My Month in the UK | Student Exchange Trip

This has been the craziest month of my life. Packing up my belongings and trying to fit my life in a 23kg bag to move to the other side of the world for an adventurous five months. Moving to the UK was a dream come true for me. During the last year of high school my school organised for a sort of motivational speaker to visit for the day. I remember two things from that day; always keep eye contact when shaking someone’s hand and the fact that when we were asked to write out our bucket list, ‘move to England’ was at the top of mine.

This whole adventure started on the 10th of September. It was my first time leaving Australia and to say I wasn’t prepared is the biggest understatement of all time. I arrived in London the next day and it still didn’t feel real. A month later and it still doesn’t really feel like I’m on the other side of the world. By the time I got to my hotel in London Victoria, I had about twenty four hours to explore before I was back on a bus on my way to Sheffield.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

I only stuck to a small part of London; it was so hot and I was dressed for a nice autumn day. My hotel was quite close to Buckingham Palace, so that’s where I first ventured to after dropping my suitcases off at my hotel, showering and changing for the first time in what felt like forever. Buckingham Palace was different than I expected, but I couldn’t tell you what I expected. For two o’clock on a Sunday afternoon, there weren’t that many people milling about the gates. For someone who loves lists and planning, I had no idea what I wanted to do in London. My phone didn’t work and I had the most basic map that I picked up from the National Express ticket machine at Heathrow. I ended up just walking and hoping for the best. A stroll through St James Park and through the Horse Guards Parade, I found Trafalgar Square. The streets around here were absolutely packed- the Tour of Britain or something was on. I could see the London Eye in the distance but didn’t really have a clue how to get there, except to just follow the streets and trust my instinct. This adventure had me walking past some really posh restaurants and some stunning old buildings but I finally found the embankment and the London Eye! Oh, and when was Big Ben and the House of Parliament so close to the London Eye? I honestly had no idea. It was around four o’clock now and I was kind of exhausted so now was the time to try and get back to my hotel. Key word there was try. I was so lost and it was kind of overwhelming. I couldn’t even use my map because I couldn’t even find the name of the street I was on. It was kind of a disaster. It took a bit and a couple of mini freak outs but I finally found the street I was staying on. Miracles do happen! A night in and a cheeky Nandos were on the cards for me before I crashed for the night.

Processed with VSCO with e7 preset

I woke up the next day to the view of great weather. It was another warm day but I was keen to get out and do my last bit of London exploring before I had to be at the coach station. In the time that I had, I only managed to walk past Wellington Arch and into Hyde Park. I didn’t even walk that far into Hyde Park; I was too scared of getting lost and missing my bus! I just hung around the park for a bit before walking back and picking up my bags to start the four-ish hour journey from London to Sheffield. I don’t know what other towns the bus drove to but I can guarantee my face was against the glass the whole time.

The bus got to Sheffield around 4.30pm, and with some help from a worker at the bus station, I was in a taxi and on my way to Endcliffe village where I was staying for orientation week. Disaster struck around dinner time when I realised 1) walking into town to get food would be an hour round trip, 2) I didn’t even know how to get into town and 3) after going to the local shop to buy a microwaveable dinner, I couldn’t find the kitchen in my flat… Turns out the room I thought was the kitchen was actually the fire escape. I eventually found it, so crisis averted. The rest of the week, aka orientation week, passed in a bit of a blur and if I were asked to do it again, I probably wouldn’t (it was a bit boring).

img_3734

My first day trip from Sheffield was to Leeds; the city that could have been. Leeds Uni was actually my first preference for the UK. I still think the classes I wanted to take at Leeds would have been better, but after visiting the city, I’m kinda glad I got Sheffield instead. Again, I didn’t have a plan or any place I wanted to visit in particular, so it was nice just walking around an unfamiliar town. The first thing I noticed about Leeds city was that there were shopping arcades everywhere! Kirgate Market was a bit crazy for me but I really enjoyed Leeds City Museum (there were mummies!), Leeds Minster and the Corn Exchange.

Processed with VSCO with e1 preset

Processed with VSCO with e1 preset

Sheffield University offers this really cool program called ‘Give It A Go’, where they organise trips around the UK for students and their families, in some cases, to explore some of the more popular sites. That’s how I came about visiting Chatsworth House. That place was soooooo cool and so grand. Our ticket for the day got us into the house and the 105 acre garden. The inside of the house was so stunning, each room had painted murals on the walls and roofs. There was something interesting every way you looked. Since the current Duke and Duchess of Devonshire still live in the house, only a small part of the house is available for public viewing. My favourite rooms were the bedrooms, the library, and the dining room. The gardens housed the biggest veggie patch I’ve ever seen in my life and even had a maze… Casual.

img_3843

Inside Chatsworth House

Processed with VSCO with e1 preset

Another week of classes and life passed and before I knew it, I’d been in the UK for a month! To celebrate, I went on another GIAG trip, but this time it was to a town called Bakewell and it was a tasting tour. Writing this post a couple of weeks later, I can still say that Bakewell’s one of my favourite places I’ve visited so far. It was the first proper town I went to that wasn’t a city and there were actually fields of grass and animals and I loved it. Bakewell was founded in Anglo-Saxon times and is still known as being a market town. The church was also built in 920. I can’t even wrap my head around dates like that. The GIAG group was taken around the town for a couple of hours before we went back to the visitor centre to try some local treats. There were the usual things like sausages and cheese but I also got to try a pork pie and a homity pie. After chowing down, we went on another stroll to try some handmade chocolate and a Bakewell pudding. Can’t say I’m a fan of that one… We had the afternoon to roam around the town by ourselves so seeing as it was a Sunday, I decided to sit down and have my first roast dinner in the UK.

So, that about sums up my first month of my semester abroad. It only gets crazier and busier from here!

Lifespan of Devices in the Family Home

It’s rare for any one individual to not have some old tech/ devices laying around the family home. Take a look at what was currently found in the house of an average older family.

The Uni Student

IMG_3647

The Everyday Tech

IMG_3665

MacBook Pro (Late 2011), iPhone 6 and iPod Classic

“I’m a big lover of Apple, okay? I’ve never been a total tech head who loves to pull things apart and personalise them, so Apple products are perfect for me. I know the what’s and the who’s and that’s fine by me.”

The Nostalgia Tech

IMG_3658

LG KF700 and iPhone 4

“The LG wasn’t even my first phone so I’m not sure why I still have it. It was a birthday gift from about six years ago, and it even made the house move three years ago. I probably need to get rid of it. The iPhone 4 is my backup. I don’t have great luck with iPhone’s so I like having a spare around”

IMG_3653

iPod Nano (4th Generation)

“I haven’t put music on this since 2010 but I can’t convince myself to part with it. The tunes are too good.”

IMG_3656

Olympus fe and Nikon CoolPix

“I remember asking for a point and shoot camera to keep in my bag. Obviously I forgot that smartphones were a thing.”

The Teenage Gamer

IMG_3669

The Everyday Tech

IMG_3680

PlayStation 4 and LG G4

“I like the software that comes on Android devices- it’s so much better than what you get with Apple. I’m on my PS4 daily. Compared to the XBox, I prefer its in-game features and it’s a better gaming experience. ”

IMG_3682

Customised Gaming PC

“I was given my first gaming tower for my seventeenth birthday. My cousin is a big gamer and he convinced me that building my own system was the best course of action.”

The Nostalgia Tech

IMG_3672

PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3

“As a family, we played the life out of the PS2. Not sure why we haven’t gotten rid of it. It probably doesn’t even turn on anymore. I remember when the PS3 was the only one of the market, and I actually used to go outside. Since the PS4 came out, I haven’t played it but some of the games I have for that system still call to me.”

IMG_3675

Nintendo DS Lite and iPod Nano (5th Generation)

“Honestly, I lost my DS for about four years and I’ve only recently found it. I’m not even sure about the music that’s on my iPod Nano. I couldn’t tell you the last time I picked it up to listen to music. I don’t use iTunes, so I don’t have a use for it anymore.”

IMG_3676

Nokia N97, HTC Velocity 4G and Samsung Galaxy S4

“These phones live on my bookshelf and the only reason I’ve got them is incase someone else needs them. If my current phone broke I would definitely use one of these. The Samsung would have to be my favourite but the insides kind of exploded.”

The Tech Obsessed

jvh

The Everyday Tech

IMG_3719

Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Samsung Gear S2, iPhone 4 and iPad 3rd Generation

“I like android because of it’s ability to customise- no two phones will ever be the same. The iPad and iPhone are work supplied products.”

*Not pictured is the PC’s used everyday for work purposes*

The Nostalgia Tech

IMG_3720

Samsung Galaxy S3 and Lexar Digital Music Player

“I still have them because they still work. Prior to getting the iPod Shuffle, I used to use the MP3 player when I exercised.”

The ‘Outdoorsy’ One

jhk

The Everyday Tech

IMG_3722

iPad 3rd Generation and iPhone 6s

“I only use my iPad to read my magazines and to look up real estate and holidays. I own Apple products because it’s the brand that I know how to use. It was the first brand to really release a phone that had internet and all that, and they’ve never really changed.”

*Not pictured is the PC used everyday for work purposes*

The Nostalgia Tech

IMG_3724

iPhone 5

“I still have this phone incase my current one breaks. My daughter gave me this iPhone 5 after she got her new phone, and I passed my old one on to my mum. I don’t like keeping old devices- I’ve passed most of the older stuff onto my mum.”

Can We Say Adios To Old Tech?

nintendo through the years

It’s quite common for people to have old tech lying around that they still frequently use. I personally still have my Gameboy Advance that I will occasionally pick up, if my boredom is that real. I’m sure there are better versions of the games on the AppStore that I could play, but the nostalgia of it all makes it worth keeping. As technology continues to evolve, we have come to understand that nostalgia is a very strong emotion. I have found this recent forum talking all about keeping old games and devices for the sake of old memories. Bröcker (2015) believes that “no matter how high-tech the Oculus Rifts, Microsoft Kinects, IBM Watson or 3D printers become, there is a love for the mechanics of a pocketwatch and the auditory staccato of a typewriter keyboard”.

This video goes through the specs and design features of every ‘successful’ iPad Apple has ever made. EverythingApplePro starts off by looking at the iPad One and mentions that, to this day, it still has an outstanding battery life. As an owner of an iPad mini, whose battery life is questionable, I thought this information was very interesting. Devices seem to be getting thinner and thinner, so it battery life being sacrificed for this? Sherr (2015) has concluded that “the problem with chemistry is that making it smaller doesn’t always make it better. Think of it like a drink: if you put less beer in your mug, you just have less beer.” Are companies starting to sacrifice key features just so they can produce a new device that rivals its competitors?

The notion of nostalgia and older technologies will be examined through the ‘USED’ and ‘HAND-ME-DOWN’ categories of my photo essay. The owners of these devices will be asked about their attachment to each item and their reasoning for keeping them for so long. This, in turn, will create a comparison between newer advanced technology and technologies from an older generation.

References:

Bröcker, Bernadine. “Nostalgia, Stability And Human-To-Human: What Futurists Can Learn From Old Tech”. Medium. N.p., 2015. Web. 

Sherr, Ian. “Why Does My Battery Suck?”. CNET. N.p., 2015. Web. 

Managing The Mass-Produced

The-evolution-of-the-iMac

As much as a large majority of people hate everything to do with Apple products, it’s hard to ignore what they’ve done for the world of tech today. They have completely changed the game with what mobile phones can be used for. No longer were mobile phones just for phone calls and text messages. Never before had the average consumer been able to hold, in their pants pocket, a computer that rivalled the capability of a laptop. Since 2007, Apple has sold more than 30 million iPhones. They also introduced the world to the iMac in 1998. It was the first product of the new Apple era that Steve Jobs envisioned. Up until then, “Apple McIntosh were a minority player compared to big brother Microsoft” (Kerr, 2015).  I think it’s very interesting to note that when these came out, they lacked a floppy disc drive. Fast-forward eighteen years and Mac products now lack a CD drive. That is just one example of how fast technology moves in today’s day and age.

I have yet to mention my digital artefact because I’m finding it so difficult to relate it to the topic I’ve chosen.This time around I will be producing a photo essay, looking at how people personalise their mass produced devices and how the devices themselves have evolved over time.  Through random-selection, there will be a focus on both the old, the new and the hand-me-downs. I will be finding out this information through a series of questions that lets the audience get to know the device being photographed. I’m interested in seeing how apple users get around the closed nature of their devices compared to android users and their absolute freedom to personalise as they please.

On a side note, check out this little video I made for DIGC202 comparing some of the features of an LG G4 and an iPhone 6

References:

Weinberger, Matt. “The Whole ‘Mac Vs. PC’ Thing Is So Over, And ‘Android Vs Iphone’ Is Close Behind”. Business Insider Australia. N.p., 2015. Web. 

BRUCE, KERR. 2015. “PC vs Mac? The debate goes on.” Morning Bulletin, 2015. 33. Newspaper Source Plus, EBSCOhost

Why Do We Anthropomorphise?

5WPJW1HxZfsPrWPn7vBAeWQ6

Anthropomorphism is ‘considered as the attribution of human characteristics and the qualities to non-human beings, objects or natural phenomena’. Giving human characteristics to animals and inanimate objects is a natural human trait. Today we find that anthropomorphism is used increasingly in films, cartoons and books aimed towards children. We grew up with Humphrey B Bear, and A Bug’s Life. Children now have Dora The Explorer and Go Diego Go.

Like anything, this humanisation of animals can be quite dangerous for people and their environment. In some cases, audiences have become so sensitised to this new, false image of animals that they question why animals attack. People are so used to the humanised versions of animals we see in film that they start to forget that animals are in fact animals. This idea is shown through the attacks at SeaWorld from the captive orcas. As mentioned in Brereton’s Environmental Ethics and Film (2015) ‘wildlife films can (intentionally in some cases, unintentionally in others) provide viewers with heavily mediated but potentially transformative modes of access to the emotional lives of our non-human kin’ (Wlling in Weik von Mossner, 2014). After visits to SeaWorld, a lot of young children dream of being an animal trainer when they grow up. They see the trainers at the time being allowed to kiss and swim with dolphins, and that inspires them. This dream doesn’t become a reality for a large majority, once the find out what is actually going on behind the scenes. BlackFish (2013) went against what Brereton (2015) describes as the norm and introduced audiences to the reality of training sea animals. While in the moment, audiences don’t always stop and think that the animals on show are usually beaten and harmed when they don’t cooperate. The documentary detailed experiences about how animals were starved if they couldn’t perform tricks and the orcas were racked if they underperformed.

Continuing with education about animals, films such as Finding Nemo ‘contain a very explicit moral fable against removing reef fish from their habitat’ (Brereton, 2015). “Fish are friends, not food” wasn’t just thrown in there for comedic relief. The film criticises the idea of keeping wild animals as pets to portray to the viewer that captivity is harmful. There are actually many positives when it comes to anthropomorphism. The experience, through films and television shows, isn’t always a negative one.

While in the anthropomorphic imaginative state, we learn more about other animals while experiencing feeling very similar to theirs. This makes us want to help the animals in any way we can to minimise their levels of suffering. These animals, created for media purposes, possess emotions of happiness, sadness, fear, etc. The animals in Disney’s Cinderella can talk and interact with human characters and can clearly show emotion. This can teach younger audiences that animals do experience the emotions most would only identify as human. While still trying to push the point across that some animals in particular are dangerous, they are still capable of feeling hurt, distress and happiness.

The use of anthropomorphism proves to be successful for entertainment and educational purposes. The message may not be noticed by younger audiences during one viewing, but as time goes on and education about animals increases, the message almost always reaches the target audience.

References:

Brereton, Pat. Environmental Ethics And Film. 1st ed. Routledge, 2015.

“Anthropomorphism Of Animals: Types, Pros And Cons – RHEG”. Raymondinegypt.tripod.com. N.p., 2016. Web.

Blackfish. Gabriela Cowperthwaite, 2013. Film.

“‘Blackfish’: The Documentary That Exposes Seaworld”. SeaWorld of Hurt. Web. 

 

Out With the Old, In With the New

Old-Tvs-1

Australians generate more than 140,000 tonnes of e-waste annually, most of which ends up in landfill. Rapid changes in technology and media forms are two of the main reasons for electronic waste around the globe. Nowadays, we spend a good portion of our lives efficiently using different forms of technology. There’s really no way to escape that. We watch television at all ages, use the school computer labs throughout primary and high school, learn how to read and write with iPads and apps, and even document our experiences using mobile phones and cameras.

Nothing lasts very long though, which can be a cause for concern when users don’t know how to properly dispose of these products. For tech-lovers who just have to have the latest gadgets, recycling and ‘re-homing’ can be very beneficial. More often than not, parents will hand down their old phones, iPads, etc. to their children or hand them over to their slightly tech-challenged parents.

Dumping e-waste can be really hazardous for people and the environments we all live in. Some devices contain copper and platinum, which can be reused and recycled, while televisions and computer screens contain toxic chemicals, which can get into waterways if incorrectly disposed. By recycling our devices in the correct way (there are companies who will come and collect from your house, or drop off bays hosted by cities) we can prevent health issues and reduce green house gas emissions.

As fun and clever as new devices are, we have to be careful and clever when thinking of what to do with our old gadgets. It’s quickly become an issue that users have to stay on top of, and with regulations in place, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to keep the risk to a minimum.

Reference:

Hieronymi, Klaus, Ramzy Kahhat, and Eric Williams. (2012).  E-Waste Management