One Month in Jyväskylä!

Everyday Adventures

Wow!!! Today marks a month since I set out on this journey. It’s crazy to think that a month ago at this time I was sitting in an airport in Chicago just waiting for time to pass. Actually, that’s not true. Time zones ignored, I had only just woken up to load up the truck and head out.

Since that day, I have experienced so many amazing things, met so many amazing people, and have learned more than I think my brain can hold. It’s been so wonderful. And I haven’t even left the city yet!

In no particular order, here are some of my highlights of this month:

  • I have learned to budget. It took moving out of the country to make it happen but now I know how much I can spend and still have room for rent and food. At home, because of how American college dorm…

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8 Things You Learn From Staying in London

1. There is no such thing as personal space.

A thing I noticed while in London is that people don’t really have their own space bubble. Most places you go such as the tube you will be crammed close to people not caring about your personal space.

2. Beauty is everywhere.

Literally everywhere you look there is beauty. Whether it be a park or a part of history, every single thing in London is beautiful. 

4. Restaurants work a bit different.

Almost every restaurant we went to while in London had a bar inside it. Now we didn’t know at first but quickly found out that you order not only drinks from the bars but also your meals. You go up to the bar and order and pay for your food there and then they bring it out to your table. I think this is a cool way but personally I like being lazy and having the waiter/waitress come to me. 

5. People get drinks after work.

One thing I loved about the London social scene was that people go out with friends to grab a drink after work. People will be outside all pubs enjoying a beer almost everyday around the 5pm. I think we should bring this norm to America personally. 

6. It’s more expensive.

London is a very expensive town and we knew this before going but it really doesn’t hit until your paying $14 American dollars for a meal that seems cheap in pounds. The conversion rates reall get ya. But honestly every extra dollar is worth it because I mean you’re in London! 

7. Water.

Water is very different in the UK. A popular thing is sparkling water. At restaurants you have to ask specifically for tap or still water if you want it, and most of the time they will look at you like you’re crazy. Also if you want ice be sure to ask for it because most places don’t give you ice in your water!

8.  Museums and Churches.

In London it’s kind of funny because you pay to see the churches but most museums are free to enter. That’s almost completely opposite from America. However, paying entry for those churches are 100% worth it. 

Although many of these things are different, they are all the small parts that add to your trip. London was amazing and I can’t wait to go back! 

Hello from Finland!

It has been several days since my last post and a lot of stuff has happened since then. To begin with, a group of friends and I traveled to Tampere over the weekend between Week 2 and Week 3. Kayna, Ashley, Erin, and I took a train on Friday from Jyvaskyla to Tampere. We then walked a the few blocks to our hostel called the Dream Hostel and Hotel. It seemed like it very far away, but only because we zig-zagged through the streets. It really was only around the corner. On Saturday, we then took the bus to the big observation tower. It is the second tallest observation tower in the Nordic area. It is located on the coast of the Baltic Sea so in one direction you can see the water and in the other directions you can see the city. The weather was beautiful and clear when we went so we were able to see for miles. The observation tower is also located in the middle of an amusement park. After lunch in the park, we wandered around looking at all the rides. We ended up paying to ride one roller coaster called The Tornado because it looked like the most fun. We were right. It had so many twists, turns, and loop-de-doops, we were screaming through the whole ride. We then found an area within in the amusement park called Angry Bird Land. Since Finland was the country that created the Angry Birds, it seems only right that they have a portion of the land dedicated to it. We had several photo shoots with all of the characters throughout the park. Later, as we were walking back to our hostel, we found a small chocolate shop. Everything smelled so good! I wanted to buy one of everything, but I knew that was a bit excessive. Instead, I bought twelve individual ones. (See image) They were all delicious!

The next morning, we checked out of the hostel and walked to the museum center. For this area, we paid one price and were then able to see multiple exhibits. My favorite one was the game museum. There was a massive collection of video games, arcade games, and board games throughout history and visitors are able to play the majority of them. There was also this wall of gaming systems throughout history up until about 2015. I was surprised how many of the various systems I had seen or played throughout my lifetime. There was another portion of the museum that was dedicated to rocks and minerals. Many of these minerals were various types of stones that we use as gems such as Amber, Amythest, and Diamonds. All of them were beautiful. There was one area that had huge stones where a portion was cut away so visitors can see the Amythest inside. I enjoyed this since my birthday is in February and Amythest is my birth stone. My group then traveled, by train, back to Jyvaskyla.

Early Monday morning, my roommate, Ashley, and I traveled by double-decker bus to Helsinki. Since neither of us had a class during the third week, we decided to do some traveling. In Helsinki, we went to Linnanmaki Amusement Park, got the all-access wristbands, and rode all the rides available (some were ridden multiple times.) Despite the sprinkling throughout the day, we had tons of fun. By the end of the day, our voices were a bit hoarse from all of the screaming we had done on the rides. We then began our walk to our hostel we were staying in for the night. The rain began to come down a bit harder, which made the walk seem dreadful. It didn’t help that we were relying on free wifi from the surrounding buildings for directions. Needless to say, we got incredibly lost. After about an hour and a half of using spotty directions and getting soaking wet, we found the hostel. Thankfully, we both had traveled only with what we could carry in our backpacks so we weren’t dragging any luggage behind us. That evening we research and planned our route for the next day to get to the harbor and our ferry. Tuesday morning, we woke up very early and traveled to our ferry destination. The rain had passed and the traveling was much nicer and easier. We then got on the ferry, which was a giant ship, and travelled to Tallinn, Estonia. It may have been the fact that it wasn’t raining or that we were well rested, but everything seemed bright, beautiful, and happy. The area that Ashley and I explored was the old-city town. Our favorite part was one cathedral that we were admiring from the outside to then realize not only could you go inside, but you can climb the 60 meter, stone, spiral-staircase toward the top of the steeple. It took a long time to climb, since people were attempting  to also climb down. We eventually climbed the 260 stair spiral to witness the scenic views. It was well worth the effort to climb becuase the views were breath-taking. The rest of the city was beautiful and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit. Our travel back to Finland was on a cruise ship, which was lots of fun. We then travelled that evening from Hesinki to Jyvaskyla arriving in Jyvaskyla at about 3:15 am. Needless to say, the 45 minute walk back to the dorms felt like a marathon. 

On Wednesday, the activity suggested by the International tutors was to go see the Finnish National Ballet company perform som of their numbers. Seating was not enough for everyone that was there, but thankfully I had arrived early enough to save some seats for my friends and I. The ballet was amazing with numbers from ballets such as Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and Sleeping Beauty. There were also some modern numbers that didn’t quite make much sense, but they were still interesting to watch. Since, then there has been a lot of down time just hanging out with friends, gathering souvenirs for family and friends back home, and working on assignments for previous courses. Now into class of Week 4. This course has been about learning and teaching about diversity, which has been interesting, but also somewhat repetitive. Only a few more days left, then it’s time to head home. There will probably be one more post after this one and then my Finland adventure will be over.

Until next time,

Robin Gassen

Understanding American Culture

Understanding American Culture – From Jakarta With Love

The influence of western culture is prevalent in Indonesia; Jakarta more specifically. Hundreds of malls filled with western stores such as Louis Vutton, Nike and H&M. The advertisements showing typical pretentious stock photos of happy white families which we are accustomed to in the states. You can hear “Closer” (for the millionth time) by the American duo, The Chainsmokers, playing throughout the mall. While you are walking you can’t help notice the eyes which gawk and stare at you as if are some kind of alien. Bule, Indonesian-slang for a western-looking person,  is often shouted out at you.

I was not fully aware of the scope of American influence before I came to Jakarta. American culture can be found in many aspects of everyday life that you may not realize. From language to the rise of popular American west coast- urban street brands such as, Vans and Thrasher.

I considered the United States to have a good reputation globally. I thought we would be perceived as intelligent and forward-thinking. The stereo-types I hear about America are mixed. People consider the citizens good people but often times view the government as controlling and out to ruin the world. When meeting new people, the first question that is often asked is, “Did you vote for Trump?” I must choose my words wisely when answering this question and try to educate them as cordially as possible on the messy politics of America.

But for the most part the stereotypes which are though about America are often taken from movies and television. Which is a idealistic view of American people and their beliefs. White people are often put on a pedestal as in movies they are seen as the most beautiful. The girls get a romanticized view of what American men as some how a superior race of human beings. Which is bull****.

By: Logan Cayton, From Jakarta With Love

Introspection of Self

My name is Logan Cayton. Currently a student at Emporia State University, I am writing this blog not only to fulfill class requirements but to also share my journey studying abroad in Indonesia. Studying abroad seemed liked an opportunity to allow myself to see the bigger picture. Already in my 3 weeks of being I have met and made connections with countless people who have showed me a different point of view. Making connections is one of the most valuable things though as I have already met some people who could potential get me where I want to be in my career.

Being taken out of your comfort zone makes you grow. You have no choice. In the streets of Jakarta I see something new everyday and I learn something new everyday. Whether it be a new word in Bahasa (The national language of Indonesia) or finding out that maybe eating food on the street your first week maybe isn’t such a wise idea.

As for why I chose Indonesia; I wanted to be surprised. Most western countries, although slightly differing cultures, share much of the same ideals. I found this out quickly while desperately searching for a roll of toilet paper, when it was already too late. But the values  and practice which many of the people display are much different than the  “western way.”  Located in Jakarta, the nation’s capital and largest metropolis. It is home to over 8 million people. With that comes an amazing array of cultures, languages and religions. The majority of the inhabitants affiliate themselves with the Islamic faith. This is evident as a mosque can almost be found around every other corner. Muslims pray five time a day, so be prepared to wake up from the call for prayer around 4:20 every morning for the first week. As the nation is run with the ideals of the Muslim this can present some adjustments for an American.

The dorms I live in are seperated by gender and no one is allowed to have guests in their room. Technically, by Indonesian law no man or woman allowed to live in the same house or have sex without being married. This law is mostly situational though and a Bule (slang for white people) should not be too worried about hooking up but should take it into account.

Although alcohol is by no means outlawed here and while many people drink, the price and availability is inferior to that in western cultures. A high tax makes it quite expensive for Indonesian standards and it is hard to find liquor stores. There are surprisingly a good amount bars and nightclubs in Jakarta with a good nightlife, if you happen to be into that.  While booze is tolerated here drugs are strictly prohibited. Indonesia is a very corrupt country just like any other country but here the police can be paid for almost anything. If you get caught driving without license, you can pay them off. Almost any crime you can think of has a price tag and it is the reason many men go into the police force here. Everything except for drugs. That can be punishable by the death penalty.

Many of the rights and freedoms we take for granted in America are not enjoyed here. For instance, a 2008 government act made it illegal for anyone to express views that the government might see as opposing their views. You do not have the right to as much free speech although in 1998 a speech and press act was passed my professor for journalism class happens to be one of the top editors for  a magazine which speaks the truth about the corruption so prevalent here.

While on a welcome trip to the Thousand Islands, a chain of islands north of Jakarta, we had a party that night after a day of snorkeling and exploring the many islands. While we were drinking and dancing the people whom we rented the home from had not informed the local police that we this would be going on. So when the police arrived and saw a bunch of foreigners, they were concerned there were drugs involved. They were most likely just trying to get money but whatever. We were then informed that the police would search through all our things. Everyone looked at each other as if this was some kind of joke. How could they have the right to go through our things without proper cause? Because you have no freedoms. They only ended up searching the locals we were with and it all worked out but the culture difference was felt by everyone that night.

By: Logan Cayton, From Jakarta With Love

Wee bit of Northern Ireland

Before coming to Northern Ireland I wasn’t sure what it would be like here. I knew that there was a separation between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; however, I wasn’t sure how that effected the culture and the people. I found that the people of Northern Ireland are friendly and welcoming, happy to answer any questions. Especially to Americans they seem very interested in the reason for why I’m here and where I am from. Most call me Dorthy or some reference to The Wizard of Oz.giants causeway

They have a nice sense of style, always dressed to impress. One thing that I quickly noticed was that going to class and even to the store girls would do their makeup really nice, hair is done well and everyone is always in nice clothes. I have learned to adjust my sense of style and spent more time getting ready in the morning. Also with the drinking age being younger people go out younger and even go out to the bar or club drinking underage. To me that is such a crazy idea to wrap my head around because when I was in high school I wasn’t concerned with going to the club and drinking, I was excited about what new movie was coming out on Redbox for that week. Having the younger age and the fact that drinking is such a part of the Irish culture in general, I had to adjust the way I thought about why people drink and come to understand that it is part of it; knowing that not everyone here drinks but it is a part of them.

i am a rock

The point of Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland, it all spurs from the separation of religion and people that are loyal to the UK and those who are loyal to Ireland. About 30 years ago, in Belfast actually, there was “The Troubles” this was a huge fight that went on between the Protestants and the Catholics over Ireland being its own country and having independence from England. It ended in the 90’s a peace wall was built and they have made huge leaps forward proving their resilience. The program that I volunteer with takes groups of people from different areas of Belfast and helps to promote cross community integration. These people that I work with are 15-23 years old and most of them claim a religion and are aware of what happened before they were born yet they aren’t bothered by it, they don’t hate the other religion and start fights with them like their parents would have. I have talked with them about this a lot because being from America where religion is a choice and for some parts of the country it effects the way of life but not enough to bomb or fight with another area like it was here. We talk about how our views are different because of our back ground but we look to the future with the same hope in mind. peace wall

I found it easy to relate to people here because our cultures are so similar. We talk about sports, soccer mostly or for them football, because I grew up playing it and here you either love soccer or rugby. I have learned a lot about rugby; yet, I think it will be just like American football to me because I know when they score but other than that I’m lost. Family dynamics here are the same as at home so talking with people here about growing up its easily relatable. However, the divorce rate here is not near as high as it in the States, explaining to people that my family is a combined family and a lot of my friends have combined families too isn’t as heard of here.

With our cultures being really similar we have a lot of the same core values about what is good and bad. Within the family dynamics and religion people are more traditional with it being two parents and children, the gender of the parents isn’t as much discussed here as it is in America. Religion does influence them yet it doesn’t entirely control how them. Economically, they are a part of the United Kingdom, they use the Sterling Pound, which is stronger than the dollar. However, Northern Ireland has no elected head officials running the country, they stepped down in early March and it has been “up in the air” since. To an American that seems unreal, yet for this small country they are taking their time finding someone to fill the positions. I think the education system here is great, they encourage the gap year and once in university they have a placement year where it is expected you go out to a job in the field of study and work in, like a longer term internship. The schooling here I found was more practical learning and what we learned we had to apply to an end of the year project. It has helped me to learn a different side of Marketing and how to properly apply it to something I’ll be doing in the real world. The history here dates much further back than our government in America and they have such an interesting culture, whether it be who was here to settle it first or the Celtic language. Their castles and religion even before Protestants or Catholics settling the area. Everyone here is proud of that part of their history whether they claim to be either of the two main religions, they are unique and they are Irish.

Joslyn Barton

carrick history