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Kathryn is currently on exchange at the University of Glasgow for a Full Year (2018-2019). She is studying a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English and minoring in Art History.

Once your exchange finally comes around, it can feel like you’ve been planning and waiting for years and in the excitement and stress of last minute preparations it’s easy to forget about actually arriving and the realities of settling into your temporary home.

As exciting as an exchange is, arriving and settling in can be hard. As someone who has just recently gone through this turbulent time, I’ve gathered some tips and advice, some I used to help me adjust and others I wish I’d known before I left.

 

1. Plan how you’ll get to your accommodation.

Looking up and planning how you’re going to get from the airport to your accommodation ahead of time will help you avoid getting lost without phone data like I did. You’ll be dead tired, so even if you have google maps, it will be a relief to have a rough idea of where you’re actually supposed to be going.

 

 

 

2. Homesickness will get better.

You may have heard people say you’ll be too busy to be homesick, but if you’re prone to homesickness like me, you might be a tad doubtful of this advice.
The truth is most people get homesick to some degree. You might be horribly homesick like I was or you might only miss home a little. The most comforting piece of advice my international student friends have given me is that it will get better and I know from experience now that no matter how horrid you feel, it gets better. Maybe not right away but each week will be easier than the next and it will be SO worth it in the end.

 

3. Don’t lock yourself in your room.

If you are homesick, make sure you leave your room. Everything feels better once you’re out exploring your new city or getting involved in university welcome events.

 

4. Unpack ASAP.

Having all your stuff unpacked and put away will help you feel more settled in your new home quicker, will help with homesickness and is one less thing you have to do once study starts.

 

5. It will take a while to get everything sorted, try not to stress too much.

There’s a lot to buy and organise in the first few weeks, not to mention you probably have welcome events to attend and study at some point. Each university operates differently, some slower, some faster, and it might take you awhile to adapt whatever your normal uni routine is to your new uni. Just remember that there are people at the university who have done this hundreds of times before and are there to help you out, if you need them.

 

 

6. Culture shock is real.

I know people warn you about this but it’s worth being aware of as it’s likely to happen at some point. Homesickness can play a part in culture shock, I know I was homesick right away and the fact that everyone spoke in odd accents made me feel alienated. It can be overwhelming, but it fades as you adjust to your surroundings and you come to love those things that annoyed you at first.

 

“Exchange is such a roller-coaster experience and can seem quite daunting. Exchange gives you the opportunity to learn and grow, all this is part of the crazy, scary, exciting adventure you’re about to embark on!”

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Study Overseas is offering the opportunity for two storytelling students to win $250 each for the best written piece and best video of 2018.

Students must:
  • Have participated in a Study Overseas experience in 2018 (including those that departed in 2017) which has been registered in GLAS
  • Be a current student of the University of Adelaide at the time of submission.
Submission requirements:

All submissions must be the original work of the student, and may not include Study Overseas-produced content such as the Alumni series. Student content previously submitted and published on the Study Overseas website, blog or social media may be considered if it meets all other requirements.

Written piece

  • At least 500 words with photos or other imagery (infographics are acceptable and may be under 500 words)
  • Hosted on a website (including the Study Overseas Blog) or submitted in PDF format
Video
  • At least 2 minutes in length
  • In landscape orientation
  • Uploaded as a file or a YouTube link

Submissions close at 4:30pm on Thursday 1 November.

Winners will be announced on Thursday 15 November.

Full terms and conditions can be found here.

CLICK HERE
to enter

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Courtney Smith is currently studying a Bachelor of Psychological Science. In Winter School of 2018, Courtney travelled to Aarhus, Denmark, to take part in their summer program.

 

At the beginning of 2018, I had no idea that I would be traveling to Europe for the first time. I can clearly remember browsing the internet and stumbling upon information about a summer university program in Aarhus, Denmark. Despite knowing little about this city, it immediately caught my attention and I spontaneously decided to apply. I applied for the course ‘Youth, Drugs & Alcohol’; this course intrigued me as I am undertaking a psychology degree and I found the key concepts very interesting. Before Europe I had only ever travelled overseas once – I visited the United States five years ago but it was a very short trip. Naturally, I was anxious about my long-haul flight to a country I had never visited, with a national language that I didn’t speak, and not knowing anybody.

 

Fast forward to June… I arrived in warm Copenhagen after three flights and sitting on planes for up to 30 hours. An inexperienced traveler, I only packed 7 kilograms for a five week trip. I quickly fell in love with the colourful buildings, wonderful weather, and youthful atmosphere. I made my way to Aarhus where I found my accommodation for the month: a cute box apartment in a neighbourhood that I could barely pronounce the name of. I felt a mixture of strong emotions: anxiety, excitement, and exhaustion. It wasn’t all roses, there were certainly some bumps along the way — particularly during the first week. My phone data didn’t work for a few days, so I was unable to contact my family or use maps for directions. Shopping was a challenge due to currency differences and my inability to read Danish; I made silly mistakes like buying cordial thinking it was orange juice. Moreover, I had to adjust to another culture, different etiquette, the cost of living, and new adult responsibilities, including renting my first apartment.

 

It was easy to forget about these overwhelming events when I was so distracted by the charm and excitement of Aarhus. Scandinavia is reportedly the happiest place on earth, and I was undoubtedly made a happier person. I was initially nervous about my first day of class but these feelings quickly disappeared after I was introduced to everyone. The classes were much more interactive than the classes at my home university, with frequent open discussions. The lectures were always engaging and constantly inspired me to deeply reflect upon the areas that I was passionate about. The students came from many different parts of the world and were all extremely friendly; we often made plans after classes or hung out during the university’s social activities. I attended a pub crawl, a small festival for international students, two museum trips and a special Danish lunch organised by the university. It allowed me to meet even more people outside of my class while exploring Aarhus.

 

As this was my first trip to Europe, I realised that I might not be on that side of the world for a while and needed to use the trip to its greatest advantage: I have now visited nine countries. There were several trips planned before, during, and after my course: I went to the Czech Republic, Sweden, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Scotland. Many trips were planned on a whim; I was always tempted when I looked up cheap flights or buses to nearby countries for a quick weekend getaway. It was not perfectly organised and I didn’t expect that I would be travelling so much. I never regretted it at all, I went to most countries completely alone and stayed in hostels. I was addicted to discovering new places. Scotland particularly enriched my adventures because I was able to meet some of my family members over there for the very first time.

 

 

During my travels, there were times where I faced lifelong fears and forced myself out of my comfort zone. Flying itself is something I was never fond of, but after being on almost 10 different flights in Europe, it stopped being a problem for me. I confronted my fear of heights when I climbed up tall buildings. I had to give oral presentations which I seriously dreaded due to my phobia of public speaking. In the end, I definitely grew as a person after approaching so many things that I would usually avoid at home. As someone that was homeschooled throughout much of my schooling, my international studies and my trip in general really helped me come out of my shell in many ways. I became far more social, outgoing, and engaged in the student experience while in Denmark; I would like to think that I brought home with me an abundance of newfound confidence, independence, and courage. There were many parts of my journey that gave me inspiration for my future study plan and career.

 

My trip taught me how to accept when things turn awry and maintain an optimistic perspective. I did experience homesickness, some form of culture shock, and failed to achieve my goal of learning Danish. There were days where so many things would go wrong at once, often completely unexpectedly. That being said, I simply dismissed it instead of fixating on it because I felt so privileged to have the opportunity to study in such an amazing country. I recognised that these hiccups were integral to my overseas study experience and the rewards that I reaped from my journey far outweighed any minor setbacks.

 

I will miss Denmark – running hares, smørrebrød, long summer nights and early sunrises, and some of the most beautiful streets I’ve ever seen. The best part of my trip was the people I met; I connected with many people from all over the world and plan to see some of them again one day when we end up on the same continent again. I would highly recommend Scandinavia and international study programs to any students who are considering it, I had the time of my life during my five weeks in Europe. It has really inspired me to study overseas further — right now, I’m already trying to decide which country I will apply to study in next.

 

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Returned student Sebastian Levesque (aka Gauzier) sat down with us to chat all about his exchange to the National University of Singapore and his travels around his exchange. 

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Hannah Sandrini is currently studying a double degree in Law and International Studies with a Diploma in French. She has completed three exchange programs with us – first at the University of Strasbourg, France, in 2014, then at the University of Montreal, Canada, in 2016, and her latest was at Mahidol University, Thailand, in 2017. […]

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Cassandra Cook is currently studying in her third year of a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Creative Writing and minoring in Anthropology. In February 2018, she took part in the Reimagining India program through the New Colombo Plan.   During the Reimagining India program, Cassandra spent a few days in Mumbai, before moving on to […]

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Paolo Maroma is currently in his third and final year of a Bachelor of Biomedical Science, majoring in Immunology and Biochemistry. Paolo took part in the Seoul Changing Biotechnology study tour in Mid-Semester Break of Semester 1, 2018. He is now working as a laboratory technician for agricultural company Viterra.   Paolo was born in […]

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    Bradley Thompson has completed three programs with us – an exchange to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Semester 1, 2015, and again for a Full Year across 2016-2017, as well as an engineering placement with Fire and Risk Alliance in Chicago for Semester 2, 2017. We asked Bradley some questions about […]

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Jonty Dear has completed two programs with us, and is about to start his third. In Semester 2, 2015, Jonty studied at McGill University in Canada. In Winter School of 2016, he took part in the Cambodia Humanitarian Design Summit run by Engineers Without Borders, and for the duration of Semester 2, 2018, he will […]

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  Harry Lucas has completed four programs through Study Overseas, and is on track to complete another. His first program was a Civil Engineering Study Tour to China in 2014, followed by a placement in 2015, an internship at the start of 2018, and an exchange for a Full Calendar Year in 2018. Harry is on […]

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