I’ve noticed a fair few differences in the past month and felt the need to rant/share some of them! Not all are bad..!
- Firstly, as most of you will know, I love mayo…yes I know, disgusting, but I love it – so the one brand/food I wasn’t going to compromise on was getting my Hellmann’s Mayo. So you can imagine my sadness when the local Coles and Woolies only sell the small jars!! No large jars!! How uneconomical. Not happy with that… As a more broad note, food and brands are different abroad – yes that sounds like an obvious statement, but if there’s something you love, might be worth a google to see if it’s there too! I did that with Quorn – a veg substitute for meat, which is in Aussi, though the range isn’t as extensive, but heyho!
- The price of living is generally more expensive out here too, but for Australians’ it’s relative to their wages, so it’s fine for them…unlike us, poor students…
- People also seem to stare at you if you call out and thank the bus/tram driver… That seems to be a norm in Soton, so I was surprised to be given weird looks when I said thanks before leaving the bus!
- Oh. Cadbury. Now, the reasoning behind this difference is slightly more understanding, but still… Basically it tastes awful. Okay fine, I’m being dramatic… the one’s with other stuff, like hazelnut or fruit and nut are okay, but when it’s plain, it’s not good 🙁 They add something to stop it melting as easily… Not hugely happy with that one…
- The lecture halls are also different – which seems like a weird thing to say, but they have the (in my mind) American style seats where you pull an individual table round. I miss the continuous bench in front of you which provides a great leaning platform… Also their lectures are 50 mins, though written as an hour – which is fine, Soton has 45 min lectures. Yet a 10-11am lecture will actually be 10:10-11….. not 10-10:50…. This confuses me…
- Olympic coverage is also hugely bias here. Yes I know, of course the country is going to focus on their athletes, but I’m sure the UK is better at varied coverage – the BBC is awesome after all! Yet here, one event was on (a friend told me this, so shockingly details aren’t particularly well remembered), but because no Australian was in it, it flicked away from it every other minute to show another event where Australians were waiting to compete… So they weren’t showing an active event, but people standing around… I’m not that bothered to be honest given I have no TV and streaming it would eat up all my data….
- Okay that reminded me of a huge difference which is almost as bad as the mayo situ. THE WIFI. I’m 99% sure I mentioned this in another blog, but for emphasis, I’ll repeat. Australia measures download amount, not streaming speed, so we get 20gb a month… For comparison, Netflix uses up 3gb an hour at high quality, so chuck it on for a day and you’ve used it all up. Not fun… Means we all spend more time on campus because we have free uni wifi, and eduroam (other people also read it as Eurodam for ages too!), which I guess is good as it’s easier to research papers and download lecture slides etc. here.
- A positive is that cheap wine is stupidly cheap here, though spirits seem to be more expensive – so you win some, you lose some. Clubs are also more expensive; $15 entry, which is around £6.30 seems standard here, compared to our £3 or £4 entry.
- I mentioned this one in my last post, but the structure of the course is different. Now this isn’t a bad difference (unlike the mayo difference….), but definitely worth noting.
- Uni is always busy but I understand why. At Soton, people’s journeys aren’t that long to get to campus, so people mainly live at uni in the weeks up to exams – that’s when you can never find a seat to study. Whereas, it’s the first few weeks of term and it’s hard to find seats already! At first we thought everyone was just more studious out here, but because most students live at home (the norm here – another difference!) their travel time will be a bit longer as not many people live in the centre of Adelaide – where our accommodation is. So because of that, it seems that if they come onto campus for one thing, they’ll stay on all day to work, which seems beneficial for their degrees!
- Finally, the lectures seem a lot of seminar like in the sense that students call out, ask questions and actually respond to the lecturer which differs from back home – it’s nice because you get more view points on topics.
A huge positive, which is probably down to the age of everyone I’m interacting with, as opposed to being in Australia is how chilled and at-face-value they are (if that makes sense?). Let me explain; starting first year was, of course, accompanied by the worries of thinking you won’t make friends etc. even though everyone is in the same boat, and of course everyone does find people! So even though I’d gone through that before, I still had that worry that I won’t find friends, even though, again, everyone is in the same boat. Yet, it’s been so much more chilled this time round. I think it is the fact we’re older and have done it before, so in most cases, more mature..! First year seemed to be about befriending everyone and pleasing everyone; yet here, people are okay with not getting on with everyone, because not every personality clicks. It’s a comfort to feel at ease with people so quickly here because I guess we’re not trying to prove anything. Though I think I was trying to when I first started uni…!
A similarity I thought of the other day is the speed of finding a group (in an exchange’s case) to travel with; whereas at soton/generally at uni, it would be a group to live with. So in first year, people were very quick to sign contracts and choose who they were living with within the first term or just after Christmas – it seems like you have to be on it with finding the best people and houses so you don’t miss out! Now here, my friends had to rather quickly decide where they wanted to travel, and who with. September break is only a month away and to get cheap flights you need to be organised (or to get good rent deals, you need to be organised). Just a parallel that occurred to me! It’s slightly less relevant to me as I’ll be travelling around to see family, so I’ll be flying solo, but for the majority of people, they’re organising trips to Uluru, Sydney, to go up the East coast, or Perth.
In short, even though these points seem obvious, lectures and courses and run differently as well as daily uni life. Food and nightlife and general culture differs. Attitudes aren’t hugely different though, but Australia isn’t that different to the U.K..
Everyone who knows me will know I’m great with change (ha…) but I came into this exchange knowing things would be different, so I’m actually surprised how normal everything feels! I’m sure there will be more differences to write about by the end of this semester. I have to say though, in spite of the mayo and cadbury, I absolutely love living and studying out here – especially now the sun is out. As a group, we’re still finding out cultural differences like how Americans don’t have Wagon Wheels, or Canadians use the word ‘frequenting’ where we would say ‘seeing each other’.
Anywho, happy reading,