Study, Uncategorized

Why you should study a language

Chinese-1

Practicing Chinese characters

Studying a language can be very rewarding. Not only will you be able to communicate with people from a different country than your own, you can get an insight into a whole new culture. I studied Chinese as a part of my degree, and it has been a lot of fun getting an insight into Chinese culture and society as well as understanding the language. Here are some reasons why you study a language, and how you can do it at Portsmouth.

It’s not as difficult as you think
Many think learning a new language is very difficult, and this stops them from doing it. But if you use the available resources around you it doesn’t have to be that hard. You can find language classes at the university, and possibly in private collages and evening schools around the country, or you can try and find a tutor who is willing to help you. Make friends whose first language is your target language. And you can also explore the vast range of language learning apps such as DuoLingo and Memrise.

Empower your employability
Knowing a second language can be very helpful when applying for a job. We live in a globalised world where more and more jobs are international. If you know more than one language it can sometimes lead to your dream job. It will definitely add something to your CV.

Discover a new culture
Knowing the language of a culture you might be interesting means you can actually feel and be a part of it. As your level increases you will be able to understand the jokes and humour, discover new music, foods, art and so much more. My Chinese class were invited to perform Chinese songs and play Chinese instruments at the annual Chinese New Year’s Celebration event in Portsmouth – very fun!

Hulusi

Chinese hulusi instruement

Enhance your traveling experience
Many English speakers seem to think the whole world speaks English so there is no need for them to learn another language. Let me tell you this is wrong. If you enjoy traveling you will definitely benefit from speaking the same lingo as the locals as it can help you connect with them on a different level. You will be able to get around on your own, and hear the stories of the people. It is the best feeling.

Cross-cultural friendships
Building on the previous point, it is a lot easier to make friends on your travels if you speak the same language! It can lead to life-long friendships, memories, and invitations to come visit.

You can live abroad!
If your level of fluency improves, you might even want to try living in a country where they speak your target language to get a better insight into their culture and ways. This is definitely a rewarding challenge for life. Personally I have lived in two countries where they speak languages which are not my mother tongue. And let me tell you, having lived in these countries I understand the banter, the jokes, the culture, and the people a lot better. For example, I remember watching Bridget Jones years before I moved to the UK. And yes, it was a funny film at the time, but it was not until I rewatched it after having lived in England for a year that I realised just how English the film is. All the banter and jokes about Christmas jumpers, etc. I only understood after living here!

Learn a language at Portsmouth
At Portsmouth you can often learn a language as part of your degree, or just for interest. As part of your degree you can have a language in your degree title (like mine does, International Relations and Languages), where the language is a very integrated in the units. This is, however, a very big commitment and a lot of work, so alternatively many can also choose to do a language unit in second year, and I believe this also applies to courses from other departments. The third option is to do a language for interest via IWLP. You start off in Level 4, and through first and second years you can do a language course for interest, not part of your course, for free! Perfect if you aren’t sure a language is something you want to do as a degree! I’ve heard the workload and pace of the course is manageable because the teachers realise you are doing this for interest and that you do have other coursework.

In addition you have the Global Café in Park Building every Wednesday where you can meet language partners and practice your target language.

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Chinese Harry Potter books

My tips for learning a language
Definitely attend classes, do your homework, and use your teacher’s knowledge for what its worth. I am a master at procrastinating and leaving everything until the last minute, but you simply cannot learn a language the day before the exam. Language-learning is a curve. It goes up and down, and the more your practice the better you get. Have a look around, Portsmouth is a very international university and people come here from all over the world. So even if the university may not offer classes in the language you wish to study, maybe someone is willing to teach you in their spare time.

Sorry this post is mainly about Chinese but it’s the only language I’ve got experience studying at university. There are, of course, many other interesting languages as well such as Spanish, French, German, and Portuguese!

Do you study a language? And if not, is there a language you would really like to learn?

 

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Year Abroad

My Guide to Wuhan

Last year I was on my year abroad in Wuhan, China studying Chinese language for a year. Before I left I didn’t really know too much about the city. Wuhan is not very well known internationally, so there are not many guides on what to do there. After living there for a year I feel I know the place quite well, so here is my guide to Wuhan. Maybe it will come in handy for the next lot of CCNU Portsmouth students. 🙂

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The city

If you like Chinese history and politics Wuhan is a very interesting place to visit. If anyone has seen the Netflix show Marco Polo, they mention the place “Wuchang” frequently in the first season – there was a great battle there between the Chinese and the Mongols. Today, Wuchang is part of the city of Wuhan. In fact, Wuhan (武汉) is made up of three former smaller cities: Wuchang (武昌), Hanyang (汉阳) and Hankou (汉口), which grew together due to population rise and formed one big city. As of 2013 Wuhan’s population is 10 million, making it the largest city in Central China. It is also the capital of Hubei (湖北) province. The Yangtze and Han rivers intersects in the city, dividing it into three parts all with unique sights. Due to the rivers’ intersection marking the centre of the city, Wuhan doesn’t really have one city centre like most other cities does. Instead everything is kind of spread around, and each area of the city has its own little centre.

Historically, Wuhan was founded more than 3,500 years ago. The Chinese film Red Cliff tells the tale about a battle that happened between three different Chinese kingdoms. This battle happened right outside of Wuhan, in Chibi. Wuhan was the setting for the Kuomingtang’s nationalist opposition lead by Chiang Kai-shek, and it was wartime capital in 1937 when the Japanese ruled parts of China.

So even thought the city is not that famous, lots has happened here!

Sights

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Tingtao Park

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Tingtao Park

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Cherry Blossoms at Wuhan University

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Cherry Blossoms at Wuhan University

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Cherry Blossoms at Wuhan University

East Lake

Possibly the most well-known sight in Wuhan. This area of over 80km² offers beautiful flowers in spring, such as cherry blossoms and lotus. Every spring thousands of people flock to Wuhan University’s campus which is located right by the lake to see streets filled with cherry blossoms. By another part of the lake you find shopping area Chu River and Han Street (Han Jie for short). This is one of the more modern shopping areas in Wuhan, with international brands such as H&M and Bershka. There is even an M&S there, which became my saviour on my year abroad! Han Jie is also home to Wuhan Madame Tussauds Museum.

Surrounding the lake is also many parks with different attributes such as Mo Hill with it’s temple overlooking the lake, Tingtao Scenic Area, Forest Park, and Wuhan Botanical Garden. You can also find fun park Happy Valley and Hubei Provincial Museum next to the lake.

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Yellow Crane Tower

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Yellow Crane Tower

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View from Yellow Crane Tower

The Yellow Crane Tower (黄鹤楼)

This historic building dating back to year 223 AD (current version built in 1981) overlooks the Yangtze River and has the most famous view of the city. Entering the tower area you pass by the tower park, gardens, statues, and some other pagodas before reaching the Yellow Crane Tower and the view.

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Fruit drinks at Hubu Alley

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Coconuts!

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Trying sugar glazed strawberries at Hubu Alley

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Eating frog!

Hubu Alley

The main snack street of Wuhan. Located right next to the Yangtze River bend in Wuchang, one of my favourite things to do in Wuhan was to head to Hankou, take the ferry over to Wuchang and end up right next to the Changjiang Bridge and Hubu Alley. On a clear day the sunset from there is really nice to watch, and you can try all kinds of snacks in the snack street such as reganmian, soup dumplings, frogs, fruit drinks, and more.

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Stairs leading up to Qingchuange

Dayu Myth Park and Qingchuange

This part tells the tale of Yu the Great who stopped the flooding of the Yangtze River in Wuhan, and is home to protective animals who will ensure it does not happen again. Qingchuange is an old temple pass, now it stands above a busy road but is still quite an interesting sight.

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Guiyuan Temple

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Guiyuan Temple

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Baotong Temple

Temples

Like most Chinese cities, Wuhan is home to many Buddhist, Daoist, and Conficuan temples. The most famous temple in Wuhan is Guiyuan Temple in Hanyang. Personally, my favourite temple in Wuhan is Baotong Temple located in Wuchang (not far from CCNU!). It is a lot more colourful, and it is built upwards on a hill, so you can see the view of the area. When you reach the top there is a very old pagoda which you can climb to the top of. The climb is not easy, and when I did it I was scared I was going to fall on my face, however it was such a cool experience.

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Gardens at Hubei Museum

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Performance at Hubei Museum

Museums

All state owned museums in China are free (and closed on Mondays). Private museums may charge a fee, but usually not too much. The Hubei Provincial Museum is the most famous museum in Wuhan, along with Hubei Museum of Art located next door. These two are a must to visit, and often have interesting exhibitions on display. Next to Guiyuan Temple lies the Wuhan Stone Museum (private), which has an incredible collection of stones from jade to amber and amethyst. Wuhan is also home to several war memorial museums such as the 1911 Uprising Museum, and Wuhan Museum, but sadly I never got to visit those.

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Zhongshan Park roller coaster area

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View from Zhongshan Park ferris wheel

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Sun Yat-sen statue at Zhongshan Park

Parks

The Chinese love spending their spare time in parks dancing, enjoying the sunshine, and renting boats to go on the lakes. Wuhan has a few parks as well! Zhongshan Park is fun because it has roller coasters you can go on.

Shopping

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The model of Notre Dame in Guanggu

Optics Valley (Guanggu)

Located in Wuchang, not too far from CCNU by underground, this is the largest shopping area I have ever been to. One of the shopping centres has several hundred shops. It’s so big if you find something you like I advise you to purchase it straight away, you probably won’t find the same shop ever again. Here you can also find international shops like C&A, H&M, Forever 21, and supermarket chain Carrefour.

Behind the shopping centre are some themed streets like German Street and Spanish Street. They have a model of Notre Dame, and it’s a very cool place!

Hankou

Hankou is home to the largest pedestrian street in Wuhan. We would always go here for SUPER CHEAP EVERYTHING SHOPS Miniso and Mumuso. These shops became my life. From this area you can easily get down to the river and take the ferry across to Wuchang, very nice thing to do!

To Eat

Suggesting restaurants in China is very difficult for three reasons:
1. Places look so dodgy.
Me and my friends’ favourite restaurant whilst we were there was in a place very difficult to come buy, and we only knew about it because our friend lived right next to it. I don’t even know the name of the street, and even if I did, nobody would ever believe it was the best place ever because it looks like a place you should never even go in to. But it had the best home made Chinese food I have ever tasted. But even if I told you it was great, and you went there, and saw what it looked like, there is just no way you would go inside, haha.

Like, this is it….:

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2. Restaurants come and go so quickly. A place that was there yesterday can easily be gone tomorrow, so it is very difficult for me who is not there now to say what will be there in a week.

3. I don’t know any restaurant names. We would refer to them as “the dumpling place” and “the ramen place”. Seriously.

But, I will do my best and recommend some that I do know!

On the CCNU Campus

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Enjoying some ramen

Chinese-Dumplings

Dumplings!

On campus is a place called Cultural Street, which is packed with places to eat. Since we didn’t have proper kitchens in our dormitory, this is where we ate most of meals. In the morning I would go down the hill and buy reganmian or dumplings from the women selling breakfast. And for lunch and dinner we would go Kebab Kingdom when we wanted something very savoury (my usual was the chicken shish kebab), or “the ramen place” next to Kebab Kingdom. There is also a dumpling place with the loveliest dumpling guy ever, and I could never even understand what he was saying, but he would always smile and wave and after being there twice he knew our order.

Off campus

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Dumplings in the food hall

The food halls

Food halls are a big thing in China. They are usually a bit hidden places, where you go inside and you come to a massive hall with tables in the middle, and many mini kitchens around cooking everything you can imagine. These places are great. You can get so many nice things here, for very cheap. In Wuhan, there were two main ones we would go to regularly.

The closest one to CCNU lies next to Guangbutun underground station Exit J. When you walk out of the exit, keep going straight ahead. Go past the McDonalds, past the Bank of China, and shortly you see some stairs going down into a hall and you can see the chairs. It’s behind a bus stop, if I remember correctly. They serve the best vegetable dumplings down there, and it is soooo cheeeeeeeap.

The next one is in Zhongnan Road and it’s a bit fancier. Get out at Exit D2, and walk straight ahead until you see a shopping centre called Suning, next to a cake store. There is a side door with some stairs going down. Here you can get proper meals like rice bowls with meat and veggies, noodle soups and other stuff. I used to go to this one place where they had little bowls of sides, and you’d get some rice with it. It was yummy.

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Guobaorou (top) and other Chinese dishes

“The Pork Place”

Like I said… I don’t know many names of places. This place is in Jiedaokou. From the CCNU campus, walk straight ahead past Exit B of the underground station, cross the road so your are in the Exit C side, but don’t go towards Exit C, just keep going straight for a few minutes and then you find this place. You can recognise it because it has a little kiosk right inside the door to the right, where they sell bottles of Coke and stuff. It has the best guobaorou I have ever eaten. Guobaorou is pork fried in sticky rice flour and has a slight corianderish flavour to it. It’s very tasty! They also have other classic Chinese dishes.

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My Kazakh class mate enjoying a little too much BBQ

Chinese BBQ

In China, you can go to restaurants where they have barbecues on the tables, and you just go grab whatever you want and grill it on your table, buffet style. It is so much fun, and very social. If you are at the CCNU campus, walk towards Guangbutun, and cross the first walking bridge you come to. Take left, and you will see a red door with a lift. Take the lift upstairs and you hit a massive BBQ buffet place. You pay close to £4 and you can eat and drink as much as you want, including meat, veggies, cut fruit, cake, ice cream, and alcohol!

Aloha Restaurant

This place is quite far away, but it’s super nice. It’s located in Hanyang, and I’m not so sure that many students from CCNU knows about this place. Aloha is run by a woman from Hawaii and they serve proper American food. It is definitely the most expensive place I have been to in Wuhan, and I’m talking England prices here. But it was worth it. It is located in French Street, which I believe will be a quite up and coming area in the city once the new tube opens. (When I left Wuhan summer 2015 you could not really get to it because the main road was closed off since they were building a new underground. Hopefully it is open now!)

Brussels Bar

Belgian bar and restaurant in Hankou. Has the best steak I had whilst in Wuhan!

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Outside Chicony

Chicony

Chicony is a shopping centre in Jiedaokou, next to the CCNU campus. Inside the shopping centre you can find many nice places to dine such as Bellagio which serves Chinese food, Grandma’s Kitchen which has the best American style burgers, and the best Indian place in Wuhan on the top floor.

 

Transportation

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The underground use chips instead of paper tickets!

Getting around in Wuhan is quite easy once you know where you are going. They are currently extending the underground lines every day, and in the not so distant future you will be able to go all the way to the airport by tube. The underground currently has three lines, which can take you pretty much anywhere. The underground has information in English and is very international friendly.

Going by bus is easy if you know where you are going, but only if you speak Chinese. There is no information in English of the bus routes. Whilst in China I only knew about three busses, and they kept changing them all the time. The good thing about the bus is you get to see more of the city than if you were on the tube.

Going by taxi is very cheap, however you need to have the address of where you are going in Chinese. Many drivers don’t speak English!

Hope this made you want to visit Wuhan! Sorry it became so long. Any questions I will try and answer to my best abilities ^_^

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Uncategorized

Graduation… then what?!

Something that has been nagging my mind for the last two years of my life is what to do after I graduate. There are so many options! Should I do a Master’s? Should I do an internship? Will I have money to live on my own or will I have to move home after I finish my course? Will I be able to find a job related to my degree? They say we are lucky to have so many options in this day and age, however sometimes I feel we have a few too many choices.

I am a person who doesn’t like uncertainty. I like knowing what is going to happen. This can sometimes be a very annoying quality, because the truth is you can’t predict the future. And the amount of times I have been disappointed because things don’t turn out the way I want them to are too many to count (although I have learned to be a little more care free the last few years). So not knowing for a while where I will be next year is really stressing me out.

For me there is also the matter of which country I want to stay in. I am Norwegian and it would probably be easier for me to find a job back home. There are less people, less competition, I could get a higher paying job quickly. But my boyfriend is English, and obviously I wish to stay with him, which I don’t mind because I do enjoy living in England. But will I be able to find the right job here?

When I started my course my ambition was to work for the Norwegian government. I wanted to learn Chinese to go back and work on Norwegian – Chinese relations. I wanted a job where I can travel a lot, to see the world and speak many languages. Now? I’m not so sure. I would still love to have a job working for the government, but I’m not sure I would want to move around as much. I want a house. I want a cat. I want to come home and have dinner with my family. But I still want a job where I feel like I’m doing something important.

Deciding what to do next has not been easy. I knew moving again could be a likely option to consider more opportunities. I’m not saying there aren’t options here, I could do a Master’s in International Relations or Translation. But it’s not really what I want to do as I want to focus more on Chinese Studies or East Asian Studies, not straight IR. And I don’t want to do translation. Beginning of third year I was so sure I wanted to do a Master’s in Chinese Studies. A few weeks later I thought it would be easier if I do Global Political Economy cause then it might be easier to get a job. A few weeks after that I was debating if I should do a Master’s at all.

In the end I ended up applying to four universities, four different postgraduate degrees. Global Political Economy at Sussex, East Asian Development and the Global Economy at Bristol, East Asian Cultures and Society (Language Pathway) at Leeds, and East Asian Relations at Edinburgh. I am pleased to inform I was accepted to all four of them. And I chose to go to Edinburgh.

It feels so good to have an idea of what I am doing for the next year of my life. And I am very excited to explore more of beautiful Edinburgh. 🙂

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Accomodation, Uncategorized

Student House Hunting in Portsmouth

House hunting as a student can be an overwhelming experience if it is your first time. When my friends and I were looking for a house second year I had absolutely no idea what we were doing (none of us did) and in the end we went for a cheaper house to fit our budget. It was an okay house, but had we known more about houses we may have chosen differently. After living here for three years now I feel I know at least a little about house hunting, so here is some of my experience with houses in Portsmouth.

As a 1st year student you can apply for Halls of Residence, which seem to be the most popular living place for freshers. I had a good experience with Halls. It is so easy to apply for a room, and once you have your confirmation letter all you have to remember is to pay your rent on time. All the bills are already included, and there is always someone around to ask for advice whenever you need it. On Freshers’ Facebook groups I always see people asking which Halls are better and which you should avoid, but to be honest I think no matter which Halls you end up in you will have the full Halls experience, so don’t worry (and if you do end up in Langstone, there is always the free uni bus to get to lectures on time).

On the same Facebook groups I have also seen people writing that if they don’t get accepted to Halls they will not go to university. Of course you can have a great student experience if you live in a house! Rooms in houses are often bigger, you can have a double bed, a living room, a garden, and you won’t have to worry as much about noise levels and 5AM fire alarms. So please, do still go to university even if you have to live in a house.

Second year is when most students get into the whole house hunting business. Hopefully you will have a group of friends by then, and you have a few of them in mind as future housemates, or you can live with strangers. So… now what to do? How do you find a house?

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My room in Halls

1. Pick your housemates wisely

I cannot point this out strongly enough. Being friends with someone and actually living with someone are two very different things. If you get sick of your mates, you can always avoid them for a while by going home. But what happens when you live with them? Not so easy to cut them out for a few days, is it? So if you find yourself thinking ‘gosh, I’m sick of him/her today‘ too often, maybe you shouldn’t live together. It’s better to reject them and keep your friendship than end up hating each other by Christmas time.

2. Decide on details

How many people do you want to live with? How much can you afford to spend on rent every month? Is there anywhere you don’t want to live? Will you go for a private landlord or a letting agency?
It might be wise to have a general idea of what you are looking for before you start house hunting. It is easier to find 4 people bedrooms than 3, maybe get another person? Do you really want to spend money on letting agency fees or can you manage without? Yes, it might seem beneficial to go through a letting agency just in case something happens. Some agencies are very helpful and it’s easier to just phone them up and they will immediately send someone to unclog your toilet. But they often charge more, and if you manage to find a good private landlord he/she may be just as helpful.

3. Have a look online

The best place to start looking is online on Facebook groups (UoP Student Housing, Student Housing in Portsmouth), and housing searching engines like Portsmouth Student Pad. There are also many letting agency websites to check out.

Know that students have different views on which letting agencies are good, depending on their experiences, this is very individual. Ask your friends if they have any tips or check out this recently created Facebook group.

If you have any questions about finding good houses don’t forget you can also contact the university Student Housing Office.

4. Arrange viewings

Going to viewings is essential. It’s not enough just to see pictures of the houses online. When you get to a house try to look beyond the mess and personal items of the current tenants. Think to yourself ‘can I see myself living here?‘.

Make sure you go to a few viewings before you make up your mind. When we were looking for a house for our 2nd year we made the mistake of really loving the first house we went to (a private landlord) and told her straight away that we wanted the house. A few days later we went to see another house and liked it even more, so we had to make up an excuse to get our of the first house. Bad, I know.

Also make sure you check for leaks, mold and that kind of stuff. And don’t be afraid to ask questions! If you see a massive dark stain on the carpet, ask why it’s there. If a desk is broken ask if it will be replaced by the time you move in. Trust me, you don’t want to realise two months in that your bed is actually broken.

5. Make sure the paperwork is dealt with

The scariest part of the process can be the paperwork. If you go through a letting agency they are often very helpful and tell you exactly what they need and where you need to sign. We went with a letting agency house 2nd year and were taken down to their office straight after the viewing to sign some of the paperwork. Then during the summer they sent us the contract and asked us to sign it.

Private landlords do approximately the same. Some will want to do a credit check on you to make sure you will be a reliable tenant, and then send you the contract to sign it. You will also have to sign a guarantor form and have your legal guardian or a family member sign it too.

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My room second year

6. What if I am an international student?

Being an international student (like myself) I’ve found that house hunting can be a tad more troublesome. Landlords often require you to have a guarantor. A guarantor is a person who will pay rent for you if you are unable to. This is mostly just to make sure it is not going to be a hassle for the landlord getting his money every month, making sure some students don’t run back to their respective countries without paying. And most of the time the guarantor have to be a person based in the UK, which many international students, including me, don’t have access to. But again, this really depend on the person. Some landlords are happy with an international guarantor, some are not.

In Halls this was not an issue. I paid rent once a semester, and it was all online through the university website. I didn’t even have to transfer the money into pounds, I just used my Norwegian bank card and they calculated the currency for me. If I hadn’t paid I could have been kicked out of uni, and I didn’t want to risk that!

2nd year we were with a letting agency. Three of us were foreign and we asked them at the viewing if it was okay for us to rent because it would be troublesome for us to get a guarantor in the UK. To solve the problem they told us we could pay 6 months rent up front in September and January. I know many students don’t have that amount of money saved up, but for me it was not an issue since my student loan for the whole term comes in August and January, so I could happily pay straight away. It was actually beneficial for me because I didn’t have to worry about rent for the rest of the term. So don’t be afraid to suggest this solution to your future landlord.

This year my landlord (private landlord this time) required me to have a guarantor. He found a company who acted act as a guarantor for me, although my legal guardian in Norway had to sign the form as well. One guarantor company the university works with is Housing Hand, although I have no personal experience with them.

7. House hunting whilst on your year abroad

I was in China on my year abroad last year but I was so incredibly lucky. One of my friends at university already had a house from the previous year and we agreed that when I came back from China I would just move in with her. I kept most of my stuff with her whilst abroad, and I didn’t have to worry about house hunting at all. I met up with the landlord to sign the paperwork when I went back in February, and I couldn’t be happier that it has worked out this well.

So my advice is: if you know someone who will still be in Portsmouth when you come back, team up with them! Ask them if they will have a room free for you when you are back and save yourself the hassle of house hunting while abroad.

For some students this might not be as easy, so you will just have to house hunt the traditional way. Maybe you have some free time to go back to Portsmouth for house viewings, or ask a good friend or a parent to go for you.

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My room final year

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My room final year

All this aside the main thing is to enjoy university and have fun with your housemates. Student house hunting is a good way to get some experience on the house hunting front, and hopefully get on the good side with your land lord so they can act as a reference for you in the future (our land lord at the moment brings us cake and breakfast when he comes over. I love him).
Good luck on your house hunt, hopefully this has been a little helpful.

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Uncategorized, Uni Life

2016?!

21 days into the new year and I still find myself writing “2015” whenever writing the date. It is crazy how quickly this year arrived! 2016 always felt so far away, especially back in 2012 when I started my degree at Portsmouth. 2016 felt ages away, but here it is. This is the year I will finish my dissertation. This is the year I will graduate. It is all moving too quickly!

So let’s take a step back and talk about what I did over Christmas.

13th of December I flew home to Norway for the holidays. 2,5 weeks at home – bliss! During summer holidays I work as a secretary in my local hospital back home to earn some extra cash, and this time they wanted me to work for a week before Christmas so I could get some training for summer. They wanted me to train how to work in the reception, and I am very happy I had a week to train because I am not a big fan of receptions or making phone calls, especially not when I have to speak to patients and stuff. But it went all good and I even put my English skills to hand. Hopefully some Chinese patients will drop by this summer so I can practice my Chinese with them 😛

Christmas came around and all I remember doing was eating for a week straight. In Norway we typically celebrate 23rd of Decembers as “little Christmas Eve”, so for dinner we usually have rice porridge with sugar, cinnamon, and a dash of butter on top. We put an almond in it, and whoever finds the almond on their plate wins a big marzipan pig. We also celebrate Christmas Eve as our “main” day of Christmas, not Christmas Day. So Christmas Eve we had a lovely dinner with pinnekjøtt, mashed swede, boiled potatoes, and sausages, and rice cream with strawberry sauce for dessert. After the dishes are done we open presents, Santa knocks on the door and you get to meet him (although I haven’t seen Santa since I was 9), we have some sweets and then go to sleep. 25th of December we have a big family breakfast, and typically go around grandma’s house for dinner.

 

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Made some ginger bread men before I went home!

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Dad and me got matching Christmas jumpers

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Norwegian Christmas dinner

Seeing my family and friends was really nice, and on 29th of December I flew back to Portsmouth. An American friend of mine, Carley, whom I met whilst abroad in China was due to come visit me and stay for ten days! We had planned to meet up at Heathrow Airport and get the train down to Pompey together, but because of a snow storm in the US she was a day delayed. But she made it in the end!

We spent New Year’s Eve in Popworld with some friends of mine, which was a lot of fun.

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New Year’s Eve

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New Year’s Eve

I had asked her what she wanted to do while in England, and we decided we wanted to go visit some of our other friends who we met in China. One of our friends, Charlotte, lives up in Newcastle, and our friend Ellis lives in Lincoln. So our original plan was to take the train to York on Friday, Charlotte would come down and spend the day with us on Saturday, then we would go to Lincoln on Sunday to see Ellis, then go back home. But sadly, because of the flooding in York we decided not to go there. We were told trains did run as normal, but it did not feel right to go play tourists in an area so affected by the floods.

Obviously we still wanted to go so we ended up going to Nottingham and Lincoln for the weekend. Both cities were really nice! In Nottingham we saw Nottingham Castle Museum, including the caves underneath. We saw the Robin Hood statue, and I introduced Carley to a cheeky Nando’s. In Lincoln we met up with Ellis, and she showed us around town – Lindoln Castle, the Steep Hill, Lincoln Cathedral, and some other nice places. Her mum even made us Sunday roast, yummy!

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Mortimer’s Hole in Nottingham

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Caves under Nottingham Castle

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Robin Hood in Nottingham

 

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Lincoln

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Walking around Lincoln Castle

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Lincoln Castle

Luckily I don’t have a 9AM lecture on Monday mornings anymore, so we got a late train back to Portsmouth that day. The next day my lectures started again, and for the next week my evenings were spent showing Carley around Portsmouth, and watching many horror films together.

Lovely Christmas break before the next pile of work!

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Uni Life

The start of final year

Although I enjoyed my year in China looking back it feels like I’ve just woken up from a very long dream. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy my year abroad, I certainly did, but at the same time it felt like my life was always somewhere else, it was back in Portsmouth. I would constantly check my phone for updates from my friends and wonder what they were up to, I would stay in Friday nights so I could talk to them, and many a night I couldn’t sleep because of the time difference.

Even though I’m originally not from the UK, Norway doesn’t even seem like home anymore, Portsmouth does. My home town is just somewhere my parents live, where I go home for Christmas to catch up with my friends and see my family, then head back to my “real” life here in Portsmouth. My friends, my boyfriends, my social life, my gym, my studies – it’s all right here on the English coast, and I’m so happy to be back!

I also can’t believe it’s already November! I’ve been in Portsmouth since August, and time had flown by. Final year is already a lot busier than I ever imagined with two societies to run, dissertation, essays, Chinese, and trying to have a social life next to all this. But I am enjoying it, I really am. I’m enjoying my busy schedule, and I’m pleased to say I am even on track with my dissertation. And my sleeping pattern is back on track, I’m not set on China time or anything!

~ Marie

 

 

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Uni Life, Year Abroad

My Uni Experience

This month’s blog challenge is to write about my university experience. Thinking back over the last three years I can’t help but to smile. Moving abroad was definitely the best decision I’ve ever made.

Of course it hasn’t been always sunshine and rainbows, but when I took my first steps in Portsmouth in September 2012 it was definitely showing off it’s good side with a whole week of amazing weather.

I had never been to the UK when I moved over for uni. Nor did I know anyone in Portsmouth. So moving into Halls was quite an experience. I lived with five English people and one guy from Hong Kong. All a nice bunch, and we mostly got along, except when it came to sorting out the bins in the kitchen, of course.

Many of my friends from first year I actually met online in one of the Freshers’ Facebook Groups. We met up instantly when we were all settled, and we all kinda stuck together throughout the year. Most friends I made after I arrived all lived in the same Halls as me and it was fun being able to go visit each other in our PJ’s!

When I started my course it was really exciting as well, although it took me a while to get into it since it was all in English. My English wasn’t all that bad, but since I study International Relations many complicated terms were used, plus my lecturer was Irish and I could not understand what she was saying at all.

Overall first year was a good year filled with new and exciting experiences, and I didn’t regret moving abroad at all. But at the same time when packing my suitcases to go back for second year I wasn’t all too keen on heading back to Portsmouth.

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But it definitely picked up second year and it turned out to be one of the best years of my life!

Not so much housewise, though. I ended up living with one of my flatmates from Halls and three of my friends. I now only keep in contact with two of them.

But I joined the committee of Cinema Society and got more involved with the Union, which totally made my second year what it was. I met most of my current friends through the Society, and through them I also met my boyfriend. I started going out a lot more, and really had a blast.

Coursewise this is when I had my little panic period. I didn’t want to go abroad third year and I was looking at other universities because I wanted to quit.

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Luckily I didn’t, I went abroad, and a year later I only have six weeks left in China, I speak to my friends in the UK every day and I’ll see my boyfriend in August after being in a long distance relationship for 14 months.

I have definitely learned a lot from these three years. That I can live basically anywhere, I adapt pretty easily. My English has certainly improved. I’ve become a lot more independent, I can now handle a challenge, and my self-confidence has definitely grown. I am no longer afraid to stand up for myself and do what I want to do. I’ve also had the chance to travel across the UK and China, which has been amazing.

One year left of university and I can’t wait to get back to Portsmouth! I am soo excited to see my friends again, move into my new house, start my new units. Not too keen on having to do my dissertation, though, but I’m sure it will be fine. I think next year will be a very busy but good year!

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