By Elizabeth Kim, Bachelor of Speech and Hearing Sciences
“Gladdy’s called another lockdown, we gotta be home before 6,” my friend states, pushing her phone toward me.
When the shops seem abandoned and even leaving to get the mail feels illegal, finding motivation to learn something new is the last of your worries. I can say that this was true for me back in February of 2020. And not because I was in lockdown. No, no, I wish. I had packed my life for an overseas adventure, only to stumble into Ms Rona’s personal exchange to South Korea.
My semester abroad had barely begun, and it already felt over. My motivation was slowly replaced with anxiety as it made itself comfy in my chest for the next few weeks. I called my friends back in Sydney and was updated on tales of panic buyers and hoarders at Woolies.
Although being in Korea, the country with the most COVID cases stank, I realised that I had never had to worry about fighting for toilet paper. Heck, Korea wasn’t even in lockdown.
I was determined to make the most of my trip. Instead of rationing takeaway meals in my apartment, I shopped in hauls - avoiding large crowds at markets. Instead of listening to lectures cramped at my desk, I decided to do them outside the library for optimum internet connection and vitamin D (seemed a shame to not take advantage of the fastest internet in the world). Instead of imagining all the places I could’ve gone I put on a mask, packed my sanny and explored the breathtaking landscape when no one was around.
Through online classes I learned about the origins of Kpop, the colonisation of Korea and even the history of Seoul. I took an international communications class with students from Taiwan, Japan and Korea. Through zoom we discussed cultural views on topics from enrolment to government policies. And while I couldn’t meet or make many new friends, I realised I was fortunate enough to have extended family in Korea. I made an effort to call them more often, updating them on the new things I had learnt about Korea. I bonded with my grandpa, as he took me on hikes through national parks, taught me the historical significance of various sites and even a glimpse of his childhood neighbourhood.
While my ideas of exchange didn’t include a global pandemic, I realised Ms Rona couldn’t take away my ability to learn and experience something new. Even during this lockdown, I am reminded that new things can always be learnt through GLP’s weekly email of “upcoming opportunities”.
So instead of scrolling through my Instagram feed at night I signed up and attended some events. Through the events hosted by CareerHub, I finally learnt the difference between a CV and a resume. I also learnt about some postgraduate opportunities for my field. Employment workshops at MQ and the allied health company, Everyday Independence, introduced me to the vast prospects of my industry. I even learnt how online content like TikTok is organised in China through a seminar at Australian National University.
Even though GLP experiences and Colloquia are online (and you might feel they aren’t worthwile) you can still learn so much from them. As an Asian girl growing up in a predominately westernised country, comments like “So are you from North or South Korea?” or “You speak Korea, NI HAO”’ are unsettlingly familiar. So I signed up for my last Colloquium in “I'm not racist, but: How to deal with microaggressions and systemic racism”. I will definitely be able to get some advice from that one so I’m super keen for it.
I really enjoyed, “Negotiating in Cross-Cultural Environments”, for hypothetical debates on current global topics and “Men after #metoo: What’s a bloke supposed to do?” where you can hear more personal stories of gender inequality in the breakout rooms. I’d also recommend the 3 core colloquia’s too, but those are compulsory anyways (and for good reason)!
But if you’re still procrastinating because you’re not sure where to start or unmotivated, grab a friend and sign up for GLP experiences together. As someone who did all of her Colloquia with her best friend, I can really say that it made GLP that much more special. When I was feeling down or unsure how to fill out my Experiential Credit forms, I had someone to go to.
And look, if you don’t have a friend to annoy with your GLP shenanigans, email your GLP Advisor! They’ll verify if you’ve already done something to get you points or even direct you to what you could do next. They’re the hype men for your department (and they’re so nice) so contact them!
Doing this program will benefit you in the way you direct it. It will reward you only with knowledge and credit for pushing yourself. So, take advantage of all the opportunities to learn something new. In lockdown. In another country. Wherever. Lock down any and every experience while doing GLP.