Well I thought I'd write my first blog entry before I left - just to let everyone know that planning for an exchange is quite a challenge. I don't know what the actual exchange will be like, but I can tell you all what happens in the months leading up to exchange. I'm leaving next Friday - and I'm going through periods of excitement in anticipation of what might happen on exchange, and periods of desperation as I go through all the possible things that could go wrong (and there are many things you'll hear about if you go on exchange - refused immigration entry, mangled enrolments, horror accomodation, ruined clothes "because I never did the washing at home" are just some of the prospects facing exchange students).
Anyway, I thought University of Sydney people might be interested in how to apply - the first step is to go to the exchange office and say hello. The next step is to get all the forms, and then wonder how you'll get through them all. There are two referee forms - so you have to find someone who a) knows you, b) is likely to write something positive about you. a and b don't have to go together - so asking the lecturer who kicked you out because you were flying paper planes in the lecture theatre may not be the best idea. There are also some subject approval forms - this involves looking up the exchange university's course catalogue, finding the courses you want to do, printing out the descriptions and taking them to the relevant department and getting the form signed. There are some other forms, but they're the main ones.
I think next time I'll write about what happens after the exchange office nominates you - but apparently one part of preparation is to take some Australian things overseas for any friends you might make. If you apply for exchange you'll have many predeparture talks - people who've been on exchange come and tell you their mistakes and stories - and most of them recommended taking some Australian souvenirs. I thought long and hard about something distinctly Australian that wasn't from that souvenir shop on George street, which has chinese writing in the store sign. I'm not sure if that souvenir shop with chinese writing on it epitomises Australia - i suppose you could make an argument for it - but sadly, I ended up in that store. And I bought soft toys. Here's a picture of them - Wally the Wombat, Kerry the Kangaroo, and Keith the Koala. Heard of those names? Of course not, because I made them up - I thought it'd help your imagination along if I gave them names.
Wally: So why do you two get all the attention? No one ever looks at me. Sometimes I feel so down.
Kerry: Well it's obvious - you're short, fat, plain and boring. Why would people look at you? I don't even want to look at you - in fact I might just go now because you're obstructing my vision.
Keith: Shutup Kerry! Can't you see Wally is down - who'd kick a wombat when they're at their lowest point?
(Keith runs over and kicks Wally)
Kerry: High Five Keith! I thought you'd gone soft on the wombats for a second there.
Keith: I wouldn't do that Kerry! Who knows why wombats are here - they're good for nothing - I'm cute and cuddly and you're strange so people like you. Wombats? Nothing.
Kerry: Was that a back-handed insult? Are there even such things as backhanded insults? I know there are backhanded compliments...
Wally: You're both stupid, arrogant jerks! Take this Kerry!
(Wally charges at Kerry, knocks him over and then jumps on him)
I know you'll be waiting with bated breath for the next instalment of Wally's Fight for Equal Admiration.