In all my 20 years I’ve never travelled outside Australia (unless you count Tasmania because… its Tasmania). I’ve never lived outside of Brisbane for longer than a fortnight (a holiday to the Sunshine Coast) and I’ve never been without my immediate family for longer than a week. Until recently this never really bothered me, with its great weather, breathtaking natural beauty and reputation for thousands of deadly animals Australia can hold its own.
Despite all my rage of Translink, a lack of cultural scene and the oversized small town ethos of Brisbane, it’s still a pretty liveable city. And where would I be without my family? Probably on the verge of dying from malnutrition since I can’t even poach an egg and have an unhealthy fondness for cake. I’ve always felt pretty comfortable existing in my little bubble of earth. The rest of the world isn’t going anywhere. It can wait, right?
A lot of my friends don’t feel the same way. I have watched on from the sidelines as the interests and dreams of those close to me blast off to every corner of the globe in chase of life changing adventure. My friends have danced in the ethereal snow of European winters, undertaken intense physical theatre training from professional ‘Butoh’ groups in Japan, and packed up their bags for good to chase their dream careers in Melbourne/Sydney/England.
I read emails about amazing cultural experiences, weird and wonderful food (also the gastric issues that unfortunately follow) and funny mishaps at late night Karaoke bars. I obsess over Instagram pictures of technicolour festivals, impossibly beautiful sceneries and cool new friends. All the while I sit at home in my PJ’s wondering , ‘Am I missing out? And if so, what I can do about it?’
THINGS I CAN DO ABOUT IT !
1. Study Abroad
QUT recently ran a ‘Study Abroad’ expo at Gardens Point allowing students to investigate our overseas university partners and the chance to have a personal chat with representatives about the whole process. I was amazed to see just how many destination options there were, from England, USA and Germany to Columbia, Turkey and China. Unfortunately my destination of choice, South Africa, was not present. From my research on the QUT ‘Study Overseas and Exchange’ page, I am aware that Stellenbosch University is our partner in that area, though I haven’t been able to find much information about the program there. In an effort to suss out the reality of a student experience in South Africa, I thought I’d check out the QUT Gone Global blog. While I think the blog is a really valuable source to get a true insight into what QUT student life might be like in another country with helpful tips and personal experiences, I still couldn’t find anything on South Africa. While many students reported back on stays in destinations like England, America and China, I found it difficult to find any blog posts covering more countries such as South Africa.
Perhaps South Africa is not the most popular study destination due to the widely reported travel dangers and instability of the region, a perception which has been echoed quite loudly in my parents concerns.
With this lack of support from my family and the Study Abroad program it may take some tricky organisation and extensive personal research for me to study at Stellenbosch. It has always been my dream to visit South Africa, to experience its rich culture and formidable natural beauty. I’m particularly interested in the opportunity to study its legal system which significantly differs to the Australian system in that it does not have juries. Its also comforting to know that South Africa’s living expenses are significantly less costly than European countries (about $600/700 per month to England’s $1000/$1200), so hopefully it won’t break my bank too horrifically.
My main concern is that to study abroad, I will be away from my security blanket of friends and family for 6-12 months. What if I am like a butterfly that struggles to wiggle from its cocoon and never learns how to fly by myself out there in the big scary world ? An alternative to long term exchange is participating in a short term overseas program.
2. Short Term Overseas Programs
Can’t stand the thought of being away from your dog for more than a few weeks? Don’t have enough money saved for a self funded 6 month stint in Paris? Want to open your horizons across the seas and skies whilst doing meaningful work when you study at uni? Want to pad your CV with impressive work experience to make potential employer’s look twice? Then look no further than QUT’s Short Term Overseas Programs.
I am very fortunate that the QUT Law School provides students with overseas internship opportunities, offering experiences a little bit different to reading law textbooks and trekking marshes in Scotland or England.
One particular program that caught my interest was the Bridges Across Borders South-East Asia – Community Legal Education Program. During the three-week long program, law students are placed in internship to work on a community legal education project in South East Asia. Past programs have taken students to Thailand, where they became involved in developing and delivering community legal seminars on human rights and social justice issues. Students have also visited Bhutan where they worked in the Attorney-General’s office on alleviating issues of domestic violence and child abuse.
This would be a great opportunity for me to fully experience cultures richly diverse to my own and be able to practically apply my legal education in real human rights and access to justice progress. I think it would also be extremely interesting to appreciate how our legal system compares to that of a neighbouring country, how these laws are applied, what works, what can be improved and what we can learn as budding law makers and shakers.
Or I could completely give up on the idea of a educational travel experience and just live it up doing whatever I want, going wherever I choose. I could bundle up all my worldly possessions, knowledge and finances and disappear to wherever the wind whispers of adventure.
3. Take a Holiday
Pros: PARTYINFRANCESOUTHAFRICAPRAUGEAMSTERDAMFOODBEAUTIFULBEACHESSNOWFOODMOREFOODSHOPPINGROLLINGHILLSMUSEAMSFOODARTARCHITECTURENEWFRIENDSYOLOC’ESTLAVIVE ?
Cons: I’d have to return to uni and real life and all that jazz eventually and also monnnnneeeeeeeyyyy ?
So those are my three options. I really want to know what you all recommend because I really struggle to reach a decision on what tea to have for breakfast. Let me know in the comments below.