Tokyo | Tokyo & Rakuten Open

By Deran Chan

Over the past few weeks, I had the opportunity to attend both the Rakuten and Tokyo Open tennis championships. I’m a huge tennis fan and I was super excited to attend a professional tennis tournament outside of the United States. The last few months of the year constitutes the “Asian Swing” of the tennis calendar and first stop: Tachikawa. The Tokyo Toray Pan Pacific Open is held by the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) and is the largest international women’s tennis tournament in Japan. Headlining the tournament was Japanese superstar Naomi Osaka. After her recent triumph at the U.S. Open over Serena Williams, Osaka became an overnight sensation and Japan’s first grand slam champion. The event was held about an hour from my university, and I successfully made the trek with my brief knowledge of Japanese transportation! The venue was held indoors, and a general admission ticket gave me access to all of the matches.

I went on the first Saturday of the tournament and watched former World #7 Eugenie Bouchard (Canada) play local favorite Moyuka Uchijima. I managed to sneak to the front row, and as you can see, had the best seat in the house. After her win, Genie was kind of enough to take a photo with me and I definitely didn’t freak out. On the way home from the tournament, one of the most exciting things happened. I was across the street from Tachikawa Station, and I thought I recognized a familiar face. Standing in front of a 711 was World #1 and Grand Slam Champion – Caroline Wozniacki. Starstruck, I asked for a picture and asked her how she liked Tokyo (while trying to keep it together of course) and wished her luck throughout the tournament. What an experience.

A couple weeks later I went to the Rakuten Open, the first Asian tournament of the year hosted by the ATP men’s tour. Walking up towards the main stadium, fans were greeted by tents showcasing traditional Japanese food, oversized tennis rackets, and popular sportswear. It was raining out but that didn’t stop waves of Japanese locals and tourists alike from watching their favorite players. A sold-out crowd packed the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza, but somehow my friends and  I managed to sit together. We witnessed Japanese player Kei Nishikori win on home soil with the help of an electrifying crowd – to reach his 3rd final at this tournament.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures with the players this time but the immaculate tennis stadium and modern architecture definitely made up for it. There is no doubt that fans are awaiting next year’s Rakuten Open which will return to Ariake Coliseum, a newly renovated stadium undergoing preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Ghana | Outside Accra: The Central Region and Cape Coast Excursions

By Ashley Young

After two weeks of living in Accra, learning about Ghanaian culture and society, and finally (finally!) adjusting our melanin cycles to the African sun, it was time to leave the Greater Accra Region and travel to the Central Region. The Central Region is situated on the coast, much like Accra, but due West of the University of Ghana by a few hours. The capital of the Central Region is Cape Coast, and near it is a town called Elmina. This is where we (the UCEAP students and staff) made our stay for the weekend.

Note: This trip was coordinated by our UC Study Center staff! I did not realize this when I chose to come to Ghana, but UCEAP includes many trips, meals, overnight stays, and excursions in the University of Ghana program! I’m not sure to what extent other programs or locations do this, but it is certainly worth looking into if you are considering studying abroad in Ghana or another country through UCEAP.

When we first arrived in Elmina, our staff took us to Elmina Slave Castle. The Elmina Slave Castle was built by the Portuguese in 1482 and was the first trading post built on the Gulf of Guinea. Currently, it is the oldest standing European building south of the Sahara. While the castle was originally established as a trade settlement, it evolved into one of the largest stops in what is now referred to as the Triangular Trade, in which Europeans brought finished goods to Africa, traded for human slaves which they brought to the New World, and then produced raw goods in the New World which they exported to Europe. Elmina castle belonged to the Portuguese from 1482 to 1637, the Dutch from 1637 to 1872 (the slave trade ended during this time period, in 1814), the British from 1872 to 1957, and finally, Ghana, from 1957 to present.

While the pictures I have posted of the castle may seem beautiful, it is anything but. The horrors that occurred within its walls and as part of the larger Trans-Atlantic slave trade are truly awful. While visiting the castle was not a pleasant experience, it served as an important part of the UCEAP University of Ghana study abroad program and helped us to understand the past and current marginalization and exploitation of Africa by other nations.

Though our first day in the Central Region was somber, the next day was packed with fun and exciting activities! First, we took a beautiful drive to the Kakum Rainforest Reserve, which is part of Kakum National Park. There, we did a short hike and a canopy walk, where we moved through the trees on a series of long, tall, suspended bridges! Some of my classmates would describe the experience as daunting and risky; others would describe it as beautiful and totally awesome! Personally, I think that it was a good dose of both of these things, and I would certainly recommend the experience to others.

After our rainforest adventure, we headed back to Elmina and the Coconut Grove Beach Resort, where we were staying. There, we rode horses, had lunch and dinner at the resort restaurant, and swam in both the seaside pool and the ocean itself. The following morning, a few of us got up early to watch the sun rise over the waves. For me, this was truly the highlight of our trip. The way that the light fingered the clouds, the beautiful and serene pink and orange hues, the shimmering reflection of the sun on the waves, and the sound of birds awakening in the trees – it was a wonderful experience, and a peaceful way to reflect on our time in Ghana thus far.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post! The next post will be about another weekend trip coordinated by UCEAP to the Ashanti Region, so stay tuned!


Complimentary Twi Lesson!: In every blog post from here on out, I will be sharing some words, phrases, or sentences that I have learned for conversational Twi! This post’s words are:

Maakye! (Good Morning!)

Maaha! (Good Afternoon!)

Maadwo! (Good Evening!)

Denmark | 5 Things to Know Before Studying Abroad in Copenhagen

By Chloe Zgorzelski

Denmark: a cycler and pastry-lover’s paradise. Often lovingly labeled the “Venice of the North”, Copenhagen is a city known for its charming canals and waterways, pastel Lego-like buildings, delicious (albeit sometimes hard to pronounce) pastries, and love of hygge [pronounced ‘hoo-gah’: simply put, the Danish art of cozy, comfortable, and content living]. These are just a few of the many reasons why I chose to study abroad in this captivating city. After living here for a little over a month, it is no surprise to me that the Danes are consistently ranked among the happiest people in the world. I have already experienced, been challenged, and grown in so many ways during my time here, so I figured I would share five things I have learned that will help future UCEAP students make the most of their study-abroad adventure in Copenhagen.

  1. The UCEAP – University of Copenhagen Program is Unique: When compared to other UCEAP programs, a semester abroad at the University of Copenhagen is special because all students are required to participate in a three-week intensive Danish language program during the month of August. As a student who has never spoken or heard an ounce of Danish before my arrival in Copenhagen, this class was challenging for me at times, especially since it is so fast paced. However, the class size is small (approx. 25 exchange students from all over the world in each section) which means the professors have the ability to give you the individualized attention you need to help you succeed. You are also able to take the class Pass/No Pass if you wish.
  2. You Don’t Have Know How To Speak Danish to Study Abroad in Denmark: Studying abroad in a foreign country can be difficult, especially when you chose a country where a language other than English (or your native language) is spoken. Prior to my arrival in Denmark, one of my fears was that I wouldn’t be able to communicate well with anyone due to my lack of Danish knowledge. However, most Danes speak English! UCPH’s Intensive Danish Language Program will help teach you many basic Danish phrases that you can use in day to day life, but if worse comes to worse, all you have to do is start speaking in English and the Danish people will flawlessly switch over to English to communicate with you.
  3. Eating Out in Denmark Can Be Expensive: Unfortunately, Copenhagen is not one of those cities where it is feasible to buy a coffee and a pastry from a cafe every day on a student budget (A coffee, on average, costs around $7 USD). Eating Out at Restaurants can also start to add up after a while. However, it is significantly cheaper to shop at grocery stores (Netto, Aldi, and Fatka are my personal favorites) and cook your meals at home. If you visit some grocery stores before closing, many will sell their leftover pastries to you at half price! My friends and I organize group dinners, where we go shopping and cook a meal together. This way we can split the cost and still spend time with one another. Many of the dorms in Copenhagen organize group dinners as well.
  4. You Don’t Have to Buy Furniture + Kitchen Supplies for your Dorm: If you book your accommodation through the UCPH Housing Foundation (as most UCEAP students do), then your cozy, new Danish Dorm is already outfitted with basic furnishings (desk, bed + mattress, closet, kitchen table etc.) and kitchen utensils (pots, pans, dishes, utensils etc). However, you will be responsible for buying your own pillows, towels, sheets. These items are easy to find and relatively inexpensive at stores like Fotex, Jysk, and Ikea.
  5. There is No Uber in Denmark: As of Spring 2017, Uber no longer legally operates in Denmark. But have no fear! Denmark and the Copenhagen area in particular has a very reliable and user-friendly public transportation system. There are only two metro lines and they run 24/7. Copenhagen is also notorious for being a very bike-friendly city. Most Danes (and many UCEAP students) choose to bike as it is a reliable and relatively inexpensive form of transport here in Denmark.

A Few Helpful Apps….

  • Rejseplanen: extremely helpful when trying to figure out how to navigate Denmark’s bus, metro, and S-train system. After downloading and enabling location services, the app will recognize your current location. All you have to do is type in your destination and the app will provide a you with a list of the fastest ways to reach it.
  • Google Translate: for when you want to read a sign, or need help reading the packaging in the grocery store
  • UCPH Map: provides you with an interactive map of all four University of Copenhagen campuses, which is extremely helpful especially during the first weeks of school
  • DOT Mobilbilletter: allows you to buy transport tickets for the bus, train, and metro from your phone, which is great when you are running late or in a pinch
  • TooGoodToGo: in an effort to reduce food waste, local restaurants/bakeries/grocery stores sell their leftover food at a discounted rate. All you have to do is pay through the app, and it will give you a time that you can head to the chosen location to pick up your meal!

England | A Home Away From Home

By Emma Skinner

How to get to Cambridge from Paris and a short walking tour of the college town

I’ve never been somewhere outside my hometown that has felt more at home than my arrival at Cambridge.

After a week trip in Paris, it was a nice break to take the Eurostar from Paris, Gare du Nord to London, St. Pancreas International. My family, who kindly joined me in my adventure to Cambridge, and I headed right across the street to King’s Cross where we hopped on the train to Cambridge Station, a short 45-minute ride. Though I first tried to read, I was taken aback by the beauty of the English countryside and found myself staring out the window the entire time.

A family friend who had visited Cambridge previously recommended Black Panther taxi service. Upon arrival at the station, I downloaded the app and was easily able to get a taxi, just like requesting an Uber. From there, it was a short drive to our hotel, the Hilton Cambridge City Center.

This is where my love for Cambridge truly set in. I was amazed at the huge, old buildings that stood around me. The cobblestone streets and a gentleman playing the alto saxophone truly set the scene. As I wandered around my new home, I realized just how lucky I was to be a part of the Pembroke-King’s College Program this summer. Besides a large nearby mall, there were plenty of little shops that caught my eye. I stopped off at Fitzbillies, half café and half coffee shop. I was truly excited to see iced lattes and coffees on the menu, a refreshing break from the constant espresso and lack of café américain in Paris. From there, a short walk by the River Cam and a necessary visit to the Cambridge gift shop to buy souvenirs for my family completed the tour. We finished off with a quick dessert crêpe from Benet’s Café, directly across from King’s, and headed back to get some sleep at our hotel.

Just from the short time I have been in the city so far, I already can tell how amazing this experience is going to be for me. As someone who has wanted to live in England since I was little, I can genuinely think of no better place to begin my adventure than Cambridge. With move-in on Saturday, orientation on Sunday, and classes beginning on Monday, I know the next few days will really help me adjust to my new life for the next two months. Already I have made plans with other students in the program via our Facebook page to meet up and work together on our classes. The friendly atmosphere and serene setting of Pembroke and King’s could make anyone feel at home, even on the other side of the planet.

As I wrap up this entry, I’m reminded of a quote by John Steinbeck who said, “People don’t take trips, trips take people”. From here on out, I well let the city guide me and show me its beauty. I will allow this journey to carry me along with it and enjoy every little moment in the process. I can’t wait for you to join in these moments with me, reader.

See you soon,