Thursday, 2 July 2020

Johnson & Wales University, Providence campus

The first and largest of the four Johnson & Wales University campuses, the Providence campus is home to more than 9,000 students and is spread across 176 acres in the city center, as well as being among the most highly-regarded culinary schools in the United States. The school was originally established in 1914 as a business school but over the years it has developed to include a number of other disciplines and the Johnson & Wales Universities are now the largest food service educator in the world.

Culinary, hospitality and business programs are by far the most popular courses, although there are also arts & sciences, graduate, engineering and design programs available.

Around half of the JWU student population live in one of the 13 on-campus residence halls, while many others choose to live in downtown Providence, one of the United States’ oldest cities and home to over 30,000 students (more on this later). The city itself is a renowned cultural center and has an extensive waterfront full of bars and restaurants, while the cities of Boston, Cape Cod, Newport and New York are a short drive away.

The university has produced some world-famous chefs who work in countries all over the world. Among the famous faces that have graduated from JWU Providence are Randal Tye Thomas, the former mayor of Gun Barrel City in Texas, as well as celebrity chefs Chris Santos and Emeril Lagasse.

Here’s a link to learn more and explore the campus and opportunities for yourself -

Johnson and Wales is great for practical classes, in fact all of their classes involve practical's in some ways. They have a wide array of classes you are going to find here. I know myself my modules were Brewing Arts, Exploring Cheese, Garde Manger, Classical cuisines of France and Italy and something else which eventually was changed to nutrition for online classes.

An interesting thing that happens when you’re an exchange student is you’re placed in a variety of years for classes. One practical may be with 1st years and another with 3rd or 4th years so it’s a strange situation but allows for you to see the quality of the students and teachers at different levels.

My advice for anyone in general is always do the work part first. Work over the summer and give yourself as long as possible to learn but also to earn as much money as you can to attend college. Johnson and Wales is by no means cheap to attend. I’ll speak in detail about some of these certain aspects more in a moment but just speaking financially (approximate figures):
·         Accomodation (which is mandatory) - $4000
·         Meal Plan (mandatory) - $1450-$1700 depending on which option you take
·         Insurance / Nurse – To pay for access to the nurse on campus is $600 per semester or go over having your own private insurance which I had done and cost between 150-200 euro.
·         Flights – Depends when you buy them, flights are a luck of the draw. I purchased mine late because I had a delayed embassy appointment and paid around 750 euro return.
·         Medical Exam – In order to apply and be accepted you are sent an extensive two page medical exam which will take serval trips to your doctor to insure all your vaccinations are within the last two years, have your boosters and so on. I myself ended up paying around 80 by the end for it and that was on a medical card.
·         Embassy Appointment and other Online Applications – Before being able to apply for an embassy appointment and go for your visa you will have a couple of other online applications you’ll need to do and pay for, to the best of my knowledge this bill in total comes somewhere between 100-200 euro.
When going to JWU it’s mandatory that you live on campus. As mentioned above there are 13 student accommodations but we were given the option between two and they are the two I'll speak about and tell you about both.

You have McNultty Hall (Inner City) which is right in the heart of Providence, filled with students and places all the other international exchange students who you’ll meet first during your introductions and getting set up. It’s ideal for getting out, going for drinks or food in the local restaurants. I would suggest if you are over 21 to invest in a passport card, they only accept a passport as ID over there so it’s your best shot unless you’re confident enough to carry yours around everywhere with you.
Harbour Side (Outter City) This is about a 10-minute drive outside of the city but it’s a 5-minute walk from the campus you’re based on. We were given the option of the two and went for the one closer because we were aware of the early starts to life there. Classes there start at 6:45am sharp, in full uniform, ironed and inspected upon entering class. There are buses available from McNultty but we opted for the closer one. Easier to go back during breaks, after class etc.

Regardless which you pick you’ll more than likely end up sharing a room. I travelled with a class mate and we were placed in a room together which was fine but we also had a third with us so privacy isn’t included in their package when paying for your dorm. Opposite is a diagram of the exact room layout we had.

Meal Plans
Something different for you going over there is their meal plan set up. A mandatory thing so it’s a matter of do you sign up for 14 swipes a week or 21 I think is the larger option. How they work is in your dorms they have buffet style canteens in which one swipe to enter and then eat as much as you want, McNultty being better than Harbour View in this case, and only certain meals change daily while the rest are mainstays. They also work in places on campus so a swipe may get you a slice of pizza, a drink and a salad or two pizza slices and a drink etc. You learn a lot more about this stuff there and people are nice enough to help you if you are better off paying than wasting a swipe on something.

A main one people use swipes for is the Starbucks on campus. A swipe can get you a drink and a pastry for one but the lines before classes are incredibly long so you have to pick and choose when you go.

If you go McNultty although the food is better there, they are also surrounded by shops, restaurants and takeaways so 100% go for the fewer swipes and explore more things. Harbour View is a bit out of the way from most things so consider both options and see what kind of person you are.

One final thing to note is they do morning and evening classes. Morning classes begin at 06:45 sharp, in pristine uniform and the evening class is 13:45 I believe. We were placed in the morning classes which isn’t too bad, gives you your whole evening to get work done and familiarize yourself with the college and surroundings.
A negative is they don’t provide changing rooms so you walk or get the bus in your uniform. Just something to note.

If anyone has any questions which haven’t been answered here then speak to Don and ask for my details and I'll be happy to get back to you and talk to you about any concerns or answer whatever questions you may have. 

Until then,

Friday, 8 May 2020

Venlo accommodation

Hi Ya, Yasmine here again, this time to talk about my accommodation and its amenities here in Venlo.

I live in a large shared house in a complex of other large shared houses the complex is called Greenfields. As it is a house, we do have the luxury of our own garden area with a picnic bench and private bike storage. Greenfields is located on the outer edge of town, towards the German border. The house faces out onto a road, but a small pond separates the house from the road, inviting birds and butterflies, which I find quite enjoyable. Across the road is the nearest supermarket, less than a 3-minute walk, its open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.  every day except Sunday when it closes at 7 p.m. However, it only takes about 5-7 minutes to cycle into the city centre should I need anything else. It takes me about 10-15 minutes to cycle from Greenfields to the college. It is a quite location, which I like, although it is a bit far from the main blocks of student accommodation so it can be a little isolation by location alone.

My house has 15 bedrooms, but not all the rooms are occupied. My room is on the 1st floor, it is a roomy enough single room with a bed, wardrobe, chest of drawers, table, chair, fridge, sink, small counter space and four cupboards to store any non-clothing items you have. There are two large windows, one that ones in two directions, there is also a very handy sliding blind that allows me to keep the sun out without having to close the currants completely. We have large wet room style bathrooms that we share. At the most there was only four people sharing my bathroom, however two have relocated so now I share it with just one other housemate.
As it is such a large house, we have two kitchen areas, with sinks, stove tops and one oven…the oven is actually a luxury for students here in the Netherlands – most student accommodation only provides a stove top and a microwave. Naturally sharing with strangers can be a challenge when you’re a chef, kitchen cleanliness is always something that seems to be an issue, but the individual sinks in our bedrooms does alleviate some of that tension. The only common area to speak of in the house is the dining room attached to the kitchen areas, there are tables and chairs but no couches or T.V.’s.  There is no laundry room located in the house, however, there is a communal laundry room on the complex, I was disappointed and a little annoyed to discover that there was no laundry room and that we would have to download an app and pay for washing, but I quickly got over it.

I paid for all of my accommodation upfront, as I wanted to be able to enjoy my time in Venlo, without the stress of rent payments. The overall sum I paid to Greenfields (Brix Housing) was about 3000.00. This included my rent for the 6 months, my deposit, as well as all of my other living related expenses i.e. electric, water, gas, internet. I paid 65 for a bedding set, which included 1 pillow, 1 blanket, 1 mattress cover, 1 fitted sheet and 1 duvet cover, I’m hesitant to say it was worth the time saved, as the quality isn’t very good and the fabric can be a little scratchy. The only thing I have to pay for out of pocket is food, fun and travel. I bought a bike as quickly as I could when I arrived to Venlo, 50 online, so travel has been relatively cheap. I have bought some things since I’ve been here, like a hair dryer and a small coffee maker, both 15 each, but worth it. I would recommend bringing at least a 3 socket extension cable with you and an adaptor with you, because trying to charge all your devices with just one socket adaptor is a head melt.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Multicultural student life in Venlo!

Okay, so it is Kate again doing my final blog post. Due to the Covid-19 outbreak my time in Venlo was short, I was only there for about 6 weeks. However, within those 6 weeks, I have made some great memories and some great friends. Though I am no longer over there, I keep in contact with some great people! 

Lunch on a cycle to Germany!
I have made friends with people from Mexico, Germany, Italy, France, Denmark and Latvia to name but a few. As you can imagine, each culture is quite different. From being away I feel like I was given a greater understanding of cultural differences, but also how alike some cultures are to the Irish. 

From all of the Erasmus students and exchange students, the Mexicans were the biggest group.  Because of this, they were really able to show their culture and some of the best dancers I’ve ever seen! Dancing is like walking for them. They love to move and are constantly wanting you to dance with them. Unfortunately, I would not be the best dancer but with their help I improved a little!

Mexican friends wearing my hat
 which I forgot to bring home!
From the very start, a nice friendly group emerged, and everyone got on very well. We constantly were going out for dinner together and lunch at the weekends, and then during the week we would gather together in someone’s apartment and cook together. Often times, there could be up to 20 people eating dinner together. I really enjoyed doing this because each person would bring an item to contribute to the meal. Pancakes become a regular occurrence for us. We would eat, listen to music and just talk on the nights that we did not want to party. I also had joined a soccer team while I was over there, we trained Tuesday and Thursday evenings. I really liked going to training, even though I can barely kick a ball, but I was meeting local people not only exchange students. The team was a mix of girls and boys, but there were only 4 girls on the team, so we never got a real change to play! The boys were too competitive, but it had a great social aspect to it either way!

Playing cards became a weekly thing as well. I had never played much cards, but it was another great way to get to know people without the awkward conversations. I really loved being in Venlo, I was so so upset returning home so quickly. 6 weeks was just not long enough!

Thanks so much for reading my blog post  through out the year. If anyone from WIT likes the idea of working in Boulangerie Jade or has any questions about Venlo, I would be more than happy to talk to you.

Kate Miller. 

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

First Christmas away from home!

Tis’ the season to be jolly or exhausted! I myself was working for most of the month, but hey that’s what it is all about. Obviously it was my first Christmas there and colleagues kept telling me how busy it will be but I didn’t really believe them because some may have been exaggerating but they were right it was mental. So it all kicks off around November where the busy lunch period kicks in where we are doing 250 covers every day and Friday going up to about 280.

Just at the start of January I came home for a few days to surprise my mother with my girlfriend as she thought she wouldn’t see me before Christmas so that was really nice, the flights were also so cheap at the time that we couldn’t resist. My dad also flew over from America to see me just before Christmas and I swapped my days off with someone so I could spend a long weekend with him, so considering the chaos I was very lucky to see everyone. While my dad was visiting we took a trip in a black cab around to see all the lights in London during the festive period it was really interesting and beautiful.

So no doubt the Christmas period was hectic so we were all glad to see Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve we were open just from 12:00-2:30 for 250
guests. On the morning every year it is tradition in Scott’s they have a big breakfast buffet for all staff and a raffle. The breakfast is cooked by one of the sous chefs and has everything you could think of from sausages and bacon to eggs three ways and to lots of tasty pastries from the pastry section, egg nog and champagne, it’s really nice. The raffle consists of alcohol, vouchers and prizes from various nearby businesses in Mayfair, I actually won a 150 pound voucher to Scott’s so I brought my mother just after Christmas where we were extremely well looked after.

For Christmas day we ordered all our food through work as we get it cheap. We had 6 people for dinner 3 Italians and 3 Irish. With Scott’s being a fish restaurant we got 4 lobsters, 20 scallops, ½ box of tiger prawns, 20 langoustines…. That was just our starter; we did like a shelled shellfish starter with garlic butter and sauce Americaine.

We had turkey, ham, spiced beef for our main with all the trimmings. Conveniently enough a veg supplier gave chef a present of a veg box which had far too much for him so he gave us the rest. We then followed with a huge array of desserts as one of my friends Chiara is a pastry chef in Scott’s so she supplied the sweet treats such as two types of tiramisu (being Italian and all that), loads of different flavours of chocolate truffles, lemon madelines, pannetone ice-cream, such an amazing finish. We all booked off work until the 29th back on a dinner shift so that was lovely. It was one of my best Christmas’s yet and my first away from home!