Home: Dark mornings and Broken Brollies

If I absolutely had to sum up why I value my exchange experience into 3 over-generalised and over-simplified, insubstantial main reasons for studying abroad which can never express the fun had while away and the variety and depth of what one gains from going, I’d have to say……

1) Getting to know a new place – culture, politics, food, people, literature, food, music, language, food – EVERYTHING.
2) Getting to make new friends from new places – amongst them, amazing people who are as curious and enthusiastic as yourself.
3) Gaining an understanding of the global perspective of your academic subject – AND YOUR LIFE.

And if there were 3 things I was forced to perhaps suggest you be aware of while away but which by no means should cause you to even consider not going on exchange, I’d have to say…..

1) You might think you don’t fancy any of the things mentioned in the three points above. (By the way, if so, you’re wrong! Just do it, you’ll see.)
2) Your normal academic career path (carefully and systematically constructed by your department at Glasgow) will be interrupted. This might cause a slight disadvantage due to the lack of a coherent framework of learning that your peers have experienced; but equally, or more so, you’ll have a different perspective on your subject than the rest of your year and you’ll have taken courses that none of them even know exist! You’ll also be experienced in dealing with being on a slightly different plane of thought from your classmates because you did it while abroad anyway!
3) No, sorry there are only two.

To be frank, the hardest part of the experience is coming home! Answering that question they always ask ‘How was it?’ (how on earth are you supposed to sum up and entire year of living and learning into the appropriately sized sound bite that people seem to expect?); reading the miserable, fear-mongering newspapers idiosyncratic of our dear Great Britain; noticing, through a new lens and with a touch of sadness, the segregation of ethnic communities (self imposed or otherwise); reluctantly handing over that hard-earned tenner, which would feed you for a week elsewhere, for a mere forty minute train journey; stepping out into the nipping scottish wind and rain in the dark at only 4pm with the same thought shivering through you from your core – ‘I could be sprawled on a beach drinking a beer that cost me 40p.’.

In conclusion:

Overall, I would say that my year in Hong Kong met my expectations. That is, as expected, I learned and experienced things beyond what I could have imagined! Studying abroad is everything it promises to be. No matter what you experience, it is new and exciting. It broadens your horizons, it improves your confidence, your understanding of yourself in your position on this globe, your awareness of the extent of variation in modes of life that exist on this globe, your understanding of others, and your lust for exploring all those things further. Out of necessity you will unknowingly jump hurdles that in retrospect seem too high for the little, lesser you that embarked upon such a brave endeavour. And the you which has emerged will look back in awe and with pride, now secure in the knowledge that any hurdle ‘too high’ can be vaulted with ease…… too verbose?
Ok, you’re gona huv a bloody gid time wi aw yer new pals oan the beach an in pubs n that n maybe see some histry or art or sumthin n aw. Culture, ken. Whit ye sayin yid rathur stay in Glesgeh in this god-awfu’ weathur wi’ freezin toes n ears n yer brolly gettin knocked aboot tae the point o’ breakin ivry secont day? Eh?



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