Let’s Go To MADRID

This is it, the very first blog post to track my semester abroad.

I’ll begin by introducing myself to everyone and then update you on my travel status.

My name is Jess Sargent and i am currently undertaking my second year of Business Management. I am from the small town of Harden – Murrumburrah, NSW and i’ll be continuing my study in Madrid for the next 6 months.

This time in two months i’ll be attending my first O- Day at the University of Comillas in Madrid- Spain. It feels just like yesterday that i was telling my parents that i’m applying to study in Europe again. In 2012 i took part in a year aboard with Rotary Youth Exchange in Germany which was a key factor motivating me to apply for CSU Global.

I can’t tell you how exactly the next 6 months will play out but i can tell you now that my word will be “YES” or should i say ” SI” to absolutely everything and anything. I will make the most of every moment and everyday, therefore i can tell you all already that i will have the time of my life.

In terms of flights and prior travel plans, i am still yet to organise my flights and insurance  but i’ll be sure to post when i have. My Spanish is at the very beginning phase although i’ve got my recordings and books to learn at much as i can before i go!

Count down is on – LET’S GO TO MADRID!

Jess xx

Oh My Goodness I’m Leaving Tomorrow!

I’m flying out tomorrow night! This is my last night at home for over 8 months!! Crazyyyyyy!

Yesterday I had an exam, smashed it out, went for lunch at Dining Hall (delicious as usual), signed out of my room, packed all my belongings, cleared out my room, cleaned my room, packed my car, said goodbye to everyone that was still left in the dorm and drove home. Took longer than expected to get all that done but I did it. Saying goodbye to all my girls was probably the hardest part.

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20160615_224933Got home to a lovely cooked dinner by mum and unpacked everything. After dinner I looked into my plans for backpacking before my study starts – colour coded it and everything!

Today I woke up nice and early to head to the
shops with my mum and do every last minute thing I could think of! I bought all my necessary toiletries to take over with me (had to spend my 60 dollar Priceline giftcard) as well as some ear plugs, Australian branded travel travel tags and RDIF passport and card protectors from the reject shop.

Mum and I then went on to Uniqlo to grab a bargain of a lightweight travel jacket, grab a cash passport to put all my money on (that of course didn’t go smoothy…) and then run – quite literately – to Lincraft and back to the car before the 3 hour free parking ran out. All in the name of obtaining some sew-on/iron-on Australian flags to decorate my backpack. Because who doesn’t want to broadcast that they’re Australian overseas??? I mean we are universally loved right. Yeah that’s what I thought so they’re now on my bag.

My grandparents wanted to see me off so Grandma cooked a 3 course dinner! Bless her. It was delicious and so much fun! Laughed till I cried making fun of dad for how overprotective he was being 🙂

Now just at home trying to bring everything I need for my travels into one spot as they are currently spread throughout the house. It’s starting to cover the dining room table. But I’ll get it all packed tomorrow. Sort myself out then I’m gone!

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By the way this past Saturday I thought why not go out with an Aussie Bang! Shannon Noll was amazing!20160611_223531

Talk soon x

Chinese Family Pair Sharing

Each semester at JUFE every exchange student is given the opportunity to apply to take part in the Chinese family pair sharing program. This program is designed to increase each student’s understanding of Chinese culture, customs and traditions by becoming an “adopted” member of the family. This semester I was adopted by the lovely Zhang family who consist of Xiaobei, Shirley and their daughter Jessica who were all very kind in taking me on an outing to Yaohu Lake in the western outskirts of Nanchang.

Xiaobei is a town planner for Nanchang local government and one of his recent projects was the development and design of a Tulip exhibition park of over one million tulips and other flowers which were imported from the Netherlands and it was on my visit to Yaohu Lake that I was able to have the opportunity to visit this exhibition and view his handiwork.  The exhibition park layout was designed to resemble a Dutch countryside and included windmills and dykes whilst also incorporating some Chinese flair with cartoon characters, Chinese plants and water features.

The tulip exhibition reminded me very much of the Floriade festival held every spring in Canberra in Australia and I spent a lovely afternoon exploring the park, appreciating the beauty of all of the flowers and learning about several varieties of Chinese blossoms including lotus blossoms, jasmine blossoms and cherry tree blossoms.  I was then treated to a lovely meal with my adopted Chinese family which included some traditional Chinese cuisines including fish, black chicken soup, spicy tofu, fried pork, plenty of green steamed vegetables as well as rice of course!

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Shirley had studied her Masters degree at the University of South Australia in Adelaide and over our meal we made easy conversation about our favourite aspects of Australia, the differences and similarities to studying in China compared to Australia and about the many provinces and cities around China that I have been fortunate to visit during my student exchange programme.

We concluded our day with a speed boat ride on Yaohu Lake during which I was able to take in the spectacular view of Nanchang city, the tulip park and beach waterfront of lake where you are able to go swimming, sunbathe and host bbq’s, perfect for those hot, humid summer days that will soon be upon Nanchang.  I am very thankful to have such a kind and accommodating Chinese family to share adventures and experiences with during my time in Nanchang and am very much looking forward to our next meeting!

Finance student become Kindergarten teacher

It is common in China for foreigners to gain employment as English language teachers, especially if you are from native speaking countries. This semester I was fortunate to be asked to teach English to Kindergarten children on a part time basis which I thought would be a wonderful opportunity to build on my employability skills and attributes.

Every Friday morning I spend 2 hours at a local kindergarten in Nanchang city where I teach six, 20 minute English language classes. Each class is at a different level of English proficiency. My first three classes are at the second level of English where they are able to recognise and speak some basic English words – Hello, Good morning, How are you,  I’m fine thank you and so on. My fourth class is at level 3 proficiency where they understand concepts such as family members, basic food items and the names of various animals and objects and my last two classes consist of children aged only two and three years old and therefore have not English language understanding. These last two classes are my favourite class as I get to watch the excitement on each child’s face as I reveal the new words them each week. At first I wondered if children this young would retain any of the information that I was teaching them only to be amazed that within only a few short weeks they are able to count to 5, sing happy birthday and name basic body features such as head and nose!

I found teaching English to be very daunting at first, however I was able to build upon my skills by finding similarities to the way in which my teachers are currently teaching the foreign students at JUFE Chinese language. When learning Chinese, the teachers use a variety of techniques ranging from visual media, recorded conversations, pictures and written phrases to assist us in remembering the words, their meaning, their Chinese characters and basic sentence structures. I have been able to incorporate these techniques into my English language classes – through the use of flash card I am able to help the students associate letters and pictures with the new words, using interactive media such as PowerPoints to simulate oral conversations, role plays to visualise the meaning of the words and lots and lots of repetition and patience I can see great improvement in the proficiency levels of all of my classes each week.

From this experience I believe that I have gained many important skills and attributes such as planning, organising, initiative, flexibility, interpersonal sensitivity, leadership and self-confidence. I know longer view teaching to be a daunting task but rather I am now enjoying this amazing learning experience and Friday mornings have now become my favourite time of the week!

Sitting Tight

A week out from my departure date… Trying to get everything organised;

  • Final exams and Study
  • Packing up my room on campus
  • Last minute details like a Cashpassport, Mobile plans, Packing, required supplies
  • Coordinating my trip plans and obtaining my computer from family before heading up to Sweden

I’m so excited but nervous. First solo trip! Hahaha parents are more stressed than I am at the moment. But why be stressed? This is going to be an amazing adventure and fingers crossed I’ll find my Prince Charming! What else is this but a hunt to find a perfect European Prince Charming?

Oh yeah… Study…. Well that’s not at the forefront of my mind at the moment. I’ll think about that and work that all out when I get to Malardalen University for Orientation week in August!

Best get back to study now though! Talk soon.