Bringing the learning home (Australian Learning & Teaching Council)

Author Archive

Welcome to ozstudentsabroad

Hi to all new students about to embark on exchange. Maybe you are already in transit, maybe you have arrived and semester has started (depending on your destination) or maybe you have a bit longer to wait. But for most of you, the count down is on…

Tonia, Greg and I want to invite you all to share your thoughts and photo reflections with us and with the others on this blog. We really do want to know how you are feeling as you embark on exchange. Nervous? exhilarated? confident? downright petrified? all/none of the above?

You will find there is a lot of good material embedded in the blog from other students who have already been through this process. Do a bit of searching – things like country-specific themes, ‘I wish I’d known’, culture shock – you will find lots of good tips and even more, the recollections of people who have already ‘been there, done that’. We hope this will be helpful and we also hope you will add to the collection of experiences.

And of course, don’t forget the photo competition – good cash prizes for all Bringing the Learning Home students from Murdoch, Wollongong and Macquarie – see the info on the blog home page

Good luck! we hope to hear from you soon and we look forward to sharing your journey.



Welcome to the new guys


To all the new students joining the blog for the first time or just having a bit of a look before you take the plunge, welcome. Please explore the blog – have a look at the different posts by theme (you’ll see the links on the right hand side of the blog page), read up on the photo competition, and immerse yourself in all the different stories and images students have shared over the past year. We can’t wait to enjoy yours!

As soon as you have received your blog invite from Greg or from WordPress (let Jan, Tonia or Greg know if you are still waiting…), you can start new posts; in the meantime, we woud love to hear your comments on other people’s posts !

We look forward to all your stories.


Coming home


Some of you will be beginning to think about returning home – if you’re lucky, after some more time travelling before you get here.

How do you feel about the return – nervous? apprehansive? exultant? can’t wait? We hope it has been an awesome and inspiring time away, but also that you will continue to share your thoughts with us once you get back to Australia.

We will be offering you the chance to capitalise on your time away through re-entry workshops back on campus, and hope to see you all there, sharing your thoughts and learning how to make the most of your experiences once you’re back – whether that’s in an educational or a professional or a life setting.

If you find you feel a bit like a fish out of water once you’re back, remember that transition is a great opportunity for growth. Enjoy!

Keep blogging – your posts have been wonderful. And don’t forget, there are cash prizes for students from each campus for photographs and reflections – details on the blog.


Cheap flights: a warning for unwary travellers


Thought you might like an Irish look at cheap flights – but I think it’s a universal message! (It’s not finished until the bodhran player walks off stage)


Seasons greetings wherever you are

Hi, and merry Christmas!

I hope those of you far away had a chance to experience the holiday season as it is celebrated in your host country (which might be New Year rather than Christmas, thinking of Japan and Korea). If, regrettably, you weren’t able to do so with new friends or if you found yourself alone or, even with company, found you really missed family, this is one of the downsides of travelling, and those celebration moments are always the times we feel most isolated – even if enjoying a white Christmas or a different form of hospitality. So hang in.

For those of you about to head overseas, Christmas might have been specially sweet this year. Enjoy the last of the heat before you head off and let us know how it all goes.

Not wanting to wish the end of your sojourn on you, but we are also looking forward to getting those first ‘hey, I’m back!’ posts sometime in the New Year. But in the meantime, enjoy your travels, and keep safe.

To you all, all the best for 2011.


Going home

For those of you who are wondering if you can keep blogging once you go home – yes yes yes! there is so much you can share with us all once you get home – please keep it up. And if you get a little homesick for the places you have left behind, the blog might help you keep in touch.

For those of you staying on for a second semester – lucky you! It will be interesting to see how/whether your perceptions start to shift now you feel REALLY at home and comfortable in your no-longer-new environment

Thank you all for your great contributions this semester – it has been fantastic!


Education riots in the UK; austerity in Ireland

Hi all you sojourners in the UK and Ireland

We have been hearing a lot here about student protests associated with the massive increase in the cost of university fees in the UK – though I think we are getting it on the news so much because of the incident in London involving Charles and Camilla. How are students on your campuses reacting? Do you find students in the UK are generally more politically engaged than at home, or is the student political context there similar to here?

And for those of you in Ireland – how are students and others reacting to, and affected by, the government’s new austerity measures?

Challenging times! I’m interested to know more.


Murdoch students on the move

Murdoch students, Kyran, Danielle, Sylvie, Amy, Simone, Conor, Luke, Zachary, Ross, Riku, Morgan, Oscar, Julia, pictured here with Carole Rakotonirina, from Murdoch International – preparing to depart shortly for Ireland, the UK, the USA, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Japan, Austria and Greece.

New guys on the block


For those of you already on exchange, the next group of students is about to join you – already we have had a post ( thank you Wollongong!) from some one in pre-departure mode, and there will be more to follow as Murdoch and Macquarie students join in. For those just getting involved – you will receive an invitation from Greg Downey at Macquarie to join the WordPress blog (that’s us), and after you accept it, you will be able to register and log in to OzStudentsAbroad. Before that point, you can add comments to any one else’s posts, but you can’t actually start a new post…

Now we have people both in country and about to depart from Australia – do you new guys have any questions you would like answered ? You have the perfect opportunity to quiz people in the very countries – maybe at the very schools – you are about to visit.

And for those of you who have been away for a while – is there anything you really wish someone had told you before you came? something you absolutely have to share with new comers? Advice on accommodation/ clothing/ friends/ habits and customs/food/ public transport/relationships … can’t think where to stop really! Maybe you have accumulated junk you don’t want to take back but which you might like to pass on? books and texts? we could get an online international swap mart happening! It would all be useful and all in the name of making the experience better all round.

So – now is the time to get into the blog in a more interactive way – maybe get some conversations happening and make some connections.


On (not) smiling in France

I came across this in an article I was reading, written by a Canadian scholar, and wondered if it resonated with any of you. Are you beginning to see aspects of your own behaviour – your ‘Australianness’ – more clearly , do you think?

“One common experience of international travellers is the sense of ‘foreignness’, of being different, and that difference being obvious to others. Yet, it is not obvious what it is about oneself that is recognised a being different. It is easier to see what is different about others, but this is compared to an innate belief about right, wrong, appropriate, inappropriate, in order to register that difference. For example, while travelling in France, I noticed that people didn’t smile very much. At first I registered this behaviour as rude. I had compared the common behaviour I saw around me to my innate norm of smiling whenever eye contact is made. When I talked to people in France about my own cultural heritage, telling them I was Canadian, they would often talk about how friendly Canadians were and that many Canadians they had interacted with always smiled. It was then that I started considering perhaps my behaviour did not represent the global norm, but rather an extreme end of the scale and that in fact, the French norm might represent something closer to the global average. I do not know the answer, not having found a study of global smiling behaviour; however, I did register my comprehension that I had been assessing French behaviour without really understanding my own within a context of global behaviours.”

From Berdrow, Iris (2009) ‘Designing effective global competence development opportunities’, Int. Journal Management in Education, vol 3, nos 3/4, pp 335-345; p. 339

where are you at?

This week we have had a couple of very powerful reflective pieces on student experiences of exchange in North America – one overwhelmingly positive and the other showing that all is not just beer and skittles (or whatever the appropriate cultural metaphor is in your location – saki and sushi perhaps?…) How are others finding things? is the honeymoon phase over yet? It would be interesting to hear how you all respond to those two very different posts and what bearing those experiences have on your own. Do you recognise them as representing phases you have passed through, or are perhaps living through at present? Are these experiences tied to the North American sojourn or do you see points of similarity from Korea, Sweden, German, Finland…

We would love to hear more

are you missing Oz?

Thought I would pass this on for nostalgia’s sake

(From a country pub noticeboard in South Australia)

LOG ON: Adding wood to make the barbie hotter
LOG OFF: Not adding any more wood to the barbie
MONITOR: Keeping an eye on the barbie
DOWNLOAD: Getting the firewood off the Ute
HARD DRIVE: Making the trip back home without any cold tinnies
KEYBOARD: Where you hang the Ute keys
WINDOW: What you shut when the weather’s cold
SCREEN: What you shut in the mozzie season
BYTE: What mozzies do
MEGABYTE: What Townsville mozzies do
CHIP: A bar snack
MICROCHIP: What’s left in the bag after you’ve eaten the chips
MODEM: What you did to the lawns
LAPTOP: Where the cat sleeps
SOFTWARE: Plastic knives and forks you get at Red Rooster
HARDWARE: Stainless steel knives and forks – from K-Mart
MOUSE: The small rodent that eats the grain in the shed
MAINFRAME: What holds the shed up
WEB: What spiders make
WEBSITE: Usually in the shed or the verandah
SEARCH ENGINE: What you do when the Ute won’t go
CURSOR: What you say when the Ute won’t go
YAHOO: What you say when the Ute does go
UPGRADE: A steep hill
SERVER: The bloke at the pub who brings out the counter lunch
USER: The neighbour who keeps borrowing things
NETWORK: What you do when you need to repair the fishing net
INTERNET: Where you want the fish to go
NETSCAPE: What the fish do when they discover the hole in the net
ONLINE: Where you hang the washing
OFFLINE: Where the washing ends up when the peg aren’t strong enough

Can I have snuff with that?

Having just seen The Girl who Played with Fire, I re-read The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest and was struck with all the snuff-taking – a whole lot of the book’s characters do it, male, female, young, old – odd! It seems to me a habit I associate with upper-class Victorian men (ie 19th century, not the lot who live south of NSW) and I find it really strange. Those of you in Sweden – have you come across it socially?Have you tried it? What’s it like and what are the social meanings associated with it?

Any other odd cultural customs you have come across like this – eg chewing tobacco in the States?

Just curious…


According to Aldous Huxley, ‘Experience isn’t what happens to you; it is what you make of what happens to you’. What are you making of your experience, do you think?

Campus life

How are you feeling in the classroom? Is it anything like what you expected? How is the classroom experience different? How do teaching and learning approaches differ? Is the standard more or less difficult than at home? Why do you think these differences exist and what do they tell you about this new culture – and your own??

Meeting the locals

What are you doing to acclimatise? Are you meeting local students or are you more comfortable hanging out with other international students? What sorts of things are helping you find your feet? What aspects of being away from home are you finding most challenging?

Fish out of water?

Are you starting to feel ‘at home’ or do you feel a LONG way from home? What sorts of things make you homesick? What are you missing most – people, friends, sounds, sights, smells, food? What sorts of things make you REALLY aware you are a long way from home? How are you dealing with this?

So how are you feeling?

Now you’ve all made the big leap and left your little pond…

How are you feeling now? Are you still in the honey moon stage or are things starting to look a little more challenging?



I was sent this as an email (it is attached and takes about a minute for all the images to download) and thought it would be good to pass on – – it might raise a smile! But hey – how would Australians go trying to communicate to other cultures in other languages? Or even in English – don’t let’s forget ‘where the bloody hell are you?’, which went down like a lead balloon overseas! I wonder how many enormous bloopers there are in some of the translated material we put out in Australia? Anyway, keep your eyes open for any examples of ‘Engrish’ and pass them on – with humility!


Talking the talk

On Tuesday I flew from Sydney back to Perth on a Qantas jet. The chief steward announced the menu selection over the intercom – butter chicken or salmon in a white sauce with vegetables – but by the time it arrived on the trolley we were offered the choice of ‘chook or fish’ by the very down-to-earth steward and not surprisingly, the Filipino family next to me had little idea what he was talking about. The same guy had previously asked his colleague if he could find any extra ‘blankies’ because one of the passengers was cold, and I was just waiting for him to ask if we wanted a bickie with our cuppas. It struck me that this comfortable informal ‘kidspeak’ is really typical of Aussie vernacular- it is not patronising, in the sense of treating (other) people as children but it is certainly an acknowledged Australian characteristic to reduce everyday discourse to the ‘informal’. It happens in different ways elsewhere of course, and I respond differently too. In the UK I have felt mildly affronted at being called ‘love’ in a supermarket, but equally, here in Australia, I generally take a back step when an American student calls me ‘professor’: who me? Murdoch is very much a ‘first names only’ campus. The way language is used is fundamental to culture, and the way we respond tell us something about our own. Why do I find the Oztalk, the bickies and blankies, so offputting – it is after all ‘my’ culture. Maybe there’s a bit of cultural cringe happening here, but it also reminds me that ‘culture’ is far more than just a set of ‘national’ attributes.

What do you think?