Austria is a country of nearly 9 million people in Central Europe. The majority of the population speaks local Bavarian dialects as their native language, and German in its standard form is the country's official language. Other local official languages are Hungarian, Burgenland Croatian, and Slovene. The capital and largest city, with a population exceeding 1.8 million, is Vienna. Other major urban areas of Austria include Graz, Linz, Salzburg and Innsbruck. The republic declared its perpetual neutrality in foreign political affairs in 1955.
As one of the most glamorous and exotic destinations in Asia, Hong Kong is a special administrative region located on the southern coast of the People Republic of China. The name Hong Kong translates into “fragrant harbor” traditionally due to the natural sweet water and the incense factories that would lie on the banks.
Occupied by the British and Japanese for a long time, it officially became independent in 1997 and is nowadays considered one of the most important financial centers and expensive cities with a GDP of 412 billion dollars. Hong Kong is also one of the most densely populated places on the planet with a characteristic architecture featuring Cantonese and colonial traditions.
Rwanda is a country in Central and East Africa and one of the smallest countries on the African mainland. Located a few degrees south of the Equator, Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Congo. Rwanda is in the African Great Lakes region and is highly elevated. Nicknamed “Land of a Thousand Hills,” its geography is dominated by mountains in the west and savanna to the east, with numerous lakes throughout the country.
The Czech Republic, also known as Czechia, is a landlocked country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west, Austria to the south, Slovakia to the east and Poland to the northeast. Its capital and largest city is Prague, with 1.3 million residents. Other major cities are Brno, Ostrava and Pilsen.
Often considered a dream destination, the Philippines is the nation of green rice fields, never sleeping megacities, and volcanoes.
The Philippines, located in South-East Asia, has more than 7,000 islands all preserving amazing beaches, and marine life. The land is highly populated given that it sits at the 12th most populous countries in the world with a growth rate at 2%. In 1946 the Philippines gained independence after years of strikes against the American and Spanish sovereignty.
Paraguay is one of only two landlocked countries in South America (the other is Bolivia). It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the country from north to south. Due to its central location in South America, it is sometimes referred to as Corazón de Sudamérica ("Heart of South America").
Portugal is one of the oldest nations in Europe. Before becoming the country that is today the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Swabian, Visigoths and Arabs dominated and passed by the western part of the Iberic peninsula. Given the long history and developed culture, Portuguese language, people, and inventions arrived to influence many parts of the world.
For instance, the Portuguese were the first Europeans explorer to arrive in the unknown lands of America and Africa. Portugal went on to establish many colonies and create its own monopolies. Brazil was discovered in 1500 and became Portugal’s richest colony.
Madagascar is an island country in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of East Africa. The nation comprises the island of Madagascar (the fourth-largest island in the world), and numerous smaller peripheral islands. Malagasy and French are both official languages of the state. The majority of the population adheres to traditional beliefs, Christianity, or an amalgamation of both.
Singapore in Singapore
Singapore, also called the Lion city, is an island located on the southern tip of Asia at the edge of Malaya. Singapore is a state-city: one of the rare cases where if you visit a city you also visit the whole country! But the limited geographical extension doesn’t mean that this place has little to offer. Indeed, Singapore is one of the most wonderful “melting pots” of culture in the world.
ZIJUN WANG, An International Graduate Student from China
What are you studying at Duke and what are some of your campus involvements?
Liberal Studies is a very interdisciplinary program. It offers you the freedom and a lot of opportunities to explore. I have explored psychology, literature, creative writing, and Buddhism meditation. I like it very much. Now my focus is in creative writing and literary translation. As for campus involvements, I am in a poetry club, where I also did some acting.