Bringing the learning home (Australian Learning & Teaching Council)


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.


Next step done…

I didn't take this picture. Copyright

Well today was eventful.

7am wake up to apply for my residency permit.

We had to get to Woollahra between 900 and 1200. O fun.

We were gone for four hours, 15 minutes were spent in the German Consulate.

I hate to sound cliche’, but the lady behind the desk was very efficient. And nice.

I watched her conversation with some German nationals. All I could understand is that she could not do something, then asked when the passport ran out, to which the national replied the first of march. I felt like such a loser.

I gave another lady an empathetic smile when she struggled with the door to get in, she said something in German and laughed so I did one of those “o yeah” laughy-things. I still have no idea what she said.

I guess this is my first experience of language barriers where I’m the odd one out.

On the plus side my application was all good and I can expect the permit in 4 weeks. I leave in 6.

Not long now. So exciting.

2 sleeps.

The butterflies in my stomach WON’T GO AWAY! 2 sleeps and I’m on my way to America and all things grand!

Good luck to everyone who are about to start or are already on their adventures! Have fun and live every minute!

10days and counting every minute!

I am starting to FREAK out!

It’s 10 days until my journey to Wisconsin-Whitewater and as previously stated, I am absolutely freaking out. This is going to be amazing. My whole family is getting sick to death of me talking about it, so I’ll just vent here. One of my friends (who posted below) left for San Fransisco last night and I was always leaving 10 days after her so now that she’s gone, it’s my countdown!

The only thing that sucks is that in order to get the cheapest flight available, I’m taking four different planes and three different airlines – not really crash hot about that considering that I’ve never traveled alone, let alone anywhere overseas other than Bali for crying out loud. So I leave Perth on the 6th of January at 2.55pm and arrive at 8.20pm on the 7th of January American time – so that’s about 9.20am home time – 2 days travel – so if anyone has any suggestions on stuff to do on the plane/while waiting in the airport I’d greatly welcome them!

All I have left to do now is invest in some warm clothes, photocopy my info for my family, work out my itinerary down to a tee and I’m off.

only a matter of days away

Hi everyone!

I’m only 4 days away from the most incredible experience of my life so far! I’m leaving for San Francisco for a bit of travel before heading to Washington D.C. for my year of study at the American University!

I am constantly nervous/excited/terrified and I don’t really think it’s actually kicked in that i’m leaving everyone behind so soon!

After the continuous paperwork and fees i’m finally getting to the end and started packing yesterday! How does one fit their life into a few bags?

Can’t wait to start this experience and read what everyone else is doing!
Goodluck everyone 🙂

Los Angeles: The place where everything happens

I am in the process of making the final preparations for my departure to California and this will be my first (and last) post from home.

I’ve heard a lot of crazy things about LA and the type of people who live there. Hopefully my future posts won’t end up sounding like Hollywood gossip columns, but either way it will definitely be something new and exciting. I’m sure it will open my eyes in a good way. Of course, studying at UCLA will add a lot more diversity to my experience. I am soooo looking forward to it.

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!). 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 will meet a nice canadian boy and wont some home 🙂 

Rarely i start to feel a bit overwhelmed but then i remind myself that it is going to be amazing, i am going to meet sooo many new people, 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 😛

The countdown is on!

So it’s 3 weeks until I leave for the USA and I couldn’t be more excited! The amount of paperwork, the number of meetings and appointments and the constant anxious waiting is over and the adventure is about to start! Every single signature, application, email and planning is forgotten because it’s going to be SO worth it.

Where is everyone else heading?

I’m heading to Wisconsin, USA. It’s currently minus 21degrees Celsius – that’s going to be a little different…

Good luck to everyone embarking on a new adventure this coming year. Can’t wait to read everyone’s stories.

Unknown waters

I took this picture while I was in Boracay (Phillipines) earlier this year. I think it captures my feelings towards my exchange trip (now exactly 5 weeks away) as I am going to set sail away from the known and into the unknown so to speak. I often look to one of my favourite quotes by Mark Twain, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”


Hi this is my first post, just wanted to say that the nerves have started to kick in and I am always thinking of my trip now that Uni is finished. Is everyone else the same?

Final Workshop @ UOW

The 4th and final workshop for our intrepid travelers occurred today. Picture here from L to R: Sophie, York, Renae, Alex and Sam who are heading to Canada, USA, Ireland, USA and Denmark respectively.

Welcome to the BTLH team — and the blog.

Girls Soon To Be Sojourning

Yesterday saw five girls attend the third workshop for our 2011 sojourners. Ane, Joanne, Amy and Emilly … and Elise in the photo below.

Below is Elise getting ready for her semester in Italy. The group reflected on their predeparture kaleidoscope of emotions — euphoria, anxiety, curiosity and delight. Have fun!!! And we hope it is a life changing event.

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.

2nd workshop – UOW students preparing for 2011

From L to R: Lisa, Elisa, Luke C, Luke B, Sahil and Matilda

Another bunch of enthusiastic and energetic students getting ready for their sojourn to Canada, Spain, Switzerland, UK and USA. Enjoy your study abroad experience!

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.


Preparing for Predeparture

It finally arrived

My passport arrived yesterday. Now all I’m waiting on is the German acceptance package so I can apply for a VISA. And accommodation. And then I have to do so much else, like booking flights. So one could say that this photo sums it up. A huge mess.

It also shows that I’ve got a lot of crap on my desk. I have a lot of stuff in general which I just won’t be able to pack. Like my 20+ band shirts or my 10+ pairs of shoes. I’ll definitely have to take Dog. Dog is my toy dog that my aunt gave me when I was a baby. He’s named after Dog in Footrot Flats.

I’m not sure what else to write about. Except that I’m doing this post to avoid a little bit of study before I go to work.

Like my friend Renee said, exchange is an awesome procrastination tool.

Wollongong workshop – 5 November

Students at the University of Wollongong doing a photo workshop before departing for the United States, Ireland, Germany and the UK.

From left to right: Assoc. Prof. Tonia Gray (holding Davina’s photo), Hayley, Kiara, Joshua, Michael, Emma, and Dr. Greg Downey (from Macquarie).

Pre-departure cross cultural experience

I was at the Fullmoon Drumming at Northbeach tonight (still in Wollongong) and I started talking to young Chinese guy who was out here doing his Masters in Computer Science. The conversation was very funny and interesting but very confusing and difficult. It seemed like their wasn’t just a language barrier but a world view barrier. I couldn’t even describe to him what I study for example, (Bachelor of Arts/Sociology/Politics) because it seemed like he didn’t even have a concept of politics, the closest compromise we could come to was; “Law?” “Sort of, but i’m not going to be a lawyer”.

But he was absolutely lovely. So excited and interested in his own cross cultural experience, and me and Australia in general. He said he came out here alone too, and when I asked him if he was scared he replied “No i’m not scarey, just exciting” (sic). Apparently I should not be scared at all either, just “exciting”. I bashfully admit it was actually a beautiful little experience.

On another equally cheesey note; your little world gets more intense and beautiful when you know you’re about to leave it.

Final Farewell – UOW study abroad students head overseas

Maureen, Rebekah, Liam, Hayden, Izzi, Darren, Karen, Lucy, Ashleigh, Holly and Natalie attend the last UOW photolanguage workshop before their departure OS.

Another pre-departure workshop

Melissa, Mayu, Anastasia, Aranya, Laura, Olivia and Bronwyn

VISA – if you know how to wait in line you’re halfway there.

Hi there,

I thought I would let the Oz Students Abroad know about my VISA adventure on Friday (02/07/2010). For those of you going to the US you know where I’m coming from. I know these blogs are supposed to have photos attached but since I was going to the American consulate I didn’t think a camera would be a good idea (they kept asking if I had a mobile phone, as if modern communication technology would be the end to us all!).

After successfully making my way to Martin Place and onto the MLC centre, (with minimal annoyance to the transit people ;D ) I realised I had about 45mins and I would still be early to my appointment. Being stuck in Sydney surrounded by shops like Tiffany and Co, Prada and Cartier with a lot of time on my hands was not good for my self control.

I moseyed on up to level 10 to begin the exciting VISA process! *insert sarcasm here*. I was greeted by some happy looking security guards covered in American flag stickers and put all my stuff through the x-ray scanner thingy (scanner thingy is now it’s official name) and successfully avoided the urge to crack a really bad taste joke which seems to come over me when I’m nervous. I waited in line and was called by a pleasant lady who seemed to be going for the world record in processing paper work, VISA ninja I tell you. It was then I noticed I had forgotten my HUGELY important self addressed enveloped and I needed to get a new photo taken…

This is where it started getting annoying, I had to haul ass all the way back down to the shopping centre and get a new envelope and photo and then haul ass all the way back to level 10 and go through the security check again, yep even the x-ray scanner thingy. I waited in line and talked to the VISA ninja again and then low and behold I had another line to wait in…

A group of us scared and confused looking VISA applicants were herded into an elevator and whizzed up to another level where apparently the ‘real interview’ happens. BING the doors open and we were greeted by President Obama’s smiling face…not actually him obviously, just a photo on the wall. I couldn’t decided whether I thought it was cute or cheesey, I guess he deserves his photo on the wall it is his consulate.

I went through a big heavy security door into a room with a big long counter, kinda like at the RTA, you take a ticket and try not to look bored while you wait to be served by an annoyed looking 40-something who you’ll annoy even more no matter what you do. I submitted my paperwork, scanned my fingerprints and sat back down to wait again. Finally my number was called and the ‘real interview’ began…This was it, I can’t screw up now, just answer the questions and you’ll be fine.

He asked me about three questions, pushed a few buttons and said “Okay Olivia, your VISA has been approved just move to the next window please and pay the fee and you’re done”. That was it?!, you’ve got to be kidding me! I gave him this look like I didn’t believe him and he just smiled politely and gestured to the next counter (I think he gets that look a lot) So I paid the fee and I was done. I walked out of the tower with the biggest smile on my face, I couldn’t get over how easy it was.

So that’s about it, my best advise for anyone going for a American J-1 VISA is make sure you have all the documents they tell you to have plus an extra American VISA photo (would have saved me tons of time) and you’ll do fine, all of the VISA people were really nice and it feels great to hear you’ve been approved!

Good luck!

Olivia xo

Photolanguage workshop

Kelly, Danielle, Ben, Chris, Will, Kurt and Steve

A snapshot from today’s pre-departure workshop where photolanguage is used to augment self-reflection. This group of students are sojourning to Sweden, the Netherlands, USA, UK and Canada and photos will map their learning trajectory and anchor the change process.