Around the world in 80 snaps: Some of the entries in MacAbroad's student exchange photo competition.
Around the world in 80 snaps: Some of the entries in MacAbroad's student exchange photo competition.

World explorers welcomed home

Amanda Hough, Manager of Student Mobility Programs, recently joined Macquarie Abroad and Department of International Studies staff at a special function to welcome home students returning from exchange. Here she reflects on the night’s ‘electric vibe’.

On the 3 March, Macquarie Abroad hosted a welcome back function for students who have recently returned from their exchange programs.

The night began with ice-breaker bingo, followed by speed friendship facilitated by the MacAbroad team. The vibe was electric and they took to it like ducks to water, showing off the skills and confidence gained while studying abroad. Surrounded by people they didn’t know, they clearly felt comfortable speaking to people they just met (fortunately, they did have a lot of exchange stories to talk about!)

MacAbroad presented on a range of topics including the effects of reverse culture shock – the natural feelings of boredom, restlessness, alienation, and the inability to apply new knowledge and skills. We discussed how to combat these feelings through sharing experiences with others, maintaining a lifestyle and staying ‘international’, with their fingers on the pulse and staying connected with their newly established networks. Many returned students had already signed up for the Buddies program and the MACex student group, which is a great way for them to stay engaged back on campus.

In our ‘Experience + Reflection = Learning’ session, we encouraged our returnees to reflect on their experiences, and in a segment on professional development we trained them in turning travel stories into career stories. The students were also encouraged to attend the upcoming ‘Leveraging your travel experience’ workshop we have created in conjunction with the Career and Employment Service.

Applied finance and economics student Patrick Gonzales, who spent a New Colombo Plan semester at Hong Kong University, and completed an NAB internship in Hong Kong had this to say about his exchange experience:

“The internship was a great opportunity to learn practical skills that aren’t taught in the classroom. It was my first role in an office and I gained valuable office experience. NAB also advised me to think of ‘what’s next’ in a career sense, which I hadn’t thought too much about before.”

Our awe-inspiring photo competition was a highlight of the evening, with prizes for categories including landscape/landmarks, campus pride, food glorious food and new experiences.

We wrapped the evening up with networking and pizza, before students were greeted by current inbound exchange students, to discuss studying overseas and provide advice to the ‘inbounders’ about life at Macquarie.

A HUGE thanks to the Macquarie Abroad team: Simon Tran, Sarah O’Reilly, Charlotte Cox, Stephanie Hickman, Eunice Fung, and Vince Bruin (Department of International Studies advisor), who helped make the event so successful.

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