Only four weeks left…

…until my semester in Australia is over. It has really gone by fast, it feels as if I arrived at Tullamarine Airport just yesterday and I met my house mate Matt for the very first time, when he picked me up. I guess these four weeks that are left will go by even more quicker!

Since I last blogged a few weeks ago a lot of fun stuff have been happening – I have been both to Tasmania and Indonesia, which both were great! I will write more about those trips in another post, but I will devote this post to the academic part of my semester. I don’t think I have written much about the differences between studying in Australia and Sweden and this info might be useful for those of you who consider going on exchange!

The biggest difference between my Malmö uni and my australian one is that I study four subjects and the same time. I have one lecture and one tutorial (what we in Sweden call “seminarium”) for each subject, each week – 8 “activities” all together, per week. Another difference is that you have the exact same schedule for one semester, which made at least me feel that the school became way too much of a routine. Unfortunately enough I also ended up with lectures and tutorials that started at 8 am every day….

Another difference is that you have assignments due almost every single week, where as you in Sweden usually only have a hemtenta or salstenta at the end of a subject and then a few group presentations during a seminarium. Anyway, at ACU I have had assignments due almost every week. They consist of reading responses or commentaries, which means that you in about 180-220 words should summarize the key points of one of the required readings for that week but also provide a bit of analyze yourself. My experience is that word limits are pretty rare in Sweden, we mostly use pages, but at ACU word limits are what guides your writing! I thought it sounded really hard at the beginning, getting to say all of the things I wanted to say AND draw conclusions on top of that, but now I like having to adjust to a word limit, it makes my points and ideas much more clearer and straight forward and I actually feel that the things I write holds a high quality even if it’s only 200 words.

So, reading responses/commentaries are one form of assignment. Another one I’ve had was a mid-semester test in philosophy, which consisted of 20 multiple choice questions, which I’ve never had before in Sweden. It went really well – sorry for bragging but I was the only one in the whole class to get 20 out of 20! It was my first test of the semester so I was really happy about that. My studies are paying off…

Yet another assignment type is an annotated bibliography. This one was for my Global change & development subject and we had to choose from around 10 different topics provided by our lecturer and then find four peer reviewed articles. We then had to write around 1200 words which should include why that article is valuable for our research essay (which will be based upon the topic and articles you chose for your annotated bibliography), which theories the author uses, which key points the author makes and so on. This assignment also went really well for me and I was so proud of myself since I haven’t had any experience of writing academic papers in english before my semester in Melbourne.

I have had to do research essays in two different subjects. One was for the Global change subject, which meant that you used the articles from the annotated bibliography for your research essay. I chose a topic where I had to discuss how neoliberalism has affected volunteer tourism as a development practice, which was really interesting to write about. In the essay I had to argue for my position, but of course always with support from the articles I had chosen. The research essay was more like a normal paper that I am used to in Sweden, but the annotated bibliography was useful to have done as well, since that really is what you do when you write a B- or C-uppsats in Sweden – arguing for why the literature you have chosen for your essay are valuable and how it is related to your own position.

The other assignments I’ve had are essays, which were around 500 words each. You got a few questions to answer and it was pretty straightforward as usual – always support your own thoughts with the arguments found in the literature for that subject.

This friday I have a philosophy essay due, which is 1200 words. You had to choose between different topics such as sexual freedom, abortion, punishment and so on, and develop your own ideas of why the arguments provided by a specific philosophical branch are, or are not, valid arguments, which was really interesting.

As you might tell, the assignments are always very short in regards of the word limit but I really find that you get a lot said with a low word limit.

Puh, now I’m done with this essay/blog post and I will treat myself to some wine and movie in bed! This is my last week of lectures, before my three final exams in june 2nd, 16th and 18th. Wish me luck…

Wine tour in Mornington Peninsula.

Hello!
Yesterday I went on a wine tour in Mornington Peninsula with three of my american friends. We found the deal on Groupon and for 70 dollars you got picked up by a mini bus in the city (with seven other people that were also going on the tour) and then taken to five different vineyards in the Mornington Peninsula region. We started off at a dairy farm where they made different types of goat cheese, from the goats that lived at the farm. Then we drove to our first vineyard – we got to taste about six different wines at every vineyard and you could, of course, also buy some wine if you found something special – which I did! I bought a sweet moscato that I tried last night after getting back from the tour, along with the two goat cheeses I bought at the dairy farm. The wines and cheeses were pretty fancy but I thought that I would treat myself since I’m going home to Sweden soon. Anyway, one of the wine bottles I bought is perfect for saving a few years, so I really hope bringing alcohol back to Sweden is legal and that it will survive the almost 25 hour flight back home…

Here are some pictures from the tour! The tour guide Jason was really nice also and having a good tour guide is really important to fully appreciate a tour, so if you’re going on exchange to Melbourne, I can highly recommend this tour! We booked through Groupon for a special price, but you can also book straight through the company here.

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Easter break in Australia.

It’s been a while since I posted something here, I keep forgetting about the blog. Anyway, my easter break is just finished and tomorrow it’s time to face reality – back to uni! I have four essays due in the next couple of weeks as well as several minor assignments. Then I have three final exams in june and this exchange semester is over. I already feel that the time has gone by super quickly here.

However, back to my easter break! My american friend Paige and I booked flights to Alice Springs in Northern Territory about a month ago. On tuesday we left Melbourne on our five hour delayed flight with Tiger air, which is a budget airline. I guess you get what you pay for… We got to Alice Springs safe and sound anyway and Miles from Toddy’s hostel picked us up. We had booked a three day tour with The Rock Tour, which included one night at a hostel before leaving at 5.30 am on wednesday for our first tour day. I keep forgetting how huge Australia is – we sat several hours each tour day in the van going to different places. This was part of the experience, meeting people from different parts of the world (we were around 20 people in the van taking the tour) and seeing almost no other people or cars on the road. The desert was the only surroundings and it was truly beautiful even if it became a bit hard to figure out where we were sometimes!

On tour day one we went to beautiful Kings Canyon for a three hour hike. It might not sound that hard but keep in mind that it was 30 degrees and no shadow anywhere… It was a good hike anyway and during the tour we got information about aboriginals and their history. It was very interesting and I would like to more about it since it is such a big part of Australia’s history and I feel a bit ashamed coming to Australia without having any deeper understanding of how of an impact this has had on the Australian society. I guess it is a good thing that I at least feel encouraged to read more about this now.

After our hike we had lunch in the sun and then went for a drive to Curtain Springs where we set up our bush camp. We made dinner over the camp fire and then we slept in sleeping bags underneath the stars, it was really beautiful and a great experience!

On day two we had to get up at 5.15 am – we were driving to Kata Tjuta to go on another hike. Our tour guide lied when he said that day one was the hardest part of the tour… However, it felt really good being outdoors for three whole days and sleeping underneath the stars. On the last day we saw the sunrise over Uluru and then we went for our last hike.

I had such a great time and I really recommend future exchange students in Australia to do this tour. However, a major critic of this trips is that it is based on the history of aboriginal culture but almost no money goes back to the aboriginal community, which I think is a great problem.

 

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Melbourne on bike!

Hi!
A few weeks ago I got a bike from my friend’s mother, to use during my exchange. Besides saving tram money it’s a nice way of seeing the city through a different perspective. The first time I biked to school I discovered many things along the streets which I hadn’t seen before. Also, having a bike means that you’re able to go anywhere, not having to rely on the tram (even if the tram actually is pretty comfortable and fast).

It’s about 9 kilometers one way to my uni – I get some good exercise every day, no doubt about that. The first days of biking back and forth between my house and uni my legs were pretty sore… Also, you are required by law to wear a helmet. It makes you look pretty geeky, which you can tell from the picture below. There’s also a picture from the bike path to uni – it’s just straight ahead for 9 km and you can see all the way down to the CBD and the tall buildings, since the bike path begins from a small hill.

 

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A weekend in Melbourne.

Hi!
Today is a public holiday, Labour day, which means no uni. This also means a four day long weekend, since I don’t have any classes on tuesdays! I went all in on this weekend and started with going to the French Film Festival on friday. I saw “2 automnes 3 hivers”, which has been described as a “quirky, funny, indie romantic comedy” (or something like that…) which I can agree on. Anyway, the movie was perfect for a friday afternoon after eight hours of studying each day for that week.

On saturday one of my old housemates and I went to see some bands play at 291 in Brunswick and then we went to an after party (is that even a word/concept in english? I’m referring to a traditional “efterfest” anyway) in a warehouse. I’ve met a lot of people here who are currently living in, or have been living in, warehouse, which I find a bit odd. It really looks like what you imagine it to look like when you hear it – a gigantic open space just as a traditional warehouse except for all of the furniture and “rooms” (basically just curtains posing as walls). It must be some kind of law that enables this, I’m not sure but I don’t think it would be possible or even legal to live in a warehouse in Sweden.

On sunday I woke up to a 30 degree heat, so me and my four old housemates decided to go for a swim. We squeezed into a car and drove about an hour, finally arriving at Half Moon Bay. The beach was really beautiful, as you can tell from the pictures below! After that we went to dinner at Moroccan Soup Bar, which I highly recommend. The restaurant doesn’t have a menu, so you have to say what you’re in the mood for or just ask for a little bit of everything, which we did. They only serve vegetarian food and their focus is, which you already might have figured out, middle eastern food. For starters you get one plate with all kinds of different stuff and bread, to share with your dinner company. Before dinner we also got a glass of mint tea served and unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the amazing food, but some of the things we got were potatoes, rice, hummus, pickled vegetables, olives, couscous, eggplant, yoghurt, bread, an amazing chickpea thing (hard to describe it, but it was a bit crunchy,salty and nutty at the same time, it’s worth going there just for this!). The good thing is that everything comes in different bowls and you can take a bit of everything you like, so there isn’t any “portions” and you won’t feel bad if you don’t finish everything on the plate, since it’s you who chose what’s going to end up on your plate. I really can’t make the food justice by trying to describe it, so you just have to try it out yourself if you ever go to Melbourne, it was delicious! Our last stop on saturday was a bar on High St, which previously had been an old church. The interior was really cosy with colored lights, plants and paintings everywhere.

Today, my monday off uni due to the public holiday, I went for coffee on one of the many cafes on High St, which is a 5 minute bike ride from my house in Preston. The street is one of my favorites so far in Melbourne, since a lot of cafes and second hand stores are located in this area, which is perfect (or really bad…) for me and my ability to find a dress in every store I enter.

For some reason I can’t get the pictures right, so you just have to tilt your head. I guess you get the point anyway…

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First week of uni (and some more) done!

Hi!
My first week of uni has gone by, and three days of the second week, and it feels as if it went by quickly at the same time as the days felt really long last week. In Sweden we usually study one subject full time for about a month and then have an exam – in Australia you study four different subjects at the same and have smaller exams regularly and then usually a bigger exam towards the end (something like our “salstenta”) or a bigger essay.
Another big difference is that you don’t have any time of school to write your exams – they have to be done at the same time as you go to lectures and tutorials, which might be a bit stressful. So far I am looking forward to all of my exams but perhaps I will regret that when the exam days come…

Besides being busy with school I have finally found a new place to stay, since I could only stay at my last place temporarily. During orientation week the ACU staff said that exchange students usually feel a bit down for a week or two, due to the new environment and all of the things you have to organize with school, housing and other things, but that it pass after a while. These two, three weeks have been a bit hard for me since I knew that I had to find a new place to stay but kept on getting “no” for an answer from all of the rooms I looked at. Almost everybody I met wanted the person moving in to stay at least six months, which wasn’t working for me since the semester is about four months. Anyway, I finally found a great house (and great house mates!) about three days before I had to move out of my old one. Now I really can enjoy my semester in Melbourne and do things without feeling guilty since I’m not sitting in front of the computer scrolling through all of the Gumtree ads…

A few of the things I’ve been doing since my room hunting was over; checking out all of the vintage stores (there’s too many dresses perfect for me! And too little baggage space left…), writing letters to Sweden and going to the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, which was really interesting (several european artists had made video installations with different concepts).

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An australian cliché #1

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When doing an exchange in Australia, or just visiting the country for any other reason, it’s impossible to avoid hearing about the spiders in this country as soon as you mention that you are going here. The spiders really are _everywhere_, however I have had the fortune of not running into the hairy, big ones, so far *knock on wood*. The biggest ones I’ve seen are of the type in the picture above – it might look small but it’s pretty big and it’s more of a small animal than an insect. This one is living outside of my room and I make sure to keep my door closed as much as possible when I see that it’s crawled out of it’s “home” above the window.

However, you could say that the exposure techniques Australia uses regarding their spiders are pretty hardcore and full on… I must admit that it’s working, my fear of spiders is almost gone even if I still have a bit to work on when it comes to these big spiders as in the picture above.

Orientation week!

Last week the orientation week began, when all of the undergraduate international students met. I think we were around 30 people, which is a lot less than I thought we would be. Most of them came from the US, a few from Canada and the rest from Europe. The orientation  gave us an introduction on how to enroll into academic units (as it is called in Australia, referring to a subject or a class you’re taking, such as philosophy or sociology for example). Since then I’ve been stressed out trying to arrange my schedule for the units I’m taking, finding new units when the ones I’ve chosen were clashing, finding the right people to sign the right form for me, and so on… The stress has eased a bit and on monday the semester will start! I look forward to my units, which will be Introduction to ethics, Introduction to international development studies, Human geography of globalization and Global change and development. I especially look forward to seeing my aussie classmates!

My first encounter with ACU.

Yesterday I was invited to have a coffee with Kirk Doyle, who is working with different international issues at ACU, and Mats Johansson from Malmö University, who is an international coordinator at my home university. It was interesting here about universities through an Australian perspective – I learned that some australian universities have agents, which means that they try to get students to apply to their specific university. I guess this is logic if you consider the fact that students have to pay a fee to the university to study in Australia, however I think that making business out of education is a bit disturbing.

We had an interesting chat about the feeling of experience something new and different and visiting new places in general, but we also spoke about Malmö University and the possibilities there is to go abroad (summer courses, internship abroad, MFS, exchange). I hope that my thoughts about being an MU-student abroad and my reasons for going on an exchange will be useful somehow for the work that MUs international coordinator does!

After having coffee we got a little bit of a tour around ACUs campus by Kirk Doyle. I found out that my university has a rooftop terrace with a café and a great view of Melbourne – something Malmö University could be inspired by, perhaps?

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