Three months into my semester

Juggling Uni vs Social

 

One of my favourite hobbies. Visiting local art galleries!

As a foreign student in Barcelona, it has been difficult to juggle my studies, sightseeing and social life. There is so much to experience here that it’s hard to find time to do everything. Going back to university to study as a mature student is one thing but being on a global exchange has been and continues to be exciting! I feel I do not have enough time to see and experience everything. The first two months of university has been absolutely crazy. Settling into my subjects, searching for a new home, making new and wonderful friends, traveling around Catalan and getting into a schedule to keep myself on track with my studies were not easy. There are many temptations coming from different angles! However, I had a good advice before leaving home from the CSU Global Exchange team – “keep a balanced life”. And with this in the back of my mind, I was able to lessen unnecessary obstacles by regularly doing my university studies and was able to manage my time to enjoy the cultural experience of being in Barcelona, Spain.

 

Doing things I never thought I would do

 

In Huesca (pre-Pyrennes) where it’s famous for canyoning

 

Who would have ever thought I would swap my beach lifestyle to hiking mountains and canyons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 via Ferrata at Sants Feliu de Guixols

 

Barcelona lifestyle

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At a classmate’s birthday party

I was surprised to realise I did not feel homesick after the first month away. I have an old Aussie friend living in Tarragona, an hour away by train from Barcelona, who came up for a weekend and introduced me to the Spanish lifestyle first hand. I learnt quickly, where to get my groceries, whether at Carrefour or at Mercadona stores; what’s good to eat and what’s not; avoid shopping between 2 to 4pm as almost everyone takes their siesta and shops are closed for lunch. Public transportation is so efficient that I quickly dismissed any ideas of getting a scooter or an image of me scooting around Barcelona.

I have to admit by the end of April I became homesick and yearned to be back on the powdery sands of the Northern Beaches of Sydney and craved for a simple peanut butter sandwich or hot fish and chips at my local beach. But life is so intriguing in this small city of Barcelona that I found myself quickly submerging into the Spanish culture. Plus, having good classmates around helps a lot.

 

International Day at La Salle University – 26th April

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Proudly representing Australia!

It was my absolute pleasure to represent Australia and CSU on International Day. A little advice for all future global exchange students going overseas: pack an Aussie flag! This will save you spending time drawing and colouring in an Australian flag. And prepare to bake or cook 2 or 3 Australian dishes. I was able to bring mini meat pies, sausage rolls and the famously delicious vegemite sandwich for the event. I didn’t win any prizes but more importantly, everyone had a very good time. I was happy to share my knowledge of Australia and be a model for the happy, laid back vibes of Australians.

 

Exchange Vlog 1

This is just a short video showing some of the social things I have been up to! Ive lost some of the footage from the beginning of the semester 😦 but there are more of these to come!

20 Things I have Learnt in 200 Days in England.

  1. The phrase ‘Alright?’. Is that a greeting? Do I not look alright? Are you telling me something? (A: it is a greeting, the correct response is “Yeah you?
  2. Everyone knows someone who has been to Australia and loved it.
  3. The footpath is not yours. Whether you walk left, right or straight down the middle, you WILL get bumped into multiple times a minute.
  4. Peas and chips are the only side dishes that exist (98% sure on this one).
  5. Primary is some sort of secret shopping heaven the rest of the world needs.
  6. Vitamin D deficiency is a thing.
  7. Queues are a highly, highly valued system of order within Great Britain. Do not under any circumstances queue jump (you’ll only make that mistake once!)
  8. A bacon bap can fix almost any problem/hangover. This also applies to Nando’s, Wagamammas and Pret a Manger.
  9. Fanta is yellow.
  10. The coffee is, um, an acquired taste.. England I love you, you know I do, but this is the truth and I’m sorry it had to be said.
  11. Pennies are pretty much useless.
  12. Garlic, mayo and a combination of the two are highly versatile and prevalent condiments.
  13. When the sun’s out, everyone’s out.
  14. You can buy a return plane ticket to Germany for 20 pounds. Although a 2 hour train trip to London with cost at least triple.
  15. I’m not sure thunderstorms exist in England (it’s been 200 days without one).
  16. You can straighten your hair without a mirror- there are no power points in English bathrooms.
  17. Dogs are allowed pretty much everywhere, as should be the case worldwide in my opinion.
  18. The biscuit choice is incredible- a packet of jammy dodgers and a good cuppa can easily become the highlight of a Friday night.
  19. Despite preconceptions and meticulously made plans, academic exchange will always be a once in a lifetime, life changing adventure. And one I’m so glad I found the courage to do.
  20. The love for Australia I didn’t know I had.

I would never have described myself as particularly patriotic. I supposed I loved my home as much as the next person (minus Pauline Hanson and the 26th of Jan) .But apparently the culture I have grown up in has really influenced the person I am and are becoming. I often find myself playing Australian music during “Prinks” (pre-drinks), showing everyone pictures of our beaches, rivers and weirs and allowing myself to discover my inner chilled out Australian. And it feels good.

 

England, you will be missed xx

Studying Overseas

When I left Australia I had completed 3 ½ years of study. This saw me taking equivalent subjects from all different “levels” in Chester. Year one=Level four, Year two =Level three etc.

As I’m studying education one of the motivations for my CSU Global adventure was to experience a different education system. I expected many similarities between the Universities but along the way I have found many differences!

I am studying 5 University of Chester subjects over two semesters, with 2 CSU Distance subjects thrown in for good measure. The workload of my particular subjects is nowhere near as much as CSU, thus I felt quite confident taking 2 distance subjects (this is more than recommended).

Three of my Chester University subjects only run for one semester with two of them going for the full year. For each subject I only have one or two assignments for each and so far they have all been essays! This caused me a little bit of stress, as education subjects back home are very practical and hands on, I find myself creating PowerPoint presentations, creating lesson plans and activities. Needless to say I do prefer CSU in that regard, although working on my essay skills turned out to be much needed!

Most of my classes are quite small and very quiet!! This has its pro’s and con’s.

My University timetable leaves me with loads of free time (I only have 2-3 classes a week) which was difficult to get used to. Back home I was working 3 jobs while played soccer and netball which left no free time. This free time has also been a blessing, as it leaves me with plenty of time off for adventures!

 

Orientation – It begins!

Orientation Day and the first week of classes

My second week, started with Orientation Day. I admit I was nervous going to orientation day, as there weren’t many mature age students. Amongst the 70 exchange students from all over the world, I noticed 3 others mature age students who were enrolled in architecture courses. I quickly brushed away thoughts of insecurity and I met some wonderful colleagues. We were soon sharing stories, classes, breaks, post class drinks and sightseeing together around the city. I am learning so much academically and culturally and enjoying every moment.

Meeting my new classmates

From Departure to Arrival

Departure Day

As the weeks and days got closer to the departure date, saying my goodbyes to family and friends got harder as reality kicked in that I will be gone for 1 year. I realised emotionally this is going to be a big move. Nervous? Yes. However, I am positive and excited at the same time. Having a good friend’s support at the airport helped calmed my nerves. I am blessed to have family, friends and CSU supporting me along the way.

Saying goodbye at the airport

Arrival!

As soon as I arrived at Barcelona I went straight to Vodafone inside the airport and purchased a temporary SIM card for my mobile. This gave me immediate access to a wide range of information including Google Maps. and I was immediately able to communicate with taxi drivers, agents and do shopping on my first day. Although I was excited and wanted to sightsee, I was simply knocked out from the long flight.

In the first week

There was so much to do and see in the first week of arriving in Barcelona. I thought, not being able to speak Spanish or Catalan would make it very difficult to move around; however, it was the total opposite. The locals are amicable and always willing to assist. Google translation was a big help, and if that doesn’t work, a big smile goes a long way, so I had no problems here. I was able to totally soak myself in the Barcelona’s culture and lifestyle.

I visited the famous Antoni Gaudi’s artistic architectural buildings Casa Batllo, and enjoyed delicious local food such as tapas at the local cafés. Getting lost and simply walking about was the best way for me to explore the city. I still cannot believe I am here in Europe! Even though it was cold and rainy most of the week the excitement of this old Catalan culture gets me up early every morning to see what’s out there. Every day presents a new adventure.

Tapas time!

Casa Battlo

‘Dragon’s Back’ Casa Battlo

Back streets of Barcelona – the things you find when you get lost!

Another day, another hike

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Hola!!

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve posted and life is still very fast paced. Uni is still going well, I’ve moved in to my new home and I also have a waitressing job 4-5 nights a week so I’ve been busy, busy, busy!!
The only highlights lately have been some fun and beautiful hikes in the Vancouver area… here are a few pics of my time!

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These were taken at Lynn Canyon (including the suspension bridge up top) which is a short hike in North Vancouver.

The following were taken at Quarry Rock in Deep Cove, north Van as well. This is a bit of a bigger hike but SO BEAUTIFUL. It looked just like Narnia and fresh snow was falling and I even fell on my butt!! This has been my favourite place so far hehe

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Stay tuned for more pics as the weather warms up and more hikes are had!