A (Belated) 春节 Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

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Loyal readers (so, probably only my mother) I owe you an apology. Why? Because I have failed, quite comprehensively, to do anything out of the ordinary this Chinese New Year (春节 – Chūn Jié), much to my chagrin. I’ve been a boring Hong Kong tourist.

It wasn’t for lack of trying though. Promise. Continue reading

Reading Week Myanmar Trip: Part II

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N.B. This post is the follow-up to Part I, covering the second half of our week in Myanmar. 

Nearly 5 million people visited Myanmar last year, compared with just 800,000 in 2010. The rise of tourism here has been rapid here and the people are clearly still transitioning to new ways of life. American dollars (which must be crisp, unfolded and unmarked bills if they’re to be accepted!) are flooding the economy – probably for the worst. One of the positive effects of so much foreign money though is the potential for the restoration and preservation of the beautiful sites and sights of Myanmar. ‘Entry fees’ charged at the boundaries to archaeological areas, such as the 12,500 kyat we paid to enter Lake Inle (Inlay) and the surrounding land are one such way this money is being put to good use by the government. Continue reading

How a Year Abroad can make you Happy – Derren Brown and Stoicism

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If you’re not a philosopher, then Derren Brown’s new book, Happy: Why More or Less Everything is Absolutely Fine, may be a pleasant surprise. It’s an accessible foray into stoicism, an ancient greek philosophy that’s gaining momentum in the modern day amongst philosophers and non-philosophers alike. Returning to Hong Kong this week, one element of stoicism that he touched on seemed particularly poignant in the context of a year abroad: appreciating those things in our lives that we take for granted. I want to explore, briefly, how a year abroad can facilitate such reflexive activity. Continue reading

My first semester: an interim report

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Wouldn’t you think that four months in a city is enough time to explore it and do all the things you want to do? Well, it is not.

16 weeks in Paris and there are still so many places I haven’t been to despite wanting to go, museums that I have not yet visited and bars I haven’t tried yet.Luckily there are another four months in Paris waiting for me when I return in January. Continue reading

Studying at Sciences Po

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Here at Sciences Po we are already in week 9 of the fall semester and there is only one more month of classes until the Christmas holidays. As this blog is also meant for inspiring students to go on a year abroad I decided to dedicate this entry to what studying at Sciences Po is like and how it differs from studying at Durham. I hope that it will help some of you to evaluate whether or not a year abroad would be something for you, especially since around now is the time to start applying for one. I cannot emphasise how much I recommend doing one and so far I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t love their Erasmus experience.

So while this post might not be the most exciting, the next one will be more fun again, I promise.

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Welcome to the Sciences Po

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Funding: British Council’s Scholarship for Excellence

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With the British Government’s ever increasing tuition fees looking set to rise again soon, debt continues to be a problem that every student faces. Extending your degree by studying abroad for a year only adds to that debt. All is not lost, though. If you’re lucky and forward thinking, you can mitigate at least some of the cost. The British Council, in particular, offer a generous scholarship that I have benefited greatly from. Continue reading

We went to Korea!

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Being in Japan for a year, it seems silly not to take the opportunity to bob over to (South) Korea. And we did! For a long weekend of Korean fun.
The Republic of Korea is only two hours from Tokyo by plane as Japan’s closest neighbour. Although the two countries have shared many of the same cultures throughout history (Indian and Chinese philosophies and religions as well as the kanji writing system all passed through Korea from China to get to Japan in the past, and during the colonisation of Korea by Japan Japanese culture was forcibly imposed there to a large degree), today they have many stark cultural differences, and the Republic Korea maintains itself as a unique nation with a rich individual culture. Although me and Emily were only there for four days, this was really apparent!  Continue reading