Familiar Territory

During my one month in Krakow, I have met people from so many different nationalities and backgrounds. This has been one of the most amazing and daunting parts of the whole experience. Often meeting and getting to know these people requires a considerable amount of effort. This is because you have to not only deal with the initial awkwardness of first meeting someone but you must also work through the language and cultural barriers to find a mutual understanding. However, being able to talk, learn and laugh with these people has been well and truly worth the effort.

I have also found great comfort in the friendships I have made with other Australians in the Border Crossings Program. Being able to talk and laugh with Peter and Liz has made the experience a lot less overwhelming and provides me a small slice of home.  It is also rather nice to say something very clique Australian (i.e.- your acting like a pork chop or she be apples) and not have twenty pairs of eyes stare back at you as though you have grown a second head.

As well as this, I often feel that I have to be as well presented as possible when I am meeting people from other countries. This is not only because I am representing myself, but I am also representing Australia and the Border Crossings Program. This means that on many occassions I find it hard to be relaxed and as comfortable as I would like to be. However, sitting in my apartment eating pretzels and chocolate and drinking horrible red wine with Liz and Peter is probably the most relaxed I have been since I arrived in Krakow.

On the other hand, the more time I spend with people that have different homes, different lifestyles and different religions, the more comfortable I am becoming.  It is one of the elements of the exchange experience which makes it so incredible. There is no other situation I have been in that compares to this. I have been placed in an unfamiliar environment away from the comforts of home with hundreds of other people. This has forced me to come out my shell (which by the way I am very comfortable in) and engage in social interactions. Although at first I did this begrudgingly, I am now incredibly thankful that I made the effort.

The opportunity to see the world through other people’s eyes is both exhilarating and overwhelming at the same time. It has given me the chance to analyse myself and the world I know and have grown up in. I have come out of this experience so far with lots of questions that I intend on getting answered.

Although all this self discovery and advancement in the journey of life is very monumental and important, it is wonderful to be able to cradle the familiar. During the rest of my time in Krakow and in Europe, I intend to dive out my comfort zone as often as possible but have the security blanket of home and all its associated familiarities to catch me.

About Ainslie Mulholland

My name is Ainslie Mulholland and I am from Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. I am studying a Bachelor of Journalism specialising in Film and Screen and History. I am an exchange student at Jagiellonian University in Krakow. This is my first time overseas and I am excited, scared, happy and homesick all at once. I hope I can convey this in these posts and provide some insight for people looking to study overseas as part of this program.
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8 Responses to Familiar Territory

  1. Teressa says:

    you, coming out of your shell, I would have to see this in person. Good to know you are having fun and getting to now people. Take that dive and get out and about, which I believe is the best way to try and pick up the language. Talk soon. How is the studying going?

    • Ainslie Mulholland says:

      Lol well I am doing slowly but it is happening. I have even been doing some more adventurous things. I am in Spain at the moment and I went swimming in the Meditterean which is a pretty crazy but amazing thing to do!

      The studies are good. It is nice to get back into the routine of university and not do so much partying. I will have to start doing assignments soon so I need to get myself more motivated.

      How is everything with you going?

      Ainslie xxoo

  2. Louis says:

    Hey Ainslie,

    I’m glad to hear that Krakow has become some what of a new home and that you feel comfortable. I told you that you could do it! Come out of that shell of yours and having a good time on top of that as well. Can’t wait to read the next post 🙂


    • Ainslie Mulholland says:

      Hey buddy,

      Thanks for the comment. I am glad you enjoyed the post. I am doing my best to get out of the shell but it is warm and cozy and all the things I like are in there.

      I can not wait until you come over in January so I can show you around. Be prepared for the cold but and pack your long johns!!

      Ainslie xxoo

  3. Matthew Cooper says:

    Seems like you are adapting to your new circumstances really well. It must have been tough to get over those cultural barriers but you sound like your thriving. Its great that your gaining a new perspective on the world around you. Got any more exciting things lined up over the next few week?

    I am glad to know that someone is doing such a fine job of representing our country overseas. You sound like you are adjusting to the Polish uni scene rather well. Is it very different from over here?

    Nice to know that you are taking everything in your stride and not freaking out about anything.

    I look forward to your next post.


    • Ainslie Mulholland says:

      Hey Matt,

      Thanks for the comment. I am not sure about the next few weeks. After Majorca, I am quite beat. But I may try and go to Budapest in the next few weeks and this weekend, I am probably going to do some study and hit up Oscar Schindler’s factory.

      Uni life is different in a lot of ways. It seems a lot less organised and I am not sure yet about my assessment and how they want it laid out. I am just trying to take it all in my stride. Also they still use blackboards and chalk which is very reminiscent of primary school for me. However, the classes are really interesting and I am enjoying having Friday’s off.

      I can not wait until Louis and you come over. I am going to show you everything and take you to the best places to eat, drink and see. Stay in touch.

      Ainslie xxoo

  4. Angus says:


    Glad to hear things are settling down for you. It’s also really good to hear you’ve been hanging out with some varied people.

    But seriously? Out of your shell? I can’t wait to come over and see this for myself.

    Can’t wait for your next post

    • Ainslie Mulholland says:

      Why is everyone so shocked that I am coming out of my shell? I mean I can not be the Ice Queen forever. Plus in order to make friends here, you kind of have to do it. I do not want to be the sad girl sitting alone in my apartment, just going to my classes and doing nothing else.

      I am still the same but, don’t worry. I still like my comfy little shell.


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