SAF Fall Correspondent Yiqing Liu from Communication University of China is reporting from UCLA.
I checked out two beaches in San Diego. My favorite one was Sunset Cliff. On the weekend, many people of all ages went surfing. The sunshine was warm and the breeze was delightful. I saw many people enjoying their afternoon with their significant others, friends and families. I suppose this beautiful scene deserves a lifetime of watching.
In addition to the beautiful coast, San Diego’s Balboa Park is another gorgeous place everybody has to check out. Not only does the park have open space areas, natural vegetation zones, green belts, gardens, and walking paths, there are also museums, several theaters, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. My favorite spot is the Botanical Building. With many precious, amazing plants and unique architecture, this place stole my heart!
If you get the chance to study abroad at Michigan State University, you are sure to have a great time. MSU is located in East Lansing, Michigan, so whether you are studying abroad for a semester or the whole year, there are always activities that MSU Spartans like to do.
Since MSU is considered a Big Ten school, sports is a really big deal to them. They are very well known for their football and men’s basketball teams. A lot of students love to attend home games while they are studying at Michigan State, as it is super fun and everyone has a lot of school spirit.
In addition to activities and clubs that you can join, there are also many things to do outside of school that are just as exciting. MSU’s campus is full of greenery, but outside of it, there are many rivers, parks and hiking trails you can go to. A popular nature spot amongst the Michigan Spartans is the Red Cedar River. No matter the time of year, it is always super pretty and a nice place for students to relax. During the warmer months, you can rent kayaks or canoes on the river.
Another spot recommended by MSU students is the Dairy Store. The Dairy Store is a local favorite located right on campus. The store is known for its homemade cheese and unique homemade ice cream flavors. Some students say that it is on their “MSU bucket list” to try all of the flavors at the Dairy Store before they graduate!
If you’re a fan of unique Japanese food, then be sure to check out Udon Sushi Restaurant. Many students love going here as it is close to campus and open very late most days of the week. Udon stands a favorite amongst Spartans, as it also has tons of bubble tea flavors to choose from. So if you’re a fan of late-night meals and bubble tea, don’t forget this place while you’re there!
Sometimes college campuses can get hectic and you may want to find a different place to do your work or study. In that case, East Lansing has a lot of coffee shops that are perfect for a cozy getaway and quiet enough to get some work done. Some of these shops include: The Crafted Bean, Blue Owlr and Strange Matter Coffee. In fact, Strange Matter Coffee opened up in 2014 with only four employees, and now has two locations, a bakery and over 20 employees! They are a local business, so be sure to check them out for some great coffee and donuts.
If you decide to study abroad at Michigan State University, you definitely know now that you won’t be bored there! No matter where you turn, there will be activities for you to do and places to go! So whether you like sports or going to coffee shops, there will be something for you to enjoy during your time as a Spartan.
From Seoul Women's University, SAF Spring Correspondent Yoonseo Park is chronicling her experience at UC Santa Barbara.
Before I begin my semester abroad at UC Santa Barbara, I decided to go on a trip to several cities: Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas. It was such a memorable experience!
On December 13th, I departed from Incheon to Los Angeles with my mom. When we arrived, we drove to San Diego with our rental car and had a wonderful time there for four days. Then, we left for Las Vegas, where we spent the next five days. Finally, we drove back to L.A. for a week and explored downtown. Let me describe my trips to you with the photos I took.
SAF Spring Correspondent Zichen Lin from Ocean University of China is reporting from American University.
I firmly believe that WSP will be the start of a new journey in my life. I'm excited and ready to work hard.
The afternoon I discovered American University's WSP program on the SAF website, I realized it was important for my future. As a graduate student of economics, it was a difficult decision to apply for an overseas study program, especially with only a little over a year until graduation. My parents told me that I should focus my energy into career planning and skill upgrading; however, I finally chose WSP because it felt right to me. Only through experiencing it myself will I be able to determine whether journalism and new media is the right direction for me.
During the preliminary preparation, I spent a lot of time and effort on the internship interview as well as packing my luggage. WSP requires students to choose an internship as their academic practice — this is a challenge for me. Although I have internship experience in China, internships are a little different in China compared to the U.S. For instance, resumes in China require an ID photo and your gender, but this is not required on an American resume. I have also been preparing for my video interview; having the interview in English still makes me a little nervous, and there’s a time difference I have to consider. I have to try to do my best.
Packing my luggage was also hard for me. This is the first time I've been away from home for an extended period of time. Fortunately, one of my teachers provided me with valuable suggestions. She advised me to bring my passport, admission notice, I-20 and other important documents; a small amount of clothing and daily necessities, such as medicine, my glasses and patch boards; and small gifts from my country to gift to my friends in the United States. I decided that my gift will be Chinese tea.
Although preparing to study abroad kept me really busy, it was very memorable, because I learned an important lesson in the process: rely on yourself and do not give up. Now, I sit in my dorm, excited about next week's courses. After waiting for so long, I start this new journey in my life feeling completely confident.
Celebrated around the world, Chinese New Year is a special occasion that’s best spent paying respects to family members both alive and deceased, as well as honoring some time-old traditions like cleaning your house, hanging decorations, feasting with the family and - everyone’s favorite - receiving red packets of money from relatives. But the Lunar New Year is more than just an annual celebration to mark the end of one calendar year and the beginning of another; it also signifies the start of a new Chinese zodiac sign that will dominate the year ahead.
What is the Chinese zodiac?
Comprised of twelve different animals, the Chinese zodiac has been around for over 2,000 years and has evolved into an important part of Chinese culture today. Each animal represents different characteristics and meanings, with more superstitious individuals using them as indicators of compatibility for marriages, business partnerships, and other equally important parts of life. For example, it’s considered bad luck to give birth in the Year of the Sheep, or to have a wedding in the Year of the Rooster.
The origin story behind the Chinese zodiac is that the Jade Emperor, a major Chinese deity, invited the world’s animals to participate in a race. The first twelve that crossed the finish line would each receive the honor of having a year on the calendar named after them.
What’s so special about the Year of the Rat?
Despite modern-day connotations about rodents, the rat was actually the winner of the race, earning it the very first place in the twelve-year zodiac cycle.
But it’s not just when it finished, it’s how the rat won that makes for the best folklore. Legend has it that the rat was doing pretty well in the race - until it got to a river. Unable to swim, the rat looked around and spotted a water-safe haven in the ear of his competitor, the ox. The rat leaped into the ox’s ear, making a safe crossing and catching a stress-free ride all the way to the finish line. In the final moments of the race, the agile rat jumped out and made its final sprint to victory, easily outrunning the lumbersome ox.
While some parts of this story might not hold up today (rats are actually excellent swimmers, and who said cheating was allowed?) the rat is revered as a quick-thinking and adaptable creature - one that is ultimately successful in its pursuits.
People born in the Year of the Rat tend to be good savers, opportunistic, and enjoy prosperous lives due to careful calculations and planning.
Rats are also quite cunning; if you’ve noticed there are no cats included on the Chinese zodiac, that’s down to the rat’s clever maneuvering. According to myth, the cat asked the rat to wake it up from its nap when it was time to race. The rat did no such thing, and the cat missed out on its chance to be immortalized in the Chinese zodiac - you snooze, you lose! (Don’t feel too sad if you’re a cat person, though; the Vietnamese zodiac includes cats instead of rabbits.)
2020: A Year To Do Something Big
As the first year of the Chinese zodiac, this is a year for fresh starts and new beginnings. While some years tend to favor certain zodiac signs more, this Year of the Rat should be an auspicious one for everybody.
Everyone from Rabbits to Roosters, Dragons to Dogs will experience good luck and have golden opportunities handed their way. It’s a year for taking a big leap (much like the rat’s strategic leap into an ear) and seeing where a new direction takes you in life.
If you’ve ever wanted to try something new or go somewhere different, this is the year to explore new horizons and pursue your goals - with some careful planning, of course. SAF helps students to discover their dreams of studying abroad, offering professional, personalized and prestigious study opportunities that are planned for you at the outset and set you up to succeed.
Chinese New Year, Spring Festival, Tet, Seollal...call it what you will, Lunar New Year is one of the biggest holidays in the world - and has some of the most spectacular celebrations to get in on! This special occasion marks the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar, and is a time for honoring ancestors, spending time with family and trying to earn some coveted good luck for the next twelve months.
With Asian communities found all over the world, celebrations aren’t just confined to Asia; Chinese New Year is celebrated in style globally, with lavish parades and other festivities in every major city you can think of. If you’re in the U.S., you’re in luck - this is home to some of the best and most grandiose parades you’ll find anywhere outside of Asia. Here are a few of the best American cities to experience Lunar New Year celebrations this year.
Launched in 1860, this is the undisputed granddaddy of Chinese New Year celebrations in North America. Started by San Francisco’s Chinese immigrant community after the California Gold Rush, the parade has grown so big that some estimates actually rank it as the largest of its kind in the entire world. With a month-long lineup of events, including a flower market, community fair, basketball tournament, and Miss Chinatown beauty pageant, there’s also tons of things to check out before and after the main parade event.
New York City
San Francisco might have the oldest Lunar New Year festival in America, but New York City has the most. With five boroughs (and an incredible nine Chinatowns!) to choose from, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to parades, festivals and fairs. Manhattan boasts the legendary Chinatown parade as well as a Firecracker Ceremony & Cultural Festival; Queens has a New Year Temple Bazaar and its own parade; and over in Brooklyn, a Chinese New Year festival and parade is held in Sunset Park. So many parties and so little time...but that’s hardly surprising for a city that never sleeps.
Home to many Vietnamese-Americans, New Orleans is probably the best American city to get a taste of Vietnamese New Year, known as Tết Nguyên Đán. Tet, as it’s more simply referred to stateside, celebrates the New Lunar Year with many of the same traditions as the Chinese, including cleaning homes, preparing traditional food and giving money to relatives in red envelopes. Every year, New Orleans hosts Tet Fest, a free festival for the city’s Vietnamese community where you’ll find Vietnamese food, fireworks, live performances, and traditional lion and dragon dances.
The Windy City is home to the second-oldest Chinatown in America, and with those roots come some serious Chinese New Year entertainment. A slew of cultural events including the Chinese New Year Concert at the Chicago Symphony Centre, a special exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, and a lantern procession through iconic Millennium Park, will keep you immersed in New Years frivolities, as well as not one, but two Chinese New Year’s parades. Even the city’s sports teams get in on the fun; Chicago’s famed basketball (go Bulls!) and hockey (go Blackhawks!) teams hold lion and dragon dances during games over the holiday.
Get off the mainland and out to idyllic Hawaii for a truly unique Lunar New Year experience. Home to one of America’s largest Chinese communities, as well as sizeable populations of Filipinos, Japanese and Koreans, every year Honolulu’s Chinese New Year Celebration paints the town redder than a hongbao. Several festivals and parades pay respects to Hawaii’s Chinese community, which has roots dating back to the 18th century, and has shaped much of this island state’s local way of life.
If you’re keen to sample some of the amazing traditional foods prepared for Lunar New Year, Seattle is your best budget-friendly bet. As part of the city’s annual Lunar New Year Celebration, a $3 Asian Food Walk allows festive foodies to taste and delight in various Asian cuisines, from egg waffles, dumplings, rice cakes - even decidedly non-traditional bubble tea can be found here! Beyond the food stalls, there’s also a lineup of entertainment to reflect various Asian cultures, like Hawaiian hula dancing, traditional Korean performance, Japanese taiko drums, Hmong dance performances, and of course, lion and dragon dancing.
From Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, SAF Spring Correspondent Sieun Ryu is chronicling her journey at the University of Edinburgh.
Let me introduce myself: I’m Sieun Ryu from Seoul, Korea and I am studying abroad through SAF’s program for the spring 2020 semester. I will introduce my life in Edinburgh for the next six months, so be ready to follow along!
It’s always hard starting off — such as writing this prologue, and preparing my journey to Edinburgh. I will first tell you more about myself and why I decided to study abroad.
As I’m writing this post, I have just finished my sophomore year. My home university is Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, also known as HUFS, and it specializes in languages. (We offer 43 different languages!) Although my original major is economics, because of my university, I became strongly interested in other languages. Last year, I took Spanish and Esperanto classes. Learning different languages not only improved my linguistic skills, but also led to a deeper understanding in various cultural and international issues. Traveling to other countries and learning new languages made me eager to study in different countries. This past year, I decided to take English for International Conferences and Communication, or EICC, as my second major. EICC teaches how to effectively interpret and communicate in this globalized world — but I felt limited within the classes I was taking. I felt like I was always trying to catch up, and by the end of the semester, I was so exhausted. I thought: what was the purpose of taking this lecture? What should I do in the future? What do I even want to do in the future?
To get answers to these questions, I decided to study abroad.
Now, leaving the nest, I want to get organized and search for the meaning of my life. This summer, I contacted SAF Korea to study in England or Scotland, and got in touch with Angela. Angela really helped me a lot and solved all of my questions about studying abroad. She has previous experience of studying and working in different countries, so she shared her tips and advice with me. For instance, she informed me that universities have different requirements, such as your English skill and home university GPA. With Angela’s help, I was able to find a university fit perfectly for me — safe, filled with courses I’m interested in, and home to amazing Harry Potter sites for huge Harry Potter fans like me.
If you are wondering how to study abroad, visit the SAF page or your school’s international affair team. Don’t hesitate and just do it! You won’t regret it!
SAF Spring Correspondent Dongwei Wang from Fuzhou University is reporting from the University of Glasgow.
Hopefully these three tips will be helpful to you, and I hope that all study abroad students can safely and happily arrive at their host university.
It is time to leave your home university and board the airplane that takes you to a new city in another country. For study abroad students from Asia, it is definitely a long journey and we will have to spend a day or a night on the airplane. To ensure you have a pleasant journey, here are three tips for all of you when you take a long-haul flight:
1. Choose an aisle seat
The flight usually takes about ten to twelve hours from Asia to Europe, which means most of us will be seated in a small and narrow economy cabin for a long time. Sitting for such a long period of time can make your neck and legs feel uncomfortable; choosing a seat by the aisle instead of the window will allow you to stand up and walk around without having to bother others in your row.
2. Bring a pair of slippers in your carry-on
As mentioned above, when you are sitting for a long period of time, there’s poor blood circulation to your feet, causing them to swell easily. That’s why I highly recommend bringing a pair of slippers. Changing out your shoes for slippers will not only help reduce the swelling, but they are also much more comfortable.
3. Last but not least, do not forget the steam eye mask
Warm, comfortable and made of soft cotton, steam eye masks have been very popular around the world in recent years. When you put them on, the warm steam will help dissolve any fatigue you have. If you’re ready to take a break from watching movies or playing games on the PTV, put on a steam eye mask — it will even help you sleep better.
For many, a new year always begins with setting some goals that you would like to accomplish in those 365 days. One of my goals every year has always been to travel. Whether it’s in the United States or out of the country, there is no better way to learn about the world around you than to experience it firsthand.
Here are a couple of tips to ensure you get the most out of your time traveling when you are abroad.
1. Save, Save, Save
The best (and probably most important) thing to do when you’re abroad — or even traveling to a nearby city/state — is to have enough money. There are deals that you can get on hotels, but hostels in many cities across the United States host a younger crowd who need to stay somewhere for a few days and will provide housing at a low price. If you are traveling with a group, it would be beneficial to find an AirBnB, as they tend to be cheaper than hotels.
It's important to make sure you are allocating enough money for hotels, transportation, food and other expenses. The last thing you want to do is run out of money when you’re traveling!
2. Planning Ahead
When traveling, it’s important to know the place you are going to and the things to do there. For example, SAF has many study abroad programs at the UC schools in California. Within that, there are many different cities (San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Berkeley, Los Angeles, San Diego, etc.) to travel to. Each city is quite different from one another in terms of places to visit, expenses, food and much more. A tip that I’ve learned is to do a little research beforehand on where I am traveling to and write down a list of places that I really want to visit/see. This helps to ensure that you travel efficiently and get to see a lot in the amount of time you are there.
But spontaneous trips can be fun too, right? Something that might not hurt your budget that much could be a weekend getaway. Many host states have many other cities to visit, some that aren’t even that far away by plane.
3. Slow It Down
It can be extremely exciting being in a new place — feeling all the emotions, wanting to see everything and experience it all. However, sometimes it’s okay to slow things down. Say you are studying abroad in California — rather than trying to explore all it has to offer, maybe you could focus on and explore your host city.
The best way to take it all in is to live like the locals. There are so many things to do and sights to see from the eyes of someone living in San Diego, and that perspective is completely different from someone living in Los Angeles.
4. Try a New Experience
Being abroad and away from your home country is a new experience itself, but if you’re looking for something even more interesting and adventurous, set a goal to experience at least one new thing while traveling. Whether that is trying a new food or learning a new language, saying yes to as many new experiences you can will not only contribute to your personal growth, but also open your eyes to a new culture.
5. Be Open
Being in a new state, let alone a new country, can be daunting at first. It’s hard to adjust to new people and a new culture. However, the most important thing you can do to make sure you make the most of your travels is to be open. Whether that is to people, opportunities, food, culture or much more. There are a lot of things that you pick up on when you are traveling, so be sure to keep an open mind to whatever you come across. It may not be what you are used to, but that is what makes your travels worth it.
In 2020, take a leap of faith and travel. Whether it’s near or far, find a place where you are able to fully immerse yourself. Set your sights and goals, and in no time you’ll be traveling to places all the time. Being able to experience new cultures and traditions will develop your perspective of the world around you, and allow you to fulfill all your travel goals for the upcoming year.
For many people, the beginning of the new year is a time to create resolutions for themselves. It could be eating healthier, being more active, expanding your horizons through studying abroad, or any other number of ambitions. This is a good first step, but research shows that only 8% of people succeed in achieving goals they set at the beginning of the year. Whether or not you decide to make a New Year’s resolution, you can always strive for personal growth at any time of the year. Here are 5 tips and tricks to help you set your goals, meet them, and better yourself as a result.
1. Start small and specific
The first key to achieving your goal is making sure it’s realistic. If the expectations you set for yourself are too high, chances are you won’t meet them and you will end up getting discouraged as a result. Start out with small steps that you know you can achieve and work your way up to bigger strides. Also, make sure the goal you set is specific and trackable. For example, instead of aspiring to “read more often,” set a goal to read one chapter of a book every day for a week.
2. Find accountability partners
Having a solid support system from your friends and family is key. See if you can talk family members or friends into joining you in trying to achieve your goal. If you can’t convince them to help out, university organizations are a great place to start. Join a fitness club, reading club, or any other club you think will help you meet your goals. That way, you can provide encouragement to your colleagues, stop each other from going off track, and have fun along the way!
3. Keep a goal diary
By logging your daily activities and progress towards your goal, you’ll be able to constantly remind yourself of what you’re working towards. Make sure to take special note of small victories, moments of growth and times of temptation, so that you can learn from them and identify what’s working for you and what isn’t. If you’d like, you can even include pictures, documents, or anything else meaningful that signifies the progress you’re making. As a bonus, once you reach your goal, you’ll be able to take a look back at how far you’ve come.
4. Follow through
Once you’ve met your initial goal, don’t stop there! All too often, people become complacent once they’ve met their goal and quickly lose a lot of the progress they made. Set a plan in motion to maintain your progress and constantly improve upon it. For example, after a month of reading a chapter of a book every day, increase your goal and aim to read two chapters a day. Continuous growth is key to making sure that you stick to your plan and better yourself in the end as a direct result of it.
5. Try not to get discouraged
Remember that nobody is perfect. We’re all only human, and everybody is bound to go off track at least once or twice in their journey. When that happens, don’t give up on yourself. Use it as a learning opportunity so that the next time you’re tempted to go off track again, you’ll learn to resist and grow even closer towards your goal.
SAF Scholars and Alumni