Illustration by Shenuka Corea

J-term: The Experience

The Gazelle set out to gather the experiences of three different students, from three different classes, in three different locations.

As January Term 2018 drew to a close, The Gazelle set out to gather the experiences of three different students, from three different classes, in three different locations.
Hanna Fekete, Class of 2018, spent her last J-Term doing capstone research in Berlin, Germany. Fekete set out with the goal of conducting interviews for an ethnography of Berlin’s notorious goth pottery subculture, but she ran into completely unforeseen difficulties.
“The problem is that the pottery goths party very hard, and to be able to do the ethnography as in-depth as I wanted to, I needed to join them on their nights out to gain their trust. This meant that the intended interviews had to be pushed back every night. Before I knew it, I had to be on the plane back to Abu Dhabi with not a single interview, and only very hazy memories of the goths themselves.”
When asked how she was planning to explain the lack of interviews to her capstone advisor, Fekete recounted the interview she was able to conduct while on the plane from Berlin to St. Petersburg as a saving grace.
“I spotted this old lady wearing all black a couple of seats ahead of me, and she was carrying this really cool black vase. I couldn’t believe my luck of finding another pottery goth on my flight.”
“She agreed to give an interview, after very adamantly explaining I should refer to her pottery as an urn, rather than a vase. She said she was going ‘Lay Herrmann down for his eternal rest amongst the men he killed’, and if that’s not the most goth thing I’ve ever heard, I don’t know what is.”
Michael Klansic, Class of 2019 spent his J Term in Abu Dhabi. Again. The frustrated Junior managed to be placed in, Czech Music in Context, a class based in Abu Dhabi with no international trip for the third year running.
“I’m not really sure how it happened, considering that I have put my two top choices as classes in Sydney every single year, and supposedly I have ultimate seniority on my side this year,” Klansic said in reference to the three first year students who managed to secure placements in the exact classes he was applying for.
“I guess Abu Dhabi was nice and all. Yeah, sure, the professor was world-class, and the weather really is perfect in January, but is a profile picture with a koala too much to ask for?” Klansic broke down at the end of the interview.
Luís Pasaporte, Class of 2021, was thrilled when he was able to secure a spot in a class in Sydney as a Freshman.
“It had been a dream of mine to go to Australia ever since I watched Blinky Bill when I was five years old. Little did I know that it would turn into the worst nightmare of my life.”
Pasaporte, overwhelmed by the oppressive workload of his classes was unable to really explore the country he had hoped to visit his entire life.
“When we got to the second weekend, I pretended to be sick, to get out of these ridiculous Saturday classes they made us do, and decided to go on a guided bushwalk. I thought the guides were just being funny when they slathered their armpits with vegemite, and gave out screwdrivers to people. I just laughed and told them I knew drop bears weren’t real.”
On multiple occasions during the bush tour, the guides tried to warn him that they were in one of the most densely populated habitats of the infamous beast.
“Crikey mate, that Filipino accent will attract the drop bears, so you better keep quiet.”
What Pasaporte dismissed as casual racism could well have saved him from what came next.
“A few leaves rustled above me, and I managed to lunge forward just as this massive thing dropped on me. Because of that lunge it landed on my bag, rather than my neck. However, it escaped back into the trees with my bag before I even got a good look at it,” said Pasaporte.
The bag contained all of Pasaporte’s travel documents. He was able to Skype with The Gazelle from the embassy of the Philippines in Canberra, where he was awaiting his new passport to be delivered so he could return to Abu Dhabi.
Global Education, in response to the clear danger study away J-Terms can represent, have released a statement that the possibility of cancelling J-Terms at global sites altogether is being seriously considered.
They cited Abu Dhabi-based classes dealing with topics relating to global sites as evidence for the superfluousness of their department.
The courses Introduction to Northern Chinese Architecture, Czech Music in Context and Descriptions of Paris in French Literature were all offered in Abu Dhabi over the past three years with stellar reviews. Klansic had been enrolled in all three of them.
Áron Braunsteiner is a satire columnist. Email him at feedback@thegazelle.org.
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