May Term in Germany 2019

Nick Zurasky
May Term Abroad
Münster, Germany

Germany is still amazing. Recently, I’ve been going back and forth from class doing my work and eating in town. To start my day, I typically will listen to music, hop onto my bus, and ride to the bus stop closest to my school. Many times, I will see average people, of whom most likely have average day to day activities just like me. That “averageness” is the most intriguing part of another country for me. Knowing that halfway across the world there are people who go to work, come back, and do the same thing every day. These people have to fill up their car’s gas tanks just like I do, yet they are on a completely separate land mass than me. It goes to show just how many resources are used for everyday life; even when it is on the other side of the world.
This week has been a pretty, normal week. Nothing too interesting has happened, although I do feel myself becoming slightly fatter, so I should probably watch my food intake. Though, to combat this new fatness I have started going on runs around the promenade that goes along where the old medieval city walls used to be. My walk to, the run itself, and my walk back to my house equates for more than 3 miles, so I definitely get a very good run in. The weather has not been as forgiving lately, though. It has stormed recently, which has brought the temperatures down a little, but most of the time the temperatures go back up. It has been warm recently, and my attic room loves to store that heat during the day.
I still cannot complain about my time here. There has been so much to do and experience, and I would highly recommend anyone to visit a country like Germany, if one were to visit Europe.

May Term in Germany 2019

Nick Zurasky
May Term Abroad
Münster, Germany

 

This week has been a blast. It started out as a normal week with classes and walking around the city, but this weekend I went to Cologne. I ordered a ticket for a train earlier in the week, and this past Saturday I traveled to the city. On my way in, I did not see the main cathedral, but right out of the train station, I was met with the immense height of the cathedral. I felt pretty, insignificant standing under such a monolithic structure. The cathedral had delicate and beautiful designs on its façade, and the inside was impressive in its own right. I went with two other students around the cathedral and into the main part of the city of Cologne. We walked up and down the bank of the Rhine, and it was amazing to see a river with such rich history of Roman and German culture. Along the bank of the river we found a chocolate museum, and we went inside to find that the chocolate sold there was cheaper than the chocolate sold in stores. After the chocolate museum we walked back north and went to the Cologne zoo. We saw many animals including a hippo, a couple elephants, and even some giraffes. We ended up at an old bar, and I had some of the best liver I have ever had in my life. The taste was so much better than I expected. Afterwards, we went to an Irish pub and met an Australian woman. We talked with her for a little, but then we left to find more things to do. All in all, it was a very, very fun weekend, and I cannot wait to explore more of Germany!

Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral)

May Term in Germany 2019

Nick Zurasky
May Term Abroad 2019
Münster, Germany

Wartburg Castle Eisenach, Germany

I’ve never been to Europe before, so this is my first time experiencing a whole other culture 4,000 miles away from home. I will say that my first week and a half in Germany has been one of the best parts of my life so far. I have seen so many new and exciting places to explore, and I’ve loved every single place I have been to. I have already visited two castles while in Germany, and both of them have stunned me. Seeing just how old some of these places are really is mindboggling.

St. Lambert’s Church
Münster, Germany

The city of Münster is a very nice place to be as well. I can walk to a café not even 10 minutes down the road, or I can take a bus into the main square and look for more shops. My host family has made it very easy for me to be able to be on my own, and experience German culture at its best. Most days here I hop on a bus near my house, put in headphones to listen to music, and ride all the way to the main market to find a café to relax at. German food is also amazing. I’ve never had more delicious sausages, or even potatoes. The quality of the food here is on another level as compared to America. I honestly think America should take some lessons in food preparation from Germany.
Now there is one thing that Germany is probably most well-known for, and that is the beer. Since I am legally able to drink beer in Germany, I will say that I have tasted many different types of beer. People were not lying to me when they said that German beer is cheap in cost, but high in quality. The culture around beer here is much different than America, and it is honestly sad to see how much stigma is placed on drinking in America. The German beer I have had is mostly local brews, and the brewers really care about their craft. Their goal is not to get someone drunk, it is to create a great tasting beer that people will enjoy during the evening. I genuinely cannot wait to experience more of the culture with my 4 remaining weeks here. Germany, by far, has been one of, if not, my favorite experiences ever.

Spring Semester in London

Yafet Cole
Richmond the American International University
London 2019

There are several different things that I am going to miss when I go back to Hampden-Sydney in the Fall of 2019. The lifestyle and the friends I have made are most likely what I am going to miss the most when I leave London. I have gotten into such a routine here and it will be difficult to transition back once I return to Hampden-Sydney. Due to the private nature of the campus, I will not be able to walk out of the dorm and head down to the coffee shop. I have to get into my car and physically drive down to the café in Farmville. The luxury about living in London is that everything is close, or you can at least get somewhere easily whether it is through the tube, bus, or even Uber. Being so close to everything just makes it so much easier to live life. With it being a city as well, there are a lot of different activities that people are able to partake in. There is also so much that needs to be seen in the city. As for Hampden-Sydney, the campus is secluded from the rest. Plus, after a night out in London, there is the benefit of being close to food instead of having to drive down 10 minutes into town if you do not want to eat at the moans. A part from all of that, I have truly met some great people since I have been here. Leaving them will for sure be a difficult task, but I know I will keep in contact with them. I am already planning a trip back to see them once I graduate next May. Although, I am looking forward to seeing everyone that I have left at Hampden-Sydney. It will be nice to catch up with them as we all enter our final year of College.

こんにちは “Kon’nichiwa”

Laken Williams
Akita International University
Japan

Settling in With New Friends

I apologize for the wait, but every day seems like a new adventure, and I don’t know where to start or where to end a blog post. Here at AIU, we are now mid-way into our spring break, which is known as “Golden Week,” and, apparently, it is something that is planned semesters in advance for Japanese students, so, for us international students, many of our plans had to be altered because of flights and trains already being bought out. Also, the recent events with the abdication of Akihito, the former Emperor of Japan, who became the first Emperor in 200 years to abdicate the throne, and the coronation of his son, Norihito, today, made “Golden Week” that much more packed with events.
In other news, since I was unable to find a flight or a shinkansen (bullet-train) for a reasonable price, so that I could go to Kyoto, Nara and Osaka (Kansai region), I have made the best of the situation and have spent my time exploring all that Akita prefecture has to offer with the friends that I have made since I have been here.

From the left: Rekka (Japan), Ania (Romania), Danika (Alaska), Shannon (Germany), Ben (New York: you can see his legs), Autumn (Taiwan, taking the picture) and I at Senshu Park, enjoying the Hanami (cherry-blossom viewing) festival with a variety of Japanese snacks and homemade foods made by Rekka.

Here you can see Autumn, Ben, Rekka (being lifted), Ania and I posing for a funny photo in front of the Sakura trees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For me, this was one of the highlights of the day: petting an Akita-inu. They are so fluffy and cute!!!

 

The same scene as before, but, this time, we were expecting the photo. Once again, Autumn was the wonderful photographer.

Here, we all pose for a picturesque scene with an air of contemplation; at least, that was what we were going for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few pictures of the beautiful scenery at Senshu Park with all of the Sakura trees at full bloom.

 

 

 

 

 

I will break off this part of the blog, as it pertains to Senshu Park and make it a multi-part series until I can catch up to current events. Before I do, however, I want to share some thoughts on spending time with the other international students and Japanese students, as well as make some comments on the differences between being in Japan versus America.

For me, the most enjoyable part about spending time with people from around the world is seeing how their cultures/languages are different, (and finding out how different they are in funny ways), how they are, in many ways, the same as me, and finding how each country views other countries. For the Japanese students, there seems to be a keen fascination with all other cultures, including America’s, which is especially the case with Rekka, who did his semester abroad in California. But, for the Europeans and other international students, American culture is so widely publicized that they find little novelty in spending time with Americans or learning about our culture. That is not to say that they don’t want to spend time with Americans, but that, as is the case with other European countries, since they have learned English, studied about America and other European countries, they aren’t particularly enchanted by America’s culture. During a fun interaction with Martijn (Dutch), Ingird (Norwegian) and Doris (Estonian), where we were exchanging popular songs from our countries, as well as comparing names for things we had in our languages, I found out that the Europeans had already heard almost every song that I played, and I couldn’t really enjoy the word game because they all spoke English fluently, so, unless it was a colloquial southern phrase, I was just an interested spectator.
Seeing as I am running a little long, I will make a brief closing comment about being in Japan, particularly rural Japan. Even though I have lived in a rural area my whole life, nothing compares to the beautiful scenery that can be found in rural Akita. Despite the high population densities all over the country, the preservation of vast amounts of beautiful landscapes makes me think back to issues of land preservation in America, even though we have a much higher ratio of land per capita than Japan does.

I don’t know how good of an indicator these pictures are, but most of them were taken from the inside of buses to and from AIU.

Anyway, that’s all for this blog: look forward to more soon.
じゃあね。

Spring Semester in London

Yafet Cole
Richmond the American International University
London 2019

My commute to class in London is a whole lot different than my travel to class at Sydney. Surprisingly, it is actually a shorter commute, which is a bit of a surprise when you think about how small Hampden-Sydney is. At Hampden-Sydney, any student can walk to any building within about five to 10 minutes. But, at my school in London, I’m able to get to my classes within about three to five minutes. My classrooms are about a block or two over from my dorm building. Instead of walking out of Venable and seeing open space with nature, I walk out and see multi-million dollar apartments with such intricate but simple designs. As I see all of these buildings, I think to myself that I want to live in one of these houses in the future. Outside of these million dollar buildings are the most luxurious cars. Every other car is a Porsche, Bentley, Mercedes, BMW, Aston Martin, and occasionally I’ll see a Rolls-Royce. That is not a sight that anyone sees every day, especially at Sydney because it is filled with just college students and faculty. The mornings are usually quiet. The only noise I hear is either birds chirping, cars driving past, or people talking to each other. Other than those three, there is not much going on. Also, I usually walk with my headphones in so that shuts out the noise from the outside world. I pass several bakeries on my journey to class, so I smell the delicious pastries that are being made every morning. I normally stop by one of the bakery shops for a croissant, they are always so warm and flaky. Just enough to get me through the day. The smell of fresh air is always refreshing; it gives me the motive to be productive, every single day.

Spring Semester in London

Yafet Cole
Richmond the American International University
London 2019

 

The way I spend my free time in London is way different compared to the way that I spend my free time at Hampden-Sydney. It is nice because there is always something to do. There has not been a day where I spend my whole day in my room or in my bed. Usually, when I am at Hampden-Sydney, I go hang out with friends or just hang around in my room. London is such a bigger area, so I am able to go out and do more things if I am bored. England is a big soccer nation, so there are typically games in every single day. It is very convenient for me because I love the sport, so I typically just go down to the pub and watch whatever games they have on the television. Even if there is not a game on, once we all are done with classes, my friends and I head down to the pub to just hang out as well. It has basically turned into an everyday thing. Over the past couple of weeks, London has seen great weather, so instead of going to the pub, we all go to Hyde Park and spend our days there throwing the football or kicking the soccer ball around. Those are usually what we all do to take a break from school.  There is so much history within London. Sometimes I’ll head out with my friends and go see the museums or historic landmarks. We even just travel throughout all of London. This area is so big that we can travel an hour and still be in London. Sometimes, we travel to the different parts to eat different types of food. The city is so diverse, so we all travel to these places and eat the ethnic food whether it is African, Chinese, Indian food. With it being finals, I have spent most of my time in the labs and library studying.

こんにちは “Kon’nichiwa”

Laken Williams
Akita International University
Japan

Why AIU?
I have always wanted to come to Japan because of its unique cultural traditions and the beauty of the country, especially in spring. The reasons I chose Akita International University are 1) that all the classes are taught in English, 2) the university is set in a rural area, which is important to me because I have always lived in small towns, and 3) being an international university, I have the opportunity to meet students from all over the world, in addition to meeting Japanese students.

The AIU International team, with reps. from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Estonia, Norway, the Netherlands and America, posing in front of AIU’s mascot.

What am I most looking forward to?
I am most looking forward to experiencing, first-hand, Japan’s culture as well as interacting with locals and other students from around the world. I believe that, by studying abroad in Japan, I will not only come to better understand its people, language and culture, but I will also better understand myself and how limited the way I have seen the world really has been.
What am I especially worried about?
I am most worried about isolating myself and not making the most out of this potentially once-in-a-lifetime experience. I hope that I can accept others, but, most importantly, that others will accept me. I am also afraid that, due to my lack of Japanese language fluency, many of the Japanese students will avoid conversing with me.
What are my goals for my time in Japan?
My goals are quite simple: 1) to make a lot of friends, 2) to learn Japanese, 3) to broaden my horizons and 4) to learn as much about Japanese people and culture as possible.

Martijn, from the Netherlands, and I at the AIU matriculation.

Me, Atsuki and his friend pose for a selfie after the matriculation.

After 1 Week
So far, I have had the privilege to meet many students from around the world, as well as Japanese students.

 

 

 

Conclusion:
With the first week down, I feel confident that this wonderful journey is just beginning. Having met all these wonderful people, the thing I have come to enjoy the most is comparing and contrasting cultures with people from all over the world. It is not only interesting to see some universal qualities that exist across all cultures, but also the unique societal norms that have shaped each of us into unique people. For us Americans, the most commonly asked question has been, “what do you think about Donald Trump?” It is really, amusing to see what other countries think about Americans and our President, and, funnily enough, the most common stereotype is that we don’t know geography (which is kind of true). Anyway, that is all for my first blog…look forward to more later.

Here, I am posing for a selfie, which has a beautification filter, with Chisato (front), Himi, Ayana and Moena.

Spring Semester in London

Yafet Cole
Richmond the American International University
London 2019

I had been wanting to experience a semester away from Hampden-Sydney just to witness what it would be like. After I spent the summer of 2017 in Ethiopia, I thought it would be beneficial to travel a bit more. The idea of studying abroad came along, and it was then that I began to start the process to get myself to my destination. The process was honestly straightforward. I narrowed it down to whether I would spend this time in England or Australia. Australia seemed more of an adventure because it has such a different culture. Its’ climate is very different, and there are more excursions to take part in. I also have family there, so that would have made it easier. But, then I began to think more realistically. I wanted to pick the place that would suit me best. I have always dreamed about living and spending a majority of my life in England. I saw this opportunity as a trial for me to discover if this was what I actually wanted.

The reason why I chose Richmond the American International University in London was because I had previously heard of this school. Also, the school is right in the middle of London. These two factors made me feel comfortable enough to come here. My dad grew up in London, so I view London as my home. I see myself living in the city and this made the decision a no brainer.

The best part about being at this program is that I am only two stations away from Stamford Bridge which is my favorite teams’ stadium. I have already been to one football game, and I am going to two more this week. The benefit about living in London for a semester is that I am still able to travel around Europe for good prices. For example, I found plane tickets to go to Switzerland for spring break and it will only cost 91 GBP. Being in this city will allow me to really get out there and see many different cultures and customs.