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a southern belle's spot in the big city

Archive for the category “Study Abroad”

Spring is Finally Here

So it’s still cold here in Sweden, but not as cold as it used to be.

Today the sun was out and it was just too beautiful not to take pictures.

plus, i have deadlines to meet and what better way to procrastinate than take beautiful pictures and upload them on your blog?

plus, i wanna try out this slideshow thing that my friend Maria, from mariadzurik.wordpress.com taught me how to do (well, sort of).

so here goes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

and it works!

On 20-Minute Blogs

And an update.

I feel as if I have been neglecting this blog already, and have only been posting sporadically.

Before coming here to Sweden to study, I have envisioned myself posting so many blogs about life as an international student, and all tha, but i guess life simply has a way of screwing things for you.

don’t get me wrong. life as an international student is the best experience i’ve had so far and i would recommend it to everyone! it’s everything it’s cracked up to be! not only do you learn through the course, you learn so much more, especially about the different cultures of your fellow international students. and then there’s the parties and the socializing (and the dating!) and the travelling! oh, don’t get me started on the travelling! The thing is, i have been so busy with all the studying and the partying and the travelling that i simply do not have the time to sit down and write, which sucks!

but i’m hoping all that will change soon! (i hope!) i am forcing myself to post something at least once a week, or at least once every two weeks until the rest of my stay here in Sweden and i plan to do quick blogs that takes about 20 minutes or less to post.

my plan is to start playing a re-run of one episode from my favorite sitcoms which runs about 22 minutes or less and complete a blog post within that time.

i have bought myself a new bluetooth keyboard for iPad, which snaps seamlessly into my iPad2, and that makes it soo much easier for me to blog via Blogsy for iPad and i love it!

I have several blog topics in mind that i have yet to write and i’m kinda hoping i will get around to writing it within the coming weeks.

also, my Beats Solo headphones snapped in half about a month ago and i’m kinda bummed about that one. i need to get myself a replacement soon as i decide on a good one but it’s been hard for me to find one as the selection is very limited in the town i live in, not to mention everything is so much more expensive here than back home. luckily, my Beats Studio Pro is still intact and i’m using that until i find a good compact headphones. the Studio Pro is fantastic, but it’s just too bulky and it’s not practical to lug it all around town!

another update i’m kinda bummed about is that the security checks in European airports (at least the ones in Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Paris) requires that you take out your iPads from your bag during X-ray, which sucks big time. in most airports i’ve been at before, they never ask me to take out my iPad! that’s even one of the main selling points of travelling with an iPad versus a full laptop. :/ boo.

okay. my HIMYM episode is almost done and so i must end this seemingly endless tirade!

til next week. ciao guys!

 

goodbye 2013, hello 2014

goodbye 2013.

New_Year_wallpapers_Welcome_2014__goodbye_2013_047785_

you know i have had apprehensions welcoming you mainly because i don’t like the number 13. but you proved me wrong. 2013 was my best year so far. you kicked it off by giving me the opportunity to travel to so many places, for a while there i had to stop and remember exactly where i was. you gave me my first real taste of heartbreak and disappointment too. for a while there i never wanted to go back home in the philippines and face everyone. but you taught me that family and real friends will help you bounce back, no matter what. thank you too for the “firsts” you’ve given me a taste of this year. most of them good, some not quite as enjoyable as the others but all of them i can chargeto experience.

Read more…

Jetsetter: 37 Hours from Laguna, PH to Karlskrona, SE

For the past few blogs, I have talked about my travel plans to Sweden as a foreign student.

My typing this post from my room here in Sverige (Sweden) still feels surreal to me as I never thought I’d actually make it to Sweden in one piece.

I previously talked about how I got hold of my student visa and resident permit, which is one and the same. 3-weeks after my visit to the Swedish Embassy in Bangkok, I picked up my resident permit from the Royal Swedish Consulate General in Makati, Philippines. After that you’d think buying tickets online were easy. boy, was i wrong! but more on that next time.

So, my visa starts from August 2 onwards, but i wasn’t needed in school until the 27th of August, So i picked a number between that. I decided to fly to Sweden on the 20th of August for no particular reason other than it was a pretty number.

little did I know, it was the worst day to pick to go to the airport because of the weather. The weather started being horrible on Saturday, August 17, and on its 3rd day, Monday Morning, (August 19) almost the whole of Metro Manila was nearly submerged in water, its nearby areas declaring states of calamity already as most houses were deep in water already. our area, San Pedro Laguna, was one of the areas declared to be in a state of calamity. we were lucky that the water did not reach the inside of our home, but the outside of our garage was knee deep! we were afraid that our cars would be submerged but luckily the flood did not reach the inside of our garage. Monday afternoon, the flood subsided already and i was able to breathe a little better because i foolishly said to myself that since the water was already subsiding, the streets would be clear by the next morning. But when evening came, it started pouring heavily again and it was no surprise that the flood was even higher the next day. our area was not flooded again though, which was a small mercy.

NAIA

So my mom and I decided to leave for the airport earlier than usual to make sure that I don’t miss my flight. However, due to the severe flooding in manila at the time, we were stuck in traffic with my chances of getting in the airport on wheels bleak. it would normally take me about 30 minutes to go to the airport from my place but due to the flood, it took me about 6 hours to get to the airport. luckily there were a couple of really nice guys from DSWD (department of Social Welfare and Development) who were driving this huge ass truck and were nice enough to let us hitch a ride all the way to the airport, but since they were in a cargo truck, they couldn’t really drop us off in the arrivals section of the airport as they were not allowed, so they dropped me, my mom and my luggages at the gate of the airport, and instead of hoofing it all the way to the airport, we rented a cab for 2 minutes and the cabbie charged as 300% of what he normally charges because of the “weather”. meh, you win some, you lose some. at this point i was just relieved to be finally at the airport.

naia1

Mixed_baggage

I arrived at the airport just in time for my check-in counter to open and about 3 hours early for my 6pm flight. my check-in luggage went in with no problem at all, but i had a little bit of an incident with my carry-on as it was 9 kilos heavier than the prescribed 7-kilos. luckily i was able to talk my way into it. airport officers are more forgiving if what you have in your carry-on are gadgets, and as i had a multitude of gadgets with me including a laptop, 2 tablets, a kindle, and several cameras and cellphones (did i mention i am deathly afraid to be bored in-flight?) they were a little compelled to let me through. i was in a rock and a hard place since i need those gadgets as i explained to them that i am a student-slash-blogger-slash-writer (if only i’m any successful at the photography and writing part, that would be perfect!) and it’s against their policy to check-in delicate gadgets, i’m left to the task of lugging these things across borders while they look the other way. it helps that my carry-on is up to the allowable size for carry-ons and i don’t really have any liquids with me so the only rule i was breaking was the weight allowance and as it was justified, they were happy to look the other way.

after going through immigration, i happily parked myself in one of the lounges on the 2nd floor of NAIA terminal 1 til about 30 minutes before my flight leaves. but as i got there we were told that our flight has been delayed for an hour and a half due to the weather, but other than that  it was a smooth 8-hour plane ride to dubai.

after the 8 hour plane ride, and at this point i was already traveling for about 18 hours straight i wasn’t even halfway done and i had another 9-hour wait before my next flight leaves. but the airport in Dubai is nice, it’s one of the reasons why i chose to have a layover in Dubai in the first place. I enjoyed my 5-hour stopover in dubai airport two years ago. so a 9-hour wait wasn’t as daunting to me as it sounds. i may be one of the weird ones but i like people watching in airports and i do actually enjoy my stay in airports so i really don’t mind the long wait. Plus, about 98% percent of the staff in Dubai airport are filipinos so i felt right at home! XD if the shops and the sights tire me out, hey, i still have a multitude of gadgets to entertain me so i’m covered.

Then it was time to board my flight to Copenhagen. it was a 6-7hour flight to copenhagen and it was a relatively smooth flight, not to mention i was sitting beside this really cute danish guy so i was a happy camper during the 6 hours of flight. i might’ve been asleep for about 5 of the 6 hours, but hey, i was still asleep beside the cute danish guy. hehehe. i did not have any problems going through Copenhagen Immigration as my student’s resident permit answered all the questions the immigration officer might have had for me, so off i went to retrieve my giant pink luggage from the baggage claim, and i did not have a hard time spotting the monstrous pink thing through the carousel. i had a harder time hauling it off to my luggage cart tho.

after retrieving my bag and landing you’d think my harrowing journey and this blog post as well would be over but you’d be wrong. i learned that the hard way. with my luggage in tow, off i went to purchase my train ticket. yep, on top of all that, i had to take a 3.5-hour train ride to Karlskrona. luckily though, as i was purchasing my ticket, my train was approaching the platform so i had to run a good mile to catch my train or purchase another one. i was able to make it just in time though and my aunt, uncle and cousin was waiting for me in karlskrona. i arrived after about 37 hours of travel time and i had the best time of it. all things considered i had very little to complain about and i’m just as happy as can be all that’s over and i can finally lie down.

So alls well that ends well. at the end of that harrowing journey, i got myself a birkin bag, so all that was worth it!  more worth it than the time i had to take 400plus stair steps in Poland, but hey, that’s another story.

and this ends my long journey to Sweden, and this long blogpost as well. i hope you didn’t fall asleep through all that, and i’ll try to update you with my life as a foreign student, if only i can find the time with all the schoolwork and travelingi do these days… XD

Study Abroad: Packing List

I’ve done some packing lists here in the past but those are for traveling on a short term basis. aside from my three-month stint in hong kong, the longest i’ve been traveling as a tourist is my 3 week-tour around europe, and for that i have just packed a week’s worth of clothes. I have also packed for different kinds of weather, like my summer trip in bangkok, my winter trips in hong kong, my autumn trips in hong kong, and my spring trip in europe, with a bit of thermal wear as we climbed the snow capped mountains in the swiss alps, and various other trips.

packing has never been a challenge for me as i have famously travelled around europe in under 15kilos worth of luggage (famous because i never shut up about it, hehehe), and i’ve also gone to a weeklong trip with just my carry-on.

this time tho, i would be packing for something entirely different. I will be packing for an entire year, and complete with all 4 seasons of the year, as i would be taking my masters in Sweden for 1 whole year. packing for an entire year is a whole lot different than packing for a few months, and yet, i have the same luggage weight limitations. am not about to pay a hundred dollars per excess kilo even if i had the money, which i so totally do not.

in my case, budget is an issue. Don’t get me wrong, i would never try to pass myself off as impoverished. that would be an injustice to my hardworking family. but that’s just the thing, even if my family has a little bit of spare money, i’m not about to just mooch everything off of them. With the prospect of studying abroad, i am a full-time student, unless i find a job there, and i have to take out my entire life savings just to come up with the first part of tuition for the first semester. i had to beg my parents and my entire family to loan me the money for the remaining half of my tuition fee for the first semester, plus plane ticket, plus food, plus living expenses.. you get the picture. i know, i’m extremely blessed and fortunate to have the most amazing, most supportive, and most generous bunch of people in my life that i call family. okay. imma stop now before i get all weepy and fizz out my laptop keyboard with snot and tears. lord knows i haven’t got the moolah to replace it!

also, packing for the winter is an entirely different process altogether, and especially difficult for me as we don’t exactly have winter in my home country. in fact, even the coldest months can still be uncomfortably hot, so i don’t exactly have winter clothes at the ready.  During my trip to the snow-capped Swiss alps, i’ve gotten away with just layering my clothes and a leather jacket, although i have never admitted it til now,  froze my butt off pulling that stunt! but hey, it was just a day trip so i survived. i don’t think that trick would see me off the entire winter in scandinavia!

another challenge is the packing process itself. if you’re traveling for a few weeks or a few months, you would probably survive without bringing your running shoes or your airbrush makeup or your laptop. but for an entire year? you’d probably miss those, and if budget is tight, you buying those things when you get there would probably financially hurt you, especially if you’ve got one at home in good working condition.

also, i plan to travel around europe, at least the ones that are close to sweden like denmark and finland, and for that, i have to make sure that the items i pack are “travel friendly” as well. i know, i’ve already said that budget is a little tight and traveling can be a little spendy. Not necessarily. what makes travel expensive are the plane rides and hotel accommodation and the shopping. i plan to take trains and whatever cheap mode of transpo there is, stay in cheap hostels, and i’ve never been a shopper when i travel even when budget is in abundance. i just like seeing the sights and taking pictures. so i guess i’d be okay on that front. plus, i got myself an ISIC (international student’s identification card) which is a discount card that’s practically recognized all over the world, and it gives the cardholder access to exclusive discounts on hostels, airfare, entrance fees to museums, shopping, etc. will talk about the ISIC more next time.

so my game plan is to pool every possession i own, weed out the most important ones (hello LVs and airbrush kit. I’m taking you with me even if that means i have to live on just one pair of jeans the entire year!), and fit a little bit of everything in my luggage, bearing in mind the weight restrictions. this entails a lot of surfing around the web for blogs of other study-abroad students to check what they’ve decided to bring abroad. I’ve tweaked a bit of it to be more “me” even though lord knows i cannot afford to be “me” right now! or anytime in the near future, for that matter.

My Travel Outfit

SA-travel outfit

for description please read my Plane Outfit post.

so behold my packing list! Read more…

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