stuck here for longer than I need to. So, this summer I am hoping to get my driver’s license and a car, which will make me even more broke than I am now. If it was up to me, I would have had my license five years ago because not being able to drive in this country has only made me feel more stuck, but I have had difficult times trying to find someone to teach me who will keep their word.

Once I can drive, I want to apply for a better job so I can afford car insurance and eventually to move out. Right now my choice in jobs is limited because I have to rely on other people to get me there, and can only work when their schedules are free to take me to work.

Hopefully everything works out. I am trying not to stress so much about being broke right now because I know I will be even more broke in a few months.

I promise my next post will have a happier note than this one! I will be talking about camping!

Meanwhile, if anyone has any culture shock or reverse culture shock tips, please share!

Greece

I do not know what I expected when I decided to visit Greece, but I know I was not expecting the breathtaking views and monumental sites that I saw.

I arrived late at night, like I have for most of my trips, and did some late night exploring. Mostly I was on the hunt for food. I found a cheap gyro shop and discovered I am not a fan of eating lamb. I also discovered that either I had no clue how to eat the massive sandwhich or it was meant to be really messy.

Gyro
On my first full day in Athens, I visited the Acropolis and the surrounding areas. I was a little upset that there was construction on the famous side of the Parthenon, but I got over it considering how much there is to see. Besides the Parthenon, the Acropolis includes temples to Athena and Artemis, the Erechtheion, the theatre of Dionysus and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. Oh, and plenty of cats! The surrounding area includes the Agorra, which was a market place in ancient times, a modern market place selling souvenirs and a rock to climb for views of both the Acropolis and Athens.

Nice view above the Odeon
The Parthenon at the Acropolis
I took a day cruise to three of the Saronic islands, the islands closest to Athens, on the next day. The ones I visited are Hydra, Poros and Aegina. On the boat, I met a girl named Michelle who became my buddy while exploring the islands. 

Hydra was by far the prettiest of the three islands. We just explored the town and enjoyed the views of the Mediterranean Sea, but that was all we really needed to do to know how majestic the island is. We saw a lot more cats, too. One came up to me and started rubbing against my leg and then followed us for a little while. The cats are really friendly and well cared for. There are even cat stations around that have food and blankets for them. On the top of a hill, we came face to face with a donkey and some chickens. The donkey was asleep at first, but once we got closer to the chickens he woke up and looked really defensive.

Hydra

Poros was similar to Hydra, but smaller. We went to a clock tower and saw some nice views, then bought some baklava and ate it by the sea.

Poros
Aegina is the largest of the three islands we visited. We went to a monestary and bought some pistachios, which Aegina is known for. We visited the Temple of Apollo at sunset, which was a really nice sight. On the boat ride back, we enjoyed traditional Greek dancing and even learned a few dances ourselves.

Temple of Apollo
After watching the sunrise on the rock near the Acropolis, I took a day trip to Delphi, where the Oracle of Apollo was. The tour guide was the nicest and most knowledgeable I have had yet; she was really sweet. We visited a museum and the Sanctuary of Apollo, which includes the Oracle, a treasury and the Theatre of Apollo. 

Sunrise over Athens
Oracle of Delphi in the background

It was really snowy and icy the day that I went, so the tour guide said the theatre might be closed. But to my delight, it was open and I got to stand on the stage that actors performed on millennias ago; unlike the Odeon and Theatre of Dionysus at the Acropolis, which could only be looked at. On the way to the theatre, a cat with one pupil bigger than the other approached me and meowed at me while standing on his hind legs. I tried to move, but he moved to block my path again. I am still unsure why he took such interest in me.

Theatre of Apollo

We took a short stop in a little town nearby and had a four course lunch at a quaint restaurant. The lunch was delicious, but difficult to finish because most of us were full by the end of the second course.

I visited the Archeological Museum and Acropolis Museum on my last day in Athens, and watched the changing of the guards at Syntagma Square with Michelle. Both museums were filled with unbelievably well preserved ancient finds. The changing of the gaurds was interesting because of how the gaurds kicked their legs and flicked their ankles before each step like a dance.

Changing of the Gaurds
Up next: Germany and my final days in England.

Paris, France

After New Year’s I took a train to Paris for a few days. I went to local pubs, walked around the beautiful city, attended a ballet and visited the Louvre.

I arrived in the city around noon and decided to walk around. All the streets and buildings look almost identical with only slight differences, and this means all the streets are so pretty. 

As I was walking, I passed an opera house. I wanted to see an opera for a while since coming to Europe, but all they had on was a ballet. So, naturally, I bought a ticket for the ballet.

That night, I went to a pub with a Scottish friend I made at my hostel. It was open mic night and she performed such deep music about finding yourself, but with a folk-like style. 

Naimh performing at open mic

The next day, I visited the Arc de Triomph and Eiffel Tower after a free walking tour. Then it was time for the ballet. It was a Dresden ballet at Palais Garnier and it was the craziest ballet I have ever seen. It included characters speaking French and English, and a closing act that left me feeling like I was in another dimension.

Palais Garnier Opera House

My final day, I visited the Louvre. Usually the first thing visitors do at this museum is see the Mona Lisa. But I was more interested in the Egyptian and sculpture sections since Mona Lisa is too dark and unattractive of a painting for me. 

Egyptian sphinx


Roman sculpture

After I visited the sections I wanted to first, I figured why not find the Mona Lisa. That was when I realized I was lost. I knew I had to be on the other side of the museum and I could see the area I had to be in when I looked out the window, but had no clue how to get there. I ended up walking around sections I already saw until I noticed the usual five to ten people in each section I was in so far multiplied to over 100 people in a room. Then I knew I must be close to DaVinci’s famous painting before even seeing the sign pointing which way to go.

I was told not to be disappointed about the size of the painting since most people expect it to be larger. But I thought Mona Lisa was normal size, as paintings go. I was more disappointed in the fact that I could not really see it. The barrier bewteen the crowd and the artwork kept us o far away from it that the details were not visible.

View of Mona Lisa from as close as possible

I did not spend as much time in Paris as I would have liked since I did not have the chance to visit the catacombs or the Montmartre district. But overall I enjoyed the sights I did get to see and even made a few new friends.

Up next: My trips to Greece and Germany, and my final days in England… For now.