I already had a deep respect for the international students who embarked on exchange to FedUni & Australia, leaving their family and all the familiarity of their home lives behind them. I didn’t truly understand the gravity of what they did until I did it myself and to them I tip my hat. It’s been less than a week and my comfort zone, it would seem, is now so far removed I am stretching the limits of connection to it. It’s not what I thought it would be; I don’t even remember what I thought it would be. It’s going to be the biggest thing I do and certainly one of the toughest and something I’m sure will make me a better person and better graduate. I’m told it will get easier and by the time I am to leave I won’t want to… but we’ll see.
It’s only my 4th day in Korea today and there is just too much information in my mind to type out a first impression in one coherent sentence so I’ll use keywords: generous, curious, cold, foreign, industrious, lonely, contradictory, adventurous, underdeveloped, and enigmatic. More on all these points in future posts.
The process of exchange here is simple enough but there are some difficulties I’ve noted, along with the other students.
- It is not made clear what will need to happen when you arrive or what has been organised and things are a little disorganised in some ways;
- I had to make my own way from the station to the uni as an error meant I had no buddy to welcome me;
- There is so much to buy that is not clearly advertised such as towels, bathmat, cleaning supplies, bedding etc.;
- I can’t work out the heater in the room and so it is mostly stiflingly hot; and
- Almost everything is solely in Korean… I had no idea how difficult it was to be a foreign exchange student and certainly wish I’d been able to prepare more.
I’m looking forward to getting started with classes and doing orientation next week. I think that will help greatly in combating my overwhelming feelings of homesickness. That and the ridiculously excellent group of fellow international students I’ve already met! I will introduce them all, in time, but we have representatives from Norway, Sweden, Morocco, Hong Kong and Korea.
So here is to the next four months passing quickly enough to dull the ache but not so fast I miss things and my next mission of being able to sort out a Centrelink issue from overseas with as little headache as possible…