Conferencing in Thailand and Beyond

By Adel Alhalawani, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

 In March 2017, I received the International Conference and Research Support Fund (ICRSF) to travel to Thailand for an unforgettable global learning experience. My wife, Rania, came with me as well!

For the first week of our trip, we explored Bangkok, getting a taste of its people, food and culture. Soon after, I presented my research on new silicate-based bioglasses for orthopedic applications at the 3rd World Congress of Smart Materials hosted by BIT Global Inc. The conference was an extremely rewarding experience. I took advantage of various opportunities. For instance, sharing knowledge from the other side of the world, discussing possible advances in the field and making plans for future collaborations with leading innovators in the sector.

After the conference, Rania and I drove 2 hours away from Bangkok to the beautiful city of Pattaya, where we parasailed in the Gulf of Thailand, relaxed on the beach of Koh Larn island and tried some of Thailand’s world renowned seafood.

The week after, we actually flew to the beautiful Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This is where I completed my Masters Degree in 2013, so I was very excited to show my wife around. It was 45 ℃; a great contrast to the -20 ℃ we left behind in Toronto!

During the trip, we visited Malaya University, where I met with a cardiac surgeon and discussed details of a future collaboration.  We also visited the Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC), the 100 acre site that hosts the tallest twin buildings in the world.

We then traveled northeast of the city to the Genting Highlands, which is 1,740 meters above ground level. We loved cooling off and trying a diversity of tropical fruits. One of the most exciting parts of this trip was the cable car, which took us to the top of the hill passing through the clouds. The nature around us was breathtaking.

Our trips to both Thailand and Malaysia were full of fun and adventures. Lots of unforgettable memories in different theme parks and city attractions! I would like to thank my supervisor, Dr. Mark Towler, and Ryerson International for giving me the opportunity to participate in an international conference that was so relevant to my program of study.

My Adventure Abroad: Life Down Under

By Julia Amodeo, Undergraduate student in the Creative Industries Program, Faculty of Communication and Design

3 months ago I left Canada for my semester abroad in Brisbane: the largest city on Australia’s east coast! It was my first time travelling alone and I was excited and terrified. Once I landed, met my roommates and learned more about Brisbane, I was thrilled to spend the semester here. So far my journey in Australia has been the most amazing experience of my life and I am only half way through! I have learned so much about myself and met so many amazing people from all over the world!

New Zealand Trip: Franz Josef, Milford Sound & Queenstown.

When I first arrived, I flew to New Zealand to travel the South Island before I started classes. I backpacked along the coast for 17 days.  We went on hikes, discovered incredible lookouts, and learned about the culture. It was a beautiful country.

One of the most unforgettable experiences in New Zealand was the Heli-Hike I did to the Franz Josef Glacier. We took a helicopter ride up to the glacier and went on a 3-hour hike. We climbed through the glaciers, ice caves, and tunnels. The view was stunning. It was definitely one of the most surreal experiences I have ever had!

I arrived back in Brisbane happy to be in warm weather again. I was surprised with how quickly I fell in love with the city. After walking along the river and discovering all parts of the city, I was so excited that this was the place I would call home for the next 6 months. Right away I noticed that the people were very friendly and welcoming. I also noticed how clean, modern and unique the city was from what I’ve experienced. The weather is constantly sunny and the lifestyle is a lot more laid back than what I was used to in Toronto.

I have been studying Creative Industries at the Queensland University of Technology. The campus is really beautiful and I love my classes so far. They have given me a lot of opportunities to get directly involved in Brisbane’s music and entertainment scene.

Brisbane: Koala Pine Sanctuary, South Bank & Gold Coast.

South bank is one of my favourite parts of Brisbane. It is across the river from the downtown core. It has great restaurants, markets, shops, museums, and stunning walkways along the river. The Streets Beach is one of the main areas we spend our time. It is a man-made beach lagoon overlooking the city and is only a short walk from campus! Another highlight of my time in Brisbane has been the Koala Pine Sanctuary, where I got the chance to hold a koala and feed kangaroos!

About an hour away from Brisbane is the coast! We visit the gold coast often on the weekends to enjoy the restaurants, bars, shopping and beautiful beaches.

A few weeks ago I spent the weekend surfing as a member of the QUT Surf Club in Byron Bay (2 hours from Brisbane).

We had surfing lessons for 2 days, explored the town, kayaked with dolphins, and went on a hike to Byron light house. Surfing was an incredible experience. Everybody in my group picked it up by the second day, learning to stand up and ride the waves!

I can’t wait to explore more of Australia in the next few months. My exchange experience has exposed me to so much and I could not be happier living and studying here. It has been important for me to make the most of my exchange by trying and experiencing new things. I can’t wait to bring what I have learned back to Ryerson for my final year before graduation. For anybody considering exchange, I highly recommend it. It is one of the best things you can do for yourself!

And if you ever travel to Australia – get ready for slang you’ve never heard & don’t get too scared by the snakes and spiders!

 For more information on exchange opportunities at Ryerson, please visit: http://www.ryerson.ca/ri/

The 19th International Conference on Building Simulation and Environmental Engineering in Dubai

By Christopher Xavier Mendieta, Graduate Program in Building Science

The plan went like this: stay awake on the flight to Dubai, power through and come out smiling, having beaten jetlag and remaining energized for my first international conference. Twelve hours later I walked off the plane feeling not the least bit tired, taxied to the hotel, got into the room and decided to test the bed. I woke up in the dark. My cellphone read 5:30. Perfect, I’d head out to watch the 6:30 sunrise. The receptionist at the front desk hesitated when I asked about a good place to go, “at this hour?” She replied. I hit the street and notice the cafes and restaurants are full of people in good clothes. They start early here, I’d thought. I was craving an ocean sunrise. I walked on, the streets were empty, the Metro was still locked up. I stopped a slow moving couple and they told me, gently, that the beach was too far to walk. I checked my phone, 6:30. I looked from the screen to the sky, absent the sunrise, and then caught sight of a clock through a storefront window. It was 3:30AM, local time. I went back to the hotel and got some much needed rest.

Dubai plays host to a number of excesses, which match the extravagance of its scale. For $7,000 you can have a drink layered in gold flakes, for a cool $200,000 you can have the world’s most expensive pizza, topped assumedly with “the best ingredients in the world”, not to mention plenty of gold flakes. This richness is present all over the United Arab Emirates. It makes possible the extravagant activities and building designs.

I would be presenting my research at the 19th International Conference on Building Simulation and Environmental Engineering in front of industry professionals, scholars, and professors. For me it was a massive step into my field, a surreal experience for an engineer with limited conference exposure. In the beginning I was nervous, but I felt confident enough to deliver the message that had been crafted with the support of my advisor. The development of energy benchmarks through the collection of public data allows us to granularly compare the energy efficiency of buildings without the need for extensive building audits. I was gratified to see the level of engagement in the post-presentation discussion, and felt I’d done my part. Later I learned that I’d won Best Paper in my category, and I knew that in the future I’d begin a lot of stories about my career with that moment.

I wanted to see as much as I could of the built environment, so I took a trip to Masdar City and saw what it means to build a city with passive cooling strategies and human scale in mind. It lays the sprawl and illogic of modern historical cities bare in its compactness and attention to harmony. It wants to become the city of the future, with self-driving cars and streets between buildings for pedestrians only. While there, I was able to tour a net zero energy houses engineered for the desert climate. Everything in Masdar is designed using passive strategies to keep its inhabitants comfortable without resorting to unnecessary consumption.

Dubai was a dream, but it was the validation and momentum I drew from my experience speaking that continues to inspire me to go farther. It’s something I never could have done without the support of the Architectural Science department and the International Conference and Research Support Fund, which were there with funding available and a desire for its students to engage with professionals in the field.

And no, in all my excitement and flash-blindness, I never made it to the beach.

 

RYERSON INTERNATIONAL 2016/2017 PHOTO CONTEST!


Photo by Kangyi (Collin) Shen – 2015 Contest Winner
Title: Aurora
Location: Yellowknife

*The contest is open to all 2016/2017 participants of the Ryerson International Exchange Program, 2016/2017 recipients of RIWEF and ICRSF, as well as students who have participated in academic placements and internships

To enter the contest, please follow the instructions below.

  1. Select 1-3 photos from your international learning experience and write a caption for each. We encourage photos of your global learning experience, as well as landscape and architectural photos.
  2. Write a short description (approximately 100-200 words) about a memorable experience from your time abroad.
  3. Send photo(s) with captions and write up to rihelp@ryerson.ca by MONDAY APRIL 24th, 2017 with the subject line: Photo Contest 2017.

The winner will be announced on MONDAY MAY 8th, 2017!

The winner will receive a prize, and their photos will be featured on this blog.

We look forward to receiving your submissions!

London Exchange Profile

By Perry Newsome, Undergraduate student in the RTA Production program, Faculty of Communication and Design

Last Sunday evening, I was travelling back to my residence at the University of Westminster in Harrow on the westbound Metropolitan Line train. It was nearing dusk, and the sky was lit up with a fiery, pink-streaked sunset, bringing the perfect spring weekend to a close.

I had spent the last two days meandering my way across Covent Garden and Chelsea, my two favourite districts in Central London. The weekend was driven only by a desire for both food and spontaneity, as my friends and I crawled across the city in search of great bakeries, cafes, and green spaces upon which we could lie and soak up some warmth.

The spontaneity of my weekend, and the striking sunset that ended it, encapsulates the beauty and contentment that I have found in my semester abroad.

There was a point two months into my stay when London no longer felt foreign and the quiet unease of being a tourist dissipated. Instead, London has become a familiar playground and a city that feels personally fitting in a way even Toronto does not.

There is an undeniable feeling of euphoric freedom when you leave behind your normal pattern to scrape out a life in a new place. Now that I feel settled in London, I am faced with this daily.

For me, it was glorifying to suddenly realize that the feeling of vacation has passed; that the novelty of my new city had given way to normalcy, and suddenly London had become my life and not just a temporary layover. It’s rewarding to be able to glance at a tube map and take myself anywhere in the city, and to realize London’s winding, busy streets are no longer overwhelming. Being here has given me the opportunity to discover something new each day, whether it’s an old neighbourhood, a seaside town, or which corner deli has the most delicious baked goods. In case you’re wondering, it’s definitely either Bread Ahead, Honey and Co or Ottolenghi. Though if we’re talking food places, I also suggest that you go to Dishoom, and order the potatoes.

I wanted to study abroad because I wanted to escape all that was familiar and give myself new opportunities to explore and grow as an individual. I chose London because it was a city I had always admired from afar, and because it had so much to offer culturally, historically, and gastronomically.

I’m now quickly nearing the end of my time in England. Next week I begin travelling across Europe, hitting Denmark, Amsterdam, Ireland, and Spain before heading back to Canada in May. While I’m excited to begin the next leg of my adventure, I’m already sad to be leaving both a city and a great group of friends that I have grown to love. The ability to explore London as a resident and to feel in tune with its rhythms and quirks has been an unbelievable accessory to living in the city. Being in London has reminded me how easy it is to get caught up at home in the worn in, comfortable beat of our day-to-day stresses. A whole other world is out there, and that world has a lot to teach you, both big and small.  After all, how else would I have discovered the important fact that while traditional scones and jam really are delicious, British English muffins are actually inferior to their Canadian counterparts?

That’s one thing I can promise, however ironically, is much better at home.

For more information on exchange opportunities at Ryerson, please visit: http://www.ryerson.ca/ri/

Hello from New York City!

 

By Olivia Wong, Master’s student in Film and Photography Preservation and Collections Management

Hello from New York City! I am currently completing a six-month internship at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, as a residency requirement for my Master’s degree at Ryerson. This hands-on experience and international training on how to archive and manage a circulating audio-visual collection has been extremely valuable to support my career as a professional film archivist. This international placement required a lot of planning, but with the support of Ryerson International and the RIWEF Award, I felt confident that I could undertake this exceptional internship.

[New York Public Library for the Performing Arts entrance]

The New York Public Library (NYPL) is the United States’ largest public library system. It was founded in 1895, and has 88 neighborhood branches and four research centers. The NYPL provides free and open access to materials such as books, films, videos, educational resources and much more. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is one of the NYPL’s research centers, and the archive focuses on preserving materials related to dance, music and motion picture. Located in the Upper West-Side’s Lincoln Plaza, the library is surrounded by arts institutions such as The Met Opera, the New York City Ballet, Juilliard School, the Film Society of Lincoln Center as well as several museums.

My main responsibilities at the NYPL include processing and cataloging 16mm film prints to add to their collection in order to make them accessible to library users. I love working with a circulating audio-visual collection because anyone with a library card can borrow 16mm films to either watch on-site or to take home if they have their own projector. The films are also shown in theaters across New York and occasionally are requested for festivals internationally. For instance, the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s cinematheque recently screened a selection of the NYPL’s rare archival films for the series “One Way or Another: Black Women Cinema, 1970-1991”.

The research and work I am completing at the NYPL is extremely beneficial to my academic and professional development. What drew me to the library initially was the amount of films they have from independent filmmakers, often from communities underrepresented in archival holdings. Having access to the NYPL’s collection has allowed me to expand my thesis on the Young Filmmaker’s Foundation, an organization that gave youth film cameras as part of the participatory media movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Watching these works is a wonderful way to view the city through the lens of youth capturing their neighborhood on their own terms, and I am grateful to be able to visit the same locations where these films were shot several decades later.

[A “cool” place to work – The on-site cool storage vault]

In addition to the work and thesis research I am conducting at the library, I am taking advantage of this international placement to participate in local cultural events and visit New York’s well-known museums. I have explored a lot of the larger cultural institutions, such as the Natural History Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art. That being said, there are just as many small and community-oriented museums in the city, for instance I visited the Museum of Food and Drink which held an exhibition on the history of Chinese American cuisine.

[Everyone in New York commutes by using the Subway system]

Overall, this placement has been a fantastic professional experience and academic cultural exchange. I would highly recommend completing an international placement for anyone interested in working in cultural heritage institutions or conducting academic research on a specialized archival collection. New York is not for everyone, it is a fast-paced and busy city, but the amounts of historical and culturally significant events constantly happening make it worth it!

[Taking a break to visit New York City’s tourist attractions]

RU Debt Free? Tips on Saving and Budgeting for Exchange

 

Studying abroad at one of Ryerson’s exchange partner universities is a great opportunity to gain international experience, learn a new language, meet new friends, and immerse yourself in a different culture. One of the most important aspects of going abroad is to start planning and saving money well before your journey begins. Not sure where to begin? This post will get you started!

Doug Furchner, Program Coordinator of Ryerson’s free financial literary course, RU Debt Free, explains that all the lessons covered in the course syllabus are applicable well beyond the borders of Canada. The course covers the basics: budgeting, banking, bank accounts and saving, credit basics, paying for school, and life after school. In preparing to study abroad, using simple financial planning tools can make a huge difference. Doug recommends that if possible, take this FREE course before going on exchange.


Doug Furchner (right) and the RU Debt Free Team

In an interview with Doug, he outlined the fundamentals for proper financial planning to avoid stress before, during and after your exchange experience. His key tips and tricks are detailed below.

When to start planning?
According to Doug, you should start planning the moment you are accepted into the program. You need to know how much money you have, how much money you will need, and what your plan is for getting there. You need to research the cost of living in the particular place you are going, and create a basic budget in Canadian dollars.

Budgeting:
Doug explains that proper budgeting is the key to everything! There are a variety of basic templates for college and university students in Microsoft Excel.

Step 1: Create a budget based on where you are now. Incorporate a line with a monthly savings schedule to bridge the difference between how much you currently have and what you will need to go on exchange.

Step 2: Create a monthly budget to follow while you are abroad. Estimate your fixed expenses such as rent, tuition and transportation. Account for fluctuating costs as well, such as food, grooming, and entertainment.  At this stage, it’s helpful to create two budgets side by side: one in Canadian dollars and one in the local currency of where you are going. Be sure to use a currency converter!

Step 3: While abroad, be sure to manage your budget on a monthly basis. Reconcile your bank account with your budget at the beginning of the month, reevaluate your spending and expenses, and consider what needs to be amended going forward.

Tips for saving while abroad:
Doug warns not to use your Canadian credit card, unless it’s an emergency. Cash and debit only! Avoiding the use of credit will help you resist the temptation to go over budget. Instead, load a prepaid credit card and lock it up upon arrival. Only use it in the event of an emergency.

Tips for Banking Abroad:
Doug cautions all exchange students to be aware of banking fees on both ends of every transaction. The bank here and the bank there will make money off of you every time you use your Canadian debit card.

As a smart alternative, he recommends opening a local bank account upon arrival. You can transfer a lump sum from your Canadian bank account, or you can bring a bank draft with you and deposit it right away. Then, you budget, budget, budget!   

Life After Exchange
Doug recommends carrying your now developed good habits into your everyday life. Keep budgeting, keep saving, and if you can, start putting 10% of your total income into a savings account or an RRSP.

For more information on exchange opportunities at Ryerson, please visit: http://www.ryerson.ca/ri/

Article written by Dylani Shea
Student Mobility Assistant | Ryerson International
Editor, Ryerson International Blog
Ryerson University

¡Que Viva Madrid!

Meet Joshua H!

As a Business Management student at Ryerson, Joshua participated in our Outbound Exchange program, living and studying in Madrid, Spain for the Winter of 2016.

*Below are excerpts from Joshua’s reflection piece about this life changing experience.

“Last January I embarked on the biggest adventure of my life; studying abroad in Madrid, Spain. Up until then, I had never even left North America, nor was I anything close to fluent in Spanish [. . .],  so needless to say I was a little bit nervous before my flight. As one might expect, my flight from Toronto was delayed by an hour and a half, however it so happens that this delay would forever alter my exchange experience. During the delay, I met one of the many lifelong friends I made while in Europe. It turned out that not only were we on the same flight, but we were both going to the same school in Madrid, and would also be living only a 5 minute walk from each other while we were there. This was just the beginning of what I can easily call the best 5 months of my life.”

“Within days of landing in Madrid, I realized just how easy it was going to be to travel around Europe. A quick search on Sky Scanner (Trust me this will be your new favorite website) showed I could get virtually anywhere in Europe for under $100… seriously, $100, that’s not a typo. So even before school started, I had already visited Portugal, and hung out with some monkeys on a giant rock overlooking Morocco.”

Monkeys on The Rock of Gibraltar in Spain. The mountain in the back is Africa

“Shortly after classes had started, we had assembled a group made up of Canadians, Americans, an Italian, New Zealander, and a couple Brits who all had 1 goal in common; to travel somewhere different every weekend. We soon discovered that Spain was a great country for this as it is a hub for travel which made flights a lot cheaper, and plane rides a lot shorter. Within just a couple of months we had already visited most of Western Europe and even hopped the pond to ride some camels in Africa. I cannot begin to explain the bond that was created between us as we travelled around the world. Not only were we all learning and experiencing the different cultures of the countries we visited, but we would also share knowledge from our respective countries as well, which allowed me to learn something new about a different country virtually everyday”

Riding into the Sahara Desert in Morocco, Africa

“Ever since I arrived home to Toronto, I’ve been itching to head back to Europe and continue exploring. However, I know nothing will ever compare to the time I had studying abroad with all of the friends I made. Whether it was learning new slang from countries around the world, or finding out that most people didn’t know that Canada had its own dollar, each day spent with my friends abroad was more entertaining than the other.”

“Without a doubt going on exchange to study in Spain was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. I was able to travel around Europe at an alarmingly low cost, with friends from all over the world, while at the same time I was obtaining 5 credits for school. While my Spanish may not have improved nearly as much as I thought it would, I still could not have possibly imagined my experience abroad being as incredible as it was.”

For more information on exchange opportunities at Ryerson, please visit: http://www.ryerson.ca/ri/

The 2017 Ryerson International Photo Contest has officially begun!


Photo by Kangyi (Collin) Shen – 2015 Contest Winner
Title: Aurora

*The contest is open to all 2016/2017 participants of the Ryerson International Exchange Program, 2016/2017 recipients of RIWEF and ICRSF, as well as students who have participated in academic placements and internships

To enter the contest, please follow the instructions below.

  1. Select 1-3 photos from your international learning experience and write a caption for each. We encourage photos of your global learning experience, as well as landscape and architectural photos.
  2. Write a short description (approximately 100-200 words) about a memorable experience from your time abroad.
  3. Send photo(s) with captions and write up to rihelp@ryerson.ca by MONDAY APRIL 24th, 2017 with the subject line: Photo Contest 2017.

The winner will be announced on MONDAY MAY 8th, 2017!

The winner will receive a prize, and their photos will be featured on this blog.

We look forward to receiving your submissions!

Learning how to be jolly good: Living life the British way

By Lauren Gellatly, Undergraduate Student in the RTA Production Program, Faculty of Communication and Design

Did you know that, in England, you have to pull the door handle up before you can lock it? My awesome fellow Canadian housemate and I did not. We tried for half an hour to lock our door and, when we gave up, we locked it from the inside and broke out of our own backyard like any intelligent, resourceful, and independent young women would do when faced with this problem.

I didn’t find there was a lot more than this level of culture shock in England. As a people, they’re pretty similar to us – a little more sarcastic and way cooler in terms of accents, but they also say sorry excessively and love talking about the weather.

I had been dreaming of going on an exchange for a very long time – since I was thirteen. I started putting away my babysitting money for my big trip around the world. I was going to live in a new place I’d never been to before. I was going to see famous places and eat lots of delicious food. I worked non-stop and saved as much as I could to go. As I got older, and started looking at universities, I highlighted three things in each university’s booklet – what program they had, what scholarships I could get, and where I could go on exchange.

Waiting at the airport felt surreal. The thing I had been dreaming about for years was finally happening! I’ll admit I was a bit nervous in the weeks leading up to leaving. Was I really not going to see my family or sleep in my own bed for months? But the loudest voice in my head was my thirteen-year-old self telling me to go for it.

And she was right. My six months in England were the best six months of my life. It was everything I ever dreamed of and more. Looking back on it, there was one small period where I was a little stressed – but not once did I wish I was home. I know that I am the luckiest person in the world to have had this experience. I got to visit nine different countries with both new friends and old. I lived in a place I’d never been to before, and it felt like a second home in a very short time. I saw famous places and not-so-famous places, and was blown away by both. I ate so much good food, especially in places like France, Italy, and Spain, I thought I’d have to be rolled onto the plane home.

My advice to anyone who is just starting their exchange, or who is going next semester – remember to make the most out of your experience, whatever that means for you. Make friends from around the world, including your host country. TRAVEL, especially if you’re in Europe. Their discount airlines will become your favourite guilty pleasure websites. You’ve gone this far, so see all of the places you want to see! Don’t fail, and don’t waste your learning experience at a new school. But, don’t bury yourself in schoolwork and forget to experience your exchange.

And, if you’re in England, don’t forget about those doorknobs – pull up, then lock.

For more information on exchange opportunities at Ryerson, please visit: http://www.ryerson.ca/ri/