Tag Archives: Placement

Towards The End of Placement

Almost a year on, and Placement is coming to an end… 🙁

I can definitively say it has been one of the best years of my life, and has really been a highlight of University so far. And to think I was questioning what the fuss about a Placement Year was all about!!!

Doing a Placement abroad can be very costly, depending on where you complete yours, but also on whether you’re working, or studying. However, it can also be relatively cheap, if you’re careful with your spending. I would not want any student, who has their heart set on doing a placement abroad, to be put off by the financial aspect that is involved. There are many forms of financial support available to students, primarily Student Finance, but also scholarships, and help from Aston. See what you are eligible for, and apply! These services are in place to help you, so utilise them. If ever in doubt about anything, just make an appointment to see the Careers + Placement Team, and air any concerns, or queries that you may have. They are very helpful, and will ensure that you are supported as much as possible.

As you start your Placement journey, do not forget to stay in touch will your friends from Aston, as you, or they, may be feeling a little homesick, and might want to speak to a familiar face. No one’s Placement goes smoothly for the whole year, but if yours is going well at the start, just remember that your friend’s might not be going as well, especially if they are working, as this could prove to be more difficult – physically, and mentally – than studying. So, just keep some sort of regular contact, so that you can exchange stories, and experiences of what has gone on so far.

Of course, they might not need any support, as their Placement could be going great. In fact, some of my friends are staying abroad for another month, or two, even after there Placement has ended, as they have enjoyed it so much.

loving madrid thus far!

Keep in touch with your family, so that they know that you are enjoying the experience of a Placement, but also to put their nerves at ease. Moving out, or living abroad can be stressful for you, but also for your family members, as they will be worrying about you non-stop. Whenever you get the opportunity, just allay their fears, so that they know that they do not have to worry about you so much. Although, if you are not enjoying any aspect of staying away from home, or living abroad, then let your family know, as there is always a solution.

Whilst on Placement, ensure that you keep on top of all your paperwork e.g. Erasmus forms, as problems with those documents will only add more headaches to your already hectic life! If ever unsure, just drop the Aston team an email. Personally, with my Placement coming to an end, I have reflected on the past year, and am so happy that I took this route. I know it will not be for everyone, but if you believe you could see yourself studying abroad, in an international environment, meeting people from all over the world, who will become lifelong friends, then do your research, and if you’re still interested – APPLY!!!

see you soon!

Till next time!

Mastering Madrid.

Greetings from Madrid!

I have now been studying here for roughly two and a half months, and have loved every bit of it. This post will mainly focus on what Madrid has to offer, so anyone aspiring to do their placement here, can receive a few hints, and tips of what might be in store for them. I will also briefly touch upon the finances of studying, and living abroad, as this is a big factor in the decision-making for most people, myself included.

Where to begin?! The University life here is somewhat similar to that of Aston, however, I found that there are some differences, mainly in the way you are examined, and in the way some of the courses are organised. First, and foremost, I got to choose my own modules here, something that you do not get the chance to do until final year, if you’re a joint-honours ABS, and LSS student like myself. This is something I feel is a benefit, as you are given more autonomy, and can focus on a field that you enjoy, or are good at, or both! At UC3M, which is the University I am studying at, there is a big emphasis on continuous evaluation, and mid-term tests. This is something we do not really encounter at Aston, but I have found that they are really not that bad, and can work out in your favour, as there is then less stress on you for the final exam.

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The social life is great, and there is so much to do. The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) team here are really helpful, and arrange some great events. You should sign up for the ESN card, it’s only €5, and it great value for money. I would recommend everyone to take part in the early events, as it is a great way to get to know people, and to learn about Madrid, and all of it’s hotspots. The food is unbelievably cheap – especially compared to England! Madrid really is a sports-mad city, so for any football or basketball fans that are planning to study, or work here, they will not be disappointed.

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Generally, the city itself it relatively cheap. Accommodation is cheaper than the majority of anything that you will find in England. You can purchase a travel card, which is €20 a month for students, and with that, you can travel anywhere within the region of Madrid, on any mode of public transport. Flights back to the UK are also quite cheap, so you can return home, if you need to. So, for anyone that wants to do their placement abroad, but is put off by the expenses, should really look into it, as Madrid is relatively cheaper than most other European capital cities, and you will be guaranteed to have a great experience.

Thanks for reading!

May Your Placement Be Interesting…

Hi again,

So my time in Finland is coming to an end, and it feels that it has done so at the perfect time. I have really enjoyed it thus far, but no place beats home! For students thinking of pursuing a study placement abroad, I would definitely encourage them to do so, but I would like to point out that, there will be some aspects that you might not enjoy to begin with.

When I first arrived in Helsinki, I knew that the Business School I would be attending – Aalto – had a great reputation. This made me wonder how it would compare to Aston, and how difficult the work would be. As Aston, the top five grades you achieve on placement from the modules you choose over the two semesters, contribute 50% to your overall grade for your placement year (the other 50% being two assignments that Aston set you, but we’ll come to this later).

In my first week here, all the way back in September, I had a lecture for a module called ‘Corporate Finance’, finance being the area I want to work in once I graduate. So, I was looking forward to it, more so than any of my other classes. When that first lecture finished, the only thing I could think, was what have I gotten myself into?! To say the content was tricky, would be a grand understatement. It was covering areas that I had never even needed to touch upon at Aston. Before I arrived, I had felt that when it came to the fields of Finance/Accounting/Business, I would be able to do the work to a very good standard, once I applied myself. This lecture took it to a whole new level. I’m happy to say that once I started revising (which was the second I left the lecture after seeing that), I got to grips with the module, and got some good grades for the assignments.

This situation would lead me to tell all prospective students thinking of studying abroad, to really research the University that they will be attending. I later got chatting to a Finn, who said that Aalto Business School really takes their Finance courses seriously (no kidding!), and their degree in Finance is one of the best in the world. I would not want this to discourage anyone from studying abroad, but just make sure what you know what you’re letting yourself in for. Not all of the modules will be difficult, I have completed some courses that are actually quite easy compared to some of Aston’s courses, so it won’t be a one-way thing.

I think you’ll find when you first arrive, your placement will feel a lot like a holiday. I believe this goes for work, and study placements. You’ll have a lot time on your hands, and will be visiting the sites, landmarks etc. Make sure you do all of this, as your placement year is supposed to be fun, and enjoyable, as well as challenging. This brings me to your Aston assignments, for students studying abroad, they’re sort of like a journal, with personal aims, and goals you have set yourself before your placement begins. I would advise you to start these as soon as possible, while everything is still fresh in your mind.

To finish this entry of the Careers+Placement Blog, I would tell all Aston 2nd years to apply themselves as best they can, while on placement. Moreover, you won’t enjoy every single aspect of it, but it is up to you to make the best out of the situation. There will be times where you’ll be having great fun – cherish those moments, and there might be times where you’re wishing you did something else for your placement – these times will swiftly pass.

Good luck with your placement search.

Reece.

Have fun!

Have fun!

October trip to Malaga

This was one of the many long weekends we get off in España, I get about 14 days off during the year due to the ambiguous reasoning of ‘fiesta’. Any excuse for a day off in Spain!

My girlfriend and I Liz set off to Spain via Bla Bla car, a website that connects drivers with spare seats to passengers who want to make the same journey, you can book a seat and pay a fee. It’s dead cheap, we saved over a hundred pounds getting to Malaga, also it’s a good way to practice Spanish.

Whilst the spaniards were grabbing their coats in late October us Brits were still reaching for the sun lotion. Temperatures in October were as hot as 25 degrees in Malaga so we spent a fair bit of time on the Costa Del Sol beaches. We stayed at my Nan and her partner Mike’s lovely place in central Marbella, we were also accompanied by their dear Russian maltese terrier pup, Scruffy!

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This is a video I took of the tranquil Cabopino beach, my favourite beach, it also has a lovely Chiringuito (small restaurant) called Las Dunas, I recommend the Paella and Cinnamon rice pudding.

A lot of people have the assumption that Marbella is basically the Essex of Spain, lacking culture and appeal in comparison to places like Barcelona, Madrid, Seville and Valencia,  I feel that it’s unique charm as a city is often overlooked. We explored the narrow, whitewashed and picturesque Old town of Marbella, we observed practically the whole town in attendance at the Sunday mass and saw some Salvador Dali Sculptures on the way!

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Not to mention the food there was amazing!

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On a final note we visited Puerto Banús, which is a scenic port, stretch of bars, restaurants and designer shops. Full of big boats, big cars and big egos, a real spectacle of grandeur.

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What Would I Do Different?

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Hi guys! I’m Sophie and welcome to my first blog post 🙂

As an introduction I thought to give advice on what I would have done if I was to do the application process again, I know a lot of you will be at the time consuming stage of applying to as many relevant applications as possible!

There are so many things which I would have gone back and told myself when I began the process of applying for placements and I hope when I cover some of these in this blog, it helps you to avoid these same mistakes!

I study Business Computing and IT at Aston University (Year 3 Representative) and despite it working out well for me securing a placement in Vauxhall Motor’s IT department in Luton as a Business Intelligence Analyst, there are many things which I could think of which would have made my process easier to give me less stress.

Mistake: Last Minute Applications
I believe that I left applying for placements much too late. When I began second year, I didn’t start to look into placements as soon as I should have and this is what put me behind in the process. In my head I predicted I would have secured a placement by my summer exams, however I had to go to assessment centres through this exam period (which was hell), and this could have put my grades at jeopardy.

Solution: Plan Your Time
If I was to go back, I would plan my time and my studies out in the first term and make sure I set aside real study time to apply and research into placements. A lot of placements deadlines are before Christmas, and so it is essential that you would note down the deadlines of ones which you are interested in and complete these first. I also underestimated how time consuming the process of applying for placements is – it is literally like applying for a real job – you go through various stages which can take hours to complete. This can be a challenge when you need to juggle both coursework/revision and applying for placements so great time management is the main thing I would recommend for this process. Put specified time aside in your diary to apply to placements, you will thank yourself for this later.

Mistake: Limiting My Options
Before I secured my placement I was mainly looking on RateMyPlacement – the main website to search for placement and job opportunities, if you have not looked at this website, look now! (I inserted a hyperlink, I got you 😀 ). However, I found my placement external to RateMyPlacement and the only reason I found this was because another student who had secured a placement there told me to look at Vauxhall’s website.

Solution: Search Everywhere
I would recommend to search for placements on RateMyPlacement, but also on specific company’s websites which you are interested in working for as they may have opportunities for internships and placements of your interest – look at their ‘Careers’ section on their website. Even if the company you want to work for does not have placement opportunities readily available on their careers page, send them an email to inquire! What do you have to lose?

The process on a whole can be described as time consuming, frustrating but completely worth it. A placement year can help structure your career, I will write more posts about how General Motors and my experience has helped me finally decide what I want to do! So I would recommend to take the application process serious to guarantee you spend a year doing something you enjoy and will benefit you the most.

Good luck!

Sophie x

Goodbye Birmingham, Hello, um, Home?

So when I started applying for placements, I didn’t really think about the reality of it all. I knew I wanted to come back home, to save some money and be closer to my friends, boyfriend and family. Throughout my time at Aston, I’ve always struggled with homesickness, so this seemed like the obvious choice. The easy option; how hard could it be?
Well, the answer is quite. And now I’m homesick for Birmingham – here are the top 10 things I miss about my 2nd home and favourite city!

  1. Uber – this sounds like a strange one, but my town doesn’t have Uber, and every time I use a regular taxi I now complain about the fact it isn’t Uber. I miss its convenience and its safety and hoping soon that my town finds its way into the 21st century.
  2. New Street – I miss being connected. From my local station (which only has one line) I can get to either Birmingham or London. From New Street, I can get anywhere. I’ve had so many tearful goodbyes there and seen it rebuilt into the architectural beauty it is now.
  3. Shopping – alongside our beautiful station we also got some new shops to compliment The Bullring. Forgetting a birthday is never an issue when I have pretty much any shop I could ask for just a 10 minute walk away.
  4. Not needing a car – don’t get me wrong, having my own car is a lifesaver and I need it to get to and from my placement every day. But I really don’t like the fact I have to pay for it. I now 100% understand why people moan about paying for parking, the cost of petrol and rush hour. I also really miss walking everywhere!
  5. Independence – Living on my own for 2 years has made me so much more confident, and now that I live with my parents again there are certain things I really miss. As a family we’ve always tried to eat dinner together, but I do really miss cooking for myself and having whatever I like to eat. (But I’m so glad I can enjoy Mum’s roast dinners again!)
  6. Flatmates – I learnt a huge amount from my flatmates. I learnt so much about different cultures, religions and ways of life. I also learnt to negotiate who was taking out the bins out, a really useful life skill.
  7. Learning – As much as I’m learning skills on my placement, I’m not learning academically. I miss lectures that really made me think and want to do my own research.
  8. Concerts – Birmingham has a really good music venues, my home town has, well, none. Being able to go to gigs and concerts and not have to rush to catch the train home was one of the best things about living in a city.
  9. Friends – although I’m at home, and have my friends here, I also really miss all my friends I made at university. Some are also on placement and some have carried on into their final year, but I know I really have made some friends for life at Aston.
  10. Coming home – I miss getting excited to visit home. I miss packing a suitcase, trying to find a seat on the train and being picked up from the station. But now I get to be excited to go and visit Birmingham, my favourite city!

The end of an era: a year abroad in pictures

As the academic year draws to a close and I find myself with my feet placed well and truly back on British soil, it’s hard to believe that I’ve just spent a whole year abroad, on my own, and survived – who’d have thought?!

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survived!

So this blog post is going to be my final one for Aston’s Placement blog (cry cry), and I thought it’d be rather fitting to do it in pictures, rather than ramblings. Pictures are always more interesting!

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But firstly, I must highlight something quite important. If you’re thinking of undertaking a Year Abroad, there’s one rule I followed. I first set off on my year abroad over a year ago, not having the slightest inkling of what awaited me: lions? the jungle? Goodness knows! But I was only going to France and Spain! Having never lived in a foreign country before, I didn’t have a clue about how to feel. So I shut off the “feeling” part and just got on with it. I did this for the whole year and it worked. This is quite possibly the best advice I can offer. I’ve learnt not to overthink things as it’s not worth the time nor energy, this did wonders for my panic issues. Your family and friends will support you no matter what. Smile, make the most of the opportunity and get on with it – no looking back. Not everyone gets to do what you do, so please, for your own sake, make the most!

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I am honestly so thankful to Air France, because, without them, I wouldn’t have got to experience and live in the most beautiful city in France. I miss working for them, they were honestly some of the kindest and friendliest faces and I’ve learnt so much from spending 6 months with them. They did so much for me and I honestly can’t thank them enough. They taught me discipline and focus, and how to make my work exciting. My love for Toulouse is beyond words. Of course, there are ups and downs to every experience, but I feel blessed to have been able to live there.

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Toulouse is such a beautiful place and I loved living there. It’s a small city with a massive heart and it felt like home. Aside from my horrendous landlady, I had the best time there, and lived a carefree life (outside of work of course 😉 ).

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I got to take quite a few trips from there too because of its fabulous geographical location.

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Toulouse and Valencia, it’s been an absolute pleasure.

Be positive, be happy!

Amy

Final semester at SEK

The third and final semester of my placement here in Madrid has been eventful. A lot has been going on at school and I’ve done some exciting activities during this time. Work has been busy because the academic year is coming to an end so we’re having to sort out all the end of year grades, evaluations etc. The weather has drastically changed and we’re not in out high 20 degrees every single day – so nice! This is probably the one thing I will miss the most when I leave! ^^’

El Escorial – farm school : 27.04 – 29.04 

So, I got rewarded a two night three day school trip to the farm school back in May for my consistent hard work. My teacher and co-ordinator suggested this idea and I couldn’t have been happier. I was thankful and grateful that they managed to do this for me. I had such a great few days spending time with my teachers outside of the classroom! We had good food and spent the days laughing at the talking parrots ^^’ I’ll always be grateful for this reward because it showed that hard work really does pay off and it never goes unnoticed.

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Madrid Zoo Aquarium : May 2nd 

Since the weather was getting better, I decided to take a trip to Madrid’s zoo/aquarium! It was only 20 euros for entrance to both the zoo AND aquarium – bargain right?! It’s definitely worth a visit… we saw lots of animals, including BEARS!

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Madrid Open 2016 QF : 05.05

One of the highlights of my placement is watching Nadal play tennis live! I watched him play in the Madrid Open semi finals and it was amazing. The atmosphere was amazing! It’s such a shame that he lost in the semi finals but nevertheless, I still got to see him play 🙂 the stadium was very cool.

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Faunia : 26.05

Last Thursday, I went on yet another school trip to Faunia which was like a small zoo for children! My class are currently learning about animals so it was perfect for them to go and investigate about all the different animals that exist. This was my final school trip with my class and it was bitter sweet. I’ve been on 4 trips with these kids and I’ve loved every single one. Nothing beats seeing them smile so much when they’re away from the class ^^’

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As you can see, I’ve had quite a busy final semester… and I’ve been having such a great time! It’s sad to think that it’ll all be over in a matter of days!

Tiffany

 

 

 

 

 

A Day in the Life of My Placement

Before I write any more about the challenges and experiences of my time in Vietnam, I thought I’d give you all some more information on what I actually do on my placement.

I’m on a working placement in Danang, Vietnam as an IELTS instructor at VNUK, a new, Western-style University partnered with Aston,  and a day here is a lot different to a day as a university student.

6am: The Alarm goes off

The Vietnamese day starts a lot earlier than the British one, and I’m in work at 8am. (I’m never complaining about a 9am lecture again!)

7.45am: Coffee Time!

A Vietnamese coffee goes a long way to help me cope with such an early start. Stronger, sweeter and icier than the coffee I’m used to, I think I’m addicted.


8am: Work starts

After a quick moped ride, navigating the hectic streets of Da Nang, I get to the office at 8, check some emails and make some final preparations for that morning’s lesson.

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10am: Lesson time

I tutor university students in English and it’s my favourite time of day. Despite all the challenges (I’m sorry to all my teachers for ever talking in class- it’s so frustrating!) it’s really rewarding to be able to see students improve every week. My students are friendly, engaging and fun to spend time with, saying goodbye to them will be one of the hardest parts of leaving this placement.

11.30am A snack and a nap

We are given a nice long lunch, so after a trip to my favourite restaurant (I don’t even have to order any more, they just see me walk in and my food appears) I give myself a refreshing nap – it’s like I’m still at university really.

1pm: Back to work

After I’ve woken myself up I finish up my lesson plan for the afternoon and catch up with any marking I need to do.

3pm: English Club

Once a week we run an English club called Tea Time Talk. This offers a more relaxed environment where we get to teach students about life in Britain, and help them improve their English with informal conversation.

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5pm End of work – to the gym

Weekends are spent on the beach, which means weekdays are spent at the gym, and who wouldn’t want to work out to Vietnamese dance music next to a woman wearing denim shorts with no air conditioning?

7pm: Grab some street food

The best way to dine in Vietnam! Sitting on chairs that are way too small, eating delicious food of slightly dubious origin, drinking a cold beer and watching city life pass you by. This is the life.

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I hope this gives a bit of an insight into how I spend my days here, after 6 months here (where did that time go??) I’m now used to all the subtle differences that working life in Asia offers. I don’t even look twice at the sight of a moped with 5 people on it and torrential downpours are really no biggie. And with a schedule like this, I have really been able to focus on refining my napping skills!

Thanks for reading!

Surprising Things I had to Adjust to after Moving to Vietnam for Placement

So there are some things you expect when you move to a developing country, and some things that take a little more adjustment. After six months on placement here, here are some of the things I’ve had to get used to since moving to Vietnam.

1.  You’re going to be sweaty. A lot. Like 95% of the time.

Now I knew it would be hot, especially coming from the UK, but summer in Asia is another level. I’ve now embraced the fact that living in a hot country means my sweat glands will be working overtime. When January lows don’t go below 25 there is no getting around it.

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This isn’t sweat but it may as well be

2. Your new fragrance is Eu Du Deet

In the west we are endlessly warned of the dangers of Malaria in hot countries, so when visiting or moving to Asia, it’s likely you aren’t going to be stingy with the insect repellent, and that stuff isn’t fragrance free. Although it isn’t a bad smell, it takes a little acquainting to the fact that that is what you will always smell like.

3. Ever wondered what it is like to be famous? Now I know!

I stick out in Da Nang. It may be different in places more popular with tourists, but my pasty skin means I get noticed. I’m now so used to being stared at that it no longer registers. I do still find it weird when people ask for pictures with me though. Paparazzi Please.

4. The sound of car horns

I thought the noise adjustment I made when I moved from the countryside to Birmingham was big, but nothing could have prepared me for the commotion that was an Asian city. The Vietnamese, it would appear, are very fond of their car and bike horns. I’m so used to it by now that I have no problem falling asleep to it, which is just as well.

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Beep Beep

5. You question whether rats  or cockroaches are really that big a deal

Seeing a rat in a restaurant in the UK may mark its closure, but I’ve seen rats and roaches  in almost every eatery I’ve dined in. It freaked me out at first, but I’ve not been sick yet so… Plus we’ve all seen Ratatouille.

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Is there something scurrying behind me?

6. Searching Out Home comforts can be tricky

Living in a big city, I had assumed that it would be fairly easy to locate a few western comforts. I was wrong. Every few weeks we engage in a city-wide treasure hunt that involves advice from colleagues, Google Translate, some bad miming and compromise, all for a good cup of tea, or spinach, or even a bit of fast food. Challenge accepted.

7. Everyone who speaks English is a person of interest

English is not as common in Asia as we’re led to believe, so meeting someone who speaks English as a first language is a rare treat. You begin to lose any inhibitions you had about talking to strangers (sorry mum!) and strike up a conversation with anyone who’ll tolerate you. Having said that, you do quickly work out which ex-pats to avoid.

8. Your students have no issues calling you fat

It does not take long to notice that the Vietnamese have a very different filter than we do in the UK, well they don’t really have one. They don’t see any problem in calling you fat because they see it as just another adjective, they are just describing you. I had a haircut a few months ago and asked one of my students if she liked it, her response: “No, I think it’s ugly”

Thanks for the ego boost guys.

9. Beer is often cheaper than water

You’ll often find that when eating out, a bottle of water is just as expensive as a bottle of the local beer. Well when in Asia…

10. Breaking my binge-watching habits

You  know how your parents always tell you about when there were only four channels to choose from? That is my life. I get to pick and choose from four whole options of English speaking TV.

If you think you can escape this with the sweet relief of Netflix… think again. The wifi is a new level of slow – and that’s even after living in both a village and student halls. Grim.

On the plus side you break some bad habits and find some other things to do with your time – so maybe it’s a good thing.

 

So there it is, as well as the obvious, there are little things to adapt to, that may seem insignificant, but for some reason stick out like a sore thumb when you’re faced with them daily.

Despite all of this I do really enjoy living in Asia. At the halfway point now, I can really appreciate what this placement has brought me, even if, among other things, that’s a real appreciation for home.

And if things get too crazy there’s always the beach…

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It’s not a bad life really