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Zooplankton Identification Course on Seili Island (Finland) Sep 4-8, 2017

The journey to Finland started off with a frantic search for free wi-fi to access Google Maps to navigate my way from the airport near Helsinki, the capital, to the remote island of Seili, over 200 km away. This may not seem far but it was a feat due to two important factors: 1) September 1st marked the beginning of the off-season effectively reducing services on some bus routes and ferries and 2) many services such as restaurants, shops, ticket booths, are closed on Sundays. With adrenaline and some luck, I arrived safely on Seili a little past 5 in the afternoon.

The zooplankton identification course commenced bright and early on Monday morning, gradually picking up speed as I climb the steep learning curve. It was an amazing experience learning about these microscopic creatures but the most memorable experience was the evening the group spent enjoying the beach sauna. We all met up by the dormitories just before sunset and walked the scenic route which followed the shoreline to the sauna house located on a beach. I walked gingerly with the promise of post-sauna snacks of cider, sausage, and chocolate. When we arrived, the cabin looked very similar to a typical Canadian cottage, a quaint little log house with a chimney where the sauna room was connected to a large living room with a fireplace. However, the moment I walked into the sauna, I immediately understood how important sauna was to Finnish culture. All aspects of the facilities were impeccable, there is a tool for every need you could imagine: feet washing station to keep the interior dirt and mud-free, showers to cool off, towels to sit on the hot benches, baskets to keep clothes dry, ladles to pour water onto the furnace. I was the only non-Finn who partook in the sauna and put my swimsuit on , and to my surprise, was joined by the rest of the ladies, nude. They explained that amongst friends, it was completely normal to enjoy a sauna session with no swimsuit in Finland and that it was not a big deal to see each other naked. This expanded my worldview and forced myself to question why I am still self-conscious about my body while there existed this developed country where young and old alike enjoyed a cultural experience with absolutely zero judgment. This feeling of acceptance and well-being was reinforced further as we did the next logical thing following a steaming sauna: running to the shore for a cold dip into the Baltic Sea. 10/10 would do again.

Lillian Ng
Environmental Technician Fast-Track ’17

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Busan, South Korea

My one month in Busan was an adventure i’ll never forget! While it had its ups and downs, i found myself gaining an abundance of travel experience (and way too many amazing skin products!)

In this short video that I made, it captures some key moments from my first few days in Busan.

This trip was filled with great food, teacher’s, entertainment, shopping, and company!

I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Busan and I can’t wait to go back.

From eating fried chicken at my first baseball game, to exploring the many temples in the mountains, Busan will definitely be the place I know I will visit again. Even though there were a few bumps along the way regarding our dorm situation myself and the others still managed to make a memorable trip.

—Marissa Shaw

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URBANIA, ITALY SIP August 2017 by Lina Safi

Ciao Ragazzi! My name is Lina Safi, and this past summer I travelled on Centennial College’s Summer International Program to Urbania, Italy in August of 2017. During this global experience, I gained many important life skills, including learning how to be independent while learning.

Prior to departure, I was very nervous about joining a group of other students whom I had never interacted with prior to the trip. There was a total of 19 of us, and I had only had a small orientation with half the group before meeting the rest for the first time at the airport in Rome.

Instagram: @_linasafi for more pictures.

However, everyone clicked immediately from the start. We were met at the airport by Enrico, our student support coordinator, and a bus driver who drove us approximately 5-6 hours from Rome to the small town of Urbania, where we were greeted and taken home by our host families. All of us were greeted very warmly, and the families were very loving and some of the most kind-hearted people I had ever met. We were also given times for breakfast and dinner, as well as our own set of keys.

The next day, we began school at Centro Studi Italiani, where our classes were from 8:50-4:30. That may seem like a typical Canadian school day, but in Italy, that school day also had a 2 hour break from 12:30-2:30pm. This was because Italians emphasize importance on the meals and “siesta” part of their day. Even the shops close during the mid-afternoon for a few hours!

We had two classes, language and culture. Centro Studi Italiani had also given us written material to use as textbooks and help improve our Italian education. We were also given a 2 week schedule dictating the days we had a change in routine, for excursions or special classes like cuisine, or ceramics.

In the ceramics class, we were taught how to really work with clay, and designed our own fish. In the cooking class, we made homemade gnocchi. One of my favourite activities during culture class was playing “Heads-Up!” in Italian.

In addition to these special classes, Centro Studi Italiani and Centennial College organized a variety of excursions for us to partake in.

Excursion #1: Province of Urbino

Excursion #2: Florence (FIRENZE)

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Excursion #3: Venice (VENEZIA)

Excursion #4: Gubbio

Excursion #5: Rome (ROMA) / Vatican City (CITTA DE VATICANI)

 

It goes without saying, however, that our experience abroad could not have been so great without the help of the amazing Giovanni, Anna, Diletta, Gloria, and Enrico, who made sure that our time in Urbania was wonderful. I learned so much Italian and culture in a matter of just 2 weeks that I feel like a whole new person. Furthermore, I am forever grateful to Centennial College for giving me the privilege to experience such an incredible and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, where I not only learned and grew as an individual professionally and personally, but also made a family from halfway across the world. Grazie mille Centennial College e grazie mille a Centro Studi Italiani! Mi manchi.

#SaGe #SIPItalyUrbania #LearningAbroad #CentroStudiItaliani

 

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SIP- Dynamic Busan

Hello readers, my trip to Busan has been one of my top travels by far. My main purpose of the SIP was to learn and emerge myself with the Korean community and people. Although learning a new language can be intimidating, I can promise you that learning how to read and write Korean will only take 1 week maximum. With the exceptional expertise from the teachers of Youngsan University they really make you understand and teach you everyday sentences to aid you to converse with the locals! Busan was naturally beautiful as the city is surrounded with mountains and the ocean. Dynamic Busan has everything to offer such as its beaches, amazing food, the shopping, outdoor and indoor activities and of course the wonderful people! If I have another opportunity to go to Busan I would do it again without hesitation!

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MY SIP TRIP EXPERIENCE IN BUSAN

Hello fellow Centennial Student! My SIP trip to Busan started on July 10 to August 4. There I was greeted by Youngsan’s University staff Mr.Park and my classmates from Centennial. My experience in Busan and in regards to Youngsan University has been amazing all thanks to the generosity of  Centennial College, Youngsan university and their staff. Aside from attending the exceptional program learning the  Korean language, we were thrown into the Korean culture as we explore, experience and socialized with Strangers in broken Korean. The environment, culture, and society was vastly different, but the community of people were amazingly kind, caring and thoughtful like a mother caring for her child. My experience with SIP has its ups and downs but overall it was an excellent experience and I will forever cherish it.

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Finland was fantastic!

I applied for the SIP program to Turku Finland as I felt the program (Professional Services and Productization) would help me to market my business. I studied Travel Services Management and I’m now a travel agent. So this program was a catch as providing travel advice is providing a service, and I wanted tips on how to market a service. You can imagine how excited I was when I heard I got through.

Arriving in Finland I was very moody and grumpy, as I connected in New York so I was travelling for more than 24hours. But when I got on the train from the airport to Turku, I instantly relaxed. The cuntryside was lush and green and there was this calm that captivated me. Being a country girl, I’m always drawn to communities rather than cities, so seeing Turku wasn’t all that built up gave me something to smile about. The train ride from Helsinki to Turku was really relaxing and provided some really good sightseeing.

In Turku, I had some problems with my pre-booked accommodation but soon found myself helped by a local. Finnish people can appear intimidating and blunt, but once a conversation is started, they really warm up. Thankfully they’re kind and helpful, so I was out of my accommodation rut in less than 5 minutes of conversation with the local. This was the beginning of many other local encounters that made my trip amazing.

At school (Turku University of Applied Sciences), the classroom discussions were so enriching. Altogether we were 12 students and 2 lecturers representing 11 countries! You can imagine the cultural exchange that took place. We bonded well. In fact, my favorite moments in Turku were all moments when we got together. Outside of school, we did social activities including dinners, museum tour, city tour, picnic, shopping, and a boat tour to Stockholm, Sweden. We also had lunch together, every day we tried a new canteen. The food was absolutely scrumptious and ridiculously cheap! With our student cards, we got lunch for as little as €2.80. A buffet meal consisting of coffee/tea and bread, salad, entree and sometimes dessert. And you’ve got choices, always 2 or 3 entree items to choose from.

Other than the super cheap student lunches, I was amazed by the transportation system. People bike/cycle all around. Whether they’re going to work, school or party, they cycle! Yes, men in tuxedos and ladies in stilettos cycle all about. Cycling is so common, cyclists have their own section of the street to cycle on and a tonne of places to park. Other than that, it’s so easy and fast to walk about (even though I got lost a bit). From where I stayed, walking to school was the same distance as taking the bus so I often walked. It was sad to leave all that behind – little to no traffic 🙂 to come back to the hustle and bustle of Toronto 😦

All in all, I had a wonderful time in Tuku. The program was amazing and I now have friends from all over. I highly recommend this program and cannot say thanks enough to Centennial for such a great opportunity.

 

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When in Oviedo…

¡Hola! 

My name is Jodie and I am in the Travel and Tourism program. I did the SIP program in Oviedo, Spain, which is located in the Asturias region (north of Spain), for the month of July. I applied to the SIP programs for the fun of it and to be quite honest, I didn’t expect to get in. But to my surprise, I got an interview and then found out I was accepted to the program while I was away in Colombia.

Before I departed Canada

From Toronto, connecting in Brussels, and finally Madrid

Before departing to Spain, I knew some Spanish but I didn’t know enough to have a conversation with somebody or even ask for help. I only learned on my own by listening to Spanish music, watching telenovelas, and by observation whenever I visited Colombia. I was scared when I arrived to Madrid because I didn’t feel comfortable speaking Spanish since I lacked the confidence. This quickly changed because I was forced to speak Spanish since that was the sole purpose of me going therefore I needed to try. Also, majority of the people in Oviedo didn’t speak English because it wasn’t a city with many tourists.

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I was in the Intermediate I Spanish class and my teacher didn’t speak ANY English. At first I thought this was a little bit of a challenge but this actually helped me improve my listening skills. My conversations class not only gave me the opportunity to practice speaking, it also helped me to be more confident to speak. With the help of all three of my teachers, Lorena, Pablo, and Gloria, my Spanish has improved in every aspect.

To wrap it up, I was genuinely sad to leave Spain and I actually cried while I was on the bus to get to Madrid’s airport. I will never forget Oviedo’s overwhelming architecture, the relaxing lifestyle, and all the people I have encountered during my stay. I have a lot of stories to share about Oviedo and these pictures and videos posted don’t do much justice. One thing I could say is that this was definitely a life changing experience for me and I would do this again in a heartbeat. Te extraño mucho, Oviedo. ❤

Besitos,

Jodie

 

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Lost (and Found) in Translation: A (Kinda-Sorta) Spanish Speaker’s Cuban Experience

Written by Amy Yvorchuk

 

“this blue blob of rusted ancient metal (well, it’s about 60 years old) clunk-clunk-clunks through centuries of resource and decades of revolution. it’s careening over rocky roads and stumbling through the sunshine, searing like scrambling eggs on summer pavement (well, it’s the middle of spring).

we doze off on top of suitcase armrests – i’m the last to fall asleep, because i’m distracted by the wind behind me. i try to stay conscious through this travel through time and time again.

the speedbumps aren’t just for show here; they’re our unwarranted alarms, but we’re never in harm’s way despite this steel juggernaut’s jerking over years of winding and unwinding history interlaced with intersections and precarious infrastructure. we’re davids within this goliath, but in this edition of the story we’re not here to conquer – we’re collaborating with compassion with newfound companions.”

These were the first words I jotted down to remember this experience as we drove through the Cuban countryside from Varadero to Sancti Spiritus on May 16th, 2017, the day our unforgettable journey began. When I look back, my stream of consciousness seems just as shaky as my writing was, just as the bus ride was: I don’t think I’ll be able to translate perfectly through either words or pictures, but I can always try. After all, these GCELE opportunities encourage us as students and global citizens to work towards dismantling barriers – and we do that through communicating with each other on our trip, with our new Cuban friends, and with you, the person on the other side of the screen reading this and wondering, “what do you even do on a GCELE?”

As someone who spoke Spanish really well in high school, but graduated high school five years ago, I’ll admit that I overestimated how fluent I was. “I speak Spanish at a conversational level” is easy to say in Canada, when you’re introducing yourself at the GCELE pre-departure orientation to your new Canadian friends, some of whom do speak Spanish but most of whom know “hola”, “adiós”, and “despacito”. It’s even easy to live up to that statement at the airport, when you’re going through customs or asking your bus drivers their names. But in a country where Spanish is the official language, especially in a city like Sancti Spiritus that isn’t overrun with tourists, the locals don’t sound like the slow, articulated, overpronounced audios from your classroom. They grew up with this language, of course, and so you feel like a child relearning how to speak – but you’re also translating for others at the same time that you’re trying to keep up. Challenge accepted, but maybe I dove in too quickly?

 

But nine days in Sancti Spiritus taught me much, much more than some of the words and phrases I’d forgotten. Sure, I felt anxious about not being a perfect translator: one event comes to mind in which I forgot the Spanish word for “box” when some of my friends wanted to take some pizza they’d ordered back to the casa particular where we were staying, and I internally panicked. But what I quickly learned from so many new friends is that it’s okay not to be perfect: it’s better to make the effort to communicate and get to know the people around you than to be completely grammatically correct. Enthusiasm, positivity, and curiosity about new environments go a long, long way.

I became inspired by my fellow Centennial students to stop letting my fear of being perfect get in the way of communicating. When I stopped overthinking about the exact words or grammatically correct phrases to say, I actually felt so much more comfortable speaking with volunteers, families, and permaculture enthusiasts in Sancti Spiritus. Whether it was finding a common love for YouTube makeup tutorials with Lorrettys, listening to entertaining stories about motorcycle mishaps from Sandy, or comparing tattoos with Felix, I found that there was so much that unified us Canadians and Cubans that the language barrier wasn’t an obstacle, but a springboard. And as we all laughed and chattered with excitement in basic English, basic Spanish, and wild hand gestures, I realized that this is what makes new experiences so rewarding: you don’t need to be fluent to build friendships.

That said, I would highly recommend all of you to learn how to say “the toilet’s broken” in the language of the country where you happen to be traveling next, because it’s best to be prepared too.

 

 

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SIP – Alcala de Henares

Hello,

My name is Yonghui. I have stayed in Alcala de Henares, Spain, for a month with my wife studying Spanish and traveling around. Alcala is the city where I would love to spend the rest of my life after retirement.  People are nice and kind, city is not too crowded, beautiful and natural… It is such a blessed city! Thank you for this great opportunity.

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Study Love in Spain.

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Alcala de Henares, Madrid, Spain

Hello everyone!

My name is Bianca, 20 years old. I am Brazilian and this Summer of 2017 I have been part of the Summer International Program in Spain.

The total length of the program was one month (August). As you might already know, it is one of the hottest months of the year in Europe, so obviously I was melting everyday over there; but I can’t really complain about it. Everyday I would wake up with this huge sunlight coming into my window, would have breakfast with my lovely Spanish family and go to school by walking and laughing with the best roommates in the world.

During class, I will admit, we have learned a LOT of Spanish. All of the professors would only speak Spanish, so we had no other choice than learned it (some would say by the hard way, I would say by the funny way lol).

After class, me and my friends used to go out for lunch and everyday try a different Spanish dish. So on Mondays, for example, we decided to always go out for Tapas, which is kind of (INCREDIBLE DELICIOUS) side dishes given to you when you ordered any drink. Unfortunately, I don’t have any picture of it, cause I was always starving for lunch after class. PS. OUR CLASS USED TO FINISH AT 3PM, so you can imagine how hungry we were.

So having lunch, we normally went back home to take a nap because of the SIESTA. As Spanish people says “dormir la siesta”. Can you think of any better way to spend your day with a full belly? We slept around one hour and went back to streets for shopping, or eating more, or visiting some new places. The funny thing is, our small city would be completely empty from 3pm to 5pm. I guessed everyone was also taking a nap. But as I mentioned, the same time we went back to the streets, everyone else was also there, which always meant partyyyyyyyyy!!!

So from there to night time, the city was really alive and we had a lot of fun. I have many stories I could tell here, but I think I will just live some pictures from my GREAT Spanish adventure. Love to share my experience =)

 

 

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