Bringing the learning home (Australian Learning & Teaching Council)


Coming Home

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some memories from europe

My coming home is a bit different as I am not returning to Australia but after 4 months of traveling 3 of which were spent in Europe I am now returning to Victoria Canada to complete another semester of exchange. It feels really weird calling this home, but it really is. I managed to set up an apartment before I left which was really lucky to do, I am living with a friend near downtown its really nice and really cheap. It is surreal being back and I really miss all of my friends most of whom have returned back home after there exchange. Everything I see reminds me of them and all of the fun that we had. I have met up with the few people that are still here, my Canadian friends and international student which is great. I have met a few of the new “exchangers” but as I arrived at uni late, I have missed some of the orientations and activities.

UVic looks a lot different that I remember as well, for one, I have been here a week and have only seen blue skies and sunshine! Definitely not a complaint about that, I was worried it would be cold and raining as usual. But it is supposed to be the warmest week all summer, people are laying on the grass the fountain has been turned back on, its so nice. I am telling the other new exchanger to make the most of it because it wont last.

Classes started yesterday, I am so looking forward to it! i am doing French photography and American sign language.

I don’t really miss home now, I did at the start but my friend wrote me a letter every week and I was so busy, the busy traveling so i think i have been lucky to miss the home sickness. but I wouldn’t mind if they emailed me more!

Today my best friend Michelle is going to visit me for 2-3 weeks! i am so excited she will be the first person from home to visit šŸ™‚ I have so many things planed and I know all of the good places to go now because this is my home. Tonight we are going to Olympic National Park and are going to hike to a hut on top of a mountain and sleep there šŸ™‚ – I hope she is prepared….

My Europe trip was incredible, the highlights were the 2-3 weeks I spent working on a farm in Ardeche France, my french improved so much! and I loved it there, hitch hiking around France and Switzerland, hiking in the Swiss alps, rock climbing in the black forest Germany, my 2 weeks in the Netherlands with the awesome dutch guy I met in uvic and visiting all of my new European friends thanks to the exchange!

That’s about it for now, I will post pictures when I can,


Feels like home

It is hard to describe but this now feels like home. Especially now when the classes are dying down and i have time to read in the morning (not a text book or study but just for fun), i have time to do more normal things that i would do at home. Tonia often asked if we have ever felt like a fish out of water. i do not think that i ever felt that way, often i forget that i am an exchange student, i forget that my friends are as well. they do have accents obviously but i dont attribute them to countries but rather to the person if that makes any sense. There have been some “final” things, such as the farewell dinner and the last church dinner. there is a church that feeds about 400 students every Tuesday night, awesome! So the reality that we are leaving is sinking in. Everyone is trying to make plans to hang out during the exam period and after. I will be going camping with 3 of the girls here, Stephanie, Iris and Pernille. i am really looking forward to our little retreat in the middle of this hectic time. when i go home i want to get away more and explore more of the beautiful things around Wollongong that i have taken for granted.

i also love the community here, i am living with like 20 of my new best friends. I know that this is not the real world and i think that is a shame that people don’t live in such environments anymore, well at least in the instances that i have seen. for example people don’t even know their neighbors! I really enjoy being able to show up at any time to someones door and ask them if the want to get a coffee or lunch with me. Where you don’t have to arrange a specific time or a specific place and write it in the diary 2 weeks in advance.

Home sickness—i haven’t really had it much thank goodness! last time i went away i did get home sick and it is a horrible feeling. But then again i have only been gone what … 3 months? only 10 to go… =\ I do miss everyone of course! Sometimes i wake up and forget where i am, especially when the person in the room next to me has the same alarm as my brother whom i sleep in the room next to at home. so i think, oh scott is getting up to go to work… oh wait he isnt here. My 3 good friends at home, Phuong, Sam and Dan write me letters, Phuong does every week! and i love getting them, makes me feel like i am not forgotten šŸ™‚ i write back obviously and it will be very interesting to read them when i get back. Like a journal of my trip. I have the best friends ever! i dont think that she will be able to write to me when i am traveling through europe though, but i will still write to them.

The weather is getting warmer! more sunny days and it is up to 11 degrees today! makes such a difference.

After exams i am going to the east coast (montreal, toronto, NY ect) for a month, then i will go to europe untill 2nd of september when i will return to UVic for another session. I am a bit intimidated by planning such a massive holiday! I really need to start organising it, and it feels weird organising it when i am not at home in Oz. Also i have to organise my funds really well! i am used to working more when i am going to be going on a holiday, but here i cant! i just need to budget. At times like these i am glad that i am not a girly girly, as i can save a lot of money but hating shopping šŸ˜€

I am still getting A’s in Astronomy and i actually passed my French test yesterday!!! SOO excited, it is pretty hard! i have to do a dialog in French tomorrow, i just got help on my pronunciation…. hmm but worried!

Last weekend i went on a massive bike ride. my friend and I rode about…25km then couch surfed at a really nice guys house, he is a full on vegan lives in a trailer is an anarchist and loves animals. When i saw his profile i was a bit hesitant but when i talked to him on the phone he was lovely. And when we met him he cooked us dinner – all from dumpster dived food! (he also taught us some of the good places to go dumpster diving, so we tried it and go some fruit!) so cool and we played awesome game called carcassone. i won twice :p Then next day we went up to the potholes, my friend went swimming in glacial water – he is a bit special. This area was amazing! and great to see on a bike! lakes and river and forests and horses. at one point along the galloping goose (the name of the bike track) there was a pony pulling a cart with 2 people in it and my friend was racing the pony! it was awesome! unfortunately i did not get a picture šŸ˜¦

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reading break part 2: banff

After a gruelling bus ride i got to banff. While i was here the temp ranged from -16 to -35 i recon. On the first day i went on a tour of johnson canyon. It is amazing!!! heaps of frozen water that has come out of the cliff so they look like frozen waterfalls. we got given cleats to help walking. we followed the river up to a smaller waterfall, it was all frozen but you could see the water gushing out of the bottom – amazing! and a deep pool of fresh blue water. it looked so inviting aswell. At the top there was a massive frozen waterfall – the pictures below just dont to it justice, there were also 2 guys ice climing! We got hot choc and biscuits on the way yum, yum šŸ˜›

The next day my friends Joelle and Hannah and I took the gondela up to the top of the mountain, it did have a great view however it was cloudy and really cold. We also went to the hot spring, it was snowing so we all had snow on out head and our hair would freeze!! it was soo cool šŸ™‚ i went there again last night and on the way home we went for dinner, when we got back to the car my swimmers has frozen, crazy.

I am staying in a hostel room with 8 girls. WOW i am not used to this, i am used to 2 brothers. they talked alot about getting smashed and their previous drunken endevuours, “i won $200 last night!” “awesome! how did you do that?” “I only had to show them my tits!”. and they also talked about drugs, not just pot but heroin and other stuff!!! i have never heard anyone talk about it before, very different. And talked about girlie things and of course sex and boys were a favourite conversation of theres.

Today i walked up tunnel mountain, it had an amazing view as you can see below!

I also got a $2 of your first pint at a bar, so i went there and started to talk to the three guys next to me, one was Australia, one Canadian and one English. They were really nice and actually ended up buying me 2 shots. They decided i was going to join them out of the night, as i didn’t know anyone and had nothing else better to do i agreed. They asked me what my name is and i said “Lisa” they said “That is a boring name, I am going to call you Cornelus!” It was a very fun night and i have never had anyone buy me a drink before, but this night everyone was buying me drinks! it was awesome!

the 4:20 Club

“VICTORIA (CUP) – Every Wednesday at 4:20 p.m., dozens of University of Victoria students gather near the campus fountain to show support for sick people who struggle to treat their conditions with medicinal marijuana.

While nearly all the students are healthy, the university’s Hempology 101 club attracts attention by supporting the use of illegal drugs. During meetings, members of the Cannabis Buyers’ Club provide updates on current events involving medicinal marijuana while dozens of students pass joints around a circle.” here is the full story:

So I got out of class today and happened to walk past the front of the library (It was at 4:20 on wednesday) and there is a big circle of students with a guy with a mic in the middle talking about pot. I have heard about this time and this day being pot time but i had no idea it was this big, i just thought it would be some sneaky swapping of pot and cash. Pretty much everyone has smoking and passing a joint, IN PUBLIC!! and in the middle of the day! Then they had a BONG COMPETITION of who had the best looking bong; there was: ‘puff the magic dragon’ ‘willy bonka’ ‘alfonzo’. I am not used to seeing them in pubic let alone a contest at a uni in the day…. crazyyyy. Next week is a joint rolling competition, BYO hash… I really wanted a newsletter (yes they even have a news letter!) to send it to my friends, so i went up at the end to get one but everyone was coming to the middle so i couldn’t it so i stood back and they all huddled together and put their hands in the centre and said “The 4:20 CLUB!!” – it felt a bit like a cult… There were about…100 people there? but i am bad a guestimating. And there was a guy filming it all aswell, i am trying to find it to show you.

So that was an interesting afternoon! I am so ignorant to these things, and i know that they are popular in BC especially as i can smell it walking around the campus (i now know what it smells like). But seeing it openly displayed with heaps of people around blew my mind!

“The UVSS Hempology 101 Club and the International Hempology 101 Society will be hosting its 11th Annual Cannabis Convention Sunday February 28, 2010 at the University of Victoria.”

a facebook page says this:

“Does anyone care about the UVSS elections?
Are you sick of self-righteous students trying to change the world?
Tired of college-level election ‘parties’ competing with each other with identical platforms?
Do you see any benefit to voting for one person as opposed to the other?
Are you of the opinion that the UVic 4:20 Club holds more political sway than the UVSS student society, and has higher attendance?


oh dear

Reading week – whistler

So my reading break begun with my friend and Jasper and i walking to the steet just of campus and sticking our thumbs up. Success only took 10 minutes when a lovely lady picked us up and took us to the highway. Then another 1o minutes an middleaged couple picked us up and took us to the ferry terminal! they had lived in Sidney their whole lives and told us more about the area. Unfortunately you can not hitch a ferry so we had to buy a ticket. We did try and get a ride for the other side but Ā were told “No hitching on MY terminal!!!”

The ferry is massive! it has study area, kids room , massage room, arcade games room! wow. It took to more hitch’s to get us all the way to whistler but in the end it took about 9 hour which is the same as taking the 4 or 5 public transports. We couch surfed on Saturday night with a guy called Scott and his girlfriend Emily. They were great! she showed me beautiful pictures of all of the amazing hikes that you can do around whistler in the summer, and Jasper taught Scott about some computer programing thing i think…

In the morning we woke to “…i came home to strangers on the couch!!” then a slammed door. Scott had forgotten to tell his room mate about us surfing, so he was angry. I have never had this happen before, but Scott was really nice and apologised, but it did mean i was accomondation-less. I just crashed in my friends hotel room on Sunday night.

Oh well! we went snowboarding after that and Jasper taught me how to do it properly and i finally get it! i can turn and stop and all sorts of things!! i was so excited! but i now go faster and stack harder… so much fun. Whistler is a cute town with an awesome village walk.

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I love the sign “fire lane” ??? there is snow everywhere. Also the lovely sun beds šŸ™‚ they did have the lovely view of the half frozen river.

next is Banff!


My friends came over thismorning to get me for breakfast. They were wearing jeans and 2 jumpers, beanie’s, scarfs ect and i was wearing my summer dress. They thought i was ridiculous and stated how cold it was outside (today temp is min -1 max 3, current condition 4…?). when i woke up the sun was shining and my room was warm, which hadnt happened in 2 weeks. I was taking advantage of it while it lasted. it was cold outside, which i wasnt supprised. So my point it that I am loving exchange and all of the people on exchange (and locals) and everyhing about my exchange – but the weather.

You know the days where you wake up and it is cold and raining and you just want to snuggle up and drink hot chocolate and watch movies all day? that is what type of day it is everyday. It is always cold, always. Rain is everyother day, but when it isnt raining it is still coudy and grey. and on the rare chance that the sun does decide to bless us with its precence it is even colder because the clouds arnt acting as insulation to keep it slightly warmer.

I miss the sun, the beach, wearing thongs all the time (i still wear thongs, but not everyday). I miss sun baking, never needing a jumper, jacket and beanie. I even miss sunscreen. There is a massive poster up in the dining hall about “sufing in Tofino” – aparently tofino is the place to go surfing and there is going to be a day trip or weekend trip there sometime. It seems so ridiculous to me – all the of the beaches i have seen so far have rocks with brown sand/dirt and logs all over them. Furthermore, they have to wear a dry suit or a wet suit to go surfing, even in summer. I can not wait untill the exchange expo where i get to represent UOW. Oh man i hope UOW is ready for the influx after my advertising. So my only complaint is that i am sick of being cold.

Student Life

Lisa-from UOW,Ā in UVic Canada.

I think IĀ adaptĀ pretty quickly,Ā IĀ never really felt like a fish out of water, IĀ guess it is due to being in a pretty similar environment uni and CanadaĀ really isn’tĀ THAT different to Australia. sometimes IĀ find myself forgettingĀ IĀ am overseas, as everyone is white like me. IĀ have only been to Asia before so IĀ never forget IĀ am on holidays or away from home. however when IĀ walk past someone and here them say ‘about’ or ‘out’ or ‘ay’ I cant help but smiling šŸ™‚

The uni life as an exchangeĀ student is so sweet!!!! EverythingĀ IĀ need is next door, classes, food, bar, book shop ect. and there is a free bus!!! that could be the best bit. It goes regularly so you don’t need a timetable. My friends like next door.Ā Ā IĀ live on campus, on the top floor of a 6 story tower. AND IĀ have a view of the ocean!!! IĀ can see USA from my window, on a clear day of course, which is about once a week. It does rain a lotĀ here and veryĀ cloudy, IĀ asked someone when the rain is going to stop and she said oh about….March. IĀ bought an umbrella.

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I am in the honeymoon phase and love it. study all day go out every night – not like clubbing but there are SO many activities on! IĀ went to the clubs day and got a bit carried away and joined 6 clubs šŸ˜› IĀ joined the outdoors club, french, korean, kayaking, games and photography club. I am mainly friends with other internationals at the moment, which is great IĀ love them. they are from mainly holland, germany, france and Sweden. but IĀ am keen to meet more locals. I am friends with a few CanadianĀ guys so im goingĀ to hang out with them moreĀ šŸ˜› My mum sent me a package yesterday with VegemiteĀ in it. So this morningĀ IĀ made VegemiteĀ on toast for 3 Canadian guys, one spread it like peanutĀ butter and IĀ had to fix it for him. on didn’tĀ mind it the others didn’tĀ like it. IĀ even showed them the “were happy little Vegemite” commercial – what a classic add!?

I went to a party at one of the self-containedĀ units on campus on saturday night and on the way home we saw a deer! IĀ was so excited IĀ tried to get a picture of it but it hopped away –Ā theyĀ hop!!! like bounce, so strange. On VancouverĀ island they have cougars and bears, IĀ was contemplating doing a 3-4 day hike down the island, but don’tĀ know how to manage these animals. not sure about you but snakes and spiders or bears and cougars? (cougarĀ as in mountain lion not old woman after a young man). people are so afraid of Australia’sĀ wild life and IĀ just don’t get it! they have massive animals with claws and teeth!!!

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So far IĀ have only met 2 other Australians, and IĀ think that is enough. Someone came up to me and said oh IĀ met another AussieĀ he is over there, and IĀ said oh that’sĀ cool but IĀ really want to meet Canadian, as IĀ can meet AussiesĀ in australia… One of the Australians IĀ met is on exchange for a year, this is her second semester. I tried to have a conversation with her but all she talked about was getting drunk – noĀ not drunk but smashed, wasted ect. every day and all last semester. Also about parties andĀ guys and it made me feel a bit awful, sure partying id great but that was all she did. What about the other aspects?? and it seemed like she was missing a few brain cells from her experience. Australians also have a HUGE reputation for drinking! last semester there were heaps of Aussies and they were the party animals – any suggestions as to why this is? Ā just curious.

sorry it was a bit of a rant… šŸ™‚


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This is a trip down to Cadboro bay.

Farewell Australia!

Well after one year of planning i am finally leaving! I had my farewell on wednesday at my favourite place and my favourite food – north gong $7.50 schnity:) I am going to the University of Victoria, Canada for a whole year.

I am so excited! I just finished my last day of work. tomorrow is going to be christmas then i leave on sunday. First stop Hawaii then Alaska then Seattle where i will catch a ferry to Victoria.

There are so many little things to do, that my mum always reminds me (thank goodness!).Ā My mum is worried that somehting will go wrong so i have photocopied ever single document i can think of that she might need. She is worried i willĀ meet a nice canadian boy and wont some home šŸ™‚Ā 

Rarely i start to feel a bit overwhelmed but then i remind myself that it is going to be amazing, i am going toĀ meet sooo many new people,Ā everything is going to be exactly the same when i get back, I have skype to keep in contact with people back home, and i dont think anyone has ever gone on exchange and thought “man, i really wish i hadnt gone on exchage, it sucked!”.

Thats about it for now, see ya in Hawaii šŸ˜›

Got Snow?.

I feel terrible that this is my first entry here and its my last week on exchange. I think others can probably relate to this as well, but I am finding that it is only as I’m getting closer to leaving that I have the time to look back and really reflect on my experience on exchange.

Think you've got snow? My friend Alex's message to her sister in the UK

I am meant to be studying but I thought I would just write to you quickly then do back to studying coz I thought this was worth sharing. I was just doing some study procrastination and looking at the uni website from home and it came up in the news feed that this girl from Alaska that is on exchange at Wollongong has won a prize from Austrade or somewhere for a video she made about her exchange experience in Australia (to promote Study in Australia). So I’ve just spent the last five or so minutes watching it and the end is just her talking about how she will miss everyone and how it will be so much harder leaving than it ever was coming. Then I just got incredibly sad. Not for her, obviously, and not coz the video is about home, but in terms of my own experience in Canada. I have less than a week before I leave, and a few of my friends have started to leave already. Its kind of surreal because it doesnt feel like its actually the end already. Many of my international friends are staying for the year, so they are going home for a couple of weeks for Christmas then coming back. So it feels strange saying goodbye knowing that some of us are leaving and some of us will be back next semester. I’m sitting in one of the U of A’s many libraries at the moment attempting to study for a final, and I asked the girl next to me a moment ago if she would mind watching my stuff while I went and grabbed my printing. And all she said was ā€œfor sureā€ and smiled, but to be honest, I felt really upset. What many of my friends and I have noticed her is that Canadians say ā€œfor sureā€ a lot more than they say ā€œehā€. So I couldnā€™t help but smile as I walked over to get my printing. I love Canada.

On another note, yesterday there was a snow storm so in many places, the snow was knee deep. It was crazy; something that I donā€™t think I will ever get used to. Even though its minus 15 on average here most days at the moment, the cold and the snow hasn’t lost its novelty value (even the one day we had where it was minus 33!). So I thought I would post a couple of photos from yesterday, where some of my friends and I went and mucked around in the snow outside our residence building. One of my friends in the photo, Chris, is actually from UOW too but we didn’t meet til I got here. It was really fun to share that with him yesterday because I think we both found the concept of that much snow a really strange one to get used to.

Apology and culture shock.

First of all, sorry I have not written in so long. I do not have the internet in Montreal, and I lost my username n password.

I think I’m starting to feel a bit of the culture shock, I’m a little disappointed/disheartened with school, particularly women’s studies, actually mostly just womens studies. I’m also starting to find Anglophone Canadians slightly passive aggressive which is slightly offputting. I’ve made alot of friends but I do not feel completely at home with any of them, I feel like my Queer friends for example judge my more hetero international friends etc But anyway i’m descending into stereotypes which is not productive, or nice or polite or anything.

But even the politeness here is bugging me. I want to fucking swear and be loud and my self, and it just does not seem appropriate. In front of Quebecois it’s ‘so anglo’ i.e. so trashy, loud n obnoxious, and in front of anglo Canadian’s it’s just rude, offensive or bizarre.

That and school has been hectic. So difficult to adapt to, but I got a bunch of grades back, and I got all A’s and B’s which I’m happy with, extremely happy with in fact, but I think I would prefer lower grades and less stress/workload to be honest. They seem to overload you so much here e.g. for women’s studies I have 3 or 4 readings per week to do and approx a 500-word write up for both of my 2 women’s studies classes! It’s bullshit. Plus assignments, one of them an activist project, is just ridiculous, not only depending on what I do for it do I have to risk deportation but there is absolutely no communication or support with it. They will also give you weighted assignments that weren’t outlined in the syllabus or didn’t have a date set like a week before they are due. I don’t know how Canadian students work and take a full-time load, though I haven’t met one that does yet, maybe they just don’t.

I’ve also found there’s a bit of an assumption about exchange students; that they’re rich, trashy only here to have sex, get drunk and that they don’t take their studies seriously. I am not rich! I lived below the poverty line for the first 19 years of my life, I worked 40 hours a week, plus fulltime study load, took out a loan and got a scholarship to get here. I’m not a ‘stereotypically priveleged student.’ I’m just lucky and hard working. And you’re right, no body really wants to listen. I feel like my Nan for example is in complete denial of any troubles I might be having, she keeps changing the subject or even responding to my complaints with, “Sounds like you’re having a really great time.” The conversation seems so detached and bizarre.

Anyway obviously not feeling great today so I’m uploading this photo I took a couple of weeks ago:

As tired n grumpy n frustrated etc. as I am though, nothing has been that hard or that overwhelming. I did have a cry twice that I remember, but because of pretty hectic stuff that would probably make me cry at home as well. When I left I was really sick, like so so so sick. I contracted a virus, which gave me bronchitis n laryngitis, and traveling whilst not being able to stand without puking is one of the more hellish things I’ve done in the past few months.

I also had alot of trouble with my cell phone carrier when I got here, and they charged me a buttload and my phone didn’t even work, was still sick, couldn’t contact my family, trying to find a place to live (WITHOUT A PHONE!?!), my hostel booking was about to run out in a few days, and I couldn’t extend it so I was thinking I might end up sleeping in the metro with the bums :S Definitely distressing. But the universe conspired to help me, I got so ridiculously lucky, met some really cool people and found a place to live 2 days before my hostel booking ran out, cheap as chips, right near school, and one that I could move into straight away (I couldn’t with any of the others I looked at). I received so many random acts of kindness around that time, which was really inspiring n cool. Anyway positive note to end on. Think I will show you some cool photo’s I took in the bush at Mont Tremblant, cos we all need some beauty n serenity sometimes: