Bringing the learning home (Australian Learning & Teaching Council)

the college life

It was an overwhelming experience my first hour at UNCW, it involved traffic jams, getting lost and not to mention cheering from hundreds of people. I was nervous, but the intensity and bustle of everyone got me excited and gave me the immediate feeling that I had made the right decision participating in this exchange program. This feeling still stays with me three months later, the college feels like a community. It feels a lot different from me coming from UOW where I lived at home with my parents. Here at UNCW everyone lives on campus, eats together on campus, plays high level sports on campus, parties at campus etc… So what I am trying to say is everything revolves around the campus. For me therefore it gives me the feeling of warmth and somewhere I can call a home, rather than just an academic place of study.

What comes with this setup of American universities where everyone lives on campus is an opportunity to meet hundreds of people that you would not have otherwise met. For me, this is one of the greatest benefits of my exchange program. Even half way into my semester I have met people that I will never forget and call friends for a long time to come. With these new found friends it makes the transition of living in a foreign country so much easier, and feeling lonely impossible.

One of the other highlights for me in this exchange program has been the sports and the school spirit that is associated with it. It was a massive culture shock for me to see the intensity that all students here have when following sports. However saying this, it is not only the students that are flying the flag for their school, but also the parents. If I had a dollar for every bumper sticker or shirt I saw saying “UNCW MUM” I would have enough money to cover my HEX debt when I graduate. Even local businesses have big signs up supporting the school before events saying “good luck this weekend UNCW”.

All in all, I have no hesitation in saying this is the best experience of my life to date, looking back now at the extraordinary long process to get here with what felt like hundreds of forms to fill out, and hours spent at the U.S consulate. It was worth every minute I spent working to get here. Knowing what the rewards are now that I’ve stepped off that plane, I would fill out one hundred more forms and spend another week camped out at the U.S consulate.

In conjunction, coming to University over here is the best thing that has happened for me not only academically but also personally, as I am learning much more about life and myself than I could of anticipated. So I’m being educated just as much outside the classroom, as I am in it. You learn so much and become more independent without even realising it, the experiences you go through make you grow up, whether you like it or not.


4 responses

  1. Jan Gothard


    I think you have written a fabulous justification for exchange, and I am sure Tonia, Greg and I will want to use large quotes from this passage in our book when it is finished! I do so wish that other students – those who DON’T do exchange – could realise the value of the experience. You really make a strong statement too about cultural differences between seemingly similar English-speaking nations.

    You say a lot about collegiate life – what sorts of things have you learned from the classroom about differences in ways of doing things?

    Thank you for your reflections


    October 27, 2010 at 5:04 am

  2. tonialeannegray

    Hi Hayden —

    A lovely post – thanks.

    I gather from your last email to me — that you are thinking about staying on for another semester .. is this still on the cards?

    Are you doing any Education classes — or in particular, PD/H/PE subjects?

    Do you notice any differences in the PD/H/PE curriculum there? Elective subjects , like “jogging” or something along those lines?

    And how are PD/H/PE teachers perceived in the school system? Do they have much credibility or status — or are they just a “gym” teacher?


    October 27, 2010 at 6:47 am

  3. haydencb83

    Hi Tonia and Jan,

    In regards to staying im doing everything in my power not to have to come home next semester. Im having a meeting with a head of health facutly here at UNCW Tonia so I can hopefully find some subjects that match up well with UOW, im a little nervous actually about hearing bad news.

    He is a really cool guy though, he is diagnosed with terminal cancer yet one of the most up beat people I have ever met. He initiated research into children with cancer and getting them to treat it as if it was a video game which he found had positive effects on the recovery of the child. I found it amazing anyway, and he had all news crews at his front doors years ago but never gave interviews because the results were to inconclusive as the sample of children was not big enough to get everyones hopes up. Have you herd about that research Tonia?

    But yes, pe teachers over here are seen as a joke. This profession is not taken seriously at all. From what im hearing from friends they have more of a gym class in high schools, and other PE teachers coach sporting teams full time.

    Which means over here im just like a physical conidtioner, or a coach. Which is a bit different to the approach in Australia.

    I still feel like being over here will help my teaching alot, as you guys will know the lessons you can learn from this experience are endless. Im getting more out of this than burying my head in a pd/h/pe syllabus anyway ha…

    ( im only taking health class which im really enjoying, no pedagogy type class’s as they are specific to Australia.)

    In regards to your question Jan, the workload is more constant. Rather than having a massive workload at one time. It is accumulative over the whole semester, which I think is good! As im coming up to finals and i have no major stressors.

    For instance, in one class which is so large it would take half the lesson to mark the role. We have a quiz at the start of each lesson on the reading from the textbook we were allocated for homework. This quiz is not done on paper, however electronically with a small remote, the size of a credit card which each student has. The questions just come up what seems like a fancy version of a power point.

    We have some technical difficulties with it sometimes but I still think its a pretty intersting way of doing things…

    That is what i feel is the major difference anyway, How regularly i have things due.

    Hope that answers all of your questions.
    Wish me luck tomorrow! so i can bring you guys back more positive stories.

    ha if you see pauline lysaught and phil together discussing my subjects put in a good word for me Tonia 😉

    Enjoy guys.
    ill post again soon!

    November 9, 2010 at 2:04 am

  4. tonialeannegray

    Hi Hayden —

    No I have not heard of the research this guy is doing at UNCW — what is his name? Do you have any url’s to his work — I could always incorporate it into the Patch Adams/Mind Body Health stuff we do in first year.

    Yes, the professional status of PE teachers in USA is nothing more than a personal trainer, gym instructor — I know I found that incredibly demoralizing and insulting. The Australian pre-service teacher training is in a field of its own.

    Hope you get the ‘nod’ to stay another semester — seems like you have just started to find your feet.

    Keep us posted… literally…

    best wishes

    November 9, 2010 at 7:54 pm

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