Bringing the learning home (Australian Learning & Teaching Council)

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Exchange gave me not just an experience… but a home.

So I’m going back soon, however it I don’t feel like I’m leaving. I know I’m leaving, however it just feels like everyday I’m just going keep waking up in America and go about my normal life just as I have done for the past 11 months. It’s funny I remember a similar feeling when I was leaving Australia. However I know when reality kicks in I’m going to miss this place so much. It’s turned into a home, I don’t want to leave. This is the best thing I have done with my life and I will recommend exchange to anyone, but I’ll tell you the one negative about it… you have to come back 

Extending my stay for another semester

Ok so there was no way I was ready to leave the states yet. Before leaving Australia I had zero intentions of staying longer than the planned 6 months. I remember my exchange adviser telling me to match up more than four subjects in case I did indeed decide to stay an extra semester. “As it is a lot easier to sort that out in the same room rather than from the other side of the world”. I remember nodding my head politely, however having no intention of doing such a thing. ” Why would i waste my time doing all that extra work for something i don’t need” .

But here I am now kicking myself that I didn’t listen, as it cost me huge amount of time in the long run… more than I should bore you with explaining. Anyway the take home message is listen to your exchange adviser! Oh and think carefully about how to tell your parents you wont be home for an extra 6 months, its a nice surprise ha


However now all is good and Im having the time of my life again, the weather is slowly progressively getting warmer which in turn gets everyone else happier even myself. It was a touch hard being in winter and seeing photos from everyone back home in our warm summer. That’s the closest I’ve come to being home sick, however i don’t think I would qualify it as that.


The plus side of the winter is it gave me the opportunity  to see snow for the first time! it was awesome playing in it for a couple of hours, then i came to the realisation it has a time limit on how fun it is, and slowly depreciates after an hour. oh and I got the nice experience of having to shovel it. they failed to show me that on the movies, you just see big plows coming through and doing it all, well not exactly the case for where I was staying ( Delaware ) It involved muscling it with snow shovels for what seemed like hours and hours. with this snow it gave me the opportunity to have that white Christmas, Just like we see on the movies every year starting from around December the 15th. It was strange, I spent it at my girlfriends house ( oh yea another addition that this exchange experience has given me, who would of guessed… not me!) as weird as it sounds it just didn’t feel like Christmas because i wasn’t sweating in the dry heat in Canberra ( normal tradition) however spending it with a caring family made the family holiday a good one, even though i couldn’t spend it with my own.


While im on the subject of family holidays ill mention my time on thanksgiving. GREAT DAY, I may not be able to appreciate the significance of the Indians and pilgrims but i tried. The one thing i did understand though was the Football all day, ( watching on tv and playing in the backyard) and the food.


There’s also the australia day i missed out on. We got a bunch of Aussies together and celebrated however it, however american seem to love our culture as well, ha so we ended up being the minority towards the end of the day with about 40 americans just doing really really bad impersinations of us ha, they just cant get it! So it didn’t exactly feel like like home, “unautenthicness” filtered its way into our day and before long it was just a house party and people playing beer pong ha. Being over here for it in 30 degrees Fahrenheit was a weird feeling. As girly as it sounds what do u wear on australia day when its to cold for boardies and thongs?


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.


This Photo is in Mexico on Roserito beach, we tried to sit down eat some food and drink a little, but that was interrupted every five seconds buy someone coming up to us and trying to sell us something.

We took it in our stride and just kept saying our “no thanks were fine” but these Mexicans were persistent! To try and get the deal they would send their children up to try and make us feel a little guilty.

One bloke finally tricked us by throwing these metal objects into our hands and telling us it was free. We were intrigued, so believed the man and tried it. The device ends up sending volts through your body to make all your muscles contract. It hurts big time. Yet it was kinda cool so we Ethan and I both did it again, this time for photo evidence for this blog.

After we were done the guy tried to hit us up for 4$ American. It was no longer free as he had first promised. However his slyness was matched by Ethans, Ethan gave him 50 cents Australian which the guy was very impressed with. He thought it was worth a lot of money because of its size and interesting shape.

my experience taught me that nothing in Mexico is free… just super cheap