The Exchange Breakdown

Using the platform of WordPress Melanie Manalo’s blog series ‘The Exchange Breakdown’ looks to provide information and support for students applying for overseas study. With this information coming from a knowledgeable traveler and exchange student herself, Melanie’s first-hand advice and research throughout this site creates engaging content as students are able to use her experiences as a guide to better their own exchange trip. Alongside UOW sources like the Global Student Mobility, this site intends to be resourceful, providing visitors with information covering all bases of the exchange process, giving insights on what these experiences entail.

Melanie sets out to cover a variety of topics, creating content for a wide range of audiences. Whilst reviewing her pitch a challenge I thought she might face throughout this assessment was ensuring her posts were able to relate to all students, regardless on the choice of University or destination. Looking at this site I definitely feel she was able to achieve this as her content aims to target student concerns. Comparing existing platforms, Personally The Exchange Breakdown is more approachable for audiences as the integration of both information and personal experiences set her apart from competing sites.

As a reader The Exchange Breakdown is a great source for students to turn to. Following the blog daily Melanie has maintained a great posting schedule, uploading at a consistent rate. Following this page has been easy as there is a regular flow of updates and posts, improving more and more as the weeks continued. Applying the feedback she reserved after her pitch and BETA presentations also helped to ensure her content remained relatable as most topics where suggested by students. Through the weeks Melanie posts have continued to target her audience directly, as a former exchange student herself she is able to ensure all bases of information on is process are covered. Implementing both a professional and relaxed writing style, this blog engages audiences through each post. Referring to her own experiences, Melanie’s persuades readers with the vast opportunities offered through exchange, providing guidance on how to make the most out of your time aboard. Although her posts help to simplify this process, even for me, the entail thought of applying seemed very difficult. As a reader, with her content looking to encourage and support students, this breakdown blog conveys a relatable factor that many other exchange based blogs don’t touch on, leading this to be a valuable source for many individuals.

Looking at this blog’s trajectory, for students studying at university it can be hard to look past the pile of homework stacking up on their desks. With that said, the exchange program is important as it provides students with amazing opportunities both outside campus gates and even outside Australia. Breaking down the exchange process, it is clear that there are many positive attributes that are offered through these experiences. Travel is a major aspect that provides longevity to this blog and its audience. For many studying or even traveling overseas is a dream. Melanie herself describes the program as something you “just have to do”. Looking at providing first hand information throughout this blog, the implementation of her own personal goals and experiences looks to spark readers interests as they use ‘The Exchange Breakdown’ as a guideline to ensure they get most out of their own exchange experience.

Although there are many positive aspects illustrated throughout this blog I personally think there are some that could be implemented to support Melanie’s blog. I believe the strongest aspect of this blog looks at the Melanie sharing her exchange experience. Whist although the sites purpose is to host information, I connected most with Melanie’s views as well as her own experience on exchange. Why the dream of studying in America? Why the University of Connecticut over other universities? as a reader these were some of the burning questions I had. The aspect that makes this content relatable is the use of personal experiences, persuading readers with the vast opportunities this program offers. As students are using ‘The Exchange Breakdown’ to guide them through the exchange process, providing further insights on the decisions and plans for her own trip would be interesting to include. This aspect would look to provide support for readers as well as ease the stress of this process, reinforcing the overall message of this exchange process not being difficult.

Another topic that Melanie can include will be to look at integrating posts on her mistakes/ things she wished she knew before going on her trip. For many student’s exchange is looked at to be difficult, being tossed into new environments usually on your own. Although most exchange websites offer its readers an abundance of information on the program, many have not experienced the problems and challenging nature of this process. The aspect of Melanie’s knowledge and overall relatability towards students looks to prepare readers for their trips, preparing them so they are able to enjoy their experiences more.

Overall, Melanie’s digital artefact provides detailed support on all aspects of the exchange process. With her content targeting all students this blog can be seen as a reliable source that many can turn to. The integration of personal experiences throughout her posts highlight the blogs informative and relatable aspects, creating engaging content that competing sites don’t offer. After following the progress and development of this blog, Melanie has created an incredible artefact which I would definitely love to see her continue. I am excited to see what content she posts in the upcoming weeks and wish her all the best with her development of The Exchange Breakdown.






Week 9: Research  

This week had me thinking alot about the theme of fear and why this question affects young people in different ways. Fear is defined as the substantial factor within graduating from university, fear is defined as ‘a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid’.

So why do university students feel an impending fear when graduation slowly creeps closer and closer?

While conducting our interviews fear definitely became a main emotion towards leaving university and moving into a career in the studied field of work. Why do students feel dread, anxiety and panic about thought of moving on into the “real world”?  What makes each of us feel this impending trepidation about the unknown of our future careers?

By exploring students’ plans for their future it is clear that less than 40% of the interviewed have a career path in mind or alternatively a job set up for after their graduation. However, whilst undertaking this project I was surprised to see how many students had the same feeling on the future and this aspects of anxiety. Whilst conducting more than 30 interviews,  every student conducted agreed that socio-emotional well being and anxiety contributes to this fear. Saying goodbye to the familiar haven of education and the flexible but purposeful structure of university life can be a real shock to those who don’t have a definite career plan.

This anxiety among students is very well documented. From fresher stress to the pressure of exams, money worries, exhaustion, loneliness and coursework, the road is riddled with pitfalls. But leaving education doesn’t mean leaving problems behind. While one in four students suffers with this mental illness during their university years, there are no official figures for the post-graduation period. Mike Burton, of the Sussex University Counselling service, admits that this group “slips through the system”. Discussing the topic of what’s to come for many has become indivisible from any other adult facing major life transitions – even counsellors who work with students seem to be unaware of the problem. It is also quite possible that some graduates don’t realise they are affected, as symptoms are not always as obvious as feeling miserable all the time.

According to a 2011/12 census, 68.5% of students were employed six months after finishing their first degree. But the figures, collated by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, include part-time and voluntary work and make no distinction between career choices and stopgap jobs. Research from the Institute for Employment Studies shows that many graduates take two or more years to settle into “stable” employment, with one in three entering temporary or fixed-term contracts. With expectations for many of us being high it’s easy to see through these statics why many of suffer with effects of negative socioemotional well being and anxiety through this time of our lives. Although these times may be looked at as stressful and full of uncertainty it’s important for us to celebrate our archives and look towards using this experience, information and education to improve our outlook on the future, easing the burden on our mental health.