Summer series: Seeing Graz through another perspective – Part I

Many students decide to spend their summer doing an internship or working abroad. This year, four of them decided to come to Graz: Yassine Amri (Tunisia), Ana Parfión (Spain), Shu Chang (Hong Kong) and Tereza Palasová (Czech Republic). They will report fortnightly on their work experience as exchange students in the Styrian capital.

Yassine and Shu work together at the coffee shop “incafé” from Jugend am Werk, which they describe as “a really beautiful place: nicely decorated, well-equipped and well-arranged”. Yassine adds about his colleagues: “There is Paul who washes the dishes, he is very calm. Hilga who shakes everyday everybody’s hands before they leave and finally my Austrian friend David, who speaks English and does the role of a translator”. Speaking German with clients and colleagues was unexpected, but they find it quite funny and instructive too. Arriving in Graz, meeting their colleagues and the other exchange students was also a peak of their week “we visited many places and the architecture of the city is just astonishing”.

Graz_week1_4

Tereza and Ana, on the other hand, work together at the Jugend am Werk “Youth Park” in different projects alongside jobseekers, doing activities like gardening, cooking and handmade production. Both are enthusiastic about their workplace and the city they are living in.

“There is a really nice working atmosphere, people are very friendly and the place is well-equipped, I even got invited to a yoga lesson with my colleagues,” says Tereza, who also mentions that one of the main obstacles she had to face was German. She thought that she could use English at work, but in the end she had to speak in German: “It was okay though, because I expected some use of German and therefore I chose a German-speaking country.”Graz_week1_3

Ana says that the main challenge she had to face was getting the other exchange students to open to her. Since they are living together and they go out a lot, their relationship is constantly improving. On the other hand, she likes seeing how much people from different background, ages and nationalities are enjoying their stay in the company. “They are not only doing it for the money, they really love what they do,” says Ana. She also mentions proudly that this week she could even “present an own project to the company”, for which she is still awaiting approval.

The four students have had an interesting week settling in in Graz and getting to know their colleagues and workplaces. In the next few weeks, we will be catching on with their projects and we will see what they are doing!

Author:  Jennet Essid, Giulia Di Pietro

The beautiful Philippines – why not your next destination?

Any plans yet what should be your next destination? If you haven’t picked what country to visit next, try adding Philippines to your list! It is not a typical vacation detination, where most of the people go. But no matter what you are up to or what your idea of a perfect holiday is, the Philippines will probably have it..

  1. AMAZING PEOPLE 

The Filipinos are some of the happiest people in the world, as reported by many reports including on by the Business Insider. Filipinos are very friendly, open toward foreigners, helpful and very curious and also respectful. They always seem to be happy and smiling. They love to sing and to dance whenever there is an occasion to celebrate.

  1. GOOD FOOD

Philippian cuisine is not that famous around the globe, and I also have never seen a Filipino restaurant outside of the country. But that doesn’t mean that the food tastes bad! It’s quite different from other Southeast Asian cuisines. Rice has always been the staple food in Filipino cuisine. Even McDonald’s serves rice with some of their value meals. Filipinos are meat lovers so almost everything contains either pork or chicken. If you love fresh seafood, from lobster to crabs or tiger prawns, you will find it all for very low prices. If you are into juicy mangoes and pineapples, the Philippines are the place for you. You can have them everywhere fresh and cheap. Filipino food is a diverse blend of Oriental, European and American culinary tastes.Philippines 2

  1. PARADISE BEACHES AND LANDSCAPE

Being one of the largest archipelagos in the world, it’s not surprising that the Philippines have an incredible amount of awesome beaches. If you are into white sandy beaches and turquoise crystal-clear waters, you’re in the right country. The queen of all the beaches is probably the White Beach in Boracay, constantly rated as one of the Top 10 beaches in the world. It’s not hard to find your dream beach or a pristine island over there and having it all for yourself.

  1. EVERYBODY SPEAKS ENGLISH

A big advantage compared to other Asian countries is that in the Philippines over 90% of the population speaks English. It’s the language of the government and the preference for written communication, be it in school or business. It really makes travelling through the country a lot easier, and it will allow you to interact with the locals who will be able to recommend things and places you would have never otherwise heard of.

5.CLIMATE AND WEATHER

With average daily temperatures ranging from 25 to 28 degrees the Philippines have a very pleasant tropical climate. November to April is the peak season there and promises the best, driest weather. They also have a monsoon season over there and loads of rain between June and October. This doesn’t mean it rains all day though – most days it will just pour down pretty hard for an hour or two while the rest of the day it could be clear skies.

Philippines

  1. AMAZING NATURAL BEAUTY

Philippines have one of the most diverse wildlife in the world. It is home to a diverse range of birds, plants, animals and sea creatures. There are nearly 200 mammal species in the Philippines. They boat more than 600 species of birds, 300 species of reptiles and amphibians and at least 400 coral species.

The Philippines have some stunning surroundings, the fantastic and probably weirdest landscape you will ever see: the Chocolate Hills in Bohol. But also the Rice Terraces in Banaue and the incredible Archipelago of El Nido. You can climb on one oft he 37 volcanoes, for example the Mount Pinatubo, or see the world’s smallest volcano of Taal and also discover caves, lakes and waterfalls.

  1. IT’S CHEAP

There in the Philippines, your money will go a long, long way! Budget travellers will definitely have no problem making their way through here. Taxi rides around town cost approximately 3€, a decent meal costs 1.50€ and a bucket of beers will barely run you 5€. Not to mention the country’s budget airlines offer some of the cheapest fares in Asia.

  1. SHOPPING, SHOPPING, SHOPPING!

Out of the largest shopping malls in the world, five of them are in Manila. Shopping in the Philippines can be quite a worthwhile experience. There are a lot of places where you can go, it just depends on what you intend to buy or on how much is your budget. Even if you spend a whole day walking through there you will probably not be able to see it all.

 Author: Maike Schüssele

9 Steps to Prepare the Trip of Your Lifetime

You want to finally escape your daily routine and spend some time somewhere on a beautiful corner of the globe. Before you can experience the Statue of Liberty in New York, the Niagara Falls or piazzas in Rom an important to-do list stands between you and your trip. Because traveling or sometimes even planning a trip can be more of a stress the following simple steps will help you make your trip a memorable one.

Set a budget. It’s important to establish a budget as early as possible – even before you know your destination, travel dates or itinerary. It helps you to plan and enjoy the trip within your limits.Your task is to research the costs in your destination at the style of travel you want so you can avoid any disappointment that could arise as a result thereof. Some destinations are generally cheaper than others, but there are ways to save everywhere: travel in the off-season or pick budget accommodations. Always estimate a little more than what you might need.

9reasons

Pick a destination. Now that you know how much you can spend, where do you want to go? You have the choice of so many beautiful places all over the world to go to. Depending on your budget some might already fall away. Pick a particular site that’s on your must-see travel list, and plan your vacation around that. Picking a destination is immensly important as it gives you a definite goal. Not only will your trip become more concrete for you and easier to commit to, but it will make planning easier as well.

9reasons3

Get your documents in order. Depending on your chosen destination you need some important documents. If you don’t have a passport, it will take four to six weeks from the time of application for you to receive one. So make sure to take care of this well before your trip. You already have a passport? Check its expiration date. For some countries you must have valid visas in addition to passports. Check what type of visa do you need and apply for one as early as possible because obtaining one is a complicated process and can take weeks even after you have been approved.

Consider travel insurance. There are several kinds of travel insurance, it’s much more than just medical protection. It covers you when your camera breaks, your flight is cancelled or if something is stolen. Also check your medical insurance coverage to see if you’re covered overseas. If not, you may want to purchase medical insurance to cover certain situations. It’s always the best to be prepared for the worst.

Book your flight. Because your flight will probably be the most expensive part of your trip, you’ll want to book it before anything else. This will allow you to be more flexible with your dates, which is a great way to save money on your flight. So make sure to book your flight about a few months in advance.

Create a rough itinerary. Once you have chosen your destination research sites and places you really want to explore and then figure out which ones you have the time and the budget to get to.

Book your accommodations. Once you planed a itinerary fill on some places to sleep. As is the case with pretty much everything you book for your trip, the earlier you make arrangements, the better – especially during high season. Do a bit of research and keep your eyes open for tiny bed and breakfasts, hostels or even couchsurfing. So you can save more money for other important things on your trip. It’s always better to book your stay if possible so you don’t have to worry about this at night after an exciting and exhausting day.

Pack light and right. Pack only the essential things and start thinking about what you’ll need to bring at least a week before you leave. Depending on your chosen destination, carry clothes that are comfortable and right for the season and especially for the specified weather there.

Have realistic expactations and enjoy your trip. Go on your trip and have fun! Head to the airport, board your plane and enjoy the fruits of your labor. By considering this simple steps you can better organize and prepare for your trip. So you can spend less time worrying about your travel arrangements and more time staring at pictures of castles and amazing landscapes. Enjoy the holiday by managing what you can with the time you have. Embrace each moment, whether good or bad.

 Author:Maike Schüssele

No Llamas in Colombia

“There are no llamas in Colombia,” he affirmed. This small detail caught my attention and resulted in an hour-long storytelling session in which I realised how few I know about South America.

My friend Hazar worked 3 months in Colombia. In the suburbs of Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, he helped in schools and taught English to young kids. He worked together with a dozen of students from all around the world. Some of the kids had never seen people from somewhere else than South America. Most of the team could not speak Spanish, which resulted in communication problems. Hazar and his team had to adapt to the situation to create an unforgettable experience for the kids and themselves.

Columbia3

“After living in Vienna for a while, it was hard to imagine how things can get unnecessarily complicated.” he told me when I asked him about his biggest culture shock.

While they worked during the week, they explored Colombia during weekends. Soon, Hazar realized that there are no llamas in Colombia. His friends can assure you that he loves those furry, spiting beasts. Knowing this they organized a short trip to a petting zoo. So he could take a photo with one of the few llamas in Bogotá.

Columbia2

During his time abroad he lived with a host mum and her son. The advantage of living in a host family was that the mom cooks great and that he could enjoy the Colombian cuisine. Her son and some other locals taught him, on the other hand, how to get around fast in Bogotá. Because apparently the traffic in the city was terrible.

“I don’t like to travel just for sightseeing, so Global Citizen was a good opportunity for me to travel and to be of use. I had a great time there. I met some people, who will always be very precious to me and I saw great places.”

At the end of the three months Hazar had enough time to travel to the Caribbean. By swimming there he fulfilled one of his long hold life goals.

We all have great destinations and goals on our list. What is keeping us from reaching ours?

Author: Lukas Bensch