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Time July 3rd, 2008 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Well the plane ride wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  My plan was to sleep very little the night before my flight (which I accomplished by going out to Scruffy Murphy’s one last time with some of my friends) and to sleep most of the way to LA since I would be landing just before 7AM.  I was exhausted when I got on the plane but only managed to sleep for about an hour after the first meal they served us.  I watched a couple movies and then wanted to sleep again, but I found myself so excited about going home that I just couldn’t.  Unfortunately the plane was delayed about an hour and a half leaving Sydney, and therefore I missed my connecting flight in LA.  There was a plane about half an hour after the one I was supposed to be one, but I ended up having to go to JFK instead of Newark.  My dad wasn’t thrilled about that, but the traffic didn’t end up being that bad.  It did take an hour to get my bags and get out of the airport though.  Also, I slept almost the whole entire trip from LA to JFK.

At this point my sleep schedule was all kinds of messed up as I had only been sleeping for a few hours at a time after random intervals of being awake.  I was tired after dinner, but stayed up until about 12:30 before falling asleep.  Somehow the crazy sleep patterns I got into managed to keep away the jet lag, and I was up and ready to go my first full day of being home.  I was happily surprised about that, especially because I had a lot of errands to take care of when I got home.  I needed my new drivers license, had to get a phone and phone plan (as my # on the family plan was disconnected before I left), tried to find a job, etc.  Also, when I went into my room I realized all of my college stuff from winter term was still scattered about.  I still need to take care of that…

So after a long day of traveling, I found that I was indeed very glad to be home.  Although I would love to visit Australia again, and I will never forget all the people I met and experiences I had there, it was just great to be home.  Especially after I got my new phone and was able to call people again and go out with some friends.  Kudos to the people who actually called my house, I appreciated that.

It’s been really tough trying to find a job because most places already hired their summer help.  I’m going to babysit for my aunt and maybe pick up some shifts at the bar I worked at last year or do some odd jobs for my dad.  I actually applied for a job at McDonalds today.  Desperate times call for desparate measures; my credit card isn’t going to pay itself.  So basically I’m looking at a very broke summer, but at least the beach is free.  I’m actually looking forward to a week long vacation in the Outerbanks this Saturday!!  It’s going to be a blast, especially because pretty much all of my mom’s side of the family is going, but I can’t believe i’m going away so soon after I just got back!!  I feel like this summer and senior year are going to fly by.  Even though all my friends are doing internships this summer, and I couldn’t get one because the semester ends so late in Australia. I believe that my choice to study in Austrailia has been the best college decision I’ve ever made.

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I Never Knew

Time June 24th, 2008 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I am currently sitting amongst piles of clothes, souvenirs, and random stuff that needs to get in my suitcase. This may be Hogwarts, but I haven’t seen any magic wands that might be able to pack for me, so I will be working on that today since I fly out tomorrow! I can’t believe the semester is over already, I feel like I didn’t have enough time. Funny since when I got here I felt like I had a million years to experience Australia.

I don’t think a good sense of time is something I possess. Not only did I think I had an eternity upon arriving, but I never dreamed I wouldn’t be ready to leave after coming to study abroad in australia for an ‘eternity’ (aka 5 months). I’m one of the last American Australia study abroad students at St. Johns and I found myself tearing up several times today. First in the morning when I was saying goodbye to Lisa and Stacy, then twice later in the afternoon whenever I started packing. The waterworks haven’t come out fortunately, but I was surprised to find I had such an attachment. I shouldn’t have been though, we’ve been singing songs all semester about how St. Johns is our home of joy and bliss. It really has been. It’s hard to think about how I’m leaving home to go home…

At the same time, I’m stoked to see my friends and family again. I think once I am actually home and re-settled into the familiar…. I’m not really sure what it will be like actually. I do know that I’ve become quite fond of Australia, although it could never take the place of America for me. I really have no idea how I’m going to feel when I get home, and as I’ve shared with you, I don’t have a good sense for time or realizing how feel about things. I definitely hate this awkward, long drawn out goodbye though and it will be nice to be firmly in one place instead of this limbo I seem to be stuck in at the moment. It’s going to be a long plane ride…

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Vacation Again

Time June 24th, 2008 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

I have never had so many vacations in one year, it’s great! Although I will be sending every paycheck this summer towards paying off my credit card… awesome. It’s definitely all been worth it. I already told you where I was going, now I’ll tell you how it went.

It started off completely on the wrong first. I intimated earlier that I had some issues with my travel agent, now I can solidly tell you to NEVER USE STUDENT FLIGHTS. I’m not the only person who has had issues with that company. I won’t get into the nitty gritty, but basically as I was showering the night before my 7:30am flight to Fraser Island I realized that I didn’t have any hard copies of my travel vouchers or flights. What a nightmare. Everything worked out okay, but as you can imagine I was freaking out. Not only did my travel agent not change the few things he said he was going to, he also never called to let me know he even had the vouchers, and when I was talking to him Saturday night not only did he not apologize, but he acted like I was a jerk and why am I upset considering he has all the vouchers and why is his boss angry at him? Gee yea I guess I should be reassured that 12 hours before my flight my travel agent has my vouchers and I don’t, no worries there… I actually ended up hyperventilating that night for about an hour and a half because of the stress of that situation and the stress of finals and packing and how I’m coming to the end of my stay.

Although it started off on the wrong foot, it actually ended up being a fantastic trip. Fraser Island was nice. Not my favorite travel destination since I arrived to study in australia, but my friend Becky came with me and I swam across a lake and saw a wild dingo! It would have been nicer if the weather was nicer; it was predominantly cloudy with rain here and there. Afterwards I took a bus to Airlie Beach where I went on a 3 day sailing adventure on the Matador!!! Truly amazing. I snorkeled, scuba dived, and on deck we were lucky to see several dolphins, a whale, sea turtles, and an eagle. On the dive in Blue Pearl Bay there were so many fish just swimming right around me!! The coolest one was this giant Maori Wrasse which was about my size and letting us pet it. Seriously amazing. My only regret was that we only had about 15 minutes on Whitehaven Beach, which might be the nicest beach I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

It’s a good thing I got my fill of the beach in the Whitsundays, because I didn’t really see it in Cairns. Even so, Cairns was an equally amazing part of the trip, if not more so. I met a lot of great people at my hostel and my days were jam packed with activity. I took a skyrail over the rain forest to Kuranda, took a hot air balloon ride at sunrise, went white water rafting, had a day of scuba diving, and finished off with bungy jumping!! First I’d like to say that the Great Barrier Reef is as great as people say it is. The colors weren’t as vibrant as I expected, but I saw some awesome coral, chased a sea turtle, and of course found Nemo. Second, I am never going bungy jumping again. Scariest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life!! I was going to back out, but couldn’t get a refund at the point I decided that, so I figured I’d go and get my free t-shirt even if I didn’t jump. Then at the top of the platform I was scared out of my mind, but somehow the guy at the top got me to jump after the count of five and I screamed my lungs out. It was a lot scarier than sky diving.

After such a fantastic trip I’m a little tired and finding it hard to get back into study mode. I have a philosophy and accounting final in a few days though, so time to buckle down and study. It’s so weird that everyone participating in australia study abroad programs are starting to leave though!

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Location, Location, Location!

Time May 21st, 2008 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

I’m not sure whether or not I should start by apologizing or telling you not to worry, but this blog does not contain any real estate advice. Instead I will be talking about the trips I’ve taken over here and how I’ve been affording/planning them.

I’d like to preface this entry by saying that I usually like to have at least $100 in my checking in addition to my savings account, save half or more of my paychecks, and never spend more on my credit card than I am able to cover with money from my bank account. Since I’ve arrived to study abroad in Australia, I’ve thrown that financial caution to the wind spending $1000’s on traveling. In the next month I will be living like the stereotypical college student taking advantage of any offer of free stuff, eating at the dining hall 21 meals a week because I already paid for a meal plan, and being as frugal as possible with the amount of money I have left, potentially putting a few more things on my credit card. Although I am slightly anxious because I don’t even remember the last time I’ve spent to the point of being this broke (especially when I don’t have a job!), I know that I have enough money to get by and pay for the essentials. Worst case scenario I have over $1000 left on my credit limit…

So on that note, let me tell you all about the trips I have/ will be taking! When I first got here I was so excited about finally being in Sydney that I stayed in the area exploring the city, campus, and Newtown. I’d heard from various sources that you should do traveling when you initially get there because you have all the time in the world to explore Sydney, whereas it’s harder to get away from the city later on once uni has started. Well I ignored that advice, and things have worked out fine, but if I did the trip over I would have done more travel early on. I highly recommend that if you arrive at your australia study abroad destination a few weeks prior to the start of university that you pull yourself away from the exciting new surroundings you haven’t explored to go to some destinations a little (or a lot) further away. There are sporadic plane tickets at fantastic prices, so I’d say go with the wind and travel to wherever you can get a cheap flight for. There are happy hour deals from 12 – 1 for Jetstar, Virgin Blue, and Qantas. Utilize these deals to take weekend trips during uni as well, if you have the time and money for it. Although this method of trip planning takes more time and patience, it’s worth it in the long run because you will save a lot of money and get to visit more places.

My first weekend trip away was with surf camp. To be honest, I’m not even sure exactly where we were, I believe it was a few hours north of Sydney. Regardless, the beaches were gorgeous, whether was amazing, and I finally know how to surf! I had a blast and one of my good mates from ifsa-butler went with me. That trip was easy to plan; there is a company called colourful trips that runs trips at a discounted price for uni students so all we had to do was sign up and everything was taken care of for us: accommodation, travel, and food.

The next week it was already Easter holiday, the Australian equivalent of an American spring break. The Aussie students don’t travel as much as American students tend to, but I took full advantage of the time off and went to Fiji!! I booked a tour called ‘Coconuts’ through Extreme Adventures and spent three days on my own in addition to the tour. It was amazing, and as of right now Fiji remains my favorite travel destination. We spent a few days touring the main island of Viti Levu, two days at Beachcomber (which is hyped up to be a lot better than it actually is), and two days on Mantaray Island (which was beautiful and had AMAZING snorkeling! I saw a reef shark, ray, and lots of fish and color). Independently of the tour I took a day trip to South Sea Island and went on several dives during my stay at Fiji. The tour was a great value, but I had to pay twice of what you typically would pay for air fare because I didn’t book the trip until two weeks before it happened. So here’s another piece of advice: book your spring break trip early because air fare will cost an arm and a leg if you don’t. Spring break was only a month and a half away when I got to Sydney, so I didn’t feel like planning it because I was still making friends and meeting new people and trying to figure out where I wanted to go, but just book it and if you don’t go with people you know I guarantee you will be able to meet people easily.

Last weekend I went to Melbourne and LOVED it. I got a pretty good deal on flights by using happy hour, and thanks to my friend Pat (who was my tour guide in Fiji) I had a free couch to sleep on and some great tips about things to do while I was there. The first day I walked around Prarhan and shopped on Chapel St which was near Pats hostel Lord’s Lodge. After lunch my friends and I went to his apartment in St. Kilda, walked around that area, shopped on Acland st. All day Saturday we did the great ocean road tour. Sunday we split up. Since I was staying an extra day (no classes on Monday J ), I took a tour to Phillip Island to see the penguin parade!! It was a dream come true for penguin lovers such of myself. I went to the Esplanade Hotel, aka ‘the espie’, for some live music that night. On my last day I finally went into the cbd of Melbourne. I walked along the river, went through some neat shopping arcades, had the best cupcake I’ve ever had in my life, and generally just took in the sights. It was truly a fabulous and affordable weekend.

That takes me to the final trip I have planned. I’m going to Fraser Island, the Whitsunday Islands, and Cairns for 10 days during the exam/study period in June. That was a nightmare trying to plan. All I can tell you from my experiences with that, is that travel agents aren’t that helpful. In fact, going to a travel agent ended up having me spend several hundred more than I would have if I booked everything myself (and I say booked because I pretty much planned the whole thing myself anyway). I’m still frustrated about it, and I wouldn’t be so poor if I just booked it myself, but what are you gonna do? Live and learn. Hopefully you can learn from my experiences. If I had booked the trip myself I could have most likely found cheaper flights by using happy hour again, and I would have looked into taking the bus instead of flying. While in the office I was told the train and bus would be almost as expensive as flying and take a lot longer. While the bus does take a lot longer, you can take a bus through the night thereby eliminating one night of accommodation you would have had to pay for and saving heaps of many on your travel fare. Unfortunately I could not cancel my flight after independently researching that fact, I wish my travel agent hadn’t dismissed the idea of a bus when I asked him. The one plus side to using a travel agent is it’s nice not to have to call all the various hostels yourself and they put your itinerary and travel vouchers altogether for you in one little case.

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ANZAC Day

Time May 21st, 2008 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

You may have noticed this day on your calendar in the April 25th box. I always have, because it just so happens to be my birthday as well. The only thing that I knew about ANZAC day was that it was a public holiday in Australia, and I only knew that much because that was also denoted on some calendars I’ve had. Last semester I had to give a speech about events that occurred on my birthday so I finally learned what it was all about, and this semester I was able to actually experience the holiday while participating in the IFSA Butler study abroad in Australia program (and turning 21!).

ANZAC is an acronym for Australia New Zealand Army Corps. ANZAC day is similar in context to Memorial Day with the party atmosphere of 4th of July. It commemorates the first military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during WWI. In 1915 the ANZAC soldiers landed at Gallipoli and fought the Turks. It was a military failure and 8,000 Australians died. Every year since then it has been a day of remembrance for the soldiers who have died and for the freedom they won for their country.

It was a little strange turning 21 on a holiday with such solemn roots (and in a country whose drinking age is 18) but it was a really festive day. It was really nice out, so I walked from St. Johns down to the Rocks in search of a game of two up. Two up is a betting game that is only legal on ANZAC day, and only at certain bars which have obtained the proper permits to run the game. It is played on ANZAC day because it was a game people played in the war. You’re literally betting on whether or not coins will be tossed and land on heads or tails. A circle is drawn on the floor and everyone stands outside the circle making bets with each other. Someone then goes into the middle of the circle with the kip (a small wooden paddle) that has 3 coins and tosses them up in the air. Then the coins land and you settle up your bets according to how many heads and tails there are.

We missed the parade, but we saw heaps of military personnel in their uniforms. It reminded me of high school when I was in the NJROTC and marching in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Belmar, NJ. The first bar we went to was the Mercantile Hotel. It was nice and there was live music, but it was an older crowd and drinks were expensive. Also, there was no two up. So we left and walked down to the Argyle. That place was going off. They had bag pipers playing outside, and most importantly to us, two up!! I personally didn’t bet on the game, but I stood in the circle with the kip and flipped the coins. We stopped at one or two other places before heading back to college. One thing we noticed was a lot of people had sprigs of rosemary pinned to their clothes. We found out later that the rosemary signifies memory, which is why so many people were sporting it that day.

For me, that ended the traditional ANZAC festivities, and begun my birthday festivities. I went out to an amazing thai food place on King St. called Thai-riffic. My favorite thai place so far. Then I watched a movie because it was too early to go out for the night, and I needed some time to relax after the big afternoon we had. Our destination was Worldbar in Kings Cross. It was another first for me, and another great experience. There was a cover charge, but it was well worth it. The music and dancing was great, there was some live music, and you could order cocktails which came in a tea pot! I found myself wishing I had checked out Worldbar earlier in the semester.

That was it for ANZAC day. I continued my birthday celebrations the next day with my official birthday dinner at Mickey’s on King St. A little pricey for college students such as ourselves, but amazing food, plus it was my birthday so I figured I deserved a nice dinner out for a change. Afterwards we went to Star City Casino. I was really excited because I had never been to a casino before and it was something I particularly wanted to do for my 21st. We weren’t there for very long, but I played at the $10 blackjack table, and got blackjack on my first hand!! I knew it would happen; it was my 21st birthday, I had to get 21. My friends were skeptical, but I ended up getting blackjack twice more and I was up $60 when I decided to stop playing. I had some champagne to celebrate and played a few slots, but they were boring and it’s all electronic now so you don’t even get the fun of pulling down the lever and watching it spin. We finished off the night at Vegas in the Cross, which wasn’t as great as I was expecting it to be (a lot of people talked it up), but it was a nice wind down to a terrific 21st birthday extravaganza.

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So Long Sweet Summer

Time April 22nd, 2008 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I can’t believe I just used a Dashboard Confessional song as the title to my blog.   It is extremely appropriate though.  As my friends and family back home are getting excited for the warmth and the occasional 80 degree day, things are turning to fall and getting much chillier.  Gone are the days of wearing shorts and tank tops and wasting days at the beach.  For some reason I thought the weather would always be warm and sunny when I thought about Australia study abroad programs.  Deep down I knew it wouldn’t be, but I still packed a few too many tank tops and just barely enough warm clothing.  I will probably buy a Sydney Uni sweatshirt to round out my “winter wardrobe”? over here.

As with the end of every other summer, it signals the beginning of heaps of school work.  I’ve been attending class for six or seven weeks now (half way done, yes!) but the work is really starting to kick in as the essays and readings and accounting homework piles up.  I guess it’s about time I got to the study part of my decision to study in Australia.  I don’t mind it though, it’s much nicer doing work in this Hogwarts-esq setting than it would be at University of Hartford.  Also taking some of my elective classes has been a good change of pace.

The weird thing about classes being halfway done, is that it means my study abroad experience is half way done as well!!  When I got here I felt like I had all the time in the world and going home was a life time away.  Upon realizing I only have 2 months left I feel like there’s not nearly enough time to do everything I’d like to.  As soon as I have time I’m going to try to plan a trip south to Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road, and either Kangaroo or Phillip island, as well as a trip north to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef.  For now I’m content to visit some more places around Sydney and get through my school work.

Unfortunately I got sand in my camera at Fiji, so no new pictures for a little while.  But the lack of pictures is definitely not from a lack of experience!  Last Wed was our huge college informal; a big party that we hosted as a way to raise money for our student club.  It was a huge success.   The tickets sold out and we had a couple dj’s for the night.  Last Saturday I went to a bar called Bungalow 8 in Darling Harbor.  The drinks were a little pricey (like everything is in Darling Harbor) but the atmosphere was great and I loved the music!  The music is definitely a key element in creating a good night.  Techno is very prevalent in Australia which I’m not a particularly huge fan of, and unenjoyable music equals little or no dancing.  However the music doesn’t always make that much of difference.  Last night for example I went to dinner at Pancakes on the Rocks and the 5 song Avril Lavigne set did not ruin my appetitie for the delicious chocolate strawberry pancakes I had.

Pancakes on the Rocks is pretty much a landmark in Sydney.  They have a few other Pancakes chains in other sections of town, and they all have extensive pancake and crepe options as well as some “regular”? dinner and breakfast food.  You can check it out at www.pancakesontherocks.com.au . I’m looking forward to checking out some more well known places in Sydney over the next few weeks.

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Pictures!

Time April 9th, 2008 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Flying This was the view out of my plane window on the flight over, and my first glimpse of Australia!

Noosa This is Noosa.  The first beach we went to and where we stayed at our orientation for ifsa-butler study abroad Australia program.  Unfortunately we only had one sunny day here but it was gorgeous and I had my first surfing lesson there.  A little further inland there were kangaroo’s everywhere.

St. Johns After orientation it was time for me to fly to Sydney and move into St. Johns College.  This is a picture of it from the back across the rugby pitch.  Hogwarts much?  As one of our college songs proclaims, it has become my ‘home of joy and bliss’.

my room When we first arrived a conference had our rooms booked so we stayed down a different hallway with single bedrooms and sinks.  This is the room that I’m living in for the semester.  I have a bunch of stuff on my bed because I took the picture while I was packing for spring break in Fiji!  But lets be real, my room is usually a little cluttered.  A few things on the wall I brought from home, but most of it is collages I made here.  A cheap, fun way to decorate.

Peace Garden This is called the Peace Garden.  It is my favorite spot at St. Johns.  There are tons of grassy knolls hidden here and there around campus.

Manly Beach The picture really doesn’t do justice to Manly Beach (yes that’s really it’s name).  It is my favorite beach in the Sydney area.  I’ve only been once because it’s kind of far and you have to take a ferry to get there.  It’s definitely worth the trip though and the ferry ride over is a nice ride.

Sydney I took this picture on the ferry over to Manly Beach.  It’s pretty much Sydney in a nutshell.  The city skyline, opera house, and the bridge. I climbed over the top arch of the bridge!

bike tour I not only saw the city from the ferry, but by bike as well (and via walking and buses of course).  This pic is from the bike tour (which was free thanks to ifsa butler Australia study abroad program!)  That’s why I’m wearing the super cool red helmet in this shot.

dsc00349-large.JPG This is one of my favorite scenic shots of the trip.  There is a cliff walk that goes from Bondi beach to Coogee beach.  I highly recommend doing it.

tourista Typical tourist shot.  Didn’t want all my pictures to be just scenery…  This is also on the Bondi – Coogee walk.

surf camp Surf camp!!  I had a lot of fun that weekend and even managed to catch a few waves.  I was too lazy to take a bunch of pictures that weekend, but this one was from the second day.  We spent the weekend at a place called Seal Rocks a few hours North of Sydney.  Beautiful place.  The one wierd thing was that the sand squeaked when you walked on it because there is silicon in it or something.

That’s it for now, I’m sure there will be more pictures later!

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grosssssss

Time March 17th, 2008 in College Study Abroad | 2 Comments by

ughhh huge cockroaches!!!  i’m sitting here in my room trying to finish up packing (going to fiji for spring break tomorrow!) and get some last minute school work done before i leave (i’m missing 2.5 days of study in Australia to go abroad and i don’t want too much extra catch up work waiting for me when i come back) and there is this nasty cockroach flying around my room.  that’s right… flying… and it’s huge and nasty………..  plus it’s the second one of the night!! right before i saw this one on the wall i trapped one in a cup on my window sill and managed to get it out the window.  unfortunately my roommate pushed the window out to far and now we can’t close it and there are no screens on the windows at st. johns so the cockroaches must be flying in i presume.  i seriously find the cockroach problem repulsive.  it’s a good thing i don’t live in new york.

On a lighter note, I saw “The Vertical Hour” at the Sydney Opera House last Wednesday.  I wasn’t sure what to expect because I hadn’t heard of it and didn’t look it up before going.  I was pleasantly surprised to find I was quite enjoying myself.  First off it was neat just watching a show at the opera house and walking around The Rocks and Darling Harbor at night.  Second I really did like the play.  It was political and the kind of play that really made you think.  Additionally I was keen on the music they played before acts.  I haven’t looked it up yet, but I plan to.  It was some sort of rocking violin music…

Another fun trip I’ve experienced during the IFSA Butler study abroad in Australia program was surf camp!  The accommodations, food, and bus were somewhat “ghetto”; but more or less what you could expect of an actual camp.  It was about 3.5 hours north of Sydney and the beaches were gorgeous!!  The instructors were helpful and I had heaps of fun and met many other international students (I suppose the aussies already know how to surf or don’t need surf camp).  I was able to stand up while riding the white wash and could usually catch the waves, however I had a bit of trouble trying to put the two together.  I think I wiped out more than I actually surfed, but the trip was great and I didn’t burn much.  If I did I would have been surprised because I put on more suntan lotion last weekend than I ever have in my entire life.  The ozone is literally gone here.

Not surprisingly I still haven’t figured out how to resize the pictures.  Since I’ll be on a plane in about 12 hours that will have to wait until after spring break.  However I can’t see the cockroach anymore so I’m going to finish once last accounting problem and get some sleep.  I’ll write all about Fiji as long as I don’t get attacked by cockroaches in my sleep.

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The Honeymoon’s Over

Time March 7th, 2008 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I’ve been told several times that when you study abroad there are 5 phases you typically go through.  I don’t remember all of them, but I do remember it included a honeymoon phase, a low period of frustration, and then getting used to your new surroundings. Sounded unlikely to me, however it has actually happened somewhat like that.  At first I was uber excited about everything and ready to learn and explore everything new. I thought it would just be like that all semester, but the honeymoon is definitely over.

Initially I couldn’t imagine leaving and wanted to stay forever. I still think I go to the best college in the universe (st. johns of course) and there are a lot of things I want to do here, but I know I’ll be glad to be back in the states once the semester is over. I still cant believe I’ve only been here a month! It’s going to be weird saying goodbye to all my new friends, for now I’m going to just try not to think about it. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Finally I can access any site on the web from my room.  The only downside is that I can’t access the free mb Sydney uni alots us from St. Johns and I can’t be on the internet at the same time as my roommate for some reason. Fortunately that really hasn’t been a problem. Unfortunately I haven’t figured out how to save my pictures as a small enough file to be able to post them here.

Anyways enough of the boring stuff, on to o-week!  O-week is a giant week long event coordinated by the student union for everyone going to uni.  Every club from the Capt. Planet Appreciation Society to Brewsical (for people who like brews and music) to the sailing club have tents set up on campus for students to peruse and possibly join.  I personally didn’t join any, but there were a lot of interesting ones.  During this week there are also meet and greets with the faculty and various orientation information sessions.  I didn’t attend any of those for two reasons. Firstly, as a study abroad student I’m not really in any of the faculties and I’ve already been to a billion study abroad australia orientation lectures that they had done the previous week for the foreign students.  Secondly, living at a residential college I had a completely different o-week experience from the rest of the uni students.

The residential colleges are somewhat similar to greek life. It’s a community of students that have their own sports teams and their own social events separate from the university.  The freshers are initiated into the college during o-week and there is a lot of inter-college camaraderie and competition.  My o-week experience included getting a st. johns silly fresher tshirt, free jager hat, and every day was pretty much packed with activity. We learned the songs of the college, played sports, and went to mixers and had meals with the other colleges. Some of my favorite events were the pool party my college hosted, a pub crawl, and a bad taste cruise around Sydney Harbor. I’ve never seen outfits as ridiculous as what people had for the cruise, it was hilarious. For anyone from Hartford reading this, the pool party was a lot like spring fling, most of o-week was actually. We had a giant slip and slide, a blown up obstacle course and jumping pit, and of course a pool which was pretty disgusting by the end of the day.

O-week ended last Sunday, and this week classes finally start for Australia study abroad programs here at St. Johns. I have to go to the international office soon to change some of my courses, but I will be taking Buddhist philosophy; reality, ethics, and beauty (another philosophy class); management accounting; and learning in outdoor education.  For the outdoor class we are going on field trips, which is going to be awesome! We are spending a weekend in the blue mountains and taking a day hike in the royal national park. Surprisingly we only had to pay $50 to be able to do all that. Unfortunately the hike conflicts with an adventure weekend butler had arranged for us, but I’ve already talked to them and to my teacher and I know it will all get worked out. I’m either going to leave the butler trip one day early in order to go on the hike, or possibly go on the farm stay weekend instead.  Either way, butler was extremely helpful in working out some options for me, which I am very grateful for. Too bad not everything is that easy to work out.

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Summer Hols

Time February 29th, 2008 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

ok so i wrote this a few days ago… but due to orientation activities and continuing internet problems (which are finally fixed!!) i’m only getting to post it now.  i will update again soon, probably this weekend when “o week” (orientation week) is over.

Summer Hols

 

That is what I am currently in.  Summer, and everything that comes with it.  Beaches, jellyfish, sunburn, and apparently a decent amount of rain…  Ironic since Australia is in a draught.  It’s rained quite a bit since we got here though.  Our orientation trip to Fraser Island was cancelled because the bridge to get there flooded from all the rain.  Underwater Seaworld was a poor backup, especially since we were there for hours.  You can only see the seal show so many times.  The giftshop had a book on Fraser Island so we flipped through all the pictures and pretended we were there.  Definitely not the same, hopefully I’ll have the chance to visit before leaving.

 

When I first landed in Brisbane it didn’t really sink in that I was in Australia, it felt similar to being in Florida.  There were 2 things I learned really quickly: 1) look right when crossing the street and 2) every word gets shortened here.  For example, hols is short for holiday.  Apparently they have summer holiday from school instead of summer vacation.  We also learned about the stinky winky honky tonky wonky donkey.   No one seems to remember what stinky was supposed to mean (I don’t, and I just asked everyone in the hallway) but the rest of it means a one eyed elvis impersonating 3 legged donkey.  Some more practical “slangâ€? is cozi for bathing suit (or bathing costume, if you will), sunnies for sunglasses, bloke for guy, sheila for girl (which I don’t get because that one adds a syllable), sleven for 711, mackers for mcdonalds, etc. etc. etc.

 

At this point I’ve been in Sydney for a week and half but I wasn’t able to move into my room at St. Johns until this morning.  Somehow the college didn’t know we were coming so early and the rooms for myself and the other American study abroad students were rented out to a group of Japanese students staying here for some kind of trip or conference.  What that meant for us was living out of our suitcases and getting spoiled in our single rooms that had sinks.  It’s nice to finally be settled, but I miss my sink and having a space all my own.  I get along well with my roommate, but we have very different communicating styles so we end up misunderstanding each other a lot.  Overall I’ve gotten along with everyone from the program and the few Australian students I’ve met.  I definitely have my bouts of homesickness and missing my friends, family, and the familiar that I tend to take for granted or get bored of at home.

 

It’s been hard to keep track of the time and the days over here.  I think this is partially because I didn’t pack a watch and partially because we’ve done so much every day with very minimal responsibilities.  I really do feel like I’ve been gone for at least a month.  It’s hard to believe we have another week until classes start.  There are currently 4 calendars hanging in my room… so I don’t think keeping track of the days will be a problem anymore.  I know 4 seems excessive, I would be among the first to admit that, however calendars turned out to be the hot giveaway item at the club fair during orientation.  A plethora of calendars is far superior to blank white walls.  Plus at least they are all very different looking.  One is my super cool Heroes calendar my friend gave me for Christmas J

 

That reminds me, I’ve barely watched tv or surfed the web since I’ve been here.  The tv I could mostly do without, but the lack of internet is definitely frustrating.  Especially when combined with uber limited cell phone use.  I knew the internet wasn’t all free, but my problem is that I can’t access any sites other than those on the usyd network from St. Johns.  Hopefully we will find a way to access other sites, but for now it means going across campus to the library or into Newtown where we’ve discovered a few places with free wireless.  That is quite the hassle, which is why I haven’t posted a blog until now.  Especially with all the activities we’ve been doing.

 

We’ve basically done all the typical touristy things: the opera house, the Sydney bridge, a ferry through the harbor to get to Manly beach (my favorite so far, I highly recommend it), Coogee beach, Bondi beach, King St in Newtown, exploring campus, walking around the cbd (central business district) in Sydney, the botanical gardens, darling harbor, the anzac bridge, various bars and clubs…. And there’s still a lot that we haven’t seen or done!!!  I wanted to go to the zoo today, but couldn’t because we were moving in.  Tomorrow ifsa-butler has arranged a free bike trip around Sydney and across the bridge.  I’m really excited, it should be a great day!  Ifsa-butler has actually been extremely helpful throughout the whole process, I’m glad I chose them.  I’ve met students from other programs and I feel like my program has been the most helpful and provided the most services.  For example, at St. Johns has formal dinners twice a week and ifsa-butler gave us free rental gowns (think Hogwarts and Harry Potter robes; legit that is what St. Johns and the robes are like).  The students here from the Arcadia program had to buy theirs.

 

I could go on about the city, St. Johns, and campus forever, but I’m going to stop for now.  Hopefully the internet situation will be figured out very shortly.  Then I’ll be able to post shorter blogs more frequently, instead of one giant one like this.  Also I’m sure once classes actually start we won’t be going to quite as many places.  Cheers!

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411 Overload

Time January 31st, 2008 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

After being home for about a week I’ve finally put all my clothes away and caught up on the multitude of info about the study abroad Australia program.  After poring over emails and the ifsa-butler.org website for hours I have a recommendation:  if you are studying abroad, read your program coordinators emails as you get them!  I wish I had started looking over the website at least a month ago.  However, now that I’ve read everything there is to know about insurance, packing, and orientation I feel much better prepared to delve into preparation for my trip.

People often mention the phrase “culture shock” in association with traveling to foreign countries.  Until today I didn’t think much of it.  Naively I figured my class french trips to Canada and Paris had prepared me for any trips I might take and I thought “How different can people really be? What’s the big deal?”  Well… there are actually a lot of differences… and I’ve probably only skimmed the surface.  What really hit me big time today was: HOW MUCH YOU PAY FOR YOUR INTERNET!!!  Here in the US there are tons of wireless hot spots, the University of Hartford campus provides unlimited free internet, even the city of Hartford offers free wireless internet!  Not so much in Australia.  At U of Sydney they track the amount of Mb you are downloading from the web and you only get 42Mb free per week.  After that you have to pay for your internet usage.  Unfortunately there are no free internet hot spots over there.

One big down side to that is that I was planning on using skype as my main form of communication.  Skype = free internet calling. Sounds good right?  Wellll it might not end up being that great when I start paying for internet by the Mb.  Before I leave I’ll have to try and figure out how much Mb skype uses and compare it to the rates I’d have to pay using the phones ifsa-butler is providing.  When I decided to enter the Australia study abroad program I knew contact to my friends and family would be limited, but now it’s looking like I will mainly be using email to communicate.  On the bright side, this will help break my facebook addiction, as I will no longer be able to check it multiple times a day. I should start weening myself off it now, especially since I will be trying to fit 5 months of stuff into 2 suitcases and a carryon.  Wish me luck!

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Almost Ready?

Time January 17th, 2008 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

My friend Shaun just asked, “you ready for the trip over the pond?” I seem to be getting a lot of variations of this question lately. Since I’m entering the IFSA study abroad Australia program this semester all people seem to want to talk to me about is whether or not I’m ready, when I’m going, and if I’m excited to study in Sydney. Either that or they’re still trying to convince me not to go or figure out how to get in my suitcase.
If you’re reading this blog, most likely you are wondering that too because either a) you are considering such an experience yourself (maybe even one of IFSA’s Australia study abroad programs) or b) you’re one of my friends. I’ll tell you more or less the same thing I told Shaun; I’m stoked to go there, not completely packed or prepared yet, gonna miss my friends A LOT, but I can’t wait!

As far as being prepared goes, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel! I’ve passed on my responsibilities as rugby treasurer and Delta Zeta’s ritual chair, my passport came in last month, I finished all the paperwork for ifsa-butler and my school’s study abroad office (although I may have destroyed the rain forest), and I just applied for my visa a few hours ago (fortunately that was online, so there are still a few trees left). Things are looking pretty good on that front, but I haven’t been looking at all the muy importante information my program coordinator has been e-mailing me about insurance and packing tips and all that fun stuff. I figure I’ll be home for 2 weeks with no job and not much to do other than get ready for Australia, so I’m not worried. Of course that means I will be packing 1 week and 6 days from now…. just kidding! i hope…

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