Things are different from home?? What??

Hi again,

IMG_5317I want to dedicate this post to talking about the differences in the US and Australian university systems (from my experience)!

The classes are definitely different here than Australia. The main difference I noticed is the frequency of classes and assessments. I have three classes each week for each of my classes (so 13 per week). This is definitely more than the number of classes I was going to while in Australia. Generally there are a number of individual assessments for each subject (up to 10) which are worth a lower percentage than assessments in Australia. As an example, I have 10 separate assessments for one of my classes (each worth 10%). At first the system seemed quite overwhelming but it has actually been fairly achievable as each assessment requires less time and effort.

Here’s a couple of differences in the language (both academic and random) that I’ve noticed so far:

  • Lecturer = Professor
  • Uni = School or university (people look confused when you say uni here)
  • Thongs = Flip flops
  • Swimmers = Bathing suit
  • You all = y’all

Thanks for reading 🙂

Angela!

Aran Islands and Bunratty castle

It’s crazy that only two weeks has passed since I last wrote, it feels like so much has happened! Basically I’ve settled into classes and life at Limerick. Clubs and societies are really big here at UL and I’ve joined the swim club, drama and the international society. It’s been really fun to be able to immerse myself in stuff that I don’t get to do back at CSU. The student union and international society also organise heaps of trips so I’ve recently been to the Aran Islands.

Storytime with Alanna so on the Saturday morning that I went to the Aran islands all my flatmates had gone home for the weekend. So I got up in my pj’s to get myself some breakfast and I come back…my door is locked. I have nothing to open it, except a fairly useless bowl of muesli. I don’t know who to call, I don’t know how to call the number that I don’t know. It’s 7:30 and I have to be on a bus at 8. My highly intelligent solution was to push on my door really hard. Which conveniently worked. I’m fairly sure I didn’t shut it properly. So I actually spent 15 minuets almost crying about a door that wasn’t even shut Anyway nothing wakes you up on a Saturday morning more than thinking your going to have to wonder around university in your pyjamas.

I wasn’t too sure what to expect from the Aran Islands because I didn’t really look up what it was, I just went for something to do #wellresearchedtraveler. I also didn’t really think the whole “island” thing through because it literally didn’t occur to me that we would have to get on a boat until we got to the dock. I guess you could say that was my bad. Apart from the crippling seasickness that nearly lead to my demise, it was a pretty good day. Turns out that the Aran islands are an incredible place. It is a little Irish community, on an island (no way!)  and it was just incredibly cute and fascinating, here’s some pictures because my words are not doing it justice.

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On this day we also experienced some traditional Irish weather. It rained for 10 min, then the sun came out, then it got cloudy, then the sun came out, then it rained with the sun out, then it got super windy, then it was sunny. What an emotional rollercoaster. But I am so grateful that it didn’t rain all day!

DSC02790 much wind. Much squinted eyes.

So the weekend after that I decided to stay local in Limerick and go an see Bunratty castle nearby. I thought that it would just be a castle but it turned out to be a town with displays of Irish homes throughout time. It was really cool to see all the traditional Irish farm houses.

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My castle. Bow down Peasants
12002858_1224796947536644_7004200877139788661_n12019803_1224806427535696_2639222158649228330_nThey also had free dancing lessons which I, of course, excelled at.

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Also I bought this incredibly traditional and not at all touristy hat.

I have managed to get all my classes into Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays. Although it means these days are busy, it also means that I can travel around Ireland on the weekend and still have time to study on the other weekdays. Its also really convenient that Ireland is so small that you can get wherever you want to go in pretty much a few hours. Overall I’m having the most incredible time! More soon.

Crash Course in Chinese Culture, Orientation and Opening Ceremony

It is hard to believe that I have been in Nanchang for a week already!  Time really does fly!

During my first week here I have received many lessons in and had many experiences of the Chinese culture.  The first of these experiences that required some adjustments was the climate.

Nanchang has a humid, subtropical, monsoon climate that brings four distinct seasons – spring, summer, autumn and winter.  I arrived during the summer season that runs from June until October. During the summer months the temperature ranges from as 25 degrees overnight and up to 40 degrees during the day. This sounds like a nice change from the minus 8 degrees that I left behind in Canberra!  However, the humidity levels reach as high as 81%!  During my first few days in Nanchang my clothes were a constant sweaty mess stuck on my skin and I frequently wondered why I bothered to take a shower!

My next experience of Chinese culture came when I went to go to the student support office to register myself as an exchange student of JUFE.  All of the documentation that I had received from JUFE before I left for exchange stated that student registration was from 1 September to 3 September. So when I arrived at the office on 2 September to find it closed to say I was puzzled would be an understatement!

I discovered that the student support office was closed due to a public holiday that was arranged at the last minute to commemorate the end of World War II in China. With the office closed for three days, it meant that there were no English speaking volunteers to help us with basic tasks such as shopping, ordering food and exchanging money as in Nanchang all of the signage is in Chinese and the locals do not speaking English! And so began my next Chinese cultural experience!

For the next few days we stared hopefully at labels on products in supermarkets attempting to decipher the Chinese characters they were covered with before throwing the product in the trolley and hoping what you brought was in fact shampoo!  Each meal came with various questions such as “What do you think this is?” “Is it chicken?” “Perhaps fish” and then pointing at some random Chinese characters on the menu and hoping for the best and out lack of skill with the eating utensils made way for some innovative ways of using chop sticks! Nanchang is noted for its GAN cuisine which is characterised with a mixture of spicy and salt tastes which created another cultural experience of its own as we began to hedge bets as to who could eat the most dishes before their face flushed red, coughing commenced and tears welled in their eyes……..affectionately now known as “Chilli Face”!

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After three days of feeling as though we were living on another planet, the student support office opened just in time for orientation day. As all exchange students gathered in the lobby to be escorted to orientation, several Chinese organisers were dashing around and looking at us with puzzled faces. The one of the organisers asked “Why are you not wearing you foreign student t shirts”?  It was now our turn to start back at the organisers with equally puzzled glances! What t shirts??  It turned out that each exchange student was to receive a souvenir JUFE shirt to be worn for orientation and the JUFE opening ceremony however due to the impromptu holiday the organisers had forgot to give them out! So 158 students crammed back into the elevators as we made our way back to our dorms to change into our shirts and then back down to the lobby again, which was really funny.  Fortunately this process ran a lot more smoothly on the day of the opening ceremony as the organisers have now taken to installing a notice board near the elevators to post important information!

The opening ceremony officially marked the start of the Fall Academic Calendar at JUFE and was attend by all freshmen, international exchange and graduating students.  As part of their university program, all freshmen students are required to undertake compulsory military training and as such we were greeted by hundreds of students dress in military outfits, we really looked a sight amongst them in our blue student shirts!

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Classes start next week which I am sure will bring with them a whole new set of experiences and lessons!

Settling in to Limerick

I’ve arrived in Limerick, bright eyed and terrified! I’m not afraid to say that the idea of starting university where I literally knew nobody was a really daunting experience for me. I’ve been here for 2 weeks now and I’m having a blast! The first week was designed to help us settling in and now I’ve just finished my first week of classes.

Story time, with Alanna:

The first day I got here nobody had moved into my apartment yet. There were welcome drinks at the student bar that night. I kind of felt like, “What am I going to do? I don’t know anyone, am I going to go and just hang out by myself?” I had about a half hour debate with myself about whether I would go or not. No really, I got dressed up and then just lay on my bed for 15 minuets just talking to myself. I convinced myself that I would force myself stay for exactly one hour. When I got there I recognised some people from the airport bus although I had barely spoken a word to them on the bus, I clung to them. Then an orientation week leader came over and made it her mission to introduce us to every group in the room, although we didn’t quite make it all the way round, I ended up meeting some really cool people. I’ve actually become good friends with the people I met on that night. I can’t imagine how different my university experience would have been if I didn’t bite the bullet, put my fear behind me and go out by myself that night.  Here’s me not drinking Guinness because beer is gross.IMG_4725

News flash, culture shock is an actual thing… who knew? I think I just got really overwhelmed when I first arrived, I had so many things that I had to do and I didn’t know where to start. As well as having to go shopping and buy literally everything, I also had heaps of forms to sort out as well as my timetable, visas, gym membership, opening a bank account and trying to find my way around the huge campus. But slowly each of these problems was solved through the various workshops and campus tours. About 13% of Limerick’s students are international so the university really understands the concept of culture shock and the process of settling international students into their university. This means that we had heaps of workshops and busses into town in orientation week.  It’s like every time I freaked out about something, the Uni was prepared with an answer.  I am really grateful that Limerick has such an extensive international program. It helped me get through the initial shock of getting here and allowed me to have a really fun first week.

Here’s me enthused by life with a statue for a treasure hunt

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Then on the Sunday after living by myself for a week, I finally got some housemates! I’m living with 5 Irish people in an apartment. It was a little intimidating at first that they all lived together last year, but they have been really welcoming and answered all my questions. So I ended up being really lucky that I have made friends with international students and Irish students. Also the view from my apartment is incredible!IMG_4723

So I’ve been at Limerick for two weeks and I’ve made friends and managed to find all my classes and I’m starting to feel really settled… more soon.

Good bye Australia……Hello Nanchang! (as told to CSU Global)

Hi fellow bloggers and followers!

My name is Carly and I am a mature aged student living in Canberra and I am studying via distance education. I am currently studying a Bachelor of Business (Finance) as  I have been working in the financial services industry for the past 4 years as a paraplanner and have aspirations of becoming a financial advisor. Enrolling in university studies at the ripe old age of 33  has certainly had its challenges as the last time that I had undertaken anything close to study was back in high schools some 17 years ago! Having overcome most of these challenges, I decided that this semester it was time for some new ones and so I enrolled to study at Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics (JUFE) in Nangchang, China.

Why China?

I had visited China on two previous occasions, once as a tourist and once on a short term international study program with CSU. Both times I had experienced such a culture shock as China is unlike another country I have visited in my travels, for example, not many Chinese residents speak English which makes basic tasks like ordering food an experience! I also found that China is very advanced in some industries such as construction but are also very underdeveloped in other industries such as agriculture. As a result of these experiences, I had developed a fascination for the country, it’s economy and industry and have wanted to return to China for longer period of time than my past visits to gain a better understanding of the Chinese culture and economy and to also, and most importantly, begin to learn to speak, write and understand the Chinese language as having Asian language skills is becoming an increasingly desirable employability attribute in the financial services industry.

My preparation for going on a student exchange was probably quite different to most other exchange students. As I have been working, living on my own and accumulating other responsibilities for some time now, a lot of planning, moving and consideration was involved in organising my big adventure.  Firstly, I had to leave my job and therefore lose my steady income which was scary!  I then needed to pack up my possessions, put them into storage, move out of the house I was renting, find foster care for my pet cat and practically already pack for my trip as I was going to live with friends until I left for China.

moving cat packing

On 31 August, I departed Sydney for Guangzhou and then from Guangzhou through to Nanchang which located in Jiangxi province in south east China.

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From the moment I landed at Nanchang airport, I knew that it was going to take some adjustment on my part in order settle into Chinese lifestyle as as soon as I switched on my phone to access my email to let my loved ones at home know that I had arrived safely, I discovered the most applications used in western society did not work in China. This included Google, Gmail, Facebook, Instagram and even WordPress!! This had changed sin my last visit! Not to worry I thought, I purchased a VPN before leaving Australia so I will just turn that on an all will be fine. No, the VPN application has also been censored!  This was going to make it extremely difficult make contact back home and to write my blog posts. Fortunately I discovered that Hotmail, WeChat and Viber all worked so all was not lost and the awesome CSU Global team came to the rescue by agreeing to post my blog entries on my behalf!

Upon meeting my transfer guide I was transport to JUFE and shown to my room in the overseas students residence building. The international student building at JUFE is 8 stories high and has 248 rooms of which 158 are currently occupied by exchange students for all over the world. On the my floor I have 3 American guys, 2 American girls, 1 Polish girl, 1 Swedish girl, 2 Belgium girls, 2 German girls, 1 Austrian girl, 2 South Korean guys and 2 Ukrainian guys.

dorm room new friends

After initial introductions, my new friends and I have had a lovely time over the past couple of days exploring Nanchang city and its surrounds.  We also visited Meiling Mountain Park which was lovely as I was able to see rice terraces up close for the first time! Although we also had to walk up lots of steep, small steps and cross an extremely scary swinging bridge!

Meiling Mountain Park Nanchang cityrice terrace ricescary swing

Orientation and course selection are set for 6 September and then classes and the real work will begin!

Stay tuned for more of the chronicles of Carly in China!

 

 

And the study begins…

Wow!! I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve posted – time really does fly when you’re away! So much has happened in the past six weeks I’m not really sure where to start! I’ve done plenty of travelling but I suppose I’ll skip to the ‘school stuff’ for this post.

I’m now in my second week of classes at University of the Pacific (UOP) in Stockton, California in the US! It’s definitely been an eye opener so far and has taken me more to get used to than I expected!

Firstly, I arrived at UOP as one of only six international exchange students (we definitely formed a bond very quickly)! We were firstly assigned to on-campus accommodation which is great because I can experience the ‘real’ college lifestyle. After a being placed in the wrong accommodation (which is a whole other story), I was eventually moved to a three-share apartment with two other girls which is great 🙂

My initial week at UOP was jam-packed with heaps of introductory sessions and welcome celebrations which was a great way to get to know other people on campus! The week started with International Orientation, then New Student Orientation then ‘Weekend of Welcome’ so after a full week of craziness I was pretty exhausted. I definitely underestimated the challenges I would face moving to a new country and a new university and adjusting to a different system.

When signing up for my classes, the first surprise was that classes are run very differently here. For me, instead of having a lecture and tutorial for each subject each week (like in Australia), I have three classes per week for each subject so the classes a lot more regular! At the moment I’m taking three business classes and one French class (ahhh!!)… I’m happy with my business classes but French is definitely going to be a challenge for me :s

Now that I’ve been here at University of the Pacific (UOP) for two weeks, I can finally say I’m a lot more settled and am getting into a routine. The main cultural difference I’ve noticed so far is the enthusiasm and energy that people seem to have here. There also seems to be a lot of team community spirit and people have a lot of pride in their university. Stay tuned for my next update on living and studying abroad in the US!

Hanging with the UOP mascot!

Hanging with the UOP mascot!

The other exchange students (minus 1), our ambassador & student advisor

The other exchange students (minus 1), our ambassador & student advisor

Entrance to UOP!

Entrance to UOP!