Ireland | Trinity College Tour


Hi, everyone! It’s been a few weeks now and I’m starting to feel like I actually know my way around campus. Since it was built literally 500 years ago and wasn’t intended to have so many students, the layout can be a bit confusing at times! However, the beauty of the campus more than makes up for it. In this post, I’ll show you some of the most famous spots on campus, as well as give you some tips on what places you should be aware of as a student. 

The Historical Campus 

First of all, there’s the famous entrance. The entire campus is enclosed, and the main entrance that all tourists pass through is this beautiful building with its graceful columns and imposing wooden door. There are numerous other entrances around the perimeter that allow for easier access to classes, but none compare to this one. 

Main Entrance 

Immediately, the iconic Campanile comes into view. Built in 1853, the 100-foot granite bell tower stands in the center of the historical campus and dominates the square. Beautiful as it is, be careful walking under it because campus lore says that if the bell rings while you walk under you’ll fail your exams. 

The Campanile 

After entering, on your left is the student union, several offices including the accommodation office, the old chapel, the Regent House, and the old dining hall. To your right are more offices and a building just for final exams. 

Top: Regent House and old dining hall, built in the early 1700’s. Bottom: Dining hall again and office space

A few things to note:

  • The student union sells discount transport tickets (known as the student Leap card), snacks and grocery basics (milk, bread, etc), basic school supplies, and even discounted tickets to events like music festivals.
  • Although you might expect the chapel to be stunning, I’m told it’s actually quite basic. It’s not really a tourist attraction and is supposed to simply be a place of worship so be respectful.
  • Most of the old campus buildings aren’t utilized for classes. Instead it’s mostly office space.
  • The dining hall is a great place to grab cheap, convenient lunch in a beautiful setting. Most meals range from €5-9 which is inexpensive for Dublin and a lot of the food is pretty good. We’ll talk more about food options near campus in another post.

After lunch, I walked east on campus toward where most of the classes are. Something about the afternoon light in Dublin makes the stones glow gold so I had to take one last photo of the main square.

Top: Old campus gilded in the afternoon light (On the walk between campuses, you can see the old merging with the new, like this old building of offices by the new theater and modern sculpture). Bottom: Old and new mixed

The New Campus 

The new campus isn’t nearly as pretty, but it’s where most of the action on campus takes place. All of my classes are in new buildings, which is typical. Here’s one of the prettiest modern buildings, a research center where lecture series are often held. 

Trinity Long Room Hub 

Most of my classes are in the Arts Building, a sprawling six story building where most of the humanities students hang out. There are dozens of classrooms and offices, comfy couches to hang out on, and a great coffee shop called Perch. My favorite place to work between classes is the top floor of the arts building. There are huge windows that face a busy street where you can watch all the people go by as you hurriedly try to finish your readings before your next class. 

Between the arts and the STEM side of campus is a huge stretch of grass comprised of the rugby pitch and College Park. Students crowd the grass in good weather (which is about 55 degrees in their opinion). The long path between the two sides of campus is lined with trees. One of the most beautiful parts of studying abroad in spring is watching the campus come into bloom. 

The path, lined with daffodils 

So there you have it. Trinity’s campus is just as beautiful as you’ve been told. Now you just need to explore it yourself and find all its hidden gems! 

Alexis Harmon studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland during Spring 2019:

Ireland | A Chilly Welcome: Two Orientations and a Lot of Sightseeing


Flying into Dublin’s airport I was immediately struck by how green it was. In one direction was the sea, gray and solemn, frothing with whitecaps as the freezing Irish wind gusted over it, and in the other the famous verdant hills of the Emerald Isle stretched endlessly. It made me more eager than ever to explore Ireland’s beautiful countryside, but for the next week I would be busy with orientations. 

UCEAP Orientation 

Orientation with UCEAP lasts 3 days, although the bulk of the content is on the middle day. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in the city center which was very comfortable and had a great buffet breakfast every morning. 

Day 1 

After a 2 PM check-in, we gathered in the lobby at 3 PM to meet with Hilary Noyce, director of UCEAP in the UK and Ireland, who was kind and welcoming. 

We immediately walked to a conference room in another hotel close by to begin with the essential information we needed for our time abroad. The meeting lasted about an hour and a half, covering information on health insurance, emergency protocols, and other essentials. 

The day ended with a fun dinner in an Irish pub. We were able to just relax and enjoy some traditional Irish food in the center of Dublin, although we had been warned that tomorrow would be a much busier day. 

Day 2 

Our second day began with breakfast and a return to the other conference room down the road. Today’s meeting focused more on academic and cultural differences (which I’ll explain another time), and everything we needed to know for day-to-day survival. 

After several hours of continuous information, we were given three hours to break for lunch and relax. At 3 PM we regrouped and set off on a hop-off hop-on tour bus that showed us many of Dublin’s main attractions. It gave me a great idea of what I wanted to go back and see more in depth, including the images featured below. 

Top three: St. Patricks Cathedral. (Apparently Sir Benjamin Lee didn’t just creatte Ireland’s unofficial national beer, but also invested heavily into Dublin’s devlopment, including restoring St. Patrick’s Cathedral). Middle two: Dublin Castle. Bottom two: St. Stephen’s Green

Our evening consisted of a tour of the Guinness Storehouse and a delicious meal at Pizza Milano. Afterward, most students ventured out to explore, while those still adjusting to the time difference happily went back to sleep. 

Day 3 

Our final day consisted only of check-out and our final buffet breakfast. We were given ten euro to assist with cab fare to our accommodations and reminded about the check-up meeting we would attend less than a month later. 

Trinity Orientation 

Trinity’s orientation followed a very similar format to UCEAP’s– three days with the bulk of content on the middle day. 

Day 1 

The first day there were no academic events. Instead, the evening was geared toward relationship building and included both a coffee afternoon and a game night. 

Day 2 

This was the day that was packed with information and meetings. I’ve included the itinerary below so you can see the exact agenda. 

It was a long day, but they inform you about everything from IT support to class registration to the perks of the school gym. As you can see, the orientation halls were often so packed that students lined the stairs. 

My favorite part of the orientation was the tour of the school grounds. The campus is an interesting mix of old and new since the school was founded in 1592, but has had to expand dramatically to cater to a rising student population. Below is one of Trinity’s newest buildings alongside the classic Campanile. I’ll give you a more thorough campus tour on another post. 

Day 3 

The third day was supposed to focus on any lingering questions and give us an opportunity to enroll in our classes. It was a busy, difficult day because the process of enrolling is frankly archaic at Trinity. It involves running around between departments getting staff consent for every class you want to take which. Again, I’ll write more on enrollment and academic differences later to hopefully make this process easier for you. 

In Conclusion: Dos and Don’ts 


  • Arrive a day or two early to Dublin to give yourself time to adjust. Several students that arrived the day of were just exhausted during orientation. 
  • Make an effort to make friends. Orientation is a lot and having friends makes the whole process more fun. A good way to do this is to attend the game nights, coffee mornings, etc. and not just the academic meetings. 


  • Stay out too late during orientation. There is plenty of time to have fun and explore the city later. Do enjoy yourself, but remember your responsibilities. Some people get a little too excited. 
  • Delay on getting classes. Get a head start even before the official enrollment day. Figure out what you want beforehand and go to office hours. 

Alexis Harmon studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland during Spring 2019:

Japan | My Favorite Things About Japan

1. Kawaii Culture

Kawaii is the culture of general cuteness that exists in Japan that I haven’t seen anywhere else in the world. From adorable mascots for historical locations and buildings, to Hello Kitty themed shinkansens, cuteness is everywhere. While cute culture in Japan can actually be traced back to the Edo period, it’s become incredibly popular since the 1970s. Of course, the obsession with cuteness at this time began with teenage girls, but since has grown to be appreciated by people of all ages. In my opinion, the presence of cuteness in everyday life simply improves the quality of life. Passing by guardrails shaped like little frogs, or getting a napkin with designs at lunch, can make you smile just a little bit more than you would on any other normal day.

2. Train Stations

In the United States, train stations are exactly what they sound like: a place where you get the train. But in Japan, they are so much more. Train stations have entire malls, restaurants, and rest spaces attached, making them a genuinely enjoyable place to be. This is extremely convenient for when you are hungry after a long journey, since you don’t even have to leave the station to enjoy a quality meal– one of my favorite pizza restaurants in Japan is actually located in the station itself. Similarly, it is really nice to be able to run an errand, like grocery shopping, without having to even leave the station to get what you need. Like with kawaii culture, the fact that train (and subway) stations are comfortable, clean, and well-designed makes your day just that much better than it otherwise might be.

3. Sento and Onsen

Taking baths at home always seem like a “treat yourself” kind of activity, but I always end up uncomfortable, unable to adjust the water to quite the right temperature. Sento and onsen, however, are extremely relaxing because everything is done for you! It’s like going in a hot tub, except there are five or more different hot tubs to choose from and you can stay for an unlimited about of time. Sento is more of a bathhouse, with many different tubs to choose from, while onsen are specifically sourced from fresh mountain spring water. I’ll admit that bathhouses aren’t for everyone, but there are also many locations that offer private booking so you don’t have to be there with anyone else.

4. Conveyer Belt Sushi

Conveyer belt sushi is admittedly probably the worst sushi you’ll get in Japan. But this is Japan: the worst sushi is just as delicious as good-quality sushi at home. And the best part? It’s often only $1.50 or less per plate! Whenever I eat at conveyer belt sushi restaurants, I can have a filling meal of tons of different kinds of sushi for only $7 or $8. Because this type of restaurant is a novelty in the United States, it often ends up costing the same or more than traditional sushi restaurants. While you’re in Japan, definitely make use of the amazing conveyer belt restaurants to get your fill of Japan’s most famous dish!

5. Nature and Seasonality

My absolute favorite part about living in Japan is the abundance of greenery and the appreciation of the changing seasons. Because Japan experiences all four seasons very strongly, many traditions are rooted in these changes. So, as the seasons change, there is always something exciting to look forward to, like a special seasonal food or activity. Similarly, there is always a great appreciation for the flowers that bloom every season. I spend much of my time at different gardens and temples, appreciating the flowers in bloom. I love seeing Japanese teenagers taking photoshoots with all the different flowers, old people in large groups birdwatching with extensive camera gear, and families with babies enjoying all the colors.

Mackenzie Lorkis studied in Kyoto, Japan in the Language & Culture, Doshisha Univ. Program – Spring 2018

Japan | “Why Japan?”


When I first told people I was going to study abroad in Japan, their immediate response was a look of surprise, and then, “Why do you want to go to Japan?”. It’s fair to say that Japan isn’t the most popular study abroad destination for UC students, but there are a lot of reasons why someone would want to study in Japan. I decided to ask a few of my fellow UCEAP students why they chose Japan, and what their favorite thing about Japan has been over the past few months:  

Mika Post
UC Berkeley 
“I came to Japan because I’ve always wanted to go to school in Japan. I love Japanese food and Japanese stationary, and I love the language too. It’s important to me to be here because I’m half Japanese, but my mom has never been here and doesn’t speak Japanese at all. My favorite place in Japan is Fushimi Inari, since it’s peaceful and tucked away in the woods.” 

Stephen Shelnutt 
UC Berkeley 
“Initially I was interested in Japanese because I watched a lot of anime, but I think these days I’m more interested in the culture and people. Unlike newer countries like America, Japan has had thousands of years to develop its culture, and even in the modern age Japan is very “Japan”. The people are also very polite, and society is so well put together that I wanted to experience living here for awhile.” 

Jonathan Phenix 
UC Irvine 
“I came [to Japan] for the art and older towns with rich history. Seeing the Standing Namabutsu Taishi and the Sakyamuni Bronze donated by Tokugawa Ieyasu 4th have been a couple highlights in art. City wise, I really enjoyed my time in Nachikatsuura and Shingū. Getting to see Porter Robinson at a basement venue in Kyoto was also quite the experience.” 

Mackie Lorkis (aka the author of this blog) 
“I’ve always been interested in Japanese culture, and I wanted to challenge myself by studying in a country where I didn’t necessarily know the language and nobody else I know had been before. My favorite part of Japan is the appreciation for nature and the changing seasons. Seasonality is a really important part of Japanese culture, and is one of the biggest inspirations for architecture, art, food, fashion, and more. I’ve always lived in Southern California, so it’s been really exciting to be somewhere where the seasons are not only noticeable, but an important part of both art and everyday life”. 

Mackenzie Lorkis studied in Kyoto, Japan in the Language & Culture, Doshisha Univ. Program – Spring 2018

Cyprus | Post Midterm Relaxing, Visiting a Ghost Town and Ayia Napa Weekend Excursion


This week we completed our first midterm, and now we have about a week and a half until our final. The material slowly gets harder and harder, every time I think I start to get a grasp on a concept I realize that I’m actually six concepts behind. I’m sure that the frustration with physics is a universal thing though. We still have four more chapters to learn before we take our final, and our professor is really doing her best to squeeze it all in. 

Besides physics I’m really starting to understand that sunscreen, cold water, and deodorant are my best friends in this climate. Since it’s mid-July the heat is really picking up and most days the weather reaches just above 100 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity levels around 65%. We spend the bulk of our days inside classrooms or lab, sheltered by the air conditioning.  

This weekend Global Semesters arranged a weekend excursion to Ayia Napa, another coastal beach town. Ayia Napa is listed as one of Europe’s top beach towns, and is the prime tourist spot on the island. It’s mostly known for its nightlife, beaches, and caves. The main beach we visited was Nissi Beach, a very popular beachfront with clubs and beach shacks lining the sand.  

Since we were given the weekend to go and explore on our own my friends and I booked a boat tour with Aphrodite II Cruises on Saturday so we could see all the famous sights and go snorkeling. I had never been snorkeling before and so this was by far my favorite part of the entire trip. The cruise company picked us up in front of the Panas Holiday Village hotel where we were staying and took us to the Ayia Napa harbor where all the boats were docked. The boat took us all throughout the eastern coast of Cyprus and we got to see Cape Greco, the sea caves, and Famagusta, the ghost town. On the boat tour they docked twice and gave us free snorkeling gear so that we could swim in the Mediterranean Sea. The water was so clear and blue I had never seen anything like it. There were so many fish swimming around that would flit away as soon as I got close. Even though I got very sunburnt the boat cruise in Ayia Napa was by far an experience I’ll always remember.  

The UNIC Physics group also spent a couple of hours exploring Famagusta. Famagusta used to be a main tourist destination before Turkey invaded Cyprus, and now Varosha, the southern half of Famagusta, is completely vacated and empty. Famagusta now is on the Turkish side of Cyprus and we had to cross the border to visit. The town was filled with beautifully preserved buildings and churches.  

The last stop we made this weekend was to Larnaca, a city nearby the capital. We stopped at St. Lazarus Church to take a group picture and explore the inside of the church. There was a private baptism ceremony inside the church so we got some ice cream and wandered around before heading back to Nicosia. We’ve just moved out of the hotel and into our apartments and so I’ll tell you all about it next time. Until then! 

Arisa Dhiensiri studied abroad in Nicosia, Cyprus, in summer 2018: 

Japan | 4 Coolest Temples and Shrines in Kyoto


Kyoto is known around Japan, and around the world, for having some of the oldest and most beautiful shrines and temples in the country. While I didn’t keep track of all the temples and shrines I went to in Kyoto alone, it undoubtedly is around twenty or thirty at least. Even though they’re all beautiful in their own way, these are my four favorite shrines and temples in Kyoto: 

Otagi Nenbetsu 

Otagi Nenbetsu, near Arashiyama, is one of the most unique temples I’ve seen in Japan. As soon as you walk in, you can see dozens of adorable Jizu Buddhas everywhere you look. But when you look closer, these aren’t any normal Jizu Buddhas! Many of the adorable statues were added to the temple in the late 1980s and 90s, so a few have some funny modern twists. For example, there are Buddhas with tennis racquets, holding up peace signs, and wearing sunglasses. What I loved about this temple is that it reminded me that religion is very much alive, and not all temples are as ancient as they may seem. 


While this temple may not be on the top of any tourist list, that is exactly why I love it so much. Visitors get the chance to look at the gorgeous screen art up close, and walk around the grounds much more freely than any other temples I’ve been to. Aside from the multiple gardens inside, the temple is on a large property with other beautiful buildings that visitors can look at for free. While I didn’t get to see it, they have late blooming sakura that make it an excellent temple to visit late into the season (around late April). 


While certainly out of the way (and up a steep hill), Genko-an is certainly worth a visit. In the main hall, there are two large windows: a circle and a square. The square window represents confusion, while the round window represents enlightenment. The view from both these windows are different. However, the window isn’t the only thing that makes Genkoan unique. The ceiling of the main building is made out of recycled wood from Fushimi Castle, which was attacked hundreds of years ago. If you look hard enough, you can still see bloody hand and footprints on the ceiling. While this does lend a somewhat creepy atmosphere to the temple, using the battle-stained floorboards was intended to soothe the souls of the departed warriors and allow them an eternity of rest. 


I waited several months into my stay in Japan to finally make it to Kiyomizu-dera because I was worried about the crowds. However, once I realized that there will literally never be a time that Kiyomizu-dera isn’t crowded, I just went for it. It was totally worth it. The way up to the temple is long, but it’s lined with adorable and scenic omiyage and snack shops. Everywhere you look are visitors sporting beautiful kimono and taking in the atmosphere. Once you finally reach the temple, the uphill climb is made completely worth it because the mountain view is incredible. The temple complex itself is large, with some interactive aspects like drinking from the fountain water and practicing a Japanese superstition. The atmosphere, size, and all around fun that can be had at Kiyomizu-dera make facing the crowds almost unnoticeable 

Mackenzie Lorkis studied in Kyoto, Japan in the Language & Culture, Doshisha Univ. Program – Spring 2018

France | Tips and Tricks


I just finished my last final paper, and with that this is indeed the end of my first semester in Paris. I will soon be traveling to south of France for Christmas and New Year’s. 

Fall 2017 in Paris was an absolutely wonderful experience. I loved every moment I spent here. The Eiffel Tower, city lights in night, amazing museums and breathing culture, wonderful classes and instructors, and more than anything, people I got to meet and to call friends for life. 

Saint Martin Canal

Usually, this is where the story ends for semester students. But I am, fortunately, a year-long study abroad student so my story will go on. I will continue to dance under the city lights and sing in the rain. But, I will be doing that with new friends next semester, or with same friends but in different cities. I don’t know where and to whom life will take me next, but I am super excited to find out. 

So, with this bitter-sweet note, here are things I wish I had known or had done differently in Paris. Things I wish you can do when you get here someday. 

Opera Garnier

1. Sim Card 

Even before I arrived in France, I knew I wanted to get a sim card from Free Mobile. However I waited until I got to Paris and bought one physically at its store for 19.99 euros a month. There was an online offer for 15 euros a month, and I could have had taken up the offer before I arrived since I already knew my address for Paris. 

  1. Travel More with Sun

I did not travel much in the beginning of the semester since I prioritized getting adjusted to Sciences Po and Paris more than anything. However, as time goes by Sun only gets shorter and shorter and more and more assignments pile over. First four weeks are the best time to travel indeed, before the actual Fall break, and I wish I had taken more of the opportunity to travel not only France but also other European countries. 

Louvre, 10 min walk from Sciences Po

  1. Museums and Cafes during Gap Hours

One of best thing about Sciences Po is its prime location at the heart of Paris. Louvre and Orsay museums are just steps away, and the school is surrounded by amazing cafes and brasseries. I wish I had taken more advantage of my 2 hours (2.5 hours if counting 15 min passing periods) gap and visited them more often when there are less tourists around. 

  4. Pharmacy and Medicines 

Most adventures in Paris are fun, but not all of them, including getting sick in Paris. Paris has an interesting system of local pharmacies covering every major block in the city, and each of them is ran by its own system, it seems. One proof of it is its price. Over the counter medicines differ in their prices range per pharmacy, not even per location. For example, I found a cold medicine at a pharmacy for 6 euros and for 4 euros at the one right next to the first pharmacy. City Pharma is the cheapest and one of the biggest pharmacies I had come across, and I wish I had learned about the place sooner! 

Crepe de Normandie

 5.Metro Terminals and mini-travels 

Traveling can become daunting when schedules begin to be crammed with many and many assignments. Yet day trips in Paris are not so difficult, thanks to the awesome metro system they have that extends out to nearby Ile-de-France areas. Many metro terminals end somewhere outside Paris, and just taking a random line to a random terminal can in and out of itself be a great adventure. It is part of France that I had completely overlooked, and I wish I had enjoyed more of it, especially on Thursdays when I had no class. 

Yet, fortunately, I am here for another semester, and I will get to explore Paris of Spring 2018 as well. I am very excited what the new semester will bring, and hopefully one day you can be as excited to come study in Paris as well. 

Thank you for keeping up with my blog, and for one and for all, bonne journee! 


Eileen Kim studied abroad in Paris, France in 2017:

Japan | Gion Masuri


This week was one of the biggest festivals in Japan: Gion Matsuri! Gion Matsuri began in 869 AD, making it almost 1,150 years old. Originally, the festival began as a way to purify the Kyoto populace from plague. Since then, it’s become less about worship and more of a fun way to celebrate Japanese culture. The main event of the matsuri is always on July 17th, though it is preceded by three nights of festive street fairs called yoi-yama. In addition, there are smaller events throughout the entire month of July.

The biggest part of the festival officially began on Saturday (yoi-yoi-yoi-yama), but unfortunately I couldn’t go. On Sunday (yoi-yoi-yama), my friends and I walked around the smaller area of the festival closer to Yasaka Shrine and Gion. Considering the weather was SO hot this year, it was so nice to be able to be in a less crowded part of Kyoto. We walked around the streets, taking in the festive atmosphere, and came across a huge area on the street where you could meet maiko (training geisha)! For a very small fee, we got to meet and take photos with maiko- considering they are generally extremely elusive, this was an incredible opportunity.

The next day, we enjoyed the main part of the party happening in the Shijo area. There were hundreds of street food stalls, and although we couldn’t try everything, we made a valiant effort. From traditional ikayaki to juice served in baby bottles and light bulbs, you can really see the extent of Japanese street food culture. For children, there were tons of games like darts and goldfish catching that bring to mind street fairs from many American childhoods.

Aside from the delicious food, there’s so much more to see at the yoi-yama. Most young women and children dress up in traditional yukata for the festival, showing off colorful and unique patterns. Aside from floral patterns, we saw some goldfish, rainbow, and even Disney yukata! The floats used in the parade are also displayed around the streets at night; with their lanterns lit up, they are even more beautiful than during the day. A few of the floats can be explored and boarded; for a top view of the streets, my friend and I decided to go in. And, just as we did, so did all the musicians!

After all the fun, there was still more to the festival! On July 17th, my class went together with our sensei and some Japanese students to watch the procession. There are two kinds of floats: yama and hoko. Yama style floats are much larger, and are topped by long poles increasing their heights even more. Hoko floats, though less grand, are just as beautiful, often topped with scenes from famous Noh plays. Many of the floats are decorated with gorgeous Turkish rugs from the Kyotobased Nishijin textile company. In total, the parade runs from around 9am-3pm; we arrived at its midway point, and it took around an hour and a half to see all of the floats.

Mackenzie Lorkis studied in Kyoto, Japan in the Language & Culture, Doshisha Univ. Program – Spring 2018

France | Finals Week


Hi hi! Comment ça va? 

I hear it is finals week back at UCLA, and sadly, it is so here in Paris as well. So, in honor of finals week and the fast-approaching end of the semester, I will write this post on How to Survive Finals at Sciences Po. Hope this post is somewhat useful.  

 Unlike UCLA, where week 10 is the end of instruction and week 11 is the finals week, at Sciences Po, we have a gap week of no instruction between Week 12 and Finals.  

However, that does not mean you should bank on these extra days to procrastinate or travel.  

It was too packed to even go inside, so here is picture of our library when it was empty outside

The Gap Week, is actually one of busiest weeks for students at Sciences Po. Some professors prefer to make papers’ deadlines to fall in this week. The same deadlines may also go for group projects, and as you can imagine, meeting with your group gets more and more difficult as everyone starts cramming in for end of semester.  

Also, Gap Week is usually THE week of make-up instructions. A short-notice class cancellation is a very likely possibility at Sciences Po. And as I have mentioned in my previous post, at Sciences Po, each class cancelled must be made up to complete total 12 classes. Attending classes are important in general, but at Sciences Po it is an obligation as even those make up classes are part of mandatory attendance.  

One thing to be careful about is that those make up classes may not be scheduled for your regular class hours as well. For example, when my Friday French class was had to be, it was scheduled to be on Thursday 5 PM, a day I usually had no class at Sciences Po. Unless you have another class that falls in same time, you have to attend the class.  

My Make Up French Class on Thursday

In worst scenario case, your class might have to make up 2 classes during the Gap Week as you frantically study for your exams, and if you have already used up your 2 absences, you will have to attend those classes in whatever hours they are scheduled at in order to avoid automatic dropping from the class.  

So, it’s a good idea to save up your absences until the end. I for example had 3 make up classes during the Gap Week, but I was able to skip out of all of them and find me extra time to study.  

Three Classes for Gap Week

After the Gap Week is the Finals Week, but unlike UCLA, most of the exams fall on weekend instead of weekdays. The final exam schedule become available toward the end of the semester (meaning you should not book your flight back home until you have these dates available) and even professors do not know when they will be scheduled to. Most of exams fall on Friday, but some fall on Saturday as well, and official exam schedule extends to 21st of December, the following Thursday.  

Another tip for Finals Week is the reminder to complete online evaluations for your instructors online at your student webpage. The links become soon closed after Finals Week, and one will most likely not remember to do so after finals. Sciences Po takes evaluation very seriously, and missing out on those comes with repercussions. For both year-long and semester students, the grades from Sciences Po will delayed or, in worst case, not be released to UCLA, and for year-long students there will be penalties imposed on your next semester course registration. It is a very serious matter, so don’t forget! 

Feeling stressed? Well, at least Sciences Po has a free therapy: Marcel!! He is our campus cat, and usually hangs around in 13U building of Sciences Po. He is very friendly and you can definitely pet him if he lets you!  

Marcel sitting on my backpack as I was eating lunch

With this, I will leave you so that I can study for my finals. Good luck, everyone at UCLA, and good luck to me too! 

– Eileen Kim  

Eileen Kim studied abroad in Paris, France in 2017:

Japan | Kanazawa


One of my favorite weekends here in Japan was spent visiting Kanazawa and Shirakawa-go with two of my classmates. We left shortly after school on a Friday, and took a pleasant bus ride up to Kanazawa. Once we got there, we ate dinner and relaxed, because we knew we had a busy weekend ahead of us.

We woke up early on Saturday morning ready for a fun day! Our hostel provided bikes for us to explore with, which made the weekend all the more fun. First, we went to the historic samurai district called Nagamachi to see some traditional homes. This was especially exciting because most of the historic sites in Kyoto are from hundreds, if not a thousand, years ago. So, it was really cool to see so much history from a period we rarely get to explore in Kyoto!

After that, we made our way to Myoryu-ji, otherwise known as Ninja-dera. The temple is called that because it contains many secret passageways and hidden doors to prepare for an attack from the local lord’s enemies. We couldn’t take any photos, but it was unlike anything I’d ever seen in Japan.

Then, we went to the D.T. Suzuki Museum, which is centered around a famous Zen Buddhist writer and philosopher. What makes this temple unique is that rather than just educate visitors about its subject, it attempts to fully integrate his teachings into the museum experience. It was so serene and the architecture was absolutely beautiful.

We hadn’t had enough of museums, so we made our way to the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa. This place was so cool! It is mainly known for the swimming pool exhibit, where you can take photos that make it look like you’re underwater. Perfect for the #gram. There was also a lot of interesting art that invites you to explore the museum in a unique and fullyengaged way, and art pieces surrounding the outside grounds of the museum that are free to the public. F

or lunch, we stopped at the Omicho Market, which is known for its fresh seafood. We splurged on donbori and ice cream with real gold leaf. There was so much more food to try- the market is two stories (!!)- but sadly we didn’t have time. We were really eager to see Oyama Shrine, especially since my friends collect shrine and temple calligraphy/stamps called goshuiin.

We ended our afternoon with a visit to the biggest historical entertainment district in Kanazawa, Higashiyama Higashi Chaya District. The buildings were so atmospheric, and although it was a perfect day, there weren’t too many people, which made it even better. We decided to visit a tea house that had been turned into a museum, where we could see Edo-period Geisha entertainment rooms and living quarters. There was even a museum guide who allows you to play the shamisen, and demonstrates playing other instruments as well.

To end our day, we went to Kanazawa Castle Park and watched a beautiful light show accompanied by lovely traditional music. Although it sounds like a lot, we didn’t feel rushed at all. Everything was so much fun, and we had just enough time to experience it all!

We woke up very early Sunday morning and went to Kenroku-en, one of the largest and most famous gardens in Japan. Before 7 am, entrance is free, so we decided to take advantage of the deal and make the most of our time here. After a few hours of exploring, we left for Shirakawa-go, a famous area in central Japan known for their thatched style homes.

We spent the day enjoying the gorgeous rural atmosphere, toured one of the buildings, and went to an open air museum located just a few minutes away from the central area. I highly recommend it because, although the area is intended to look rural, there are still modern amenities like omiyage shops and convenience stores that take away from the atmosphere just slightly. And the museum has an incredible soba shop and zipline, so it’s totally worth it.

We took the shinkansen home and made it back by late evening, so there was enough time to rest up for school the next day. Spending the weekend in Kanazawa and Shirakawa-go was one of my favorite memories in Japan. If you can, this is definitely a trip that everyone should take.

Mackenzie Lorkis studied in Kyoto, Japan in the Language & Culture, Doshisha Univ. Program – Spring 2018