Sunday, August 19, 2012

Halls, Packing and Preparing to Leave

The time of the year when many young people are beginning their most exciting part of their lives (You guessed it, moving to halls :D) is slowly approaching. Moving to halls can be stressful, exciting and horrifying at the same time. Many students are moving away from the protective wing of their parents for the first time, many are gonna cook for themselves for the first time (some might not even survive this experiment... Let`s have a moment of silence for all those who didn`t discover 17p TESCO pasta...), some might see a washing machine for the first time in life and some are moving to a strange new country across the “small pond“. So what should a student moving to halls bring? Many students has already played with this idea at least a bit, including me.

        It`s time for me to pack for real now and leave my native country. (sh)It just got real...I am leaving in less than a week and I just got home from traveling around Slovakia visiting my family. I will actually miss Slovakia more than I thought. You realize what you have only when you are about to lose it . It is only partially true though because you will feel a hole for a while if you leave behind even something you hate (I am not saying I hate Slovakia though, I like it). So what should I do before I leave? Obviously, all the official paper-work that needs to be done but I am gonna focus on other stuff in this blog-post, like what to bring and what not to bring. There are some essentials that pretty much everyone needs and that`s some clothing. I will take as much as I can as I will use clothes to wrap up fragile stuff(FE. bottles, LCD display, etc.) so they won`t break. Next up are bathroom essentials like towels,toothbrush, razors, etc. I don`t need to bring everything as I can buy stuff when I arrive(How clever, right? :D). I am not gonna focus on these stuff either in this post as everyone knows what they need and how much luggage-space they have. Also, you can find loads of checklist-style lists of essential items on the Internet. Same goes for electronic gadgets. You take what you have, you buy what you need and you also get some free USB sticks on Freshers week.

What I am gonna focus on are some potentially unconventional stuff I am considering to take (or would recommend) and reasons behind it. Of course, if I actually take them depends on my space in luggage and if I will be able to obtain them.

1)Groceries–This might sound weird but bare with me :D As part of my research of living abroad, I was counting my living expenses and of course part of that is food. As I was comparing various prizes (I created a spreadsheet with all that) I marked everything that was way more expensive than in my country. I was horrified by some prizes. For example meat and garlic is three times more expensive than in Slovakia. I personally use garlic and meat a lot while cooking and therefore I will take some garlic with me. Unfortunately, I can`t take meat with me and as my diet consists mainly of meat I was horrified. Luckily, I came up with a solution of how to buy a meat for the same prize as back home. But more on that in a different post. Also, I want to be able to cook Slovak national food for my flatmates so I will need to bring some specific ingredients for that as well.

2) Alcohol and cigarettes – I am not much of a drinker (even though I can enchant my inner-Slavic if necessary) and I don`t smoke at all but alcohol and cigarettes are cheaper in Slovakia so I will bring some. I mainly wanna bring Slovak alcohol so that people can try it out.

3) Pharmaceutical drugs –a pack of some pain killers or something to fight off the flu during the freshers week and 1st Academic week will be quite handy.

4)“Piece of your home“-Take some photos of your family and friends, posters of something you like or a necklace from a close one. It will reduce your home-sickness if you are prone to it.

5) Conversation starters – Approaching and starting a conversation with a total stranger can be  horrifying for many people. However, the good news is, that is the hardest part. Both people need to be active in talking and chipping in in order for you to have a conversation so after approaching, the easy part begins. Therefore if you would prefer if people would approach you, or just want to talk to more people without constantly approaching them, then "conversational starters" are just for you.Now this could be a blog post on its own but in short, bring something that you can use to stand out during Freshers so that people will approach you and you will meet more people. Use your imagination. Some of the things I came up with include: A big sticker with your name, course, year and country of origin on it. Heck, you can even put your hobbies there for what it`s worth. :D Why? Couple of reasons actually. First, people will ask you this things almost automatically so you might get tired of repeating yourself all the time . Also, with pleasantries out of the way, you can have a normal organic conversation with a given person. More people will approach you as well. So it`s a win-win situation.

Bag of ear-plugs –(sure, you can buy these when you arrive) take them everywhere. Do you have a welcome Karaoke planned by your Union? Throw them into a crowd when you decide to sing (Think about their health , man. I know I will  :D ). Have you met a really tired person in a lift? Give it to them as well, chances are they didn`t sleep well. It`s hard not to talk at least for a while with someone. As always, be creative. Buy a stethoscope for what it`s worth and wear it for no apparent reason. People will ask about it...

You might wanna bring a national symbol or flag or something so that people can approach you by asking you about your country. If you are Irish, just buy a Leprechaun hat. Do you have a jersey of your national team? Bring that. There is so many stuff you can do...

 I would like to quickly mention stuff you should buy when you arrive to your destination: Cutlery,crockery, cookware, small kitchen appliances. Unless you already have some, don`t buy new ones at home. Wait till you get to halls. Chances are, your flatmates brought some cookware themselves. Space in kitchen is limited as there will probably be 5+ of you. Agree on sharing some cookware, cutlery, etc. And buy stuff that no one brought with them. They will save some money as they won`t have to buy it and you will save some money as you won`t have to buy stuff they brought.It`s a win-win once again.

 If you have any other awesome ideas (for example another conversational starter), a topic you would like me to cover, something relevant to this post or you just liked it, please, comment down below. If you found this helpful, feel free to share it on your Facebook, Twitter or Google+

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Well hi there, 
I see that you stumbled upon my blog so welcome. Oh, sorry, how rude of me.  I should probably introduce myself.  I am Joe from Slovakia. You`ve heard of it? That`s awesome. I didn`t expect that. Yea, good guess, I am a student. I study in lovely Scotland in a city called Dundee. Actually, no, not at University of Dundee.  I study at University of Abertay. ...
 (There is going to be a music video at the beginning of every post so you can listen to it while reading. It might be related to the post or just something that I have heard recently)

Okay, let`s cut that fake conversation off and let`s get to the business. 
Why am I creating a blog?
            There are couple of reasons why I want to do this. However, there is a clear winner among them. I want to publish some of my goals and deadlines so I would have a bigger drive to achieve them and blogs are perfect for that. Hand-in-hand with that comes self-reflection. If I write stuff down, it will be pretty damn hard to bullshit myself why something did not work out quite as well as I wanted it to. Also, it is easier to analyze stuff this way afterwards. Also, I would like to note down my experience of studying abroad and challenges it might bring and hopefully even inspire some random reader to follow his dream (that might be living and studying abroad as well). Another thing that let me to create this blog was the fact that I need to practise my typing skill as I make a lot of typos when I am typing fast.

That is all nice but what can you actually expect to see here?
             I am gonna be flexible and adapt to potential demands but at the beginning I will try to give away some tips that might help you to settle in. After Freshers, I will post some of my goals and initial plans on reaching it. I might even post some trip and/or party reports with some random rambling in between. I am open to new ideas though. If you find a blog post that you find interesting and you would want me to elaborate on a topic discussed there, leave a comment or contact me. Your comments and input is appreciated.

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