Global Learning blog

Dechlan completed the German in Germany Study Tour in Summer School, 2017, before starting his exchange at the Technical University of Munich for a Full Calendar Year in 2017. The following blog post is an excerpt from Dechlan’s blog, Dechlan and Deutschland

 
I arrived in Germany on the 4th of January and spent the first couple of days adjusting to the colder climate and doing a bit of sight-seeing with a good friend. The snow was obviously the major attraction. Although I have seen snow in Australia on the ski slopes, it is a completely new experience to see it lining the streets of a city and decorating the roofs of houses. Every photo was made better and this was more evident than ever in Heidelberg, where it just made the castle and its surrounding gardens that tiny bit better.

 
After I had become accustomed to the winter wonderland that surrounded me, I was naturally blown away by the stunning architecture of just about any Altstadt (old town). Just looking at a stunning old building began the inception of so many questions about who had lived there. How long for? How did they live? This was to the utter frustration of my friend, who obviously couldn’t answer them, but I always ensured that these questions were vocalised in order to express my interest.

 
After my first 4 days in Germany, I travelled to Stuttgart to begin my first language course. Typical of me, I had high expectations for what needed to be accomplished in the course. As a result, this would cause both a lot of stress in the days to come, but also a slight shift in the way I perceive the future of my exchange. I expected to submerge myself in the German language and immediately leave English behind, but it was never going to be that straight forward. In the first week I got to know many new people.

 

Heidelberg

Heidelberg

I began German classes, and it didn’t take long for me to discover that it was going to be easier said than done just to ‘leave English behind’. I felt like I had learnt so much in a year of German, however it also became clear that there was still a very long way to go. It was difficult to express every idea that I wanted with a very limited vocab and many grammar rules missing. Also, the largest proportion of people participating in the course were beginners, and of the 67 students present – 61 were from Australia. As a result, it wasn’t long before English prevailed as the dominant day-to-day language, and the idea of speaking German was indefinitely forgotten. This was a cause for stress, as it clearly wasn’t what I had planned, and was thus undermining the expectations I had of what I would achieve from the course. Nonetheless, I was still learning many new words by studying German 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. I decided to remove all expectations of what was to come and immediately I felt better. I think this was for the better as I concluded that I will never be able to truly predict what a course or my study will be like.

 
The first week culminated in an excursion to the Black Forest, where we tried traditional black forest cake; had fun with sleds; got to see allegedly ‘average’ German ski fields, which turned out to have more snow than possibly all the mountains in Australia combined; and had epic snow ball fights. The Black Forest was absolutely beautiful, especially with all the snow (no surprises there).

 
The second week began by diving straight into the course work. Every day my German vocabulary was expanding and I was making flashcards endlessly night after night after night. I also had a lot of time on my hands as my afternoon course didn’t run in the second week at all. In this time I visited galleries, museums, and hiked around the beautiful snow covered hills of Stuttgart. I also spent a lot of time on the Königstraße, which is the main shopping street in Stuttgart. In Australia, I never considered myself a fashionable person and was never very good at shopping. However, being in Europe and surrounded by many sophisticated looking people, I felt pressured to change this. As a result there were many expeditions to the shops in which, to the annoyance of friends, I spent hours browsing items of clothing often in order to buy just one item. In the end I felt like I had done pretty well but it had definitely thrown my budgeting a bit out of order.

 
The second week ended in a trip to Munich with a small group of friends, which served as a good bonding experience. The trip was full of fun and laughter. We visited many tourist attractions, such as the famous Neuschwanstein castle (what the Disney castle is based off of) and the Nymphenburg palace. It was such a good weekend and I couldn’t have spent it with better people.
Week three began, and I began to notice that I was feeling very emotionless. What I mean by this is that I was feeling just as if I hadn’t left Australia. I didn’t feel excited because I was in Germany, or sad because I was missing my family – it just felt like nothing had changed. This was neither good nor bad but surprising, as I had managed to slip into a comfortable cycle of going to Uni and then going home just as I had in Adelaide. To this day it has never really ‘hit me’ that I am now in Germany. It’s almost as if I had thought about it and planned it so much that my body was expecting it.

 

Hiking with friends through Stuttgart

Hiking with friends through Stuttgart

In the 4th and 5th week, things began to change with my German. It started with a bizarre night out where a group of us went around introducing ourselves to some of the locals in a bar and ended up going clubbing with them. I met someone that night who I’d go on to catch up and have my first proper German conversation with. This is when things started to look up for my speaking ability. All of a sudden, after a couple of hours of speaking German, I could now hold a conversation only in German (provided the topic was basic). This made me excited and gave me a feeling of success that increased my enthusiasm to learn more German. In combination with my ever growing vocabulary, I was able to contribute more in class and participate more at the dinner table. The original stress was finally being put to rest by more visible results. At the moment, all I want to do is try and have German conversations, because every time I nail a sentence it is such a satisfying feeling and it boosts my confidence that little bit more.

 
In the final week, I sat my exams, in which I did not do too badly, and then went on to celebrate. There is no doubt that the friends I have made have shaped my experience here in Stuttgart. There have been so many jokes, dumb moments, chats, and so on that have provided laughs and smiles for days on end. I have met so many unique people here, and have had a blast spending the last 6 weeks with them. Without these people, my 6 weeks in Stuttgart would not have been the same.

 

 

To read more about Dechlan’s adventures, read his blog posts:
http://dechlananddeutschland.blogspot.com.au/2017/02/so-where-to-begin.html
http://dechlananddeutschland.blogspot.com.au/2017/05/im-sorry-its-late.html
http://dechlananddeutschland.blogspot.com.au/2017/06/a-summary-of-april-and-may.html
http://dechlananddeutschland.blogspot.com.au/2017/08/the-half-way-post-with-photos.html

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The GLO Alumni Series focuses on past students who have completed overseas study as part of their degree, and how these experiences have helped them in their future after university. 

Ben Hauser completed a Bachelor of Media at the University of Adelaide in 2016. In 2015, he took part in the Japanese Media Industries and Cultures study tour to Kyoto, Japan – a two week intensive course in Japanese pop-culture. He currently works as an Assistant Language Teacher in Amagasaki, Japan. 

As a part of my Bachelor of Media degree at the University of Adelaide, in 2015 I went on the ‘Japanese Media Cultures’ study tour to Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan, for two weeks. It was my first trip to another country, and also my first time on a plane. Organising my flights and accommodation on my own and only knowing one other person going on the study tour made me quite nervous about the weeks ahead.

Despite the (truly, awfully humid) weather, the trip was one of the best experiences of my life. I arrived almost a week before the study tour began and stayed in Osaka, where I visited some famous sights like Osaka Castle, the Kaiyukan Aquarium and the Dotonbori food district, as well as trying all the new Japanese foods I could in cosy restaurants. It was here that I met up with a group of other students on the study tour, who quickly became very good friends of mine.

The actual study part of the study tour was good too, even though for me the travelling part was more compelling. During our course at Ritsumeikan we attended many interesting lectures, watched a few Japanese movies, and visited many media-related sites in Kyoto. We learned how to draw action lines at the International Manga Musuem, how to sword fight from a real fight choreographer at Toei Studios, and saw the world’s largest TV at an NHK branch in Kyoto. We also visited NHK Osaka to see some real TV sets from famous Japanese drama series.

At the International Manga Museum during the Japanese Media Industries and Cultures study tour

At the International Manga Museum during the Japanese Media Industries and Cultures study tour

Outside of the classroom, we went on other small trips around Kyoto, including to the famous Golden Temple, or Kinkaku-ji, the Monkey Park and Bamboo Forest of the Arashiyama district, Nara Park to see the wild deer common in the area. We also spent some long nights partaking in all-you-can-drink karaoke. These trips, while very sweaty, were always a lot of fun, and strengthened not only my new friendships, but my love of Japan. It’s a country different to Australia in so many ways, yet it still felt familiar, despite the differences being some of my favourite parts of the country.

At the end of the study tour, we had to give a presentation about a potential mascot for Adelaide, referring back to what we learned about Japanese city and prefecture mascots, and received certificates for the program in a formal ceremony. I was sad to leave Ritsumeikan, as the staff and students were very welcoming, the campus was nice, and the cafeteria served some great food, but I was excited too, as some of us were soon heading to Tokyo.

At the famous Monkey Park

At the famous Monkey Park

I took the bullet train from Kyoto to Tokyo, with a stop at Nagoya in between, and arrived at the largest city in the world as it was getting dark. Tokyo is a truly amazing city, though a bit too busy for my liking. Kyoto and Osaka were more of my pace, and after a trip to stay near Mount Fuji on a day that was too cloudy to actually see the mountain, it was almost time to go home. On the last leg of the trip I met up with some other students and went to a Japanese baseball game, saw the Senso-ji Temple and nearby markets, went to the famous Harajuku, Shibuya and Akihabara districts, and spent too much money in a huge Japanese arcade. Even though it was a really tiring trip, it was amazing, and I was sad to be leaving everything about Japan (apart from the humidity).

 

B Hauser p2 EDITED

Posing with an Ultraman statue in Tokyo

A little over a year after getting back from the tour, I was reminiscing about it with my friends. One of them told me about the JET Program, a cultural exchange program that brings people from other countries to teach English in schools all over Japan. Before hearing about this, I’d never really thought about living overseas, but after doing more research and going to an information session on JET, I knew I had to apply.

After submitting an application in November 2016, I was informed that I was chosen for an interview in February. At the interview, they had specific interest in my study abroad program, and I expounded on my experiences in Japan, and how it gave me a great appreciation of the country, its people, and, most importantly, its food. I strongly believe my experience studying abroad helped me stand out among the other candidates, as I am writing this from my desk at a Hyogo Prefectural Senior High School in Japan.

I was lucky to be placed in Amagasaki, which is on the border of Osaka and Hyogo prefectures, and only a 15 minute train ride from Umeda station in Osaka, a huge transit hub. In the 3 months I have been living here, I’ve met many others in the same job as me, and the most common shared experience between us is studying or living abroad, not just in Japan, but other countries like Korea, China, Germany, and Sweden. I still keep in regular contact with those I met on the study tour, including Tom, who also wrote an article on his time in Japan and lives one prefecture over from me. Two other students from my study tour are also coming to stay with me during the holidays in December and January.

I strongly believe going on the study tour at university was important for my development as a person, leading me to move overseas, push myself out of my comfort zone, and experience new and different things almost every day. I almost missed out on my chance to study abroad while at university, and I’m glad I didn’t, because without it my life would be very different, and I surely wouldn’t be living in Japan today.

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Rebecca Batelaan studied at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile for a Full Calendar Year in 2016.

When I decided to go to Chile, I only knew I wanted to go to a South American country to practice Spanish and learn about Latin American culture. Now, I know I’ve learnt much more than that, including independence while living far away from my family and acquiring new international friends and the desire to travel the world. To start, I’d like to give some advice about academic matters. The courses are structured quite similar to Australian ones – you have lectures and tutorials. Classes are generally (at least in Political Science) quite large (about 60 students). The teachers are very approachable for exchange students. A golden tip: when enrollment starts (which is done manually – you have to go to a certain office for each discipline/course you want to take and tell them you want to enrol), be there early, so you will be sure to get into the courses you want to take!

Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Campus Casa Central, Santiago de Chile

Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Campus Casa Central, Santiago de Chile

Accommodation is the hardest part to judge when you’re still in Australia. In Santiago, there are ‘safe’ and ‘less safe’ neighbourhoods that you should consider, as well as the distance to your university’s campus. I studied at Campus San Joaquín and lived in Providencia, which is one of the safest and most popular neighbourhoods to live in. Other great neighbourhoods are Nuñoa, Las Condes (very modern but very far from city centre), and Bellavista (hipster, but less ‘safe’). The UC has a few different campuses, so be sure to check out which one you will be having most classes at before booking accommodation. San Joaquín Campus is the biggest and has the most faculties. I live in a student residence with 30 other students – half of them are Chilean, and the other half exchange students. This is a perfect way to start your time abroad, as you have a ‘homey’ situation with a substitute ‘family’ – there’s always someone around that you can talk to/hang out with/travel with. I personally think that this was the best choice for me, as I could quickly and easily get to know people. Always check what kind of people live in the house you’re looking at. If there are lots of foreign people, you might end up speaking English all the time, which is definitely not what I was after. My house had a shared kitchen, which I used every day to cook. Good starting points to find a place to live are: Comparto Depto and Yapo. There is also a Facebook group which is very useful called Room Mate and Flat Finder Chile. The normal price range for a room would be between 150000-200000 CLP per month. Other options for accommodation include renting a room in a house or an apartment, home stay, or sharing an apartment with friends. The UC offers a list of university residences on their website, which is a good starting point (and where I found my accommodation).

Hiking in Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile

Hiking in Torres del Paine, Patagonia

There are plenty of ways to eat cheap in Santiago. For example, the little street vendors in front of the university and on almost every street corner sell delicious, fresh food. Supermarkets are generally quite expensive, however you can buy cheap fruit and vegetables in the big central market, La Vega, or in smaller markets around the city. At the university, there are several cafeterias where you can also eat a full meal for a good price.

Public transport in Santiago is an adventure in itself. The metro lines are the fastest method of travelling around, although they are almost always crowded depending on the direction, time, and day. There are also a lot of buses that run regularly, however without a strict timetable. It is a good idea to find accommodation near a metro station, because this will be your main transport method in Santiago. If you’re brave enough to ride around Santiago on a bike (the drivers are not very bike-friendly), then it’s a cheap alternative for the metro/bus, which costs about $1.50 AUD per ride. You can find cheap bikes for sale on Yapo and Mercado Libre. If you stay longer than a semester, you are allowed to get a student card (tarjeta bip) for public transport, which is considerably cheaper (210 CLP = 40c AUD).

 

 

 

Santiago de Chile on a summer day

Santiago de Chile on a summer day

The people in Chile are all very friendly, so you won’t have any trouble making friends! You will have some difficulty when you first arrive as you try to understand their slang. It sounds like a new language at first, but once you get the hang of their funny words then it’s quite entertaining! Another good tip is to get involved with the international student organization, CAUC, at the UC, so that you can get to know Chileans and your fellow international students. They offer many fun events and trips, so it is definitely worth checking out! All in all, Chile is an amazing country and perfect for an international/intercultural exchange! Feel free to contact me through the Global Learning Office if you have any questions about life and university in Santiago, Chile!

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Our student Rebecca Slimming sent us this beautiful e-postcard all the way from Zurich, Switzerland. Her rave report of her exchange at the University of Zurich so far had everyone in the Global Learning office beaming. We’re always thrilled to hear from students who are having a wonderful time abroad! Dear Global Learning Team, Thank […]

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The GLO Alumni Series focuses on past students who have completed overseas study as part of their degree, and how these experiences have helped them in their future after university.  Tom Russell completed a double degree in Arts and Media, with Honours in Media, at the University of Adelaide in 2016. In 2015, he took […]

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Asat studied at the University of Mannheim in Semester 1, 2017 at part of his Bachelor of Finance.   I can’t believe it took my fourth year of university to finally go on exchange, even when I had planning on going on exchange since my first year of uni. I was always hesitant about going […]

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Rachel attended the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Semester 1, 2017 as part of her Bachelor of Arts.   Flying across the ocean, looking at the clouds drifting below, I began to imagine what Canada would be like. I pictured ice hockey, rivers of maple syrup, snowy mountains, mild rain showers, and maybe an […]

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Angela studied at Hosei University during Semester 1, 2017 as part of her Bachelor of Commerce with a Diploma in Japanese. I decided to study abroad in Tokyo at Hosei University for the first semester of 2017. I have always been fascinated by everything Japan, and have done several trips to Japan prior to my […]

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Amy Rowe (Bachelor of Social Sciences) participated in the study tour International Development in Vietnam in July, 2017. The following article consists of feedback received from Amy, and the abstract and conclusion of her final assignment for the study tour.  My international development study tour to Vietnam was breathtaking and has left a lasting impression. I […]

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This article was originally published on The Conversation by Richard Matthews, a University of Adelaide student who took part in the Digital Security in Estonia study tour in Winter School, 2017.  What do nuclear submarines, top secret military bases and private businesses have in common? They are all vulnerable to a simple slice of cheddar. This was […]

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