It has been four month since I came back to Manchester and I am re-settling in well. I had little cultural shock when I moved to Sydney earlier this year and it was the same for the reverse cultural when I came back to Manchester, even after spending my summer holiday in Hong Kong. As my last and concluding blog post, it would not be complete if I do not say how great my experience was abroad. However, I hope I can explain in detail here and also mention some of the things that I found less enjoyable. In terms of life experience, it definitely helped me a lot to grow as a person as I gained exposure to wider range of things, from a different environment to a different mentality. It gave me opportunities to experience and more importantly, think about issues that I have never thought of. I find myself a more outgoing and energetic person who is very adaptable. These help me as a student, an employee, a global citizen and as a person. I believe these gains are transferrable as they will and have become useful for my studies, my career and my life. Apart from these broad yet precious gains, I particularly want to mention how studying in Usyd affected my interest in politics.
Politics students, especially those who are considering to go on exchange may find this part interesting. During my time in Manchester, most of the politics units I took was about theories and political philosophy. The majority of them focus on relatively ‘newer’ theories such as critical theories and seldom touch on the practical political context. Comparing to the rather abstract and theoretical nature of these units, I got to study areas more closely related to politics in practice. This can probably be told in the naming of the discipline as it is called Government and IR instead of Politics in Usyd. The unit that I enjoyed the most was about models of democratisation and applying them to examine democracy in East Asia, with focus on specific countries such as Japan and South Korea. I got to learn about history and regimes in depth and I find that thoroughly interesting. I was able to discover this area of interest and it has inspired my dissertation as I will work on democracy in Singapore in the coming months. I also discovered that my interest lies in International Relations and this can guide my path if I go on to further studies.
With all the goods here come some downside or difficult bits of my journey abroad. First of all is the cost of living as the rent in Sydney is generally more expensive than in Manchester. However, the good news is prices of daily necessities and food are roughly the same as in Manchester. Academically, I feel I would have learnt less if I did not go on exchange but it was also challenging. The grades I obtained were converted back to Manchester grades and I would not necessarily say the conversion framework is the best part of the exchange programme. Having put extra effort into my studies while not getting recognised with adequate results after conversion (ranked top one-third in a third year course, got a lower second after conversion) is definitely not the best part of the exchange. Either I was spoilt by the easiness of Manchester course units or I have been very lazy in Sydney, my results should have maintained a certain degree of consistency. If you are en route to a first class degree and considering to go on exchange, the risk is something you might want to seriously consider although I have heard of students who fortunately experienced the opposite.
With all these about my experience abroad, it is time for me to conclude my series of blog posts. I hope they are not too boring to read and have helped you to get an insight into how it is like to study abroad. They are probably the most honest reflection (hence not dramatic) of my time in Sydney and allow me to say it again, studying abroad is surely a fabulous experience for me which gave me the opportunity to learn valuable things. I am grateful that the International Programme Office has offered me such a chance and thank you to all who have read my blog posts. Lastly, please feel free to contact me if you want to know anything about my experience abroad or just going on exchange in general. Hooroo!