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Thursday, 14 February 2008

New York City Guide

1. Weather
Temperature - Winter (0-45 degrees F), Summer (60-90 degrees F)

Clothes - Winter - Winter Coat, Scarf, Gloves, Skid-free shoes, Hat; Spring - Raincoat/Jacket, Umbrella; Summer - Same as back home, know that it can get really hot and humid, sometimes it's even worse than the summer back home.

2. Cost of Living

Long Distance Call to Manila - Via phone card, 20 cents a minute

Postage Within US - 41 cents

Postage to Philippines - 90 cents

Bus Fare - $2.00

Train Fare - (Subway) $2.00

3. Racial Mix
New York City is known to be the most racially diverse city in the world.

4. Getting Around
Bus - MTA Bus

Train - MTA Subway

Walking - One can get around by walking in New York City. In the outer boroughs, you will need to take the bus, train, or rent a car.

Car a Necessity? - No

Others - NYU students can avail of the free shuttle service that goes around the East Side of Manhattan.

5. Filipino Supplies
Filipino Restaurants - Manhattan - Elvie's on 13th St. and First Avenue, Pistahan on 14th St. and First Avenue, Cendrillon in 45 Mercer St. in SoHo (very beautiful but does not cater to the student budget) ; Flushing, Queens - Krystal's, Ihawan , and Rene's on Roosevelt Avenue. A relatively new place with a nicer ambiance and still in the cheap eats category is Grill 21 in the Stuyvesant Village area (346 East 21st st. and 1st ave.).

Filipino Stores - Phil Am Food Store in Flushing, Queens in Roosevelt Avenue. You can buy bagoong, longganisa, and Clover Chips. One can also find Philippine brand condiments in Chinatown.

Balikbayan Box - Johnny Air Cargo, Forex, FRS Express,

Phone Cards - TeleOption (800 720 7138), Direct Line Philippines (866 357 0338)

Travel Agents - none mentioned

6. Student-Friendly Neighborhoods - Columbia University - Morningside Heights, Harlem; Fordham (Bronx Campus) - Fordham Avenue Area; NYU -Brooklyn, Downtown Manhattan (Living in Manhattan is very expensive. Try looking at other boroughs. As long as you and your school is near a subway line, it is very easy to get around).

7. Roman Catholic Church / Other Places of Worship - There is a Roman Catholic Church in amost every neighborhood. Check the yellow pages.

Contributor: Tricia J. Capistrano

Chicago City Guide

1. Weather
Temperature - Winter: 10-35 F; Spring: 40-70 F; Summer: 70-100 F(feels hotter than the Philippines as the air is very dry), Fall: 40-70 F. The problem with Chicago is that the temperature can swing wildly (as much as a 30 degree drop or climb) in a given day. As a local said, "If you don't like the weather in Chicago, just wait a few minutes." So, check the forecasts regularly.

Clothes - Winter- The key is to layer your clothes and to ensure that your extremities are protected from frostbite. Thermals should be very snug, sweater, corduroy trousers (warmer than khakis or jeans and inexpensive if bought in the Philippines), Polartech or down parka/woolen overcoat, woolen socks, snow boots, scarf, gloves/mittens and ear muffs/hat that extends over the ears. It is also important to use a lip balm and hand and skin lotion to stop your skin from chaffing; Spring - undershirt, long-sleeved shirt,sweater or jacket,cotton or woolen trousers; Summer - oxford shirt, khakis and loafers for casual business attire, and knitted polos,shorts/khakis and sneakers/sandals for leisure; Fall - undershirt, long-sleeved shirt or long-sleeved polos, sweater and/or jackets, Khakis or corduroys.

2. Cost of Living

Local Phone Call - none mentioned

Long Distance Call to Manila - Via phone card, 20 cents a minute

Postage Within US - 41 cents

Postage to Philippines - 90 cents

Bus Fare - $1.75/Transfer 25 cents

Train Fare - (Subway) $2.00/Transfer 25 cents

3. Racial Mix
Students - Univeristy of Chicago: a large graduate student population (almost 2/3 of entire student body) made up of many international students (mainly Latin Americans, Chinese and Indians -- fewer Filipinos but there is a Fil-American student group called Samahan)

Locals -The international community in Chicago is small as the city in the Midwest, but the locals come from various immigrant populations. There are strongly rooted hispanic, Polish, German, Swedish, Chinese, Italian and Indian neighborhoods. Perhaps due to their facility with English, Filipinos tend to be more dispersed, however, one can often find an unusually high concentration of Filipinos in churches, hospitals, Chinese and Japanese restaurants, discount chains and outlet malls. The social and economic division in Chicago is between the north and south sides. The northern population is mostly white and affluent. The southern population is mostly black and less affluent. The nice thing about Chicago though is that significant exceptions abound (e.g., Hyde Park in the southside has a quaint college-town feel due to the UofC). Finally, like most major US metropolitan areas, the affluent populations (also mostly whites) have left the inner city to live in the suburbs.

4. Getting Around
Bus - Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)

Train - CTA and the Metra (

Walking - Yes. Most of the City's parks, beaches, museums, shops and restaurants are within walking distance from the train and bus stations. Moreover, Chicago has a joggers/bike trail right beside Lake Michigan that stretches to almost the entire length the city.

Car a Necessity? - No, if you live in the city. However, a car would definitely be very useful when you do your groceries during winter, especially if you have young child.

Others - Both the UofC and Loyola have free shuttle service to students from their respective campuses (UofC in the South and Loyola in the North) to the Downtown area (the "Loop").

5. Filipino Supplies
Filipino Restaurants - Manhattan - Elvie's on 13th St. and First Avenue, Pistahan on 14th St. and First Avenue, Cendrillon in Mercer St. in SoHo (very beautiful but does not cater to the student budget) ; Flushing, Queens - Krystal's, Ihawan , and Rene's on Roosevelt Avenue.

Filipino Stores - Unimart at 5845 N. Clark St. offers most everything you'd need from the RP plus it offers a good selection of fish and prepared foods. It also has a PNB and a video/karaoke rental store. Most big chain groceries (e.g., Dominick's and Jewel) have international food sections, but basically limited to Chinese, Thai, Indian, Mexican and Jewish food. Chinatown has the usual, roasted-duck-hanging-from-the-window stores. Devon avenue has a lot of indian and pakistani stores. The good find though are Mexican groceries that carry a surprisingly familiar range of fatty meats and offal and usually have a much more diverse internaitonal food section.

Balikbayan Box - Johnny Air Cargo, Forex, FRS Express,

Phone Cards - TeleOption (800 720 7138), Direct Line Philippines (866 357 0338) Travel Agents -

6. Student-Friendly Neighborhoods - Depends on the university campus, Univ of Chicago and Northwestern have good on campus housing. Yuppies live in Linclon Park, Lakeview, Wrigleyville.

7. Roman Catholic Church / Other Places of Worship - Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago has over 300 Roman Catholic churches, it is one of the most religiously diverse cities and home to the Council for Parliament of the World's Religions and various interfaith organizations

Contributor: Neal Deles, Loyola University

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Boston City Guide

1. Weather
Temperature:Winter 31F, Fall 50-70 F, Summer 90-60 F
Seasons:Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Clothes:Raincoat/Jacket, Winter Coat, Scarf, Gloves, Skid-free Shoes, Thermals, Umbrella,Hat,Earmuffs

2. Cost of Living
Phone Call (Local) 35 cents (Public Phone )
Long Distance to Manila Get a phone card, or review phone companies special rates
Postage (Local) $.41 (Domestic)
Postage (to Manila) $0.90
Bus Fare $1.25 (Charlie Card), $1.50
Train Fare $1.70 (Charlie Card), $2 (ticket only)

3. Racial Mix
Students: Extremely international
Locals: Mostly white

4. Getting Around
Bus Bus
Train "T"
Walking Can walk everywhere
Car a necessity? No
Others Some people prefer to bike to school.

5. Filipino Supplies
Filipino Stores: None but supplies are available at the stores in Chinatown
Oriental Stores: Shops in Chinatown (Super 8 and Great Wall are the bigger ones)

6. Student Services
Phone Cards Sarimanok One (888 633 6739), Direct Line Philippines (866 357 0338)
Balikabayan Boxes: North American Terminal Phone: (781) 961-0030
Travel Agents: None mentioned
Apartment Listings Boston Globe

7. Hangouts for struggling Students
Restaurants Chau Chow, Penang, Pho Pasteur, other Chinatown haunts,Bars
Others (parks, bookstores, apartments?) Boston Common, Esplanade at Charles River, Harvard Square bookstores

8. Safety
Places to avoid - none mentioned

9. Interesting words/phrases When people ask you how you're doing, just say "Fine, thank you." They don't really expect to hear that you're homesick, that your parents miss you and that your Significant Other is having a hard time getting a ticket to visit you. It's a routine greeting. Other things you might want to know: when they talk abou t Football, it's American Football. The Football played in the Philippines ins called Soccer in the US.

10. Places to live Brookline, Allston, on-campus housing

11. Church Boston College Chapel

Contributor: Joanna Francisco, Boston University

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

A Word on our City and Country Guides

Our guides are simple introductions to the cities we think students are most likely to go to school. In the US, we focused on the following cities: New York, Boston, Washington DC, San Francisco and Chicago. Outside the US, we focused on Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane), Spain (Madrid and Salamanca), United Kingdom (London and Oxford), Japan (Tokyo), France (Paris) and Switzerland (Lausanne).

We asked students who lived and studied in these cities to share their insights and tips on how to survive in their respective cities. If you want a more comprehensive guide - feel free to check out are the usual guidebooks (Frommers, Fodors, Lonely Planet, etc.) with their corresponding websites.

Once we figure out how to post an excel file on our blog, we will have all the guides in one document but for now, we have to post each city individually.

First city we're posting: Boston.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Stay or Go?

It's not surprising international students are faced with a dilemna after they complete their studies and work programs abroad. After reading a Washington Post article about chinese students confronted with the need to stay (who will take care of parents when they leave?) and pursuing a career abroad (personal fulfillment with career), I'm struck with the similarity with Filipino sensibilities. I also found it interesting how the parents felt their kids would have made a better life in China (contemporaries who stayed have a car, house and families already) if they stayed on instead of working in the US.

We discussed this in a previous section (Ch. 9B What to do After) if you want to read more about the considerations for leaving or staying: Therese Ng's essay about her decision to return to the Philippines and an interview with Carmela Navarra, Constance Uy and Paul Avinante about their decision to continue living abroad.

Here's the link to the Feb. 4 issue in the Washington Post:

Monday, 4 February 2008

Following the Filipino Student Abroad in 1866

Universitätsplatz 12

In a visit to Frankfurt, my husband suggested a sidetrip to Heidelberg. Jose Rizal used to live in this little university town. From what we gathered, Rizal lived in Heidelberg when he was an assistant to Dr. Otto Becker.

We only had the afternoon to see Heidelberg, thinking it would be enough to see the whole place. Our Frommers Germany handbook had so little to say about the town, the only three star site was the Heidelberg Castle. So an afternoon seemed enough to see one or two landmarks where Rizal visited.

It was a dark damp day but it didn't diminish the quaintness of the town. They had a main shopping street exclusively for pedestrians and cyclists. Being a Sunday most of the shops were closed so we had to content ourselves looking at the window displays. Especially frustrating was the abundance of bookstores - it remains a university town after all - that we couldn't visit.

With the as our guide. We visited Universitätsplatz 12 (where "To the Flowers of Heidelberg" was composed) and Bergheimer Straße 20 (Former University of Heidelberg Eye Clinic) where Rizal practiced ophthalmology under Dr. Otto Becker.

We didn't get to visit Wilhelmsfeld where Rizal wrote the last few chapters of Noli me Tangere. It also has a park dedicated to him by the Knights of Rizal in the eighties. It's supposedly a 25 minute drive from Heidelberg. Imagine how Rizal used to walk that distance!