The Black Squirrels of Kent State University

Every time I step outside to walk through the Kent State University campus, I am on the lookout with my camera close by. In 1961 ten cages containing black squirrels from Ontario Park in London were brought to KSU. They were released on the campus and it became their home. The most unexpected thing was that the black squirrels could mate with the local gray squirrels and the black gene dominated which helped the population grow. The students and staff at the university took a liking to the cute black fur-balls right away and started the annual Black Squirrel Festival, the Black Squirrel Run, the Black Squirrel Radio and many more Black Squirrel Somethings.

Squirrel is the New Black – Since 1961 was originally published on an expired domain created for the Kent State and Anglo American University‘s Journalism Program sponsored by Prague Freedom Foundation that I participated in during the Winter Semester of 2014-2015.

Being new to such a cold climate caused me to walk around campus at a quick pace and looking down to keep as warm as possible. It wasn’t until Candace Bowen pointed out that there were squirrels all over the place that made me decide to look up at a tree that I was passing and I saw one right away. This resulted in almost 20 minutes of me chasing squirrels from tree to tree trying to take a nice picture. At -18 Celsius this was not a good idea, but it wasn’t until my fingers were too cold to press the buttons on my camera that I realized that I was actually freezing and ran inside.

I have always been an animal lover and since there are no squirrels in Prague, I haven’t really gotten to see many of them. Now every time I step outside to walk through the Kent State University campus, I am on the lookout with my camera close by. It is amazing how many squirrels there are here, and that most of them are black. What’s even more amazing is the story of how they got here.

Speaking to the Dean of Communications and Information, Stanley Wearden, this morning I was told that there were ten cages containing black squirrels from Ontario Park in London. This was back in 1961. They were released on the campus and it became their home. Larry Wooddell and Biff Staples, the superintendent of Kent State’s land and a tree expert are the men responsible for this wonderful phenomenon. When the first release proved a success they went back for more cages. The most unexpected thing was that the black squirrels could mate with the local gray squirrels and the black gene dominated which helped the population grow.

The students and staff at the university took a liking to the cute black fur-balls right away and started the annual Black Squirrel Festival, the Black Squirrel Run, the Black Squirrel Radio and many more Black Squirrel Somethings. Three years ago, the squirrels celebrated their 50th anniversary at Kent, and they continue to live and thrive on the school’s campus. Hard to believe that Woodall’s “Operation Black Squirrel” turned into such a success. Walking around campus today you will find actual squirrels in almost every tree and running around leaving tracks in the snow – but you will also find black squirrel toys and other tokens of them on the desks of the university staff and in other unsuspecting places. I guess I’m not the only one who’s squirrel-crazed.

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.
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Are We There Yet? Prague – Ohio Delay

No one from our group of twelve had problems at any airport security checkpoints or got even close to being sent back to Prague on our long journey to Cleveland through London and Chicago. This was especially surprising seeing our diverse nationalities, religions, frustrating visa requirements or the confusing nature of our university trip that required a tourist visa rather than a student one. Many of us were sweating bullets over the possibility of having problems with our transit visa in London and about the intimidating officers at the U.S. passport control. Ironically enough, those were only parts of the entire journey that actually went through as planned.

Seeing Home Dried My Tears was originally published on an expired domain created for the Kent State and Anglo American University‘s Journalism Program sponsored by Prague Freedom Foundation that I participated in during the Winter Semester of 2014-2015.

No one from our group of twelve had problems at any airport security checkpoints or got even close to being sent back to Prague on our long journey to Cleveland through London and Chicago. This was especially surprising seeing our diverse nationalities, religions, frustrating visa requirements or the confusing nature of our university trip that required a tourist visa rather than a student one. Many of us were sweating bullets over the possibility of having problems with our transit visa in London and about the intimidating officers at the U.S. passport control. Ironically enough, those were only parts of the entire journey that actually went through as planned.

Everyone arrived at the Vaclav Havel Airport in Prague on time and with as great an attitude as one could muster at 6:30 in the morning. No one forgot their passport, had an overweight bag or forgot to take their scissors out of their carry-ons. The flight itself was uneventful in a good way and they didn’t even check our transit visas at the passport control in Heathrow. The problems began as we sat by our gate waiting for boarding to start and our excited chatter was interrupted by a delay announcement due to technical problems. Half an hour of hopeful waiting turned into a four-hour delay during which our only compensation was a £5 food voucher. Unfortunately, airport food and £0.99 filtered coffee weren’t enough to prepare us for what was to come.

The flight from London to Chicago was long and traumatizing to some – including a very unhappy baby sitting near several unlucky members of our group. But the selection of movies and games in combination with the free beer and wine helped pass our time. However as much as the pilot tried to catch up on lost time, many passengers, us included, missed our connecting flights. Arriving in Chicago was chaotic as we were rushed towards passport control with our new boarding passes. There were no problems with our visas and not a single suitcase was left in Heathrow, but we weren’t all on the same flight to Cleveland. Half of us were scheduled to fly out on the first flight next morning instead of the last flight of the day.

Not wanting to split up the group, Bibiana and Iva used a combination of charm and (I assume) stern looks to persuade American Airlines to put us all on one flight. Since this was only possible for the 6:55AM flight we had to go out into the cold and squeeze into a small shuttle like cattle. The well-humored driver managed to make us all laugh at the silly situation and it wasn’t long until we reached our destination.

Westin was a pleasant surprise as the hotel was very nice and the beds very comfortable. We had to rush to dinner to get our $35 worth of food and drink. Steak was the most popular option at my table and we enjoyed our first proper meal in the U.S. while discussing politics, journalism and our life stories. After agreeing on a 4:45AM meeting time the following morning we went back to our rooms. After almost 17 hours of travel it was a relief that my last concern of the day was how to arrange the 6 pillows on my bed to get the best nights’ sleep.

Sleeping in a nice big bed and the promise of a short flight to Cleveland had us all in a good mood for our last bit of travel. Everything went smoothly at the airport and we got a chance to discover a bit of American culture while observing a young man wearing blue pajama pants tucked into his boots. His baggy green shirt attracted even more attention as he walked through security unaware that he was our first example of what we were warned about – the overly-casual dressed American. Before arriving at our gate I had also discovered that there are stores dedicated primarily to selling popcorn and that you could buy sim cards in pharmacies.

Our last flight was on the smallest plane that most of us had ever seen. My dilemma at take off and landing was whether to look left or right from my seat 10B which was an equal distance from both windows: the plane only had 3 seats in each row. After a short 45 minute flight we were finally in Cleveland surrounded by advertisements for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We had to rush to get our bags from taking another spin around the conveyor belt and were greeted by Candace Bowen. An hour later we finally arrived in Kent State Hotel, only 13 hours after our expected arrival. We were still excited about the last and best surprise of our long journey. Candace must have gotten a kick out of our reaction to seeing our ride from the airport – a large white limo that seemed bigger and much sturdier than the plane that we had just gotten off of.

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.

 

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Seeing Home Dried My Tears – Moving to Prague

Kicking and screaming on a cold winter’s day in 1996 was how I reacted when my parents first introduced me to Prague. The city looked no more appealing than an endless dark pit through my three-and-a-half-year-old eyes, and I feared that I would never stop falling. I missed Kiev and I cried through my several months at the Prague British School and then at a Czech School, and I didn’t stop until I walked through the doors of the rainbow-logoed International School of Prague in 1998. I became quiet as soon as I walked through the door, and left with a smile. I realized that I was finally home.

Seeing Home Dried My Tears was originally published on an expired domain created for the Kent State and Anglo American University‘s Journalism Program sponsored by Prague Freedom Foundation that I participated in during the Winter Semester of 2014-2015.

Kicking and screaming on a cold winter’s day in 1996 was how I reacted when my parents first introduced me to Prague. The city looked no more appealing than an endless dark pit through my three-and-a-half-year-old eyes, and I feared that I would never stop falling. I missed Kiev and I cried through my several months at the Prague British School and then at a Czech School, and I didn’t stop until I walked through the doors of the rainbow-logoed International School of Prague in 1998. I became quiet as soon as I walked through the door, and left with a smile. I realized that I was finally home.

In my 13 years at the International School, I was plunged into a different world than I was used to. I started out as a girl who spoke one language and played with the kids who grew up in the same building as I did. The school and my life in Prague turned me into a multilingual individual surrounded by more nationalities, races and religions than my friends from back home could even imagine. I was exposed to a new culture on a practically weekly basis and my hobbies changed from playing dolls to traveling, collecting foreign coins and trinkets, and sampling new food – the more strange-looking, the better.

It wasn’t until middle school that I first lifted my head and looked up while walking through this city where I grew up. I was shocked to notice how unbelievably beautiful it was. I became as interested in exploring the city as I did to explore the rest of the world. Eighteen years later, and I’m still walking around in wonder snapping pictures. There is always something new left to uncover.

This time two years ago, I had a difficult decision to make when my parents told me they were finally going back to Kiev, wanting me to come with them. But Prague was now my home, and will forever be, and as hard as it was saying goodbye to them, I knew that the only way I would ever leave would be by force – kicking and screaming.

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.
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The Bumpy Road to International Love in Prague

The ever-growing cosmopolitan city of Prague is home to lots of international cuisine, culture and most of all people who truly are from all over the world. It is no surprise to encounter mix-raced children, a group of friends speaking in several languages at once, and international couples and families. Being an international couple takes a lot of work, from deciding what meal to cook, what language to speak, what day to celebrate Christmas on, or whether to celebrate it at all.

The Bumpy Road to International Love was originally posted in The Bridge, a magazine belonging to the International Women’s Association of Prague.

The ever-growing cosmopolitan city of Prague is home to lots of international cuisine, culture and most of all people who truly are from all over the world. It is no surprise to encounter mix-raced children, a group of friends speaking in several languages at once, and international couples and families. Being an international couple takes a lot of work, from deciding what meal to cook, what language to speak, what day to celebrate Christmas on, or whether to celebrate it at all.

Kimberli Jo Lewis, from Rhode Island, USA met her husband in Germany. Joachim, born in Wuppertal Germany, was first introduced to Kimberli at work. Because their official first meeting Germany very brief, Kimberli considers their first meeting to be in Mallorca Spain in May 1997. As if the beach and warm weather wasn’t enough to bring two people together, the two bonded as they participated in a jeep rally together. Joachim was in lucky because “he was the only person in the event that spoke Spanish,” Kimberli says, “I actually wanted to go in (his) jeep, not because I wanted to meet him. I thought it would give us an advantage!”

After a busy few months of little contact, they ran into each other at a Christmas market. Santa must have teamed up with Cupid that December because as the two sat down together and drank German Mulled Wine or Glüwein they realized that “it was meant to be”. Their globally scattered family and friends complicated their wedding planning and resulted in a plan to have a secret wedding in the Chapel at the Monte Carlo in Las Vegas.

Arriving at the Chapel ready for a private July wedding in 1999, Kimberli and Joachim were surprised by 35 friends and family members from the U.S. and Europe – turns out Kimberli’s best friend in California had figured it out and organized for everyone to come. “So much for keeping secrets” exclaims Kimberli. But the surprise was welcomed and the wedding was beautiful. Although she and Joachim kept a double household, Kimberli returned to Prague in 2007 and they spent most of their time here. Kimberli started and registered a business in Prague and likes it because it is “small enough to meet a lot of people, but is still a capital”.

But being an international couple is hard work – but especially after meeting at a jeep rally – there are no bumps along the road that this couple can’t handle. They juggle four languages in their household (Kimberli’s sister-in-law is Ukrainian and her stepson is half Spanish) and disagree about Christmas traditions. The family is used to coming to agreements about “food, celebrations, cultural habits and even language” explains Kimberli.

On his foreign student exchange in China, Dalibor met his wife Ann who was finishing her Masters. They met to practice English and Chinese together and didn’t imagine that a language partnership turning into something more, “it wasn’t my plan or intention” says Dalibor. Ann teases him and calls a ‘cheater’ because she doesn’t believe that her Czech husband just wanted to learn Chinese. Whatever the intention, language lessons led to love and love led to three weddings!

Dalibor’s closest family witnessed his official wedding with Ann in the Czech Republic. Then followed by a traditional Chinese wedding in Ann’s homeland. Their third and for now final wedding was back in the Czech Republic and was more traditional – many guests, music and food. As if two weddings in one country didn’t suffice, they also decided to move to the Czech Republic, where Dalibor settled for Prague, which suited Ann’s needs better than his preferred choice: Brno. But Dalibor “really wanted (Ann and him) to be together” and he “took it as a new positive challenge and chance”.

Prague proved to be a great home for the international couple. Ann managed to make friends among the big expat communities and now has Chinese friends who live and work here. But it did not go without complications – Ann had a lot of visa problems and “was approached in a very cold and unwelcoming way” says Dalibor, worrying about her first impression of Prague. It took the help of a lawyer and more than 8 months to get temporary residence, which normally takes up to 60 days.

Other challenges included differences in culture – such as the Chinese standard of the man being the “sole breadwinner… and his parents should contribute a significant a significant amount of wealth to the new couple”, says Dalibor, in whose culture gender roles are more equal. He also feels for Ann who is so far away from her family and friends. Although Skype is great, it doesn’t replace personal contact and if there is need to urgently visit her family because of a problem, it is extremely difficult if not impossible.

They also find differences in how they spend their free time and interactions between strangers. Czechs cannot imagine spending a whole night in a karaoke room singing, and the Chinese have trouble with the closed-off nature of Czechs who don’t just interact and act openly with their neighbors like the Chinese do. After living in China for a year together, even Dalibor find some aspects of Czech culture frustrating. But being n international couple “is immensely enriching”, says Dalibor who has experienced “different culture, different psyche, and different ways of life”.

Anna Mazur and her husband Cyrus Skaria met in London. Anna was studying in Warsaw but decided to spend a month in London to learn English, and she met her Indian husband who was finishing his PhD at the University of London. It was love “at 2nd sight” she says smiling. She realized she was in love with him as they ate lunch together in Hyde Park on her second day in London, “I don’t know why but the whole place/situation and him seemed almost magical”. Like in every fairy tale, love led to marriage – the couple got married in India in the same location as Cyrus’s parents 35 years ago.

Moving to Prague has “changed everything in our life” explains Anna. She gave up her developing career and moved to a place they didn’t know. What was meant to be temporary has stretched into what is now two years. They left their home, family and friends and started a new life. Although Anna describes Prague as “a wonderful place” she is not sure that it is the best place for an international couple. “It looks like there are two worlds in Prague”, she says, referring to the expat circle and the “outside world”. Her husband especially struggles with the Czech language, and for Anna, who understands it a bit better still finds it her greatest issue saying, “It gives us grief sometimes”.

She doesn’t see Czechs as being very friendly, just “sad and tired”, and misses how at home, strangers would greet each other – which isn’t done in Prague. Due to his Indian origin Cyrus is often associated with the Roma and is treated with an attitude, “one lady looked at my husband then at me and then she shook her head with disapproval”. But she still thinks that Prague is a beautiful city and a good place to live, the only downside is interacting with the outside world. For her the struggles of being an international couple started with language, because she wasn’t fluent in English when they met, as well as deciding where to live and settle down, “we live in a country which is not a home country to me nor to my husband” – and they think they will have more such stops in their journey.

Wise Words from the Couples:

Kimberli believes that being part of an international couple and having an international family “is wonderful (because) it widens your perspectives and exposes you to things you might not experience otherwise”. Her secret to keeping such an international lifestyle is being “flexible and able to compromise”.

Multilingual Dalibor and Ann see overcoming challenges as “contributing positively to (their) mutual relationship,” because it requires a “special deal of commitment”. He would like to thank Ann for the three-and-a-half years they spent together – their relationship is helping him become a better man.

Anna Muzar didn’t plan on marrying a foreigner and she’s learned a lot about Indian culture, family values, life style and cuisine and sums it up as a “great experience”. She finds the diversity in their family a huge benefit and she hopes that their 3-month-old daughter will one days be multilingual, speaking Polish, English and Hindi.

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.
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A Quick Trip to Vietnam… Without Leaving Prague

Today there are over 60,000 Vietnamese people living in the Czech Republic making them the 3rd biggest minority. Most of them can be found in Prague, where they started a market complex called Sapa, named after a region in northern Vietnam. Along with selling clothes, Asian fruit, vegetables, spices and traditional Vietnamese cuisine, they also hold celebrations and share aspects of their culture to the Czechs and foreign visitors.

Anyone living in Prague today knows that this city is practically littered with Potravinys, Vecerkas and a variety of Vietnamese owned stores and restaurants. The Vietnamese began building a community here during the communist regime in former Czechoslovakia: they worked in machine-building and light industries while students studied in technical fields, Czech literature, some even puppetry. There were almost 30,000 Vietnamese workers and students living here by the eighties, many of which had left after the Velvet Revolution in 1989. But they began immigrating again to either work here or improve their life or to do business and increase opportunities: by 1994 their community was almost 10,000 strong.

Today there are over 60,000 Vietnamese people living in the Czech Republic making them the 3rd biggest minority. Most of them can be found in Prague, where they started a market complex called Sapa, named after a region in northern Vietnam. Along with selling clothes, Asian fruit, vegetables, spices and traditional Vietnamese cuisine, they also hold celebrations and share aspects of their culture to the Czechs and foreign visitors. To a Vietnamese person, Sapa is more than just a business, it is a place where they feel welcomed, accepted and at home.

According to an article in the Prague Post published on July 11th, 2012, the Vietnamese community had increased 292% in the past 10 years. In the last two years, this increase in population was mirrored by an increased in Vietnamese cuisine. There was a rise in Chinese bistros that were run by the Vietnamese who began to gradually include national Vietnamese cuisine to the otherwise Chinese menu. A lot of them also changed their names from Chinese to Vietnamese. A big part of the increase in the popularity of Vietnamese food in Prague was Viet Food Friends, a blog launched in November 2011 by Nguyen Mai Huong and Trinh Thuy Duong. At the time of their interview, their blog had almost 2,000 Facebook followers.

These two Charles University students said that their motivation was to allow the Czechs an opportunity to discover the Vietnamese cuisine and because it wasn’t easily accessible in the past. They believed that the language barrier between the Czechs and the Vietnamese was the main reason for the lack of Vietnamese cuisine in a country with such a great residing community. Both students came to Prague at a young age and were raised in a traditional Vietnamese way while attending Czech schools; although they speak Czech fluently they still feel very close to what they refer to as their “motherland”.

The most popular dishes found in the Czech Republic are pho and bun. Phở is a noodle soup, although the name phở refers to the rice noodles and not the actual soup, other ingredients include beef or chicken, bean sprouts, lime wedges, basil, mint, cilantro, onions and covered with chili or fish sauce. Bún chả is pretty much a cold version of phở and contains grilled pork sausage patties, a variety of herbs, bean sprouts, pickled veggies and nước chấm sauce which is a combination of sweet, sour, salty and spicy.

Phở and bún are the most common in the Czech Republic, but there are many other foods that are less known here but are typical in Vietnam. There are a number of other popular dishes, but the ones to keep an eye for in Prague are bahn cam or golden-fried gooey balls speckled with sesame seeds and filled with mung paste which is a sweet bean paste. Then there is banh chung, a special meal eaten during an important Vietnamese celebration Tet, this banana leaf-wrapped parcel is filled with glutinous rice packed with fatty pork and mung bean. Tet is celebrated at the previously mentioned Sapa. Finally, there is cap he which is a Vietnamese coffee that is much more of a dessert than a drink. It consists of dark coffee that is sweetened by condensed milk and is mixed up with a raw egg.

Vietnamese food is influenced strongly by Chinese cuisine which makes sense because of the proximity between the countries, but also by the French. The French-inspired not only Vietnamese coffee but also their many baguette dishes that are filled with traditional Vietnamese ingredients such as vegetables, herbs, spices, fish, meat and of course nước chấm sauce.

The best places in Prague to experience some of these above-mentioned dishes are Pho on Slavikova 1 next to Jiriho s Podebrad park in Prague 3. Here you can sample pho, bun, fried spring-rolls and non-fried salad-rolls, but be aware that there is nowhere to sit, people come here to eat quickly and eat at standing tables or take to go. If you are looking for a more traditional restaurant with a much higher variety of meals is Red Hot Chilli at Krizikova 123/69 in Karlin. After I finished my meal, the waitress offered me the special Vietnamese coffee that was previously mentioned. Another nice restaurant can be found in Vinohrady on Slezka 57 called Ha Noi. They also have a nice variety of dishes and incredibly cheap prices.

Interview:

“To be honest I do not feel Vietnamese at all,” says Trang Dao, a second generation Vietnamese who was born and raised in the Czech Republic. “My whole life, I grew up with the habit and the culture of this country,” she says when talking about going to a Czech school until the end of middle school. Her parents taught her Vietnamese culture at home but she still “feel(s) more Czech” she “could not imagine moving to Vietnam and live there”. For her, Vietnam is a “completely different world.”

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.
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Home in Hilo – Hawaii Travel

I didn’t know much about Hilo before coming here, but it didn’t take long to fall in love with it. The culture shock began on campus, where strangers said hello to me left and right and a friendly cleaning lady asked me to call her “Aunty” and it didn’t end there.

I didn’t know much about Hilo before coming here, but it didn’t take long to fall in love with it. The culture shock began on campus, where strangers said hello to me left and right and a friendly cleaning lady asked me to call her “Aunty.”

Five weeks later the various aspects of the laidback nature of the locals still never cease to surprise. As an exchange student for one semester, the thought of leaving in 13 weeks saddens me greatly: I can no longer imagine falling asleep without the soothing acapella of coqui frogs: or looking up at the sky back home where I’ve never seen a single shooting star; or seeing rainbows after a long warm rainfall.

What I love the most about UH Hilo are all the chances we get to explore Hawaii and Hawaiian culture on the weekends. The Outdoor EdVenture Trips like Paddle Boarding or going to Hapuna Beach are always something to look forward to during the week and they are never a letdown.

One of my favorite trips so far was a volunteering trip to the Kohala Mountains where we helped rid the rainforest of non-native ginger plants – we saw a beautiful view from the high mountain; we had a bumpy ride in a four-wheel drive through a herd of cows; we saw parts of the rainforest that not every local gets to seel and we helped native Hawaiian rainforest species by sickling away overgrown ginger plants which was oddly satisfying and relaxing.

I know that my time here will be amazing and I will go on many more trips, Hawaii can make even the most dormant of people embrace the spirit of carpe diem.

This was originally published: http://uhh.abroadoffice.net/res/saoffice_static_pages/3056/s-October%202012.pdf

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.
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Flying with Germanwings – Europe Travel

When I decided to spend a few days of my summer vacation visiting my friend in Germany, I knew there were several different options for getting there: by car, bus or train. Looking for the cheapest one I stumbled upon Germanwings, a German airline offering roundtrip tickets for 1,500 CZK.

Flying with Germanwings was originally posted in The Bridge, a magazine belonging to the International Women’s Association of Prague. Travel in Europe has never been easier or cheaper!

When I decided to spend a few days of my summer vacation visiting my friend in Germany, I knew there were several different options for getting there: by car, bus or train. Looking for the cheapest one I stumbled upon Germanwings, a German airline offering roundtrip tickets for 1,500 CZK.

I didn’t believe it at first, but I took my chances filling in all the information, booking almost 3 months in advance and was surprised that with only hand luggage and no meal on board, the tickets did truly cost only 1,500, with an additional cost of 222 CZK for online paying; which was cheaper than any of the other options of getting all the way to Cologne/Bonn. The additional cost of bringing a suitcase or choosing the seats and a meal was also relatively cheap.

Expecting the worst sort of plane imaginable for the low price of the flight I was positively surprised by a very nice plane, looking just like a regular CSA plane, and I was even more surprised by a timely boarding and an on the dot arrival at the Cologne/Bonn airport. At my destination airport, I saw that Germanwings was indeed very popular in Germany and they had a whole section of the 1st terminal just for the Germanwings airline and they had planes taking off almost every 30 minutes. Although the boarding was delayed by 30 minutes on my way back to Prague, the plane just flew faster and reached Prague in 55 minutes, a whole 20 minutes less than it took to fly to Germany.

Most of the flights that Germanwings makes are around Europe, but you can also find flights to other continents, although only the ones around Europe are at such low prices. When I booked this flight, I also agreed to get emails about last minute offers that the airline had to offer. Although I have yet to book one of these flights, I am definitely very pleased with discovering them and will definitely use them in the future. Next time you have a trip in mind, I recommend that you check out Germanwings because they might offer just what you’re looking for at a much lower price than expected!

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.
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Experiencing UH Hilo – Hawaii Travel

Being Ukrainian and growing up in the Czech Republic, I came to Hawaii with my head full of expectations and uneducated stereotypes. My home university, Anglo American, happened to have an exchange program in University of Hawai’I at Hilo.

I came to Hawaii to study at UH Hilo on a university exchange in 2012. Living in Hawaii for four months was an incomparable experience that is hard to put into words. But I’ve been trying to describe it since the day I set foot on the Big Island.

Being Ukrainian and growing up in the Czech Republic, I came to Hawaii with my head full of expectations and uneducated stereotypes. My home university, Anglo American, happened to have an exchange program at the University of Hawai’I at Hilo, and since coming to Hawaii has always been a dream of mine, I jumped at the opportunity to come here. I thought I would spend four months sitting on a white sand beach under a constantly blazing sun surrounded by hula dancers. And, that I’d have leis thrown over my head wherever I went by ukulele-playing locals.

Some of this did actually happen: August was really sunny, I saw a graceful hula dance at the talent show during orientation week, I bought a cheap lei in a souvenir store, and I do hear students strumming a ukulele on campus every once in a while. But, Hawaii turned out to be so much more.

Instead of white sand beaches, Hilo has many beautifully unique volcanic beaches to offer like Honoli’i and Richardson. Honoli’i has a river flowing into the ocean creating a calm area to swim in while the waves in the ocean offer a great surfing environment, and the small beach is surrounded by cliffs and palm trees. Richardson beach is completely different with lots of different enclosed areas to swim in and also lots of areas to just sit around and have picnics. It is even known as a place to spot turtles. The two beaches also showed me a lot about Hawaiian culture.

At both beaches I saw the strong bond between the Hawaiians and their natural surroundings; everyone was careful to clean up after themselves after eating and picked up every bit of litter that they dropped. There was also a great respect for the turtles, which are not to be touched, and the locals watched my friends and me carefully as we approached the turtles to photograph them, and would have probably jumped to their defense if we got too close or disturbed them

There was also a strong sense of family and community at the beaches as big families gather together and set up tents to have picnics and chill. Also, everyone would gather together and cheer whenever a child caught their first wave surfing. It was amazing to watch and the friendly locals would always make me feel included by randomly saying hello and interacting with me.

I also discovered that Hilo is far from being constantly sunny, but I have never seen a more mesmerizing rainfall. The rain here is warm and you can see it bringing life to the whole island as all sorts of critters crawl out from hiding and the plants just seem to dance as the drops hit their leaves. The rain here never seems to bring anyone’s moods down.

On Tuesday and Thursday at six P.M., the hula class at the Student Life Center continues no matter the weather, with friendly upbeat instructors for both beginners and the advanced classes. After seeing a hula dancer perform at the talent show during orientation week there were quite a few people wanting to learn this unique form of dancing.

All in all, Hawaii turned out to have much more to offer than I ever imagined possible, and UH Hilo is a big part of it. Being given weekly opportunities to travel around the Big Island and experience new activities is just one of the perks of the university. There is something here for everyone to participate in, from trying out your public speaking skills on the school radio station to volunteering to help with the beehive to pretty much any club, sport and activity that you can think of.

As an exchange student for one semester, I am truly amazed by UH Hilo. I will have many ideas to take back and suggest to Anglo American, my home university, to make it at least half as good a university as this one.

Originally published here: https://issuu.com/kekalahea/docs/issue4fall2012

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UHH Students Help Watershed Project

The Kohala Watershed Partnership is dedicated to helping rid of non-native species and helping those that are native strive. Every month volunteers go to the mountain to do a variety of tasks from planting trees to sterilizing those that shouldn’t be there.

UHH Students Help Watershed Project was originally published at 12:05 on October 10th 2012 in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. It has since been removed from the website but below is the original article.

The Kohala Watershed Partnership is dedicated to helping rid of non-native species and helping those that are native strive. Every month volunteers go to the mountain to do a variety of tasks from planting trees to sterilizing those that shouldn’t be there.

Earlier this month, a group of the University of Hawaii at Hilo student volunteers went to the mountain with the Kohala Watershed staff and spent a few hours clearing up ginger plants that were suffocating other native species.

The work was not only rewarding but gave the students a chance to see part of Hawaii that not everyone gets to see.

The Kohala Watershed Partnership is always looking for more volunteers to help out in the mountains or in other ways. Visit http://kohalawatershed.org/ for more information on the organization and to learn how you can help.

“Kohala, known to most as an extinct volcano on the Big Island, is more than just one of the oldest volcanoes on this island. Kohala Mountain is now the home of certain species of plants and animals that cannot be found anywhere else in not just Hawaii, but the whole world,” said UHH exchange student Olena Kagui, one of the volunteers.

“It is also an important source of rainwater that supports the unique native species living on the mountain as well as providing water for human communities. There are certain species of plants and animals that are not native to the mountain that are threatening to damage the ecosystem and in doing so kill the rare species living there,” she said.

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.

 

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Living with Pets, Nika Kagui

I will never forget the day I came home from school to find a tiny puppy sitting on the stairs. With her big eyes, wet nose and chubby pink tummy, it only took Nika one second to make me fall in love with her. She made my whole family come alive and change.

Living with Pets, Nika Kagui was originally published in The Bridge, the magazine published by IWAP – International Women’s Association of Prague. Nika Kagui was more than just a pet, she was a beloved dog that was part of our family. We still miss her every day, but the memories of her are no longer sad.

I will never forget the day I came home from school to find a tiny puppy sitting on the stairs. With her big eyes, wet nose and chubby pink tummy, it only took Nika one second to make me fall in love with her. She made my whole family come alive and change. My busy mother found time to take her on countless of walks every few hours, my neat germ-phobic father heard her howling one night and she’s slept in his bed ever since, and I discovered the true meaning of unconditional love.

But there were many sacrifices too. We couldn’t go on as many family trips, we worried too much about leaving her with others. Also, just like many other purebred Labradors, Nika had many health problems; one vet even recommended that we ‘don’t waste our time and money and put her to sleep’. She had hip problems among many others, and she was at risk of not live past 3. We decided to take our chances and vowed to keep her alive for as long as possible as long as she didn’t suffer and had the will to live – and boy did she love living.

She was always full of energy and curiosity. Among driving in the car and playing with Leia, a puppy we bought for her because she couldn’t have her own, her passion was swimming. She would climb the ladder into the blow-up pool in our garden with confidence; look at us to see if we were watching her and then jump in and swim for hours. When she got out she would dry herself on a towel that we laid out for her. Watching this regular routine never got old and always raised our spirits.

But despite the happy moments, there was also a lot of worrying involved. She underwent over 7 operations over the 8 years and 5 months of her life. Seeing her shaved in strange placed, bandaged up, limping with sleepy eyes after a long operation was always horrible. But no matter what state she was in, she would greet us warmly; wagging her tail, begging us for a treat and making us scratch her back. Her eyes always twinkled with gratefulness and happiness that made every single sacrifice worth it.

When she died in surgery a few months back, we were devastated. She was more than a dog: she was a member of the family, a friend and a reflection of ourselves. She fought for her life until the end. When her heart stopped during other surgeries, she would make it beat again. When we worried that we were selfish to put her through the operations, she showed us that she too wanted more than anything to live. Her bravery, determination, happiness and her endless supply of love is something that along with the memory of her will be with us in our hearts forever.

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.
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