My reflective moment

How is being an international student?

Being an international student is as amazing as challenging.

For some people, the idea to travel around the world is the perfect way of life. You know, these people who do not stay in just one place, but they take every chance to go and travel. However, there are other people, who prefer stability and the feeling of belonging somewhere. I am the last one.

But my particular case is not only the story of someone who found in being an international student the best opportunity to travel, but also to find value in the small things. I am from a very far away country. For most of the people there, to have the chance to study abroad is one of the best opportunity life can give you. It is just that kind of gift that not all the people can have…Anyway, thank you to all the effort and support of my parents, I am here. In one of the most amazing countries, but also, one of my favorite ones.

It is wonderful when you are in the plane in your way to your new home. It is amazing when you realized that you are extremely happy in your new place, and it is better when you find incredible people and opportunities to continue you life there.

That was the way my story as international student started.

I think the best way to represent that status was by the International Ambassador Scheme. It gave the opportunity to share my own experience with other people and emphasize the importance of a multicultural environment. Aston University, have given me the space to develop myself in places and situation, where the value of each culture, country…each person is highly recognized. Because, people have different background and all this knowledge can add value and enrich the others’ mind.

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Being an international student is the best way to enjoy everything in your new place. For you everything is new and have a huge potential to be tried, known..to be ‘discover’ for you.  Every person you know wants to know about your country, culture and your experience, and you as well. You become a promoter of your country. In addition, you learn more skills for life, academic, and business environment…but I think the most important thing you learn is about RESPECT others.

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However, as I mentioned before. Being an international student could be problematic. To begin with the new culture, sometimes it is difficult to leave or change your way to do things. But then, you just get used to it. But there is something in the story that only those who have a strong link with their family, friends, culture, country…can understand. Homesick is not a good feeling. You can experience it when you arrive, or in the middle of your journey…but it is not easy to overcome. But off course, you fill your soul of reasons to continue with the best attitude because you have a dream. You want to finish your studies and make feel your family proud of you. You want to feel proud of yourself because you know how hard is being away from home to fulfill your dreams.

But here I found people how understand as well my situation, and share with me some feeling. I have found people who are like my family here and we take care of each other. I know, I will never find the same flavours of my traditional food here. I will never find in another part of the world, people who give the same love my parent give me. But I do not want that. Because I will find these things when I go back…I wanted to find here people, things and situation which make me feel comfortable, and show me how strong I am.

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Present: The most delicious chocolates
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Present: Giving colour to my life

 

 

 

 

 

The academic year is finishing…

Dissertation Time

Almost 9 month ago, I was just packing to come to Birmingham. I had decided to stay one more year in the UK. I had decided to do my Master in one of the best UK’s universities. Many things have happened in these months, for example, the course modules. Also, I have been working in my part-time job since December of the last year, and I am planning to stay there until August. In addition, I am part of the International Ambassador Scheme in the Uni.

However, here we are, it is the middle of May. My classes have finished, but I still have to finish the most important piece of work of the whole course: The Dissertation.

I have to say, I feel really nervous. I have a big expectation about this project, but not only because of the grade I can get, but because of the relevance of the topic for my personal interest. When you have to start thinking in your dissertation, professors suggest you to choose one topic you really like, you feel passionate about it…in few words: one topic, which you feel that you can be totally involved in it. And now I can see the reason. Some days, you will feel in the mood to read and write…but others, you would found yourself in an ocean of doubts and confusion.

This is the very first time I write this kind of text. This has been a real challenge. But at the same time, it is a good way to improve some skill while you are writing that project. Because, at the beginning you do not know where to start, how to structure your writing, or when to start. But with the time it is easy to organise your own time and your ideas, you make a plan, and you start writing.

I am beginning to write my dissertation, and I hope take advantage of my free time wisely, to get a really good result of this piece of work.

 

 

Long Distance Relationship

Distance relationships

When I decided to come to Aston University to study, I knew, that I would spend more time far for my family and friend…and of course my boyfriend. But we talked about it. He was living with me in London. But our plans were different: in September/14, I came here and the next month (October/14) he went back to Colombia.

Well, this is not the first time we experience this situation. Before I came to the UK, the first time in 2013, my boyfriend had arrived to London four months earlier than me. However, that time was different from now, because I was so excited to come here, to live with him, to live new things. And because we planned to live together, we had to find somewhere to live that was suited for both of us. But because of the distance and because we were not used to being away from each other, then we argue occasionally.

Now, after we overcome that experience, and one year later, last year again we had to continue our lives on different paths. But, we always convinced to be together. Now we are more mature, and we have learned from the lessons from the previous experience to cope this moment. But I have to admit: It is not easy. He is living far away, in Colombia, which is in South America and we have 6 hour between us. That’s not fair!!. For him, it is not easy to come here to visit me and spend some time with me, because coming here is really expensive and take too long.

That’s why, If you find yourself in the same situation, you have to be creative and try to be together despite the distance. It is not only about casual calls, messages or emails…is more than that. I would say that is more about turning this experience from something bad to a special and new experience for the relation. I’m going to tell you what kind of thing you may try for your distance relationship.

1. Good communication: It is not only about communicating every day. It is about the quality of the communication. Because, if you do not have enough time for a long conversation, at least, it is important to know the real important things, such us his/her mood, feeling, thoughts…and do not forget to say nice words, and how much you miss your partner.

For example, we use a special app for couple. it has stickers and nice content to have a nice experience.
We are using a new one: Avocado!, but there are many apps to help you to build and maintain your relationship. Distance relationships have become popular over the years thanks to the digital revolution.

2. Do things together: Yes, it seems that sounds impossible, but it is not. Try to read or watch online series or movies at the same time. These are great ways to create experiences that may seem trivial. You can even go for a walk in the evenings, cooking or dinner, with the help of video calling. And of course, once you achieve being in the same space, do not lose this habit and enjoy together.

For example: We have cooked together. We love desserts, so one day, we make something easy and delicious.

These are two simple tips, you can find more information and in more detail on internet if you want. But for me, these two are working perfectly!

 

 

International Dinner v7

International Dinner (v7)

Uzbek Night!

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This lovely dinner began with a delicious and really hot soup! It was perfect, because that night was cool. At the  same time, we ate a delicious handmade bread, it was still warm…mmm….and with butter, it was amazing!

Uzbekistan’s signature dish is Palov a main course typically made with rice, pieces of meat, and grated carrots and onions. We had as well, some samosas (small pies). I have to say,  it is evident that for Malika cooking is one of her passions! Definitely the food was incredible!

And the last part of the night was the dessert, as always, we love desserts!! …well we enjoy a really nice and perfect honey cake. I do not know how she made it, but everything was so nice.

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The thing is, that was probably the last dinner.

I have to say thank you to all of my classmates, who participated in these amazing dinners!!

 

LIMUN 2015

LIMUN 2015
London International Model United Nations (LIMUN)

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LIMUN is the largest annual university level MUN conference in Europe, set in the world’s most cosmopolitan city. Model United Nations (MUN) is a simulation of the different United Nations organs and other forums of international relations and asks young people to take on the role of world leaders. LIMUN has a reputation for its exceptional standard of debate, set in London’s unique and cosmopolitan atmosphere. Each year LIMUN welcome more than 1500 delegates from across the world to London to debate some of the most pressing issues within the global agenda.

LIMUN is divided in commitees. From international security to international development, from climate change to social change, LIMUN’s agenda provides for every interest and speciality. These are divided according to level of experience, with committees for beginners, intermediate and advanced delegates. This was my first LIMUN. So I was in one of the committee for beginners: SPECPOL (Special, Political, and Decolonization Committee) in representation of Rwanda.

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The experience is unique and challenging. I would say that I strongly recommend the activity for people who are studying or really interested in those topics. LIMUN has a requirements to be prepared for the debate. They engage young people to participate actively in the discussions in real issues around the world, taking into account the position of each country. Your committee will send to you in advance the topics that will be discussed during the three days of the activity.  Then, they expect for you to send them a position paper in advance, and this paper will be the base for you to debate.

During the activity with you committee you will find people really passionate and involved in the role of being a representative of a particular country. So, is in this moment when you realised how this activity is useful in your career and personal life. The debate and discussion allow you to improve or develop your skill for negotiation and diplomatic communication. It is extremely important to communicate your ideas in a proper way, taking into account that your are talking with your partners, and they are ‘diplomatics’ from other countries,  people that you may need to make alliances later, deals or negotiations.

On the other hand, do you really know how to explain and support your ideas? Debating is not only discuss about one topic. It is about to select the best argument to support the main idea. It is about being confident about the believes and vision of your country, but flexible enough to understand that the world needs new strategies to be better and we are all part of it and some time we have to take a step toward change.

Lastly, I would like to say that MUN should be learned in school around the world. These new generation should be aware about different issues happening in the global agenda waiting for prompt solutions and willing people to take part of the challenge to improve the social, environmental and economic situation in different parts if the world. All of us should be involved in the desire of live in a better world.

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International Dinner v6

International Dinner (v6)

Colombian Night!

Well… this time it was my turn of  hosting the international dinner in its version 6.

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I have to tell you how is preparing a special dinner like this one:

The menu was design to give them to try the most popular food in Colombia. So, I decided to prepare small portions of everything. Of course, everything was ready for the big event! And I started cooking in the midday. First, I cook the beans, because they are hard, so to make it softer, they should be in the pot long time. The next thing was the plantain and ‘arepas’ (corn cakes) and leave them ready to fry them later. And the last thing was prepare the accompaniments.

Because of the weather these days, I received my guests with hot ‘aguapanela’ which is made by sugar cane and hot water. It is a typical hot drink in my country.

Then I fried the ’empanadas’. These pastries are very popular in Colombia. They can make a good snack or a great lunch, like many other Colombia’s foods

Followed by the ‘patacones’ (fried plantain) and the ‘arepas’

Then, I served the beans. The idea was to mix flavours and colours in the way we do in Colombia.

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accompaniments
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Arepas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the dessert…an amazing cheese with ‘arequipe’ or sweet milk is a great and delicious toffee. All people love it. It’s really easy to make and you can eat it alone or with fruit, biscuits, toast or cheese.

Unfortunately, I do not have any picture of that…because I ate mine before someone could take a picture.

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International Dinner v5

International Dinner (v5)

German Night!

 

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Our amazing German night started with delicious handmade bread. I have to say that this bead was amazing. I would say that in every culture or country, people tend to cook or prepare lot of thinks handmade, and I found that. Perfect!
There’s nothing better than try something that you know how was prepared.We ate the bread my butter, which make it taste really nice!

 

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Of course…If we were with a German, we must to drink a proper drink…German Beer!
I love it!

 

 

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Meat, cabbage and mashed potatoes! Delicious… I really enjoyed that day because, even the meat was handmade. So it was not the meat that you just find in Tesco. That one was carefully prepared for us!

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And my favourite part: The dessert. If you like fruits, you would be happy eating this delicious fruit mix. Beautiful mix of colours and flavour!…and the best: easy to do in home

As always we say: This was the best idea ever!… the best part is sharing with all these amazing and wonderful people who every day make my day really happy!

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International Dinner v4

International Dinner (v4)

Italian Night!

 

This new year we will continue with international dinner. This time we enjoyed some delicious Italian dishes.

As you can image the food was amazing. But, we don’t eat pasta, lasagne or pizza. Because our lovely friend is from a region in the north of Italy, where they have traditional dishes that we didn’t know, so this time, we broke the paradigm of Italian food…you can eat more tan pasta there!

First, you have to know about the place where the food comes from: South Tyrol 

It is one autonomous province in northern Italy. The majority of the population is of Austro-Bavarian heritage and speaks German. Around a quarter of the population speak Italian as their first language, mainly concentrated in and around the two largest cities (Bolzano and Merano), and a small minority speak Ladin as their first language. Today, South Tyrol is among the wealthiest and most developed regions in Italy and the EU.

So, our friend is a mixture of different parts with a lot of things to share.

One of first things she shared with us was a really fresh drink called ‘Hugo’. It is a cocktail made from Prosecco, elderberry syrup, fresh mint and soda water.

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Then the appetisers: bruschettas and bread made by Nicole (the hostess)

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But the main dish was irresistible!… Knödel: round dumplings, made from white bread kneaded with other ingredients and include cheese and spinach. We ate this dish with cabbage salad side with bacon.

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Finally, the dessert: Schneamilch, cut bread, and sweet cream are the main ingredients. But dried grapes, nuts are also added to the white bread which is either cut into cubes or slices. “Schneemilch” is cover the surface with lots of whipped cream, garnished with cinnamon, chocolate powder or grated chocolate.

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I have to say that I really enjoyed this dinner, we learned and tried new food.

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Next step…Germany!

Happy New Year!!

New year…new resolutions!

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Last year just finished, but the time don’t wait and other year is coming. I thing the best way to start this year is with our resolution. Every year people have new resolution, thing or project to achieve. However, I will invite you to include in your resolution some ecological ways of living this year.

It is necessary that we identify daily practices that can make a real difference to care for the environment. After know and understand its importance, it is important to make them habits. We know that habits are powerful, both when they are positive as when they are negative: a habit is almost like breathing or eating for the brain. What better to adopt positive habits for the health of the planet, to be leading by example and make you feel good every day.

1. Unplug energy vampires: Electronic devices that have the “stand by” mode, are quietly sucking electrical energy every second. Appliances that have enabled this feature increases about 20% of electricity consumption in an average household. A first, and large, contribution to reducing our carbon footprint and save good money is to ensure chargers, stereos, decoders and other appliances are unplugged when they are not in use.

2. Buy locally produced food: It is estimated that the consumption of imported foods in European and North American countries, which usually are not producers, generates eleven times more carbon dioxide than regional products. Consuming domestic products reduce the carbon footprint and incidentally contributes to the growth of the local economy.

3. Deciding on ecological bags: When shopping at convenience stores, carrying a reusable cloth bag or other material, makes the waste from households is lower and reduces impact plastic in the oceans. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) throws every year between 10 and 20 million tons of plastic waste into the oceans, these constitute a major threat to marine life that paradoxically sustains the lives of millions of people . Also, it is estimated that the annual economic cost of this waste reaches 13,000 million.

4. Replacing lights: If saving a traditional saver bulb is about 30 percent with LED bulbs annual energy savings can reach 50 percent. Also, keep in mind that once the energy saving light bulbs fulfill their life cycle should not be thrown into the traditional trash but must be treated differently.

5. Change means of transport: Choosing the bicycle is a choice, healthy and economical. However, if the use of the automobile is imminent, one alternative for those cars is to have these vehicles in the best condition because a car with proper maintenance manages to decrease its emissions of greenhouse gases considerably.

These are small actions, which do not involve a major environmental commitment, but these can help improve the health of the planet.

Thank you for your cooperation!!

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Christmas in Colombia

Do you know something about Colombia? Do you know how do we celebrate Christmas?

 

Well, this is a great space to teach you some nice things and pictures about the way Colombians celebrate Christmas. The first thing you should know, is that in Colombia most people are catholic, for this reason, Christmas is time for pray, the family and celebrate the Jesus’ birth. To do this that, when December starts the lights are everywhere, illuminating every corner. Also, every year we put up the manger, to represent those times where Jesus would be born and the decoration inside and outside house it’s amazing.

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The 16th of December Colombians start reading the ‘Novena’, which are prayers for nine days, and end the 24th of December. During the Novena, each day with family and friends, we pray and sing carols. Also, It is really popular to eat ‘Bunuelos’ and ‘Natilla’ (kind of custard).

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The 24th in the night, families are together to celebrate the birth. For that reason, the Christmas tree is full of presents, which be delivered at midnight.

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Another important symbol for Christmas is the Christmas Flower. It has beautiful and big red petals, and a little yellow centre and its huge green leaves, and all together represent the Christmas colours.

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For us, the most important thing is sharing with the family. This day is perfect to thank for each gift in your life, for the moments, the life and health, love and beautiful people around you.

I don’t know how you celebrate Christmas, but, from Colombia, I send the best wishes!