Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Homeward bound!!

It's all over, it went so quickly yet it feels like I've been away for months but I think that is a sign of a good trip! After our frustrating but interesting day of presentations yesterday - frustrating due to the technological issues we faced, interesting due to the wide variety and high quality of projects that were presented - it was a little sad to say goodbye to everyone... And the goodbyes were quite rushed... Or didn't happen at all as some people had to leave before presentations were over as we had run over time! But one by one people began to leave, with the majority taking off today to all parts of the UK or Europe... Me though, I'm heading home back to Australia and I am actually really looking forward to being in my comfort zone again! However Liberty Works did end up feeling like home – hmmm -the me that arrived 2 weeks ago certainly would not have imagined I would be saying that! But Sheffield did end up feeling like home: I was able to navigate the city; saw the same local faces each morning on my walk to uni; I knew which pubs were the best to eat at; and the general greeting of 'hiyalurrve' from the locals began to sound normal. I spent one night in York on the last weekend, and I was so looking forward to sleeping in a comfortable bed with cotton sheets, but I hardly slept at all due to the 'strangeness' of it... I had a great sleep upon returning to Liberty Works, polyester sheets and all, go figure.

We all had difficulties becoming comfortable in our interdisciplinary groups, it was certainly a challenge, but I dare say that was the idea of the powers that be - to throw us in the deep-end and make us either sink or swim! And to our credit I believe we have managed to swim, perhaps badly, but we have made it to the end! A few stumbling blocks were encountered, some of which are to be expected, some of which may need to be considered and on future study tours could be dealt with differently. For example, mixing disciplines is positive as it allows each student to view things from a different point of view - rather than say a historical or sociological view, we learn to consider things from a planning view - thinking about how the space is used, how it can be developed and looking towards the future -which is sometimes something forgotten about when studying history! However, it became apparent that planning students and arts students tackle assignments and presentations differently - with arts students very much about the written assignment and a critical, analytical, academic take on it, but planning students appearing to be far more tactile, visual and interactive. This is great in hindsight as it brings many varied skills to the table. However with individuals not realising this until quite a way into the group assignment, it took some time to 'get on the same page' so to speak. Perhaps in future a discussion could be had about the way in which each discipline tackles their work, so that each individual understands how the other thinks and works. 

As you can see from above, I can certainly see the value to the inter-disciplinary idea, but I would have much preferred to be in a group with like-minded people, and then have been able to discover, research and report on something I am passionate about myself, rather than something that we have all reluctantly agreed upon as it sort of fitted in to each person’s area of interest. I feel I would have got far more out of this study tour had I been able to focus on a real area of interest. Of course we have our individual research projects to consider, and I am very keen to get stuck into that - but during this trip, with the very full schedule and the looming date to present our group work - I have honestly not had enough time to think about my individual project and this is disappointing. However I do feel fortunate to have visited places like the gorgeous town of Haworth where the Bronte sisters wrote their amazing novels, and of course being in Sheffield allowed me to understand how and why Bjetman saw the city as he did. I am sure as I begin thinking about my final piece of work I may realise I soaked in more detail and have more insights than I do at this point in time. 

I would highly recommend other students participating in an overseas study tour. Even as a 'mature age' student I feel I have certainly learnt much about myself, about people in general, and the way in which I view the world. Even though I have travelled before, I have not been further than Southern Thailand and China, therefore going that extra distance has really opened up the world to me. I now feel the world is more accessible, friendlier, and the people who inhabit this world don't seem poles apart as I thought they were. Of course, England and English people are intrinsically linked to Australia and its people, so obviously that gives one a feeling of comfort. When the English realise you are Australian, they seem to feel a connection to you. However, I noticed this more so in Sheffield and around Yorkshire rather than in London – so perhaps that comes from the ‘friendliness’ of the Northerners! One local told me he thought his forebears got it all wrong when they sent the convicts to Australia... Why send the bad people to such a beautiful place?! All the 'good' English should have made their way downunder! 
- Jessica Willman (Bachelor of Arts)

 

 

 

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