I applied for my visa. Weeks have passed filled with anticipation
ahead of my travels to the Philippines and on Sunday I finally set
off. I am staying in the Philippines for two months, long enough
for me to adapt to such a distant culture, yet short enough in order
to be back in Birmingham for my second year of study.
school in July 2003 and went straight on to study Russian, Spanish
and European Studies at the University of Birmingham. About the
same time last year, I began to feel very similar anxieties. Having
lived in North London all my life with my family, going to university
was bound to be difficult to cope with at times. Settling in turned
out to be fine, but I still suffered from an element of a culture
shock. So I joined AIESEC.
sold itself as an organisation that would give me business experience
as well meeting like-minded people, all in an international context.
It's almost a year later, and I now know that AIESEC does a whole
lot more than that.
March I was elected onto the local executive board as a Vice President,
and this experience is one of my many highlights of the year. I
have also made good friends from all over Europe after going to
an international conference in Latvia. After my exams, I was also
privileged enough to be able to visit the AIESEC branch in Barcelona
and stayed with the locals there.
for culture shock
Sunday will bring the most daunting, exciting and enlightening experience
of them all. Being sent to the Philippines for my summer is something
I could never have imagined happening prior to joining AIESEC. Whilst
out there, I am looking to make contacts with businesses and hopefully
develop some interest amongst them in supporting our organisation.
finding out where I was going about seven weeks ago, I have had
an injection a week! But that has been the least of my worries,
as now the culture shock of coming to live in Birmingham seems like
a drop in the ocean compared to what I am expecting to experience
in the Philippines.
I tell people about my plans, they seem to be in awe. Most 19 year
olds who travel go to Australia or Thailand. The Philippines however
comes across as an undiscovered land by British travellers. My parents,
as always, are very supportive, although still have some reservations
about how I am going to survive. Friends likewise are also unsure
as to whether I'll be able to handle the heat, food and flying cockroaches...
as I walked through Kensington, looking for the Filipino embassy,
my forthcoming trip still felt as if it were months away. Suddenly
though, as I stepped inside the building, it hit me. It was a particularly
hot day, though the heat seemed to congregate in this one room.
The smell of rice was so strong, and I was surrounded by Filipinos,
all of which made me feel like my trip had begun a week early.
does this journey hold in store for me? I can hardly wait to find
by Stevie Cameron