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…

photo 3 photo 2 photo 1

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).

IMG_5003

IMG_4964

IMG_4980

An australian cliché #1

IMG_4904

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?

bild-23

Same same, but different.

Hi!
Last saturday my housemates and I went to The Butterfly Club, which is a theater, to see our other housemate perform in the show “Mr Marmalade and the Catawampus Cabaret”. My housemate is working with circus and juggling but in a more artistic way than what the “regular” circus artist does, at least I think so! The performance was entertaining and the bar at the theater itself was very cosy – red lights everywhere in the room, big book shelfs stuffed with books (of course!), creepy dolls, christmas decoration here and there and old 50’s furniture. Lovely!

After the show I went to take the tram home and an australian guy came up to me and asked me something about the tram. After answering his question we started chatting and he said that he thought that I was swiss since he thought that I sounded a bit german (?). I said that I was from Sweden and he then asked me if I knew about Eurovision song contest. It’s kind of hard to avoid that contest, so I said yes and we started talking a bit about it. Apparently this guy is working as a designer and he had worked with Alexander Rybak in 2009 when he won the whole thing. The guy was telling me this as if I would have some kind of connection to Rybak, which is why I told him that I’m swedish and not norwegian. He then said that “our” flags kind of look the same – he was referring to the flag of Switzerland, which is red with a white cross, and the flag of Norway which is also red but with a blue and white cross. I told him once again that I’m swedish but I’m still not sure if he got it or not… Keeping the european countries separated seems to be a bit hard! I had a similar experience in Italy last semester – one of the kids at the center where I did my internship asked me if I spoke german and I said yes (since I have studied it). She then said that she didn’t know that people spoke german in Slovakia – she thought that I was from Slovakia and not Sweden, and that people spoke german in Slovakia. And I just thought she was curious when she asked if I spoke german… This happened all the time during my internship, people often thought that Sweden, Switzerland, Slovenia and Slovakia were all the same, which I find very interesting. Sure, they all begin with an S and they are all european countries, but besides that… Apparently people mixing Sweden and Switzerland up is pretty common since a quick googling got me to this site: http://www.swedennotswitzerland.com/

Finally – Melbourne, Australia!

Hi!
For those of you who might not have read my presentation at the main site (http://blogg.mah.se/studyabroad/who-is-blogging/, you will also find the blogs of other MU-students here), I am a 25 year old student at the bachelor programme of social work at Malmö University. I will start my exchange semester at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne next week and this is my second exchange – last semester I did my internship as a social worker in Genova, Italy, which was a great experience! My current exchange will be a “regular” theoretical semester, beginning in february and ending in june.

I arrived in Melbourne a few days ago and I have already fallen in love with the city! People are friendly and social, the architecture is great (cute looking townhouses everywhere, it’s rare to see tall buildings except for in the Central Business District, CBD), the sushi is cheap and of course, the climate makes it easy not to miss the swedish winter (today it is 38 degrees…). It’s a bit strange to think about the fact that I applied for this exchange semester in march 2013 and now I’m actually here! After I sent my application and found out I was nominated for going on an exchange, several things had to be done. First of all, I had to take the TOEFL, which stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language. The test measures your english level through four sections (reading, writing, listening, reading). The university I wanted to do my exchange at was Australian Catholic University and they had a score limit – therefore it is not possible to “fail” the TOEFL because the test itself doesn’t have a score which means that you haven’t failed. The limit is made by the university.

After doing my TOEFL and getting the scores in accordance with ACUs limit I had to put together an application for my host university, Australian Catholic University, as well. After doing this and accepting my place at ACU I had all of the practical issues left – applying for a student VISA including requesting documents from several swedish authorities that needed to be attached to my VISA application, applying for CSN, renting out my apartment in Malmö while I’m being away, booking the flight, finding accommodation in Melbourne and so on… In the end it all worked out well, even if I was really stressed out several times during this process.

Anyway, the 20 hour flight went well (I flew with Qatar airways which I really can recommend for future MU exchange students going to Melbourne, they had great food during the whole flight) and now I am in Melbourne! I live in a sharehouse in Thornbury with three guys, who are all very friendly and social. They have shown me a great market with organically and locally produced vegetables, a bar on a roof top and a cosy breakfast place in Fitzroy. I found my sharehouse through the website Air BNB where people post ads renting out their own apartments/houses, usually for short term. I am staying in this sharehouse for one month and then I need to find something more permanent, which will be my next mission!

 

 

View from the roof top bar.

bild 1

 

A part of my street in Thornbury.

 

 

bild 2

 

CBD.

bild 3

Början.

Det är nu som det börjar att kännas i magen. Det är en pirrande och kittlande känsla. Om några timmar är det bara två dagar kvar, innan min utbytestermin i Ghana  påbörjas.

Att åka på utbyte under min tid som socionomstudent har inte varit självklart. Längtan av att åka ut och uppleva världen har alltid funnits och möjligheterna har varit där men det har inte varit rätt tid för mig. Under höstterminen 2013 skrev jag och en vän vårat examensarbete. När man skriver sitt examensarbete blir man indelade i handledningsgrupper med andra studenter. Vid några tillfällen samlas gruppen för att få handledning tillsammans. Det var vid ett sådant här tillfälle som min tanke om utbyte skapades. Just vid detta handledningstillfälle var det två av dem övriga studenterna som hade varit utomlands och jag lyfte tanken högt “Jag vill också resa iväg”. Vår handledare svarade ” Varför söker du inte till Ghana nästa termin. Det är fortfarande platser kvar.” Den första tanken som kom upp var varför inte. Jag kan i alla fall skicka iväg ett mail. På den vägen är det. En tanke i början av december har blivit förverkligad, snart påbörjad och det är januari.

Den senaste månaden har varit turbulent. Förutom att färdigställa ett examensarbete har jag förberett praktiska saker inför en utbytestermin i Ghana. Det har bland annat varit att vaccinera mig (jag tror inte att jag kan bli sjuk någonsin efter alla sprutor jag har tagit), fixa ett nytt pass, sammanställa alla papper inför resan, åka över till Danmark för att fixa visum och hyra ut min lägenhet i andra hand. Samtliga pauser från examensarbetet har kretsat kring Ghana.

Nu är examensarbetet inlämnat och godkänt, visumet finns i passet, alla sprutor tagna, killen som ska hyra min lägenhet i andra hand flyttar in imorgon och papperna är sammanställda. Här är jag några dagar ifrån mitt livs äventyr. Det är spännande och fantastiskt men samtidigt läskigt. Tankar som har jag glömt någonting, hur kommer det att vara, är det varmt, kommer jag klara att vara ifrån alla här hemma och kommer jag bli stoppad i tullen med min fläkt som är nerpackad i väskan finns där men den pirrande och kittlande känslan i magen har helt klart övertaget :).

Jag är två dagar och 56 minuter ifrån min termin som utbytesstudent i Ghana på University of Ghana.

   IMG_20140126_214036

 

Arigato Malmö University!

After five great days in Tokyo with Lea, a peace and conflict student from Malmö University and also a participant at this years INU seminar, I am back in Malmö, Sweden. Tokyo was a contrast to the calm and authentic feeling I got from Hiroshima, which is why I am very happy that the seminar was held in Hiroshima and that I also got the chance to visit Tokyo afterwards. I got to experience Japan in two different ways, which has made me feel that I most definitely want to visit Japan again – two weeks were not enough to explore this friendly and beautiful country!

I have had such an amazing experience in Japan and I am honored to have been selected by Malmö University as a participant at the INU 2013 seminar and funded by Hiroshima University. I am aware that this post might sound a bit cliche, but every word is sincere. I have learnt a lot about myself regarding how I function in group work and discussions, how language barriers can be overcome and how interesting it is to meet students from different countries and academic backgrounds and listen to their view about issues related to sustainable development, migration and many other topics. Meeting the other students from Malmö University was also as interesting as meeting other international students, since I probably wouldn’t have met them otherwise.

I would highly recommend every student at MU to submit an application for next years seminar. This is a great opportunity for personal, social and academic development. It is also a way for the students attending the seminar to be a representative for their home university, which strengthens the image of MU and hopefully attracts international students.

For students longing to go abroad during their education MU has several opportunities – you can go on an exchange semester, do your internship abroad, write your thesis as an MFS and, of course, go on a “summer school”, such as the one I have been to this summer in Japan. All the information about these great opportunities can be found here http://www.mah.se/studyabroad/

Besides the cultural exchange and academically challenging aspect of INU, I have had so much fun during this trip, which resulted in me crying and laughing at the same time almost every day. Also, and this is the most cliche part about this blog post, you never regret the things you have done, only the things you did not do. Therefore – make sure to send in an application for next years INU seminar!

Finally, here are a few of the almost 700 pictures I took during my two weeks in Japan. Enjoy!
IMG_3021 IMG_3047 IMG_3054 DSC_0022 IMG_3122 IMG_3120 IMG_3152 IMG_3178 IMG_3179 IMG_3266 IMG_3289

 

/Nadja

 

 

Late night thoughts.

These past few days have been quite intense. The academic part of the INU, which also consists of a cultural aspect, consisting of workshops on the Millenium Development Goals have taken place, finishing the last one today. The four workshops cover three of the eight goals;

MDG 1 Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger
MDG 3 Promoting gender equality and empowering women
MDG 7 Ensuring environmental sustainability

The forth workshop connects refugees, which are not specifically mentioned in the MDGs, with several of the goals.

The workshop leaders come from universities in the US, Spain and Australia. Each workshop begin with an introduction to the specific subject and MDG, since many different fields of study are being represented at the seminar. Human rights, french literature, history, engineering and law are just a few of them.

After a short introduction we are encouraged to discuss specific problems of, or related to, the MDGs. The workshop groups are put together with the idea that we, the students, might have different perspectices depending on where we come from but also what academic background we have.

The foreign students participating in INU this year tend to be the dominating ones in the academic discussions. I talked to my new japanese friend that is also participating in INU about this, which she explained was related to the japanese education system. Their system is not promoting a critical way of thinking about different subjects, which she thought that, for example, swedish higher education does. Personally I think that Malmö University is encouraging us students to have our own opinions about the theories we read about, but MU also provides us with different tools on how to be critical and present that critic in an academic way.

However, the INU is about the experiences and opinions of all participating students. It was interesting hearing my friend talk about the japanese system, since we all have different ways of learning and expressing what we have learned in an academic way.

Personally I sometimes felt a bit frustrated during the workshops when I tried to communicate and have a discussion with a japanese student, because they sometimes did tend to be rather quiet. However, I was blown away about the progress in at least my UN Role play assembly country group. From staying in the background during our conversations they now took iniative and really delivered the things that had to be done.

My japanese friend Akiko told me that one of her goals at the INU was to say at least one thing in each workshop, which did without any problems. She also said that her english skills had developed and that she felt much more confidence using english than she did before. Her saying that really made me realize that all students actually want to participate but that it takes a while to get started sometimes, but most of all I now understand the strength and determination it takes to be participating in something like the INU when the language used is not the one you usually speak. It also taught be that all of the students participating in the INU are highly motivated and always are trying their best.

After eating my probably seventh or eight sushi in a few days it is now time for me to get some sleep before the finale of the INU – the UN role play! I am proudly representing Nigeria and tomorrow I hope my country group can convience other countries of our achievements so far. To be continued…

 

/Nadja