“I wanted something different. I think that if you are an Australian you generally decide to go to Europe or North America because it is more comfortable, it´s closer to home culturally, it´s generally English spoken. I wanted something different, I wanted a challenge”. That was the reason why James Hepworth decided to come to South America and to join the Universidad de Montevideo (UM) as an exchange student in the last semester of 2017.
Why Uruguay? The accounting student from the University of Technology in Sydney (UTS) answered that the country turned out to be “relatively new and relatively unknown”. Moreover, he thinks it´s a “great place to learn Spanish because of the accent, the way people speak”. “I came to Uruguay with no Spanish and I can now get my way around”, he said. He explained that the UM helped to make up his mind to study in Uruguay, as it offers classes taught in English and it has a good academic and international reputation.
Before applying for the exchange program at the UM, he spoke with Jaime Clark, another student from his alma mater, who strongly encouraged him: “If you want a challenge, if you want to have a great experience as an exchange student pack your bags for Montevideo. It will offer that”, to which Hepworth now responds: “The experience offered a bit of everything. People are lovely. There are so many things to do”.
James specially recalls a weekend with Techo, an NGO that contributes to build emergency houses for people with limited resources. He also explored Uruguay with his Uruguayan classmates, hiking hills, traveling around the countryside and discovering the large coast and the beautiful beaches in the south of the country. He visited some cultural and historical places like ‘Museo de los Andes’, a museum that recounts the story of a group of Uruguayan students and rugby players who suffered a plane crash in The Andes in 1972.
“It was a very full experience”, from which he learned that: “There´s a pace of life which is very admirable. No one is in a rush, worrying. I think we can learn something from that, from Uruguayans: life is for living, life is for enjoying”.