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!

 

Two Months in Chester

It has been officially two months since I shed a tear or 70 as I went through international security at Melbourne Airport. Since then, there has been more tears (I’m a cry-er) but also many amazing memories already made.

I spent my first few weeks in Chester walking (almost literally) every inch of downtown Chester. I was promised a beautiful, typically ‘English’ town centre, fantastic shops and enough coffee to fill a pre-service teachers’ quota. And MAN OH MAN did Chester deliver. A brisk (has to be brisk otherwise my fingers freeze) 15-minute walk from my accommodation and I am in some sort of English wonderland. Black and white timber buildings, cobbled streets, every English shop I love and yes, coffee shops and restaurants galore. Little did I know this would only get better as Christmas mania hit- I will give this ‘season’ the recognition it deserves in a separate blog post to come.

As a CSU Global student I was guaranteed university accommodation at the university of Chester. I have never lived in ‘student halls’ before so this was something that excited me. I spent hours looking at all the options on the University of Chester website and secretly hoped for one specific location. By some miracle, I was placed in Grosvenor House on the main campus of Chester. This mini “studio” room included a little kitchen and ensuite and felt perfect from the pictures. Although a little on the pricier side, I was thrilled to have a little place of my own.
As an international student I was moved in a day before UK students. After being picked up from the airport by the Uni International Team, I found my building and my room quite easily. I got to work unpacking my single (extra-large from Aldi) suitcase and began the process of making this room feel like home for the next 9 months.

Fast forward 2 months and my room, apart from needing a bit of a deep clean, finally feels like home. There are enough fairy lights, Christmas decorations and throw pillows to fill my heart.

I was fortunate enough to be in contact with some people who live on my floor through Facebook leading up to moving in. This really helped when everyone arrived and encouraged me out of my room and into the ‘corridor’. The corridor is yes, a corridor but also the hub of floor 1. Even though I am good 3 years older than most of the people I live with, they were nothing except welcoming, fun and understanding and have remained so.

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Journey To Exchange

Hi, I’m Claire. I study a Bachelor of Education based on the Albury Charles Sturt University campus. I have now been on exchange at the University of Chester, England for a little over a month.

My road to exchange started at the beginning of 2016 when I first stumbled across the idea. I started researching and although I had missed the application date to leave in 2016, I had plenty of time until the next one. This was a blessing and a curse. I spent the next year & a half excited and wishing the time to hurry up, however, it took almost that long to complete the application and prepare myself for the big move.

The Application Process

This, I will be honest, can be tedious and at some points disheartening, however very worth it, as the more organised you are on arrival the smoother settling in will be. I’m  unsure if it is the degree I am studying but it was a lengthy process to find and approve equivalent subjects to study. My course director and the CSU Global team were incredibly supportive throughout the whole process and always responded to my many emails (often irrelevant and sent at 1am) quickly and with great advice. Once you have a subject set approved the process is a lot kinder. I am incredibly fortunate to be a dual citizen with the United Kingdom meaning I did not have to apply for a VISA.

Packing

About two months before I was due to depart I grabbed a huge whiteboard and some markers and wrote everything I thought I needed to pack. Over the next two months I wrote and rewrote on the whiteboard, piled clothes and items next to it and subsequently took them away again. This process, apart from an attempt to make the time go quicker, gave me an opportunity to really think about what I was packing and to make sure I had everything.
I said goodbye to my beloved hair curler in favour of a good raincoat (good decision) and traded my favourite pair of heels for a sturdy pair of Dr Martins (another surprisingly good decision by past Claire). Upon reflection, anything I left behind I have been able to buy here (except my fav teddy  which I am glad made the final cut).

Pre-Departure checklist

As the weeks until departure dwindled I made sure to do all the last minute jobs. This included sorting out banking, bills and all those boring things. I said goodbye to the many families I babysit and my numerous jobs whilst completing a few final subjects with CSU. This time was a very busy and emotional one, but reminded me how lucky I was to be embarking on such a big adventure with an amazing support system behind me.