Volume 8 Number 8
August 13 - September 9 2012
The University of Melbourne is a global university, not only because of its international standing as a leader in research, teaching and learning but because of the global opportunities it can offer students. Melbourne is fortunate to enjoy reciprocal student exchange agreements which give our students the widest possible range of options and opportunities to study and live overseas.
This year, students have attended universities as diverse as the University of the Andes in Bogota, Colombia, Charles University in the Czech Republic, the University of Cape Town, South Africa and the University of Oslo, Norway.
Most students of the University of Melbourne are eligible to apply for an exchange place and can spend either one semester or a year (two semesters) attending a partner institution for full credit towards their Melbourne degree.
Bachelor of Arts student Alice Linnet went on exchange to the Université Lumière (Lyon II) in Lyon, France.
“I’m a French major and was hoping to expand my language skills. I went to Lyon, as I figured I would have more of an authentic French experience there than if I chose Paris, which I now believe I did,” she says.
Ms Linnet chose Lyon II after reading course descriptions and learning there were no classes offered in English.
“I knew if I went to this university, I would challenge myself, as a high standard of French would be needed to complete the required subjects.
“Lyon II is also the only university in Lyon that offers anthropology and social theory, which is my second major.”
Ms Linnet said the best thing about living in France is really experiencing the French lifestyle.
“I was lucky enough to be living in an apartment with locals from Lyon, and because I stayed in Lyon for a full year, I actually spent a lot of time in the city. I travelled around France and to other countries in Europe, which was fantastic, but the best thing really was just living like a local and feeling like a local.
“This experience has helped me develop as a person and living in a culture very different from Australia gave me a better understanding of who I am. I feel very confident about my communication and organisational skills. I really did need to put everything together on my own.”
Ms Linnet says making friends and communicating in a second language also helped stretch her conversational language skills, but she was also academically challenged by taking subjects in French.
“My experiences abroad helped reaffirm what I’d like to do later on. I am about to complete the final semester of my Bachelor of Arts degree. I’d like to complete a diploma in interpreting and translation, and then hopefully work in this field.”
Bachelor of Commerce and Media and Communications student Jeremy Leung also chose to forgo the comfort of a country where English is the main language and chose to learn Chinese at Peking University in Beijing.
“I wanted to attend Peking University to learn to read, speak and write Chinese. As a second generation Chinese-Australian who could not speak a single word of Chinese, I found it difficult to do the basic things: ordering food, asking for directions and organising my accommodation. However, living in a country where accomplishing the simplest of tasks was difficult (at first) made me more determined to continue studying the language.
“After a month into the exchange, my Chinese vocabulary improved to the point that I could converse with locals. One Chinese girl I befriended told me she enjoyed my company and asked if I wanted to meet up (in Chinese “yue hui”). I replied ‘of course’, but when she asked when I wanted to start, I looked confused. She explained that I had just agreed to be her boyfriend!
“I also wanted to experience student life like a local at Peking University, famous for being one of the most competitive universities in Asia.
“Prior to the exchange, I heard that Peking University had a great campus life, full of sporting events, competitions and festivals to attend. This was indeed true, so my experiences there were really different from being a student in Melbourne. During one particular festival, my fellow Australians and I dressed up in kangaroo outfits, taught local students how to kick an Australian football and held a barbecue so that others could sample the best in Australian sausages and beer.
“Experiencing and immersing myself within Chinese culture also made me more understanding of others. This is what made my exchange experience so special. I travelled to 10 different cities, tasted various foods, heard the many dialects and had long discussions with my Chinese friends, taxi drivers, and locals.
“I wanted to learn what opinions they held about the dramatic change they experienced in the past decade and their predictions for the future. This allowed me to understand the differences and similarities between our values, background and dreams.