Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The "Study" in "Study Abroad"

Pictured below: Me bringing Gary Clark Jr to the streets of Melbourne.

I was out with some mates last Friday night and we came across a street performer playing some depressing old tunes. I asked him if I could give it a go and he, as any friendly Aussie would, said yes. As he handed me the guitar I realized that this was no ordinary street performer grade instrument... it was a Fender Strat - the most holy of all electric guitars. Now, I am slightly ashamed to admit this, but I had never before held this holy a guitar in my hands, so it was a bit of a spiritual moment. I eagerly threw the strap over my shoulder and let an E7 ring out with a few of the sloppy licks I've picked up. This guitar was made for playing the blues. Next thing I remember, me and a bunch of random passerby's were grooving right along to Gary Clark Jr's "If You Love Me Like You Say" on the street corner outside Hungry Jack's in the middle of Melbourne, Australia.

Aside from Friday nights, school is definitely picking up here. It seems like all of the class projects worked together to make sure that they were due at the same time. Along with such pleasantries is the fact that they are all group projects, which, lets be honest, is just the worst. It is stretching me but I think that one of these days in the very near future I will break my addiction to perfectionism, therein curing my hatred towards group projects :)

On a relevant and hopefully helpful note, for those of you preparing to study abroad I recommend doing your research and being prepared in terms of cellular phonage. Personally, I am off the grid and it is working ok for me. I suspended my US contract with Verizon and am now using my iPhone as an iTouch while over here. It works quite well, especially since the device functions almost completely as an iPhone when in a wireless network. Obviously, this can be inconvenient at times when I am out and about. For such situations I decided to buy a prepaid phone. Theoretically, this is a good solution and can be used in the rare case that I need to establish contact with someone while outside a wireless network. However, there are a few problems that I've had with this setup - first, I never use the prepaid phone. I don't even carry it around. The usage costs are pretty expensive and I'd honestly rather not be contacted in the case of an emergency than pay to use my minutes. Second, it doesn't help that the prepaid phone is repulsive to use. If I'd have been smart, I would have found a way to unlock my iPhone so that it could accept the Australian prepaid simcard. I think there are sketchy, underground ways of doing this, but I didn't. Like I said, do your research.
Any questions, ask!

Cheers guys


A Day to Relax

This past weekend, some of my international friends and I explored Eremitagesletten, a large park/open area that is about a 15 minute walk from the campus. Not only is this park very massive and one can get lost in it very easily, it is also extremely beautiful. In one of the large fields that we passed, there was a large group of deer grazing and we once passed a male deer at a close distance (I'm unsure as to the type of deer). People often come here to walk, run, bike, and even have picnics or parties. There is a palace in the park, but we didn't have time to explore it. There is also a free amusement park, but it closed at the end of August, so it was actually somewhat creepy walking through it. From here, we were able to walk straight to the coast, which is about 5km (3.1 miles) from campus. It was absolutely stunning! Even though the water was freezing, there were still people there who were swimming. I was actually able to see some offshore windmills from the beach, but didn't manage to get pictures. After walking around the area for several hours, we decided to leave, but had a difficult time trying to find the bus or train station (we had seen some going toward the beach). Eventually we made it back to campus, but at the rate it took us to find a bus to a specific station then a train back to Lyngby, etc., we could have just walked home. Moral of the story, always have a specific plan on how to get home from trips. Anyways, here are some pictures of the area:

The woods of the park. We actually saw some people collecting mushrooms here.

The Palace. History note: This used to be where the king would come to hunt.
A large field we passed (this is where we saw all the deer).

There we also many ponds in the area.

The male deer we saw (sorry that it's so dark)

The Amusement Park 
All the rides are closed

Arrival at the coast

The View from Bellevue Strand

Looking back inland

Sailboats were a common sight. We even saw a cruise ship off the coast.

A Beautiful day to just relax

Not many people were there

The way back to the park
Me taking pictures (courtesy of my friend Vincent)

Later today I'm making dinner for my kitchen mates. I'll be sure to say how that goes!


E-learning week

So last week was e-learning week, which stands for electronic learning week I think. During this week all classes are conducted online. Naturally, all the exchange students fled the country to go travelling around Southeast Asia. With two of my friends, we set off for Cambodia and Thailand.

Streets of Phnom Penh
First stop on the tour Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. While we were here we road a tuk-tuk around and visited the Royal Palace, the National Museum of Cambodia,the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Russian Market.

Royal Palace in Phnom Penh
Next stop on our tour, Siem Reap, Cambodia. Mode of transportation: a 10 hours bus ride through the Cambodian countryside. Our first night in Siem Reap, we got dinner "downtown" and went shopping at the night markets. The first full day in Siem Reap began at 5am when we got picked up from our hostel to catch the sunrise at the Angkor Wat temples. Even though it was cloudy, the reflection pool made the temples look even more magnificent in the early sun. From there, we spent the entire morning and into the early afternoon exploring them ancient temples which were built in the 12th century by the Khmer empire. There were so many temples built and our visit only scratched the surface.

Angkor Wat at sunrise
Ta Prohm: This temple was complete with giant
trees growing over it.
My friend Samiha and I at the Angkor Wat temple
View from the top of the Royal Palace
The next day in Cambodia included a tour of the floating villages. It was so strange to think about people living their entire life on a river; rowing to school and to the market without any of the luxuries of the modern society I am accustomed to. While in the floating village, we also went on a tour of the mangroves and visited the village school. Back in Siem Reap, we spent the rest of the day shopping the markets, eating dinner and ice cream and buying $10 bus tickets to Bangkok.

Kompung Phluk on the Tonle Sap Great Lake
At 8:00 am our bus left for Bangkok. After too many rest stops, a two hour border crossing into Thailand, switching from a Bus to a van (and right side driving to left side driving), speeding through the Thai countryside and a solid hour in Bangkok traffic we arrived to our hostel at 7:00 pm.
Bangkok Traffic
Bangkok was a busy city, with a lot of cheap shopping and delicious cheap food. We spent time shopping at some malls, visiting some Buddhist temples (getting there by boat to beat the traffic), getting traditional thai massages, eating Pad Thai on the street and visiting the famous backpacker hub: Khao San street.

Pad Thai in an Omelet
The trip wrapped up with spending a night in the Bangkok airport and flying back to Singapore. I still love Singapore the most and I'm so excited for my parents to visit me next week!


Saturday, September 7, 2013

DTU Campus

I've had classes for a week now, and I'm having so much fun. One thing I've really liked is the campus where I'm living and taking my classes The campus of DTU in Lyngby (there's actually a couple of DTU campuses) is a little larger but much different than Clarkson. While the exterior of the buildings look older and similar to each other, the interior is very stylish and modern. But I think I should discuss the setup of the campus before anything else.
DTU is a moderate size campus, and has a running and biking trail that circles the entire campus (the trail is about 5 km long, or approx. 3.1 miles). The interesting thing about DTU is the campus is set up in a coordinate system, so each corner of the campus has specific building numbers. For example, the north-eastern corner of campus is the 100 buildings, the north-western corner has the 200 buildings, etc.

DTU Campus map with building numbers (sorry for the small size)
While each building does have specific departments and labs, each corner often has specific departments located within each. For example, in the 1st quadrant (#100 buildings), it is specifically civil engineering, while the 3rd quadrant (#300 buildings) is for the math and science departments (this quadrant also has the larger lecture rooms, so larger classes, regardless of the department, go to those buildings). Here are some of pictures of campus:

Courtyard at the main building. These courtyards are scattered all over the campus

During lunch, there are literally hundreds of bicycles parked here. There is never enough room for all of them

Vines are very common on the older buildings. I, at first, thought that this was a tree painted on the building

A closer look. These vines were my favorite due to the color (many vine leaves are still green)

I have a couple of classes in this building (Building 210)

Interior of Building 210

Matematik-torvet in Quadrant 3

One of the newest buildings on campus (I also have some classes here)

Interior of the above building

Areas to study in the same building (yes, those trees are real)

This building contains the large lecture halls

Center of Kampsax Kollegiet, the area where I'm living

Hope you enjoyed this small tour of campus! 


Friday, September 6, 2013

On Campus Dining

One of my favorite things about NUS is the food. They have a large range of Asian cuisines from Japanese to Indian stalls and then a generic western food which I honestly haven't tried and probably never will. I don’t have a meal plan and our apartment only has a fridge and microwave so I buy most meals on campus. There are canteens in each faculty and at each residence hall. Before I leave I want to try as many of the food stalls as I can. Here is a sample of what NUS has to offer and the prices in USD. 

Chinese: Fried Dumplings with noodles $1.60
Malaysian: Rice with veggies $1.84
Japanese: Kamsu Chicken set $2.80 
Korean: BBQ Pork $3.84
Indian: Fried Rice $2.56
Indonesian: Grilled Chicken with Rice $2.40 
Dragonfruit-kiwi fruit Smoothie $1.04
The fruit smoothies are amazing here. Fresh fruit blended in whatever combination you like and for about $1. I'm pretty addicted to them. Bon apetite!