miercuri, 16 septembrie 2015

Culture shock, school and biiiiiiikes! #nordicadventures

 I decided to wait until after my first project presentation to write this post. So here I am, laying in the bed with my laptop, sick as fuck. Well, not that sick but still sick. The flu got me. So what can a girl do while her boyfriend cooks for her? Write on the blog, obviously haha!

 So, I'm waiting for culture shock to hit me now. A teacher told us at the beginning that for 3 months, you're a tourist here. Then you realize you're not a tourist and culture shock hits you. I usually get this stuff sooner and I've already been here for almost a month. Maybe it skips me. Obviously, there are some differences between Denmark and Romania, differences which I have to get used to. However, I wouldn't name that culture shock because I haven't felt like wanting to go home. Yet.

 I want to talk mainly about school. School is really chill here. I have 1 or 2 classes per day so I usually stay at school from 8.30 am to 3.30 pm. It's practically impossible to have classes later than that unless there's a special lecturer coming or there's some event. Even if so, participating is not mandatory so that's amazing because if you get a job, you always know how to schedule it. Now, the first class usually lasts from 8.30 am to 11.45 am and then you have a 30 minutes break and another class from 12.15 pm to 3.30 pm. Every class is divided in two: half of the time, the teacher is, well, teaching. The other half, you get to work on your project. That's another fact actually, you always have a project to work on. Group project. We got our first project on the second day of school. Group projects are something I'm still getting used to. Back home, I didn't get anything like that. On one hand, it was good because if I screwed up I knew whom to blame. In a group project you tend to be like "Ok, it's not my fault that my group is full of idiots". However, I had a good group experience and our project was pretty badass. The teachers' feedback wasn't the most positive one ever but we did well. In fact, we had the examination yesterday and we were assigned to the new groups already. That means that we will start working on the second project tomorrow. This will be more serious than the first one, as the first project was something like an "accomodation project". This time we have to build a website >.<

 One thing I love here is that teachers are very patient. We had Design class and we were working in Photoshop. The teacher literally came to every each particular student who needed help or got lost. Needless to say, we started from scratch. In Romania, most teachers will blame you for not paying attention if you can't follow up with the rest of the class. Here I am comparing again, haha. Everyone is telling me to stop comparing but I can't really help it.

 I'm still amazed of how organized these people are. Everything has its place and don't even get me started on the online platforms. We have a platform for our weekly schedule (a group of volunteers, called "Study Life", just developed a mobile app for that as well which is sooo amazing), another platform for documents containing information about each theme, groups, projects and so on.

 Now, another thing I want to mention is that I got a bike. YEY! It's really exciting, I love cycling. Back home, I used to go cycling with my boyfriend at least 8 km per day, so I'm really excited to go to school by bike. I've been doing it for a week now except today (because I'm sick). However, it's not as easy as back home. This city is practically a hill. You either go up or down. There's nothing in between. BUT, no matter whether you go up or down, the wind is against you!! It is crazy, I swear, it's like wind conspires against you. It's so easy to get anywhere by bike. There are bike lanes everywhere and the drivers are also quite patient, which amazes me. In Romania, God forbid you go downtown by bike.

 We've actually went to explore the surroundings now that we have bikes so we visited the airport (WOAAAA), a viking cemetery, a "herbal garden", a lake and so on. Fun fact about the viking graves: they are pretty much a bunch of stones BUT the stones situated in an oval shape are for women and the triangular ones for men.

 I guess this is it for now. I will attach some highly unprofessional pictures here. My parents are visiting me this weekend and I'm getting my professional camera. Then I can post decent pictures of this beautiful city :)


my bikey :D


luni, 31 august 2015

Introduction days at UCN #nordicadventures

This week I got a piece of student life. UCN held introduction days where lecturers spoke about the school, about the teaching methods (reflective practice-based learning, to be more precise) and well, Denmark. Besides that, we also got help filling in the forms for residence permit, a job seminar and a party. 

One interesting thing I've learned about UCN these days is that we will have this "Insights Profile". It is sort of a personality test. Normally it would cost about 100 euros I believe but the school will "test" us for free so that's something I'm quite excited about. The results of the test will indicate one's strengths, weaknesses, what makes you happy, mad, how people should approach you and so on. It's like an honest, objective essay of yourself. 

Now, the first thing that shocked me was how organized the events were. Well, the country itself is very well organized and that is something you can tell by the attention to details, such as the bus stations (about which I will write more in another post). Everything had its place and everything was done by the clock. In Romania, the events held by schools were chaotic. Nobody knew what's going on, where to sit down and how to react. 

The other thing that shocked me (BIG TIME) were drunk people. I understand the fact that Danes drink a lot and I don't really care. However, I was coming home by bus from a party on Friday and I was shocked by the number of drunk people. I swear, I have never seen so many drunk and stoned people ever in my life. And trust me, I've been places. I have never seen people you normally see at respected offices not being able to walk straight. Some people might say that I'm judging and so on but I believe being able to tell whom you want to be around is a sign of maturity. The people you surround yourself with define you because you choose them according to your values and principles. 

Anyway, all in all, school left me with a very good first impression. I don't think I've ever been so eager to learn as I am now and I can't wait to start the programme (which will happen tomorrow as it is the first official day). 

If you have any questions you think I could help you with regarding Denmark or education in Denmark, do not hesitate to drop me a message, I'd be glad to help :)

luni, 24 august 2015

First days in Denmark #nordicadventures

Denmark, oh, Denmark!

 Moving to another country is surely not easy. I believe the first major situation I encountered was transportation. Since I moved about 2000 km away from home and I had many luggages, a plane wasn't much of an option. In order to get a reasonable price we had to take a bus, so it took us around 32 hours to get here. Since I usually get sick on such long distances, I had to take medicine with me. However, the perk of going with the bus for such a long distance is that you get to see many cities. In fact, at night we got to see Prague (quite dissapointing, to be honest, but I guess the touristic places of the city are nicer). Even though we spent most of the journey on highways, we stopped in several cities in Denmark and got to see some of them (including Copenhagen).

 The first thing that really hit me after I arrived in Denmark was that the bus station closes at night. We arrived to our city at around 10 PM and had to meet the caretaker for our keys the next day at 10 AM. We were planning to stay in the bus station over night but this sort of ruined our plans so we had to spend 160 euros for a night at the hotel. Trust me, carrying all those luggages to the hotel was so much fun! The funny thing is that the next day I found out that the hotel where we spent the night is the cheapest in the town. Paradoxically lucky, I guess.

 The best thing so far is our apartment. We got really lucky, it's close to pretty much every supermarket and to the city center. However, until you buy a bike, commuting is hell. I bought a monthly bus pass today and it cost me 378 kroners which is about 50 euros. As far as I've heard, having a bike that doesn't have any papers can cost you a new bike (which is around 3000-5000 kroners) because if the police stops you and asks for your papers and you don't have any, you will get a fine. Needless to say, most second-hand bikes you find on sale don't have papers.

 One fun thing we did since we got here was going to IKEA. Once in a lifetime in experience. And when I say "once in a lifetime" I mean it. So, as I mentioned before, we don't have bikes yet and when we decided to go to IKEA, we didn't have the bus pass either. So, we did what any sane person would do, we walked there. 9 KILOMETERS! It was hell, I swear. The best part wasn't even the walk: we bought a book shelf (dissembled, obviously). Since our feet were almost bleeding, we took a bus back home. (NB: Taxi is not really an option here, unless you're a millionaire. We paid 200 kroners for 3 kilometers, which is around 20-25 euros). When we got into the bus, the driver quite agressively told us that "THIS IS DENMARK", as if we were outlaws. Apparently, you are not allowed to carry heavy stuff in the bus. I'm not trying to pretend that I'm like a Danish citizen or anything because I'm obviously not. However, for what I know, in order to make a country grow economically and spiritually (I guess) you must make people feel like home, not to make them want to go as far away as possible. Other than that driver, everyone is really nice and friendly. In fact, Danish people smile at you randomly on the street and that's really nice. However, that bus driver was one of the first people I encountered here and he made me feel pretty bad, he left me with a bad impression on the people here since he agressively pointed out that we'll never be "one of them". Or at least that's what I got out of what he said.

 One thing I can tell you for sure now that I'm an international student on the other side of the continent: Denmark is expensive. Food prices are crazy, not to mention the furniture. You can't even get close to new furniture. Expect to buy everything second-hand. Also, if you don't like rain, just give up. Go to Spain or some place warm, stay away from Denmark. I swear, one minute it's sunny and nice and the other there's a storm coming with crazy speed. As someone recently told me: THE WEATHER IS A LIE!!!

 I'm hoping to have better experiences from now on. I will start school tomorrow so I'm looking forward to that :)

joi, 30 iulie 2015

Student in Denmark #nordicadventures

Photo source: Buzfeed

 Long time, no blog! 
 I will start by justifying my absence. You probably know that I have recently graduated high school so this has been quite a stressful year for me. Studying for my final exams, deciding where to go to college, applying to college.. you know, the usual stuff :) 

 I've dreamed about studying abroad since I was in the 8th of 9th grade. However, back in the day, my ambitions were different. I used to dream about studying in a prestigious university in England. Utopian! I remember dreaming about studying something geeky like forensic psychology.. then I grew up, haha. I was in the 11th grade when I decided that I'm definitely not going to study in Romania. I brought my parents to my Edmundo counselor so that they could understand that my intentions were real. They obviously thought it through and eventually supported me with my decision. And for that, I am deeply grateful. Back then I still had to decide where to go. I was weighing the advantages and disadvantages of studying in England, Netherlands and Denmark (aaand Australia but that was not only on the other side of the world but also very expensive). Since I really wanted to study journalism, I could pretty much only study in England. My plans were cancelled when I realized it is just too expensive and even if I could find a part-time job, that will never fully cover my monthly expenses. That left me with the Netherlands and Denmark. The problem with Denmark is that there are not many programs taught in English. Yey! You can pretty much choose between a large variety of IT programs, Architecture, Tourism and Hospitality Management and Finances. 

 Yesterday, the 29th of July, I received my final admission to the University College of Northern Denmark :) I first got a conditional acceptance. I was accepted on the condition that I pass my final exams and that my grades will not change significantly to the worse. So today I'm officially a student of UCN, Denmark. 

 Now, if you are thinking of studying in Denmark beware that it is not cheap! The most amazing thing is that for the citizens of the European Union, education is FREE! Yes, totally free. You only pay for your books. However, living in Denmark is expensive. I first wanted to study in Copenhagen but I don't want to put my parents through that so I will study in Aalborg which is the 3rd or 4th city as size and population in Denmark. I will be leaving on the 18th of August. 

 There are so many amazing things about Denmark. For instance, Danes are rated as the most happy people in the world. Also, Danes are super eco-friendly, most of them go to school or work by bike. I am so excited about cycling because it is not only a great exercise but it is also cheap to get around the town. There are only 2 obvious disadvantages of moving to Denmark: the Danish language which is like 3 times worse than German and German is no easy language to learn and then there's also the weather (for those who love summer and are all about shorts and crop-tops). I personally don't think I will have a problem with the weather since I prefer chilly weather to hot weather and regarding the language, I will do my best to learn it. That leads me to another great thing: as far as I know, by being an international student in Denmark you are granted 2 years of Danish language study for free. How amazing is that? :) 

 I don't imagine it will be easy to adjust to living there since I lived with my parents for my entire life. Besides that, I will encounter a whole different culture than mine. However, I am so looking forward to that. If I wasn't, my "get out of your comfort zone" tattoo wouldn't make sense. It's funny now that I think of all the AIESEC projects I participated to when I used to say "hey, there are some internationals coming to our city". Now I'm going to be the international going to their city :) 

 A classmate of mine wrote in my album something like "have fun with your nordic adventure" (there's a tradition in Romania, you pay for this album full of pictures of your classmates when you finish high school and you just write things like "I'm glad I got to meet you, have fun in college, lots of success" to each other). That sort of inspired my #, haha. I look forward to discover the Danish culture and tell you all about my nordic adventure :) 

 If you have any questions regarding studying in Denmark, feel free to send me a message here or on facebook. Also, maybe share this post as I might be able to help someone who can't decide whether to choose Denmark or another country :) 

P.S Buzfeed has this amazing article about Denmark. Check it out if you're interested: http://www.buzzfeed.com/marietelling/37-reasons-why-demark-will-ruin-you-for-life

luni, 3 noiembrie 2014

Communism and why Romania is going to hell

 On the 16th of December 1989 some brave citizens of Timisoara started a protest against the communist system. Protests were forbidden by law. In fact, if Bucharest didn't rise up against the system as well, Timisoara would have literally been erased from the ground. Back then, while Romania was under communist domination, Ceausescu (the dictator) infiltrated some kind of a secret police system. It was called ‘Securitate’. Translated, it means Security but I am sure it is not the right term. Frankly, I don’t know the English term for ‘Securitate’ so I will address to it as ‘secret police system’. The communist ideology itself is not necessarily a bad one. It demands equality between citizens. However, what makes it evil is the fact that under communist domination you were literally not allowed to leave the country, talk about the dictator in a mean way and so on. Under communist domination there was no such thing as a private company. Moreover, you were not allowed to have (for example) 2 bicycles per person, 2 apartments per person and so on. As my philosophy teacher said, communists came up with some rights to make up for the fact that they totally neglected the fundamental human rights. For instance, there was not a single person to leave on the street. Everyone received an apartment. However, if you had 2 apartments one of them was taken by the state. You were literally not allowed to have 2 apartments.

 Under communist domination everyone had a place to work. There was no such thing to say as ‘I want to work but I can’t find a job’. However, you were not allowed to refuse to work nor to have 2 jobs. Having 2 jobs means having more money which is contradictory to the ideology. Everyone must be equal. One must not have more that another one.

 Now, going back to the secret police system. Everybody knew about its existence but nobody knew who was part of it. The system worked like this: X doesn’t agree with communism because it is immoral and it neglects the human rights. X has very strong arguments regarding this matter. X must keep his arguments for himself otherwise he will go to jail. X tells Y by mistake. Y is part of this secret police system and he gets X in jail. X dies MISTERIOUSLY in jail after a few days. OR Y knows somebody who might get X to jail and Y gets a reward. Moral of the story: you cannot trust anybody. This mentality, ideology haunts us still. In fact, I was raised not to trust people. I was raised with the idea that there is no such thing as friends, no such thing as good people. Unfortunately and involuntarily these ideas, this mentality haunts me as well. I am not a person to trust people and I am not a person to have faith in humanity.

 My boyfriend told me a really interesting and true fact today. He was told this by his teacher. Communist is exactly like Christianity. The problem is that while Christianity is ‘ruled’ by God, communism is ruled by a dictator. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do not approve with communist but its ideology is not all that bad. The problem with it is that it encourages people who are not aiming for higher intellect. It doesn’t encourage intellectual people, curious people. It burns them. Literally.

 As I said at the beginning, brave citizens of Timisoara practically started the 1989 Revolution. It is known to be the most violent revolution from Eastern Europe. The only revolution where citizens executed the dictator and its family. (There are, obviously, some conspiracy theories that claim that Ceausescu and his family actually escaped but you know what it’s like with all the conspiracy theories. They eventually drive you mad.)

 Some of you may know, on the 16th of November we will be choosing the new president of Romania. Every citizen who is over 18 years old has the right to vote. We already voted once, on the 2nd of November but there were 14 candidates and it was impossible for any of them to have 50% + 1 votes. The first 2 candidates (greatest in the number of votes) will be the ones from which we will have to choose on the 16th. The first one, with a percentage of 40 or 41% is Victor Ponta, PSD (Social Democratic Party) and the second one with a percentage of 30 or 31%, Klaus Iohannis, PDL (Democratic Liberal Party).

 In my opinion, PSD is an insult towards the heroes of the 1989 revolution. Wake up, Romanians! Those people bled for this country to be a democratic country and you and you are literally shitting on them. PSD has communist ideology and I see no God in Victor Ponta. Not to mention that PSD literally bought people’s votes. They literally went to long forgotten villages and gave food and money to old people. Honestly, is this the kind of party you want your country to be ruled by?

 It is a known fact that Romania has been through an economical crisis just like many other nations. The former president, Traian Basescu, was supported by PDL. I am not saying that he was a good person nor that he did great things for Romania but he (or his party) came with solutions for the economical crisis. By the time these solutions solved the problems Victor Ponta claimed that the problems were solved by his solutions. I don’t know if this makes sense to you, I’m still figuring out all the information. It is, however a good thing that at least some people think. They ask questions.

 I am not saying that PDL is a saint party. I believe that every president will eventually steal as much as he can. However, Klaus Iohannins was (or he still is) the mayor of Sibiu. Sibiu is one of the must-see destinations in Romania. It is one of the most visited city not only by Romanians but also by foreign tourists. If you ask a Romanian for a top 3 cities he wants to visit, Sibiu is most probably one of them. From my point of view, Iohannis encourages culture while Ponta encourages stupid, mediocre people.

 Now, finally, I can disappoint you. No matter who wins the elections, the country is going to hell. If Ponta wins, well, we are going to hell obviously. If Iohannis will, however, win, we are still going to hell because the Parliament will be mostly under PSD dominance and even if Iohannis tries to do something good for this country he will be stopped by the members of the Parliament.

 Don’t get me wrong, I don’t advise you against voting. Being able to vote is one of the aspects of democracy. It is one of the things people fought for in December 1989.

 Funny how after fighting so hard for a non-communist country we still vote for communist ideology-based parties.

 My advice? Go abroad. Go away and never come back. Take your family and never come back. There is nothing left for you in this country and if you haven’t lost hope yet you will by the end of this year.

 Eventually, Romania will be populated by politicians and their mediocre followers. I’m dying to see how that’s gonna` work out for them.

marți, 2 septembrie 2014

Books, books, books

So there's this new trend on Facebook, you have to make a list of 10 of your favorite books. I decided to sort of take it to another level and write a blog post on this subject. I don't really do these trends but making a list of my favorite books is way better than harlem shake and other viral things.

1. Ten little Indians by Agatha Christie. Now, I love anything by Agatha, I can literally read any of her books in 2 days. I've read this book in Romanian, so I'm not sure about the title, that's what I found on Google. From what I read, the original title was 'ten little niggers' or something like that but the title had to be changed because of some racist issues. (Romanian title: Zece negri mititei)

2. The winner stands alone by Paulo Coelho. If you know me, you know I love Paulo Coelho's books. I read about 6-7 of his books and I love each one of them. (Romanian title: Invingatorul este intotdeauna singur)

3. Sum: Forty tales from the aftelives by David Eagleman. The writer creates 40 stories of how he imagines afterlife looks like. Where we go when we die, who we meet and so on. (Romanian title: Sum: 40 de povesti de dincolo)

4. The most beautiful book in the world: 8 novellas by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt. 8 short stories in one book. Damn, these are the best short stories I've ever read. You always expect the story to have a certain ending and it never happens. Irony. That's the word to describe every short story from this book. (Romanian title: Cea mai frumoasa carte din lume si alte povestiri).

5. The diary of Anne Frank. I haven't finished this book, unfortunately. However, from what I read it is amazing. For those who haven't heard about it, it is about a Jewish girl and her family during the Holocaust. She kept a diary when she was hiding. You probably read about the Holocaust, but you only know what history tells us. This is a book about what it really felt like having to stay hidden, not being able to go outside. It's a book which shows you exactly how things changed from one day to another. She was just a happy girl celebrating her birthday when suddenly she found out that she couldn't ride her bicycle anymore, she couldn't go to a normal school, just to a special school for Jews. But wait, there's more. (Romanian title: Jurnalul Annei Frank)

6. Lord of the flies by William Golding. A story about how power destroys innocence, even when it comes to children. From what I read, the writer couldn't find innocence in nothing, not even in children. He got the Nobel Prize, although I'm not sure if he got it for this book. (Romanian Title: Imparatul mustelor)

7. Sunt o baba comunista by Dan Lungu. This is a Romanian book describing what life was like for an old communist woman after the 'communist-era'. I don't think there's an English version of thing book but it really is a good one.

8. The Timekeeper by Mitch Albom. A book about time. About the man who invented time, actually. This is definitely a must-read for everyone. (Romanian title: Masura timpului)

9. The witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho. Paulo Coelho, again. I actually planned to put only one of his book in this top but I couldn't help myself. I also loved 11 minutes, The Zahir, The Alchemist and Aleph by Paulo Coelho. (Romanian title: Vrajitoarea din Portobello)

10. The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald. This book really doesn't need an introduction. (Romanian title: Marele Gatsby)

Ok, so these are a few of my favorite books. I couldn't say which one is my favorite because I'm not sure I decided yet. It's just that there are too many great books for me to say that one of them is my favorite, does that make any sense to you?

Anyway, I hope I inspired you to read at least one of them and tell me whether you'd like me to write book reviews. Also, I dare you all to leave a comment or just write a Facebook post with some of your favorite books. You don't have to write 10 books, a few will do :)