What I’m Really Getting From This.

As anyone can probably tell, I’ve had a variety of mixed feelings since arriving here. I complain a lot about multiple things and praise the hell out of a few things (snow and the all-day English breakfast to name a couple of objects that attract my praise). You may have also noticed that unlike other bloggers, I don’t have a lot of photos to share or stories to tell relating to my great adventures in London and so forth. There is a pretty simple reason for this: I don’t go on any…

I’m essentially doing the same thing over here, that I would back in Australia as a student. I study, I read, I procrastinate and I waste my spare time on the most menial and non-constructive activities I can possibly find. In fact the only noticeable difference from my student life back in Australia is that I don’t work part-time here, thus giving me more time to socialise, or in most cases, do more course reading :/ . So I’ve asked myself lately, what AM I exactly gaining from this “experience”.

This first thing that comes to mind is that I’ve met every remaining family member (that we know of) of the Jenkinson mob since I’ve been here. As I may have mentioned before, I’m staying with my Great Uncle and Great Aunt. My Grandfather was related to my Great Uncle, and came to Australia after the war, thus my family is only two generations from having been British. Interaction with my family here has definitely given me a new perspective on my roots and where it is that my family came from. It’s also odd being in a room with people who share your last name who aren’t immediate family (Dad only has sisters). I’ve gotten to know each and every family member here and like to think that I’ve become very close to them. Despite being a someone distant relation, they actually feel like family. When I leave England eventually, I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that I leave with a larger family than what I have previously known, and a number of family bonds that I will continue to preserve throughout my life. Family pride!

Whilst here, I’ve also had the honour of both working and socialising with other exchange students from all around the world. I am learning so much from talking to all of these people from multiple cultures around the world, and clearing up any cultural misconceptions I had about these cultures. I can say that my close interactions with such a diverse range of people has certainly been a great learning experience, and one that should arguably help me when I enter the workforce in the near future. I believe from all these interactions, I’ve gained some great cross-cultural competencies (What I haven’t learnt yet however is tolerance on the morning commute. Perhaps another two months will do it).

Ultimately, being placed in another culture really has appreciate both things back home, and appreciate the nature of culture itself. I believe the greatest gift I shall receive from this experience is to be coming home a new person; wiser, with greater character and a new appreciation for people around the world. Those things, and an amazingly bragworthy piece of text I can add to my resume, also, a deep sense of empathy for international students. When I get back to QUT, I’m going to make a greater effort to introduce myself to any international students I notice in tutorials and try to make them feel as welcome as possible. I consider this my civic/human duty. Also, if anyone is reading this, and actually taking this in, I’d like to point out that nothing makes you feel more unwelcome and more like a minority when being placed in a situation (i.e. an exchange program), where you know few people, have a different cultural background, and are subject to various degrees of racism and culture shock. I’d like to urge anyone reading this, if possible, to make an effort to make any international students back home feel welcome, and show them some Aussie friendliness and compassion. If that happens, I’ll feel more legitimate about representing our nation over here as people who are no longer convicts, but amazing friendly human beings. Seriously, its not an easy battle over here to convince some of the older generations that we too are civilised. I’ve had quite a few people shocked that I’m Australian just because I’m able to say please and thank you. But I digress.

Stay classy Australia, I’ll see you in 4 months,

Tom

Week 3 & 4

I’ve fallen behind on the old blogging so I’ll do two weeks in one post.

In the past two weeks we’ve been to Cork and Galway on the weekends and its been crazy. Galway is the city the Irish go to party so it is┬ádefinitely not to be missed. UCD have a group called the Erasmus Exchange Network (ESN) which organise trips for international students so we went along to their Galway trip. I’d highly recommend it for anyone coming over as it is a great way to meet people and explore Ireland. The trip cost 100 Euro but that includes accommodation, breakfast, busses and all that stuff for the weekend.

One thing you definitely learn from going on exchange is not to be timid. I don’t consider myself a shy person at all but you definitely have to put yourself out there to meet people. ┬áMakes you get up and out of your comfort zone. It has been great meeting different people all over the world, an experience you would never have if you stayed safe in Australia.

Classes are pretty much the same. All of my classes have 75% exams at the end of term so that’s future Nick’s problem at the moment hahaha. The lack of powerpoints/podcasts is really annoying though. I think I have been spoiled by QUT.

That’s all for now, I’ll update more in a few days.

Cheers

P.S I’d like to give a big thank you to QUT who just paid me my scholarship money. Thank you!

Valentines Day Love For Australia

Well, it’s not Valentines Day in Australia right now, but to stay with my tradition on posting during momentous occasions, I thought I’d say Happy Valentines Australia! Who loves you? Tom loves you. All of you!

I have to admit, I’ve been here almost 2 months (about 6 days out), and lately I’ve really started to miss home. To be completely honest, I’m not enjoying this whole exchange thing as much as I thought I would. Most of the time I’m caught up doing Uni work just to make sure I pass, which I suppose is fair enough, but I’m more or less essentially living the same way I would as if I was at home. Possibly even worse when I think about it: I no longer find time for exercise because it isn’t as convenient and it’s cold here; I’m probably not eating enough red meat; I’m definitely not getting enough sleep as I haven’t adjusted to a decent routine yet.

Thankfully I only have University 3 days a week, but to be honest yet again, they are probably the least enjoyable days of my week, simply because I have to leave the comfort of my home. I’ll try to explain as best I can:

In general, I’ve found people in London to be quite cold, with very little regard for other people or the most basic of manners. Sure, this sounds like the beginning of a rant, and is certainly most probably a biased opinion, however, I share this opinion with other exchange students I’ve befriended. Many of us are surprised with how, for lack of a better word, rude, that people in London seem to be. At this juncture however, I would like to point out that the staff at the University of Westminster (the few I’ve had any meaningful interactions with) are very nice, and are probably some of the nicest people I’ve met in this country (with the exception of family and family friends).

Morning commuters have become my pet hate. The majority are rude, and are unwilling to make small sacrifices to ensure everyone is able to get to work in time, namely, the unwillingness to move down the aisles of the train to let people on. If you’re caught behind some of these people, prepare to wait an extra twenty minutes for a train, because someone was too up themselves to be polite. It’s happened to me on two occasions that I can recall, and it’s very hard to contain myself and not swear at the top of my lungs. Ironically, many of these people get off at St Pancras, which is like the London equivalent of Roma Street. Essentially, everyone is getting off at that station to venture onwards using the Tube System. And yet people still insist on protecting their little patch of standing space and not letting other people onto the train (through the doors) just so they can get out 5 seconds earlier than the herd. It’s ridiculous.

In the same vain of thought, I saw an elderly man the other day whom looked like he was about to fall over and have a heart attack. Every single person had walked past this poor person before I had gotten close enough to ask him if he’d needed help. In the populations defence, it was a narrow corridor, but very few people had shown any concern after my initial questioning of whether or not he needed any assistance. Again, this isn’t the first time something similar has happened. In my own, unprofessional and heavily biased opinion, London just seems like a city that just doesn’t care about people, or even human decency. The nicest people I’ve met in London are those like me, foreigners. Never before have I felt closer to minority groups than I have now.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: England, where’s the love? Seriously. At least on today of all days you could cheer up a bit and show compassion for your fellow human? No, well, shame on you.

Also, I’d like to state in advance I’m prepared to take any backlash whatsoever with this blogpost. I had an opinion based on own experiences, and I expressed it, I just hope my own personal experience gets better.

I really miss home, and sometimes question why I even bothered to come here. It’s an experience, sure, but so far, one that leaves me sour and questioning humanity. Perhaps it’s just a phase of cultural shock. Unfortunately, when I’m faced with things such as this, my personality is one that will “break before I bend”.

If there’s anything I will be thankful for coming over here for, it is meeting my English family whom are lovely, and also for more personal reasons which I care not to discuss. Anyone who knows me in a closer capacity will understand what I mean. There you go friends, you get a secret message. Kudos to you.

Miss you all, even those I haven’t met.

Stay class Australia,

Tom

p.s. I know I promised photos of University and friends here, etc, but I’m very busy at the moment. I apologise, and will somehow make this up to anyone who cares to read my sorry excuses for blog posts.

OH! and a HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ASHOKA, One of my closest friends. Turns 21 Today (Australian Time) Getting old champ!

SNOW!

Ok. So like most pure Queenslanders (?) I haven’t seen a lot of snow in my life time. In fact, I’d NEVER seen snow in my lifetime. Until now. Glorious white powder of Sheen proportions that doesn’t cease too amaze! With the first fall of snow, people in Deal were leaving their houses to sled along the roads/hills and throw snowballs at each other. I for one made a snow angel. It was glorious.

Snow in Deal

I also enjoyed jumping in any snow drifts I could find, as Deal has a few places along the shoreline that normally had deep stairways, that became full of snow. Unfortunately, I only had trainers on me at the time, which were completely soaked. I’ll have to remember in future to wear boots.

Uni itself isn’t too bad. One unit in particular is giving me a lot of grief, with such an intense deadline. It hasn’t left me with a lot of time to enjoy sightseeing and such, but hopefully I’ll be up for shenanigans like that soon.

Hope all is well back in Australia.

Stay classy,

Tom