‘Crisps’ or ‘Chips’?

One of the first things I remember being told about exchange is that assimilating into another culture can be hard. “It’s England,” I thought. “It can’t be that hard.” If I was to study in Italy or France, a country whose first language wasn’t English; that would be hard.  Now I’ll just get this out of the road and say it. I was wrong. It wasn’t ‘hard’ per say, but it was a lot different than I expected. Don’t get me wrong, I love England. I love the perpetual cold and rainy days, the history, the Victorian architecture. But there are a few things that confused the hell out of me and here they are.

The people.
I now have many British friends, some of whom are from London. I have no problems getting along with these people – love ‘em to bits. But when I first walked through the streets of London I wasn’t met by friendly smiles, or people willing to help out the lost tourist. Instead they were steely eyed and hell bent on getting from A to B without disruption. At first it made me think ‘Oh god, why did I choose this country’ BUT I got used to it, it’s not bad it’s just different and that’s okay. Besides, now I know my way around I’m just another person on the escalator getting frustrated when some doesn’t stand on the right (this is a must: overtaking on the left, standing on the right).

Food.
You’d think being fairly similar countries the food in England wouldn’t be all too different from the food in Australia. For the most part that’s true but imagine my shock and disgust to open a blue packet of crisps (chips, I mean chips) to find not original, but salt and vinegar and that’s not the half of it. Cinnamon on donuts? Nope, sugar, sugar and more sugar. A bit of chicken salt on my chips? Ha, no. Pasito soft drink? Silly Australian, no again. Okay, I’m probably exaggerating slightly, the food is edible but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t counting down the days until I can buy a pie.

Obvious disapproval of being mislead by the blue packaging.

Language.
Yes we may both speak English but to say I haven’t had a few issues in communicating simply isn’t true. Among the few:
Pants. Get used to asking for ‘trousers’ when shopping or be prepared to have the awkward ‘ah actually I was looking for thermal trousers, not literal heated underwear’ conversation,’ you’ve been warned.
Capsicum.
My first Subway encounter went a little like this: “I’ll have the green capsicum too thanks”

Subway employee,”uh… the what?”

“Capsicum, the green stuff?”

Friend, “Emma. That’s pepper.”

*Sighs internally*

Orange squash.
Sadly I learned the hard way that this is in no way orange juice or at a stretch, soft drink. It’s cordial. It took drinking a full glass of the stuff to realise that. Safe to say the flat mates have no let me live it down.

And of course we have the obvious, thongs.
On multiple occasions I’ve gotten the ‘that’s way too much information Emma’ look when saying, “I’m just going to put my thongs on before we go.”

My point here is that YES England is an English speaking country, YES it’s very similar to home and YES it really doesn’t take that long to settle in. BUT there are some things (plenty more that I haven’t talked about here) that are simply going to confuse the hell out of you or make you feel uncomfortable so don’t be surprised or feel stupid when it happens. It takes a while and debates like ‘crisps’ or ‘chips’ still happen but I’ve finally managed to stop myself before blurting out ‘capsicum’ at Subway. Adapting is key. Enjoy England.

A few reasons to head to Michigan this winter

Michigan State University

Location: East Lansing, United States

Why here?: Great spread of summer (Australian winter) short-term programs, student town, football games, on-campus living

Michigan State University has been around for about 150 years and is the centrepiece of East Lansing, USA. The whole town rallies around the university and their much beloved Spartans football and basketball teams. MSU is one of the top 100 universities in the world and is a leading research university.

To make the most of the experienced and knowledgeable staff at MSU, why not partake in a short-term study experience this summer available to all faculties. If you’re an Engineering, Creative Industries, Business, Law or Education student, in particular, then check out the Global Portal for all short-term exchange options to MSU. There are a wide range of options including:

The campus encompasses around 5,200 acres of land and includes 27 residential buildings, 10 on-campus dining halls, 4 indoor fitness facilities, 2 golf courses, and of course Spartan Stadium which holds 75,000 people. You will also have the opportunity to attend concerts, shows, theatre and museums across campus.

East Lansing is easily accessible from Detroit by a short bus ride on the Michigan Flyer. Chicago and Toronto and Niagara Falls in Canada are driving distance from the university.

QUT students Hayley and Emma attending a Spartans Football game

So why not don the green and white and cheer the Spartans on?

Study in the heart of Germany

University of Stuttgart

Location: Southern Germany

Why Stuttgart? Southern German hospitality, food, travel opportunities and cars!

The University of Stuttgart is one of the leading technology-oriented universities in Germany, and is located in a region known for its economic strength, cultural integration and innovation. Every semester the University of Stuttgart welcomes exchange students from all over the world. Most courses at the University of Stuttgart are taught in German, however if you’ve previously studied German you can develop your language skills further during your semester aboard! Stuttgart also offer some great language programs that you can undertake during the semester break (for more information, see the QUT Global Portal).  

Stuttgart is located an hour from the picturesque Black Forest, and is the sixth largest city in Germany. The city is known for its beautiful architecture, old castles and churches and vibrant cultural life, and the Mercedes-Benz and Porsche museums. Stuttgart is situated closely to a number of famous German cities and towns, including picturesque Heidelberg (two hours by train), beer central Munich (two and a half hours by train) and Nuremberg (two and a bit hours by train).

International students are welcomed and looked after by employees from the International Office, and students are able to join the ‘Buddy Program ready, steady, study’. The program offers help for new international students, as well welcome events and activities throughout the semester.

QUT student Gemma and friends on the Stuttgart Winter exchange program.

Come and meet representatives from the University of Stuttgart at the QUT Exchange Fair!

 

Making the most of summer in Germany

Brian: Kassel, Germany – International Summer School Program

After I finished my last exam in Semester 1, I headed off to Kassel, Germany for International Summer School program at Universität Kassel.pic On route to Germany, I stopped over in Singapore for a week to catch up with friends from a previous yearlong exchange program before stopping over in Dubai for 24 hours. I made the most of my stop-over in Dubai by leaving the airport and going out to the desert safari, where I went driving through the sand-dunes, watched fire dancing while eating traditional food in the middle of the desert before catching the sunset.
Upon arriving at Frankfurt Airport, I took a 2-hour train into Kassel where I met my host family for the next month. My host family lived in a village just outside of Kassel called Kaufungen – a nice small community which was beautiful during summer. pic-2Having a host-family was definitely one of the highlights of this program, as it really gave you the opportunity to experience German culture first hand. They provided me with authentic German meals, while also helping me improve my German. At times it was awkward, given that I knew next to no German, while they knew little English – however this was all part of the experience.

Within Kassel, there were a number of museums and castles to visit as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site which was the Hercules Monument.pic-3 This was a must see, especially when they have the water feature and light show running. The great thing about Germany is all the major cities are either a high speed train or a cheap bus ride away. Even going to neighbouring countries like Czech Republic of France, is just a cheap overnight bus ride away – perfect for cheeky weekend trips.

Find out more about QUT’s Short Term Options!

Clarice’s South Korean Short-Term Exchange Experience

Clarice: Seoul, South Korea – Short Term Program 2016

As a student in Seoul, I find it to be so much cheaper than being a student in Brisbane; especially when it comes to our daily food and caffeine needs. I would barely spend over 10,000won (about AUD11-12) a day while I was studying there and it would cover all my breakfast, lunch and dinner needs. If you’re lazy enough, you could always buy convenience store lunchboxes (which can have things like rice, meat and kimchi) for 3,000-3,800won (AUD4-5) and it is very filling.

Samgyeopsal

And of course, when one is in Seoul, one would need to try the famous “Samgyeopsal” (or “pork belly”) which is the slab of meat in the middle. I find that Korean meats taste vastly different (and honestly, a lot better) from Australian meats. For this meal, we usually barbecue the meats on the plate and accompany it with a few drinks (no guesses as to what those drinks are) and lots of lettuce, to balance the flavour of meat and vegetables. Generally, a meal like this would cost about AUD70, but I had it for about 30,000won (around AUD32) for 3 people.

Painfully cheap….and something I will never get while I’m back in Brisbane.

I would say that Seoul is a wonderful place for an overseas study experience, because it is so different from Australia in terms of culture and student life, and EWHA Woman’s University is an amazing place to find out a lot more about feminist issues (such as the unending justice for the “comfort” women during the Japanese invasion) and that, being feminist does not necessarily mean the Western view of loud and proud feminism, but rather, a social issue that has to be faced with quiet dignity in order to make the world a better place for not only women, but men too.

One of the many delicious lunch that we students would often go out for once morning classes are over.

One of the many delicious lunch that we students would often go out for once morning classes are over.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the male professors and most of the male students who were there for the co-ed summer program were also genuine feminists and supported many social issues that women still face.

My time in EWHA has certainly changed me for the better, and helped me in recognising many aspects of myself as a woman that I never knew existed. I will always fondly remember my time there as a student and if given the chance, would not hesitate to do a longer exchange program next time round. I also highly recommend the EWHA Woman’s University International Co-ed Summer College to anyone interested, because I guarantee you will come away learning so much more than just academically.

Does Clarice’s experience interest you? Find out more about QUT’s Short Term Study Options.

Our wonderful history class, with a few people missing, and Prof Michael in the middle. We’re standing in front of EWHA's very own museum which houses a private collection of art and sculpture pieces donated by the alumni of EWHA.

Our wonderful history class, with a few people missing, and Prof Michael in the middle. We’re standing in front of EWHA’s very own museum which houses a private collection of art and sculpture pieces donated by the alumni of EWHA.

Clarice’s South Korean Short Term Exchange – Summer ’16

Clarice: Seoul, South Korea – Short Term Summer Program 2016 

Originally, it never crossed my mind to apply for the summer program in EWHA Woman’s University when my friend from Singapore told me she had applied for it in January; but then I received the email about opportunities in the short-term mobility program from QUT and I thought, “Why not?”

EWHA Woman’s University is located in Seoul, South Korea around Seodaemun and is a very large and beautiful campus. The campus has a convenience stores, different places to eat depending on your mood, a gym, library and my personal favourite: the sleeping area, where the students go to rest and sleep during particularly stressful semesters.

This is the main feature of EWHA University: the “walls” that actually houses all the tutorial rooms, classrooms, lecture halls, a very big auditorium, convenience stores, a few cafes, a gym, library, computer room, optometrists and many other things.

EWHA University - "The Walls"

EWHA University – “The Walls”

This is also actually a major tourist landmark and you would often see tourists just come and take photos of themselves standing on this very spot (which can be rather obstructive for those of us running late to class).

 

For the summer program, I took up Korean traditional history and Korean Language classes (which were very tough but at least I can read Korean now). The one thing that stuck out most to me during my time in EWHA was the fact that they put a lot of emphasis and encouragement into empowering women to be excellent in their respective fields, and be dignified feminists.

The view of EWHA University’s entrance from the coffee shop opposite.

The view of EWHA University’s entrance from the coffee shop opposite.

Even in such a short time in EHWA, I have realized my identity as a female who would go out into the world to make a difference, no matter how small, without losing myself. It is a wonderful realisation to know that you are not alone in trying to figure yourself out amongst so many supportive females in one place and to have a sense of belonging even in a university which I was in for only a month.

Find out more information on QUT’s Short Term Study Options.