Tuesday, August 30, 2016

City Tour - Seoul

The day before our check out at the Ibis Ambassador in Myeongdong, mom decided to book a full day tour in Seoul.  The cost was 170,000 KRW per person, but I’d say it’s definitely worth it to learn some of the history and culture.
Our destinations included: Jogye Buddhist Temple, the Royal Guard Changing Ceremony, Gyeongbok Palace, the National Folk Museum, passing of the Presidential Blue House, Amethyst Center, Changdeok Palace, the Ginseng Center, Insadong, and Namdaemun Market.  Vegetable bibimbap was ordered for lunch, although I wish it had meat in it (but it was still ‘ono-licious).

Being able to visit the different palaces was simply breathtaking!  But I have to say, the palaces and architecture started to look the same after a while (no offense).  It’s unfortunate that during the country’s conflict with Japan, the Japanese burned majority of the palaces to the ground, but some of it was restored to its natural glory.  In fact, the amount of palaces that were restored isn’t even half of it and the grounds are already so expansive!After our group lunch, I was already having a “kanak-attack” and was having trouble keeping my eyes open during the shuttle ride.  Some may enjoy a 9am-5pm tour of the city, while others may not.  You could also do a half-day tour if you would rather go exploring elsewhere or would like to retire back to the hotel (which I wanted to do soooo badly).Our guide was extremely helpful and friendly and not to mention, she helped my mom and I to buy bath towels and blankets at Namdaemun.  By the way, if you want to buy things that are dirt-cheap, go to Namdaemun Market!
From all that walking, both my legs and feet were sore and I was dying to find a place to sit down on.  Did I also mention that in South Korea, there’s stairs-galore everywhere?  From the palaces to buildings… I SWEAR, you’ll get the booty of your dreams in no time!For more posts, visit my blog website at sweetdudette.com

Friday, August 26, 2016

Day 1: Myeongdong

My very first day in Myeongdong was quite overwhelming.  Sooo many shops, restaurants, hotels, parks, etc.  There are sooo many things to do and places to visit (and I haven't even explored all of South Korea yet)!

My mama bear and I chose to stay at the Hotel Ibis Ambassador in Myeongdong, which is in a PRIME location for shopping.  If you LOVE skincare and makeup like I do, Myeongdong is absolute HEAVEN!  When traveling, some people have a strict itinerary of places to visit.  On the other hand, some people just choose to wander wherever their heart takes them (and that's EXACTLY what my mama bear and I did).

We walked into the nearest Lotte World department store building and then found ourselves in an underground shopping mall.  We took some random stairwell leading us back up the main roads and saw the Deoksugung Palace nearby.  The lush nature surrounding the palace grounds is simply beautiful and it's a perfect place to take some lovely photos.
My first impression of South Korea so far?  The city is extremely clean.  Walkways and roads are clear of any litter and in fact, public trash cans are very rare.  As for the people?  They're just as face-paced as the city itself.

After sharing a yakiniku set for lunch, mama bear and I retired from our long adventure and headed back to the hotel for some much needed rest.

For more posts, visit my blog website at sweetdudette.com

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
(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. 

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.

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