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G’Day Melbourne!

Time June 3rd, 2013 in First Generation Scholars | No Comments by

I have exactly two weeks left till I head back home to Atlanta, and with the classes being finished, I decided to take a trip to Melbourne. I wanted to keep my trip short and sweet, so my weekend started on Thursday. I left for Melbourne in the morning, and arrived at my uncle’s house. He lives about two hours away from the city, in a suburb called Castlemaine. The suburb is kind of like the area I visited for country life weekend, lots of green trees and cold, crisp wind. Side note-Melbourne has super extreme weather, so in the summer it is extremely hot, while the winters are rainy and cold. Upon my arrival, of course it started to rain so buying an umbrella became a necessity. Anyways, I got to explore the town of Bendigo, which was quite beautiful and picturesque. Afterwards, on Friday we headed to the city. The city of Melbourne is beautiful, with street performers entertaining the crowd to the fancy stores and the uptown malls. I also checked out the Eureka tower, which gives a 360 view of the city. The tower also had this attraction called the ‘edge,’ where you are put into a glass box, and it seems as though you are on the edge of the building, where you can see the streets beneath your feet from a 88 floor height. It was honestly a pretty cool experience! Melbourne also has a great scenic river that is similar to the harbor in Sydney, but not quite.

In Melbourne, I saw more fashion, hipsters, rich people, and a structured pattern of living. It is very different from Sydney, but good different. My friends here say that either you love Sydney or Melbourne, but not both. Although Melbourne has amazing coffee, cheap shopping, and great atmosphere, I am a Sydney girl at heart. I would say that Melbourne is good for bringing up new families and creating a professional lifestyle, but if you’re single and like adventure and creative locations, Sydney is for you.

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It’s not the end, just yet.

Time June 3rd, 2013 in First Generation Scholars | No Comments by

Recently, IFSA–Butler organized a farewell dinner for all the students to see each other before heading home. The dinner consisted of students from different universities in Sydney, which gave me an opportunity to meet others that I haven’t yet. However, the dinner was also a minor reminder of our departure back home, leaving Sydney. At the dinner, we went through a long slide show that showcased all of our adventures in the past couple of months. It was interesting to see how my friendships had developed, or rather changed over time, how many adventures I had taken on, and my changing attitude over the course of the semester. In the beginning, I had been friends with a whole crowd of different people, which then slowly condensed to merely three or four close friendships. It was quite funny to see my first koala picture, in which I looked scared and uncomfortable, transform to me diving in the shark cage at Port Lincoln. The slideshow was a reminder of how much I had changed, yet remained the same. I had changed through my thinking processes, my way of experiencing adventures, and learning to enjoy every moment. However, I realized that I had maintained my value for quality friendships, lasting relationships, and a desire for learning.

A bit later in the program, we received the letters that we had written on the first day. I remember writing the letter in the hot February weather thinking about all the crazy fun I will have and all the cool people I would meet. I had thought about learning, but exploring was my main focus. After opening the letter, I felt so immature. The letter started with, ” It’s not the end, just yet,” which made me smile. In the letter, I had written myself encouraging notes, talking about crazy adventures, sky diving, getting my first tattoo, and making heaps of friends while abroad. The reality was that I had only accomplished one of the things-getting a tattoo. I did not make lots of friends, but made some really close friends that I would want to visit sometime. I did not go skydiving, but went to the tallest tower in Sydney. I did have crazy adventures though, just not the ones I had originally planned for myself. My adventures consisted of visiting mostly all of Australia, getting lost on the streets of Sydney, taking a 5am train from the city to Newtown, meeting random people on the streets and having long conversations, and creating lasting memories every step of the way. I actually was right. Even though I have only 2 weeks left until I leave, it’s not the end just yet. I have lots to see, lots to do, lost of places to get lost at, and lots of conversations waiting to happen.

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All about that Country Life!

Time May 9th, 2013 in First Generation Scholars | 1 Comment by

Around a weekish ago, Ifsa-Butler took us to the countryside to experience a different kind of Australia. Each group of students had different farm locations, and different hosts. Our farm was located in Bathurst, specifically in Burrangalong. We were located about 50 miles north of the town of Bathurst.

The country life experience was one of the most unforgettable moments in my life. I have roots in the countryside, so it felt like home. My hosts, Karen and Paul were incredible, and I couldn’t have asked for better hosts. They were kind, sweet, patient, and overall amazing. Also, Karen makes the best food ever. Besides my mom, of course. Well, the first day we just had a meal, and chatted with our hosts for a bit. It was quite cold up there, so electric blankets were extremely helpful! The next day, Karen took us to see their backyard pets, and then the farms. One of their dogs had puppies, so all of us got to hold newborn puppies. They had some pet sheep, chickens, dogs, and cats. Then Paul took us to his 1300 acre farm, which was HUGE. There were heaps of sheep, lamb, and cows. The next day, our hosts took us to see the caves. This was my first time going to the caves, and it was beautiful. It felt so serene and peaceful inside the caves. The last day, all of us got to shear the sheep. YES, I SHEARED A SHEEP. The sheep were pretty calm when we sheared them, but very heavy when held. That was a once in a lifetime experience. The entire trip to the countryside made me realize how much of a ‘city-girl’ I am, and how much I want to be in the countryside. It’s nice to have stores and shopping centres all around me, but not necessary. It’s even better to take a long trip to get your groceries, have fresh eggs and milk in the morning, tend to the animals, and at nights hang out at the town bar with familiar, and weird folks. It just makes sense. Cities are good, but as humans, we also need a break from the rush and intense walking. Karen and Paul seemed so much at ease with their lifestyles, although most of their children had gone off into the city. They just did not want to leave the farm life. I understand why. Life living at a farm is different. You make your own rules. You have your meat, your calcium, and your protein in front of you. It’s so fresh, and completely underrated. I think everyone who plans to come to Australia must see the countryside once in their lifetime. It will definitely be worth your time, I promise!

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Mirror Mirror

Time May 9th, 2013 in First Generation Scholars | No Comments by

It’s been a while since I have blogged, so I have a lot to say!

Uni has been going quite well, but assignment submissions have begun. Starting May, most of my assignments were due, and they will continue to be due until June 12th. One of my assignments required me to creatively reflect on some of the most significant experiences of my life. Well, Hello there Australia! Australia has honestly been an extremely worthy period of my life because I learned. I did not grow, I did not suddenly gain maturity, I just learned. I learned lessons, I learned how to take in experiences, I learned how to experience life. Then, when I look at others, did I learn the right stuff? It’s a bit odd to think about myself in relation to all the other students on the program that I have spent so much time with, but also necessary. I am the only SouthAsian person on this trip. Yes, it’s true. Initially, it felt a bit weird because when everyone was trying to catch a tan, I was in the water catching some waves. I didn’t really mind it much, but just felt the odd one out at times. Also, the others would vibrantly talk about their previous trips to Europe while I sat there trying to engage myself in the topic. The best one was the arrival of people’s boyfriends/girlfriends, parents, and family members to Australia just to take a time out and visit their loved ones. I nearly had to go to wits end to pay for this trip, and others just casually take super expensive trips to Oz. I was a bit snarky for that, but I shouldn’t have been. Yes, most people on the trip are white. Yes, they are extremely wealthy, and spoiled. So what? That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t engage myself in the conversations, or learn from them about their adventures, or tell them about my experiences. I shouldn’t feel bad for myself, but rather applaud myself for getting here, and staying here, and learning here. Perhaps, even after traveling the globe, some people don’t achieve the experiences that I have, or the friendships, or gratefulness that I have for the trip. With that said, I did learn. I learned to learn.

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Easter Break Travels

Time April 8th, 2013 in First Generation Scholars | No Comments by

I traveled a bit during Easter Break, which commenced today. I flew from Sydney to Adelaide, then to Port Lincoln. At Port Lincoln, located in South Australia, is the home of shark cage diving. Shark cage diving is basically going into a huge cage with open bars under 5-7 ft perhaps of the ocean, and witnessing the Whites first hand. I saw 4 sharks total, one of which was the Bronze. The experience was exhilarating, and my body was full of adrenaline. It was a rush of emotions to see the Great Whites up so close, almost like a dream. The sharks literally come close to your face, and that’s when the reality of it hits you. It was an incredible experience, and I would do over a million times if I could.

Then, after a three night stay at Port Lincoln YHA, I flew to Cairns. Cairns is located in Northern Australia, home to the Great Barrier Reef. I took a Reef tour, and my mind is blown from the experience. I got to scuba dive for the first time, and that too at the Barrier Reef. We went down and saw the coral and the reefs up close, not to mention the beautiful fish and the glowing nature of the ocean itself. The dive was splendid, and afterwards I snorkeled. I ended up seeing a clownfish, a sea snake, some eels, and beautiful fishes that cannot be described in words. It seemed as though the water was glowing, and the experience was life changing.

After the Reef, I went on a Rainforest tour to the Kundra village. The rainforest tour was on a train ride, and the scenery was picturesque. It was a beautiful tour, ending with a trip to the rainforest markets. I also had my first hot dog there, and boy was it delicious!

 


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Uni Life

Time April 8th, 2013 in First Generation Scholars | No Comments by

Hello Everyone!

It has finally been a month plus since I started Uni ( aka University, as they call it here), and I have so much to tell you! Being a student at University of Sydney has definitely been a promising experience. Since I am an educational studies major, I am taking 3 education courses, and one internship course. Being involved with an internship is an excellent idea because it provides you with an opportunity to be in an environment related to your field of interest. I intern with the Sydney Story Factory, which is a non-profit organization that helps students write creative stories in order to spark a creative outlet for students, in addition to their daily learning at school. Through this internship, I have not only met incredible people who love children, but also have been inspired by the students themselves in providing such creative stories to share with the world.
So, back to more stuff about Uni. University of Sydney is actually a whole lot bigger than you might think, it is Hogwarts in some sense. I am in a couple of societies, which are extra-curricular organizations that meet after hours. I am currently involved in Surcas, where I learn interesting circus tricks. I am also in a choir, an educational studies revue, and part of the volunteer organization. I HIGHLY recommend that you join societies, not only as a way to meet and interact with locals, but also to enhance your own experience of being a part of USYD.
One big surprise that I encountered during my first couple of days was the grading system. It is not like back home. Here, it’s divided into different categories according to your percentage, and then IFSA-Butler converts those numbers into a letter grade. It’s also important to note that you are not graded often, and one or two assignments may make up your entire grade for the semester. Thus, it’s important to keep up with class notes, attend lectures and tutorials regularly, and to review your notes to make sure you understand and comprehend the material well. It’s embarrassing to mention, but at first, I had such a difficult time understanding the accent of some of my professors, which put me behind my peers.
One thing I will say though is that Fiona, the IFSA-Butler coordinator is super helpful! She’s my coordinator for USYD, and students at every uni have a IFSA-Butler coordinator that is your go-to-person for literally everything. The program also provides all the students with many aides and advice to help with adjusting to Uni, grading systems, and everything else. PLEASE ASK THEM FOR HELP. THEY REALLY DO WANT TO HELP YOU!
In all, I absolutely adore my classes, have made some incredible local and international friends, and have joined super societies that have really helped me integrate well into the USYD system.

 

 

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week 1 in Sydney!

Time February 25th, 2013 in First Generation Scholars | No Comments by

Hello!

I have been in Sydney for about a week now, so here are some updates of my time spent here, some general aussie culture, and my experiences so far!


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Month before arrival

Time January 21st, 2013 in First Generation Scholars | No Comments by

Hello Everyone!

I am planning to study at University of Sydney, and have been preparing for this trip for a while now. Although I still have a little less than a month to go, it still does not seem enough. On one hand, I am frazzled at the thought of packing, choosing what to bring and what not to bring, getting all the logistics straight ( flight, important documents, etc.) and saying that last goodbye to my parents at the airport. On the other, I am ecstatic to be going to Australia for a whole semester, creating new memories, and lasting friendships. So let me start with what I have accomplished so far:

1. Picking out luggage- I have not been out of the  country for a while, so my parents thought that getting new luggage is the first thing they wanted to do. The luggage had to be a good size, and sturdy enough.

2. Getting extras, of EVERYTHING- By everything, I may be a bit exaggerating but a huge tip: Get EXTRAS! I love my glasses, but a girl needs her contacts too. I bought a six month supply of contact lenses for my trip, just in case. I also got extra pairs of glasses, extra bath products and things I usually take for granted here at my home. When I stay extras, I do not mean in an excessive amount, but just enough to last you a bit longer so that you wouldn’t have to worry about it in Sydney, or anywhere else.

3. Clothes- This is a tough one. Since Australia’s weather is the opposite of the weather in America, I would land their in the summer, and leave in the winter. Thus, I need to bring with me my summer gear, as well as a bit of my winter clothes. Although the temperatures do not get extremely low in Australia, I will still need to bring some jackets with me.

4. Refer to IFSA-BUTLER handout ” Preparing for study abroad”- Let me tell you, this is extremely helpful! I was so conflicted with what to bring, how my orientation will be like, and the main things I should be worried about, but this document saved me. It has detail guidelines about what to bring, what to pack, how to pack, and the kinds of excursions we will be exploring once in Sydney.

In the end, I am a bit worried about leaving though.It is honestly a bitter sweet feeling. I still have a long way to go, in terms of packing, and my days are only getting shorter. Nevertheless, I am very excited to be leaving for Sydney soon, and I absolutely love this feeling of impatience, bewilderment, and happiness. I will keep you updated!

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