To my dearest friend, Mummy.
Lions and tigers and bears. Oh my! Lions and Tigers and Bears! OH MY! LIONS AND TIGERS AND BEARS! OH MY! I’m going on exchange! Woo-hoo-hoo! What a thrill, what an adventure, what a pleasure! In the words of you-know-who (not Lord Voldemort), “I can feel the adrenaline moving through my veins…”
Preparing for exchange is not exactly a streamline process, so I hope to guide you somewhat through it. Additionally, I’ll let you know how I feel about going to Chulalongkorn University (Chula) in Bangkok. Then, I’ll fill you in on my visit to Christchurch, N.Z., as I am just at the airport getting ready to leave.
So firstly, how does one get to be at the airport, ready to study in another country for a semester? Applications are due about one year before your planned departures (why – I don’t know), and the first step in deciding where to go. Although you need to check the university has subjects you can do, chances are it will all have changed by the time you actually leave, so don’t stress. Most important is to decide which country to go to. I like following the ‘3-C’ continent-country-city model; it works every time (just like how telling your partner you love them gets you breakfast in bed). To decide the country, you can choose between Asia, the America’s and Europe. Each level of ‘C’ has questions you need to ask yourself, which will assist you. (Actually, these are just joke questions; the continents mentioned offer much more.)
For Continental Asia, ask yourself:
1) Do I like smelling stinky fish in markets?
2) Are my lungs able to handle breathing in dust (and not oxygen) for six months?
3) Do I want to ride Elephants, play with monkeys, tickle tigers or float with fish?
For the Americas, ask yourself:
1) Do I like McDonalds?
2) Do I want to live life on-the-edge in South America?
3) How much time can I afford to spend in airport security?
For Europe, ask yourself:
1) Do I have the money to travel across the world, and spend my highly-valued Australian dollars? With the Euro in this state, simple shopping in the Euro-zone is like donating to charity.
2) Do I want to engage in naughty, bedroom behaviours with attractive people?
3) To what extent do I like churches?
Now that you know which continent to go to, the country must be chosen. Questions for this could be similar to: Do I want learn how to locate a country on a map (U.S.A.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj3iNxZ8Dww , or do I want to eat at the Peruvian burger chain, Bembos (whose burgers are orgasms in buns)? Do I want to chunder everywhere (U.K.) – please see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKFjWR7X5dU ? Or, do I want to pose for as many photos as celebrities do (Thailand)? Then, choose your city! (REMEMBER: these videos are extremes/jokes and the U.S. and U.K. are much more normal in real life).
Afterwards, QUT will approve your exchange and put you in-touch with your host university. About 4-5 months before your exchange, expect to hear your first words from them. Once the host university has contacted you, you will need to re-apply through them. You will receive an outline of the subjects available that semester, and you will need to get approval from your QUT course co-ordinators if you make any changes to your original. If you are lucky, you will get a letter of acceptance from your host uni before you leave or need to apply for your visa. Then, choose your accommodation and book your flights! Because I have issues with feeling lonely, I chose to live with four people in one apartment, even though a studio apartment was the same price.
Now secondly, why did I choose Bangkok? I was tossing-up between Universitat Mannheim in Germany or a character-filled Asian country. Did I was the prestige or the poverty and character? Since I couldn’t decide, I followed the advice of a psychiatrist and meditated on it. As fast as the sorting hat put Malfoy into Slytherin, I knew I was going to Asia. Then I wanted to choose between Hong Kong and Thailand. Because I am cheap and have a curry-fetish, Thailand it was! Also, I spent an amazing week at Chula’s (my university’s) international conference in 2011 – it was fan-tas-tic! I actually did ride elephants and play with tigers. Today though, I’m actually really scared about going… just the other day we got sent a list of our flat-mates. I share a bed-room with a Swede and the apartment with Norwegians. I am think this is good news, as I’ve never met an unattractive person Scandinavian! I may have tried to stalked them on Facebook but couldn’t find them…. or their photos (more important). What happens if they aren’t stud-muffins? How can I fix this problem? Oh well… sleeping with room-mates probably isn’t a good thing anyway. Also, from my experience in Bangkok (BKK) it is very smelly, dirty, loud, messy, disorganised and above all, naughty – but the awesomeness seems to make up for it.
Finally, en route to Bangkok I have been in Christchurch, N.Z. (my home for 18-years), and am on my way to London, Manchester, Hamburg, Berlin, Amsterdam and Mallorca (in fact, I am drinking lots of wine at the airport now – viva la Areo Nueva-Zelanda). For those of you who don’t know, Christchurch has had 3369 earthquakes since September 2010, 25 of which have been over five on the Richter scale. Have you ever visited a city in which 600 building have been destroyed from the C.B.D.? Can you imagine Brisbane with no CBD for over half a year (we experienced only a few days during the floods). Do you have adequate bladder control? The photo below shows the process of liquefaction, referring to the process by which sediments are transformed into a substance that acts like a liquid. The car’s driver, a friend of my aunts, and his son had to climb out the boot. Sadly, the father left his mobile in the car and made his son go back and get it! … typical Audi drivers.
Time here has sure been ‘interesting’. No bars to party in, no cafe’s to coffee in, and most importantly to us business students, no offices to work in! Man alive, it was weird! The roads in many suburbs are what you’d expect from Sierra Leone! People don’t really leave their homes unless the need to. And not surprisingly, people are getting fatter! Conversation revolves mainly around the earthquakes, which in itself is exhausting. Nevertheless, the people at large remain sane and strong! Power to the people! It is nice to see how well-adjusted the creatures are, and how they are doing the best with what they have got!
For now, the wine is getting to me, and my flight is about to leave!
You know I love you,