An exchange is a place you go to to give the person sitting behind the bullet-proof glass pieces of paper of some value that you possess in exchange for new and different pieces of paper of value that will be more useful to you in the time to come.
You might be confused as to what I’m rambling on about, but I feel that this is a good analogy for my exchange over the past 6.5 weeks. I have flown here to the beautiful Kingdom to offer what I have, and in return, have received so much more (I think I got the better end of this deal).
Over the past 6.5 weeks, I have been putting my 2 cents in to several different departments at Durham University, on a number of different and interesting projects. I created surveys for Experience Durham to help evaluate the staff volunteering and post-graduate volunteering programs, and compiled a report on the findings of the barriers people were experiencing with these volunteering programs. I also worked with the Careers Centre, researching and writing spotlight articles on the top inclusive employers in the UK, helping to create a disability guide for the centre, and heartlessly listing out areas of improvement for the centre’s diversity and equity website. In addition, I have also hiked down to St John’s College to conduct an accessibility audit of the college, as well as to deliver an interactive workshop to increase the understanding of disability amongst the 25 staff members and students who succumbed to the bribery of a free lunch.
In return, I have received way more than2 cents back from Durham. I have learnt quite a bit about the UK and its culture through my work and research, and through the 3-hour office chats with my fellow colleagues. I have gained much valuable work experience, grown my work skills and built my confidence in them. I’ve also been taught the love of cheese and crackers, and now always appreciate a cup of tea with good English biscuits. Not only that, I’ve also learnt so many interesting things about countries all over the world through all the whacky people I’ve met at Ustinov college. It has been amazing being able to meet and talk to people from places I would never have imagined being able to meet. And lastly, I have collected so many unforgettable experiences through my weekend gallivants around the Kingdom and Ireland.
Sadly, there seems to be a rule dictating that all good things must come to an end. I become attached to places and people quite easily; and the friendliness of everyone I’ve worked with and met here, the (unusually) sunny fields and fairy-tale-like woodlands that surround these cobblestone streets and old stone buildings, and the amazing accents make it absolutely heart-breaking to have to leave. Though I will be soon gone, I promise that there will always be part of me here in beautiful Durham.