My name is Philip Kirkbride. I’m a college graduate from Ontario studying at AU. I’ve always wanted to do an exchange program or study abroad but never found the right time to do so. This is the story of how Athabasca University has allowed me to create my own study abroad program. In the last issue Matt and I started working at the cherry orchard in Young, Australia.
It was week two of working in Young and everyone was rising with the sun. Everyone except me. Working seven days a week was great for my bank account, but not so great for my studies at Athabasca. I’d decided I’d take the day off?from cherry picking at least. I’d received an email from Karl, the editor at The Voice magazine. With a few more articles I’d make the regular contributor list.
As I opened my tent at the leisurely time of 8:30, I walked into the warm sun shining down on my face and an empty campsite. After a warm shower, I headed to the kitchen and made myself a hearty breakfast. I’d acquired a taste for 100% Aussie rump (steak) so I cooked up some eggs, toast, and a steak. An older couple entered the kitchen and, after a bit of banter, they told me they were responsible for cleaning the site. They’d been doing the job every cherry season for the last 20 years. They also told me to keep a low profile as the bosses don’t take kindly people taking days off.
I set my lawn chair up next to my tent with a coffee and laptop. As my laptop booted up I looked at the sun and thought about the freezing weather my friends and family were experiencing. The hours went by as I finished up a few articles and started on some course work. One of the great things about studying at Athabasca University is you can get just as much done in the middle of nowhere as you can at home.
When Wendy (our boss) drove into the camp I ducked a behind my tent. While I felt perfectly justified in taking the day off, I wasn’t at all in the mood to explain myself. Not long after, the rest of the workers started to arrive back at the camp. As Matt walked up to the tent I was sitting, reading my massive e-commerce textbook.
The night was much like the nights before. Everyone headed to the showers to wash off, followed by a trip to the kitchen. As usual, Matt had grabbed a few beers. The mood in the camp had deteriorated as people became exhausted from the days of hard work. I, on the other hand, felt refreshed and confident in my choice to continue my education at Athabasca. While I enjoyed the Australian sun, I knew, more than ever, that physical labour is not my forte.