I’m Back! Also, A Few Summer Plans…

So I’m back from the Mainland China photography trip with my mom (well was back in HK a few days ago, but took a few days off to decompress etc).

I’m having trouble uploading some of my photos so it will take a while before they are online, but they will be coming soon! I’ll probably create an Instagram of Flickr account to post photos, since there seems to be a storage space limit for photos uploaded on this wordpress website (since it is the free version).

But anyways…


Right now, I’m focusing on a few different things:

  • Doing research on things to do in Leeds and the surrounding area
    • In particular, this website called Leeds-List has been incredibly helpful about everything Leeds and Yorkshire.
    • I’ve also been reading up on some hiking trails I might want to try – in particular the Brontë Way, since I am a MASSIVE FAN of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.
    • Lastly, I’m looking at things to do in Manchester and York since they are less than an hour away by train, so will make for good “weekend trips” away for me to do in my own time.
Map Leeds
Map of the region – Source: European Rail Guide

 

  • Earning money to subsidize part of the trip (through selling second hand books and tutoring people)
    • While my parents are covering the plane ticket and living expenses, I’m trying to find ways to earn some “fun-money” so I can do more on my trip.
      • *Insert Obligatory Plug for my listing page HERE if you live in HK and want to buy said second hand books*
    • Meanwhile, tuition during my study abroad trip will be the same my current HKU fees (HKD21,000 or around 2,700 in USD for a semester), since my university is partnered with the University of Leeds.
      • Also unlike with USA colleges, universities around the world are actually affordable WITHOUT massive student loans or scholarships 😛
  • Figuring out student visa and immigration stuff
    • As far as I can tell, I’m exempt from the English language requirements and a few other things as I am an American citizen ( born in the USA and lived in Texas for most of my life before moving to Hong Kong).
      • However, my dual citizenship with Taiwan might make the situation a bit less straight forward…
      • And I also have a HK permanent resident card – the HK equivalent of “citizenship” (since HK isn’t a country but many people in HK can’t get PRC citizenship for various reasons too long to get into) so yeah….
      • Also, while the University of Hong Kong is an English-medium university (since HK was governed by the UK until 1997, again long story) it is not in an English speaking majority country so maybe I don’t qualify? I’m not sure at the moment, but am working on it!
United Kingdom visa in passport
Yay ! I Love Travel Paperwork! 🙄  -Source: Gov.UK
  • Learning to take better photos with my DSLR
    • The trip was incredibly fun, but I have a TON left to learn before I feel like I’m ready to bring my camera “into the field” as it were, without experienced people guiding me through the basics.
  • Doing some summer undergrad research
    • I’m working under a professor with Oriental Magpie Robins (Copsychus saularis) around HKU campus at the moment. I might post about it in the future if that is something people are interested in, but probably not since it isn’t related to anything “study abroad”-esque.

But above all, I’m…

  • Enjoying my summer break
    • Because as Calvin and Hobbes put it…
Calvin
July 4, 1986 by Bill Watterson – Source: @Calvinn_Hobbes & C&H Search Engine

Thanks for reading!

– Rebecca

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Learning to use a DSLR camera 📷

Another summer update post (as mentioned previously, I’m not studying in Leeds until January 2019), this time about cameras!

Well, more about learning to use one, since I am pretty much a novice when it comes to anything beyond a quick self-phone snap or a simple point-and-shoot camera.

Since:

a) my mom lent me her extra old DSLR + a few lenses a while back when she upgraded her main camera (more importantly, she knows how to use it )

b) I want to document some parts of my study abroad trip with more than shakey cell phone footage

c) learning to take good photos of things is an important part of both Ecology and History, my two intended university majors

d) I have a free summer with nothing to do 😛

I’m going to spend some time learning how to take photos with a professional camera (for the curious, it is a Canon 7D Mark II) .

Keep in mind that I’m not a professional photographer by any means, so these update posts will be less “guide to using a DSLR” and more “huh, I wonder how this works… lemme mess around with it”.

So with standards officially lowered… let’s get started!

I’ll be away visiting Mainland China in the next few days with my mom’s photography group, getting to grips with what is now “my camera” (sorta, its still technically my mom’s, though she uses her new one more now).

Looking forward to posting a few photos after I get back. Until then!

-Rebecca

Why I’m Blogging About My Exchange Trip… Nearly A Year in Advance

Hello world, welcome to my brand new blog!


Quick summary about myself and this website (basically a TL;DR of the about me page)

I’m Rebecca, a Taiwanese-American student at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) who is planning on double majoring in Ecology and History.

r-photo.jpg
Hello 🙂

This blog will chronicle my journey of going on exchange for a semester to the University of Leeds in the UK, from start to finish.

Map.JPG
A Map for the Lost – From Hong Kong SAR to Leeds, UK

Since I’m not physically in Leeds until the Spring semester of 2019, you might be wondering why I’m starting this blog now, almost a year in advance. Well, here are some of the reasons why you should stick around!

  • Insight into the planning involved
    • I’ve noticed that most study abroad/travel blogs start from the moment the plane lands in the location onward. While this is good and all, it misses one of the most important parts of any trip to somewhere new – the planning! How do you get a student visa? Why did you pick that location? What did you pack? etc are all just as important as what you actually did during the trip!
  • A unique perspective on offer
    • I don’t exactly fit the mold of your “typical” exchange student. I’m a dual national who is going from Asia to Europe, rather than the other way around. I also grew up in the US and have lived in HK long enough to get a permanent resident card, so can relate my experience to different “home” cultures if you will.
  • Mentioning the Ups and Downs
    • One of my pet peeves with similar blogs to this one is how “polished” they tend to be. While some of this may be the result of lots of experience traveling, it lacks some of the genuine emotions and thoughts that come with planning something of this scale for the first time. Mistakes will be made, and that is a part of the fun!
  • Giving back to the university community
    • Since my IB CAS experience blog proven to be helpful for both current and future IB students, I though keeping a blog about my study abroad trip might be useful to future university students. Some of the information might be specific to HKU and Leeds students, but hopefully everyone who visits my blog will find it useful in one way or another
  • Recording my journey
    • This is relatively straight forward, but I want to have a record of everything related to my exchange experience so I can look back on it at the end!

Placeholder Image


Fair warning, this blog is going to start out a bit slow and pick up a bit as my date of departure draws nearer, since more stuff will be happening then. So if you would like updates each time I post, remember to follow my blog!

Also feel free to comment below with any post suggestions you might have – I’m open to ideas!

That’s all for now, thanks for reading!

-Rebecca

Let’s talk about Politics, shall we?

Well that didn’t take long didn’t it? I was hoping for this blog to remain relatively neutral in terms of political things, but… well it is a bit hard to stay quiet about what is going on in the USA right now.

And since in it occurred to me that no one is reading this blog at the moment, and I have had several days now to collect my thoughts, I felt it was as good of time as any to voice my opinion on the matter.

So without further ado… Trump’s recent travel ban.

Note:This post will be mostly my present thoughts on the issue, rather than a nonbiased analysis of the exact wording of the order etc. Also this is based on the information from late January, early February.

If you are looking for an overview of what the ban exactly entails….here is a quick video overview about the whole kerfuffle by Vox News:


So onto my thoughts

While most of what I am about to say has been said before by people far more qualified than I (if one can even be said to be “qualified” to talk about issues concerning these sorts of things), I feel it still bears repeating.

Why?

Because of history.

Because even if this blog fails and no one except me sees this, even if my words get drowned out in the outcry surrounding the issue or even if Trump’s Travel Ban becomes nothing more than a minor factoid in the future when we look back on the 45th POTUS’s tenure…

I want to have my current thoughts on record.

Because if pouring through my old tattered diaries in the comfort of my own room or reading though primary historical accounts by people long ago have told me anything, it is the importance of knowing, not by personal recollections or fact interpretations, but through records written by someone who was there what happened.

Since this event, like POTUS’s inauguration was a “I am witnessing history in the making” moment.


In between my swearing to let off some steam and explanations to non-American friends about the severity of the ban (such as explaining Green Cards and the like) I typed out the following sentence on Whatsapp.

Idk anymore, like im angry, sad, confused, afraid and alarmed all at the same time

Which while not the most enlightening sentence to come out of my 18-year-old mouth,  I feel as though it sums up my thoughts quite well.

  • Angry –
    • This was primarily what I was feeling at the time. I was angry, not at Trump or his cabinet or even the people who voted for him per say (though there was a smidgen of that), more that I was angry with the whole idea of the racism and bigotry, that us as humans can sink low enough where we choose to discriminate against people due to their religion.
    • It was also at how we politicise people we don’t even know personally, that after the Quebec City shooting, we choose not to think about the families affected or those who died, but to go on a witch hunt, hoping that the shooter fits our “teams” ideology, to the point of even publishing false information portraying a witness as the shooter

 

  • Sad – 
    • Self explanatory. I have friends who are Muslim and the thought that Islamophobia has gotten to the point where executive orders are signed, where there are laws in place that expressly forbid them from traveling to or even visiting certain places that I could go to freely is really upsetting. That the order tore up families, prevented people from continuing their education and slammed the door in the face of people who had given everything to start a new life or flee persecution.
    • Listening to the news about children being separated from their mothers and detained for hours on end, it reminded me a bit of the Ahmed clock incident from a few years back (looking it up, it was from 2015, wow time travels fast) how something simple gets blown out of proportion because some people view Muslims as a “threat” or “others”.
    • I remember early last year, when the USA primaries had just gotten started, I asked one of my Muslim friends (the smartest guy in the whole year, no question) about where he was planning on going for Uni and being surprised when he only mentioned local schools, not any of the well known universities abroad in the USA or UK, before he explained how he felt it was unsafe for him abroad citing things such as Charlie Hebdo, Trumps rise in the primaries etc. And it just hit me that the freedom to choose a university without consideration to these factors was something I had taken for granted, that despite my scores being much lower than his, I had more options available to me.

 

  • Confused – 
    • Bit of back story, I was born in raised in the USA (specifically Texas) and as a child, one of the things we would do each and every morning in Elementary School was the Pledge of Allegiance to the USA and Texan Flag, followed by a minute of silence. Even though it has been nearly 8 years since I have said the words, I still remember them clearly. I grew up with civic classes where we learned about country and state symbols, with history lessons that taught me about the Bill of Rights and Constitution or learning about the various backgrounds of my fellow students from different cultures etc Just the whole idea of a melting pot where no mater where you come from or your background, you can be an American without giving up your cultural heritage
    • And while I have never been a “rah rah” patriot of the USA, I still consider myself an American and a Texan. It just confuses the hell out of me (though I’m sad to say that it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest) how people can claim to uphold these lofty ideals when these sorts of things happen. It makes me a bit confused as to what it means to be an “American” now if this is how we treat people. I’m just glad that the American tradition of protesting and helping others when the are down  is still alive and well with the airport protest people.

 

  • Afraid –
    • What’s next? Its been less than 2 weeks and already to POTUS has alienated the USA from many of our closest allies (Mexico and Canada come to mind, though strangely Theresa May seems oddly quiet about everything, probably due to Brexit forcing the UK to play nice with the US or something).
    • I am terrified of what the next 4 years will bring, given how flippant Trump is accomplishing his campaign goals without concern about anyone other than himself and his closest advisers. Also Steve Bannon… yeesh

 

  • Alarmed
    • Keeping this one short since the wall of text is a bit overwhelming, but this is related to the one above. It scares me how much power Trump has and what he is doing with it, especially since he gets a supreme court justice to nominate and a party majority in congress, basically giving him control over the Executive, Judicial and Legislative branches of government.

 

So if you have read this far, thanks for letting me rant and get my thoughts down. Hopefully future posts will be less “wall o’ text” and short enough to be readable without dragging on. As well as more editied. And about things that are less political. Yeah.

That’s all for now!

-Rebecca