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…

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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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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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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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.

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A part of my street in Thornbury.

 

 

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CBD.

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