Reflection

I arrived at this topic when I met Charlotte from the USA and we made a connection talking about how we both enjoy travelling. When having to link the narrative design to a topic of our choice, we wanted to focus on communication across time zones as we both know it can be tricky to stay in contact while abroad and when you return home. We both love travelling and have both experienced being a student studying abroad for at least 6 months. I believe that it was a good decision to pair up with Charlotte as we built a friendship and worked really well together bouncing off each others ideas and learning new things. The topic choice, I believe, was a good choice as we both have experience in this area and we were able to find people to interview easily through our university connections. Our goals for the assessment were to achieve a final result that allowed us to show that communication across different time zones can present itself with challenges, although not always necessary.

Our research is based off primary research that we gathered ourselves. As this was a narrative story project, we found it best not to use many other resources besides our own. Although to help us with our digital story telling foundation, we referred to the Nick Couldry article to help us conduct our assessment. We organised interviews with 4 students that are studying abroad at UOW with very different stories and backgrounds. The research method of interviews was a positive aspect of the project as we were able to create a video adding another platform to our digital project. The one struggle we had during the planning stage was ensuring it stayed within the requirements of media relativism. Once we had worked out the basis of our research, we had many ideas and struggled to decide what was going to be the strongest points to our narrative story. My background of studying and working overseas influenced what I thought was going to be the end result. From my experience I was expecting that once overseas, students didn’t keep in contact with home very much, if at all, and once returning it was hard to stay in contact as students adjusted back to their old lives. The project was produced on the platform, WordPress, with a video element showing an edited version of our interviews. While I wish that we were able to be a bit more creative with our presentation, the blog was what we felt comfortable doing. Adding in the video element was a fun learning experience for the both of us as we learnt the basic editing skills and were able to expand the project onto another platform of media presentation. Presenting this assessment, I personally would have presented our findings on a different platform such as a video, although I am happy with our results  of the final project for the subject, Media, Audience and Place.  The introduction is at the bottom of the page, thus meaning you need to work backwards for the narrative story and was justified as it is a series of blog post for the effect.

Having the background knowledge of studying abroad and Charlotte being connected to many international students at iHouse, we were able to easily relate to the topic with our background knowledge. This assessment as been a huge learning curve for me as managing multiple assignments and other commitments outside of university has allowed me to focus on my time management skills and how to approach assessments before the deadline. Learning about iMovie was also a new stepping stone for me. I had used the program before, but about 6 years ago, so I was not updated with the technology. It took a lot of clicking and playing with the program before working out how to effectively use the program and complete editing before the date that Charlotte and I set for ourselves.

The research with the international students that we conducted was the highlight of my experience working on this project as I got to implement the ethics that I learnt from BCM210 into this assignment (as well as making new friends). I created a Participation information sheet which students read and signed before we started the filming process. It informed the students that they were a part of academic research, that they would be filmed for academic purposes and that they could remove themselves from the project at any time with no questions asked.

This research can be used in future for students that are considering studying abroad. It can also be useful for individuals that are looking for secondary research based off personal experiences. The research shows that as time goes on for the student abroad they are more settled with their new life, thus they make less contact with friends and family at home. Time zones can not be deemed as a problem unless there is an emergency they needed to contact home for. Research also showed that the students were able to get live updates with friends via Facebook and Snapchat which allowed them to talk less, but still stay updated. The geographical distance made a huge impact on how often they would make contact across time zones but the apps made it so easy for any given time.

Overall, I am satisfied with the presentation of the narrative project and it has helped me develop confidence, video editing skills and a more professional outlook. Charlotte and I worked well as a team overcoming differences with ideas to find a common ground while exploring new ways to go about things. I could not have asked for a better International student to work with on this project.

 

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Larger Time Differences Mean More Sporadic Communication

Through talking to students about their experiences communicating across time zones, we found that people don’t usually have a big problem with the time zones. Generally technology provides people with a way to connect to family and friends outside of Australia. People found that connecting to people overseas was very relaxed and that they were able to reply whenever they have the time, even if it’s not instantly, thanks to social media, allowing them to pick up conversations where they left off. However, if people were put into a situation where they needed to contact home immediately, they have found this difficult due to time differences.

We found that the greater the physical geographical distance, and therefore time difference, the less consistent communication that people had with family and friends back home. The people who contact friends and family in America all discussed the fact that their communication is much more sporadic, as in they respond to messages and Snapchats on their on time when they wake up and see them. Multiple people that we interviewed mentioned the convenience of using Snapchat, as it allows them to follow their friends days and lives through their Snapchat stories. Overall, communication to home and friends abroad lessens as time goes on, regardless of the geographical space, because students become more comfortable and confident in their own environment and establish a way of life. Students can be more relaxed about their communication since technology and social media has made it extremely easy to communicate across time zones at almost any given time.

Why Look At Communication Across Time Zone?

When we realized that we both had studied abroad, Charlotte and I began talking and found ourselves comparing and contrasting our experiences. Since we were in our BCM 240: Media, Audience, Place class, our conversation began to focus on our communication while abroad and how media shaped our experiences abroad in a way that is different to what they would have been even just a few years ago. Therefore, when it came time to decide on the topic for our final project for BCM 240, we decided to look deeper into our own as well as other people’s experiences with communication across time zones, either while abroad or while communicating with friends that they met when those friends were abroad. Through a series of blog posts beginning with this one, we created a compilation of people’s experiences with media and communication across the world to create a story that shows how communication changes while people are abroad and once they return home from being abroad. We interviewed a variety of people from four different countries with varying backgrounds and levels of communication that bring together their individual stories and experiences into one narrative of comparing and contrasting experiences.