Thursday, August 18, 2016

What I Did at Bond

Hi all!

Jake here. My semestre in Australia is almost over. It’s very bittersweet for me. I’m looking forward to coming back home to Hawai’i, but I will definitely miss my friends here in the Gold Coast. Anyways, here’s some of my favourite things I’ve done since the beginning of the semestre.
Close to the middle of the semestre, I attended Med Ball, which is a formal dinner organised by the medical students at Bond. This was pretty much like a prom for me. This event is targeted to the med students, but a lot of people that are not med students, like me, attended as well. When I was walking around the event hall, I ran into my friends from my photography class and danced with them for a while, though I spent most of the night with my med friends that invited me to the ball.
Another thing I enjoyed was watching the State of Origin. Origin is where the best rugby players of Queensland (Maroons) go up against the best players in New South Wales (Blues). It’s kind of like the Pro Bowl of Australian Rugby. Since I live in Queensland, I didn’t really have much on a choice for a team to who to root for. However, I’m not upset about it because the Maroons won the whole thing. I really enjoyed learning rugby by watching this event.
The most recent event I attended was the Res Dinner, which is a free dinner for on-campus residents. Since, the Olympic opening ceremony was the weekend directly after this dinner the theme was based on Rio de Janeiro and the Olympic Games. That night we also gave out superlatives to residents based on the votes of the attendees. I was hoping to get the favourite study abroad student award, but I sadly did not. That’s alright though because I had a lot of fun that night. After the dinner, some of my friends and I went to a karaoke event ran by the Music Appreciation Club.
This semestre was really fun and I wish I could stay longer, but I need to get my degree finished on time. Next, I have final exams… Wish me luck.

-Jacob Prijoles  

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

My amazing host university!! FH Salzburg

Now that my semester in Salzburg is over and I am so glad that I did study abroad and chose FH Salzburg. I am majoring in Multimedia Cinematic Production and FH was the best school for my major. They have equipped studios, very good teachers, and students. Today I am going to talk about why FH was the best choice for a student studying media.

First of all, if you are majoring in cinematic production, you must know it is kind of hard to find host universities that offer classes you can take as major-required credits. However, FH has a major called Multimedia, which is completely the same as the one in HPU, and the major basically has four divided studies; Audio, Film, Media Design, and Computer Animation (3D). FH is not like US universities, but students don't have to take general education classes. Therefore students can focus on what they want to do from the first year. I took classes with students at my age but everyone knew how to use cameras, lights, and everything and I felt so behind. It was very good to know what film students in other countries do and I got more motivated.


The classes were very practical, for example, we sometimes went for shooting for all day in class. One of the most fun classes I took there was directing class, where students coordinated a short scene, directed, and edited them (You can watch my project from here https://vimeo.com/178911395). In that class, the school hired two professional actors for our projects and we even got to learn how to communicate with actors as a director. We had to think how to explain the scene to actors and not to confuse them at the same time. I found it interesting because such things cannot be learned in a classroom, and if you have these kind of knowledge, you can use them as soon as you get a job and I believe it can be your advantage.

Shooting for all day

The teachers were very helpful, too. I believe most of them used to work for well-known companies, such as Disney (!!!). I took one class called Analog Animation, and the teacher would work for Disney before. We got to see his artworks he has done before and it sure was amazing. Another class I thought was interesting was script writing class, where we wrote our own original scripts from scratch. It was my first time writing a script and found it very hard to finish even an only FIVE minute script. We got to learn the script writing format and the class was completely different from writing classes I took in Hawaii. I felt so lucky to learn from someone who worked for my dream companies. 

Like I mentioned before, students were very amazing, too. First of all they were very nice, seriously the best people ever, and they were so friendly even though I couldn't speak German (I tried but failed). Their artwork is just so amazing, I seriously couldn't tell if they were my classmates’ projects or masterpieces made by professionals. Especially 3D students were so good. They made games, anime, and characters and they all looked real! I wouldn't doubt if they were sold in a store or they were showing in a movie theatre. I would pay decent amount of money for their projects. However, the students were very modest and always trying to find ways to be better. You would be surprised by their amazing pieces once you get there.

Did I get a lot of homework? ... Yes and no. We had to finish decent amount of semester projects which you usually have to turn in by the end of the semester. However we didn't get small homework constantly, say weekly nor monthly. The only thing which was hard for me was that like I said, the students there were very experienced and have been focusing on one or two narrowed subjects for a year or two, or more, so I sometimes had a hard time catching up with them. Especially classes like 3D animation, music composition were hard. I would recommend you to be careful and think about which classes you want to take. You can always talk to professors and explain your situation. Some classes were easy and fun, but the others can be hard if you are not familiar with the topic.

Besides the fact regarding the major, school staffs there were great, they were kind and would plan events for exchange students. During the welcoming week, they would take us to the city center and showed us around. They even invited us for dinner (we didn't have to pay) to a fancy traditional Austrian restaurant, and we even got to see traditional dance/ performance there. The international office introduced us to their "buddy students" who would help us and show us around the campus. The buddy students would pick us up at the airport, too!! Although the office is kind of slow, they are so nice and I can assure you that you will love them and the school.


Puch, where the campus is located. From Google
The campus is located in very beautiful countryside. You can see breathtaking alps mountains (yes Alps are in Austria, too, not only Switzerland) and beautiful stars at night from the campus. I didn't stay on campus but the school dorm is located right next to the building where you'll have classes. The size of one room is more than enough for one person and clean. They have kitchen in each room. I had a great time living by the old town but living on campus should be very convenient mostly because you don't have to wake up early for class. However there's pretty much nothing around the campus so some of my friends stayed there would say it was kind of boring, but it's all up to you. My accommodation was located a half an hour train ride away from the campus and the train comes every half an hour or an hour at night, so it could be pretty annoying when I had classes early in the morning. Sometimes I had to leave the house one hour earlier or more than students who lived on campus. You will have fun anywhere you live in Salzburg anyways, though.


Overall, FH was perfect for me to study as a film student. The students there were very creative and they will motivate and encourage you. If you are deciding whether you should go study in Salzburg, I would say just go!! I have been thinking how to get back to Salzburg. They are all good at English and when you speak one or two words in German they will go like “AHHH!!! You are speaking German!! You learn so fast!!! Impressive!!!”. Ah how much I miss them.

Puch Campus from the school website
FH Salzburg website:  http://www.fh-salzburg.ac.at/en/

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Basic Tips (visit/live in Salzburg)


It has been almost three and a half months since I got here and finally I think I am getting used to the life here. I really love it here and I don’t even want to leave. For HPU students thinking about studying in Salzburg and planning to visit Salzburg, today I would like to introduce some tips to have a good time in Salzburg, Austria.


The barn from Sixteen Going on Seventeen
  

Old Town at night
Where to go
Salzburg’s must-sees are all in the old town (Salzburg Altstadt in German). They have Mozart’s old house, his born house, Mirabell Platz, Salzburg cathedral, and so on. They are all in a walkable distance. I would say one day is more than enough to go around the old town area. If you are staying a bit longer, I recommend you to go to Hellbrunn Palace. They have the little barn used for the sixteen going on seventeen scene of the Sound of Music. It is very peaceful there and you are going to see a lot of greens and flowers. It is not far from the old town either.


What to Eat
Austria has very good beer and sausages!! You can find them every where and you don't even have to choose the store. All the stands and restaurants have delicious sausages. There is a famous restaurant called Cafe Glockenspiel where you can eat traditional Austrian food such as Schnitzel. Personally I am not a big fan of Austrian food because I don’t really like potatoes, and the restaurant is a bit expensive so I actually have never been there. 
You can have Sachertorte, the traditional Austrian chocolate cake at Hotel Sacher, located outside of the old town. I love Wiener Coffee there and it goes perfectly with the cake.
However during the orientation week our coordinators told us it was the most famous place in Salzburg to eat traditional food. Other than that, around the old town, they have a good pizza restaurant called L’Osteria Salzburg. Their pizza is so good, but huge so you may want to share them with your friend. The price is not that bad either.
Since I am from Japan, and if you live in Hawaii for some years you might be in the same situation as me, I miss Asian food so much. They have some good Asian all-you-can-eat style restaurants, and one of them is near the old town. It is called Asia Kitchen and they have lunch and dinner. Lunchtime is a bit cheaper than dinner time and weekdays are cheaper than weekends. That is why I usually go there for lunch on weekdays. They have good Chinese food, some Sushi, and desserts  like ice creams and cakes.


How to Tip
They do tip in Austria, but not like America. I feel like tipping here is more lenient than in the US especially for students. I know a lot of people who never even tip. They are mostly from some other countries but there is not gonna be a problem, and they tip less than in America. Usually 10% or less. Some people just round up and give the change to waitresses. 
“keep the change” = “Passt schon”

Public Transport
The most popular public transport are train and bus. I have a semester card that I can take any train and bus with in Salzburg. It costs about 140 euros and I think there is no point buying one unless you commute to school by train/bus. If you are under 25, I recommend to get a vorteilscard, which costs only 19 Euros, and with that card you can get all the tickets 50% off. 
You can use vorteilscard card sometimes outside of Austria. When I went to Italy thanks to this card I paid only 29 Euros to Venice from Salzburg.
Usually trains come 2-3 minutes late. Trains are very clean and people would ask you if they can sit next to you. In that occasion you can say “Bitte” (please). 

Cheapest Way to Vienna
Westbahn
(Or you could try Czech Railways called České dráhy to find cheaper tickets but you have to book it earlier, and I have never tried)

Cheapest Way to Munich (Germany)
Bayern ticket
With only one Bayern ticket, you can go to Bayern State in Germany and come back to salzburg. You can also take every public transportation with that ticket within a day in the state. Munich, one of the biggest cities in Germany, is in Bayern state too, so you can go there as well. Munich has pretty buildings, shops,and Bayern Munich soccer stadium, if you like soccer. 

Safety
night view from the hill in the old town
  
I have been to different places but as far as I am concerned, Salzburg is relatively a safe country. I have never been in trouble nor gotten stolen anything. When I went for a drink to the town, I always walked home in the middle of the night but I have never felt unsafe. Of course I was with my friends, so as long as you watch yourself and keep your guy friends around you if you walk home at night, you will be okay. I think you already know every place can be dangerous if you are careless, but I don’t think you have to pay extra attention.


Language
Although their first language in Austria is German, Austrian people, especially students, are good at English. Sometimes you might get to talk with people who do not understand English completely at grocery stores and shops. Besides the fact, I don’t think it is a good idea to expect everyone to speak English because leaning your second language is way harder than you think. I don’t really speak German but I learned some words to communicate with local people.
Most of the time you will find someone who can speak English so you can live there even if you don’t speak German at all, but I want you to at least try to speak some easy words in German.


I will post one more blog about more detailed tips for living in Salzburg soon!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

All the Emotions of Leaving Europe

I'm back in the United States and the culture shock and adjustment of being back is in full effect. The second half of my semester was crazy busy, full of travel, visits from home, and intense language practice. I can definitely say that this entire experience was MORE than worth it. I met more people than I could have ever imagined, made some really long-lasting friendships, forced myself out of my comfort zone by backpacking alone for 3 weeks and with a friend from home for another 3, and really enjoyed my time. This was one of the greatest moves I have made in life.


I left Paris on May 16th, both happy and utterly heartbroken as I embarked on the next adventure - 6 solid weeks of backpacking throughout Europe. I had a plan of the first 17 days going to Lyon, Strasbourg, Fussen, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Munich, Dresden and Berlin. My long-time friend Heather from California was meeting me in Berlin to do 24 days throughout Eastern Europe; Prague, Budapest, Zagreb, Mostar, Dubrovnik, Split, Plitvic, Ljubljana, Bled, and Zurich. Although I was nervous to be on my own for the first part of the trip, I immediately made new friends in Lyon, as I was staying with a friend from Paris' family that offered their home to me. It was amazing to be able to integrate into Lyon's lifestyle with locals for a few days. Lyon remains one of my favorite cities - hence why  I visited twice in my time abroad. Backpacking by myself forced me to be comfortable on my own instead of relying on anybody. I made so many connections in the hostels - some I traveled with for a couple days, while some I just spent an afternoon with. Each of these new faces brought a different perspective to my travels and greatly impacted me. I loved being able to broaden my views and take in a wide range of ideas from all over the world. In my time alone, I hiked one of the Alps, drove on the Autoban, visited Mozart's home, went to the original castle that Disney modeled theirs after, ate apfelstrudel and spatzle, spent time in the oldest concentration camp from WWII, watched surfers go at it in the park river in Munich, and climbed more stairs that I can count.


When I arrived in Berlin I couldn't wait for my friend Heather to come. I was a little exhausted, my phone had been having issues, and I was ready for some comfort of home. She ended up missing her connecting flight in Turkey and was delayed 15 hours, but finally arrived (newly-sprained ankle and all). While the mobility was a bit of an issue and we ran into problems here and there, our trip was absolutely fantastic. Eastern Europe is less traversed than the western portion, making it less crowded and cheaper. Heather and I explored the cities on our own, venturing off the beaten path, and discovered a whole new world that we loved. My top favorite place was by far Mostar, Bosnia. The people we came across were incredibly friendly, the food was good, and the scenery was breathtaking. There is a vast contrast between Western and Eastern Mostar due to the Bosnian War of the early 1990s and wreckage is still present with bombed-out buildings and bullet casings found throughout the city. Very few people seemed to be visiting here, so the peaceful aura of the city was very different to what I had experienced in places like Paris and Berlin. This trip together included getting tattoos in Prague (sorry Mom!), relaxing at the thermal baths of Budapest, jumping into a freezing lake/waterfall in Bosnia, meeting a friend I had met on a previous stop in Bern, Switzerland, seeing famous graffiti walls, and bonding with one of my best friends.


Everyone should backpack - and do it alone at least for some time. It sounds crazy and people told me I was out of my mind, and I'll admit that I was scared. But was it worth it? COMPLETELY. I can't stress enough how much I grew in this whole experience - both from studying abroad and from traveling afterwards. This world is huge and there is so much to see, but there is also so many people to cross your path that will open your eyes in a way you didn't know could happen.


I'm already planning my return to these incredible places.

Fussen, Germany. Neuschwanstein Castle.
Fussen, Germany


The most picturesque little city, Strasbourg, France.

One of the best things about backpacking is meeting new people that become lifelong friends.

Munich, Germany

Dresden, Germany

Filbling, Austria, outside of Salzburg. Hiking in The Alps!

In the Astronomical Clock Tower in Prague, Czech Republic

My right hand companion on the second half of this trip - Heather

The Berlin Wall, Berlin, Germany

Waterfalls outside of Mostar, Bosnia

The Shoes - Holocaust Memorial in Budapest, Hungary

View from our hostel in Bled, Slovenia just before dusk

View from our hostel in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Bern, Switzerland. I was lucky enough to have a friend I met previously in Nice from here to show us around.

Hanging on the edge in Bled, Slovenia

Our last day - Zurich, Switzerland

The famous Plitvic Lakes Park in Croatia


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Trip to Normandy

I think the trip to Normandy was such an amazing experience and I truly recommend everyone to go there, not only because of it's historical significance during World War II, but also because of it's beauty and relaxing vibe that anyone will enjoy.

Omaha Beach
After four weeks of classes, my friend and I decided to take a weekend trip up north of France to Normandy.  We decided to stay in Bayeux. The first day we were there we decided to just get settled in at the hotel and explore most of the town. The town was so cute because of the many small shops ranging from crêperies, souvenir shops, and antique stores. We also found a farmer's market as well. It was very interesting because there were just so many different things going on. People were selling live animals, there were cheese stands that sold many different types of cheese, and there were even food stands that served from huge cooking bowls. It was amazing.

On the second day, we planned to head down to Juno and Gold beach. Unfortunately my friend and I missed the bus. Luckily we were able to catch another bus that took us back to Omaha beach. So most of the day we just explored that beach and collected sand as souvenirs. The descent to Omaha beach was tiring. It was even worst going back up. I'd imagine how hard it was for those soldiers to climb up the slope from the beach back then.

Juno Beach
Also, I was able to collect a lot of shells from that beach. The shells were really pretty and big; different from that of back home where I would find shells in pieces. Because we had so much time, I even walked further towards the water. It was quite a walk as the sand area extended quite far before hitting the water.

On Sunday my friend and I were finally able to go to Juno and Gold Beach. The first one that we went to was Juno. We were actually dropped off at a port side town so we were able to do a bit of exploring before heading to the beach. The town was really interesting because like Bayeux we went through many little shops and farmer's market there. Once we reached the beach the first thing I noticed was how different the sand was from Omaha. The sand at Omaha was more soft and fine. At Juno, the sand was more rough. You were able to tell the difference.


Gold Beach

After Juno, we headed to Gold beach. I think this was my favorite because of the remains of history you can find here. On the beach itself, you can see remnants of the D-Day landings such as the floating bridges. My friend and I then walked up a hill to the Arromanches 360 for a better view of the beach. It was amazing. Going to the town was great too because it felt like I was in a movie.

Town near Gold Beach
Going to Normandy was the perfect way to end my study abroad program. Being able to experience the city life and exchange it for a simple country life in the end was very fun and relaxing. Normandy is an amazing place. I've only explored a small part of Normandy and didn't try everything yet what I've experienced was enough to make me fall in love with the place. Before going on this trip I never knew about the history and beauty this place holds and I'm glad I was able to experience it. I walked through history and it touched my heart. What that place went through and the soldiers that gave their lives that day sent chills down my spine as I walked those streets. This place is full of treasures and I would definitely come back in the future.


- Allysha Mae Martinez, Summer Study Abroad ESCE

Paris Favorites


Paris is full of mesmerizing and enticing wonders and it is difficult to choose what my favorite places and foods were during my stay here in this beautiful city. Some of these things are not available back in Hawaii so it’s something that I will miss a lot. It was definitely a great experience and it is something that I will look forward to in the future if I ever decide to come back to this beautiful city. So here are some of the many favorite things from France.

 Pain au Chocolat


The one place that I would go to for a quick snack or a cheap breakfast meal is a Boulangerie.  These bakeries are literally on every street and they sell such a variety of pastries and bread; some that aren’t even sold in Hawaii. A pastry that I have come to love and would always order is the pain au chocolat. It is pretty much a croissant filled with chocolate. They are sold in many sizes depending on the boulangerie that you go to but all the same it is delicious. Because I loved it so much I bought myself a pack at the local Monoprix to eat in my dorm. I even brought a pack home to Hawaii to share with family (but mostly for myself).

Kinder Bueno

This was my go-to snack when I got really hungry in class. During breaks, I would go to the vending machine and get this all the time. The pack comes in two and it’s a chocolate wafer filled with hazelnut. What’s even great is that while walking around the little shops, my friend and I found a huge candy store and I found that they were selling packs of these kinder Bueno. I ended up buying three packs of nine to bring home. These are really addicting.

Baguette


Everyone knows what a baugtte is and honestly it was pretty much what I ate during my stay in Paris. I haven’t really tried baguettes from bolangeries or other shops but I have tried to the ones that were sold during lunch at my school and they were delicious. There are different types such as ham and cheese, curry, and bologna and pickles. These things were really big and filling and were at a cheap price. Baugettes are very popular. Almost everywhere I go, I would see someone carrying two to three baguettes with them. I can see why though because you can fill it up with almost anything.



Château de Versailles

It wasn’t just food that I’ve come to enjoy but there are many places that I have visited that I’ve come to love. Aside from the typical well known tourist spots such as the Eiffel Tower or the Lourve, there are so much more places to see. For me one of my favorite places that I’ve visited was the Château de Versailles. This place is about 30 minutes away by train and is such an amazing sight to see. This estate used to belong to King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and it is HUGE. Compared to the ‘Iolani Palace, the Palace of Versailles is probably 10 bigger, not including the acres of gardens and fountains around the palace. They even offer golf carts and bike rentals for visitors because the walk around the whole estate can be quite tiring. At one point, my friend and I rented bikes and pedaled all the way to the other side of the estate near Mary Antoinette’s estate. The gardens are marvelous. It was an adventure getting through some of them because it was like the maze in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Also, what I thought was really amazing was the classical music that played throughout the gardens. It gave such a relaxing, enchanting vibe. This place is definitely worth going to and I would definitely go again.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Another place that I think is worth going to is the Notre Dame Cathedral. Yes, it’s just like the cathedral from the movie Hunchback of Notre Dame (that’s the first thing I thought of when I saw it). I think this is one of the most beautiful cathedrals I’ve ever seen. The architecture is truly amazing. Though the line to get is may be intimidating because of how long it gets, it’s still worth it because it’s free and the lines go by really fast so you would only be standing in line for a couple of minutes. Once you go inside it’s so mysterious and very gothic looking. There are many sculptures and paintings throughout the cathedral and you are able to light up candles to pay respects.
Catacombs

Probably not a place a lot of people would like to visit but I thought this place was by far amazing. The line for this was ridiculously long but luckily my school was able to book a tour prior so we were all able to go get in quite fast. The Catacombs was quite a sight to see. I didn’t realize how deep underground we had to go but it was quite a walk. We descended almost 20 feet underground and a few more after to get to the remains. We learned a lot throughout the tour. We learned that over six billion Parisians from around the 17-18th century was buried there because there wasn’t enough space in the graves above ground. What I found interesting was the fact that there are more Parisian remains that the population of Hawaii.



Though there are many more things that I enjoyed on my trip, these are the few that I really enjoyed and recommend to those who are planning to study abroad in Paris, France. There are so much more things to do and explore in this beautiful city and I loved every second of it. It was fun experiencing new things and exploring so many historical places. It’s something I will definitely do again.


- Allysha Mae Martinez, Summer Study Abroad ESCE