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Thursday, 23 March 2017

Recently my grandmother, who turns 90 in June, sold her house. I know what you are probably thinking, that she moved into a retirement village or into care. But no, she bought herself a new house!

In the process of packing up for the move, she came across all the letters I wrote to her when I was an International Exchange Student in Germany for a year.

It was so interesting reading the letters and reminiscing about the adventures I had. It was such an amazing experience living overseas. I was always interested in different cultures, but my overseas journey deepened this interest and made me appreciate how important cultural understanding is.

Now, more than ever in this global world, we need to cultivate our cultural intelligence and celebrate cultural diversity. International students bring ideas, experiences and new ways of thinking that enrich our lives. (Not to mention delicious food!)

Three years ago my family and I went to Nepal and India for three months. My son who was nine at the time, would have preferred to have been in Disneyland than trekking! However, when I asked him recently about what the best thing about the trip was, he stated it was meeting a group of kids around his age in Panutti, Nepal, where we stayed for a few days. They played games together, went to each other’s houses and generally just hung out. In fact he said he still thinks about them today.

Reading my old letters reminded me of how fortunate I was to have lived overseas and the benefits the experience provided me with. So thank you Gran for keeping those letters all these years. They really are a treasure.

Simone - Study Geelong Project Officer