England | The Halfway Mark

By Emma Skinner

Wow! As cliché as it sounds, time really flew by. The Pembroke-Kings Program has been extremely fast paced, but in a good way. Not a day goes by where I sit around with nothing to do! From an entire class in three weeks to endless event opportunities, I thought I’d share with you my top seven highlights from Cambridge so far;

  1. Formal Hall: As I prepare for my second formal hall this evening, I remember how exciting this event was for me. Our first formal was held on the first full day of classes and it was such a great way to get to meet everyone. Plus, a three-course meal in the fanciest dining hall ever could never go wrong. Now that I’ve gotten to know such amazing people, I can’t wait for tonight with those I now call my friends!
  1. Evenings by the River Cam: Having a river run through university is one of the best parts of Cambridge. There is plenty of space to sit alongside and enjoy the view and the people! I’ve had quite a few memorable moments spent along here, from photo shoots to picnics to incredible firework displays. The River is also a great place to meet new people as there are always friendly faces punting along that stop to say hello!
  1. Nature Walks at the Mill: One of the things I love most about Cambridge is the multitude of wildlife you can find within a short radius of the school. The Mill, a popular restaurant and pub in the area, sits right along the River Cam and is home to a very friendly group of cows. Just beyond the Mill are plenty of walking paths you can take and explore all the natural beauty England has to offer! Further, the cows roam wild and are more than happy to befriend you!
  1. Day Trips: Thanks to England’s amazing public transportation system, traveling anywhere within the country is quite easy! A few of us in the PKP program took a day trip to Norwich per recommendation from our taxi driver to the train station. We were quite surprised to find such a beautiful area. The Norwich Cathedral and our hike to a lookout point were definite highlights from this trip!
  1. Hot Numbers: This may seem somewhat confusing at first. What is a hot number you ask? The best coffee shop in Cambridge! It sits right across from the Engineering building where most of our classes are held. From beautiful matcha pancakes (pictured) to the best oat milk latte in town, this café has it all. Further, its prime location makes it the perfect social spot. A day doesn’t go by where I don’t run into someone I know here! The friendly staff also make for the perfect environment.
  1. Castle Mound: This hill originally held a castle in England but the stone from the building gradually began to be taken for other uses. Now, all that remains is the pile of Earth and an amazing view of the city. Sunsets at castle mound make for some great bonding time with friends and beautiful views!
  1. The people: Of course, my top highlight is the people I have met through studying abroad! From all around the world we came together to be a part of the PKP program. I am so thankful to have made relationships I know will last forever.

Cyprus | Week 1 and Paphos Weekend Trip!

By Arisa Dhiensiri
We just finished the first week of classes! It’s definitely going to take some time to get used to a full day of physics lectures but our professors are so sweet. The first day of class was a little jarring since we had to jump into so much material immediately, but it’s to be expected given the nature of the program. The nice thing is that every week class ends on Thursday so we get to enjoy a long weekend. This weekend we took our first weekend excursion as a class! The bus picked us up at 9:00 am on Friday and we headed for Paphos, a beach city about two hours away from the capital. Before heading to Paphos we made a stop at Petra Tou Romiou, the birthplace of Aphrodite. Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love and beauty and it’s rumored that she was born from the foam of the sea and washed upon the rocks along the beach. The coastline along Petra Tou Romiou is really gorgeous and so we stopped to take some pictures and admire the scenery.
According to legend, if you swim around the rock naked three times
under the full moon you’ll gain eternal beauty and find true love.
Unfortunately our tour guide didn’t let anyone try it out for themselves before we headed for Paphos.

After visiting Aphrodite’s Rock we arrived in Paphos and had some free time to walk along the pier and explore the main part of the city. One of the places we visited was the House of Dionysius Mosaics and the Paphos Archaeological Park. The area is the preserved ruins of a wealthy Roman villa, and is lined with mosaic paneling depicting scenes from Greek mythology. The main villa is the House of Dionysius, named after the multiple mosaics paying homage to Dionysius, the god of wine. Directly outside of the House of Dionysius are three other villas. In The House of Theseus the main structure of the villa is really well preserved and there are beautiful column ruins.

After getting lunch at the pier and visiting the mosaics we got dropped off at the Anemi Hotel and were given the rest of the weekend to explore and relax. For dinner my roommates and I walked to a restaurant called The Corner about five minutes away from the hotel. The Corner was directly across the beach and served a lot of seafood, so we all got fish and chips. My roommates and I took this weekend to relax on the beach and hangout near the pool, a much-needed break from the week of intensive physics we just had. In the end this weekend was exactly what we needed, a little bit of sun and rest to recharge.

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

Norway | Arrival

By Rose Forster

Arrival
I left for my UCEAP program from Sydney, Australia, because I like to shirk the status quo (and that’s also where I’m from). This was twenty-four combined hours of flying, including a layover in Dubai. Having just finished my sophomore year, I can safely say I’m used to doing fourteen hours on a plane given the similar distance between Sydney and LA. The extra ten hours of flying was the part that was difficult to enjoy. Regardless of the screaming children, the terrible food and the lack of sleep, (staples of any flight), I touched down in Oslo and tried to keep myself calm. I was terrified of the logistics of carving out a new life for myself in an unfamiliar city. I realize that I did exactly that at UCLA two years ago, but in LA I had family members and English. Oslo didn’t have the former, and I wasn’t sure of the extent to which it had the latter, so I was understandably nervous.

At the Airport

I was blessed with the fact that I could buy a SIM card with no difficulty at a kiosk at the airport. As it turns out, everyone I’ve met so far in Norway is a fluent English speaker. From there I bought a ticket on Flytoget, the express train from the airport, and went on my way. On the train, while trying to heave my enormous suitcase into the storage compartments there, I met a girl trying to do the exact same thing. We both discovered that we were from America (she’s from Colorado) and that we were both going to the University of Oslo. I didn’t realize how relieved I was that I now had a point of contact until I sat down on the train and allowed myself to breathe.

Housing

We had to pick up our keys for housing at the university campus, while the actual student villages we were living in were spread across the city. The only hassle I had with getting my house keys was rolling my suitcase over the cobbled street outside.

I’m living in a little studio apartment in Kringsjå.

It’s small and clean, and most importantly, properly heated for the winter months, although it’s been trapping the heat in summer anyway. Today I walked about ten minutes north of my village, and stumbled across the most beautiful lake. The Norwegians were making the most of the sunny summer day and were swimming in the water, laying out in the sun, and enjoying themselves. It’s no California heatwave, but it’s warm enough to merit bathing suits.

I only arrived yesterday, so my trip so far has been a whirlwind of logistics and jet lag. I’m trying to enjoy the 9:30pm sunset without the looming fear of the eternal darkness of the upcoming winter. My orientation program starts with a party tomorrow and then a week of activities, and I can’t wait to see what Norway has in store.

Ghana | First Impressions of Ghana

By Ashley Young

              Akwaaba! Welcome! It is the end of my first week in Ghana, and WOW it has been an adventure! Since arriving, I have been taking part in the UCEAP Ghana Orientation Class, a class that introduces students to the culture, history, economy, and politics of Ghana. Our UCEAP program staff, two Ghanaian student assistants, and a handful of professors from the University of Ghana, have been leading us through this practical and experiential course, which is a mixture of lectures, field trips, and personal interactions with the Ghanaian culture and people. Thus far, we have toured the University campus, acquainted ourselves with its surrounding neighborhoods, tasted many new foods, learned about Ghanaian culture, including the importance of dance and music, and explored the historical, social, and political contexts of the country we are living in.
              While I have only been here one week, it is clear that studying in Ghana will be an eye-opening experience. One thought that has captured my attention so far is the fact that Ghana, and Africa as a whole, does not lack resources. Before I came here, I was of the opinion that Africa was without: without the basic materials and items needed to sustain a flourishing continent. My first impression of Ghana confirmed this opinion – from the impoverished street hawkers, who walk between cars at intersections selling goods like plantain chips, laundry soap, water, and eggs, to open sewage systems on the sides of roads, to begging children who follow and hold on to you as you walk to your destination, to the inconsistent flow of running water in the University dorms – all of these sights seemed to confirm that Ghana lacks the important resources needed to serve its people.
              But this is not the case. AFRICA DOES NOT LACK RESOURCES. Ghana, in particular, is rich in fertile land for agriculture and cattle rearing, gold, diamonds, bauxite, timber, and even oil. Alack of resources is not the issue. The issue is access, and the efficient assemblage of resources to most benefit the country. One example of this issue was discussed in the orientation class: Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire (the country neighboring Ghana to the West) produce between them 60% of the cocoa in the world market. However, they only make 5.7% of the market profit share. This is an extreme inequity, and unfortunately, not an anomaly in Ghana or the greater African continent.While at times, it has been difficult to be a personal witness to so many political and economic development issues, the Ghanaian culture is rich and there is much beauty to be found!Below, I have attached some photos of the places we have gone:
              All of these excursions have been facilitated by our UCEAP Program staff – Auntie Rose, Auntie Sharon, and Auntie Dorcas – as well as two Ghanaian students – Araba and JoJo. We call our staff our Aunties because in Ghanaian culture, the family extends far beyond the nuclear family that we generally acknowledge in the United States, and individuals call those older than themselves either “Auntie” or “Uncle” to show respect and/or signify a relationship. Additionally, the student assistants, Araba and JoJo, have received their names based on the day of the week they were born on. This is a traditional Ghanaian practice – Ghanaians believe that each day has a spirit associated with it, and that this plays into the character of the individual.
              In fact, the integration of traditional Ghanaian culture into the more modern Ghanaian society is quite interesting! There are many practices and customs alive in Accra that I have never heard of before, many revolving around important milestones in life such as birth, puberty, marriage, and death. Already, we have been invited to both a traditional Ghanaian wedding and a naming ceremony for a new baby; I am sure I will get to experience many new traditional customs at these events!
There are many practices and customs alive iI am excited to learn more about Ghana, and excited to share it with you as I go along. Enjoy reading!
Best,
Ekua (MyGhanaian name!)

Scotland | Life in Edinburgh Part 1

BY CAITLYN PICKARD

I never moved anywhere before college. I lived in the same house for 18 years of my life. Then came college, where I realized, moving is kind of a stressful feeling. You begin to learn about the little quirks and secrets that your new community has to offer. Upon arriving, I wasn’t really sure of anything. The orientations provided by UCEAP and University of Edinburgh were beyond helpful, but there were still some unanswered questions I had. Where to buy groceries, how to explore Edinburgh, getting a new phone sim etc. Through trial, error, and some small financial mistakes, I found myself settling into my surroundings and making Edinburgh my temporary home.

THE BASICS

Phone Services

There are quite a few phone services to choose from, but the two that I researched were EE and Vodafone. EE is the UK company partnered with Orange and T-Mobile. Vodafone is a company frequently seen all over Europe. When using a new phone service while traveling for a short-period of time, it is best to use a pay-as-you-go plan. You will also need an unlocked phone. Depending on what service and type of phone you use in the U.S., you may want to check and see if they can unlock it for free. If you do not have an unlocked phone, you may want to buy a cheap phone to use for your time abroad. When you go to a phone service company, they’ll give you a new SIM card for you to use while using their company services. Below are two similar plans that EE and Vodafone provide:

EE – £15 Vodafone – £15
·      Unlimited text to UK numbers

·      500 min of calls to UK numbers

·      5 GB anything

·      Unlimited text & call to UK numbers

·      Unlimited Social Media data

·      5 GB of other data (internet, videos, etc.)

Unfortunately, I didn’t know about these different options prior to purchasing a plan. I ended up getting an EE plan (at the Cameron Toll location). I could have changed it after learning about the Vodafone plan, but I found that the EE £15 plan suited me fine and EE has better coverage. There are a few other phone services so choose the one that suits your needs! Don’t forget, there’s free wifi everywhere so you don’t have to worry too much about your data limits J

Transportation

If you are a South campus major, you’ll more than likely have a few classes in King’s Building. This is a branch of University of Edinburgh, but it isn’t on main campus. It’s actually like a 20-minute walk from main campus, so if you are expecting to have some math and/or science classes, you might consider living at David Horn House or Kitchner. If not, then you might want to pick a different accommodation. I didn’t know this so I just went for the cheapest housing. Consequently, I am approximately a 30-minute walk from main campus and city center. I considered walking to main campus every day; I mean it’s the same amount of time for me to walk from my apartment in Westwood to North campus, but I’d also skip classes because it would become an excuse. Side note, don’t skip class here, you could get dropped from a course. Not worth it! SO, to avoid that, I decided to buy a bus pass. No excuses for me. A bus pass is £45 for 4 weeks. It’s really nice because I can go to and from campus and also explore Edinburgh without worrying about paying for a single ride on the bus (£1.70 one way). Also, I can use to to and from the airport (£4.50 one way)! Definitely worth it for me.

If you don’t want to walk but still want your exercise, you could buy a used bike in Edinburgh. It’s approximately $100. One other option is Uber. Yes, it is available here! But it does seem a bit more pricey than back in LA. Each ride is about £5 or more, even if it’s a kind of close distance.

Now if you’re strapped for cash, there’s always the free option: using those UCLA-hill conditioned legs.

Groceries

There are 4 main grocery stores that I’ll frequent: Sainsbury, Tesco, Lidl, and Aldi. I usually go to Aldi at Cameron Toll because it is close to my house, David Horn. If you’re more central to campus, there is Sainsbury, Tesco, and Lidl. Normally, Lidl and Aldi have the best deals and cheapest prices; HOWEVER, it really can depend on the things you’re buying. The prices vary from place to place, or can be exactly the same. I usually avoid Sainsbury unless Aldi is closed or if I’m too far away from Tesco or Lidl. On average, it seems to have higher prices. On the plus side, it’s open later and is also in Cameron Toll (for those living in David Horn House).

Hygiene

Boots and Superdrug are the two main stores where you can grab your pharmaceutical items and also any other toiletries you may need. Both have multiple locations in Edinburgh and some close to campus. I only recently found out that Superdrug was similar to Boots. From the outside, it looks like a beauty store. Compared to certain Boots locations, it may have a larger selection of beauty products than Boots. Also, it is a little bit cheaper based off the things I buy.

Clothing and Home Goods

In general, clothing and home goods can be found in Primark and various charity shops on Clerk Street. For clothing options, Primark is a chain retail store with reasonably priced items. Think of it like a European Forever21. They also have H&M a few stores down from Primark on Princes Street. Speaking of Princes Street, that’s the perfect place to go shopping for new clothes. Now, if you’re a bit concerned about your budget abroad, the charity shops are perfect. Their items are gently used and great prices, usually £5 or under. Plus, it goes to a great cause. Feel good and look great option. Primark and charity shops do have a few home good items, but that isn’t what the majority of their products are. If you can’t find what you need there or just need functional products, check out some of the bargain or PoundSaver stores. They have almost anything you’d need and are relatively cheap. There’s a few of these near campus on Clerk Street and also one in Cameron Toll.

Caitlyn Pickard studied abroad in Edinbugh, Scotland, in Spring 2018: http://eap.ucop.edu/OurPrograms/United_Kingdom_Scotland/Pages/host_EdinburghUKImmersion.aspx 

How to Vote From Abroad

BY CASEY LEE

UCEAP Switzerland 2017, UCLA ’18

We know there’s a lot on your mind as you’re beginning your fall semester abroad, but you also probably know that there’s an important election coming up on November 6th. Did you know that if you’re a US citizen, you can vote even while you’re abroad? It’s easy! We’ve put together some quick steps for you to follow so that you’ll be able to vote seamlessly from anywhere on Earth.

Note: This post will be geared towards California voters – if you’re not a California voter, select your state here, as different steps and deadlines may apply.

1.       Register to vote (Check your voter registration online and if you’re not, register first)

2.       Register and request an absentee ballot

a.       Request an absentee ballot by submitting a completed Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to your local election office before October 22, 2018 by email/mail/fax in one of three ways:

i.            FPCA Online Assistant

ii.            FCPA fillable PDF

iii.            Picking up a hard copy version from your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate

b.       Note: You can use the FPCA to register to vote in addition to requesting the absentee ballot, but you must mail/fax the form back

1.       Returning your ballot

a.       Once you receive your absentee ballot from your State it must be returned according to by mail or fax to your local election office before the ballot return deadline:

i.            Mail: Postmarked by November 6, 2018

ii.            Fax: Received by November 6, 2018

b.       If you haven’t received your blank ballot 30 days before the election, use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot to vote

Helpful Resources:

1.       Federal Voting Assistance Program

2.       U.S. Department of State

3.       Overseas Vote Foundation

Ireland | Transportation in Dublin

BY GRACE HEART

LEAPCARD/BUS SYSTEM

The easiest way to get around the city is through the bus system. Each student is given a LeapCard upon arrival at the program and it is preloaded with €5. With the LeapCard, you don’t have to worry about carrying exact change around wherever you go. Instead, you just fill up your LeapCard in advance and you’re good to go whenever you’re ready to explore.

The best place to fill up your LeapCard is at the Centra on campus before you leave. I try to have at least €10 on my card at all times in case I end up going anywhere I didn’t expect to go. On average, each ride usually costs about €2.05 with some of the longer trips being more. It is possible to fill up your LeapCard online, but DON’T DO THIS! If you fill up the card online, you have to take it in to Centra to verify the transaction anyway, so just save yourself the time and effort and go straight to Centra.

When you get on the bus, you can either “tap on” in which case you pay the max fee for all the stops or you can tell the bus driver your stop and he will only charge you according to the number of stops you will be going. Most times, I just tap on, especially if its crowded, to save time, but if you are only going a few stops, just let the bus driver know so you don’t get charged for the whole trip.

I know this was a point of confusion for several people when we started using the bus system, but some people were told that they needed to “tap off” if they “tapped on” when getting on the bus, but you DO NOT NEED TO TAP OFF. Some of my friends got charged a lot of extra money by making this mistake. Tapping off will charge you AGAIN for the max ride length which I’m sure you don’t want. When exiting the bus, you do not have to do anything.

Keep in mind that the bus stops running at 11pm usually. If you are going to be out after 11pm, just split a taxi with your friends. We’ve found it to be about €15-18 when coming from City Centre, which split between 4 people, does not come out to be too expensive.

Overall, the bus system is extremely easy to use and can get you pretty much anywhere, even all the way to Dun Laoghaire.

DART

If you are trying to go a bit further, but not across the whole country, take the DART, part of the Irish Rail system. I only took it a few times to get from City Centre to Dun Laoghaire or from Dun Laoghaire to Howth. It is usually a bit faster and you can still use your LeapCard or you can opt to buy a separate ticket.

IRISH RAIL

If you are trying to get to across the country, use the train! We took the train from Dublin to Galway and it was so incredibly easy and a very nice train ride as well. The train is very clean, with tables and comfortable seats. I would highly recommend heading over to Galway for a weekend by train! You should book these tickets ahead of time if you want to sit with friends. Our tickets to Galway were about €25 round trip. I know you can get to Cork and Belfast on the train as well so definitely check out the train for a few weekend trips!

These are the easiest and cheapest ways to get around Dublin and the rest of Ireland! Take advantage of all the time you have and travel the country because it has so so much to offer!

Grace Heart studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland, in Summer 2017: http://eap.ucop.edu/OurPrograms/ireland/Pages/science_engineering_summer_uc_dublin.aspx

Ireland | A Day in the Life at UCD Summer Physics

BY GRACE HEART

6:30AM – WAKE UP! I typically wake up around 6:30am and check social media for about ten minutes before rolling out of bed. It always seems like you miss a lot when you’re asleep for half of your friends’ days across the world.

6:45AM – RUN! By 6:45am, I’m ready to run. I love going for runs in the morning because it helps me wake up and it’s also just a really great way to explore the city. I typically run towards city centre and explore different neighborhoods along the way.

7:30AM – SHOWER! After I get back from my run and stretch, I’m shower and get ready for the day.

8:15AM – LEAVE ROOM! I leave my room around 8:15am every morning. It’s about a 10-15 minute leisurely walk to the science building from Merville (dorms) so you get to breakfast around 8:30am.

8:30AM – BREAKFAST! Breakfast is at the Pi Restaurant in the science building. There’s normally some sort of hot dish as well as fruit, oatmeal, croissants, yogurt, and granola to choose from.

9:00AM – LECTURE! We have lecture Monday-Friday from 9am to 11am. The professor usually gives us a short, ten-minute break around 10am so we can get water, go to the restroom, or take a quick power nap.

11:00AM – BREAK! After lecture, we have an hour long break until lunch. A lot of people study during this time, go to the gym, or just relax for a bit.

12:00PM – LUNCH! Lunch is served in the Pi Restaurant again (cafeteria-style). They normally have about three options for a hot dish and are very accommodating to different dietary needs. Salad and bread are available as well.

1:00PM – LAB/TUTORIAL! After lunch, you will either have lab or tutorial. My group has labs on Monday and Wednesday and tutorial on Tuesday and Thursday. Labs last about three hours and  tutorials last about two hours depending on the efficiency of your group. In lab, we do hands-on experiments that apply the information we have learned in lecture. In tutorial, we are given a set of five practice problems to work on in groups of three. Both labs and tutorials are turned in and make up about 40% of your grade together.

4:00PM – GYM TIME! After lab or tutorial, I’ll typically go to the gym and do strength or one of the workout classes. The gym is free to the physics students and there are several free workout classes. These classes last about an hour and are a great way to stay in shape while abroad!

5:00PM – DINNER! – After the gym, we head over to dinner back at the science building. Again, there are usually three options for hot dishes plus a dessert for dinner.

The rest of the evening usually consists of studying/taking notes/doing practice problems or exploring the city. It stays light until about 10:30pm so you’ll have plenty of daylight for exploring if you choose to do so during the week. I would recommend trying to do most of your Dublin adventures during the week so that you can take longer trips on the weekend!

Grace Heart studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland, in Summer 2017: http://eap.ucop.edu/OurPrograms/ireland/Pages/science_engineering_summer_uc_dublin.aspx

France | An Idiot Abroad: Yvan and Avignon

By BARRY YANG

A WEEK OF ACCIDENTALLY SAYING BAD WORDS IN FRENCH AND OTHER FUN THINGS

Throughout my years in school, I have seen and experienced my fair share of unique teachers. However, out of all these unique teachers, none have been as poignant as Madame Sophie. The professor for our 10 person Justice and Globalization class, Madame Sophie is probably one of the most confusing yet interesting teachers I have ever had. A non-believer of lecture material, she simply just talks for 2 hours and will actively think out loud and remind us to remind her to not to forgot to talk about certain topics. A enthusiast for books and authors that none of us students from the states have ever head of, Madame Sophie is constantly in shock when half the class responds with puzzled looks whenever she drops the names of supposed renowned modern day political thinkers.

The Tram station at Part Dieu. I make this stop everyday when I switch to my second tram to get to school.

This week was our second time with Madame Sophie, and although none of us really have any idea what is exactly going on in the class, the discussions she sparks are at times very interesting. There are students from Turkey, Finland, Germany, and Switzerland in our class. It is very eye-opening to hear the different perspectives that my classmates have and how their cultures have shaped those perspectives. For example, towards the end of the lecture, Madame Sophie posed a very interesting hypothetical and pushed us to consider the roots of fairness and how our views on fairness are shaped by our respective country’s political and cultural environment. The example was about 3 individuals (Bob, Tom, and John) and who should receive a flute. Bob made the flute. Tom is the only one who can play the flute. John is very poor and has much less than both Bob and Tom. I answered that Bob should have the flute because he made it, while the students from Finland answered that Sally should receive the flute. Madame Sophie then pointed out how my thinking was very libertarian and textbook American thinking whereas the Finnish thinking was more communal. I thought this exercise was very interesting and I am excited to see what other questions she brings up next week.

Madame Sophie is undoubtedly an expert in her field and very knowledgeable of the subject matter. I am very excited for the class to progress and for us to get a better handle on the things she talks about.

Our program has many interesting professors and I look forward to writing about the others in the blogs to come!

MEET MY FRENCH DAD YVAN

My host dad, AKA French Dad, is probably the coolest French person I have met in this country. Yvan is 43 years old and incredibly funny, kind, and genuinely caring. As a social worker for the French government, Yvan deals with many young people and the experience he has garnered from his job really shows when you interact and talk with him.

Always joking around with French and English swear words and not so PG jokes, Yvan is incredibly relatable and joyous. Although there is a pretty big language barrier between him and me, we still talk for hours about traveling, love, and sometimes his wife. He is an tremendously caring father to his kids and a great husband. Although he jokes around with his kids and wife, you can tell he takes his duties as a father and husband seriously. He is incredibly young at heart and thus very fun to be around.

Yvan has taken me on crazy bike rides around Lyon, shown me different types of cheese and wine, helped me find romantic restaurants and places to go with my girlfriend, and genuinely been there as a friend. I am incredibly happy I have this crazy French man in my life.

The rest of my host family is also very cool, and I look forward to introducing them in more detail in future blogs!

Yvan celebrating his birthday!

A WEEKEND IN A SMALL TOWN

Unlike our trip to Marseille, my girlfriend and I had an absolutely amazing time this pass weekend in Avignon. Avignon is a fairly small city in the Provence region of France. It is to the south of the Rhone river and home to many medieval remnants. Everyone we met in the city was incredibly nice. From our Airbnb host, to Majib our new friend whose owns the local bakery, to just store owners who find my inability to speak French and my girlfriend’s smile incredibly endearing. Everyone in Avignon just seemed to be more relaxed and very unpretentious. The food there was also much cheaper than Lyon and Paris.

You can easily see most of Avignon in a day, so the city is a very good place to go for a laid back weekend. We saw many beautiful castles and churches and tried a bunch of foods from the various little shops in the city walls (the city is literally surrounded by the ancient walls from medieval times).

Avignon is definitely worth visiting. It is cheap to get there. Accommodations are very nice and reasonable. The people are incredibly kind and laid back. The sights are amazing and the food great. What more could you ask for. I also got the opportunity to fly my drone and make a video of the small town; the video can be found here: https://youtu.be/ENg692XeUvc

Barry Yang studied abroad in Lyon, France, in Spring 2017: http://eap.ucop.edu/OurPrograms/france/Pages/default.asp