Humanities & Social Sciences placements

Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences' students share their placement and year abroad experiences.

Sorrento!

📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

Today I went to Sorrento with a girl from Reading and it was the BEST time. The trains run on classic Naples logic, with one tiny train running every half an hour that goes to Vesuvius, Herculaneum, Pompeii and Sorrento, so every tourist is jam packed in squished up against each other in the heat for the whole hour and a half journey. But really and truly, it is worth it. I love Sorrento!! I was so happy to have waiters that didn’t hit on me, and to see tourists everywhere that didn’t looked stressed and scared! And there were flowers, and beautiful houses, clean streets and wildlife. I loved wandering around, taking samples of limoncello, sitting by the ports and visiting the Valley of the Mills. Absolutely beautiful, so safe, and I would recommend it to anyone!

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Razzismo

📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

I really wish I didn’t have to write a post like this, but it is an important thing to comment on for a real picture into the daily life of Naples.

There is a real, tangible racism here in this city and it has been commented on by every visitor I have had. I absolutely hate it and can’t get my head round it at all. I have never, not once, seen a black or South Asian person doing anything other than selling illegally on the streets. But it is the little things that make the saddest. On the tube, if a black person sits next to an Italian person, they will move, even if it means they have to stand up. If the only free seat is next to a black person, nobody, except me, will take it. I am assuming that the Italians think that they have a bad reputation, but it is ironic, because in my experience, it is the Italians here that have tried to steal from me, approach me aggressively and been rude to me. And I have had nothing but kindness from almost everyone else. I wish there was more I could do to thwart this horrible mindset, but the only thing I can think to do are tiny things, like not moving on the tube, making small talk, and showing them that there are some people in this city that are happy that they are there.

 

Appelli

📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

Appelli is what exams are called here, since they mostly do them as orals. I have never done a spoken exam for a history course before so I am pretty nervous! The next step will be working out when the exams are and how to sign up for them. They take place all throughout the summer in Italy and as far as I know, you sign up for whichever you want. However, my french teacher has said she “can’t make” the exam date she gave us in June, which means I will have to stay on an extra ten days or so to do it, once she decides when she is free…

 

Fare un brindisi

📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

This means to make a toast, or I suppose, to “cheers” in Neapolitan. This is a very complicated, carefully choreographed system of words that I cannot begin to explain so I have found a video that does it for me:

 

 

Year Abroad VI – culture shock and different ways of life

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📥  2016-17, Politics, Languages & International Studies, Uncategorized

Siena, Italy                                                                  April, 2017

Salve! I’m back with a new post, this time about culture shock, which is a term many of you who have lived abroad or are soon going to have definitely encountered. Here’s a little break-down of what culture shock is, how to recognize it and deal with it, and how I have personally experienced it.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary (1), culture shock is “a sense of confusion and uncertainty sometimes with feelings of anxiety that may affect people exposed to an alien culture or environment without adequate preparation”. Basically, when you move abroad it takes some time to feel comfortable in the new country, and this period of adaptation is when you generally feel the culture shock. Everybody experiences it different as it depends on where you are from, where you are going, previous experience of living abroad, preparation before moving… Some people don’t really go through culture shock, or suffer it later on (it can hit at any point, even well into your time abroad), some are very vulnerable to it – everybody is different.

cultural_shock

 

General consensus is that culture shock has three to five different phases:

·         Honeymoon Phase: you’ve just arrived in the new place and everything is different and exciting, new food, new people, new places – you’re loving life!

·         Post-Honeymoon Phase: you start to notice the little (and not-so-little) differences between your culture and the new one, and you’re not too keen on them. Maybe you dislike how people act in a certain situation or you are missing your mum’s food, so you start feeling upset and unhappy.

·         Negotiation Phase: probably the most important as it is the turning point, you decide to give into the negativity and unhappiness or to adapt and make the most of the experience. Hopefully the latter.

·         ‘Everything will be fine’ Phase: you finally feel more comfortable in the new culture, enjoying the differences. It doesn’t mean you have to adopt all of the different traits, but you can recognize them and act accordingly. You no longer feel unhappy or upset and you might even decide to immerse yourself completely in the new way of life and actually end up loving it.

·         Reverse Culture Shock Phase: you can actually go through the whole process of culture shock again once you return home, particularly after a long period of time. Just pointing that out, because it’s a possibility even though it might sound crazy!

Culture Shock final. jpg

 

How to deal with culture shock

The best way of dealing with culture shock is to educate yourself. Learn as much as you can about the new country in preparation for it – before you go and after arriving. This can range from knowing how the political system works or how to go to the GP, to smaller things like knowing if you can drink tap water.

Other things you can do are to be open-minded and eager to learn; I’ve found that most locals are happy to explain how and why things are done a certain way in their country, so don’t be afraid to ask questions (speaking the local language helps a tonne – and this is relevant even if you have all your courses in English or aren’t necessarily a language student!). Also, try to be as involved in the community as possible, don’t lock yourself in your room because this will encourage homesickness and limit your opportunities of meeting new people and making friends who will help you settle in. Finally, it’s ok to bring things that remind you of home and will comfort you when you are feeling down, as well as keeping in contact with your family and friends back home – the point is getting over culture shock, not completely separating from your previous life-style!

My experience

Here’s a little background knowledge about me. I’m Spanish, I grew up and spent all of my childhood and teenage years in the Canary Islands (save for one year back when I was 7, when I lived in Portsmouth with my family). So the most distinguishable experience of culture shock that I can fully remember was moving to Bath in 2014 to start my degree in Modern Languages. Yes, I’d lived in the UK before (even though I couldn’t remember a lot of it), so I already had a fairly precise idea of what living in the UK is like: the weather, the way people act, the different food, the different language,… but I still had to deal with culture shock. As much a fan of English life-style as I may be. It was indeed a drastic change: first time I was living on my own, in a new country, with a new language, where I didn’t really know anybody. Culture shock hit me a little after Freshers’, when I was still settling into the routine and figuring out the new place. I remember one of the most clear examples of culture shock for me was the way young British people approach drinking – I was definitely not prepared for drinking games or binge drinking. The drinking culture I had experienced in Spain was different and it took me a while to understand (still trying, actually), this cultural difference. I had a positive attitude and was adamant on making the most of the opportunity of studying abroad, even though dealing with culture shock and homesickness was pretty hard at times, but following the advice mentioned earlier helped me cope. Eventually I ended up feeling at ease in England and now I love both my homeland in Tenerife and studying in Bath, each for their own unique reasons.

This year, as part of my Year Abroad, I’ve had to live in France and Italy. Sounds like a chore but it really hasn’t been. I’ve had (and am having) a blast. Fortunately for me, the information sessions in Bath in preparation for the YA are quite extensive and I already had experienced moving abroad once before. It was just a matter of doing the same thing with the two new countries. So far it has been alright. I was in Fécamp, France, for four months and fortunately for me I was so busy I had little to no time to dwell on culture shock or homesickness. I think the fact that my colleagues were British and I lived in a small town was also helpful as I felt really welcomed and supported. When it comes to Italy, I’ve noticed Spanish and Italian cultures are pretty similar, so I feel quite at home in Siena. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t noticed cultural differences, by any means. Here is a short list of anecdotes.

·         Greetings - it might sound silly but I’ve experienced quite a lot of awkward situations in all of the countries I’ve lived in because the way you greet someone when you see them varies not only from culture to culture but also from person to person. In Tenerife, men shake their hands or hug if they are close, while women will either shake hands with men or give one kiss on the cheek, leaning into the left. In other parts of Spain you give two kisses, one on each cheek, again starting from the left. In Britain there is less physical contact and the hand shake or wave is usually the norm, whereas the bisou is big in France; you give two, one on each cheek starting from the right. In some regions you only give one or you might even give three! The fact that you lean first to the right confused me so much when I first arrived in France, and still towards the end of my placement I would forget to start on the other side which would result in a weird moment avoiding the mouth and changing to the right side – I’d laugh it off but it was quite embarrassing! Same in Italy, usually when you first meet people you shake hands, and later on you give two kisses on the cheek starting on the right. I still find myself caught off guard sometimes – fortunately I’m quite short so I don’t usually have to make the first move.

·         Smoking – smoking is quite popular amongst young people all over Europe, but I was surprised by the fact that every single young (and not so young) person I met in France smoked. Might have been a coincidence as I know of other people with different experiences, but it surprised me nonetheless. I knew cigarettes were popular, but I didn’t expect people to leave the dinner table and go outside in order to fumer une clope!

·         Aperitivo/aperitif- this is a cultural difference I’ve grown to enjoy. In France it is custom to have a glass of some sort of strong alcohol – calvados, Campari or whatever takes your liking – with friends before you sit down for dinner. It is quite a social thing to do and something I was not aware of until I moved to France. In Italy it is also very popular- it is quite usual to go to a bar that does aperitivo, usually starting at 6 or 7pm, with some friends to have a drink (aperospritz and Negroni seem to be the most popular options), usually with access to a food buffet where they serve dishes like pasta, couscous, focaccia,… Aperitivo is a great invention!

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Aperitivo is great!

·         Finally, I think it’s worth mentioning Italian men from the point of view of a foreign girl living in Italy. Of course, not all Italian men are the same and I don’t want to generalize, but it did take me aback how straight-forward and adamant some Italians can be, particularly when going out, so be aware of that.

There are obviously many more cultural differences between these four countries than the ones mentioned above and I’m yet to discover even more but I hope you have found this post helpful. As a language student I love discovering new cultures, but it is fair to say this is not always positive so raising awareness about culture shock is a very important point for those planning to live abroad and if you’re currently going through it, just know you are not alone!

A presto!

Zoe

 

(1)    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/culture%20shock

Images: https://www.hastac.org/sites/default/files/upload/images/post/cultural_shock.jpg

https://eap.ucsb.edu/sites/default/files/Culture%20Shock%20final.%20jpg.jpg

My own.

 

Trip of a lifetime

📥  2016-17, Health

7 days, 4 states, 3 planes, 2 sheilas, 1 car, a whole heap of exploring and some work. Road trip over!

I’ve been looking forward to writing this blog for a while, as I have just got back from what has been the most amazing trip I’ve ever done! I was fortunately asked by SASI to be an athlete chaperone for the Oceania Road Championships as some of our cyclists were competing. As part of this role, I had to drive the SASI cycling car to Canberra from Adelaide. For those of you that aren’t overly knowledgeable with the map of Australia (very much like me until recently), that is one heck of a drive; 750 miles, and a very boring route through the middle of nowhere, known to Aussies as ‘Whoop Whoop’. Consequently, I asked SASI if I could do a slight detour to see some of Australia’s most beautiful sights that I probably wouldn’t get the opportunity to do again.

So, Shannon, another Bath placement student, and myself set off, for what was to soon become one of the best, and most memorable weeks ever.

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On the first day we drove from Adelaide to the Grampians, which are a stunning mountainous range in Halls Gap, Victoria. If they aren’t already one of the wonders of the world then they definitely should be! We arrived at the Grampians National Park just before sunset, so got to see a sneak peak of a lovely view of dusk at MacKenzie Falls. However, the drive down the steep mountain in the dark was slightly scary! Good job we’d already done a treacherous 7 hours of driving that day, so we were used to it. We woke up early the next morning to make the most of the beautiful scenery before setting off again, so we drove up to see Reid’s Lookout, Pinnacle and the Balconies. We were lucky to arrive before the mass crowds of tourists, so really got to soak up the tranquility and stunning beauty of the Grampians, and of course take some awesome (and very generically touristy) photos!

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After a fantastic morning, we left the Grampians and had a short drive to Port Campbell. This was the start of the famous Great Ocean Road! We had both seen lots of photos of some of the sights you can see along the way, and had a meticulously planned schedule so were very excited. We stopped at London Arch, Loch Ard Gorge and the 12 Apostles, and again saw some really breathtaking views that depicted Australia’s stunningly picture perfect natural beauty.

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Great Ocean Road – definitely a huge tick off the bucket list!  

We then set off for Torquay, and arrived late in the evening. The next day we woke up and drove down to Bells Beach – a world renowned surfing beach, 100km south-west of Melbourne. Whilst unfortunately it was too chilly to try surfing ourselves, we definitely enjoyed watching top class surfers ride the waves, unbelievably in awe!

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After spending a short time at Bells Beach, attempting to get a suntan which didn’t end too well, we drove to Melbourne. Our first stop was St Kildas beach, where we enjoyed a beautiful sunset and swim in the sea. St Kildas was a great spot, full of cool restaurants, cafes and bars, and was jam packed. Being so near to the city, and as one of Melbourne’s most popular beach, we definitely felt the city buzz, slightly new for us Adelaideans! As Melbourne is famous for its food culture, we enjoyed a tasty Pho from a trendy Vietnamese restaurant before getting an early night in preparation for our long drive the next day to Canberra.

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This marked the end of our road trip, and start of our working responsibilities. The next day was a long grind, we drove for 8 hours, but after multiple repeats of Ed Sheeran’s new album, a few games of I spy and lots of snacks later, we finally arrived in Australia’s capital city; Canberra. This was the fourth and final state that we had visited, Australian Capital Territory, preceded by South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. We met the SASI athletes at the airport the next day where we accompanied them to their training, and helped when needed. We also managed to soak up some culture and explore the city, visiting Old and New Parliament House, the Telstra tower at sunset, the War Memorial, Australian Institute of Sport, Lake Burley Griffin, the National Museum and had a fun night at the Enlighten Festival and Night Noodle Markets with some friends we made on our travels. To top it off, SASI cyclists won a gold medal in the Women’s time trial, and a silver medal in the Men’s road race.

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Spot the wannabee SASI cyclist.

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So after 2,000 miles of driving and lots of sightseeing, we did it. And what a week!! Definitely a MUST DO for any avid travellers!

 

Bugiardo/bugiardona

📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

This means liar, and a friend of mine in class called me a bugiardona (female variant) when we were talking about how often I go to the beach. I was actually being honest with him because I do go out less when I’m by myself for safety; but there is no point trying to explain this to an Italian male who adores his city, as they all seem to here! It is nice to see them so proud of where they live.

 

Ingenua

📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

Ingenuo means naïve, but I put it in the feminine form because that is exactly what I am.

I love talking to people and I don’t get to talk to many genuine people here so I like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I will always think that it is better to be too kind than to not be kind at all. So when I was revising in the park today and an old man of 70 sat next to me and asked about my work, I was happy to chat. Until he asked me to go back to his house and do strange things that I won’t specify. He said all this is Neapolitan for some reason so I had to ask him to repeat himself a lot; and I was really not expecting these advances from an older man. I don’t even mention the younger ones any more because we will have about 6 a day chatting us up, but this was particularly bizarre for me. Baffled, I replied “I have a boyfriend”, wondering if I’d understood correctly. But yes, he replied “I am married, so don’t worry, it’s fine!”. This city astounds me sometimes. But at least he wasn’t aggressive.

It is important to mention that these men being like this, even the non-aggressive ones, is not a compliment. It is really a comment on how they perceive Northern European and American girls, since they would never talk to a young Italian girl in this way.

 

Roma !

📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

Today I went to Rome which was AMAZING!!! I only managed to get there for a few hours, because I had booked a coach but the metro to get the station was an hour and twenty mins late (Naples…) so I had to buy a train ticket last minute. But woooow, the trains are nice in Italy! And it only takes one hour to get to Rome from Naples which is wonderful. Expensive but soooo worth it! I met Emilia again in the station and we managed to do every main tourist spot pretty much, in about 3 or 4 hours. It was so much fun and so nice to be away from the craziness of Naples! Even Rome was like a tranquil holiday island compared to its hustle and bustle.

Here are some pictures:

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Gesto

📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

Today on the train a man was talking to me about Naples and he seemed really proud of his city so I lied and said it was perfect here, and we got talking about the language. He told me amusingly that there are three languages in Naples: Italian, Neapolitan and Gesture (gesto). He is not wrong! People have whole conversations with their hands here, more so than anywhere else I’ve been in Italy. I found a video to demonstrate this: