Home' Be : Issue 9 Contents Be: Travel
Exchange students see the
world from a di erent
perspective, gaining insights
and meeting challenges that
often escape everyday travellers,
as C H discovered.
"What you lear n in the text books is completely
di erent from the practice," he notes. Dicker struggled
at first with the issue of 'honorifics', where individuals
are referred to di erently, depending on the speaker's
relationship with them. He learned he'd been taught
'polite' Japanese. While not totally lost in translation,
amusingly it proved way too polite for speaking with
friends. It was a slow dawning realisation. "It was about
June before it finally clicked," he says.
Signing on for an exchange program "is definitely
something I'd recommend to anyone. At first, it may seem
daunting and outside your comfort zone, but it's motivated
me to be more accepting of other cultures. Japan is very
di erent from Australia, and there are di erences that will
take a lifetime to understand."
Acclimatising to a new study location wasn't so much
about language for Kathryn Greensill, 20, who graduated
in February 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts, specialising in
Journalism and Public Relations. At the start of 2009, she
attended the Paris Graduate School of Management for five
months, studying business, public relations and French.
Greensill admits her spoken French was
"pretty basic" when she ar rived, having only
studied the language in primary school.
Luckily all teaching at the school was in
English, and she found herself sharing an
apartment with other English speakers.
Greensill began her stay with a language course, and now
knows enough French to hold a conversation.
She found the move, from a hot, steamy Queensland
summer to a European winter, a "shock to the system",
and found equal variations in teaching styles. "We had
ma ndatory classes which were three hours long, and if you
missed two of them, they would fail you." By contrast, she
says, "the exam regime was very casual, with people coming
in late, talking, and no strict security."
Despite never having previously left Queensland,
Greensill had always wanted to travel, and she used the
opportunity not just to study, but also to absorb the history,
art and architecture of Paris and other European centres.
Her favourite activity was like a traveller's game of chance
-- exiting the Paris Metro at a new station, just to see what
Summing up her whole trip, which adds a prestigious
qualification to her CV, she points out, "It's not work
experience -- but it is life experience," which is something
increasingly factored in by employers.
Jorunn Loren zen, 22, made the leap to studying abroad
in the other direction. Originally from north of Hamburg in
Germany, when she finished high school Lorenzen hankered
for an adventure, and to do something physical. Lured by the
Studying o shore as part of a degree program
delivers surprises and challenges, with new
la nguages to learn and cultures to absorb,
and homesickness as a result of being far from
friends and family.
For Chris Dicker, 20, who is cur rently
studying for a Bachelor of Accounting and Arts degree,
spending almost a year at Meikai University, near Tokyo,
meant adjusting his expectations. "I'd learned Japanese in
high school, a nd spent one week in Japa n then, so felt I spoke
enough of the language to get around," recalls Dicker who
quickly discovered he was seriously mistaken when he went
to live in Urayasu City from March 2009 until February 2010.
Dicker had no classes during his first month, and
spent this time taking in the sights from the Tokyo Tower
to Mount Fuji and settling in. But with limited language,
even the simplest of things, such as paying for a bus ticket,
proved tricky, he says. "I even had to take a dictionary into
the bank to set up an account. But I came out with a bank
card at the end!"
e reality of being thrown in the deep end, as the only
Australian in the university, initially came as something
of a shock, he admits. Once he began his studies, though,
he found everyone very helpful. All of his lectures were
in Japanese, a nd Dicker found that his exchange student
contemporaries, mainly from Korea and Taiwan, had a
much better grasp of the language than he did.
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