The Mozart(-ed) Salzburg & Vienna

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During the December/January winter break, I travelled to a few countries in Europe, and as a bred musician, Salzburg, Mozart’s birthplace, and Vienna, his residence for a part of his life, was definitely on my list. While the present-day world witnesses posters and advertisements of idols and pop stars printed all over products, train stations, bus stops and the like; in Salzburg and Vienna, it is Mozart. Restaurants, bags, cups, pens, umbrellas, coffee and most prominently, chocolate – you name it, they have it. This is how a typical Mozartian shop would like look like, and trust me, they have these shops – EVERYWHERE. Continue reading

[Adventure] Manchester city, York town

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After busy revision and intensive 5 progress tests in the last week of Michaelmas term, my Christmas vacation, the 1-month break, finally came. The street was decorated with colourful lights and the Christmas atmosphere became thicker and thicker.

But holiday itself was not an absolute good news. Most undergraduates chose to return home–which seemed to be a better choice–the college became empty and I, a poor Chinese student who chose to remain, suffered from loneliness. So compared with staying alone in your room day after day, why not make use of the vacation to go out and travel around UK? Continue reading

Directing a play at Durham University

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Hi, everyone! Here’s my second post, I hope you’ll like it!

Being away for the holidays let me time to think a lot about what I’ve learned so far during my time abroad. I told you in my first post how much I love Durham for surprising reasons. Well, one of them is Theatre. Continue reading

Hitting the Road: Backpacking in Europe

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It is true that studying abroad is a great occasion for concentrating on university life, knowing the culture, and being deeply integrated into life in the new environment – i.e. Durham.  However, as you can easily imagine, spending the whole holidays in the cloudy and rainy weather and rarely meeting someone (everyone will be back home on holidays!) when you see lots of Christmas family posts on Facebook can be quite disastrous for your mental well-being. Also, travelling around seems to be way inexpensive than coming all the way from Japan. That’s why I decided to hit the road and spend the whole winter vacation backpacking in Europe. Continue reading

Cheeky Trip to Scandinavia

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Nothing like a quick trip overseas to take the mind off exam stress! Nestled in the North East, Durham is in a great location for popping over to Scandinavia and I was pleasantly surprised just how many cheap flights are available. As an exchange student, you just have to keep a keen eye out to snap up those deals. Because one of my close friends from home is currently studying in Copenhagen, Denmark, I’d had mine peeled for a while.


Copenhagen calling! Never mind the fact it took about half an hour to snap a shot with this famous lady without tourists in the foreground..

Copenhagen is a lovely city and its flat terrain made for such a nice break from the epic hills of Durham! Another pleasant surprise was the amazing public transport – the metro trains are reliable, driverless and fitted with glass fronts so you can watch it speeding down the track in an eerily futuristic manner. After all, Danes pride themselves on environmental sustainability – as well as cool dress sense. Apparently you can always tell a Dane because they dress in all black except the compulsory brightly-coloured Fjällräven backpack!

Foodwise, you might have to mortgage your home to afford anything that’s not instant noodles but the quality and variety is pretty awesome– Smørrebrød* and Kanelsnegle* top the list but we also indulged in some chips cooked in duck fat! I was soon missing the sheer convenience of being fed every day in the college dining hall.

We also went to Stockholm for the weekend and I absolutely fell in love. It’s simply so lively, filled with flower shops, cafés, craft beer, beautiful townhouses, epic cheekbones, glorious libraries, vintage shops, tree-lined boulevards and just the perfect mix of old and new architecture. Of course, the quality of life can only be sustained by crazy high taxes and it’s certainly not the best city to visit on a backpacker budget.

The gorgeous undercover market Östermalm Saluhall made us sad more than anything – the thought of being able to afford a mere bite of the wonderful seafood dips or cheeses or wild berry desserts was torturous! Instead, we participated in the great Swedish tradition of getting to the Systembolaget in the evening rush, the pilgrimage of young people who can’t afford alcohol at a bar or restaurant and have to stock up before weekend closures.

Good luck with exam prep everyone!

* Smørrebrød – open sandwiches consisting of dense rye bread topped with seafood or pickled meat.

* Kanelsnegle – delicious pastry swirls topped with sugar glaze and cinnamon.

* Systembolaget – the state-owned liquor shops.





Springtime in Spain

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When you have a month long Spring break like we do at Durham, it is essential to do some travelling. I stayed at College for the first 3 weeks and right before I lost my last bit of sanity (my flat mate and I were the only ones home and began having silent discos in the hallway for entertainment) I left for Spain. I spent 10 days in Torremolinos, a small seaside town just outside of Malaga, starting the trip with my friend Desiree and ending it with my friend Ariadne. I had planned for the trip to be a break from revision, but having revised next to nothing prior to leaving, I felt slightly guilty as I boarded the plane. I won’t go into detail about every day, since most of the time was spent reading, eating or sleeping, but there were two days which were especially exciting. Continue reading

Combining Travel and Study; a rough guide.

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I wrote this about a month back now but with travelling for almost five weeks and being in a new country practically every few days (which I’ll tell you all about in the next post), I just didn’t get around to posting it! Reflecting though, with only a few days to go until I’m back at Durham, the experience has been completely worth it and has certainly been the trip of a lifetime I’d hoped it would be.  Continue reading