Term Abroad: Why leave The Bubble?
Leaving home is not easy. We’ve all been very symbolically hugged goodbye outside of our first year accommodation on that last weekend of September as we journey into adulthood, guided by the spirit of Purple and the Koan. So why on Earth would anyone want to go through that ordeal again just two years later?! And this time, you’re putting the sea between you and the comfort of your dog and the shower that you know exactly how to use. But there is a whole host of reasons why hundreds of students have a teary farewell at the airport every year and go abroad for a part of their degree, and here is what I’ve discovered why, during my time in Melbourne:
- Independence: The most notable thing I have gained is also the most obvious. Having to completely organise your life is something that you don’t really have to do when you go to University straight from school, as I found the steps from one to the other a well-trodden path which came with a lot of support. Learning to fend for yourself and becoming self-reliant is very important, particularly for employers who do not have the time to spoon feed as you settle into a new environment. Being independent makes you adapatable, and true independence is only gained when you are out of your comfort zone.
- Career-related skills: if you’re going abroad as part of your degree, then you will probably be studying, researching or are on placement in industry. All three of these things will help you towards a career that you enjoy, whether you know what that is yet or not. Working in industry will enable you to realise whether that is a path you would like to explore further, and research will help you decide whether you want to do a PhD, along with developing your lab, written and other interpersonal skills.
- Expand your crew: Warwick may be a very international university, however it is so easy to get comfortable once you’ve made your friends and settled into a routine. Going abroad to a place where you have very few contacts forces you to be strike up a conversation with anyone who stands next to you. This is something I personally have never done at Warwick, except for maybe in the first two weeks of first year, motivated by the fear of being alone, because you get comfortable with your friends in the knowledge that they are gonna stick about for the long haul. When you get thrown in the middle of the academic year without the security of halls, it makes you a friendly person! As a result of this you meet the coolest, nicest new people who may even stick you up for a few days if you’re ever in their hometown. There are no downsides to new buddies, except maybe for the emotional goodbyes and organising Facetime sessions that abide for both time zones!
- Fearlessness: Related to independence I suppose, but having been here only two months I have already noticed how much braver I am. It comes with living in a new place for a temporary amount of time, you learn to not care too much about what other people think of you, and if you realise you don’t get on with someone or you don’t like where you are, you just get up and move on and there is no consequence to that! Additionally, if you want to go and try something, you don’t have time to wait around for others to get on board, you just go and do it! Join that club, try out snowboarding, take a 2 hour train for a walk in the woods. Being in the Warwick bubble, there is a social structure to abide to, whether you like it or not it just comes hand in hand with everyone knowing everyone else, and ti doesn’t help that it is very tricky to cheaply explore the area we live. When you come to live and study in a new place, you escape being tied down to other people or doing things in your social circle, and can truly ‘find yourself’.
- You get to know a city: We’ve all met the yuppie travellers with a scratch map who brag about how many cities they’ve visited, but in my experience you don’t really KNOW a place until you have lived, commuted and worked there. I had been to Melbourne before for a few days on holiday with my parents, I had strolled through the city square, rode the trams and watched the Penguin Parade on Philip Island like a proper pommie tourist. But when I came back here ten weeks ago, it was like a new place! I had to learn how to navigate the outer districts of Melbourne and the transport system. I had to learn where and how to find cheap pints and the best dumplings in Chinatown. I had to learn when the last trains home were and how house parties here start and end early. Your city becomes a different place to when you visit it on holiday, and that is a connection that doesn’t fade.
- THE MIDLANDS IS NOT FUN:I apologise to any prospective Warwick students reading this; Warwick is a fantastic uni and I love the people and the opportunities I have had- no regrets on coming here, honestly. HOWEVER, this does not mean that I love every aspect of it and this includes its location. We are really in the middle of nowhere and whilst, yes, we as students run Leamington which has a train station and can get to Stratford with our bus passes, but the transport is pricey and this makes everyone reluctant to go anywhere other than Spoons on a Saturday afternoon. I hear from many others at Monash how lucky I am to come from the UK (bar the current political situation, and, I suppose, the weather) because of having places like London, Edinburgh and the rest of Europe on our doorstep, but I have never been to Scotland and can probably count the amount of times I have been to London on my fingers, including visits to Heathrow. Here in Melbourne, I can get from a bustling city with vast amounts of districts with their own cultures, to the Great Ocean Road and some of the world’s most beautiful and talked about National parks and beaches in the space of a few hours costing me less than ten dollars. If I hadn’t done this term abroad, I would have never gained this sense of adventure, and consequential frustration towards Leamington Spa!
I hope my rambling have inspired you to go to the Study Abroad office and make the most of the opportunities made available to you by your department and the university.
Love Fi xx