Ghana | Mole National Park

BY ASHLEY YOUNG

Our final program excursion of the year was to Mole National Park in the Savannah Region of Ghana. The Savannah Region of Ghana is in the north-western part of Ghana. It is most immediately south of the Upper West Region, and diagonally south of the North East and Upper East Regions. Mole National Park, the largest game reserve in Ghana, is a total area of 1,869 miles squared. It is home to great varieties of plant life and animal species and is especially well known for its many elephants and beautiful birds. Visitors can go to Mole for day trips to hike and observe wildlife, or they can stay at one of the local lodging options for a longer safari-type experience.

Our group was lucky enough to stay at Zania Lodge, the first luxury safari lodge in West Africa. Zania Lodge is situated on the ridge of a long hill, overlooking the savannah below. Two large watering holes can be seen from the property where elephants, antelope, and other wildlife can be easily observed. This outstanding view can be enjoyed from each individual chalet as well as from the main lodge, where there are patios, nice places to sit, and a beautiful infinity pool. During our few days at Mole, we spent much of our time floating in the pool looking out over the savannah. We were also lucky enough to enjoy multiple colorful sunsets from this wonderful vantage point!

Of course, the primary attraction of the lodge was its guided safari tours. The lodge offered three varieties of such: daytime walking tours, daytime driving tours, and nighttime driving tours. Each tour was about two hours to two and a half hours and included two trained guides. I chose to go on one daytime walking tour and two daytime driving tours – unfortunately the nighttime driving tour was an extra cost for our group.

Each tour had its own unique features. Because they were on foot, the daytime walking tours did not see quite as many animals as the driving tours, but it was fun and adventurous to walk through the bush and at least attempt to track animals. While hiking, we had the opportunity to see some unique things – including elephant bones, awesome anthills, and huge elephant footprints.

The driving tours provided the opportunity to see animals with greater frequency – elephants, antelope, warthogs, monkeys, alligators, birds, and more. The morning driving tour also had another awesome perk – a coffee break! The guides took us to a little platform that had been built overlooking a pond, and there we enjoyed freshly roasted coffee and tea biscuits. This was especially nice and unexpected because fresh coffee in Ghana is so rare (powdered stir-in coffee is more common) – it was a real treat!

All in all, the trip to Mole National Park was an outstanding introduction to a new area of Ghana. It provided an entirely different landscape to that of the coast and offered us great opportunities for experiencing African wildlife. I will not forget it!

Complimentary Twi Lesson:

Hye (To wear)

Mpaboa (Shoes)

Kasa (Shirt)

Duku (Scarf)

Ahuhuro de me (I am hot)

Ashley Young studied abroad in Accra, Ghana in 2018: https://uceap.universityofcalifornia.edu/programs/explore-ghana

Ghana | Tips for Staying Healthy and Maximizing Your Experience Abroad!

BY ASHLEY YOUNG

In the statement of purpose that I submitted to UCEAP before coming to study abroad at the University of Ghana, I wrote, “As I understand it, studying abroad is a wholly exciting and immersive experience, a commitment of oneself to engage with all that is around them and to pour into the culture and people of their chosen country. While studying abroad, living and learning are fully integrated, inseparable functions.” Having completed over two months in Ghana, I now know that this hypothesis is correct, and I am working each day to fulfill the great potential that my study abroad experience has. Specifically, I have been using certain strategies to help me prevent avoidable problems, relieve stress and remain resilient, and integrate myself into the Ghanaian culture. In this blog post, I will be sharing some of these strategies – I hope you find them helpful!

Strategies to Prevent Avoidable Problems:

  1. Eat a healthy diet.

While it may seem simple, this one thing can make a huge difference in your day to day wellbeing, and is important not just to your physical health, but also your mental health. Eating well gives you energy, helps you to feel good about yourself, and allows you to be productive and well-focused in other areas in your life, such as academics. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, take time to shop, plan meals, thoughtfully prepare food, and eat with others!

  1. Sleep well.

Getting 7-8 hours of sleep, during the same period of each night, is fundamental to maintaining a positive attitude and preparing yourself for each day. It’s not always possible but certainly worth a shot!

  1. Stay on top of your work.
  2. Plan ahead.

When you stay on top of your work, you are able to avoid the unnecessary stress caused by procrastination and develop a cushion for unexpected events that require your time. When you plan ahead, this sort of time-management only becomes easier.

Strategies to Relieve Stress and Remain Resilient:

  1. Exercise.

The University of Ghana gym is very small, but is an option for exercise, as well as other activities such as running and yoga. These activities give you time to clear your head, help you to let out unwanted tension, and improve your mood, appetite, and self-esteem. Additionally, setting goals in these activities gives you something to work towards and is enjoyable as you see yourself make progress and accomplish new things.

  1. Make your room an enjoyable and relaxing place.

Clean and organize your room well. When you walk in, you should not have to look at a bunch of misplaced things. You can just go in, sit down, take a breath, and have an environment immediately conducive for relaxing and/or studying.

  1. View your time as a learning experience.

At times, you will be faced with challenges that you have never encountered before. Know that these challenges are opportunities to learn and to grow! A positive outlook will help you to mitigate your stress as you take on challenges with an open mind and remember to view difficulties in the context of learning.

Strategies to Integrate into the Ghanaian Culture:

  1. Learn the local language.
  2. Make a point to regularly talk to and interact with Ghanaians.

Before I came here, I did not intend on taking a Twi class, but I have realized that not only is this fun, it helps me to feel more comfortable during my stay. Learning Twi is an excellent opportunity to actively participate in the culture, rather than just observe it. In a similar way, interacting with Ghanaians, especially students, gives you more opportunities to participate in the University of Ghana community and learn from the people who live here.

All of these strategies have been useful in ensuring that my study abroad experience is the best that it can be. I hope some can help you as well!

Ashley

Complimentary Twi Lesson!:

Aduane a mepε paa ne _____! (The food which I like best is _____!)

Atosodeε (vegetable)

Dauba (fruit)

Nsuo (water)

εkom dε me. (I am hungry.)

Ashley Young studied abroad in Accra, Ghana in 2018: https://uceap.universityofcalifornia.edu/programs/explore-ghana

Ghana | Volta Hall and Living at the University of Ghana

BY ASHLEY YOUNG

Living at the University of Ghana is quite an adventure! Every day brings something new and exciting. In this post, I will talk about the different living options available to UCEAP students, and in particular, my experience living at Volta Hall.

When you apply to study abroad in Ghana, you will be able to list your living preferences. Depending on your gender, you will be able to choose from either two or three options. Men can choose either Legon Hall, a co-ed dorm, or the International Students Hostel (ISH), a dorm for (mostly) international students. Women can choose either of these options or they can choose Volta Hall, an all-women’s hall. The most relevant differences between these options are as follows:

  1. Legon Hall and Volta Hall are right in the center of campus; ISH is on the outskirts of campus;
  2. Legon Hall and Volta Hall sometimes lose running water, but water retrieved from tanks with buckets (which is the same as the tap water) is always available; ISH rarely ever loses running water.
  3. There is more opportunity for interaction with Ghanaian students at Volta Hall and Legon Hall; there is more opportunity for interaction with international students at ISH.

All halls have their own small stores, places to eat, laundry services, and seamstresses (I would definitely recommend getting some clothes made; it’s a fun experience!). All halls are also monitored 24/7 by ‘porters,’ who essentially guard the main entrances to the halls, especially during the night hours, and are available to help students and answer their questions. Additional information on housing is available at: http://eap.ucop.edu/guides/ghana.

While one does rank their housing preferences, they may be placed elsewhere. I was placed in my first choice, Volta Hall, but some of my fellow classmates were not. It is also common to be told that you will be staying in one place, but then be moved to another place upon your arrival. Flexibility is very important in Ghana!

My experience at Volta Hall has been a positive one. The hall itself is very nice; when one first walks in they are greeted by a beautiful fountain and well-maintained landscaping – including really cool flowering trees, grass, pot plants, flower beds, and stone walkways. It is like a little oasis – when I walk in after a long class, I can just take a deep breath and relax. The rooms are also very nice. My room is actually comprised of two rooms, an inner room and an outer room. Each has its own bed and desk, and the outer room also has a sink. Outside of the room is a large wrap-around patio that connects all of the rooms – this is especially useful for washing one’s clothes and doing things like yoga.

There is a bathroom with two showers and one toilet on each floor; this is more than enough for everyone to share. While running water can be an issue, bucket showers are actually very refreshing, and not too much of an inconvenience. There is also a kitchen on the ground floor (the building is two-storied) with a fridge and two hot plates for cooking. While my roommate and I use the fridge, we bought our own hotplate and cooking supplies to do most of our cooking in our room. We are a bit of an exception; most students buy ready-made food, but we cook almost all of our meals. I have found this really enjoyable and a good way to stay healthy and use up free time!

Another way to stay busy is to participate in hall activities. Each hall has intermural sports; these include swimming, rugby, basketball, volleyball, cricket, and chess. Swimming is especially popular with international students, and one does not have to have any experience to join! Each hall also has a ‘hall week,’ where they put on events such as concerts and have vendors who sell food, jewelry, clothes, and other goods throughout the week. Many students enjoy visiting each different hall during its week to participate in the activities it offers.

All in all, living at the University of Ghana is a wonderful experience. Some final notes:

  1. There is a very small gym on campus; it is very close to ISH. Many students also elect to run, swim, or pick up some other physical activity during their time in Ghana.
  2. Food is available at every hall, as well as Bush Canteen and Night Market, which are two larger locations on campus to get food and groceries. A decently sized Ghanaian meal can be purchased for less than 2 USD. People selling fruit, snacks, and coconuts are also easy to find around.
  3. Rooms are not air-conditioned but do have fans. They are generally very hot but cooler than being outdoors!
  4. The WiFi is generally awful; it works best when there are less people on campus (e.g. before school starts) or when most people are asleep (e.g. 3am). Most international students purchase their own portable WiFi devices. Unlimited data costs about 30$/month if the cost is split with a roommate.

I hope this post is helpful! Check out this link for an old but still helpful video of housing at UG!: https://www.youtube.com/watch.

Ashley

Complimentary Twi Lesson!:

Wote hene? (Where do you live?)

Mete Volta. (I live at Volta)

Mepε se mekɔ me fie. (I want to go to my house. Literally, I want that I go to my house.)

Yεn kɔ! (Let’s go!)

Ashley Young studied abroad in Accra, Ghana in 2018: https://uceap.universityofcalifornia.edu/programs/explore-ghana

South Africa | 21st Birthday in Namibia

BY KELLI HAMILTON

Turning 21 is special in many cultures, and South Africa is no different. My birthday is on September 23rd, and in South Africa, September 24th is a national holiday, as it is National Heritage Day. Since it is a holiday, that means there is no school. This year my birthday fell on a Sunday, Monday was a day of no classes, and my Friday class was set not to occur, so I decided to do what everyone does when they are about to turn 21; I went to Namibia.

Namibia was the one country I had to visit when studying abroad in South Africa because it always intrigued me. It is so large, yet largely isolated and empty. When my 21st came around, I knew where I had to go and what I had to do. After all, how many people celebrate their 21 birthdays in the desert that is Namibia? A few other people in the UC program had similar situations during my birthday weekend, so four of us headed to Walvis Bay, Namibia. Upon our arrival, we collected our rent a car, and within 20 minutes we were on our way.

After driving for about five hours, we reached our destination, which was a Desert Camp. We were quickly greeted by grunting antelopes. I knew this 21st would be one to remember. The next morning, we woke up early to watch the sunrise. I had never seen an entire sunrise before, and let me just say, it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed. I took the moment to reflect on my 20 years of life and what I hoped the new age of 21 would bring. Shortly after, we commenced our drive to ‘Big Daddy Dune’ and Deadvlei. When we first saw the dunes, we thought they were small so we decided to climb then. Little did we know they were never ending pits of sand. They were stunning though, so it was absolutely worth it. After taking a safari jeep out to Deadvlei, we saw the dead trees that look so picturesque in every photograph you see. Even though it was 90 degrees out, we stayed and basked in the life that we were living, before deciding we needed to be inside, in case a heat stroke struck us.

The next day was my day. I was finally 21! I rang in 21 in a tent (don’t worry it was still special), as it was being attacked by warthogs (I wish I was kidding). We decided to drive to Swakopmund, a 4 hour drive from where we were staying, but not without stopping at the Tropic of Capricorn on our way. We went ATV racing and sand boarding for my birthday in Swakopmund. The last time I had driven an ATV was in Johannesburg with my dad years ago, so everything was coming full circle. In the evening I got dinner by myself, reflecting again, and talked with friends and family members. To top of my birthday celebration, however, I did the coolest thing I think I have ever attempted. I WENT SKYDIVING. Getting to see Namibia and its’ incredibly unique landscape from the sky was wicked. Also, my guide somersaulted out of the airplane! You have not truly lived until a plane door opens when you are 10,000 feet in the sky and the only choice you have is to jump out of a plane. It was so amazing and words will not truly describe the experience I had. To make it even better, since the group I came with did not want to go skydiving, I went with a Danish woman and another American woman that I met at the hostel we were staying in. They were the sweetest people and after we went to dinner with a Spanish-German pilot and the guy in charge of the hostel. I had the best garlic steak and we all shared dessert. Subsequently, we played a game by the campfire until 2am.

Since Namibia was my special time, my crew went back to UCT, while I stayed an extra day. With that day, I kayaked with seals and dolphins in Walvis Bay. I met a lot of cool people and touched seals! Namibia was an experience to remember, as was my 21st, and I will always cherish it as a place of good vibes, friendly people, and once in a lifetime experiences.

Kelli Hamilton studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa in 2018: http://eap.ucop.edu/OurPrograms/south_africa/Pages/univ_of_cape_town.aspx

South Africa | Interning at TCS Health Clinic

BY KELLI HAMILTON

A few weeks before heading to Cape Town, I learned about a health clinic being run in Cape Town at a location called The Carpenter’s Shop (TCS). A previous UCLA student had visited the shop a few times when he studied abroad in Cape Town, and was awarded a grant to set up a clinic that tested locals for STD/STIs in Cape Town, given the high rate of said diseases in the area. Knowing this, I decided to apply for an internship at TCS.

Luckily enough, I got the internship, along with three other UC students. Within a few weeks of arriving in Cape Town, we met the head of TCS, Ian. We were given a 12 week plan with different goals each week, ranging from literature research on STDs to conducting a health clinic in the last week. Since this was also Ian’s first time doing this program, we were all in the same boat and often collaborated on our assignments. We went to TCS once a week and met on Fridays near our residence to discuss our findings.

At TCS, they provide a range of services to homeless people. They house multiple residents of the city of Cape Town, provide people with access to showers, toilets, and sinks, and serve them food at different points during the week. Some Swedish girls also handed out porridge to the homeless population during the week and that fostered a sense of camaraderie amongst us internationals, which was nice. Our clinic, however, was different to the aforementioned projects. Starting in September, we went to TCS and started surveying the homeless population, inquiring about their sexual health and determining who needed testing. After doing this for a month, we compiled the results and handed out appointment cards to those we felt needed further testing and possible treatment.

As with any new project, there are ups and downs. We handed out about 13 appointment cards, and only seven people showed up. Out of those seven, only four actually went for testing. We are currently still waiting for the results. Although our turnout was lower than expected, I still think the clinic was a success. As our time in Cape Town came to an end, we gave TCS and Ian feedback and they plan on continuing the project in the future, with adjustments made here and there. In a country with an extremely high HIV rate, initiatives like this could be what save many people from premature illnesses and death, and it is because of this, that I look at the project with hope. Furthermore, getting to speak with locals at TCS and collaborate with other UC students on this new and ambitious clinic, was an immersive experience that taught me a lot about Capetonians and myself, and I am all the more grateful for it.

Kelli Hamilton studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa in 2018: http://eap.ucop.edu/OurPrograms/south_africa/Pages/univ_of_cape_town.aspx

South Africa | Adjusting to Cape Town

BY KELLI HAMILTON

Living abroad is an experience that is comparable to an adrenaline rush. Surrounded by new experiences, people, and landscapes, it is a unique and fascinating experience. However, one must acknowledge that no two locations are the same and adjusting to life in a new place can be a challenging, yet informative, experience. Nothing is more true in regards to adjusting to my new life in Cape Town, South Africa.

I would not say I experienced culture shock in Cape Town. The reason for this is because it is quite Western. From the cars, to the architecture, malls, and restaurants, it has a very American or European feel. Furthermore, English is the predominant language in the country and Cape Town is known for its’ beaches, which is something California, specifically, is renowned for too. However, this may be may the similarities end.

One stark difference between America and South Africa is the high threat of crime. Everywhere in Cape Town you see electrical fences and barbed wire, as well as bars on windows. South Africa has a high crime rate, mostly consisting of robberies. Upon arrival, safety at all times is stressed, from keeping your phone in discrete locations to never walking alone at night. I personally never felt unsafe, but being aware is always a must (As It should be everywhere in the world). On the brightside, urban renewal is happening across the country in an effort to clean up cities and make them safer!

When living in Cape Town, the local lingo becomes a part of your vocabulary too. Words such as ‘braai,’ ‘just now,’ ‘now now,’ and ‘lekker,’ appear in people’s vocabulary quite often. Braais are essentially American barbeques and they happen A lot. So before coming to one, make sure to bring your own meat, because I made that mistake once and then was taught how to ‘braai’ properly by South Africans. You must also have fire starter if you host a braai, another mistake I made, but I am all the better for learning from it (lol). Lekker means a good or fun time, so it is quite common to hear that too. Furthermore, time in South Africa is different. Between just now and now now, one means immediately and the other means in the near future, the distinction of which I have not yet figured out to be completely honest.

Overall, living in South Africa Was a blast, but it Was not without its challenges and difficulties. Nonetheless, IDACA, the group in South Africa which the UC’s work with, provided an excellent support network, including young and older South Africans. I want to take this time to extend a special shoutout to Shannon and Isabella, our South African IDACA coordinators, who were nothing short of an absolute treat to be around! Local Capetonians were also quite welcoming and more than happy to help us out. Knowing what to expect when you arrive is important, but it is also essential to know that nothing ever is exactly the way you think it will be, making the experience all the more interesting and exciting.

Kelli Hamilton studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa in 2018: http://eap.ucop.edu/OurPrograms/south_africa/Pages/univ_of_cape_town.aspx

Ghana | Ghanaian Culture: A Collection of Useful Pointers!

BY ASHLEY YOUNG

When going abroad, one will most likely find themselves unaware of certain social customs that are unique to their host country, or that do not exist in their home country/ the United States. Certain patterns of speech, hand gestures, and actions can catch visitors off-guard and leave them amused, confused, or maybe even frustrated. In Ghana, I have certainly come across situations where I am not sure how I should respond to someone or what reaction I should have towards something they have done. In this blog, I would like to share a few of these situations as well as some other things that are useful to keep in mind, so that others can be prepared if they ever encounter a similar circumstance!

Common Phrases and Their Meanings/ Appropriate Responses:

– “Am I invited?” – Once, some new Ghanaian friends came to my room to say hi. At the time, I was eating dinner, and one of them asked me, “Am I invited?” I did not know how to respond – I was not expecting them to stop by and I did not have any food prepared for them. What I have now realized is that this is considered a polite gesture, and no one actually expects to be invited over. A polite response is to the question is, “You are invited.” Alternatively, one can sidestep the question a little and offer the person something else, such as a sachet of water. [Below: Some Ghanaian meals!]

– “Can I have it” or “You can have it” – While visiting her department to register for classes, my roommate was asked by an administrator in the office, “I like your earrings, can I have one?” She was completely thrown off and did not know how to respond. On another occasion, when telling someone we liked their dress, we were responded to with, “You can have it!” Again, we were surprised and not sure how to respond. Turns out, these comments should not be taken literally. Rather, they are just polite sayings that indicate a compliment (“Can I have it?”) or kindness (“You can have it”).

– “Will you marry me/ Will you be my bride?” – If you are a woman in Ghana, be prepared for regular marriage proposals. Sometimes, the individual is seriously looking for a relationship with the intention of marriage. Other times, this is a less serious comment, but the individual is still interested in some sort of romantic relationship. Good responses to such questions include: “I have a boyfriend, ” (even if you don’t), and “Sorry, but I am not interested.”

– “What is your number?” – Many, many people will ask for your number. I once was even asked for my number during a morning run – the individual proceeded to run alongside me, introduce himself, and ask for my number. The best way to deal with this is to just let the individual know that you do not give out your number. It may be necessary to take their number just to be polite.

– “I am coming.” – Ghanaians will say “I am coming” as they are leaving or walking away from you. This actually means that they are going, and that they will come back later.

– “I will flash you” – “Flashing” is the act of calling someone and then immediately hanging up, with the intention of getting that person to call you back. With the Ghanaian phone system, the one who initiates the call, pays for the call. Thus, people will “flash” each other to avoid using their phone credits.

Hand Signals and Body Language:

– The placement of the back of one palm on top of the inside of the other palm means “I beg,” or “please,” and is usually accompanied with such a phrase or the Twi equivalent.

– Always shake hands and greet groups from right to left, or counterclockwise.

– Receiving items, giving items, or gesturing with your left hand is considered rude. For example, in class, you must always raise your right hand to ask a question. Raising the left hand is a sign of disrespect to the lecturer. [Below: Feeding monkeys bananas with our right hands – coincidence? I think not]

Other Things to Keep in Mind:

– “Time is time.” This is a phrase used in Ghana which is well juxtaposed to the American phrase, “Time is money.” This outlook on the nature of time and the laxness around meeting with others and getting things done can come across as rude and be frustrating if one is not used to it. Just remember, time is time, and patience is key.

– Ghanaians (especially vendors at markets) will make what resembles a kissing noise to get your attention. This is not, I repeat, this is not, a catcall.

– Restaurants often do not have menu items available and can take a very long time to prepare food. My friend once had to order five different items! It is useful to ask if any menu items are not available before setting your mind on something only to find out it is not available. It is also useful to go out to eat before you are actually hungry, so that by the time you get your food, you are hungry.

– Lastly, appreciate cultural differences! If you travel to Ghana, or anywhere in the world, learn to enjoy those things that are new and surprising! Experience the culture, engage with it, and take the best of it home with you! Why not?

Ashley

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Complimentary Twi Lesson!:

Mesua Twi daa/ pii (I study Twi everyday/ a lot!)

Mekasa Twi (I speak Twi)

Wokasa Twi? (Do you speak Twi?)

Ashley Young studied abroad in Accra, Ghana in 2018: https://uceap.universityofcalifornia.edu/programs/explore-ghana

Cyprus | Final Thoughts! Physics is Over Forever! No More Gyros!

BY ARISA DHIENSIRI

Physics is over! The program just ended yesterday and I’m currently on a flight out of Nicosia and to Naples. Yesterday we took our last exam, which was extremely hard, and submitted our last lab reports! The last couples of days were pretty stressful since we were finishing up our final lab reports and trying to cram in as much information as possible. It was also incredibly bittersweet and filled with goodbyes and lots of hugs. A couple days ago we had our farewell dinner with everyone, including Global Semesters and the program coordinators. It’s so sad to think about how we’ve all split from Nicosia, but most people are traveling around Europe afterwards and we’re all trying to make plans to meet up.

I’m really happy to be done with physics but there are several things from this summer that I’m going to miss. I’m going to miss Cow, the dog that lived next door to us, and all of the stray cats on the island. Cyprus is almost overrun with stray cats, and it’s really easy to get attached to all the neighborhood cats. I’m also really going to miss daily gyros and fries, late night runs to the bakery, and most importantly the milkshakes from Pieto’s.

The absolute best part of this summer were my two best friends and roommates. I’m so lucky to have spent the last couple of weeks with two of the most amazing people in the world. My roommates are so incredible, they made studying physics nonstop almost entertaining and are the only two people who could make me laugh when I wanted to throw my notebook across the room. This program really provided me the opportunity to create some a significant and meaningful friendship that I will cherish forever. In a program that’s this intensive and small it’s hard to not make life long friends. We all go to the same classes, eat meals together every day, live in the same apartment buildings, and study together. When you’re in close proximity with the same couple of people every single day they all become really special and so it was a little heartbreaking to have to say goodbye.

Would I recommend this program? Before going on a physics intensive program I would advise that you really assess what you want out of your study abroad experience. If you are looking for a fun study abroad experience to get a couple credits, and to relax I would definitely NOT recommend this program. The physics program has a reputation for being an easy way to get the physics series completed, but in reality it’s pretty difficult. Most of our time and energy was devoted to school since there was an insane amount of material to learn and understand in just a couple of weeks. I WOULD recommend this program if you’re looking for a practical way to get through the physics series, but you really have to keep in mind that this program isn’t really about “being abroad” and more about studying. It’s a really practical way to get through Physics but definitely not the easiest. Overall I really loved my time in Cyprus. I shared it with the most amazing people, had French fries for almost every meal, got to visit so many beautiful beach towns, and learned so much about an island I would have otherwise never visited on my own. I’m so excited to go back to UCLA and reunite with everyone, even though I’ll probably wait a year before having another gyro.

My friend Grace made a YouTube video documenting the last half of our trip!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKQR7upQ86E&feature=youtu.be

Arisa Dhiensiri studied abroad in Nicosia, Cyprus, in summer 2018: http://eap.ucop.edu/OurPrograms/Cyprus/Pages/univ-of-nicosia-summer-science.aspx

Cyprus | Favorite Restaurants and Food Hot Spots

BY ARISA DHIENSIRI

Food is the most important part of any trip, especially when you’re studying abroad. In this post I’m going to introduce you to my favorite restaurants and food spots in Nicosia.

Cypriot Cuisine

Cypriot cuisine is pretty similar to other Mediterranean food, particularly Greek and Turkish food. There’s a lot of fresh produce incorporated into dishes, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives. One of the most popular dishes is the Village Salad, which incorporates cucumbers, olives, tomatoes, bell peppers, olive oil, and tons of feta cheese. Since Cyprus is an island, seafood is also very popular. Cyprus is also well known for Halloumi, a special Cypriot cheese that’s usually served grilled. In my opinion, Halloumi kind of tastes like an elevated, more sophisticated string cheese. More Cypriot staples are gyros, hummus, and most importantly meze. Meze is an eclectic assortment of small dishes, with multiple courses. Meze is my go-to meal when going to a restaurant, and the amount of food borders on overwhelming so I usually split it between 2-3 people. Meze starts with a Village Salad, pita bread, grilled halloumi and a sampling of spreads such as Tahini, Hummus, and Tzakiki. Throughout the meal various kabobs, specialty meats from the restaurant, and sheftalia- Cypriot sausage-, are brought out. My personal favorite dish is Loukanika, a type of sausage marinated in wine.

Best Nicosia Restaurants

I have three restaurants that are my go-to for meze. They’re all very reasonably priced, and serve an absurd amount of food.

My absolute favorite restaurant is Piatsa Gourounaki, or “The Little Pig”. This restaurant is definitely the touristiest of the three, but is such a stand out. It’s located in the Old Town area of Nicosia. I love this restaurant because the atmosphere is really modern, albeit a little touristy, but the service is amazing and the fries are to die for. They have the best honey mustard and insanely good rosemary herb fries. In Cyprus I’ve had fries served with almost every single one of my meals and none of the fries have come close to The Little Pig’s.

My second favorite restaurant is Estiatorio Euroullas. Estiatorio Euroullas is a really quaint and cozy restaurant in the Old Town and was the first place that I tried meze. It’s in a little alley off of Ledras Street, the main street in Old Town, and is almost hidden. I love this restaurant because everything seems home-y and authentic. Of the three restaurants this place has the best Tzakiki, a yogurt based dipping sauce.

The last restaurant on this list is To Anamma. This is the restaurant we went to for orientation dinner. Like the other restaurants it’s in Old Town. I love this restaurant because the seating area takes you to a different place once you enter. Tables are laid out under a canopy of green vines and it’s so quiet it’s like you’ve left Nicosia and you’re eating in a garden. The chef actually lived in Los Angeles for a couple of years, and so he came by and explained the background and inspiration behind his dishes, which added to the experience.

Arisa Dhiensiri studied abroad in Nicosia, Cyprus, in summer 2018: http://eap.ucop.edu/OurPrograms/Cyprus/Pages/univ-of-nicosia-summer-science.aspx

South Africa | Spring Break in Lesotho, Botswana and Zimbabwe

BY KELLI HAMILTON

Since the seasons in Cape Town are the opposite of those in America, it was winter for most of my time in South Africa. Therefore, our week off of school was called spring break or as the locals say, “short vac.” For our short vacation, my housemates and I decided to travel around southern Africa. My housemate, Matthew, lived in Africa for a number of years and said he had always wanted to go to Lesotho. Thanks to him I now know how to pronounce the country too. It is Leh-sue-to. On September 7th, me, and my housemates, Ekshika and Matthew, began our amazing spring break trip.

A common thing in Lesotho are blankets, which often have cultural and personal significance. Additionally, horseback is the main mode of transport and the country is filled with scenes that take your breath away (video on the left). We hiked for 3 hours to Maletsunyane Falls, which was huge and beautiful. We had a local 12 year old boy lead us there!! The next day we rode horses through the mountains and Ekshika bought a blanket of her own! WE ALSO GOT TO PLAY IN THE SNOW FOR MANY HOURS ON SATURDAY, WHICH WAS SO COOL (no pun intended). On Monday, we started our drive back to Bloemfontein and met up with some friends from UCT which was extra special. I could hardly wait for the rest of the trip!

The last two days of our trip were the perfect ending to such a great vacation. On Friday we went to high tea at the oldest hotel in Zimbabwe, the Victoria Falls Hotel. The Hotel is beautiful and offers a nice view of the bridge near the falls. The best part of the day was the high tea, however. We were able to get iced tea due to the 100-degree weather and we had pastries and finger sandwiches. We also took the time to have a little photoshoot because, how could we not in such a beautiful establishment? On Saturday, we went white water rafting on the Zambezi River, the 4th longest in Africa. It was my first time rafting, and it was tiring, but great. Our raft of seven capsized once and it was scary, but we got back on after rearranging ourselves. It was an amazing experience that culminated in a 30-minute hike to grab some lunch with our fellow rafters. On the way back, we got a flat tire, but a bus quickly rescued us. Sunday morning marked the end of our vacation, and we flew back to Cape Town with the lovely Kenya Airways. I think I can sum up my experience in four words: BEST SPRING BREAK EVER.

Kelli Hamilton studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa in 2018: http://eap.ucop.edu/OurPrograms/south_africa/Pages/univ_of_cape_town.aspx