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What I learnt on my Sydney-based exchange

By Jennie Tang, Bachelor of International Studies


‘‘We hope we can make your final year your best yet!”


When I saw these words from my GLP Advisor back in March 2021, I honestly felt pretty hopeless.


Covid-19.


That toxic friend we are learning to deal with had successfully put a stop sign on my compulsory semester exchange. Being the only student who had deferred my degree in my Chinese major, I desperately wanted to experience the stories of what an exchange promises (…I also wanted to make use of my scholarship).


Hearing whispers about the GLP during my first 3 years of university didn't interest me in the slightest. It just sounded like another thing on top of my university stress that I did not need.


Although completing a Sydney-based exchange didn't completely live up to the expectations I would have had in Nanjing, China, it has challenged me to complete the GLP, which in turn helped give me the drive to complete my local exchange. I made regular visits to my local Buddhist temple and learnt how to play the Guzheng - pushing my fears of public performance, I interviewed random strangers across the globe for my podcast, and I returned to my martial arts school; a place that will forever challenge me to become a better person through a unique meditational practice.

These are all just snippets of how I was able to find pockets of my culture in my own suburbs that I wouldn't have previously engaged with.


As someone who loved studying electives outside of my degree, I am also excited to pick my 5 final Colloquia next semester. Particularly, I want to mention the two Colloquia from Monty Badami who allowed me to engage in material from my Gender Studies elective back in second year.


I do still feel a tug in my heart when I see fellow peer’s photos on past exchanges, however the GLP is a great support system, and I know I will travel there after my degree (without having the stress of passing at a c9 League University). You can tell the staff really care about your wellbeing and are committed to supporting you from a non-academic standpoint.


From the self-care artwork in the GLP Upcoming Opportunities emails, who knew I would actually be excited to open these even though I already planned out my Experiential Credit? To knowing that my name was listed alongside my peers as a reminder on their office wall (plus the emojis Emma continually uses to communicate made my other emails bearable), these were all efforts to put a small smile on my face throughout my semester exchange in Sydney. It was refreshing.


Despite approaching my final semester of study, I have applied to becoming a HR Director at Enactus, a society that stands for social change through student entrepreneurship, as well as a Stage Manager at Macquarie Musical Society.


I am keen to give the rest of 2021 everything I have got and make it my best.