Have you ever spent January wearing shorts and flip-flops? In Korea, the weather in January is ‘freezing cold.’ However, Australia has a totally different climate. The weather in Australia was extremely hot and sizzling, and the high temperature made me sweat all the time! Before I went on the plane to Brisbane, I was so excited to escape from the cold weather in Korea.
However, living in Australia was more complicated than just living in a hot place and wearing shorts and flip-flops! Living in a home-stay, learning English, and getting along with foreigners... these were the issues waiting for me as soon as I arrived at Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
Living in a Home-stay
Have you heard of a ‘4-minute shower?’ Since Australia is having a water shortage problem, their government strongly recommends every resident to take shower in less than 4 minutes. If they find citizens who are not following this advice, they will charge fees. Since the Aussies are very sensitive with this issue, its citizens are extremely strict about using water.
When you live at a home-stay, you can be asked to follow some rules that you think stupid… just like the 4-minute shower. You don’t have to obey every rule that home-stay wants you to do. However, I strongly recommend that you should at least try to live their way. A home-stay is much more meaningful than having a house to live in and having someone to cook your meals. This living system can be developed into cultural exchange and create a real family relationship. The cultural experience can be very advantageous. In addition, you can create friendships as well as be a member of a family!
Students are happy to receive certification.
Taking classes in English was very tough for me. This was because the course I took in QUT was General English, which was preparation for college studies in this university. Think about a student studying Korean and they study CSAT, College Scholarstic Ability Test in Korea, Korean section. Unlike mother tongue, upgrading foreign language to university level is harsh work. Therefore, it required more effort to complete this course.
The components that I learned were English Reading, English Listening, English Writing and English Speaking. My favorite part of studying at the QUT was writing. As a junior reporter in The UOS Times, I had been proud of my English writing skills. However, while taking classes, I could find lots of drawbacks in my writing and I felt a little embarrassment. How dare I write an article with these untrained English writing skills? Scolding me was helpful for my studies. I wrote a couple of articles a day and went home to re-check my writing.
The biggest reason why I picked writings as my favorite class is that I could receive active feedbacks from my teacher. Every writing activity, even it is so simple to be corrected, was checked specifically. With my teacher’s help, I was able to find my weaknesses easily. This special care along with the school work made me improve considerably!
Getting Along with Foreigners
It was really exciting because I could make global relationships at QUT. The program I participated in was General English and there were more foreigners than Aussies (Actually there were no Australians in our department!). The majority of the students was Chinese. At first, I was very frustrated due to the fact that most of Chinese students were speaking in their language to each other. However, at the end of the session many of the students felt more at ease speaking in English. Since the Chinese students came to Australia to learn English, they began to speak English as much as they could.
In addition, they had a big interest in Korean culture, especially about the soap operas and Korean movies, which made them to talk to me all the time! We all could share good ideas with each other in English! Also, I was able to learn many Chinese perspective without distorted prejudices. I realized that they were really polite and very nice people to get along with, regardless of what I had heard before.
Staying in Australia was so much fun and I will never forget my experiences there and the people I met. I think some of troubles that happened during the trip ended up being more meaningful. Grab your backpack and go to the Land Downunder! Get ready to meet an awesome part of the world!