Travel List

I remember finally booking my flight tickets, after reviewing every travel website in existence this time last year, and immediately thought of a million things I wanted to take to university (my new home :D). But the flight tickets came with baggage regulations and thus of those million things, I could only get the most essential ones. I am an international student who was travelling abroad for the first time. I know many of you can relate to me. Thus, I am making a list of the most essential things to bring to Lancaster University.

Waterproof Jacket

Lancaster is a small town in the North of England and, it rains here quite often. So I would suggest everyone carry a warm waterproof jacket. Also, I would not suggest carrying an umbrella as it gets very windy and most of the umbrellas break within the first few weeks (personal experience!!!!).

Woollens and Thermals

By mid-September, the weather will be ambient. However, you should carry a few warm clothes as it can get chilly at times. Although, do not buy loads of woollen clothes because it will not be sufficient for the winters here and most importantly you will miss the opportunity to buy amazing coats and jackets from the UK.

Regional Spices

Nobody can recreate the taste of the traditional regional food without the regional spices. I brought dozens of packets of Indian spices because I am a big foodie and I cook daily. Finally, I am on the verge of finishing the spices after an entire year. The nearest place to get Indian spices would be Preston. Although Oriental spices are available easily in Lancaster. However, I would still suggest getting at least a few month’s quotas.

Travel adaptor

Travel adapters are very essential and I would suggest carrying at least two adapters to charge laptops and mobile phones.

Photographs

The accommodation room will be your own personal space for the next year. It will be an empty canvas, and you will have the opportunity to create a beautiful room.  I did not bring photographs with me. However, I pasted colourful sticky notes on my wall with encouraging quotes and lyrics to my favourite songs to motivate myself. So think of something that would make you feel at home and bring it to decorate your room. You can also get beautiful posters from the University, during the welcome week.

Lastly, do not forget to get xerox copies of important documents and a list of all the items in your travel bag. ( these are helpful in case the luggage gets misplaced. This, usually doesn’t happen but it’s better to be safe!!)

Ways to make the most of summer

Last week I completed the final exam of my degree and so for me that means that my summer break is finally here! At Lancaster University we get around three months off for summer and whilst this provides the perfect chance to take a break and recharge I have also found that the summer break is a time which can also be utilised for personal development and growth. There are a variety of ways that you could use your summer so I hope I can inspire you all by sharing how I have utilised past summers.

Travel: One way to use your summer is to travel to new countries to gain global perspectives and gain exposure to new languages and cultures. Last summer I used my summer break to travel to Hong Kong, Japan and Australia for the first time. Travelling to new countries enabled me to learn more about the world and learn about different cultures and experience some of the business practices of countries. In addition, travelling enabled me to develop a variety of soft skills including planning skills, time management and adaptability. This is because when travelling to a number of countries it required the time to be effectively utilised and agility to deal with any issues which may occur.

Volunteer: Another way to use your summer is to get involved with volunteering opportunities. In the summer break after my first year I volunteered at a Foodies Festival which was being held in my local area. By volunteering at the event it enabled me to expand my work experience and understand more about the events industry. In addition, I was able to gain employability skills including teamwork, communication and confidence working in a varied work environment. Particularly, this is because the event required me to take on different roles across the event days and liaise effectively with other volunteers.

Learn something new: I have also found that summer can be the perfect time to focus on learning something new, such as a new hobby or skill. During my summer last year I took on the challenge of self-teaching myself Cantonese and then I attempted to apply my new language skills when I travelled to Hong Kong. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to learn everything during the summer break but it definitely felt rewarding to be able to gain basic Cantonese language skills and to be understood by Hong Kong locals.

Work Placements and Internships: I have also previously used my summer break to gain work experience by completing a work placement at a marketing agency. Although my work placement was only one week, I found that completing a work placement was a great way to gain industry relevant experience and learn more about possible career routes and opportunities. In addition, the work placement allowed me to recognise the skills that I need to develop and the experience I need to gain to improve my employability when I enter the graduate market.

Whether it be learning a new skill or gaining work experience, there are lots of ways that you can make the most of your summer! I hope that by sharing with you how I have used my previous summer breaks I have inspired you with ways that you could use your summer. For everyone that has started their summer, enjoy the break and good luck for results day!

What I will bring back home with me?

After a long academic year, it’s time to start planning for a visit back home and there are many stories, ideas, experiences, and souvenirs that I am eager to share with my family and friends. As a PhD student I will be returning to Lancaster University after my short summer holiday, yet I know many postgraduate students who will be finishing their degrees and going back home to start a new phase of their lives. Around this time of the year, I am busy either submitting assignments or marking exams, or both. But I am also excited to plan for my summer trips, such as how to get there, things to do, who to meet up with, etc. I will probably plan more things to do than actually do them, but the inevitable plan is my trip back home.
Over the years, and trips, I became a rather light traveller, taking only the necessities which I would not be able to find at my destination, but this is usually different for my trips back home. Not only do I take back a few presents and souvenirs, but also clothes and personal items, some of which I have never used and will probably not use in the future. Part traveller, part student and part homesick, these are some of the items that I am planning to take back home with me and share with my family and friends.

New foods:
Not only new foods, but new recipes too. There is an exceptional diversity of local and ethnic foods at Lancaster, and they’re not only found in shops and restaurants, but also in meals that I shared with friends and at various events. For example, last month, the Lancaster University Culture Society organised a Global Village event where for a couple of hours students enjoyed performances and traditional food from various parts of the world. There are a few items that I will be able to take with me on the plane and those will mainly be different kinds of cheeses and chocolates.

Souvenirs:
These are the obvious type of items which people usually get when they travel. The souvenirs that I got were mainly magnets and postcards of the different places that I visited. I try to get at least one magnet from each new place to remind me of what the place is like. My collection includes magnets from the Yorkshire Dales, Edinburgh, Whitby, various places in the Lake District, and various places in continental Europe. For example, I got a magnet in the form of a witch from Whitby which is a town in Yorkshire, where people are big on Halloween costumes.

Memories and experiences:
Memories and experiences are a natural shaping experience. I have to admit that I was not prepared to embrace the amount of new experiences and memories that was awaiting me at Lancaster, especially at the beginning. Some of them were difficult, such as adjusting to the fast pace of learning, to the new places and faces, and to the different habits and lifestyles of my flatmates, these were overwhelming sometimes. For the same reasons, some experiences were ecstatic too, such as achievements, working with classmates, having good conversations, going out to new places and getting to know new people and cultures. These have their own kind of emotions and connections which are both cherishable and memorable.

Clothes and miscellaneous items:
When I first came to Lancaster I had one suitcase full of clothes, by the end of the year, I could easily fill two suitcases. A friend of mine came to visit me for a few weeks and had brought with her only one backpack; she explained to me that she travelled to Rio de Janeiro where she stayed for a month and managed to bring with her a bigger backpack only, but that before her trip, she attended a training course on travelling light, packing compactly and managing to spend long periods of time with a minimum amount of clothes and personal items.
I probably didn’t need to get this many items and wasn’t thinking of what I would be doing with them in the future. I also probably didn’t even use most of them. The Green Lancaster initiative “Don’t Ditch It, Donate It” was helpful in letting me figure out how to manage the items that I would like to keep, and those that I would give away. This would not only reduce waste, but also contribute to a good cause.

New ideas:
One of the topics that is seeping into my daily routine and gradually affecting my choices is zero-waste living. There are several initiatives at Lancaster University that have inspired me too. For example, recycling and donating items are easily available, as well as buying recycled materials, going paperless, talks about various sustainability applications, and growing your own crops with the EcoHub. More and more options are becoming available in shops as well, such as items with reduced plastic packaging and eco-friendly and reusable bags. I am becoming more and more aware of my use of plastic bags, all kinds of bottles and plastic packaging, unrecyclable items, palm-oil-containing foods … the list is endless, yet I’m trying to apply one small change at a time. This will be one of the new ideas that I will try to keep on practising when I go back home.

Visiting my family and friends and sharing these memories with them will certainly make me reflect on these things and experiences. I have certainly changed because of them, and I haven’t at the same time. Change comes in small packages. When it doesn’t, my mind seeks it, and when it is fast, my mind protests and slows down. From the new photo album of my trip to the Yorkshire Dales to my newly-realised environmentalism, and from making new friends to reading new books, I learned that leaving my comfort zone could lead me to new experiences, some of which I consider now to be the highlights of this period of time. Yet sometimes unpleasant encounters disheartened me, until I figured them out. All of this combined led me to a newfound confidence and independence to recognise those things that I want to remember and share.

 

Day Trips in the Surrounding Area

At the moment, exam season is underway at Lancaster University so my days are currently filled with studying and preparing for my exams. Therefore, trying to maintain focus and motivation, this week I decided to book a day trip to Edinburgh to look forward to after my exams. One of my interests when I have spare time at university is to travel and explore the local and surrounding area. Studying in Lancaster for the past three years has meant that I have had a chance to visit a variety of places and therefore I thought that I would share with you all some places that are ideal for a day trip when at Lancaster University.

Blackpool: In my first year I discovered that Lancaster is on the doorstep to one of the North’s favourite seaside towns – Blackpool! With direct buses that can be taken from the university or town, I have found that Blackpool makes for the perfect day trip during the summer months. That so, it has become one of my annual day trip destinations to visit at the end of Summer term. As a beach town, I love to visit the sandy beach front for a perfect summer walk and to enjoy fresh fish and chips from the restaurants along the promenade. I have also learnt that Blackpool is a great place to visit in winter to see the famous illumination event which sees the night town lit up with a light show.

Manchester: Manchester has become a city that I am always keen to return to and is perfect for a day of retail therapy and city exploring. You can take the train from Lancaster Station and when you arrive you are welcomed by the city bustle and a large shopping high street. Whilst in Manchester, I always try to make a visit to one or two of the many attractions that are spread throughout the city. Having taken several trips to Manchester now I have enjoyed visiting the Hogwarts-like John Rylands Library, Manchester Science Museum and Manchester’s China Town.

Liverpool: Another city favourite of mine is the city of Liverpool. As a city that is famous for being the birthplace of The Beatles, there are many museums and monuments to visit throughout the city which celebrate the band. As well as doing some shopping, I also enjoy making a visit to the docks and the maritime museum.

Tatton Park: For an escape from city life, I enjoy a visit to the Cheshire town of Knutsford to visit Tatton Park. Tatton Park is a National Trust estate and I am always excited to make a visit to see the deer and sheep that roam freely across the acres of grounds that the public have access to. If you are looking for a quiet place to visit then I would recommend Tatton Park because it is always a calming escape to sit and watch the wildlife and sailors around the lake and moorland.

If you have a love for travelling or exploring new places like me, then I hope I have captured your interest to visit some of the places that I have had a chance to visit whilst studying at Lancaster University.

Plan Your Trip for School Break, Now!

During a long campus break, many of us have already planned something to do. Some of us planned to go home, while others decided to stay in Lancaster to do all assignments and prepare for exams. For international students, especially for those who have 15+ hour flights to go home, going back home might not be the first priority. Thinking about how exhausting a long flight would be, jet lag and so on and so forth is just…. (SIGH) But do not worry, you are not alone because now we are in the UK and there are so many things to do around here! 🙂

For an international student like me whom spent 24 years of my life in my country, Indonesia, going abroad to study is a very exciting experience since I get to see many new places that I have never visited before. Thanks to the education system in UK which gives opportunity for us to have a break between the terms, we can use this opportunity to explore the world! From my country, Indonesia, to travel from there to let’s say… Amsterdam, I need at least 700-1000 pounds just for the airplane ticket. But here from UK, I only need to pay merely 40 pounds for a return tickets 😀 As I will only spend 1 year for my Master degree here in UK, I will definitely make the most of my time by travelling around!

During my winter break, I spent half of it to travel around UK and Europe. I went to some cities in UK such as London, Liverpool, Oxford and Manchester. After that I traveled to 6 countries in Europe (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary and The Netherlands). And it’s been exciting! If any of you are planning to take some trip during Easter break, maybe you can check out some tips and tricks from my previous trips 🙂

 

For those of you who plan to travel during Easter break and still have no idea how to start, you may check some tips and tricks here:

Plan Your Trip Early

If you’re going to go on Easter break, plan it now! Think about the countries that you want to visit, budget that you have, places that you want to see, etc. By planning early, there’s a high possibility to get cheaper ticket. Once, I got a one-way flight ticket to Eindhoven as cheap as 11 pounds! You will also have the opportunity to get cheaper accommodation, more time to plan when to apply for visa (if you need one) and more time to save money 😉 Also make sure that you’re visiting countries by order of which country is the closest to another, this will help you to save cost because closer distance means cheaper ticket 🙂

Book Your Ticket, Now!

Before you book your ticket, make sure that you have checked all assignments and exams deadline so you won’t miss anything. As student with limited budget, I always try to find as cheap ticket as possible. I tend to check to website like skyscanner.com or kayak.com to compare airplane tickets price. Don’t hesitate for too long because if you check the tickets several times without buying it, then the price will definitely increase! (that’s how it works). If you’re going on more than 1 country, don’t forget to book your bus/train ticket as well to get even cheaper price.

Hmmmm… How About Staying in Hostel?

If we are going on holiday with family, it is most likely that we will stay in the hotel. But what if you’re going all by yourself or just with your friend? Hostel might be a good deal for you! For me, staying in the hostel means 2 things: I get to know new people and I can save more budget. Most of the people staying in hostel are young people, so they are open-minded and fun to talk to. When I was in Budapest, I stayed in a nice hostel for only 6 pounds/night, got to know new friends from another country and even went to some places with them. But don’t forget to always be safe and make sure that you place your valuable belongings in the safe place.

Make Your Itinerary

When you are settled with your tickets and accommodation, it is time for you to make a detailed itinerary about places that you’re going to visit each day, how long you’re going to stay there, etc. For me personally, I don’t always make this kind of plan and simply just browse on internet “What to do in xxx” or “Best view in xxx”. This is all up to you! If you’re more a person with high attention-to-details, making a detailed itinerary might be a safe bet! 🙂

Enjoy Your Trip!

When the day of your trip comes, don’t forget to enjoy it! Take many pictures but make sure you enjoy the moment and learn something.

Traveling for me is one way to refresh my mind and open my eyes of another culture. From traveling, I get to see many places, taste new foods that I have never tried before, meet many new people, listen and learn new languages and many more! I believe that traveling will bring us nothing but fruitful experience and of course after that we will be ready to do all the assignments and prepare for exams! 😀 So now, plan your trip!