Student Journeys

Unexpected Transformative Experience

I did not expect the transformative experience that awaited me, culminating in a ten-day trip to Bangkok. Despite my initial reservations and being unfamiliar with most of my classmates, the journey from week one to the final days in Thailand was an enriching adventure.

In week two, the module delved into innovation management in different cultural contexts. This provided a basis for understanding the relationship between culture and innovation, which came together in our visits to museums, temples, and markets, revealing Thailand’s history of embracing technological innovation that has shaped its current technological landscape.

 Moreover, during multiple lectures, we discussed culture as a shared sense of belonging and the potential issues with cultural homogenisation. Our studies encouraged a discursive approach, recognising culture as a contested space interlinked with identity and representation. These theoretical foundations were essential during our trip, where we used the concept of culture to understand the layers of Thai society and acknowledged that preconceived notions might not entirely align with reality.

Throughout the module, we explored general education and compared higher education practices across cultures. In Thailand, we discovered a contrast in learning environments, highlighting the importance of engaging classes that are often taken for granted in the UK university system. By applying theories such as Ritzer’s McDonaldisation and Freire’s co-intentional learning, one can critically analyse the different educational approaches and appreciate the uniqueness of one’s university experience.

The module’s highlight was the ten-day trip to Bangkok. The lectures’ accuracy became clear as we navigated the city and experienced first-hand the cultural differences we had studied. Conversations with students, professors and the people from Bangkok deepened our understanding of the intricate links between cultural norms and behaviour, which are shaped by a complex interplay of social and cultural forces.

Lecture 1 in this module was particularly significant due to its eye-opening nature. Each session challenged our preconceptions and offered a fresh perspective on culture. The lectures guided us on how to navigate foreign environments, compare different societies, and comprehend the profound impact of culture on every element of society. The module reinforced the notion that every interaction and every step into a new environment is an opportunity to learn something new.

In conclusion, this educational journey has provided an ideal platform for me to learn about a new country and establish meaningful connections with my classmates and the people we met in Thailand. Life is about discovering new stories, meeting new people, and acquiring knowledge that enriches our everyday existence. The Democratic Engagement module has provided me with a more comprehensive and sophisticated understanding of the world, proving that education extends beyond the classroom and into the fabric of our daily lives.

Francesco Serra

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