Right, catch-up time…

So I’ve been in Leeds for over a month now and still haven’t made any posts…too much stuff has been going on! It’s not that I haven’t been recording my adventure (I’ve been doing it through video on the 1 Second Every Day app and privately by writing

It’s just that I haven’t posted, and every time I think about don’t so I am struck with the overwhelming amount of stuff I need to cover that I haven’t yet.

So this is just my quick way of quickly blasting though all of the different things I’ve done so that I can actually get back to posting regularly (well, semi regularly) without forgetting or feeling guilty about forgeting anything.

If I do eventually get back to writing full posts on these things, I’ll link the post about it back here, just so we can have some semblance of chronlogical order here. I might also add a few photos here or there within this post in the future so that it doesn’t feel so wordy.

Oh, and I’ll probably back fill the last few weeks with some posts I started but never finished about general exchange things (what to bring, what to remember etc). But back to the topic at hand.

So without futher ado, here is what I’ve been up to (the big stuff, checking emails, calling parents, reading books, shopping for groceries etc are a given that I do every week at least)!

January

  • Vacation with family in London, take bus up to Leeds cus train tickets super expensive last minute
  • City museum and town hall visit – cool stuff but nothing particularly noteworthy
  • Visiting the Royal Armories Museum in Leeds (fantastic fantastic museum & I really need to go back soon, so much to do and see there!)
  • Leeds trinity shopping mall – cool food trucks, tasty food, really pretty looking skylight
  • Amsterdam for a day (needed it to sort out my visa, took train to city center, lots of pretty snow, bikes and ferries, didn’t get the chance to go to any museums cus I needed to get back to airport quickly)
  • Standard welcome to university orientation stuff – including a joke about brexit by some pretty welcoming and funny international student affairs people 😛
  • Registration, moving into Monty B, finding supermarkets, doing some shopping etc…
  • Met up with a professor here to do plan on doing some research while I’m here
  • Group dinner with HKU people at a local Chinese restaraunt (kinda overpriced but the food was good)
  • Classes start: I get lost quite a bit and figure out the MC Escher-esque building that is Roger Stevens
  • Complex class schedule messiness I need to work out since there are several timetable clashes and I’m over the credit limit + trying to transfer credits etc

February

  • Quidditch Give it a Go session with the Leeds Griffins + tons of weekly practice afterward
  • Fall in love with the Brotherton Library, which is so much fancier than the E Boyle library I had been going to
  • Treasures of Brotherton library  & the art museum – really cool that it is just on campus with pretty interesting books and paintings to see
  • Chinese New Year hot pot with a bunch of new friends from different schools in HK
  • Start contacting and chatting with my HKU mentor in London
  • LUU rooted rooftop garden volunteering – planting, pruning, composting etc
  • Cookbooks through time talk- 6 really cool cookbooks from Leeds Library (one of largest cookery collections in world) brought to life by a great historian walking us through them
  • Visit Kirkgate market (Brilliant place, tons of super cheap produce, great food, fantastic building, world’s first Marks and Spencers etc)
  • Start my own compost box with flatmates – 2 move in at a later date as they swapeddue to their old accomodations being in the middle of nowhere 😀
  • Leeds art museum visit – liked the Leonardo special exhibit they had going on at the time
  • Cottonopolis V in Manchester (My first Quidditch tournement in England) – fun time taking the slow train and joking about the different names for little towns like Todmorden
  • Voted in the Leeds Student Union elections
  • Thackery Medical Museum visit as part of a class – great little one, price a bit pricy if you aren’t going on someone elses dime XP

 

March:

  • Staying on top of my responsiblilities back at HKU & planning for which positions I want to run for when I get back (Senior Equal Opportunity Advisor, Quiddtich Team ExCo, Sci Peer tutoring payment stuff, Green ambassador, etc.)
    • Just cus I’m on exchange doesn’t mean I get a free pass lol
  • Visited Bradford using First in West Yorkshire day pass (really cool city! visited the media museum, art galllery and was going to visit police museum or peace museum but closed by the time I got there)
  • More Quidditch – mainly focused of stratagy and tackling (training for the British Quidditch Cup)
  • Dinners with flatsmates who are amazing at cooking so I mainly help with the shoping and dishes
  • Vegan wine and cheese tasting night – where I learn that not all wine is vegan
  • British Sign Language with a friend at a Give it a Go night
  • Finishing a couple of assignments and other things due for my various classes
  • Meeting with professor to discuss possible summer projects and my application to the ORF that HKU science has

So that catches you up to where I am now, as of March 6th. I’ll probably put another post out on Saturday about the stuff I did the day before, since I’m turning 21 on Friday and have a bunch of stuff planned!

Here’s to more posts in the future!

-Rebecca

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I’m Late. Here’s why. (Spoilers: it’s not very interesting…)

I’ve been meaning to post more frequently, but instead over 2 weeks have gone by and… nothing.

Like actually – capital N – Nothing.

Sorry about that, I’ve been using my reading week (so the week before midterm exams at HKU), to catch up with some academic stuff. And also de-stress by procrastinating on other things.

Yup, I’m in my 3rd year and still can’t get it in my head that a bit of work now means less panic-filled, sleepless, deadline-fighting nights later…

Great job at setting a example, Rebecca.

Also I’ve been dealing with some technical troubles (mainly that I accidently dropped my new phone in a puddle and have been freaking out trying to get my photos off of it when it keeps glitching on me)

Pro tip for future me: MAKE BACKUPS OF STUFF! (like for EVERYTHING)

So what else have I been up to recently?

  • Insect collecting around Hong Kong (for my insect ecology class)
  • Volunteering as a commentator with the Student Blog Challenge
Student Blogging Challenge Commenter
You should see a badge here. If not, I’ve messed up somehow….
  • Chatting with some of my secondary school friends
  • Reading books – atm I’m rereading The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum
  • Catching back up with diary writing
    • and now having to make-up a few blog posts due to the afformentioned lack of posts without a good reason
  • Revising for classes
  • Watching German movies (more about that later…)

So yeah, I should post more so that these weekly posts don’t just become ever growing bullet point lists of “random-things-I-would-write-more-about-but-can’t-because-of-how-much-stuff-there-is-to-say”.

I’ll try to get a few of those on the list but again, dealing with cellphone death at the moment so a bit preoccupied.

Until next time,

-Rebecca

p.s. Also, the big one which I somehow left off, EXCHANGE PLANNING. Holy F- I am less than 3 months away from that trip, yikes!

On School Life & the Supreme Court – a quick update

Remember how at the end of summer I was super gung-ho about posting a “Learn->study->explain” post each week?

Well, I think the fact that I haven’t posted a single one yet 3 weeks into term shows you how much of a flop that whole plan was.

Why haven’t I posted one yet?

  1. I’m not really sure how to word the thing without basically retyping out all my notes, which won’t exactly help me memorize the content (there is a reason I always handwrite my notes in class). Also, there might be the issue of inadvertently violating the copyright of the class material.
  2. I’m wasting my down time right now because my brain is still in vacation mode – what with the typhoon 2 weeks ago, Mid Autumn festival off last week and National day today
  3. It’s hard to organize the thing, since a lot of the content that stretches over several lectures

So instead of just typing out all my notes, I’m going to write a weekly reflection thing similar to what I did when doing CAS. What I mean by that is I will record hours spent on the material and rate how productive I was in each aspect.

In other news…

I’ve been spending some of my free time listening to the Christine Blasey Ford & Brett Kavanaugh testimony. It’s 10 hours long, but I feel as though I need to watch the whole thing, instead of just watching short clips of it.

There have been moments in my life where I feel as though I am part of history in the making.

Up until now, the short list of events consists of mainly the 2008 & 2016 elections, Snowden protests, and the Occupy Central/ Umbrella Revolution. This hearing is now on that list.

Because it marks a watershed moment in how we as not just Americans, but people as a whole, view issues related to sexual assault.

Because it shows how politicians are increasingly choosing their party over the people they represent.

Because it demonstrates a sea-change of people pointing to an issue and bringing it out into the light.

I am also a bit disturbed.

At how quickly seemingly bipartisan issues become politicized in today’s political climate.

At how fast outrage is generated in the masses through social media or traditional news organizations.

At what this means for the future of my country and its people.

I don’t know what the future brings, I can only state my thoughts and hope for the best.

Despite living in Hong Kong for so long, I still consider myself an American, specifically a Texan.

It’s where I was born.

It’s where I grew up and spent most my life.

It’s where I think of when you ask about my “hometown”.

I guess I feel so invested in this because while the decisions made don’t directly impact my day to day life here in HK, the implications have started to shift the way I view the USA I grew up to love.

Perhaps this is a bit too on the nose and patriotic for most of my audience, but I believe that the USA can be – and is at its heart – better than it is at the moment.

So I urge you, if you haven’t already – Register to Vote!

I’ve made a blog post in the past on how to do so in less than 20 minutes, so you have no excuse not to (well unless you aren’t eligable to). Whether you are voting in state, absentee or are an overseas citizen, I’ve got you covered.

Check it out here!

And…

Thank you Christine Blasey Ford & all of the other women who have come out with their stories.

Your bravery inspires us all.

-Rebecca

 

 

 

🍀🌞A Strangely Seasonal Update…🍂❄️

So my 2-week-or-bust deadline is here, which means another post as promised.

Problem is I have a ton of vague ideas in my brain but nothing concrete to write about… which means another round of what I like to call…

“Things in parts bingo”.

Basically, you:

  1. Pick a random number between 2 and 12
  2. Look up “things that come in [xyz number] “
  3. Assign attributes or find symbolic meaning to said parts
  4. Write about something that is related to each of those attributes
  5. ?????
  6. Profit (with a blog post that seems more cohesive than it actually is)

In the past (on a different, older blog) I have done Avatar the Last Airbender elements , Fates of Greek mythology and sorta for Blossoms as well, all to relative sucess.

So in honor of the last few weeks of my summer break, I’m doing the four seasons – starting with spring!

Spring (春 chūn) – New Beginnings & changes. Planting the metaphorical seeds for a better future.

Daily Diary progress & Habitica

I’ve been working a bit more on developing better habits, since… well let’s face it.

I’m 20 years old now and have NOT acomplished anywhere as much stuff as I wanted to do by this point in my life.

Earlier in my summer break, I decided to start keeping a diary about my life and goals. It’s not the first time I’ve done so (I have diaries dating back to when I was 12), but this is the first time I have kept at it for more than a month or so without giving up.

I honestly really liked doing it and will probably continue into the school year, since writing acts as a nice way for me to reflect on my day. I might post a bit more about it in the future!

In other habit news, I’ve also been experimenting with different apps to improve my productivity for the upcoming school semester. If you have any suggestions for apps I should check out, feel free to comment below or contact me!

notebook and black ballpoint pen
Photo Source: Maddy Zen on Pexels.com

Summer (夏 xià) – Joy, Vitality & Enthusiasm. Watering the positives and weeding out the negitives with whole-hearted enthusiasm

Ecology field work with Oriental magpie-robins

Over the summer, I have been doing some field work with a HKU professor’s lab, studying Oriental magpie-robins (Copsychus saularis).

Essentially, I have been going around to different nest boxes around HKU campus, checking on their status by taking photos of the nests, eggs and chicks. Unfortunately, all the chicks in the nest box this year didn’t survive, so we weren’t able to “ring” any of the juveniles. 😦

I have one last check next week (since their breeding season ends around the end of the summer), then I might continue to work with the lab doing some literature reviews, or helping out with the playback test data collection (essentially isolating the recorded OMR songs with a program called Raven).

Either way, I’ve loved the work I got to do over the break and can see myself making it into a long term career. So glad I picked ecology as my primary major! 🙂

male_female_oriental_magpie_robin_photograph_by_shantanu_kuveskar
OMR Male (left) & Female (right) Source: Shantanu Kuveskar via Wikimedia

Fall ( qiū)- Transition & culmination. Reaping the harvest from what has been sowed.

End of the first year of HKU quidditich, and the start of year two!

Basically the subtitle. So HKU has this rule that in order to become a full fleged association with the student union, you have to comply with a whole list of stipulations.

One of the requirments is that the club must have existed for 2 years without funding from the union itself, another being that at least 40 HKU students must be members. So in an attempt to make quidditch “a thing” in HK, the team have partnered with the university’s Equal Opportunity Unit (EOU) and gotten a some of scholership money to create the “Fly for Equality” project.

We’ve gotten a bit of media coverage in our first year, and are hoping to recruit lots of new people through the EOU Ocamp or the exibition match that will happen at the start of the semester. Exciting stuff though!

(unrelated side note: possible future post idea – explaining HKU/canto slang terms like “ocamp”, “chur” “dem beet” etc?)

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From our latest practice. Source: HKU Quidditch

Winter ( dōng) – Rest & reflection. Storing what was gained before and contemplating what is to come.

HKU -> Leeds exchange plans & updates

Finally we come to the bit that I’m assuming 80% of the readers skimed to. To be frank though, not much has happened since I last posted.

I’ve contacted the International Affairs Office (the people incharge of outgoing exchanges) and they gave me the advice to register for semester 2 classes in case the thing falls though, and that more information will be provided later.

Bit nervous though, since I have to do everything from register for classes to get student visas all within the span of a few months during the school year. I’ve asked my other friends about it and they said the IAO focuses of sem 1 and full year people first, so I shouldn’t really panic until October.

But yeah, I’ve been doing some research about Leeds and the surounding area, specifically on museums, historical sites and botanical gardens (yup, I’m both a history nerd + ecology geek, and dang proud of it!)

So if you know of places I should visit, again feel free to comment below!


So yeah, hope this entry was somewhat interesting…

Missed my self-imposed deadline by a few minutes due to an internet issue and not saving often enough, but hey close enough!

Until next time!

-Rebecca

HKU Registration Blues…

Every year, HKU students around the world log into their portal page to click one dreaded blue link – “Enrollment Add Classes” .

And every year students shake their fists at the internet gods as they are faced with the same ever present, blinking red words.

Pending… Pending… Pending…

Over and over again like a dripping tap that just won’t stop…

If they are lucky, the page loads and they are met with glowing green tick marks, confirming they have been enrolled into the classes of their dreams.

These students sigh with relief, close that page on their browser, and go on with their day, relishing in their final few weeks of summer before college starts again.

For my fellow brothers and sisters who aren’t so fortunate, they are trapped.Forced to stare at the same freaking website: on their desktop computers, their laptops, their phones.

It’s Kübler-Ross model’s 5 stages of grief in less than an hour.

Denial comes first.

It can’t be happening to me. It worked last year. Should I reload? No it should be fine, just a small glitch. I’m in Chi Wah learning commons, surely being close to the servers means that…

Server update. Frozen page. An auto log off.

The source doesn’t matter, just the result.

ARE YOU F-ING SERIOUS!

Anger erupts throughout Hong Kong as group chats explode with furious words aimed at the system.

Some stare, frozen in complete shock. Others rage quit their computers, fed up that they have wasted precious minutes of their life on a dumb webpage

For the few that remain after the disaster, clinging on to tattered slivers of hope, the bargaining begins.

If I can just get into this one course, just this one… please… I need this for my major… it’s only offered this semester…

Seconds turn into Minutes, Minutes turn into Hours.

Suddenly the Suspension Period looms overhead like the sword of Damocles.

Desperate pleas fall on deaf ears as despair seeps in.

 

A death knell tolls off in the distance… It’s over.

 

Perhaps not in the way one might have hoped.

But it is over.

It is over.

It IS over.

 

Well, until Add-Drop period at the start of term….

Frick.


Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating just a tad. (geeze, really? who whoulda thought?)

But point still stands.

Registering with HKU’s first come first serve system, where thousands students reg for course ON THE SAME DAY mere hours from each other can sometimes feel like stumbling into the Hunger Games with nothing but a pencil eraser and a rubber duck.

I get why they do it, and honestly, HKU’s system is probably still much better than others around the world. But when it’s your third year, 5th semester stuck doing the same thing, it takes a toll.

Hence this somewhat superfluous soliloquy (see SAT, I can use fancy words too!)

This year was apparently worse than usual, to the point where they extended the Registration Period by a day. So it wasn’t just me this year. Cold comfort but hey, apparently we are all in this together. (And now that song/ from HSM/ is now stuuuuuck in my he-ad…)

Here’s hoping that it will be better in the future!

I might write a “How to survive Reg Day” post in the future, as it feels like something that might be useful to other HKU students, both present and future.

Until then! 

-Rebecca

 

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

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