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Tuesday, 24 July 2007


Health and safety is the last thing most students consider as they buckle down and focus on academics. Most students go through graduate school without seeing the halls of a health center/infirmary/clinic. However, when you find yourself alone in a strange country, you’ll be the only one looking out for yourself. There’ll be no parents asking you about your meals or constantly reminding to take your vitamins. No family doctor or doctor-relative to see to your needs, and sometimes a phone call away. Students who have to use health care abroad will agree that it is expensive and sometimes lacking in the TLC department.

Tips: Visit your doctor and dentist before leaving. Go to the dentist for cleaning, have cavities checked and filled, etc. Optometrist/Ophthalmologist:ask for your prescription, and an extra pair of glasses/contacts. Also, stock up on prescription medicine

As a foreign student, you will be required to enroll in your university’s health insurance program or present your own medical insurance equal or more than what the school is offering. Some countries like the United Kingdom and Spain provide health insurance for free. The UK provides free health insurance for students who are staying six months or longer. In Spain, health insurance is provided for students 28 years and younger. Other countries like the US, Germany, Australia and Japan provide health insurance programs but the benefits vary with each school. You might think paying health insurance fees a waste of money but when you get sick, or worse have an accident you end up with a huge medical bill that will eat up a huge chunk of your savings. While Tricia was a student, she had a minor accident, but luckily her health insurance company paid for the expenses.

What exactly is health insurance?
Medical care is costly and the only way to avoid paying huge sums of money for this is to carry health insurance. Insurance protects against the need to meet the entire burden of expenses by spreading the cost among groups of people.

Health insurance does not cover all medical expenses in all cases. It is routine for individuals to have “co-payments,” a percentage of the bill, often 20% of the bill, for which they are personally responsible. There are often items in the policy that are excluded, like pre-existing conditions (illnesses or injuries before the insurance policy began), and preventive care such as contraception. Other items not covered by typical health insurance programs are dental care and optometry costs.

Health insurance normally covers the following: medically-necessary treatment, diagnostic tests (radiology and laboratory), annual gynecologic exams, annual physical exams, in-patient and outpatient benefits, prescription benefits, and mental health benefits.

Source: ‘Health Insurance in the US, How to Stay Healthy in the US,” Published online by the NYU Office of International Students and Scholars

Tip: If you plan to bring along your spouse and children with you, they will also be required to have health insurance. Check with your university if they offer family insurance. Some medicine and services come free for children younger than 16.

Once you’re enrolled, the university will send you a health insurance card with a list of benefits and exclusions. Always keep it handy in your wallet just in case you might need it in an emergency or get into an accident.

If you are lucky enough to be in a country like the UK that provides free healthcare, the UKCOSA advises to register with a doctor immediately and not to wait until you are ill. This means going to the doctor’s receptionist with proof that you are a student. You should ask to be added to the list of National Health Service (NHS) patients. To avoid paying the full (private) cost of treatment makes sure the doctor knows you want treatment from the NHS. If you are accepted you will be sent a medical card, which will include your NHS number. The UKCOSA cautions that while some services are free, there are some that you will have to pay for. So make sure that if you have to pay a percentage of a service like dental treatment, try to find out the cost beforehand so there are no nasty surprises.

According to Vanessa Go who went to graduate school in both New York and Chicago, you can even go to your school’s health center for minor ailments. This can include headaches, allergies, some schools offer free flu shots when flu season begins.

Preventive Measures
The best way to avoid getting sick is by staying healthy. This means eating right and getting a good amount of exercise. The Cooking, Cleaning and Laundry chapter provides healthy recipes you can prepare in little time. Keeping healthy is basic common sense. Everything our mothers taught us holds true: drink lots of water, take your vitamins, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, get a good amount of sleep and stop watching too much TV!

During the initial few months, you actually lose weight as you adjust to your new home. You’re still getting used to the food (especially in countries where rice isn’t a staple), adjusting to the unaccustomed amount of exercise (mostly through the unaccustomed amount spent on walking) and stress from academic requirements. Once you’ve settled into your routine, you might become a victim of the supersize phenomenon, especially in the US where one meal can actually be good for three meals back home. The term “Freshman 10” was coined to refer to weight gain.

Fighting the Fabled Freshman 10

1. Eat breakfast.
2. Skip soda. Water is better.
3. If you are going to a place that serves big portions, keep this in mind: When you order takeout or eat at a restaurant, immediately half the dish. This way you save money and keep your weight down.
4. Find some exercise. Take the stairs, walk the next few blocks, use the gym instead of vegging out in front of the TV. For those more intellectually motivated, walk to the neighborhood bookstore or library.
5. Take small meals throughout the day. Starving yourself will make you want to eat more.
6. Instead of junk food, try peanuts (the supposed brain food), fruits or yogurt.
7. Think summer. No more hiding beneath bulky sweaters.
8. If you are craving for something like potato chips, buy a small bag. If you “deprive” yourself, you usually end up binging.
9. Fast food has healthy options. Instead of the greasy burger, why not consider the grilled chicken sandwich?
10. Try not to eat too late at night. It can also give you indigestion.

While walking is considered the best form of exercise (you’ll certainly get plenty of it on your way to school, doing your laundry, shopping for groceries and doing your errands), you will also spend a lot of time working in front of the computer. Getting exercise is a good way to clear your head and some studies say that you get even more productive after a workout. One of our more athletic respondents, Bibi Choa (Sophia University, Tokyo) said she joined an Aikido Club, used the school gym and worked out in her dorm room. Rhoel Dinglasan (Yale University, Connecticut) worked out almost everyday in the gym but chose to go a small local one since the university gym was always full. It was an added expense but he says it made up for the convenience. Eric Franco (Stanford, University, California) biked to school. Victoria Goseco (Columbia University, New York) took voluntary classes in the university’s gym.

Tip: The Food Guide Pyramid is an outline of what to eat each day based on the US Dietary Guidelines. According to the USDA a healthy diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk products; Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts; and Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars. For more information go to this link:

Source: USDA

Tip: Helpful Healthcare Sites
WEBMD Health
Great internet site to access information about health conditions. The site presents a topic overview of the disease, symptoms and medications, and how you can treat it at home.
National Institutes of Health
Wonderful website that provides the latest documents on health conditions put together by the US Department of Health and Human Services.


Safety is relative. Some neighborhoods are more precarious than others. Wherever you live, please take precautions regarding your safety. Your university will have its own security in addition to the city security. If you live within university grounds, you have two forms of security you can run to—the university security and the city police. Find out where they are stationed just in case of emergency. If you live outside the campus, find the location of the nearest police district.

As grad students, you probably have a lot of classes that end late in the evening. Our survey respondents recommend bringing a whistle, mace/pepper spray (might be illegal in your area), taking self-defense classes, and generally always look like you know where you are going.

Safety tips from NYU handbook:

On the Streets
• At night, walk close to the curb. Avoid bushes and doorways where an attacker can hide. Travel on well-lighted streets.
• Walk in an assertive manner. An attacker looks for someone who appears vulnerable.
• Late at night, walk facing the flow of traffic. Know where you are going. Plan your route in advance.
• Walk in well-lighted and populated areas, especially at night. Stay out of parks at night. Be aware of your surroundings and of suspicious persons or circumstances. If followed, walk quickly to a well-lit and populated area. If followed by a car, turn and walk in the opposite direction.
• Travel with a friend whenever possible at night. If you must travel alone, tell a friend your route and promise to call by a certain time.
• Do not walk, drive or bicycle while using headphones, because they can be a big distraction.
• Do not use Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) late at night. When you do use an ATM to withdraw cash, do not count it out in front of the machine where others can easily observe the amount. Put the money away, and count it in a private setting.
• Always keep bags closed and book bags zipped and buckled. Keep your bag on your lap in restaurants. Do not hang it on the back of your chair or leave it in an empty chair. It is good practice to keep bags between your feet under the table.
• Always have enough money for cab fare home and quarters to make telephone calls. Carry a Metrocard whenever you go out, even if you are not planning on taking the subway or bus.

Titchie’s Dad’s Advice: Always have an extra $20 handy for emergencies

In University Buildings
• While guards from Protection Services staff our buildings, people not affiliated with the university may occasionally gain access. It is important to be alert and to avoid whenever possible isolated areas in buildings.
• Purses and wallets should be locked in desk drawers or other secure places.
• Secure your office doors when working alone or if you must leave for a few minutes. If you are alone late at night or on the weekend, it is a good idea to notify a security guard of your presence and schedule.
• Always report suspicious occurrences or persons to your school’s protection services.
• The major crime committed at NYU is theft of wallets, bags, purses, and other personal belongings that are left in unlocked lockers, or are left unattended in classrooms or in the library. Never leave personal belongings unattended.

In Residence Halls
• Lock the door to your room when going to bed or leaving the room, even if it is only for a short time, i.e. when going down the hall to talk with a friend or the bathroom. The vast majority of crimes in residence halls involve theft of personal property. Most crimes occur when doors are left unlocked. Locking your door is, therefore, the single most effective action that you can take to prevent theft.
• Do not lend your key or ID card to anyone.
• Do not leave notes on your door announcing that no one is there.
• Keep small items of value, i.e. purses, wallets, money and jewelry, out of sight. Be careful to watch valuables in lounges, libraries, and dining halls.
• Do not invite people into your residence hall unless you know them quite well.

At Home
• Always have your keys ready when approaching the door.
• Never open your door without knowing who is on the other side. Install a peephole in the door and require salespeople and meter readers to show identification.
• Leave lights on when you go out. Use automatic timers for lights when you leave town.
• List only your first initial and last name on your mailbox and in the telephone directory.
• Answering machine messages should never indicate that you are not home or are on vacation.
• Never admit to strangers by phone or at your door that you’re alone.
• Be sure to secure all locks, even if you are at home or only leaving your apartment for a few minutes.
• Report lost or stolen keys. Have locks changed immediately.
• Do not let strangers in to make telephone calls. Take the number and make the call for them.
• Keep a telephone near your bed. If you hear a burglar, do not give any sign of being aware. If you can safely call for assistance, do so. Avoid alerting or interrupting a burglar.
• Know which of your neighbors you can call in case of an emergency.
• If you walk into your building and find suspicious individuals loitering there or suspect someone is in your apartment, do not enter. Call emergency.
• Be sure to obtain renter's (tenant's) insurance for your property. If any property is stolen, report it for insurance and recovery purposes.

Fire Safety
• Never tamper with or obstruct a smoke detector. Change the batteries regularly, so that they are always fresh.
• Have a prepared plan of escape and practice it. Learn the locations of fire exits in buildings. Know at least two ways out. In apartments, make sure there is a fire escape for all floors above the ground level.
• Never smoke in bed.
• Do not overload extension cords. Replace all frayed or cracked cords.
• When cooking, never leave food unattended.
• Never use water on grease fires; instead, cover the pan.
• If you live in an apartment, it's a good idea to purchase one or two fire extinguishers and to keep them near your kitchen and bedroom areas.
If you detect a fire in a campus building or residence hall
• Alert the occupants.
• Pull the fire alarm.
• Exit via the nearest stairway. Never use an elevator in a fire.
• Call Protection Services.

If you are caught in a fire
• Check the door. If it is hot, do not open it. Keep it closed and seal the door by stuffing towels, sheets, rags, or anything else you have under it (and over it, if there is a space on top),
• Close the doors behind you as you escape. If you are leaving through a door that you want to lock, e.g., your residence hall room, take your key with you.
• Use the stairs; never use an elevator when there is a fire.
• Get down on the floor and crawl, since smoke and heat rise.
• If you are confined to a room, signal for help from a window using a towel or sheet.
• If your clothing catches fire, drop and roll; never run.

Automobile Safety
• Wear your seatbelt; it is the law.
• Park in well-lighted areas.
• Have your keys in your hand before reaching your vehicle. Check the interior of your vehicle before entering it.
• Lock all doors immediately after entering or leaving your car.
• If you believe you are being followed, do not drive home. Stay on busy streets and drive to a public place or a police station.
• If your car breaks down, open the hood and attach a white cloth to the antenna. Stay in your car with doors locked. If someone stops to help, remain in your locked car and ask them to call the police, a garage, or if you are a member, an automobile club.
• Use a steering wheel lock to protect your car from theft and a locking gas cap to prevent fuel thefts.
• Mount your stereo or car phone on a bracket that allows removal of the unit when you leave the vehicle. Store the item in your trunk.

Source: “Handbook for Scholars, Staff, and Faculty,” Published by the NYU Office of International Students and Scholars

Emergency Numbers:

Making calls to these numbers are free. Be prepared to tell the following: the emergency service you need (fire, police, ambulance), what happened and where you are. And also make sure it is an emergency because ambulance charges may be expensive.
USA 911
UK 999
JAPAN (fire) 119
JAPAN (police) 110
GERMANY (police and ambulance) 110
GERMANY (fire and emergency medical aid) 112
SPAIN (General Emergency Number) 112
SPAIN (Police) 091
SPAIN (Fire) 080
SPAIN (Ambulance) 96-380-14-15 or 608-66-09-52 (cell phone)

What to do if you lose your purse or wallet: Tips from a Victim

Contributed by Anonymous

We’ve all heard stories about fraud that’s committed using your name, phone number, SS#, credit, etc. Unfortunately I have first hand knowledge, because my wallet was stolen. Within a week, the thief ordered an expensive monthly cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit line approved to buy a Gateway computer, received a PIN number from DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) to change my driving record information online, and more. But here’s some critical information to limit the damage in case this happens to you or someone you know.

As everyone always advises:
1. Cancel your credit cards immediately, but the key is having the toll numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep these numbers where you can find them easily.
Lost MasterCard - 1-800-MC-ASSIST
Lost Visa Card - 1-800-847-2911
Lost American Express Card - 1 800-221-7282

2. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where it was stolen, this proves to credit providers you were diligent, and is a first step towards investigation (if there ever is one).

3. Call the three national credit reporting organizations (or its equivalent if not in the US) immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and SS#. I had never heard of doing that until I was advised by a bank calling to tell me an application for credit was made over the Internet in my name. The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit. By the time I was advised to take this action, almost two weeks after the theft, all the damage had been done. There are records of all credit checks initiated by the thief’s purchases, none of which I knew about before placing the alert. Since then, no additional damage has been done, and the thieves threw my wallet away this weekend (someone turned it in). This seems to have stopped them in their tracks.

4. I also make a copy of everything in my wallet. Don’t everyone rush to the copier either.
Equifax 18005256285
Experience (formerly TRW) 18883973742
Trans Union 18006807289
Social Security Administration (fraud line) 18002690271

What should be inside your medicine cabinet?

What should be inside your medicine cabinet?
Source: American Red Cross Website

· Assemble a first aid kit for your home and one for each car.
· Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
· Assorted sizes of safety pins
· Cleansing agent/soap
· Latex gloves (2 pairs)
· Sunscreen
· 2-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
· 4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
· Triangular bandages (3)
· Non-prescription drugs
· 2-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
· 3-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
· Scissors
· Tweezers
· Needle
· Moistened towelettes
· Antiseptic
· Thermometer
· Tongue blades (2)
· Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant

With the event of September 11, you might also be concerned about what to do in case of an emergency. Some of the tips might be a little too much (such as buying a ladder or getting all the items in the emergency bag). Just use your common sense and stick to the basics of the plan below.

Emergency Tips

There are six basics you should stock for your home: water, food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies, and special items. Keep the items that you would most likely need during an evacuation in an easy-to carry container—suggested items are marked with an asterisk(*). Possible containers include a large, covered trash container, a camping backpack, or a duffle bag.

Store water in plastic containers such as soft drink bottles. Avoid using containers that will decompose or break, such as milk cartons or glass bottles. A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water each day. Hot environments and intense physical activity can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers, and ill people will need more.

Store one gallon of water per person per day.

Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person (two quarts for drinking, two quarts for each person in your household for food preparation/sanitation).*

Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking, and little or no water. If you must heat food, pack a can of sterno. Select food items that are compact and lightweight. Include a selection of the following foods in your Disaster Supplies Kit:
Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, and vegetables
Canned juices
Staples (salt, sugar, pepper, spices, etc.)
High energy foods
Food for infants
Comfort/stress foods

First Aid Kit
Assemble a first aid kit for your home and one for each car:
Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
Assorted sizes of safety pins
Cleansing agent/soap
Latex gloves (2 pairs)
2-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
Triangular bandages (3)
Non-prescription drugs
2-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
3-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
Moistened towelettes
Tongue blades (2)
Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
Non-Prescription Drugs
Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever
Anti-diarrhea medication
Antacid (for stomach upset)
Syrup of Ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center)
Activated charcoal (use if advised by the Poison Control Center)

Tools and Supplies
Mess kits, or paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils*
Emergency preparedness manual*
Battery-operated radio and extra batteries*
Flashlight and extra batteries*
Cash or traveler's checks, change*
Non-electric can opener, utility knife*
Fire extinguisher: small canister ABC type
Tube tent
Matches in a waterproof container
Aluminum foil
Plastic storage containers
Signal flare
Paper, pencil
Needles, thread
Medicine dropper
Shut-off wrench, to turn off household gas and water
Plastic sheeting
Map of the area (for locating shelters)

Toilet paper, towelettes*
Soap, liquid detergent*
Feminine supplies*
Personal hygiene items*
Plastic garbage bags, ties (for personal sanitation uses)
Plastic bucket with tight lid
Household chlorine bleach

Clothing and Bedding
*Include at least one complete change of clothing and footwear per person.
Sturdy shoes or work boots*
Rain gear*
Blankets or sleeping bags*
Hat and gloves
Thermal underwear
Special Items
Remember family members with special requirements, such as infants and elderly or disabled persons

Important Family Documents
Keep these records in a waterproof, portable container:
Will, insurance policies, contracts deeds, stocks and bonds
Passports, social security cards, immunization records
Bank account numbers
Credit card account numbers and companies
Inventory of valuable household goods, important telephone numbers
Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)
Store your kit in a convenient place known to all family members. Keep a smaller version of the supplies kit in the trunk of your car.
Keep items in airtight plastic bags. Change your stored water supply every six months so it stays fresh. Replace your stored food every six months. Re-think your kit and family needs at least once a year.
Replace batteries, update clothes, etc.
Ask your physician or pharmacist about storing prescription medications.

The Red Cross says if you have only moments before leaving, grab
these things and go!
Medical supplies: prescription medications and dentures.
Disaster supplies: flashlight, batteries, radio, first aid kit, bottled water
Clothing and bedding: a change of clothes and a sleeping bag or bedroll and pillow for each household member
Car keys and keys to the place you may be going (friend's or relative's home)
Source: "Disaster Supplies Kit." developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross.

Keep in Mind

The NYU Handbook has the following advice to keep you safe when you go out on a date.
Source: “Dating Tips for Anyone Going out with Someone for the First Time and Women: Ways to Prevent Acquaintance Rape, Safety in the City,” Published by the NYU Office of International Students and Scholars

Dating Tips for Anyone Going out with Someone for the First Time
• Always carry money, even if your date is paying for the evening, in case of emergency.
• Never let your date take you somewhere you're not familiar. Always know the address and location of where you are.
• Decide beforehand who will pay.
• If at any time, you feel uncomfortable, leave. Listen to your intuition.
• Dress comfortably.
• Respect your date when you hear "no." NO means NO!
• Be on time. However, if your date is late, don't let it spoil the evening – remain pleasant.
• Introduce your date to a friend or someone you know.
• Tell a friend where you're going, or call your own answering machine as if you were calling a friend.
• Choose public places, such as coffee shops or restaurants, for first meetings.

Women: Ways to Prevent Acquaintance Rape
• Communicate your sexual desires and limits clearly. What you say and how you behave may create conflicting messages. Never give mixed messages.
• Learn to be assertive, to express your feelings and to say "no." Forget about being nice if you feel threatened. You have the right to protect yourself.
• Be an active partner in relationships and share decisions about what to do, where to meet and when to be intimate.
• Exercise caution when dating. Have first dates in public places. Let someone know where you are going and when you will return. Whenever possible, try to provide your own, reliable transportation.
• Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable or think you may be at risk, leave the situation immediately and go to a safe place.
• Remember that leaving a party or other social event with someone you have just met can be extremely dangerous, since you may be placing yourself in a very vulnerable position.
• Avoid anyone who puts you down, talks negatively about women in general, is physically violent or does not respect you or your decisions.

Men: Ways to Prevent Acquaintance Rape
• Understand that forced sex is never acceptable and that rape is a felony.
• Stop if someone says "no," is reluctant or is not clearly consenting. Never take silence as consent. If you feel you are getting a double message, speak up and ask for absolute clarification. • Respect the word "no." When a woman says "no," believe her.
• Do not assume that a woman wants to have sex just because she drinks heavily, dresses in a particular manner or agrees to go to your room, house or apartment. Do not assume that if a woman agrees to kissing or other sexual intimacies, she is also willing to have sexual intercourse. • Never have sex with anyone who is drunk or has passed out.
• Seek professional help if anger and/or violence is a problem in your relationships with other people.
• Resist peer pressure to participate in violent or criminal acts. Your disapproval will help others understand that forcing sex is not acceptable. Remember, sexual assault can happen to you or to someone you love.

Down with SAD?

Yes, there is a type of depression called SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

People who suffer from SAD have symptoms similar to victims of other forms of depression: lethargy, sadness, hopelessness, anxiety and social withdrawal. What makes SAD different is that the symptoms occur during the seasons of Fall and Winter when the days are shorter.
Other symptoms include: daytime drowsiness, weight gain, and a craving for sweets.

Fortunately, the treatment for people who have a mild case of SAD is simple and inexpensive: 30 minutes of exercise out in the morning sun.

If you think you are suffering from a severe case of SAD or from other forms of depression, consult a mental health practitioner. Most US university health insurance companies as well as the UK’s National Health Service cover psychiatric treatment.

Symptoms of Depression
· Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
· Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
· Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
· Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
· Decreased energy, fatigue being “slowed down”
· Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
· Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
· Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
· Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
· Restlessness, irritability
· Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain

For more information, check out the following articles on,, and the US National Institute of Mental Health:
Sunshine for SAD Sufferers by Christine Cosgrove, WebMD Medical News
Seasonal Affective Disorder by Josepha Cheong, MD, Michael Herkov, PhD, Wayne Goodman, MD,
Depression, NIH Publication No. 00-3561, Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, Printed 2000

Sunday, 22 July 2007


Entertainment is probably the last thing you have in mind as a serious-minded student. But part of the whole “studying abroad” experience includes learning about life in your new city. If tourists spend lots of money to explore your city for a few days, you’ll have the advantage of knowing your city more intimately with less money invested. Even when your schedule is crammed with deadlines, group meetings, and errands to run, make the time to relax and have fun. Knowing your way around the city and its attractions becomes a necessary skill when you have visitors looking for a tour from a “native.” Don’t graduate and then go home wishing you did more in the extracurricular department.

What’s out there exactly? The weekly New Yorker has a section called “Going on About Town” and has a listing of mainstream cultural activities. A sample section includes 64 listings for Theater (Openings and Previews - 12, Opened Recently - 31, Long Runs - 21); six listings for Dance, Night Life (Concerts - 4, Clubs - 9, Jazz and Standards - 6); 24 listings for Art (Museums and Libraries- 8, Galleries Uptown - 7/Chelsea - 3/Downtown – 6, Brooklyn); 11 listings for Photography; 5 listings for Auctions and Antiques; 15 listings for Classical Music (Opera - 3, Orchestras and Choruses - 3, Recitals - 9); Above and Beyond (Readings, Talks, etc.) and 43 movie theaters (Now Showing, Revivals, Classics, etc.). Overwhelmed? That list doesn’t include events that are more experimental like the listing in the more avant-garde Time Out magazine or the local City Paper. And if you don’t live in a city with an active entertainment scene, don’t despair. There’s always something to do for anybody who is willing to try something new. A more interesting city is probably a bus/train/plane ride away.

School Freebies

If you are looking for cheap, or even, free gimmicks, the best place to look is to check out university-sponsored activities. Flyers are usually posted in high-traffic area of the campus—dorms, student centers, department offices, library, cafeteria/food courts, etc. Other activities may be advertised in your school paper, or if you are interested in activities around the city—check the city paper (it’s free and lists more “hip” activities) and local magazines (i.e., Time Out, New Yorker, Washingtonian, etc.) or the newspaper for listings. You can also go on the web to check the online version of the magazines or other city guides as well.

City Guides
Campus activities can include socials sponsored by your school which can run from a formal cocktail hour to a laidback evening of pizza and beer in a nearby bar. International students are offered various activities through the international office. At NYU, the activities are designed to introduce “American culture” and the neighborhood to foreign students. Activities included a trip to Harlem to explore the neighborhood and lunch at Sylvia’s (a restaurant famous for Southern cooking), free museum visits to MoMA and the MET, Thanksgiving meals with an NYU professor, skating at Chelsea Piers, and watching a live taping of a TV show. Other university offerings might include free movie screenings, ski trips, discounted theater tickets and exhibits. At Boston University, Rico Manuel (Boston University, Boston) described school-sponsored events such as sailing in the summer and skiing in the winter. At the University of Virginia, one of the most popular school events was the annual steeplechase held in the track beside the school.

Whatever your interest may be, your school/college will most likely have something for you: lectures, concerts, film showings, seminars, even sports. Your tuition covers the use of sports facilities such as the oval, the swimming pool, the gym, there may even be exercise classes offered.

Student Perks

Take advantage of your student status. Students are given discounts (sometimes through their universities) for movies, concerts, plays, and ballets. Some restaurants even offer discounts to students if you show them your university ID. In Europe, student cards work as well as a discount cards for travel, and the amount you can save using your student card for that train trip to another country could be hefty. Below are some of the more popular student cards:

· The USA-based Student Advantage Card ( allows you discount ranging from travel (Greyhound Bus, Amtrak, US Airways) to your toiletries!

· International Student Exchange Card ( valid in various Europe, Asia, Australia, USA, Canada and the Middle East. Provides 10-50% discounts and special rates to museums, castles, palaces, hotels, restaurants, shops, language, schools, theaters, concerts, operas, cinemas, recreational facilities, rentals (auto, motorcycle, and bicycle), bus routes, boat routes, railroads, and selected European airlines. As a member, you are covered with basic medical benefits that cover up to $2000 in medical expenses, and up to $5000 in evacuation fees, if necessary.

· International Student Identity Card (
Also called ISIC, this card provides special airline fares through any Council Travel shop. National discounts in the US covering hotels, amusement parks, rental cars, ski resorts, retail shops and more. A reduced entrance fee at museums, theaters, special rail or bus passes and discounts at hotels and shops worldwide. When purchased in the US, the card also provides basic accident and sickness insurance for travel outside of the US, including hospital stays, accident medical expense, emergency evacuation, accidental death and dismemberment, repatriation of remains, passport protection and baggage delay insurance.

· Student Price Card ( Canada's popular student loyalty program for high school and university/college students. In partnership with 200 national merchants coast to coast. The SPC/CTÉ is Canada's premier loyalty program for students. Students show their SPC/CTÉ at both national and local businesses for discounts every time they shop, in addition to benefiting from an extensive points program, specially designed membership privileges and offers from leading retailers, package goods companies and service-oriented organizations. The SPC/CTÉ consists of the card, a specific directory for every province in Canada, a coupon book, a wallet directory and for University and College students, a bar insert.

Simple Pleasures

When asked about their recommended activities, many of our survey respondents mentioned activities you can do almost for free. If there’s a group of Pinoys in your school, you can just hang out in each other’s apartments—watch TV, play cards, drink, eat Filipino food (come on, you can’t finish that whole pot of adobo/sinigang/nilaga all by yourself?), and just chill. Inviting friends over and having a potluck party is another way to have a good time without spending too much money. As Karen Manuel (University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania) said, Pinoys usually meet at each other’s apartments to eat, drink and karaoke. In England, Natson Go (University of Warwick, Coventry) recommends registering with the Pinoy-UK Club ( and head down to London for most of its activities. He further says you’ll meet nice people and there’s great Filipino food especially the adobo and kare-kare.

If you want to explore the city and don’t feel like walking, take the bus or the train and you’ll get a quick tour of the city. By mistake, Titchie decided to take the bus from 23rd St. to the Cloisters on 201st St. It was the longest bus trip of her life but it also gave her an unexpected view of the city. That bus route showed her all the fancy shops and restaurants on Madison Avenue give way to the brown buildings of Harlem. In another instance, Titchie and her cousin decided to take a walk around Chinatown and Wall Street. Before they knew it, they reached the Brooklyn Bridge, crossed it and back! After experiences like these, you feel like you’re more part of the city.

Another favorite student activity in the US is to hang out at Borders or Barnes and Noble. Aside from studying, you can also read your favorite magazines and books in a comfortable environment without having to pay. Check out their bulletins, if you have a favorite author who has a book coming out, they might be having a book tour and you can meet them in person.
Once you’ve made the city your own, you may find a favorite spot in the city where you can relax and forget the pressures of the academe. Your own quiet spot can be a park bench, a place with a nice view of the city, by the water, a fountain, or even one of the nearby churches in your vicinity.

Be a Native

Each city is unique with activities and traditions specific to them. Don’t be hesitant about doing what the natives do. This, again, is part of the whole experience. Eat their food (and we’re not talking about the local McDonald’s), observe their customs and traditions, go where the locals go. Be forgiving with the stereotypes. For example, Americans like hanging out in bars, watching and playing ballgames (football, baseball, basketball, etc.), and watching movies. In Paris, hanging out in cafés and going around open air markets are popular activities. Spain is known for its nightlife and siestas. In Australia, people spend a lot of time in the great outdoors—the beach or the outback. In merry old England people go to pubs for meals, a pint and enjoy afternoon high tea. Or go try an authentic bento box along with sake in Japan and visit their temples. Your city will have special festivals ranging from the religious, patriotic (Independence Day, Memorial Day, Queen’s Birthday in England, Emperor’s Birthday in Japan), or celebrating a holiday significant to the nation’s history.

Fall Festivals

In the US, the first popular tradition you’ll encounter is Thanksgiving, which is practically Christmas for a typical American household. Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade (don’t worry, you can watch it on TV) along with the requisite turkey, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes is part of the whole tradition. If you don’t have relatives, round up a group of your “orphan” friends and you can have your own potluck get-together.

Another popular holiday is Halloween and this is reflected in the increase of parties in your school. Don’t be too surprised if you see a lot of people in costume this day. You might consider watching the Gay Pride Parade in New York and DC where the participants wear the most extravagant costumes.

Autumn makes people go out and enjoy the foliage. Weathermen take this so seriously that they provide a forecast predicting when the colors will peak and which areas will provide the best views. Fall is also harvest time. If your school sponsors a trip to an apple orchard you should try to go, but don’t get carried away picking too many apples (you pay per bushel not pieces!). If you are more of a city person, there are street fairs and book fairs around this time too. In Europe, there are various festivals going on such as Germany’s Oktoberfest and Wine Festivals in France, Spain, Germany and other wine producing countries.

Quote: My classmates in Manhattanville College were shocked to learn that I had never participated in the US pumpkin carving tradition. So on my first Halloween, my classmates bought a huge pumpkin and carved one for me. – Carmela Navarra, Manhattanville College, Georgetown University
Winter Wonderland

The holiday season is the busiest and the most stressful for residents as they prepare for Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. Almost all the cities have tree lighting ceremonies (the tree lighting ceremony at Washington DC and Rockefeller Center are televised events). Walk around the city and enjoy the diverse décor. These are even prettier at night with all the lights on and this way you avoid the tourist crowd altogether.

If you live where the climate’s cold, there are winter sports to try like ice skating, skiing and snowboarding. Or you can build a snowman then enjoy cocoa with marshmallows afterwards. If you live in Australia, forget about the snow. People traditionally spend Christmas by the beach!

New Year’s Day is the festival of festivals for the Japanese where people visit shrines and hold family reunions. In the UK, the first day of the year features the London Parade with its floats and marching bands.


People are the grumpiest as they wait for warmer weather. TV parties are also popular during this time of the year with the Superbowl, NCAA Finals and Oscars showing. The Cherry Blossom festival in DC is one of the big events at this time and natives battle with tourists to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom. Easter is a big, albeit commercial event, in the United States. Mardi Gras is huge in New Orleans with many undergraduates flying out to Louisiana to participate in festivities and go drinking. European cities have unique traditions observing Holy Week. If you are feeling homesick and happen to be in Spain, the Semana Santa is very similar to the Filipino version of Holy Week with penitents and floats. The Feria de Abril, a weeklong party of drinking, eating and flamenco, follows this.

Drinking Laws: There are different minimum legal drinking ages around the world. Even the Philippines has one but is never strictly enforced. In the US, restaurants and liquor stores are required to ask for Identification Cards such as a driver’s license to make sure they are not selling to a minor.

USA - 21
Japan - 20
UK, Singapore, Australia, Philippines, Canada, Denmark - 18
France, Austria, Germany- 16

Summer in the City

It’s finally warm, the days are longer, and even if you have class or work, the atmosphere is definitely more laidback. For three months, you get to enjoy wonderful weather which comes with free open-air concerts, movies, and plays in your area. And as everyone knows the best time to go on a picnic. You can do it simple, sandwiches made at home and some cold drinks and you’re all set. Or you can splurge, go to a deli get some nice cheese, bread, and cold cuts. Head for your favorite park, sit under a shade, bring a book (or your homework if you really must study), turn on the radio, and enjoy lazing the afternoon away. Please respect your environment and make sure you clean up afterwards.

If you live in the US, the Fourth of July fireworks is a tradition that you should experience at least once. Along with the fireworks, there are concerts and other activities to celebrate Independence Day. Americans take their barbecue seriously and don’t be surprised if people ponder the difference between dry and wet smoke as if it’s the most important issue of the day. Memorial Day is another weekend that celebrates the bittersweet end of summer.

Tip: Some city parks require a permit to hold a picnic.

A Note on Clubbing

Since we are not really experts in the art of clubbing, we asked some of our friends who go clubbing in New York City to give tips. Ginger Roxas (Fashion Institute of Technology, NY) , Jacqueline Cuisia (US) and Rissa Ramos (US, not her real name) give their insights.

What should one expect?

Jacqueline Cuisia: It depends on the night and the club. Certain nights (Friday and Saturday) will most likely be the BandT (Bridge and Tunnel or baduy) crowd. More often than not, the crowd is typically men in wifebeaters (those ugly white sandos) and the women in cheap, trashy-looking outfits and ridiculously thick makeup.

Rissa Ramos: Usually clubs are packed, so expect a lot of body bumping and wild dancing. Clubs are just one big dance floor so there are very few seats and the bar is usually very crowded so you must be an avid dancer to really have a good time. The clubs usually stick to a certain type of music so make sure that the club you are going to plays the type of music that you like.

People are usually very friendly too so it’s up to you if you want to entertain them. Some people just talk to you and dance with you for fun but of course there are others who are after something more so be careful. Make sure you bring your ID because you can’t get in without one and try not to bring a bag if you can because you will have no place to put it down.

Ginger Roxas: Long lines, security check, attitude check (the more attitude the better chances of getting in), girls have a better chance of getting in than an all male group. Once you're inside, expect more lines: coat check, bathroom, bar; if the club is popular, there really is no room to dance, but you can just stand in the middle of the dance floor and get pushed around which can be considered dancing. Also, if you're waiting for a particular DJ, the popular ones don't start playing till 2 am. Expect a really late night and sore, sore feet.

How much money should one expect to spend?

JC: Typically US$100 a night at the very least. Cover charges for the more popular clubs are at US$35 per person. Beer is at least US$5, as is bottled water. Most clubs don't serve tap water so if you want to drink plain old water you're going to have to pay for it. Mixed drinks usually start at US$8 or so. I've personally never gone out and spent less than US$100 on a night out.

RR: The average cover charge is US$20 and each drink costs about US$8 to10.

GR: Entrance US$30. Drinks US$20. So I guess US$50 at the least and some cash for food trips and the cab ride home.

How do you know if a place is cool or sleazy?

JC: There's no particular way to judge a place's sleaziness factor. I've been to some rat holes that for all intents and purposes look like crap but I've had an awesome time. What really matters is who you're with and your being game.

RR: Usually you can tell by the crowd and the quality of the music. If the people look too rowdy, or look like they are all high on something, or look like they should be in a motel room rather than a public place, then maybe that’s not the best place to be in. The music selection should also be of a nice variety so you can enjoy music that you know and learn new music.

GR: I think clubs are all sleazy but some can be cool if you like the scene. I would rather divide them into gay clubs, downtown (which can further be divided according to the type of music), uptown, college clubs (where HS kids try to sneak in), theme clubs (like Polyester and Culture Club). "Cool clubs" don't advertise, have no signs, have long lines and snooty bouncers, and are usually in out of the way locations but play great music. Sleazy clubs mostly have men for clientele, play remixed pop music, have signs and themes, only charge $10.

Aside from watching your drink, what other safety precautions should one know about?

JC: Never pick a fight with anyone. No matter if they look trashed or wimpy and you feel you can kick their a** with one hand tied behind your back...fuggedaboutit. You never know if they're packing heat or if they're so messed up they wouldn't give a hoot if they were bleeding from their ears just as long as you're down on the ground. RR: Just be aware of the people around you. If they are loud and very drunk, I would stay away because you never know what could happen to you. From something as simple as getting stepped on, to getting some beer on your shirt and as far as getting touched in ways that can be offensive. Actually, your actions will dictate how people around you will respond to you so just chose a spot where you think the people there are having the same type of fun that you like and go from there.

GR: Don't accept drinks from strangers; mind the crowd, know where the exits are (I'm serious, most of these places have no fire exits), know what time your DJ is playing otherwise, you might end up wasting your money; Don't bring cameras—they won't let you bring it in and you might end up losing it.

Culture Vultures

More than Art

If you don’t live in DC and London, the museums in your city require an entrance fee. One trick we learned from a fellow student was to take the “pay what you can” policy seriously. “Recommended” admission fees are just that, recommended but not required. If the entrance fee is $5 (that can be your lunch!), you can get away with paying for less. The first time Titchie, did this she thought the person in charge was going to scold her for being such a cheapskate but the cashier just accepted the quarter and gave the requisite MET pin. Or if you prefer modern art, the MoMA (Both the MET and the MoMA are in New York) offers free entrance one evening a week. Most museums practice having a free admission day, or at the very least require you to pay what you can.

If your city is known for its art community, your school will probably have a museum you can check out or if not, walk around the art galleries, it’s free! Also, we don’t advice eating at the museum cafeteria. The food is lackluster and cost more than the usual price. Some museums also hold cultural events. The National Gallery of Art in DC holds free concerts every Sunday. If you want a good seat, you just have to line up an hour earlier.

If the thought of going to the museum makes your eyes glaze over, please be reminded there are different kinds of museums out there: Science and Technology, Natural History, Crafts, Journalism, Aquariums, Botanical Gardens and Zoos are museums of a different type. Going to museums have become an increasingly interactive activity with exhibits requiring you to touch or talk into an exhibit. Vienna’s “House of Music” is a highly interactive museum showing the various elements of sound, as well as rooms paying tribute to various musical masters), while the Freedom Forum’s Newseum contains exhibitions that require the individual to help decide a newspaper’s line-up for the day, edit or be a newscaster or weatherperson on TV.

Try to visit a museum at least once. Most times, the building is as interesting as the priceless objects they hold. The dreary museums of yesteryear have vastly improved with restorations, interactive exhibits, and more attention to the whole sensory experience.

If you are tired of going to museums, there are other venues of art such as local galleries and embassies/consulates, and art societies.

Music and Theater

Student discounts are usually available to many cultural performances except if it’s a new Broadway show, a concert of a contemporary artist (Madonna, Paul McCartney, etc.), or a Gala performance. You can line up for tickets at discounted prices on dates mentioned by the ticketmaster (be prepared to wake up early and wait for at least an hour). If you are keen on watching an opera/ballet/orchestra performance, see if you can avail of standing room only tickets. You get an orchestra view for a ridiculously low price, and if you’re lucky, some nice people give you their seats after intermission (as was the case with Titchie and her husband).

Aside from student price tickets, you can also go to a show at the last minute and there might be cheap tickets available. Going online is the easiest way to get tickets, but if you are watching your money there’s always that additional service charge. Try matinees which are cheaper and avoid Friday/Saturday showings because these are usually the most expensive.


The cheapest way to get some exercise is to jog or run or walk or avail of your university’s gym. If you prefer team sports, you can always go to the park and play basketball, badminton, volleyball, tennis, etc. for free. Ask your gym administrators about leagues/ teams you can join. Approach people playing in the park. Some park facilities may need to be reserved so check with the park’s management to make sure.

Group sports could be a way to minimize expenses. If you want to go on a ski trip, the whole group can divide transportation costs, but there are other expenses to consider: equipment rental (skis), trainer, and locker fees. If you don’t have a ski outfit in your closet, you might have to invest in one or borrow from friends who do own one.

If actually find yourself stuck in a place with absolutely nothing to do, there’s a big probability that it has a bowling alley. It might seem dorky but if you and your friends are playing, it can’t be that bad. Oh, and make sure you wear socks when you go since you’ll be renting shoes.

Food Tripping

Everybody likes to eat and it’s an activity you cannot do without. In our city guides, there are more detailed places where you can go if you happen to live in a certain area. Eating alone isn’t much fun unless you’re in a hurry, reading a book or in a plain old grumpy mood. Meeting for brunch on weekends is one of the popular pastimes because it’s practically two meals in one, people like to sleep late after several all-nighters in a row, and it’s cheaper than dinner. Dimsum is favorite brunch fare since it’s filling and affordable.

If you are lucky enough to live in a city where there are lots of Filipinos, a Filipino restaurant should be just around the corner. It may seem a little strange at first to go to a restaurant to eat food that you normally take for granted back home, but once you’ve eaten your first mouthful, you’ll realize just what you’ve been missing. If you live in the West Coast, there are Filipino communities there with a Max’s, Goldilocks, and even a Jollibee!

In the United States, tipping is a serious business. Servers expect you to pay them 15 to 20% of the bill before taxes. However, if you are not happy with the service you receive (and believe us, you will encounter bad service), feel free to not leave a tip. Friends have advised not to complain before your food is served because servers have been known to do “horrible” things to your food when you do. If you are going to be a big group, the restaurant automatically includes a service charge in the bill.

The case is entirely different in Europe and in Japan where the bill already includes a service charge. If you are especially pleased with the service, you can still leave a tip. It’s also customary to round off the bill. But be warned, some cities don’t separate smoking and non-smoking sections so be prepared to smell like an ashtray after a meal. One great thing about European cafes, they allow you to stay as long as you like even if all you consumed is a cup of coffee (a practice copied by Starbucks and company).


There is sayings that if you want to see a Filipino, go to a mall or an outlet. In the US, shopping is a favorite activity. Sales occur weekly and one learns to wait before buying anything because everything goes on sale anyway.

Playing Tourist at Home

Most natives take their home for granted. In our case, when was the last time you actually walked around Rizal Park? Don’t let the same thing happen to you in your “new” country. We find it amazing how visitors manage to squeeze in all the interesting sights in three days while after being there for several months you still haven’t seen a single thing. We’ve put together some recommendations. (See Terette Andaya's Top Ten List)

Terette’s Top Ten List

Terette Andaya (George Washington University, Washington, DC) loves to travel. She compiled a list of her top ten travel experiences and food experiences from her various adventures around the globe. Try out some of the stuff she’s done if you find yourself in that part of the globe:


1. Bathing in the public Hamam in Istanbul

The hamam is the marbled steam bathhouses in Turkey, better known as the Turkish Bath. The Turks built beautiful, elaborate bathhouses to serve their communities because of Islam’s high standards of personal hygiene and the absence of bathing facilities in private homes. For a fee, one can choose the bathing option with or without a massage. The ritual begins upon entering a steam room which has a raised marble platform in the center where the patrons (bath rooms are thankfully segregated by gender) lie down in various states of undress (either fully naked, in a swimsuit, or one piece of underwear – there is no dress code really). The purification process begins when you literally feel beads of sweat coming out of every pore of your body. If you feel you can no longer take the heat, there are water faucets (with tabos) at the sides of the room to cool yourself off with cool water. A little later, one of the big women in black bikinis approaches and douses you with water before giving you a rather perfunctory and rough “massage”. You’re then lathered all over with soap—enough to cover you in a cloud of bubbles, followed by a head-to-toe scrubdown with a loofah. This exfoliation process must have been quite successful since I recalled entering the hamam with a nice, desert-exposed tan and leaving the place as pale as a sheet.

2. Visiting museums in Japan: the Sword Museum and the Ninja House

Because of the country’s culture and history, Japan has some gems to offer in terms of museums. The Sword Museum in Tokyo provides a glimpse into the samurai’s weapon of choice—including a thinly-crafted blade that could slice a man’s head off his body with one clean sweep. The Ninja House in Kyoto displays loads of impressive Ninja trickery like trap doors and secret entrances, but alas, no disappearing star explosives. Since these places are located in obscure areas and the guides and signs are in Japanese, they are rarely visited by tourists, thus ensuring a more authentic (although less comprehensible) Japanese experience.

3. Visit the Sex Museum and Marijuana Museum in Amsterdam

Speaking of more unique museums, at the other end of the spectrum are the Sex and Marijuana Museums in Amsterdam. These establishments are a reflection of the liberal and tolerant attitude of the Dutch, who have legalized prostitution and the leisure use of marijuana. You can either be shocked, revolted, or amused by the exhibits in the Sex Museum, but the impressive plant collection of the Marijuana Museum’s growing room at the back is one to surely wow you—but sorry, no free samples.

4. Stand in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres at the same time in Quito, Ecuador

La Mitad del Mundo—The Middle of the World, as the equator memorial park in Ecuador is called. A thick, yellow line clearly marks the Northern and Southern demarcation of the earth where Frenchman Charles Marie de la Condamine and his expedition made the measurements in 1736 to determine that this was THE equator. My cheap thrill involved going to the bathrooms to check out the clockwise and counterclockwise flow of the water in the respective hemisphere.

5. Stand in four states simultaneously at the Four Corners Monument in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah.

In the same spirit as standing in the Northern and Southern hemispheres of the earth, one can venture out into a Marlboro tour and find in the middle of a vast, sprawling desert in the American southwest a monument commemorating a unique geographical position. Nowhere else in the United States will you find four states converging into this one corner where visitors (including myself) contort themselves into awkward positions in order to touch all four states at the same and have their photo taken.

6. Riding a camel in Giza, Egypt -- riding an elephant in Siem Reap, Cambodia

To be carried by more than the usual animal (like a horse) is an experience in itself. Tourist services near attractions such as the Great Pyramid in Giza and Angkor Thom in Siem Reap offer rides on their respective local beasts of burden. Riding on a camel makes you want to race across the desert sands a la Lawrence of Arabia; and there’s nothing like viewing the ancient ruins at a languid, almost royal pace and higher perspective of an elephant’s back—the only thing missing was someone referring to me as “Mrs. Anna”.

7. Feel like Indiana Jones in the Ta Prohm temple complex in Cambodia

Among the scores of temple complexes found in Siem Reap, Ta Prohm is the only one that remains largely unrestored by the French archaeologists who excavated the area in the 1860s. By leaving the temples in the almost-original state they were discovered in, gives visitors a genuine explorer’s feel while walking amid the ruins. The humungous roots of twenty five-foot tall Banyan trees have broken through the floors, walls, and even roofs of some of the temples, carpet-like moss covers some of the walls and rubble, and the encroaching jungle overgrowth helps bring out your inner archaeologist/adventurer. And don’t forget to visit the seldom seen sculpture of the big giant head, which can be reached via a separate pathway from the main temple complex. Ask some of the kids selling film, bottled water, or T-shirts in the area to show you the way (for a fee, of course).

8. Bartering for souvenirs in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Yes, the practice still exists (sadly) in a country that was reportedly suffering from food shortage and other goods. With an official exchange rate of US$1 to 65 Zim dollars and a black market rate of US$1 to 500 Zim dollars, the value of items wildly fluctuate. Thus, armed with some decent old T-shirts I was planning to get rid off anyway, I used these to bargain and exchange for souvenir items such as a handsomely-carved wooden jewelry case and a miniature serpentine sculpture of the Madonna and Child. Other things which we take for granted like old shoes, pens, and even tissues have some barter value for these goods, so stock up before shopping and be ready to trade.

9. "Soroche" (i.e. altitude sickness) in Cuzco, Peru

Breathlessness, severe migraine, nausea. Some of the symptoms that will tell you that you’re just too high up for your own good. Cuzco, the archaeologically breathtaking (literally) heart of the formerly powerful Inca empire, is situated 3326 meters (10,912 feet) above sea level. It is almost always everyone’s first stop before heading on to Machu Picchu. Part of experiencing this city with its multitude of Inca ruins and lack of oxygen is suffering through a headache that just won’t go away. The symptoms of soroche usually disappear within a day of rest and adjustment—you’ll be advised that aside from rest and avoiding overexertion on the first day, to drink up the ubiquitous coca tea which helps in digestion and adjustment to the new environment. Yup, coca—the very ingredient used to make cocaine.

10. Going through immigration in Havana

Cuba seems to have a genuine immigration method. You approach the immigration officer one by one (no groups of friends to avoid confusion) in a cubicle that has a door at the other end, so you don’t know what lies beyond. A video camera is clearly visible behind the officer who scrutinizes every page of your passport, demands for other forms of identification, and throws you a series of questions in Spanish (thank goodness for those college language lessons!). Only after the officer is fully satisfied with your interview will your documents be returned, and with nary a smile, the officer offers a Bienvenido (welcome) while pressing a button that opens the mystery door….and presto! It’s the baggage claim area. Welcome to Cuba.

Food and Drink
1. Crispy, Aromatic Duck and Curry, London
2. Haggis in Scotland (sisig, anyone?!)
3. Chocolates in Belgium (pralines and truffles)
4. Real Mexican food (forget Cancun cuisine)
5. Chi-cha in Otavalo, Ecuador
6. Plump breaded mussels from the street stalls of Ortakoy, Turkey
7. Darjeeling Tea at Fortnum & Mason (grocers to the Queen), London
8. Langosta Prohibido at a private home, Varadero Beach, Cuba
9. Franco-Asian cuisine in any restaurant, Siem Reap, Cambodia
10. Churros in Cuzco, Peru OR freshly-baked pide bread from the side of the road in Cappadocia

Train Station URLs



Volunteer work doesn’t cost you anything. All you have to give is your time and you’re rewarded by feeling good because you’ve helped out a worthy cause. Where you can share your time are many and can match your interest: young people, sport, animal welfare, arts and heritage, environment and conservation, health/care work, or campaign work. One of the most popular charities in the US is the soup kitchen which provides food for the homeless. Soup kitchens usually need the most help around Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holidays. If you would like to volunteer a neat site is based in the United States. Aside from identifying the nearest organizations to you, they also allow you to select an area of interest.

There are a variety of ways to volunteer. There is even an option called virtual volunteering! If you are seriously considering volunteering, the Independent Sector, a non-profit information center provides the following tips:

  1. Research the causes of issues important to you.

  2. Consider the skills you have to offer

  3. Would you like to learn something new?

  4. Don’t over-commit your schedule.

  5. Non-profits may have questions about you too.

  6. Consider community groups (aside from hospitals, libraries, and churches): day care centers, Neighborhood Watch, public schools and colleges, halfway houses, community theaters, fraternal organizations, retirement centers and homes for the elderly, Meals on Wheels, church or community-inspired soup kitchens or food pantries, museums, art galleries and monuments, community choirs, bands and orchestras, prisons, neighborhood parks, youth organizations, sports teams and after-school programs, shelters for battered women and children, historical restorations, battlefields and national parks.

  7. Give voice to your heart through giving and volunteering.

  8. Virtual Volunteering is possible if you have computer access and the necessary skills as some organizations now offer opportunities to do volunteer work over the computer.

  9. Be a year-round volunteer!

    • 22 million adults are involved in formal volunteering each year.
    • Ten million people volunteer each week.
    • Formal volunteers put in some 90 million hours of voluntary work a week.
    • The economic value of formal volunteering has been estimated at over £40 billion per year.
    • Six out of ten volunteers said volunteering gave them an opportunity to learn new skills.
    All statistics taken from Davis Smith J (1998), The 1997 National Survey of Volunteering, published by the National Centre for Volunteering.

On Travel

You have vacation time on your hands and would dearly like a change of scenery. Even in the city you live in, you can take day trips to interesting places. If in San Francisco, you can drive to Monterey or check out the many vineyards in the outskirts of the city. You can take the MetroNorth in NY to go upstate and see more interesting sights. Or you can take Amtrak and go practically anywhere in the US. If you live in Europe and have a Schengen visa you can travel to all the other EU countries via Eurail. The train systems in Japan, Europe and Australia are even more sophisticated.

If you are going out of the country, review the checklist below to make sure you don’t have any unpleasant surprises.

1. Have a checklist of the following: Things to Bring (passport, tickets, money, medicine, hotel reservations, car reservations, guidebook, etc.) and Things to Do (unplug all electrical appliances, empty fridge, hide valuables or give to a trusted friend for safekeeping, make arrangements for pets and plants).

2. Reconfirm reservations. International flights usually ask you to reconfirm your flight 72 hours beforehand. Make sure you have the weight requirements of your luggage right. We recommend that you travel light. Have a printed copy of your hotel reservations.

3. Have backup documents. Aside from your passport, have another ID such as your license and your student ID (handy for discounts!). Photocopy ALL important documents so it’s easy to replace should these get lost or stolen. And always hand carry your important documents.

4. Leave an extra key to your home with a trusted friend. And entrust them with your itinerary complete with a list of important phone numbers (airline, flight details, hotel, friends you’ll be visiting or staying with, etc.) in case of emergencies. Make a printout for yourself that will fit in your wallet for accessibility.


Before you purchase your ticket, review the visa requirements and your own school’s Office of International Students. You’ll need additional time to prepare the documents when applying for a visa. Most visa requirements include a copy of bank account with sufficient funds, proof of employment (or in your case, proof that you are a student), your itinerary, and the address of the place/s you’ll be staying in.

Online services can find the cheapest rates for you, however, and the cheapest rates also mean the ticket cannot be transferred, exchanged or refunded. So make sure your plans to travel are definite before committing to a ticket. Additional charges can be added to your fare so make sure you review your final fare charge. We’ve provided a list of suggested online sites to book your ticket. We also recommend reviewing the airlines’ own sites because their special promos sometimes aren’t included in the online travel booking sites.

Research on the place you are visiting. If you don’t have friends to take you around, a guidebook can be your very best friend. It will save you time, money and provide insights to the city.

Tip: Bring the following emergency supplies: Diarrhea medicine, allergy medicine, headache medicine, cough and cold medicine, prescriptions, and Band-Aid.

Useful Sites

Missing Credit Card information:

Lost MasterCard: 1800MC-ASSIST

Lost Visa Card: 1800-8472911

Lost American Express Card: 18002217282

Maps: (UK)


Driving Around

It’s always handy to have a valid driver’s license. Not only does it allow you to rent a car, it is also accepted identification. Each country and state has its own set of rules regarding driving permits for foreigners. Some might require an international driver’s license you should get this in the Philippines from the Philippine Motor Association located at 683 Aurora Boulevard, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines. An international driver’s license is valid for only one year and can only be renewed outside of the Philippines, i.e. the country you’re studying in.

Each country has its own requirements about converting your Philippine license to a local license. In the United States, each state has a different policy for foreigners. In Washington, DC, you only need to take the written exam and present your valid Philippine license. Some countries are stricter and require you to take both the written and practical exam. Check Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for specific policies regarding your driver’s license and the state or country you find yourself in.

If you're in the US and have a valid driver's license, AAA processes international driver's licenses for a fee.

Pros and Cons of Traveling Alone

Angela Guevara, Pratt Institute, New York (Angela took the train to Paris from Italy, one day)

1. Can write in journal, postcards, letters, read, sketch without interruption
2. When you are writing about your trip, you are forced to be more observant
3. Human nature will make one be more friendly, talk to strangers, meet people
4. You can do whatever you want
5. You are forced to get over fear of being alone, forced to be independent

1. Cannot leave stuff, had to keep checking my things
2. Extra care and alert when traveling. My sister, Marie, thought at one point that she was being followed.
3. Cannot have someone else take a picture of you
4. You have to carry all your stuff

Last Minute Tips

You’re all set and packed. But wait a minute, you’re bringing how many suitcases for a weekend trip? Rule No. 1: try to fit all your belongings into one carryon. This saves you time (no more waiting at the baggage carousel) and you can handily take the train or bus home. Travel light!

And for women get one with wheels, these are easier to lug around rather than those backpacks, and eases the strain when running from one train platform to another. On the other hand, stairs can be a pain for these sort of luggage.

You might also want to wear easy to remove and easy to slip on shoes. This is for the increased security check in airports. Try not to wear items with a lot of metal, even one’s underwire bra can cause the alarm to go off. Check with the airline AND airport about items not allowed in your carryon.Record your adventures. If you don’t have the budget for a nice camera, there are a lot of disposable cameras out there. Keep a journal, so you remember the places you visited like the interesting little restaurant in a quiet corner of the city or a painting you really liked in a museum. If you like to make scrapbooks, keep little souvenirs like ticket stubs, napkins, programs, flyers, menus, etc.

Post Script

Life goes on at a furiously fast pace and everything keeps changing. As much as we want to be up-to-date as possible, there’s always the possibility that one of the recommendations might have closed or opened shop elsewhere. So do try to visit the websites (and their links) we recommended for more current information

Friday, 20 July 2007


Yes you can.

If you have not cooked, nor cleaned, nor done laundry before, you will learn now that yes, you can do these tasks and with the aid of new millenium gadgetry, that they are not as difficult as you thought they would be (except for ironing).

We both had minimal experience in doing domestic chores before we left the Philippines to study abroad. With the help of roommates, relatives, and by looking over other people’s shoulders, we managed to conquer the unknown! We are now able to cook our favorite Filipino dishes and are able to deal with the weekly pile of laundry and the multiplication of dust bunnies under the bed. (Well, most of the time.)

In this chapter, we put together recipes, helpful charts, cleaning, and laundry instructions offered by friends, relatives, as well as survey respondents, who like us, have hectic schedules and are on a budget. Feel free to attach a Post It note on the corner of the page of your favorite recipe or set of instructions so you can quickly refer to it when you need to.

Alberto Fenix’s Guide to Food Shopping

Most cookbooks tell you to plan ahead before you food-shop. We agree. If you plan ahead on what you want to eat for the next week or next two weeks (it depends on how often you want to shop) then you can make a list of items that you really need from the supermarket.

One suggestion you might want to consider when you plan your meals is to choose a big dish that you really like. If you cook one big dish a week, then you can just refrigerate the left-overs and then heat up a small portion in the microwave when you come home in the wee hours of the morning and are starving. Fortunately, dishes like Adobo, Afritada, and Kaldereta taste better when they are aged so you’re sure to be eating a good meal even if it’s just left-overs.

A well thought-out list will help you save on trips to the supermarket and will help you resist the temptation of trying exotic sauces that you will only use once or the jar of jam in the nifty new packaging but at twice the cost. Remember though, to check the preparation and expiration date of the items that you buy!

Choosing Meat
Beef – Best when it is bright pink to dark red. If it is browning, forget it.
Pork – Look for very light, pink, flesh.
Chicken – Be sure that the packaging is relatively dry, avoid anything that looks or feels slimy, very wet with white residue.
Fish – The way to go is smell. Fish from the sea should smell like the ocean breeze. Fresh water fish does not have a smell. If you’re not sure, just make sure that the fish does not have that rotting, ammonia-strength smell. If the fish is packaged, poke the meat. If it is firm and bounces back when you press down on it with your fingers, then it is OK.
Lamb – Deep red and no signs of browning or discoloration.

Choosing Fruits and Vegetables
Since fruits and vegetables are mostly composed of water, when it gets old, it loses a lot of the H20 and turns limp. The general rule for vegetables is to avoid outer blemishes and limp and squishy leaves and flesh.

Thin skinned fruits (apples, pears, mangos, plums, etc.) – Skins should be tight and flesh firm, not squishy.

Bananas – Select yellow bananas if you plan on eating them right away. If you plan to eat a bunch over several days buy slightly green bananas.
Oranges – Thin-skinned oranges that are easier to peel are “eating” oranges. The thick skinned oranges are better for juicing.
Pineapples – They should be firm. If you press its sides, the fruit should resist the pressure. The crown should not be limp.
Cantaloupes, honeydews, watermelons – Ignore the big, yellow spot. That is the area that was touching the ground. For cantaloupe and honeydews, if you grip it like a basketball it should be firm but it should also give a bit. It shouldn’t be as hard as a rock. Tap the watermelon. If you hear a full but hollow sound then it should be a good one.
Lemons and limes – Bright colors, firm, not browning.
Grapes – Skins are tight, not too many blemishes. Please taste one.
Berries – No outer blemishes. Make sure that its packaging is not wet from its juices

Choosing Vegetables
Lettuce – Pre-cut lettuce should still be crisp with no brown edges. The bag that they’re in should not be wet inside. When buying a whole lettuce, peel the outer layers of the leaves, make sure there are no signs of worms, little browning, and that all the leaves are connected at the base. It should not have any mold.
Cabbages – The outer rims of the leaves should not be browning. They should be heavy and solid.
Broccoli, cauliflower – No browning and stalks don’t look like they’re dried up. They’re better if they have a violet tint on the florettes.
Roots (potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, turnips) – no buds growing, no green skin, don’t look dried up. Skins should be tight.
Carrots, parsnips – Its colors should still be bright. It shouldn’t look dried up and its leaves, relatively fresh.
Zucchini, yellow squash – Colors still bright, no big “pox” marks or brown discoloration, not dried up.
Eggplant – Not too many skin blemishes or browning, not dried up, skin tight.
Onions – No leaves growing, still solid and crisp, outer skins not soggy or translucent.
Garlic – No leaves growing at the tips, not much brownish-black mold growing by the base, cloves still closely packed.
Celery – Leaves and tips have no browning, still firm and not limp.
Tomatoes – Skins are tight, none or few blemishes on skin. If leaves are still attached, they should still look fresh, firm. If tomatoes are overripe, you can use them for stews.
Bell Peppers – Skins are tight, bright colors, and firm.
Herbs – Stems are not limp, leaves still very green and not too wet.

Refrigerator Storage Tips for Beef, Pork, and Chicken
1-3 days OK
1 week - OK, just cut out any discolored parts
1 1/2 weeks - Out the door!

Buying meats in a large amounts
If you live far away from a meat market or a place that sells meat, you can buy a large amount and freeze it. If you are buying from a butcher, have the butcher cut it up to your needs. When you get home, take the time to separate the meats into several portions and wrap it in freezer bags or aluminum foil before you freeze it. This way, the meat will be ready for individual use.

Beef – buy cubed for stews or Nilaga
Pork chops – buy cubed for Sinigang or Menudo
Country Style Spare Ribs – also good for sinigang and nilaga
Chicken – buy whole for roasting or small packs of your favorite parts
Boneless Chicken Breast – good for stir fries and when cooking in a hurry
Fish – Don’t stock, buy fish. Its flesh does not hold up to freezing as well as beef, chicken, and pork. Buy as you need.

It is not good to thaw meat and then re-freeze it. It is a waste of time and a health hazard. It is also difficult and dangerous to cut frozen meat.

Wise Words: If using meat for soups or stews, bone-in parts are tastier.

Wise Words: It’s better to defrost meat in the fridge (this usually works overnight) or if desperate, rinse in cold water for several minutes, or place in a pot of water to hasten melting –Titchie Carandang-Tiongson, New York University, New York

Kitchen Gadgets You Cannot Live Without

  1. Microwave/ Oven Toaster

  2. Frying pan

  3. Stock pot for soups and stews, and cooking rice

  4. Chef’s knife for slicing and peeling (You don’t need to buy the entire cutlery set especially if you will be spending most of your time studying. A chef’s knife is sufficient.)

  5. Big spoon (heat resistant)

  6. Turner (heat resistant, for frying)

  7. Fork, spoon, and knife (Some of the people that we know did not even buy their own utensils. They get theirs with paper napkins and condiments for free when they order take-out.)

  8. Paper Towels for wiping spills and covering the food when put in the microwave

Mark Bittman of the New York Times wrote an article about a no-frills kitchen. Here's the link
A No-Frills Kitchen Still Cooks

Ingredients You Should Never Run Out Of

  1. Rice

  2. Pasta

  3. Tomato sauce/ canned tomatoes

  4. Garlic - makes everything yummy

  5. Onion

  6. Vinegar

  7. Soy sauce

  8. Lemons or lemon juice

  9. Salt

  10. Pepper

  11. Milk

  12. Cereal

  13. Can of tuna

Emergency Dishes of Filipino Students Abroad

  1. Tuna, Sardines (especially gourmet tuyo from back home)

  2. Macaroni and cheese.

  3. Grilled cheese sandwiches

  4. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

  5. Milk and Cereal

  6. Canned Soup

  7. Spam and rice

The New York Timeswriter Mark Bittman wrote an article about dishes you can prepare for ten minutes or less. Here's the link:
Summer Express: 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less

Kitchen Safety Tips

  1. Never microwave eggs, it’ll burst inside the microwave and you don’t have time to clean.

  2. Do not put metals (including aluminum foil) and non-microwaveable plastic in the microwave.

  3. Use potholders/ mittens for hot pans and dishes.

  4. Buy a fire extinguisher. It’s cheap and it’s worth it. Tricia actually had a fire in the kitchen and it saved her from turning into ash!

  5. Post a list of important telephone numbers next to your phone.

  6. Take the time to glance at the oven and around your apartment before you leave. Make sure that the oven is not turned on and that there are no candles lit.

Pinoy Food Ingredients and Some Recommended Replacements

Atsuete - Annatto
Bangus (Whole Fish) - Rainbow Trout
Calamansi - Lemon
Chicharon - Pork rinds bought in Spanish stores
Chorizo De Bilbao - Spanish Chorizo in supermarkets

Gabi - Taro
Gata - Coconut Milk
Kalabasa - Squash
Kamote - Sweet Potato
Kangkong - Watercress Or Spinach
Kinchay - Parsley
Knorr Seasoning - Soy Sauce (not a good substitute)
Labanos - Radish
Longaniza - Italian Sausage
Lumpia Wrapper - Spring Roll Wrappers, Egg Roll Wrappers
Miki - Broad Egg Noodles
Mustasa - Mustard Greens or any other Bitter Greens
Patis - "Nam bplah" in Thai, in Oriental stores
Pechay - Bok Choy
Saging na saba - Plantain Bananas
Sampaloc - Lemon Juice, Tamarind, If used for sinigang – sinigang mix
Sago - Tapioca
Sayote/Papaya - Chayote
Singkamas - Turnips/Jicama
Sitaw - String Beans, Long Beans
Sotanghon - Bean Thread Noodles/Vermicelli
Tawsi - Black Beans
Tinapa - Any Smoked Fish
Tokwa - Tofu
Togue - Bean Sprouts
Ubod - Heart Of Palm
Ube - Purple Yam

Recipes for Students in a Hurry - Seafood

All recipes serves 2.

Catfish Fillets
Contributor: Lisa Lazaro, Lesley College, Massachusetts
2-4 catfish fillets
2 lemons
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup breadcrumbs

1. Mix the salt and pepper and breadcrumbs.
2. Squeeze lemon juice onto the fillets.
3. Dip the fillets into a little olive oil then dip into the crumbs.
4. Lay on a baking sheet. Cook for 20 minutes at 350 or until edges are toasted brown.

Grilled Salmon
Contributor: GB Uy-Tioco, University of Virginia, Virginia
2 salmon fillets
black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Pre-heat grill or broiler.
2. Rub down salmon fillet with olive oil.
3. Sprinkle some black pepper over the salmon.
4. Put salmon on the grill or broiler
5. Cook to desired rareness/wellness. (About 5 to 8 minutes is good)
6. Serve with rice or pasta.

Tip: Difference Between Broiling and Grilling: Both methods use direct heat except when you're grilling, the heat is coming from the bottom (and you supposedly get additional flavor when it's a barbecue and you use special chips/charcoal) and broiling comes from the top when you place it in the oven. The intense heat makes the food cook quicker.

Gambas Sauce for Pasta
Contributor: GB Uy-Tioco, University of Virginia, Virginia
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic
½ lb. shrimps (or scallops)

1. Pour some olive oil on a pan and fry the garlic.
2. Throw in shrimps or scallops.
3. Add pepper and oregano for flavor.
4. Stir fry until cooked.
5. Add any bottled tomato-based sauce.
6. Allow to simmer for a few minutes while cooking pasta.
7. Pour sauce over pasta.

Quote: My favorite kitchen item, my OXO Peeler!! Love that thing. I also like my oil sprayer—it prevents me from drenching my cooking in oil. And my best tool is “The Garlic Peeler” which looks like a strange torture device but really peels the garlic in one move. All these can be found in Bed, Bath and Beyond or Linens and Things. Any kitchen store would carry them. –Liza Lazaro, Lesley College, Massachusetts

Sinigang na Salmon
Contributor: Ari Mallare, Cornell University, Connecticut
Notes: Up in Cornell, where snow falls from October through April, Sinigang na Salmon is the perfect comfort food that also serves as an ideal apres-ski meal (ok, maybe apres-snowball fight meal)....
3-4 pieces salmon (steaks for meat and heads for flavor; fillets if nothing else is available)
10-20 long beans
3-6 tomatoes (beefsteak, not cherry) chopped
1 onion (white) chopped into strips
1-2 green peppers (green, jalapenos, scotch bonnet, serrano) chopped into strips
1 cup kangkong (or bok choy or spinach)
1 pack Sinigang Mix or fresh tamarind
6-10 cups of water

1. Boil Salmon in water with tamarind (bagong piga or from the sachet).
2. Add vegetables. Long beans, pepper, and onions first to soften. Add tomatoes last so it doesn't get soggy.
3. Let mix boil for 10-15 minutes. Check to make sure the vegetables don't get too soft and don't worry about putting too much tamarind--it can't get too sour. Add kangkong right before serving – it should wilt pretty quickly 30 seconds to a minute.

Other fatty fish can be used instead of salmon, like shark or cod

Tuna in Garlic
Contributor: Titchie Carandang-Tiongson, New York University, New York
1 lb. Tuna Steaks
1-cup garlic, minced
2 cups onions, chopped
½ cup ginger, minced
Olive oil

1. Rinse fish and pat dry.
2. Sauté garlic, onion and ginger in olive oil in a large pan.
3. Add tuna. Cover for five minutes
4. Remove cover. Once cooked, serve immediately.

Tuna Salad
Contributor: Charina Quizon, University of Birmingham, Birmingham
1 can tuna (including brine, hot and spicy flavor)
black olives (as many as you want)
lettuce leaves (as many as you want)
feta cheese (as many as you want)
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
Maggi seasoning

1. Toss tuna, olives, salad and feta cheese together.
2. Add cider vinegar and Maggi seasoning