Sunday, 31 March 2019

Start Of A New College Experience

For any of you who do not know, my name is Michaela Quigley. I am an Erasmus student who chose to study in Ulster University in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. I wanted to study different modules to what was offered at Waterford Institute of Technology. I also wanted to be more hands on and practical with assignments and not be too focused on just learning the theory. But to learn it by doing.

When there I got to choose three modules. I chose food tourism, festivals and events management, food sensory science and food innovation and consumer management. The first module focuses on food events that are happening locally in Belfast and touches on events happening annually around the world. Discussing topics such as cookery schools, the popularity of tourism and cultural tourism and how the tourism industry has changed over time. Approximately five seminars will be held to do food pairings and wine tastings which is quite interesting and I had an interest back in college hen I did the oenology module.

The second module conducts an actual food sensory analysis on three products made by ourselves based on a chosen commodity. We pick here products make them that day. We get small samples of each product and place them on trays. In an actual food sensory testing lab we test the products o actual people to collect data to decide if the commodity can be tasted through the products. Quite an interesting assignment.

The last and final module is one I will be studying in college back home in fourth year. So I thought it would be a great idea to get a taste for the module before dong it in my final year. For our assignment, we are given a brief by an actual company about a product they want us to create. We work on creating the product, analyse it using sensory analysis procedure and then we create a pitch for the company, showing our progress and given them samples of the product. The best thing about this module is that we get a reference off the company and increase the contacts we have in northern Ireland. Which made this module hard to refuse.

I start a proper week next week. This week was basically induction, showing us around, explaining modules and setting up I.D cards. I am very excited to start these modules. I hope they are as good as they sound.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Venlo – an update
Travels so far..
We’ve almost hit the halfway mark of our time here in Venlo and Erasmus life so far has exceeded all expectations. I have travelled to so many more places since my last blog post and plan more travels in the near future! We experienced Carnival which is a festival celebrated in some parts of the Netherlands and Germany. From our experience, Carnival is celebrated by dressing up in crazy costumes, throwing confetti all over the city, listening to various Dutch artists and copious amounts of alcohol. The whole town of Venlo was basically shut down and stages were erected all over the city centre (about 5 in total) blaring Dutch covers and songs for a week! Tradition here is to dress up for every day of Carnival you celebrate. The effort all the locals put into their costumes was crazy, all elements down to their face paint was amazing. Of course we joined in the festivities for a couple days before we headed on our next adventure.

Locals celebrating Carnival
Life in here in the Netherlands and being so central allows us to travel to many different countries and cities at a generally low cost (if you do it right). The main advantage we have here is having such a large group of like-minded friends who are always up for an adventure. The more people that you can get to join you when travelling can be a major euro saver e.g. splitting costs for things such as discount group tickets for transport, accommodation and food. Being an international student here at Fontys and staying in the student accommodation allows you to meet so many people which will make finding buddies to go travelling with easy.
Some places I have been able to see include Utrecht, Den Hague, Amsterdam (all three in one day), Milan and Brussels. All the places we visited (except for Brussels) were planned by our group of friends. Our journey to Brussels was set up by the Fontys International programme with transport only costing 5 euro and having the freedom to explore the city solo for 7 ½ hours.
I find travelling and exploring new places a major stress reliever so having the opportunity to do these things and have them so easily available to me is a huge benefit.
Snaps from some travels

College life..
Fontys on a Sunday
So obviously work has to be done during our time here! Fontys is a pretty modern campus, seating areas are placed all over the campus allowing for ample study/work space for students, all fitted with plug sockets ( which we are all very impressed by 😉  ). There is just one canteen on campus which does not accept cash or our visa debit cards which isn’t necessarily a bad thing (another euro saver), coffee machines located all over the buildings and vending machines.
Now that we are in our 7th week into studying we’ve settled into our subjects and beginning to have some halfway tests to allow us to see where our knowledge is on each module so far. Majority of our subjects do these tests which I find very helpful, it gives me a clear indication where I need to put more work in and which modules I have a good understanding in.
Since we started our studies in semester 2 we have come across some difficulties. Some modules rely heavily on ones done in the previous semester so coming in at the second half of the year feels like I am constantly having to catch up with the other students. But after vocalizing our worries with lecturers they easily adjust in a way that helps us understand the module but also allows us to learn more about this side of the industry

More updates to come.
Until next time,

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Canada ehhhh

Greetings from Canada the land of squirrels, canucks and legal weed. After just one short week home from the Slieve, my partner in crime and I boarded a plane and here we are in TORONTO! It has always been a dream of mine to live in Canada so when I found out that it was an option for our year abroad I jumped on the opportunity. And so far so good. So I am here for the educational portion of my year abroad and to say its worlds apart from working up the north is an understatement but ill get into that later.

First I’ll talk about the important stuff soooo college. Humber college offers a massive variety of courses from Tree Surgeons to Funeral Directory so as you can imagine its quite a big campus with great resources including dental care, sleep rooms and a doctors office. I am studying Culinary Management here which I believe is a good program and we get to do some very interesting subjects such as butchery, Emerging Trends in Canadian cuisine, Advanced Nutritional Cuisine and A La Carte Cuisine which is the production kitchen here. All of our classes are practical which suits me down to the ground because that’s where I feel I thrive the most. The classes are cool and I have learned a lot since arriving here and we’ve gotten to work with interesting produce that we wouldn’t get at home. My favorite class thus far has been emerging trends as for the first three weeks the lecture thought us techniques that he believed to be emerging trends in Canadian cuisine and then he brought guest chefs in from reportable kitchens throughout Toronto. These guest chefs not only thought us new techniques but also featured different cultural cuisines such as Asian and Italian. I also thoroughly enjoy Butchery as we get to work with a variety of meats which we not only butcher but also cook and then sell in the Gourmet Express shop on campus.

Now on to our free time activities. We have a lot of free time here as we only have classes four times and week which means its three day weekends every weekend and that is why our time here is so different to the Slieve. Within the first month alone we done a lot of typically Canadian activities such as skiing which I never really thought I would do but I actually really enjoyed it and only fell six times. Still managed to get my green pass though so I got to ride the big boy trails yay. We have visited many of Toronto’s visitor hotspots such as Lawrence food market which has been awarded the best food market in the world and honestly if you get to go there you will understand why. Myself and Robert sometimes go there just for lunch because you can get the nicest lobster roll I’ve ever tasted for only 12 dollars which is very reasonable here. Also went to an ice skating disco night overlooking lake Ontario. We then got brought on a trip to Niagara Falls with the international office and the entire international group studying at Humber for this semester. We have managed to form a nice bond with the rest of the international students and we call ourselves the
European delights because we’re obviously a delightful bunch. Niagara is cool it was frozen w
hen we visited so it was very picturesque, we also got brought for a free lunch in the skyline tower beside the Falls so we got an amazing view and a free lunch.

As for night time activities we have found a really cool bar called the Dime where you can get cheap all day brunch and cheap cocktails which is important when you don’t have a steady income. We have also found a place that hosts weekly drag shows which never fails to entertain. However as we are so far out from the city it can cost a lot to get home. This is my only gripe with Humber so far, its location that is. Where we are is quite a “suburban” area so there is not much amenities here (meaning pubs) so we tend to spend a lot of our free time down town the only downside being the hour and a half commute by public transport, only 40 minutes in an uber home though. Other than that life is pretty great here I just wished I have gotten a co-op visa so that I could pick up some work here because believe it or not I miss the busy hustle of kitchen life. 

Thanks for reading my rambles and ill check in again soon,
Mise le meas,

A Couple of crazy canucks in Canada

Bonjour beech 
so after a crazy Christmas, it was a short break catching up with friends and family before myself and Saoirse boarded a plane to move to Toronto, Canada
We were greeted at the airport in Toronto by Humber’s international office who had organised a taxi to take us to residence. We got settled in and had a little rest. Humber is about 20km outside of Toronto has very little things to do around it unfortunately, but luckily there’s a great transport system that will pretty much bring you anywhere for 3 dollars. Which is exactly what we had to do the next day.The international office is great and organised a lunch on the second day for all the international students studying for one semester in Humber on the lakeshore campus which is a satellite campus of Humber. It was a great way to meet new people and we made some great friends in the process. Everyone here for one semester tends to be European. The day ended by going to a crazy Danish guys house and playing drinking games.

It was a pretty uneventful weekend after that but college was starting on Monday which I was apprehensive about, a new college, lecturers and of course a brand new class. Our first class was emerging trends in Canadian cuisine. In this class, we were looking at rising trends in Canadian cuisine and how to execute them. it was taught by both our lecturer and visiting guest chefs from some of Toronto's most respected restaurants which were alumni of Humber college.

Classes are pretty casual over here and can be a little chaotic at times as the kitchen labs are small with large intake numbers. But similar to W.I.T. there very much career focused and introducing us to as many techniques as possible. 

Classes are similar to home in the fact that we still do production classes for “the Humber Room” the onsite restaurant, which is open for students so it always seems to be very busy. We then do advanced nutritional cuisine which is taught slightly different in the fact it’s a lab class and we make various recipes and perform hedonic testing at the end of each class to determine which is best.

Lastly, we do butchery which is really interesting, it involves butchering the animal.. Duh. But then cooking the broken down animal for retail in the shop “gourmet Express” which is part of the learning program. Any uncooked meat is vac packed and used in the Humber room or sold via gourmet express. 

Other than class. Toronto is pretty class itself. It’s an amazingly vibrant city even if it is absolutely freezing. Of course, this weather lends itself to many outdoor activities’s such as skiing, visiting frozen waterfalls and going camping in 6 feet of snow.’ the international office is amazing at Humber and organises so many activities for us. We took advantage of the discounted ski trip to snow valley which was 8 hours of skiing in pristine mountains, having never gone skiing before it was so much fun. We did just a little over two hours of lessons before hitting the pistes. Some times literally haha. 

Then shortly after that, they organised a trip to visit Niagara falls including lunch and drinks all for free it was absolutely  amazing. Niagra is so amazing I think it was only amplified by the fact that it was pretty much completely frozen over. 

I had the pleasure of my parents flying over for a long weekend which was lovely as I barely got to see them between the Slieve and arriving in Canada. It also gave me the opportunity to go to tourist attractions without having to pay for them personally. Which as a broke student was great. 

Other than that life is pretty sweet. We’re off three days a week and honestly that’s not a problem there’s so much to do and so much to see. A whole lot has yet to come but so far so good EH!

Cheers From Canada 
Rob J C.

Adventures in Venlo, The Netherlands Part 1

College life with the Dutch

Hi Guys here it is im finally here ! Im here in Venlo, Netherlands studying international Fresh Business Management in Fontys University with my three college mates Ciara, Danielle and Thomas . So far my experience has been nothing but positive. On arrival our college buddies showed us around our accommodation and gave us a tour around Venlo. The city is beautiful and there is lots to do such as going bagel&beans café for a delicious bagel, going for a dance and drink in John Doe Night Club or there is a delicious all you can eat sushi place in town that we have grown quiet fond of.

So our first week in college was just oreination just getting to know what will be studying, getting familiar with our surroudings but getting to know new people. The College arranged a few activaties for the international students such quizzes on the culture of the Netherlands and we also got to take part in laser tag and bowling which was a great way to met new people and have lots of fun.
We are quiet lucky we get to go on some amazing days trips so far we have been to Rotterdam on one trip ,and we managed to see Utreacht, the Hague and Amsterdam all in one day which is crazy ! Both trips were amazing but I have to say the articuture in Rotterdam was astonishing and Seaside town of the Hague was beautiful.

Im living in student accommodation about ten minutes from the college which is great. I have three housemates who are super nice and have become great friends with my Russian housemate Maria. I have been here over a month and I can honestly say im lucky to have met such an amazing group of friends from all over the world it is amazing to see so many nationalities coming together and enjoying eachother’s company.

That’s all for now ill check in again next month with hopefully some more adventures to tell.



Sunday, 10 March 2019

The Mountain Life to the Flat Life ........ Venlo

Venlo City Centre
Cube House Rotterdam
For those of you who just started following this blog but don’t know me I am Tom. This semester I am doing my exchange semester as the second part of my international year from Waterford Institute of Technology. So therefore, I am attending Fontys International Business School Venlo. The course I am studying for the semester is International Fresh Business Management (IFBM). Venlo is a small town located in Limburg, a region in the south of the Netherlands. After living in the Rockies for the last couple of months I didn’t know what to expect moving to the Netherlands. One certainty was that there would be no physical mountains to climb. This makes getting around very easy.

Cheese and Wine Night
in my Apartment
The organization in getting to Venlo was perfect. We received our application form in mid-November. This was a very straight forward process where you complete information, and Fontys adds and verifies your information. We were giving two choices for our study. The first was IFBM semester 2 and the second was IFBM semester 4.  I decided to do the IFBM semester 2. The reason for this choice was I am not a business student and felt if I went into the fourth semester, I would be far behind the rest of the class. So far, this was the right decision. Shortly after the application was finished and submitted, I got the letter about the accommodation. Again, it was a really easy process. There were four different prices I selected the cheapest one which was 365.05 per month. This includes all utility bills. The accommodation was very clean and equipped when we arrived.

Let the Adventure Begin!!
The best asset that we had when we arrived in Venlo was the Buddy System provided by Fontys. They assigned two students a group of 5 students. Darya and Fabian are my buddies. They introduced us to all aspects of Venlo from the town and where to eat, to the university and other students. They also gave us an introduction to the social scene in Venlo. Bars and clubs stay open until around 4am. Drink is quite affordable and so is food. As there is so many other students on exchange in Venlo, we already have a huge group of friends from all parts of the world.

Classes started on the fourth of February. So far, the way the classes are though is quite different to W.I.T.s methods. Classes are a lot more interactive. For some of the classes you are giving a topic at the start of the class, you have to research as part of a team and do a full presentation at the end of the class. This not only teaches you the topic but it also greatly improves team work and public speaking abilities. Most classes are very interactive and even though I’m left handed I have now learnt how to write on a whiteboard without wiping the words off as I go….

I have a really good feeling about this semester in Venlo and looking forward to updating you….
13 people, 9 Nationalities, 4 Continents, 

Monday, 4 March 2019

End to my Slieve Donard Journey

‘All good things must come to an end’

It has come to an end of my journey at the Slieve Donard. It has been an incredible six months at this fine establishment. Since my last blog post I manage to accomplish working through the crazy Christmas Season at the Slieve.

The Christmas season in the slieve starts off with the polar express. This is a Christmas Wonderland that takes place for ten days in the hotel. Its great event for kids and families. As part of this big event they have the option of sitting down for an early bird menu before they enter the polar express exhibition. This means its even more pressure in the evening because you have groups in for lunch, families in for early bird and another 100 booked for a la carte so the pressure is really on. I really did enjoy the challenge of because even though we were under a lot of pressure in the kitchen we did managed to keep everyone laughing everyday especially when Robert would sing at the stop of his voice in the kitchen that would get everyone going (stick to the chefing Rob ). When I did hear I’d be working through  Christmas, not going to lie was tough to hear because I am such family orientated person and love nothing more then the company of my family especially during the festive season. When it did come to Christmas Day it just felt like any other day of work we just had to keep our heads down and get on with it. We had three buffets all in different rooms in the hotel. We served about close to 500 people Christmas day which was extradioanry to see that many people in the hotel sitting down to have their Christmas dinner. I think what really made the Christmas day for me in the slieve  was sitting down after the long day of hard work Christmas day to be served a delicious meal of steak and chips. We had glass bottles of coke and bottles of beer on ice. We were on cloud 9 just sitting down kicking back enjoying sitting down and eating an delicious meal with the team.

After Christmas Day, Saoirse and Rob had finished up it was actually heart-breaking seeing the two of them go because they were such a positive influence on me working in the kitchen. It wasn’t the same without them and the pressure was on because we were two chefs down but I didn’t let that get to me as there was no was straight back into the work because it was another busy day Stephens day and New Years but we succeded as a team and got threw it all.
This moment on I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone in the Slieve Donard for welcoming me with open arms. They looked after their staff extremely well, they always seem to cheer you up the no matter what the situation is  and must of all they never stopped believing in their staffs capabilities. I would highly recommend the Slieve Donard to any future trainee chef that is considering coming to join the team.