By Jessica Milsome
As part of the Border Crossings Project, JCU Bachelor of Multimedia Journalism student Lachlan Williams is on exchange in Poland, where he’s studying with other students from around the world.
A partnership between JCU and seven other universities, the Border Crossings Project gives eight JCU undergraduate students the opportunity to study in Europe for one semester.
The exchange project brings together students and staff from four Australian and four European universities.
Professor Robbie Robertson, Head of the School of Arts and Social Sciences at JCU, doubles as a coordinator of the Border Crossings Project and said the joint European Union and Australian Government project aims to facilitate the exchange of expertise in cross-cultural communication, languages, international relations, history, developmental studies, politics, conflict studies and law.
“The program provides students studying Arts and Social Sciences the opportunity to study for five months at one of four European universities: Malmö (Sweden), Utrecht (Netherlands), Jagiellonian (Krakow, Poland), and Roma Tre (Rome, Italy),” Professor Robertson said.
“There they can study four subjects that will be credited to their degree at JCU and undertake cultural immersion through a short placement.”
Students selected for the program receive generous funding towards airfare and accommodation/living expenses from the European Union and the Australian Government, who have formed a partnership for this unique project.
“It’s a great opportunity to broaden one's horizons, travel, and meet new people,” Professor Robertson said.
JCNN’s own Lachlan Williams caught up with fellow journalism student Jessica Milsome to tell her about his once-in-a-lifetime trip to Poland as part of the exchange project.
JCNN: How did you hear about the Border Crossings project?
Lachlan: I befriended a Polish student who had come to Townsville on the Border Crossings exchange. I was told the exchange was short of numbers so I should apply.
JCNN: Why do you want to go on exchange in Poland?
Lachlan: I’m 20 and in my final semester of Journalism. This opportunity is important to me because it’s giving me the chance to experience what else the world has to offer. I’ve lived in Australia for 20 years, so I feel like I’ve ‘done’ Australia. This exchange will show me how the world works.
JCNN: What do you think you'll get out of the experience?
Lachlan: I will be studying the Polish language, history, culture, religion, economics and more on the exchange so I hope to immerse myself in Poland as much as possible. Overall, all I hope to achieve an understanding of ‘alien’ cultures and ways of life and incorporate them into my own repertoire. I’m not going to Rome to see the Coliseum. I’m going to cafes and bars to meet locals and find out how they live.
JCNN: How long will you be away?
Lachlan: The semester begins 1 October, but I’m going two months beforehand to travel Europe and settle into Krakow, Poland.
JCNN: Why Poland?
Lachlan: Compared to the other three countries (Sweden, The Netherlands, Italy), Poland has the cheapest cost of living. For example, rent in Poland is about 300 zloty (pronounced zwoty and literally means ‘golden’ in Polish) per month, which equates to $100 Australian dollars. While in Europe, I’m planning to see Spain, Italy, the Slavic region, Greece, France, Hungary and Germany. There is a map of Europe stuck on my wall. On my list so far are the Slovakian Tatra Mountains, the architecture of Barcelona, Europe’s last natural forest in Puszcza Bialowieska and dog sledding through Sweden. If anyone has any more suggestions of places to visit, please leave a comment below!
JCNN: Have you done much travelling before?
Lachlan: I went to Japan last year on a cultural exchange through the Australian and Japanese governments. I was able to experience the elegance of Japan’s most prestigious professors, the devastation of the March 11 tsunami and earthquake and the raunchiness of Japanese karaoke and nightlife. I can speak Japanese so I didn’t have as many barriers to cross as I will this exchange.
JCNN: How do you think this will benefit your studies and employment prospects?
Lachlan: Part of the program is 30 hours of intern work of your choice. In Krakow, Poland’s Melbourne, there is an English language newspaper called The Krakow Post. I’m interning there to further my Journalism studies and experience and couldn’t be more excited. I can’t wait to see how Polish journalism differs from Australian journalism. It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m determined to get some work published while I’m there.
JCNN: What does the program do to help you both before and during the trip?
Lachlan: I receive $1700 worth of flights, $1500 per month and health insurance from the Australian Government and James Cook University. The university (Jagellonian University) is helping me find accommodation in the city. When I arrive, I’ll be buddied up with a university student to show me the ropes of Poland and give me a hand, wherever needed. I’m looking forward to introducing Poland to a bit of Aussie-ness and enticing them to give us a visit.