Saying Goodbye to BCM313

BCM313 (The Future of Work) is a class that has not only made me reflect on my own goals and hopes for my future career, it has also been invaluable in teaching me how to actually listen. A large part of this class has focused on the idea of the ‘absent but implicit’. Meaning, we had to become skilled at listening to the stories people were graciously giving us while also picking up on what they don’t say. It takes a bit of practice but moving forward I know that it is one of the skills I am most grateful for because of its importance across all aspects of life.

This class has made me feel a little more at ease about moving into the job market and finding that graduate position that will be right for me. It has also helped me feel more comfortable moving into further studies, hopefully starting with an Honours year going into 2019. Whichever path becomes the one I go down first, I know I will always have amazing people like Kate and Giverny in my corner and nothing can feel better than that.

Thank you all for listening to my stories, and thank you for trusting me with yours. It has been an honour and a privilege and I would do it all again!

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An Interview with the Queen (of BCM)

“I love being able to think deeply about things that I love, and meet colleagues that share these interests”

Tasked with finding someone to interview in a career track that appeals to us, I immediately thought that Renee Middlemost would be perfect. Renee has been one of the faces that has represented the Communications and Media department since I started my degree in 2016. Upon having her as my tutor for BCM212 (the core second-year subject for the Comms and Media degree), I realised she really was as great as I’d hoped. As part of BCM313, we have been encouraged to pull words that we feel applicable to the narratives being told. Words to describe how their story may reflect on them, as a person.

Renee was generous in all the answers she gave me- from beginning to end. So, where did she begin? In hearing her speak of how she started her professional life, I learnt that she self-funded her entire tertiary education. This was done through working in retail and in jobs on campus throughout her undergraduate degree. Already, the word ‘strong’ definitely is present. She mentioned that these jobs were not particularly enjoyable, but they were able to “inform [her] professional practice in numerous ways”. To further this Renee stated, “I am most proud of my ability to engage with stakeholders from all walks of life”. This is probably something that resonates with many of us right now- working in jobs that we don’t particularly like because we need the income, and can see a better career in the future if we can just hold on for a few years. I think that is why it was nice to hear Renee say that she felt privileged to be working in her current job: she was living proof that working consistently hard would be worth it in the end.

“Working in (retail) jobs that I did not enjoy adds value to this job, where I can do what I love; and I recognise this privilege”

So where is Renee now? Her official job title is “Lecturer, Communication and Media Studies, in the School of the Arts, English and Media; Faculty of Law, Humanities and The Arts, at the University of Wollongong, Australia”. Definitely a lengthy title, and one that was an uphill battle to achieve. Her career starts with Renee’s undergraduate degree- a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) majoring in Communications and Cultural Studies. This was followed by a PhD (Communications and Media) which was a struggle for the several years it took for her to complete it. Up until she completed it, Renee said her PhD felt insurmountable, “I honestly did not know if I could finish it”. Naturally, a few words come to mind. Particularly, a sense of tenacity and perseverance for being able to finish that PhD even though Renee classes it as “one of the hardest times in my life”. Starting her position as a tutor at UOW came as she graduated her PhD in 2014, and she received her current position of lecturer in October 2017.

“[A highlight] that stands out was travelling by myself to my first international conference… …it was a feeling of ‘finding your people’, which at the time was incredible to me”

Renee is ambitious, and not in the perceived ‘shitty’ way that is often used against strong women. It is a term to reclaim, a term to appreciate and a term we should no longer shy away from because of its previous associations. I call Renee ambitious because she has worked consistently hard to get herself into a job she loves. She took the initiative to be a part of a team that brought the Fan Studies Network Conference to UOW (which was a first for the Australasian region) after seeing the potential of Fan Studies at a network overseas.

I am so incredibly lucky to have someone like Renee as part of my university career. She has helped me realise that there are opportunities in sections of academia like fan and fandom studies out there. I am truly grateful to have someone like Renee in my corner and I’m excited for where my future is headed thanks to her.

“…Taking the time, and remaining open to students – letting them know you are on their side and want them to succeed – so when they do, it’s wonderful”

Introversion in the Extroverted Workplace

My introversion is something I have talked about on this blog recently, but it’s relevance to the future of work feels important. Something that caught my eye when searching for information on introverts in the workplace was the overwhelming amount of articles suggesting the ‘perfect’ jobs for introverts. This does not sit well with me – there seems to be a thinly veiled assumption that introverts should stay in certain career tracks that avoid social contact. But what about those of us whose career ideals divert off the perceived beaten track? I know none of my ideal jobs could allow me to be in my ideal state of solitude, but I want to pursue them because the excitement and possibility those jobs hold far outweighs my preference to stay within my comfort zone.

What-Is-Introversion-4

Image Credit

Susan Cain wrote a book, Quiet, about the “power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking” (2012a). Although I admittedly haven’t yet finished the book, I found myself feeling connected to Cain’s narrative, it was a book that finally felt relevant to me and I was excited by what it was saying. It changes the conversation that has been implicitly and explicitly had for many years, and one that always made me feel self-conscious and unworthy

Something that poses a problem for introverts in the workplace is the hiring process itself. It favours extroverts, those who are more outwardly confident and social while introverts can be left behind in the process because of a perceived shyness or quietness (Chandonnet 2017; Feldmann 2018). This tendency for extroverts to be the preferred choice doesn’t necessarily reflect that they will be a better candidate for the job itself though, and this is where the introverts are losing out (Markway 2012). A Forbes article suggests that introverts should rely on preparation over an ability to spontaneous conversation (Feldmann 2018), while perhaps the onus should be on employers rather than potential employees. Introverts can be more qualified and well-suited for a job and yet still miss out (Cain 2012b), so doesn’t this say something about the benchmarks created for hiring processes? If only I had a dollar for every job posting that used the phrase ‘go-getter’ as an essential qualification for the job. I understand the sentiment behind it (and other similar words like ‘energetic’ and ‘dynamic’), but they clearly refer to outward, extroverted traits that generally pose little relevance to an ability to do the job properly and to do the job well. I would much rather tell you about how I’ve been able to develop my communication skills, how and why I am passionate about the position available or why I’m qualified for the job, and I would hate to think that my quietness would disadvantage me in an interview setting.

A consistent thread keeps appearing: introverts are stifled in the typical business environment, especially under extroverted bosses. Cain refers to this, mentioning that extroverts are more likely to be hired in upper management positions, and this can have an impact on the team members under their guidance (2012b; Lavin n.d.). Introverts tend to allow for more ideas to be spread throughout the team, taking a watch-and-listen approach rather than an outward, steadfast plan that allows for no upward dialogue that can be associated with the extroverted personality (Cain 2012a; Davis 2014). In the TED Talk featured above, Cain makes an important statement: “there’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas” (2012b). Yet we still seem to follow the notion that those who talk the loudest and have the most to say are the people we should be listening to (Cain 2012b). Imagine what could be done if we genuinely listened to some of the quieter voices. Would productivity rise? Would there be more solutions to any problems raised or questions asked?

At the end of the day, an introverted personality is not better than an extroverted one. They are simply different. But, it must be acknowledged that introverts do indeed face some issues in the workplace that can hopefully be improved upon in the future. The importance of introverts is immense, and with 1/3 to 1/2 of the population falling into the introvert category, it is hardly a rarity to find one (Cain 2012b). Susan Cain’s 2012 book Quiet has changed the conversation around this topic and served as a jumping off point for further discussions that can only (hopefully) make the workplace a better and more equitable place for those who feel at home in the introvert category.

alone

Image Credit

Reference List

Cain, S 2012a, Quiet, Penguin Books, London.

Cain, S 2012b, The power of introverts, online video, February, TED, <https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts&gt;.

Chandonnet, T 2017, ‘6 reasons you should hire more introverts’, Charlotte Business Journal, 10 January, <https://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/news/2017/01/10/6-reasons-you-should-hire-more-introverts.html&gt;.

Davis, H 2014, ‘Introverts pose a problem for hirers’, Financial Times, 22 January, <https://www.ft.com/content/34d170a2-4c56-11e3-923d-00144feabdc0&gt;.

Feldmann, J 2018, ‘How can introverts overcome the barriers to employment?’, Forbes, 31 January, <https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeshumanresourcescouncil/2018/01/31/how-can-introverts-overcome-the-barriers-to-employment/#7eef51e97ddf&gt;.

Lavin, K n.d., ‘Recruiting introverts: why you might be losing your best candidates’, Undercover Recruiter, <https://theundercoverrecruiter.com/introverts-best-candidates/&gt;.

Markway, G 2012, ‘Introverts need not apply– but why you should hire them’, Psychology Today, 4 March, <https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/shyness-is-nice/201203/introverts-need-not-apply-why-you-should-hire-them&gt;.

BCM331: What is wrong with our film industry in Australia?

dkr australian tweet

Watching Australian films was never something I would purposefully do – I typically associated them with falling on either end of a spectrum: one being cliché and tacky; the other being truly amazing films that make you wonder why Australian film is so ignored.

One thing that became slightly irritating to me was the exportation of main roles to actors who were (generally) British or American. It felt so unnecessary, like a jab at the Australian industry. There is hardly a shortage of Australian actors, so why outsource roles for quintessentially Australian stories? Of course, there was the practical element of funding. Bigger named actors (like Kate Winslet in The Dressmaker [Moorhouse 2015]) bring in bigger paychecks for production houses and investors, and in this industry, in this country, the money is important. It offers an ultimatum: potentially use international actors to tell the Australian story (which benefits the public good), or risk not being able to fund the Australian story by hiring local actors, especially those with no bankable credits to their name.

But how can we expect to be taken seriously when our best talents leave for better opportunities? This is in no way an attack on our actors, but it calls for a reflection of our own industry. As someone who wants to work in film and television, I would have to admit that working in the United States would be the ultimate goal. I love Australian stories and believe they are essential to understanding our past, present and our future, but the opportunities that the American industry offer are hard to ignore. Bigger budgets, wider access to jobs across all areas of pre-production, production and post-production as well as wider audiences to share important stories with. How can we be angry at actors and production crew for going after those opportunities?

Another problem that has been widely acknowledged is distribution (Carroll Harris 2013; O’Neil 2013; Screen Australia 2015). Perhaps it is time to challenge the necessity of wide cinema distributions because they simply are not doing justice for our films. This seems to have little correlation to the quality of the film, just the fact that Australian audiences are not drawn to watching Australian films in cinemas (Mostyn 2014). In saying this though, there is a completely separate issue of whether Australian audiences are going to the cinemas, period.

So, if Australian films are bombing at the box office, what is there to look at other than ticket sales to make judgements and suggestions? According to general media, ticket sales seem to be the be-all-and-end-all. However, many sources are now expanding past this thinking and creating new measures for Australian film success. Video-on-Demand (VOD henceforth) is a relatively new phenomenon, with major players Stan and Netflix being introduced recently in 2015 (Screen Australia 2015) (which was also my HSC year- many issues arose from this coincidence). Given that it has only been 3 years of service, official information is available, but may not be as accurate as the streaming sites continue to garner subscribers and loyal watchers. Screen Australia still notes that all ages are watching VOD services, but given their information lists YouTube and ABC iView as the most used VOD platforms there are issues with its currency (2015). Given this though, the fact that 20 per cent of Australian movies are viewed through VOD compared to only 31 per cent viewed in cinemas, this number has the potential to expand past cinema viewing and may have risen exponentially since then (Screen Australia 2015). Using VOD statistics that are current and relevant may help create a new benchmark for success in Australian films.

Carroll Harris draws attention to a fan-funded film, The Tunnel (Ledesma 2011), which actually profited from being freely available (2013). By sharing it freely, it was able to reach its target audience effectively, which increased interest in associated products (like DVDs) and racked up 800,000 streams (Carroll Harris 2013). This flips the general notion of a film needing paying viewers to be successful on its head. Or perhaps the film was simply changing the benchmarks of success.

Something that has irritated me recently in terms of Hollywood Young Adult (YA) book-to-movie adaptations is their approach to distribution. This sounds like it is getting off-course, but I think there is something to learn from this models failure. Ever since Harry Potter and Twilight came around, there has been a steady stream of YA book-to-movie adaptations. And, as time goes by, they seem to be becoming less and less popular at the box office. But this makes little sense- these books tend to have legions of fans and are consistently on best-sellers lists, so why are they flopping? For many young fans, the cinemas are becoming inaccessible or just undesirable, and the same is happening here in Australia (Groves 2018; Ford & Forbes 2016). Recent films like The Darkest Minds (which I loved having read the book too) and Every Day have flopped at the box office (although TDM has just been released here and I would highly recommend!), even with a large fan following (2018; 2018). Yet, The Kissing Booth (surprisingly good) was a huge success and there is a large possibility that To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (coming out tonight at 7pm!) will too and I believe that largely comes down to its release online with Netflix (2018; 2018). We have so much to learn from this here in Australia, and even Hollywood is slowly starting to come to terms with it.

We need to look at streaming services like Netflix and Stan and see them as our friend, not the enemy of the film industry. Amazing movies can flop at the box office anywhere, and with only 1 in 10 ‘first release films’ being viewed in the cinema, we need to acknowledge that streaming may well be the future for many target audiences (Carroll Harris 2013).

“If we don’t catch up soon, Australian films will continue to be released stillborn into a theatrical system that is not designed for them, damaging their ability to compete” (Carroll Harris 2013)

Reference List

Carroll Harris, L 2013, ‘How do you solve a problem like the Australian film industry?’, Junkee, October 11, viewed August 13, <http://junkee.com/how-do-we-solve-a-problem-like-the-australian-film-industry/21379>.

Ford, E & Forbes, T 2016, ‘Movie piracy: young Australians illegally downloading films almost doubles’, ABC, October 10, viewed August 14, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-10/movie-piracy-12-17yos-illegally-download-films-doubles-australia/7918808>.

Groves 2018, ‘Teens and young adults desert cinemas while oldies attend more’, IF, January 16, viewed August 14, <https://www.if.com.au/teens-young-adults-desert-cinemas-oldies-attend/>.

Mostyn, R 2014, ‘Explainer: where’s the audience for Australian films’, Conversation, January 17, viewed August 13, <https://theconversation.com/explainer-wheres-the-audience-for-australian-films-20945>.

O’Neil, M 2013, ‘The real reason Australian films flop’, ABC, November 8, viewed August 12, <http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/australias-film-distribution-problem/5078404>.

Screen Australia 2015, ‘Australian audiences are watching online’, Screen Australia, March, viewed August 11, <https://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/getmedia/153e41e2-b4eb-4282-a845-1d89a60a5e7e/Infographic-2015-Mar-Australian-audiences-are-watching-online.pdf?ext=.pdf>.

 

Films Referenced (in order of mention)

The Dressmaker 2015, motion picture, Matchbox Pictures & Screen Australia, Australia, directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse.

The Tunnel 2011, motion picture, Distracted Media, Australia, directed by Carlo Ledesma.

The Darkest Minds 2018, motion picture, 20th Century Fox & 21 Laps Entertainment, United States, directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson.

Every Day 2018, motion picture, Likely Story & Film Wave, United States, directed by Michael Sucsy.

The Kissing Booth 2018, motion picture, Komixx Entertainment & Netflix, United States, directed by Vince Marcello.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before 2018, motion picture, Overbrook Entertainment, Awesomeness Films & Netflix, directed by Susan Johnson.

 

Reintroduction

A lot of things have changed since I last blogged: namely, nothing has been posted all year. This would have been inconsequential previously, but since I have since spent almost 5 months living overseas, inconsequential it is not. I would consistently feel the need to roll my eyes when people told me they were ‘changed’ after going on exchange, but here I am, about to tell you the same thing.

My Myers-Briggs personality type is INFJ – Introvert, iNtuitive, Feeling, Judging. And, the description of it feels pretty accurate. Especially the introvert bit. Aaand the social justice bit (in this blurb). Aaaaand a strong sense of loyalty that the INFJ personality type alludes to. I did find it interesting that this was the rarest of the personality types though, and yet quite a few people in the class received this personality type too. Does this say something about the students that do the Communications and Media degree? Or does this mean some of us were incorrectly categorised?

If there was an award for ‘least likely to ever go on exchange/leave the country independently’, I guarantee I would have won it. People make me nervous. People make me uncomfortable. The only thing that makes me more anxious is change. So, naturally, I decided to go on exchange.

The funny thing about doing something so completely out of bounds from what I thought would ever be possible for me, is that I feel the same but also completely different. I am still the introvert I was before I left, but I needed to develop more extroverted social skills to make my way through life living alone in a country where I knew not a single person. It seemed like a big experiment: would I collapse under the weight of fear? Or would I swim through and create a small little life for me to live in for a few months that was filled with new and exciting experiences.

I found my people in Canada. We laughed, we talked, we went out, we clashed, we came back to each other. I made a life there too. But I am still the same introvert with a fierce sense of loyalty, just with a little more independence and a hunger for a life like that- only one where I don’t have to leave after a few months.

Brianna Goes to Canada! An Autoethnographic Process of Preparing for Exchange

Virtually anyone who knows me would have originally laughed at the idea of me going on exchange. In fact, they probably still would. I live at home, I rarely venture out and have never actually been out of Australia before. In fact, my longest flight has been only 2 hours. Given that I was probably not the ideal candidate to go on exchange, I found it incredibly hard to relate to most accounts of previous students. I am not outgoing, I am shy. I am also terrified. I couldn’t find an exchange story that spoke to me, so I am hoping to create an autoethnographic digital story that I wish I could have read when I first applied. The theme of this post follows the question: what is it like to prepare for exchange, and how does the internet help facilitate this process?

I am a planner. I am a researcher of everything. I am a nervous wreck. And, I am planning the adventure of a lifetime, one step at a time.

Step One: Decide to go!

Four weeks before the December 2 (2016) deadline, I had never considered going on an exchange- not even a little bit. Three weeks before the deadline, I was still only contemplating the vague idea of it. Two weeks before the deadline was when I suddenly realised this was something I needed to do so with no time to waste (literally and figuratively) I started my application. My top 3 universities were either closed for exchange or didn’t offer film studies (a non-negotiable course for me) on further investigation. So, after being given a few Canadian universities to choose from (and obsessively looking up each of them, and their locations and campuses online), the University of Alberta stood out to me.

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Photo source: University of Alberta 2017

Why go on exchange in the first place? For me, the biggest reason was personal growth. I needed to challenge myself; to know that I could do something big and potentially life-changing. I’m not alone in this, with studies showing 95 per cent of study abroad students believe it served as a catalyst for increased maturity, and 96 per cent reporting higher self-esteem (Kinloch 2016). It also extends beyond this; job prospects are higher for study abroad graduates and they receive higher starting salaries in those jobs (University of California 2017). Although those statistics come from large studies on post-exchange students, colloquial evidence through student testimonials proves how valuable the experience can be. Many speak of the strong relationships built that outlast the exchange itself, as well as an increased respect of other cultures and an overwhelmingly positive response to their exchange overall (University of Wollongong 2017; University of Sydney 2017; IES Abroad 2017; Tucker 2014; University of Technology Sydney 2017).

uow exchange photo
Photo source: University of Wollongong 2017

Step Two: You’re In! To the exchange program, anyway.

I was accepted into UOW’s exchange program and I was given a few universities to choose from that offered what I wanted in Canada. Originally, I wanted to be in either Toronto or Vancouver, so I hadn’t looked at options in other states. But, UAlberta is ranked in the top 100 universities worldwide (QS Rankings 2017) and is located in the town of Edmonton. Edmonton is a few hours from Calgary, Banff and Jasper National Parks, and if you are in the right place at the right time, the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) are visible so it didn’t take me long to warm up to it.

edmonton-ab-ca
Photo source: Best Movers Edmonton 2016

Step Three: Apply and Wait!

For me, the waiting game lasted months. I put in my official application in March and once it was received by UAlberta I was also able to apply for student accommodation online in a simple application. I finally got my official acceptance in late September so I had a lot of time to wait and research Alberta, and then wait some more. It was a strange period of time because I had a good chance to get in, but I couldn’t afford to book anything, or even feel as though I could fully commit to mentally preparing myself to leave.

Buuut, I had a lot of free time to ask inane questions to Google. Here are a few random things I wouldn’t know without the internet:

Sure- some of these things could be found off the internet. Guidebooks and information from a travel agent can be great, but it is either potentially outdated or requires a lot of effort to acquire it. The internet has been invaluable to me in feeling a tad more comfortable with the whole idea of temporarily moving there, especially thanks to programs like Google Maps’ Streetview and the 360-degree photos offered by UAlberta of everything from student accommodation to public shared spaces. What a time to be alive! But I will be honest in saying that if it weren’t for the internet, I would not be going on exchange in the first place.

Step Four: You’re In!

On the beautiful day of Wednesday, September 20 I finally got the email I had been waiting for: I was in! UAlberta had accepted me and everything started to get real. Really real.

acceptance ualberta

Fortunately for me, I was able to enrol in classes as soon as I was accepted, a novelty only few host universities allow. Instead of having to wait until I got to Canada, I was simply able to put my classes in online, as long as they weren’t full. I did have a few classes I wanted to do that I had missed out on, but I was able to put them on a watchlist and receive an email if someone dropped out. The class gods were on my side and after a few watchlist notifications, I secured all my ideal classes.

Enrolling in classes online was something I took for granted, especially given that it is still a luxury today for some exchange students. Now I know my exact timetable, locations of classes and who I will have teaching me. This was such a huge relief when it all worked out; I can’t imagine how stressful it would be to have to wait until a few days before to enrol in person. What if you missed out on a class you needed credit for? What if you have one class unlike anything your own university offers that you were incredibly excited for that filled up before you landed in the country?

It may seem menial, even to students at home, but we have all had those classes that we just didn’t enjoy, and nothing makes for a bad start to a new semester like a subject you aren’t interested in but have to do, whether as a core class or just one that fits into your timetable. So, major props to the University of Alberta on this one.

Booking flights, or playing the waiting game to book flights, was one of the harder aspects of this experience. From day one, we were advised not to book flights until we received an official acceptance to our host university. When advised specifically in my interview with UOW, I thought anyone who would do that was crazy. Why risk it? But now I understand. Having applied in December to UOW’s program, and again in March to UAlberta, I regularly looked up flight costs to get a vague idea in budgeting. At the beginning of the year, tickets to Edmonton were about $1,000. By the time I got my acceptance, they were a minimum $2,000.

This is one of the downfalls of the exchange experience being so deeply entrenched online. I never would have been able to access that information as regularly as I did, because it would have required either calling or visiting a travel agent. I just had to do a quick check online. Of course, though, this leads to a rabbit hole of beautiful holiday packages and destination ideas that all got more expensive the deeper I dug. Expensive options never would have been on the table, and I would not be pining over the Rocky Mountaineer and its several-thousand-dollar price tag.

Banff-Alberta-Kanada
I still got lucky, I’ll see you soon Banff! Photo source: AMPIA 2017

Step Five: Au Revoir!

The final step is simply counting down to departure. With two months to go, I am getting the following lists ready:

  • What to clothes to pack, considering the temperature difference will be approximately 50 -60 degrees Celsius (I am going from the Australian summer to the dead of winter in one of the coldest cities in Canada)
  • What little mementos from home I should pack
  • What different foods I need to try when I get there
  • What I’ll need to buy over there (including spending way too much money on these Harry Potter sheets and doona cover)

It is here that I leave this post, less than two months until I fly out. This is only the beginning, but it most definitely won’t be the end.

Au Revoir!
Brianna

Reference List

IES Abroad 2017, ‘Benefits of study abroad’, IES Abroad, <https://www.iesabroad.org/study-abroad/benefits&gt;.

Kinloch, R 2016, ’46 study abroad statistics: convincing facts and figures’, Smart Study, 24 August, viewed 26 October, <https://smart.study/blog/46-study-abroad-statistics-convincing-facts-and-figures/&gt;.

QS Top Universities 2017, ‘QS world university rankings 2018’, QS Top Universities, <https://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings/world-university-rankings/2018&gt;.

Tucker, L 2014, ’25 reasons to study abroad’, QS Top Universities, 14 November, viewed 27 October 2017, <https://www.topuniversities.com/blog/25-reasons-study-abroad&gt;.

University of California Study Abroad 2017, ‘What statistics say about study abroad students’, University of California, Merced, <http://studyabroad.ucmerced.edu/study-abroad-statistics/statistics-study-abroad&gt;.

UOW Office of Global Student Mobility 2017, ‘Your ticket to the world: student exchange and study overseas’, University of Wollongong, <https://www.uow.edu.au/content/groups/public/@web/@unia/documents/doc/uow235107.pdf&gt;.

UTS Global Exchange 2016, ‘Global exchange testimonials’, University of Technology, Sydney, <https://www.uts.edu.au/current-students/opportunities/global-exchange/what-global-exchange/global-exchange-testimonials&gt;.

USydney Global Mobility 2017, ‘Global mobility guide’, University of Sydney, <https://sydney.edu.au/content/dam/corporate/documents/study/overseas-exchange/Global-Mobility-Guide-2017.pdf&gt;.

“Never half-ass two things; whole-ass one thing”

Most of us a media multi-taskers: meaning, we use multiple screens (be it phones, computers, television etc.) simultaneously (Gorlick 2009). Given that we live in a world where news and entertainment is available 24/7 and it is always at the tips of our fingers, we are struggling to concentrate and focus on what matters. It could be regarding education or work, but currently the temptations are quite strong.

Our attention span is relatively limited, especially given that it draws on glucose and metabolic systems to provide it (Rock 2009). So, by multi-tasking and getting distracted, valuable bodily resources are lost to the wrong task (Rock 2009). This takes effect particularly when using two sides of the brain; they don’t work simultaneously as you may think, they actually divert the resources necessary from one side to the other (Gupta 2016). Unfortunately, given that only 2 per cent of people are actually able to maintain focus while multitasking, many of us are probably just kidding ourselves, with me included (Gupta 2016). Aaaaand it gets worse. The more we multitask using several screens, the less able we are to ignore distractions and concentrate on important information in the long run (Teaching Centre 2015).

So, I decided to do an auto-ethnography on myself, rather than another person. Currently, I am binge watching the television show Pretty Little Liars, which is highly addictive. I also needed to catch up on lecture notes from another marketing subject, so I decided to try and do the two simultaneously. Using two computers (a desktop and a laptop), the desktop was a spilt screen between Netflix and the lecture notes in question. On my laptop, I had OneNote open and ready to type the notes into there.

However, I found that I struggled to focus on the notes completely, because the distraction of Pretty Little Liars was just a little too much. I also kept checking Facebook, Instagram and Twitter on my iPod, introducing a third screen to the mix. I was definitely not getting anything done for a while there! It wasn’t that I had typed nothing, but I was getting the notes done much slower, and it was frustrating to not have it finished in the time frame I had expected.

So, in the wise words of Ron Swanson…

Credit: NBC’s Parks and Recreation (2009)

 

Reference List

Gorlick, A 2009, ‘Media multitaskers pay mental price, Stanford study shows’, Stanford News, 24 August, viewed 16 September, <http://news.stanford.edu/2009/08/24/multitask-research-study-082409/&gt;.

Gupta, S 2016, ‘Your brain on multitasking’, CNN, 1 August, viewed 16 September, <http://edition.cnn.com/2015/04/09/health/your-brain-multitasking/index.html&gt;.

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