Sunday, 23 June 2013

The study tour has just come to an end where the 17 days of touring, learning and socialising felt like a flash.

I can now reflect on this experience as one of the most rewarding experiences that a university lifestyle can offer.  While those early mornings, long days and never-ending assignments were challenging, the positives of this trip are definitely worth travelling 20,000km from home.  The formation and strengthening of friendships, being pushed out of your comfort zone to adapting new cultures and the heightened awareness of academic knowledge is by far the pleasing aspects of the study tour. 

Upon reflection of the eventful study tour, many key moments have occurred throughout my stay.  I have done things which I wouldn’t have done elsewhere which have truly been a rewarding experience.  Initially, the stopover in Dubai was beneficial which highlighted the notion that cities vary between their history, functioning, sense of place and design which Dubai was an extreme contrast to Sheffield and Australia.  During the study tour, participating in the underground tour of the coal mine was interesting whilst relived the poor working conditions that the miners experienced since can be recorded.  Travelling three hours to the Port Sunlight village in the western district of England was worthwhile where the late 19th century master-planned village was unique in many ways to the wider world.  Exploring Chatsworth House made my childhood fantasies become a reality where this expression of power and wealth since the 16thcentury was reminiscing England’s strong historical connection.  Having been located in Sheffield throughout the study tour was most beneficial.  This has allowed personal experience into the friendly English ‘Northerners’ ways of life.  Through the street life experience, dining, interaction and exploration of Sheffield, I can return to Australia with a thorough understanding of the northern English culture. 
This once in a lifetime opportunity would not have been possible without the extensive organisation of the tour which was mostly reflected each day. While the days were academically long, efficiency of time could have been improved where many field visits resulted in 10-15 minutes waiting for people.  Having said this, the field trips were the most beneficial aspect of the tour gaining practical understanding. 

Given my personal experience with the study tour, I am suggesting for future students to organise their luggage to have extra room for souvenirs.  While restricted luggage space can limit spending, there were plenty of opportunities to buy unique cultural items among the tour which I was limited to.  Meanwhile, the vital aspect of this trip was getting enough sleep which significantly influenced the learning experience and participation outcomes.  For light sleepers as myself, I would recommend bringing a sleep mask which would help with sleeping among those endured flights and adjusting to time zone differences to Australia. 

I will continue the next phase of my journey to travel beyond United Kingdom with positive memories from the study tour which have benefited my learning experience and will greatly assist with my travels and academic future.                                              
- Taila Maher -  Bachelor of Urban, Rural and Environmental Planning




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