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.

Home Doesn’t Feel Like Home

Since returning home from The Netherlands and my other travels and having met amazing people, it has been hard to stay in contact. It was easy at first, we both would make time to chat and also be missing each other, but as time went on, our lives continued and we became so busy that it was months between conversations, and even then, the time zones were hard to deal with because you would be going to bed as they were waking up, so between my sleepy eyes and their tired waking eyes, it was hard to hold a conversation.

Relationships defiantly changed, I didn’t have the same friendship group when I returned to high school for my senior year, the connections I thought I made with my friends back home while I was away weren’t what they seemed. I had changed, I grew up, matured, while some friends seemed to still be immature and stuck in their own world. It was frustrating, all I wanted to do was spend time with friends, or have a decent conversation while I struggled with being home, but I couldn’t. This struggle made me connect with friends from overseas more. In this sense, I made other friends and connected with other people, which allowed me to open up.

I’ve been home for about 5 years now from the Netherlands, and I still speak to my host family. Very rarely, but we still catch up from time to time. My friends from the Netherlands don’t contact me much, but I always see what they are up to on Facebook, so it’s nice to a degree to still have those connections.

I’ve been back from the States for a couple of months now and I keep in contact with some my colleagues on a monthly/odd basis. Facebook and Snapchat keeps me updated with what people are up to, so there isn’t much to talk about when you do strike a conversation. When I head back to the States I know relationships will definitely have changed. One friend has had a baby since I left, I love Facebook and Instagram for this reason – being able to see pictures.

I think it’s clear to see that communication across time zones is difficult for some as they have to adjust to time differences when contacting friends and family from home. From experience relationships will always change because as you travel and experience different things from around the world, the people you left behind stay the same.

Click here to see Charlotte’s hopes of communicating with friends from abroad after returning home.

Communication Troubles From The Other Side of the World

I remember the day I got an e-mail from my Student Exchange Coordinators saying that I had been placed with a family in the city of Eindhoven (The Netherlands) and that I was going to be a part of this family with a mum, dad and younger brother and younger sister. I was super excited because I am the youngest here in Australia and I have ALWAYS wanted to be the oldest!

I e-mailed them as soon as I had the chance and we made a few international phone calls as well to get to know each other. After that, we skyped about 2 times before I disembarked from Australia to the Netherlands when I was 15. I had a stopover in Dubai and all I remember is walking through the terminals walking past guards, fully clothed with big guns for protection, this was the first time I was exposed to anything like this, so I quickly moved along to find my gate, sat down and got comfortable with my Harry Potter book while I called mum explaining that I was starving but too scared to walk anywhere!family

When I landed in the Netherlands, I was scared to go through customs so I chose to go through a different gate which then impacted the fact that I walked straight past my host family that came to pick me up! I tried calling them, but my phone wasn’t working, so I curled up,  sat down next to the information desk waiting for someone to come and claim me. Once all the drama of ‘lost Sam’ was sorted, I was on my way to where I called home for the next 5 months. I skyped mum as soon as I was there letting her know that I was safe and sound and I was off exploring town with my new brother and sister.

The first few months, keeping in contact with family and friends was hard – adjusting to time zones, my new school and learning a new language. Communication was always over Facebook, WhatsApp or Skype which was easy and convenient especially when I had a terrible Nokia phone that didn’t want to pick up any signal in the foreign country and no laptop besides the family computer which was limited when all 5 of us needed to use it!

Click here to see Charlotte’s initial experience communicating while abroad.

BCM240 Project Proposal

Getting ideas for a research project is not easy unless you get talking and researching and thinking about what you have previously done.

In my subject BCM210 last semester I conducted research to do with Studying Abroad and how student experiences can be both positive and negative during and also upon their return. As I have completed lots of research previously on studying abroad and student exchange, I wish to continue this study.

While learning about students in my tutorial I discovered that there was a student (Charlotte) from the USA that lives very close to where I was based over in the states working on summer camps as a soccer coach. We soon connected to build a working friendship which has allowed us to pair up for Task 3 researching studying abroad and how students can get the most out of their experiences while studying abroad. We want to look at the geographics of how students connect and engage with others while on exchange and how they connect with friends and family back home. Charlotte and I have spent lots of time brainstorming, creating and scratching many ideas to present and expand our research. Charlotte and I will collaborate together while gathering primary and secondary research and information from other exchange students at UOW as well as online.

From discussing our strengths and weaknesses, we will be presenting our information via wordpress with a category allowing you to select what type of section you would like to read into about exchange.

We hope to blog on the following topics expand our own and others knowledge of studying abroad: How we use media to deal with the geographical space between home and our host country. This proposal lead to multiple sub blog posts topics that we can research into and talk about with students. They are;

  • How you deal with time zones
  • How do you connect to home (social media, Skype, different apps and apps that do/don’t work)-link to descriptions/videos of how apps work
  • Who you contact and how relationships have changed

 

As well as these topics we will also include posts about our own experiences and find academic articles to help with expressing these views. Being able to talk to other students as well that are currently on exchange will help with the research, thus we will endeavour to get some thoughts from other students dealing with the emotions of it all.

Interviews will be conducted and recorded which would allow for Charlotte and I to reflect back on these while producing our work. It should be considered that we could do a film recording for one of our blogs as this is another platform that would be very useful in sharing the experiences of students. This still needs to be discussed.

Sharing these experiences will help students dealing with any problems they may be experiencing also which we should be conscious of although I feel that this is going to be a positive learning experience for Charlotte and myself along with the students involved.