Snow, snow and more bloody snow!
05.01.2010 - 06.01.2010 -5 °C
I've wanted to go overseas for a very long time. As the youngest member of my family, I have watched everybody except for me go overseas to Europe. My sister and her then boyfriend Gary went in 2002, Joseph (my brother) went for two years from 2006-2008, and even Mum and Dad went in 2007. Somehow I always knew that in 2010, I would be going too.
My dream job is to be a freelance/investigative Journalist who travels the world for stories. I've been at university for three years now and my ambitions have not changed. Even though I was left a tad disappointed after my week of Work Placement at the Geelong Advertiser last year, that hasnt dismayed me in going for my dreams. I find that when I set my mind to something, I succeed. Let us hope that it's the same with Journalism.
I first heard about the Student Exchange program in my first year at Deakin University in 2008. I had an interview with the people organising it, started to get my paperwork together, was in the application process, when I thought to myself - I can't do this. I won't get accepted. And so I left it at that and gave that dream up.
In 2009, I overheard a girl in my Journalism class (Alexandra Ashcroft) and her twin sister brag to their friends about applying to study at "Oxford University". I thought to myself - how the hell can two bimbo's like the Ashcroft sisters get accepted into the most prestigious universities in the world? Later on that day I sat in my Literature lecture and thought - you know what, I'm going to try for this - I'm actually going to apply to be an exchange student in London, England. If the twins can do it, why can't I? Even if they say no, at least I know I tried.
So I did what was asked of me - selected two universities (Roehampton University and Oxford Brookes University - which was the same "Oxford" the twins mentioned), did as much research as I could for the Journalism subjects they offered (as prestigious as Oxford Brookes was, they didn't offer the right Journalism subjects for me) but Roehampton did. I found plenty of subjects for me there and I quickly got my study plans signed off by teachers and enrolment officers, got an academic reference from my old Journalism tutor and handed in my completed exchange application form to Deakin. The hard part was over right? WRONG.
It was an extremely long wait until Deakin accepted me into the program - I thought I was definately going. But next up was completing the exchange application form for Roehampton and attending a compulsory pre-departure session. It was almost like deja-vu - getting yet another academic reference (which the stupid woman didn't sign), blindly selecting subjects I liked and being told I was doing the right thing (simply listing all the subjects I liked and when it came down to it, selecting three or four to do - and assuming Roehampton knew I had to do two Journalism subjects overseas in order to get my Journalism major when I graduate in 2011) - Deakin didn't say a damn thing about my form once completed - so I assumed it was all good.
So I sent in the application and waited an awfully long time till I got a reply - and in November an email was sent from Clare Burke that I had been accepted - I was over the moon! And because I was due to start in January, I had a lot of planning to do.
I had to book a return flight, find accommodation on-campus, get a passport, student visa, travel/health insurance, a Travelex ATM card (the only way I'll be able to spend money overseas) and I had to save an awful lot of money.
Once all of the above was sorted (after a cancelled flight that had three stop overs including the USA for some reason) I started getting emails from Clare telling me about the university. There was a bit of a concern with them not knowing I had to do Journalism (and ALOT of abusive emails and phone calls from my end), I was all organised. The only thing that remained was if I would come back home with a job.
After being told I could take six months unpaid leave and still work at Safeway in June 2010, I was told last minute (a week before my departure) I had to resign and re-apply - because six months is an awfully long time and apparently the maximum unpaid leave you can take is three months. Because I wanted my last last week in Australia to be memorable, I decided to call in sick for two days during the week (Tuesday and Wednesday) and go to Torquay for a couple nights with my friends - Sarah Buller was housesitting and I needed to have some downtime. So I called in sick, got a phone call when I was driving to Torquay with Sam Butkovic from my store manager Joanna Lee, asking why I called in sick. The stupid b**** didn't believe me clearly and supposedly was overheard saying not to rehire me if I decide to apply for a job in June - all because I rand up a few days earlier to ask how much sick leave I had - I am entitled to it and so have every right to take it.
Torquay was awesome, came back early NYE so I could see Mum and Dad, had the worst NYE in the city - never doing it again. But NYD at Summedayze was f****** awesome. I'm so happy I went.
Before I knew it I had said goodbye to my job at Safeway for the last five years, said goodbye to my friends, my family, my home. Was I really doing this? Leaving home for half a year?
The airport was so sad - I didn't want to let go of Mum and Dad - I love them so much it killed me to leave them. But I had to do this - I had to go out on my own and experience life for myself. Walking into customs was hard, crying like a baby, not sure what to do, where to go. Customs was easy enough - only had a short walk to the terminal. I left Melbourne, Australia at 11:55pm going to Doha, Qatar on Qatar Airways. The longest flight of my life - 14 hours - then a short stop over at Doha, then an 8 hour flight to London Heathrow.
The first flight was horrible - flying with an ear infection isn't the best - food was crap, smell was crap, didn't have enough leg room to sleep at all for 14 hours, Sure I had TV, movies, music - but I was so tired! I was almost relieved when we arrived at Doha at 6:35am Wednesday morning - the Doha International Airport is a hole - can't believe I'm stuck there for nearly eight hours in June! There is nothing to do - no phone reception, no wireless internet connection - NOTHING!! Thank god I wasn't there for long.
Left Doha at 7:35am, the flight to Heathrow was only eight hours - still couldn't sleep - but I was almost there. When we arrived in London at 12:30pm, there was a big snow storm forcing us to stay on board till 1:00pm. I was excited to see snow at first, but I soon got sick of it.
Once I was in Heathrow Airport, I had to wait in a long queue at the Border Security gate, so they could see and stamp my visa. When I was there I was sweating profusely (I was wearing five layers of clothing) and also freaking out that I had forgotten my offer letter from Roehampton at home - thank god they didn't ask for it. After Borders, I went to get my luggage and then find out where the London Underground Tube station was - I needed to get to Roehampton.
I found the platform, waited three minutes for the train and took the Tube to Hammersmith Station, and then I took a bus to Roehampton Lane and my new home for the next six months. I got off the bus a little early, walked through the snow with my big backpack and suitcase until I saw Roehampton University.
I walked up to the security office at the gate and asked where I go. The guard asked for my offer letter but I didn't have it (again I freaked out). In the end they told me to go to the Welcome Centre and they would help me. I went there, and because of the freak snowstorm, they closed early! So there I am wandering the grounds in FREEZING weather until I spot the LIbrary.
I go to the LIbrary and ask them to call security. The same smartass guy comes and takes me to my room without giving me a key and tells me to try and stay inside. I unpack, knock on a girl named Marta's door to ask where the bathroom is, take a shower and got in touch with Grace Gugger, my fellow student from Deakin Uni and who was two floors up. We needed food - badly! I left my room unlocked and went for a quick wander around the grounds (7pm it was - Grace went to bed) to look for a cafe - all shut. So I made my way back to my room only to be left locked out - the door of my floor was locked even though my room was unlocked. So I went to Security to tell them to let me in and the guy would send someone ASAP. Waited 15 minutes and nobody came. Went back to security, there's a different guy there now and he tells me to go to the library and wait for the security guards and ask them to let me in. Went there and who do I see but bloody Neville (the smartass) and he tells me to wait, not answering my question as to how long he'll be. I go back and wait half an hour - Neville is not coming - even though I see him locking up other buildings. Eventually, a girl named Emily Lamb is moving back in and she kindly lets me in - I could've been a freak for all she knows - and FINALLY I got some 16 hours of sleep. Day 1 Complete..