Bringing the learning home (Australian Learning & Teaching Council)

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Re Entry into Australian Life: Reverse Culture Shock

Hey all,

It’s been my first week back at UOW this week and I found myself a little scared to be back! So much had changed and was different and yet so much was still the same! Every now and again I find myself thinking “I’m homesick.” I had this really weird moment the other day, where I was sorting through my UK photos for printing and I thought “I miss being home.” Huh? Was? Ich wohne nicht in London/Scotland/Wales. But it doesn’t matter, I’m still homesick.

I was thinking about what was discussed at the ‘welcome back’ session with Tonia, and I can definitely say that I feel like a bit of a hybrid of an Australian and a British girl now. As I posted on my personal blog, “I love Australia. I love the bush. I love the sun. I love my friends. I love to write Australian bushland poetry and I love going to The National Park for swims and picnics. I even love the song ‘I am Australian’, in particular these stanza’s:

I’m the teller of stories
I’m the singer of songs
I’m Albert Namajira
And I paint the ghostly gums
I’m Clancy on his horse
I’m Ned Kelly on the run
I’m the one who waltzed Matilda
I am Australian.

I’m the hot winds of the desert
I’m the black soils of the plain
I’m the mountains and the valleys
I’m the droughts and flooding rains
I am the rock, I am the sky,
The rivers when they run
The spirit of this great land
I am Australian.

But see the UK and Ireland have my family and they have the culture we don’t have.”

I decided in light of how I’m feeling at the moment I’ll sum up the things I liked best about the UK using pictures.

1. Seeing real snow for the first time and understanding the meaning of ‘proper cold.’


A day trip to Loch Ness


Stuck in a snow storm without an umbrella in London.

2. Meeting my relatives overseas in both Ireland and England for the first time!

3. My flatmates and our weird and wonderful adventures.

Halloween at Flat 12!

4. The history and culture in the UK

All those old buildings and churches were so awesome. One fond memory is of my American flat mate and I doing a guided tour of Lancaster castle with a truly creepy guide who seemed ghoulishly obsessed with death. On the entertainment front, I went to the theatre four times when I was in the UK itself! That’s a play a month! I couldn’t help it. The tickets were so much more affordable then back home and I loved the atmostphere. And after all, who wouldn’t have fun trying to explain the three hour plot of Les Miserables in London’s West End to their Chinese flat mate throughout the entire performance without annoying everyone around us?


My two play Guides. One for Hamlet and one for Season’s Greetings with some of the cast’s autographs.

5. Real Christmas Markets.

Market and fair in Edinburgh, Scotland. I took this on the actual ferris wheel.

It’s funny. When I got towards the end of my trip in the UK I was so homesick and just wanted to come home to Australia. After a week or two I instantly wanted my travelling life back! Anyone else going through this?

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Britain, Britain, Britain! or Wednesday Woes

At Lancaster University there is a free bus throughout Wednesday taking students into and back from town. This is when all the international students with half a brain go shopping because we get free transport. Why? Because the buses are run by Sainsbury’s (a supermarket in Lancaster) in the bid to get us to shop there.

Anyway, so this Wednesday, my two American flat mates and I went into town on the free bus for a shop. We had planned to spend about an hour shopping and get back again. Instead we were in town for five hours. There were many reasons for this;

a) we got lost in the arcade trying to find the one pound store and refused to give up on the principle of being povo exchange students who couldn’t afford another store
b) in the centre of the arcade there was a patriotic lobbyist group set up. Photo below but not great because I was trying to look like I wasn’t taking a picture.

I can tell you there is nothing more awkward than having a bunch of people seemingly enveloped in British flags coming up to you demandingly and saying “Help our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan! THEY ARE FIGHTING FOR YOU AND YOUR COUNTRY! SUPPORT THEM TODAY!” followed by “Would you like to donate and support our country?”

My American buddies and I were so shocked by the randomness of the situation (but… but… your troops arn’t fighting for us? and this is not my country… and we are povo exchange students who can barely afford to eat let alone donate money to lobby groups) that we stood there like idiots for what seemed like ages before my friend said “um no…” and I said “Not really,” and then we walked off as quickly as we could before we got lynched for being unpatriotic citizens or something. The result of this encounter meant that we were all too afraid to go through the centre of the arcade so we had to keep taking the long way round to get to the shops we were trying to get to.

c) Finally, we finished our shopping and went back to get the Sainsbury’s bus. We waited there for ages, and ages and ages… the line of students grew and grew and still no bus…

.

Again, we insisted upon waiting for the bus on the principle that it was free and we didn’t want to pay to get back to College. It became a kind of contest. Who would out wait everyone else? After an hour and fifteen minutes and still no bus, five of us remained. It was cold and we were tired so we gave up together, walked to the bus station, paid for a bus, and begged the driver to go via university even though it wasn’t on his route.

Ha. Ha. I love Sainsbury’s and their evil, evil sense of humour. Won’t it be really funny to watch all the freezing exchange students stand there waiting for a BUS THAT IS NEVER GOING TO COME. Ha Ha Sainsbury’s. Thanks for looking out for me while I’m in Britain! *cough* I just so appreciate it.

Ahem. Anyway, we climbed the four flights of stairs to our flat and decided to make hot chocolate because we were tired, grumpy and cold… only to find out that my flat mate had bought coffee by accident.

My flat mate has decided she is now sleeping through Wednesdays.

On a more positive note, I am seeing Hamlet tomorrow… and thank goodness I didn’t book my ticket for a Wednesday 😉


Fresher’s week at University in the UK: New Experiences

Hi all. My name is Maureen and I am on exchange at the University of Lancaster. I’m still settling in but one of the things I wanted to blog about was things that have been new to me so far. It’s been a bit of a honeymoon period for me as of now because of all the fresher’s events on in the week… quiz games, bar crawls in Lancaster, Indie clubbing in Manchester and dress ups. All this stuff is obviously new because we don’t have freshmen in Australia.

However, the extra weird/new thing for me is that all the fresher events are organised by the college you live in. It’s like Hogwart’s or something here. There’s about eight different colleges and the rivalry between each is really really intense. It’s like your whole university identity is defined by your college rather than your faculty (as it would be in Australia).


Me dressed in my College shirt for a bar crawl. Our flat decided to go for an 80’s look.

if a person is unfortunate enough not to live on campus (most people do), they get defined by the region they come from. Speaking of regions, there’s alot of rivalry between regions too. My room mates tell me the North of England is practically a whole other country to the South. There’s one guy from Birmingham in my flat and he gets insulted all the time because he’s from the ‘posh’ part of the UK.

Finally, last new thing: sharing a bathroom, shower and kitchen with thirteen other people… this? New and not so fun.