Bringing the learning home (Australian Learning & Teaching Council)

Author Archive

Oz Students Abroad moving to a new stage…

If you’ve come to this page, you might be looking for more information about the Bringing the Learning Home project or inspiration from our students on adding reflection to a study abroad or international exchange program. We’ve stopped adding new posts to Oz Students Abroad for the time being. Jan, Tonia and Greg have gone back to their day jobs, and we’re not enrolling more students right now.

That said, the curriculum that we’ve developed is now available. As I write this, we’re finalizing design on ten curriculum modules to supplement study abroad, including teacher’s manuals, resources for students, slideshows, video examples of the workshops being run, and other resources. All of that material is available, free to download and adapt to your uses through a Creative Commons license, at the Bringing the Learning Home project website. Just click on the Learning and Teaching Resources to find the whole list of what’s available.

Good luck with your international exchange or study abroad, or with helping to administer study abroad programs! We’ve had a great time doing this project and hope that you find it useful.

Greg, Tonia and Jan


Photo Contest!

Photograph contest: Capturing the Experience

We’re looking for your photographs to capture the study abroad experience: what you’ve learned, crucial experiences, breakthroughs, obstacles, all the lessons and experiences you’ll bring back with you. The contest is open to students from any of the institutions participating in the ‘Bringing the Learning Home’ project.

How to enter: Send your entry to with your name, email, permanent address and institution (Murdoch, Macquarie or UOW).

Entries accepted until 29 February 2012; winners will be announced in March 2012. You can submit more than one entry.

Make sure to include at least one sentence explaining the photo or describing why the photo is important to you. Remember, this is not just a photo contest: what you write, what you’ve experienced, are as important as the quality of the image. An image that isn’t necessarily artistically pretty can certainly win a prize if the experience is particularly compelling. It’s not the quality of the image but the quality of the experience that matters most.

Three prizes will be awarded at each institution: Macquarie University, Murdoch University, and the University of Wollongong. First prize will be $300; second prize $150; third prize $50.

We will be trying to use the images in publications about improving study abroad experience, so don’t be surprised if we ask to publish your photo.


Welcome to the Bringing the Learning Home photo and reflective blog site. This is the place for you to post thoughts and images which capture something distinctive for you about your experience as a student abroad: a funny incident, something bizarre, something which caused you to reflect on how for you have traveled or maybe how far you still have to go. Or just something you want to share.

Welcome on board!
Greg Downey, Jan Gothard and Tonia Gray

Homemade parade

A shark float in a community parade, Spain

While wandering the streets in a suburb east of Barcelona with Jehangir and Laurie, we happened upon a ‘rehearsal’ for a street parade. About a dozen homemade floats — pedal-powered creatures of the sea, some with pounding dance music and burst of fire extinguisher ‘smoke’ — were being pedaled up the street. The parade rehearsal reminded me of events I had witnessed also in Brazil; neighborhoods put together amazingly clever floats and low tech special effects, costumes and the like, in order to put on their own celebrations.

I admired the DIY aesthetic of the whole thing, the way that people were getting involved, the absolute lack of a boundary between audience and performers; people on the street passed bottles of water to the over-heating drivers of the fish floats as they laboured to propel their colourful floats with muscle power. On the one hand, it was more amateurish that parades I was accustomed to in the US. On the other hand, it was quirky and each neighbourhood had its own opportunity to put on a show. The parade wasn’t just a celebration of fish (or whatever — I still don’t know), it was also a demonstration of local mechanics and organizers.

Strolling in Sitges

Walking around in the older parts of Sitges, a small town on the Spanish Mediterranean west of Barcelona, I was struck (as I had been before) by how different pre-automobile streets are from the ones I’m more familiar with in Australia and the US. How different to walk around in spaces that were not built to accommodate two lanes of traffic! I’m so used to urban space and even house design dominated by the needs of our machines that the shift in scale, distances between buildings, sharpness of turns, the distance that we can see — everything about the built environment — brings me a kind of odd happiness. The space makes me, as a pedestrian, feel like the centre of attention instead of an after-thought or interloper on what is really ‘car space.’ Even ‘pedestrian malls’ in the US and Australia are more like ‘temporarily taken away from cars’ spaces if they’re outdoors; no community seems convinced enough of the pedestrian nature of space to actually make streets that are physically impassable in vehicles.

I’m not convinced it’s a ‘cultural difference’ between Spain and Australia, but I know that the difference in space gives a very different feel to most activities, including shopping, dining outside, sight-seeing…