Cyprus | Introduction, Information and Formalities !

By Arisa Dhiensiri

Hi and welcome to my study abroad blog! Through this platform I’m going to take you along with me during my summer in Cyprus. However I thought it would be nice to go through some introductions and information on the program beforehand. My name is Arisa and I’m about to start my third year at UCLA as a Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology major and a Global Health Minor. At UCLA I’ve been so lucky to find my home in organizations like Bruins Fighting Pediatric Cancer and Project Literacy, and I’m so excited to continue the Bruin experience outside of Westwood.

Me and my Baby Bruin from Project Literacy!

I just arrived in my hotel at Nicosia, Cyprus, and am really looking forward to settling in. I landed at the Larnaca International Airport, which is about an hour away from the hotel. Global Semesters, the program coordinators, arranged a group pick up from the airport at 6:00 pm, but since my flight came in after the pick up time they set me up with an individual taxi. En route to the hotel my taxi driver gave me a University of Nicosia Global Semesters bag filled with Cyprus brochures, a cell phone, and the daily schedule for the program.

UNIC Goody Bag

Through this program I’m going to be fulfilling my yearlong physics requirement, and finally completing all my lower division courses. This program was designed by UCEAP in coordination with the University of Nicosia in Cyprus, to fit an entire year of introductory physics into 8 weeks. We have Lectures every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and then Labs on Tuesdays and Thursdays. While cramming such a sheer amount of physics into a small window of time seems daunting and absolutely insane, I’m looking forward to never having to do physics again after this summer.

Cyprus is a small island in the Mediterranean with a steep cultural history. It’s said to be the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of Love. It’s rumored that she washed up on the shores after being born from the foams of the Mediterranean Sea. During my eight weeks I’ll mostly be located within the capital, Nicosia, which is inland. Nicosia is the largest city on the island and like the rest of Cyprus it’s divided into a Turkey Cypriot side and a Greek Cypriot side. The program has been set up so that on the weekends we’ll be taking trips to beach towns like Paphos and Ayia Napa, and other areas like Troodos Village, to truly get acquainted with the island.

For the first two weeks of the program I’ll be staying at the Altius Hotel in Nicosia. The university apartments are currently getting renovated so we’ll be moving into the apartments later on. Global Semesters, the program coordinators, have scheduled a bus to take us from the hotel to class every day until we relocate to the apartments.

Altus Hotel Lobby

Cyprus | Orientation, Exploring Nicosia and Touring UNIC

By Arisa Dhiensiri

Today we had a jam-packed day filled with museum tours, orientation, a nice welcome dinner and lots of walking. We started the day by eating breakfast at Altius Hotel before heading over to the Cyprus Archaeological Museum. The museum ended up only being a ten-minute walk from the hotel but in the heat it felt like miles. When we got to the museum we were separated into two groups and led on a tour guide. The museum houses the largest collection of Cypriot Antiquities in the world and it was really fascinating to learn about the history of Cyprus. Cyprus, being in the middle of the Mediterranean, is a cross section for so many different empires such as the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, and Persian, as well as having really strong Greek roots and influences. The tour guide explained how Cypriot art from specific time periods reflected the empire Cyprus was a part of at the time.

All of us at the Cyprus Archaeological Museum

After the museum tour we walked to the Old City of Nicosia and we were able to see the divide between North Nicosia and South Nicosia. Nicosia is the only divided capital in the world, the North being Turkish occupied, and the South as part of the European Union. The Green Line is No Man’s Land, and is the distinction between North and South. Directly around the border is the old town, Nicosia’s historic center. Old City is enclosed by Venetian Walls and a little removed from New City, Nicosia’s more modern side. The streets in old town are cobblestone and filled with beautiful historic churches and buildings that are very reminiscent of Greece.

A church in Old Town

Exploring Old Town

For lunch we were able to walk around Ledras Street in the old city. Ledras Street is kind of like LA’s Abbot Kinney, super cute and chic, usually where people go to hangout, and filled with picturesque cafes and restaurants. The tour guide from the Museum came with us to old town to explain the buildings and give some restaurant recommendations that I’m excited to try later on.

Ledras Street

After getting to know Nicosia, we walked to the University to start our orientation and get a campus tour. The university was mostly empty because there aren’t that many students taking classes over the summer. Compared to UCLA, The University of Nicosia is pretty small, however it has a really modern feel. On the university tour we passed by our future apartments and got to check out the restaurants included in our meal plan. Since they are getting renovated we’re staying at the Altius Hotel for the time being, but they told us that future programs would be staying in the new dorms for the entire time. The program coordinators also provided us with meal vouchers that work as our meal plan. The meal vouchers are good for 3 different restaurants located 5 minutes away from the university, and a 24-hour bakery.

We concluded our day with a welcome dinner in Old Town at To Anamma Traditional Restaurant. Here they served us Mezze, which is a huge collection of small dishes. The dishes include a variety of meats, a Cypriot Salad, dips, pita, and halloumi, traditional Cyprus cheese. Through dinner we were introduced to traditional Cyprus food and the rest of the people on the program. The program is mostly comprised of UCLA life-science students, however there are 3 people from UC Davis. The mezze was really the perfect way to end such a long day.

Tomorrow we begin our first week of classes and honestly I’m a little scared for the physics! See you next week!

Japan | Fruits & Fast-Food

By Deran Chan

I’ve been in Tokyo now for about 2 weeks. I moved into my dorm at International Christian University (ICU), started my classes, and played tennis indoors for the first time. This is my study abroad experience. Once I got to Japan, I needed to stock up on snacks (priorities) so I started at the local markets. If you didn’t already know, fruits and vegetables in Japan are SO EXPENSIVE. This mango peach costs 600 yen at the supermarket (roughly equivalent to $6 in the U.S.) and this is because Japan gets a lot of their fresh produce imported from around the world.

After my Japanese produce haul, I ventured into the world of fast-food. Just a 10 minute bus ride away from campus, Musashi-Sakai Station offers a wide range of restaurants and shops. So where did I go?

McDonald’s. Yep, that’s right. I travelled to the other side of the world to eat the most “American” restaurant known to man. In my defense, the menu is completely different, but more importantly it’s way better. The McNuggets taste like actual chicken and the whole experience feels like anything but fast-food. I also tried their grape float since their ice cream machine was actually working <shocker> and I was pretty satisfied overall.

A few days later, I went to a chain called “MOS Burger.” The burger was really flavorful and I could tell that MOS Burger was the In-n-Out of Japan. Unlike the United States, a lot of Japanese restaurants will have a second story for additional seating. When you’re done eating, make sure you put your dishes and trash in the appropriate area. In Japan, you are required to sort your trash into different categories: combustibles, non-combustibles, bottles, plastics, etc.