Gina Cameron is studying on exchange at the University of Nottingham in England, for Semester 1 of 2017. As a GLObewriter she is sharing her experiences with us every month. You can see all of her posts using the globewriter-gina tag.
I’m writing this from a French police station, sprawled across three plastic seats. It’s about 30 degrees, a temperature I am not used to, after a seemingly endless English winter. There’s one fan on the police officer’s desk, but it’s rotation radar doesn’t reach us, which is unfortunate.
We are waiting for a police report detailing the circumstances of a phone picked straight out of the back pocket. For once, it’s not me filing the report, freaking out over yet another lost item.
But this gives me a bit of time to reflect on stuff – what’s behind me what lies ahead. There’s no wifi so I have no choice.
I think I’ve learnt a lot already, and managed to wiggle out of a few more tight spots. This includes crying at the Ryan air check in desk until they allowed me to get on the plane.
The study element of exchange has almost wrapped itself up. There’s only about 200 words left of my final assignment and a bibliography to scramble together. I’ll probably finish it tonight if I ever get out of this French furnace, so freedom is just around the corner. This was nearly jeopardised by just a small splash of water that leaped across my keyboard and threatened to erase all of my uni work. For about two days my laptop sounded like a voicebox toy with its batteries run down. This has been sorted thanks to the Paris Apple Store, a very nice man on the phone and an extended warranty plan. Yet another bullet dodged.
Last week was wild, travelling with my mum for the first time, who’s visiting over two weeks. Turns out she’s slightly more scatterbrained than me, and I’m never letting her do the directions again (she tried to navigate the Paris metro by memory and not the perfectly good google maps app). Despite this, Mum makes for a good travelling partner. For one thing she pays, and I didn’t have to pick the cheapest thing on the menu. Shallowness aside, we just get along so easily, like no time has passed. So many new friends on this trip, meeting people with experiences and backgrounds so intensely different to my own, it’s refreshing being near someone who knows home just as well as me. It’s tamed any homesickness that may have grown a little out of hand.
Mum’s mainly here for a work conference in Verona, surrounding Friends of Museums Organisations, to which I’m tagging along, having applied to the Young Friends program. Four days of tours, talks and dinners, accompanied by an interesting and fantastic set of people, discussing a subject on which I am passionate. I don’t think this would have happened if I weren’t living just an hours flight away. I’ve met so many people I otherwise wouldn’t have dreamed of meeting, let alone inviting them to visit in Australia, vice versa when I am next in Argentina, Portugal or Germany. I remember drinking prosecco by the wide wooden doors of a large villa about an hour out of Verona, chatting to some eccentric Italian dressed in coat and tails, recalling how this time last month I was eating Pringles for dinner.
In a similar way, my mind casts back to this time last year, suffocating under uni deadlines and a cafe job that I hated. Exchange has completely opened up the rest of the world this year, offering with it some intense highs and lows and a completely extreme way to study – I’ve loved every moment.