Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Home Is Where The Heart Is

Time January 4th, 2017 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

As of today, I have officially been home from Australia for a month. And to be honest, I have some mixed feelings about being home for such a long period of time before going down to my home uni again in another week. I do love being home, especially because I was blessed to have a beautiful white Christmas with my family in my hometown with plenty of cheer (and not to mention, lots and lots of food). I still have friends that stuck around in Straya a few weeks after I did, and seeing their photos or videos online definitely makes my heart squeeze a little because I miss the sunshine and the Australian accent. I try to use the Aussie lingo sometimes just to keep it alive in my heart, but I have definitely been given a few odd looks after asking “hey, how ya goin’ today?” even in the most casual setting. I won’t let that stop me from throwing out “heaps” whenever I can, though!

Sometimes I feel like I forget that I even was gone in a foregin country for 5 months. Then, I’ll get a message from an Australian friend, or I’ll see a photo that I took on one of our adventures, and everything comes rushing back all at once how much I’ve learned and been lucky enough to see. Thankfully, I have plenty of reminders of my travels and really enjoyed creating a photo album with all of my photos, ticket stubs, postcards, and little things I collected along the way that remind me that nothing was a dream, but it makes it all still tangible to me no matter where I’ll be in the future. There are so many memories that I never want to forget, and I feel like the only way to make sure I never do is to solidify them in pictures and journals, so I can look back on them whenever I want to feel nostalgic. Australia will always have a very special place in my heart now, and I take every opportunity I can to tell people about my travels and how incredible the Aussies are. I’ve noticed many things that are very different in America vs Australia, as I knew I would notice when I came home, and some of them are very familiar and others make me question why we Americans are so different and how we can improve many things to be more efficient with our country in comparison.

Overall, I’ve adjusted to being back home very well because I’ve been around my family and two of my closest friends as much as possible, and been able to work at the job I have during the summer to earn back a little of the money I spent abroad (which, to be honest, was a lot). The strangest thing to get used to the first few days was not hearing the Aussie accent around me, but now I can hardly remember when that was all I heard (and I’m too horrible at accents to try and recreate it for others, sadly enough). I feel that I’m the same person I’ve always been, but I have so much more knowledge and confidence in my abilities overall now that I’ve survived on my own for months in a foreign country, making me feel worldly and traveled with a lot more cultural balance beneath my belt. I would never, ever trade my experiences in Australia for anything, and I feel like I studying abroad was the best decision I could have ever made for myself during my college experience, because I have learned more about people, myself, and the world than I ever could have in a classroom.

Cheers, for the last time,

Rachel

Share

Spring Break Down Under

Time December 6th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, New Zealand | No Comments by

Read More »

Share

Home Sweet Home

Time December 5th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia, First Generation Scholars | No Comments by

After a whirlwind of exams, packing, planes, and turkey overload I finally find myself recovered from jet lag, back on American time, sitting on my couch basking in the glimmering lights from our Christmas tree. My reunion with my friends and family has been warming.  Kind of like when you come home from your first semester of college and the only question you get asked is “How’s school?!” or “Don’t you love college?”, the only question I’ve been bombarded with is “How was your trip?” It’s safe to say I’ve been the talk of the family since I’ve been gone, and I’m more than happy to share my experiences with everyone who asks.

I genuinely can’t believe that it is already over.  I remember moving into my Urbanest apartment like it was yesterday.  But, at the same time, when I think back to those four months they are a blur.  Honestly, I sometimes feel like I dreamed it all. When I scroll through my camera roll on my phone and recount all of the amazing places I visited, adventures I journeyed, and friends I met I feel nothing but gratitude.  It’s no corny exaggeration to say that it was the trip of a lifetime, and the longer I spend at home and the further it gets behind me, the more and more I appreciate it. Read More »

Share

Time to Return Home.

Time December 2nd, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | 1 Comment by

Read More »

Share

From Skydiving to Scubadiving

Time December 1st, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

These last few weeks have been some of my favorite of my entire trip – finals were finished and the weather made for perfect beach days, and I finally took a trip up to the Tropical North Queensland, to the city of Cairns and Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays.

Before I left Wollongong though, I decided to check out the best view of it I could get- by dropping out of a plane, at 14,000 ft high. It was quite an experience, to say the least. The nerves I had on the short plane ride up to altitude were really the worst part, but the amazing view of Wollongong was even a good distraction from that. Thankfully, I was the first one out of the plane, and the stomach drop feeling you get from roller coasters never really came, except you really feel like you’re just floating on a really windy day, with a much better view. The jerk of the parachute was a lot less intense than I thought, and floating down looking into the city was fun to point out where I went to Uni, to the beach, as well as my accomodation (plus I learned to steer a parachute!). I would HIGHLY recomend going skydiving someday- it’s over before you know it and the adrenaline rush is the best caffeine pump ever!

15032802_10208024287584244_3111459180830045928_n

Traveling to the Whitsundays was beautiful, since it’s a group of islands off of the coast of Queensland and everything is green, tropical, and basically like walking right into a romantic honeymoon getaway. The island has some notoriously cheeky cockatoos, and when you check in they tell you to always keep doors closed or your room will be demolished by the little guys, since they’re about as clever as a three year old kid. Hamilton Island only has golf carts as transportation, and it only takes about ten minutes from one beach to the other. We spent a day kayaking in the harbour, then another day taking a day trip out to the Whitehaven beach- where the sand is made up of all silica, and is known as some of the softest and whitest sand in the world. So, so, SO amazing!

image1-6

I spent a few days traveling through Cairns, visiting the Kuranda rainforest, the Great Barrier Reef, and a day trip through all of the waterfalls in the Atherton Tables of the rainforest (including one from an Herbal Essences commercial!). The first day we spent up in the Kuranda rainforest, taking a 100 year old scenic train up the mountain before exploring a butterfly sanctuary, trying kangaroo and crocodile for lunch, then getting to ride in a 75 year old Army Duck through the rainforest before feeding kangaroos and cuddling koalas in the wildlife park. The end of the day we took the Skyrail over the rainforest, and it was the most incredible views of the mountains and gorges with the background music of hundreds of tropical birds singing to us. All in all, an amazing day for a conservationist like myself.

img_1680 image3-5

The next day was spent out in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef- scuba diving for the first time, and snorkeling above hundreds of tropical fish and who knows how many meters worth of coral. It was incredible to see all of the types of fish you see in pet stores roaming around through the coral in their natural habitat, and it really made me incredibly happy to see. Albeit the coral was a little less colorful than I had imagined, but I feel that I learned heaps about the biology and ecology of the area just by chatting with the local biologists they have as tour guides on board the vessels.

We drove on a day trip through the Atherton Table, a flat spot on top of the mountains surrounding Cairns. And let me tell you, we went into deep rainforest this day. I think we saw at least 6 different spiders that were the size of my palm, and there were definitely no glass walls to look at them through like there are in zoos. Exciting, but I well kept my space from them. We swam in four different pools, and the most famous of which are the Milaa Milaa falls which were used in the filming of an Herbal Essences commercial, therefore we all took photos doing hair flips beneath the picturesque falls (a lot harder than it looks, surprisingly). We also swam in a lake that had a local crocodile, and that was as stressful as you would expect whenever our toes hit a rock or plant below us (but hey, bragging rights?). Then spent the rest of the road trip jamming out to old songs and chatting with the other internationals on the bus together, spotting pythons, wallabies, and plenty of Lorikeet parrots.

milaa-milaa

All in all, the trip up to Tropical North Queensland was probably one of my highlight trips in Australia, due to the fact that I’ve gotten to study the biodiversity from afar for so long and suddenly be enthralled between the rainforest leaves and see all of the insects, plants, and animals in total harmony was such an incredible experience for me that I’ll never forget, especially since much of the life is in danger of becoming extinct due to habitat loss and changing environments or predation.

And now, as I finally make the trek back home, I have a lot to be thankful for and long way to go to be situated back in my home culture, but I feel like I’ve grown so much and seen so many incredible places that I won’t know where to start when people ask: “How was Australia?”

Stay tuned to find out whether or not I figure out a simple answer to that question…

Share

Saying Goodbye

Time November 23rd, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

There was no way to describe how I felt when the plane landed back on American soil in Los Angeles on Sunday. Looking back it all seems like a blur. I woke up in my bedroom the next morning almost confused as to how I wasn’t back in my apartment in Adelaide, as if flying home was all a dream. That’s how the past few days have felt being back on Long Island, dreamlike. It’s as if nothing has changed but at the same everything has. When I first arrived in Australia I remember a similar feeling. When I said goodbye to my friends and family it felt so unreal, as if I would just be seeing them the next day. That’s how it felt when I left Australia, but it a way that’s comforting because I know I’ll see it again one day. Read More »

Share

Melbourne’s Most Memorable Part 2: Philip Island and Little Penguins.

Time November 14th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

14908173_10154176865271936_3680491438887795845_n

You haven’t seen the world until you have watched two tiny penguins run and fall belly first over the same patch of sea grass within 30 seconds of each other.

Allison and I, thanks to a fabulous Australian family friend of Allison, were able to visit Phillip Island and enjoy an event called the march of the penguins.

14925756_10154177352321936_2297295921348026732_n

Philip Island is located just outside of the city of Melbourne and is home to thousands of ferry penguins. These penguins leave their burrows for days at a time to feed and bring back food for their families. The march of the penguins consists of watching packs of these little animals waddle up onto shore, make sure it’s safe, and then waddle as fast as they can towards their burrows. With their nerves on high, necks stretched, arms flailing in takeoff position, and knees fused together, you haven’t lived until you have witnessed this phenomenon.

On Sunday afternoon Allison and I boarded a small bus decorated with photos of tiny penguins and the words “The Little Penguin Company” scrawled brightly across the side. After a short and rainy drive, we arrived at the western tip of the island where we were able to explore the Nobbies at Point Grant. The Nobbies are made up of boardwalks along the coast that overlook the ocean and rocks below, and some of these boardwalks are also homes for the ferry penguins.

14938141_10154177548841936_1107933279544127994_n

I hopped off the bus at the Nobbies and was immediately blown backward by the winds that followed the rain of that day. For protection, I wrapped my jacket around my camera and I and trudged towards the boardwalk. The sun began to set as we walked along the coast and the waves, with the help of the wind, crashed and swirled white froth along the hillside. The sun set behind a small but tall island and illuminated its green shrubs on all sides. The island looked as if it was wearing a halo and the waters below it glistened and danced around its edges trying to touch the aura of sunlight.

14980830_10154177352356936_7595657318813341919_n

As we got back on the bus, the golden Nobbies disappeared behind us along with the sun, and we headed towards the Phillip Island Nature Park to watch the penguin parade. Allison and I were lucky enough to go on a guided ranger tour which allowed us to be up close and personal with the penguins as well as receive headsets through which our guide to explained the process of the penguins return to home in depth.

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-5-07-10-pm

It did not take long for the Penguins to begin coming up onto the beach. We sat and watched as masses of twenty to forty Penguins sat in the water, waited for someone brave to venture out, and then all tumble and run as fast as their penguin feet could take them towards the sea grass. There were multiple times where one penguin would be left behind; it would then either run as fast as it could towards the pack or completely turn tail and flop back into the water. This part of their day is by far the most dangerous and stressful for the Penguins as they are completely exposed; so when they reach the safety of the high grass and rocks of the beach they take a well-earned breather. But the trip is not over yet, they then continue along the “penguin highway” which is a long strip of dirt until they find their burrow. We walked along this path, without disturbing the penguins, and watched them waddle and stumble towards their homes. Allison and I stood by a patch of sea grass and watched small penguin run so fast through it that he tripped and fell on his stomach letting out a noise of surprise as if the grass had miraculously appeared in front of him. As he got up and waddle off, we watched as one of his pals followed his direct path and flopped over becoming just as frustrated with the grass as the first one.

img_9516

Seeing the Penguin Parade and walking the boardwalks of The Nobbies is a trip you need to take if you are visiting Melbourne. Getting there takes an hour and a half, and you stay till about 10 pm, but it is well worth the time!

 

*Photos of me taken by Allison Hefter
*Photo of penguin is from: https://www.penguins.org.au/photo-gallery/
Share

7 Tips: The Melbourne Cup for Beginners.

Time November 14th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

A list of things you need to know if you are going to the Melbourne Cup for the first time.

melbourne-cup
1. Everyone looks like they just walked off the runway. Okay not everyone, but pretty close! If you think you are overdressed, then you are probably underdressed. Hello flowy and glittery.

melbournecup

2. Headwear is EVERYTHING. I wore a headband made out of gold leaves, and my friend wore a large tan and black hat, so if you have a hat or headband stored in your closet, brush off that dust and bring it to the racecourse.

14939551_1245767448831839_8152030391085644311_o

3. Place a bet regardless of if you know what you are doing or not! I cannot stress this enough, even if it’s only five dollars. I mean, where is the fun in watching a race if you don’t have anything to win! (Or lose in my case whoops)

alice-melbournecup

4. Those stiletto heels you are planning on wearing? good luck. You have two options; one ends with you barefoot, and the other relies on the champagne to take care of any pain until the next day when you will REALLY feel it.

14681858_1239816932760224_2815196144342824800_n

5. Meet people! Some people are focused on the race while others will be happy to tell you about the money they either just won or loss. A shout-out to the guys who gave us a bottle of champagne when they won over $1,000!

6. Go to the grass. The stands are fine, but the grass is where all the action happens. Not only are you closer to the track itself but you can feel the crowd’s anticipation as the horses pass the finish line, and the “OOOOOH”’s grow louder. At one point I didn’t even bet on any of the horses racing, I was just cheering because the excitement was contagious.

14963209_10154176860676936_370500929142576738_n

7. When your host parent for the weekend tells you what number horses to bet on, don’t just bet on them for him and then pretend you have any idea on what you are doing and bet on a random horse. Bet on the horse he’s betting on because then you will win $250 instead of losing $20, #bitter.

Off to the Races!!

Share

Schooools Out (Kind Of)

Time November 7th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

Heya!

The last few weeks have gone by so fast, and so many things have been happening! School has ended and we are currently on “Study” Vacation, where there is a lot more vacationing happening than studying. This includes going to the beach since the weather has finally been sunny and warm, watching heaps of movies in the red room where we push together couches to make couch boats for ideal movie cuddling, and going on various Macca’s runs basically on a nightly basis for some nugs and chips. Truly, it’s a time to bond with all of the people that we live with in the last few weeks before we all head back to the States, depressingly enough. But if I don’t think about leaving then it won’t happen, right? Isn’t that how time works?

Lately we’ve been getting ready for the two week exam period, but everyone gets a week off before known as “Study Vacation.” Surprisingly, everyone definitely pays more attention to the “study” part than “vacation,” but there is definitely a fair amount of visiting the beach happened this week. The weather has been beautiful and sunny, so obviously everyone can be convinced to take a mental break and go lay in the sand or play in the waves. I adore living so close to the beach, it only takes about a 15 minute walk to make it to North Gong Beach, and it’s always bound to be a good day where you come up with games to play or read a book in the sun, or accidentally get really burnt (like me, oops).

n-wollongong-beach Here’s me, soaking up some rays, pretending that finals aren’t a thing…

Since I live in a campus accomodation with about 200 other people, we had a Farewell Formal for the end of the semester. Everyone got really dressed up, and got on a bus that took us to this beautiful convention center on the beach. They gave us a delicious three course meal, the mentors made toasts about all the fun during the year, and there was a photographer roaming around who managed to capture hundreds of photos with everyone mixing and matching between groups to get fantastic photos. We all danced like doofuses because everyone is so close to each other that no amount of weird dancing is too weird. Everyone was in a fantastic mood, and we all continued the party afterwards by going to the R&B night at one of the local clubs that we frequent, continuing to dance like idiots all dressed up to the nines.

Halloween! My favorite holiday, spent in my favorite country. Australians definitely don’t take Halloween as seriously as Americans do, but everyone still got dressed up and had a fantastic night anyways. There is this cute little bar across the street from the ocean where they held a Halloween bash, where everyone dressed up as a zombie-esque characters with plenty of cheesy decorations scattered around the bar. The music was great and people were having a great time, but I was definitely missing the hometown fall, pumpkin patch, and Halloween spirits (very few scary movies were watched, since all of the Australians I live with are simply too scared to watch any movie scarier than the Nightmare Before Christmas).

All week there have been movies and bonding in the red room with everyone, and we’ve also recently picked up the game Clued0 (American Clue), and never in my life have I been so good at figuring out if it was Mustard in the bathroom with the lead pipe or if it was Scarlet in the kitchen with the dagger. Great bonding moments with the other residents happen when there isn’t much going on, especially during the StuVac where everyone is free and the staff will cook us all pancakes every night for a “study snack.” We got to explore the spring food markets near the lighthouse with little booths from local vendors, then explored the lighthouse grounds and beach face. We saw tide pools (including a little crab friend, not pictured, but was very concerned about our presence) and got to watch the sun set over the mountains behind us. Lovely beach, lovely company, and a perfect way to spend a week of “studying” vacation in my favorite place.

woll-beach-n North Wollongong Lighthouse at sunset
Share

The Great Barrier Reef – One Down Six To Go.

Time November 3rd, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

14718630_10154123179096936_1739657044395071552_n

One down six more to go because I have officially visited one of the seven wonders of the world, The Great Barrier Reef. Although there has been a lot of talk about the death of this beautiful landmark, I am here to report that it is thriving and teeming with life. I visited the reef once when I was much younger, however, due to my pure hatred for the cold, I decided I would sit on the boat and miss out on everything, what a buzzkill. Thankfully this past weekend I had a chance to not only experience snorkeling in the GBR but also experience scuba diving for the first time, and let me tell you, once you go scuba you never go back.

14705803_10154123178986936_8637349436664895197_n Read More »

Share

Twenty-Fun

Time October 27th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

There are T-minus 16 days until my twenty-first birthday, not that I’m counting or anything…

This being said, ever since I turned 18 I have been dreaming of how amazing my 21st would be.  I dreamt of a nice dinner with my closest friends and family, celebratory champagne, and a night out clubbing with my best friends all while wearing a birthday sash and crown.  However, celebrating a twenty-first birthday here in Australia is nowhere near as exciting as in America.

So far in Australia I’ve celebrated three of my closest friends’ twenty-first birthdays.  While they have been amazing and special to us, whenever we go out to our favorite bars/clubs to ring in the big day, the staff and fellow Australians look at us like we’re crazy.  Of course they understand that every birthday is special, but we certainly haven’t gotten the stereotypical 21st birthday treatment we would have if we had been in the U.S.

So while I’m counting down the days until my birthday, I’ll be celebrating both here in Australia AND one week later when I return to the U.S… who says you can only turn 21 once?

 

Share

Mel(burn)

Time October 18th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

G’day Loves!

This weekend was yet another trip outside of Wollongong, this time a venture to Melbourne, Victoria! We took another hour and a half flight out of Sydney and got to Melbourne late on a Thursday, stayed in a quaint AirBnB (so nice to actually have someone who knew the city to give us the best go-to tips) and took our time exploring the city and surrounds over three whole days. Since we had a total group of eight people we split up in two groups and drove a rental car (wonderful freedom, yet driving on the left is STILL bizarre even three months later).

The first whole day we spent driving south down the Great Ocean Road to the 12 Apostles — fun fact, there are only 8 total rocks, maybe they just sound better as 12? — with pit stops at lookouts, beaches, and cafes along the gorgeous stretch of windy roads on the south coast of Australia. We saw the Apostles then hopped around to the London Bridge, the Arch, then chased the sunset back to watch it set over the Apostles again on the water (which is very rare to see on the East coast). Read More »

Share

New Zealand- A Fairy Tale

Time October 17th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia, First Generation Scholars | No Comments by

When I came abroad I made a rule of thumb for myself: have low expectations. By setting low expectations, despite all the hype I heard about a certain city or bar or restaurant, I would never be disappointed. But, after leaving New Zealand, I’m going to tell anyone and everyone that it’s okay to have high expectations there – – they will be met.  If there is one place in the world that deserves to be talked up, it is definitely this country.  I wanted to take a picture of everything — the roads, the mountains, the sheep, the hostel, the bars, the water, the lakes, the food… the list goes on and on because everything here was picture-perfect. Not only were the scenery, landscape, and fresh air pristine, but also the people were friendly, outgoing, chatty, and welcoming.

Two of my friends and I rented a car for the 4 days we were there and it definitely was worth it. I have no idea how we would’ve navigated all of the destinations we did if we didn’t have one.  We arrived late Thursday night around 10pm and roamed around the small town for some dinner.  Funny enough every restaurant we asked looked at us like we were crazy for asking if they were still serving dinner at that time.  Luckily an Indian restaurant (my favorite) just down the street was still open so we got to fill our stomachs with chicken tikka and red wine before bed.

The following morning we woke up at 7am to make the 5 hour drive to Milford Sound.  Although I was dreading how long of a day of driving it would be, the drive actually ended up being my favorite part.  It was incredibly scenic with lush green vasts of farm, sheep, and snow-capped mountains drawing my attention the whole way.  We arrived to Milford Sound by 1pm, with a couple of stops along the way, and prepared for our kayaking tour at 2! Kayaking was beautiful, and a lot more difficult than I had anticipated.  We walked 6 miles to a hidden waterfall along the Sound then kayaked back, so we made it back to the car to head home by 7pm.  The drive home was much less entertaining given it was dark, we were starving, and exhausted; but, we powered through by playing classic car games like would you rather.

The rest of the trip was relaxing and peaceful.   The following day we recovered with a nice hike up Queenstown Hill, ate at the infamous Fergburger, napped, and got dinner at a yummy restaurant on the water called the Public House.  Sunday morning we booked Onsen Hot Pools which were incredible private hot tubs overlooking Skippers Canyon. We then drove about 10 minutes to Lake Hayes where we enjoyed the weather in the sun. We unfortunately had to wake up early the following morning to head home, but there is no doubt I will be returning to that country for my honeymoon (:

 

 

 

Share

How do you Describe Australia?

Time October 17th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

I have a hard time defining what it means to be “Australian” almost as much as I have defining what it means to be “American.” I could describe how I feel being American, but I’m sure that someone who lives even only an hour from me has a completely different definition. It’s hard to find those small, common threads across a culture as multicultural as Australia’s or America’s. If anything I think the fact that everyone within the country is so different is a defining factor of the culture.

Before I came to Australia, I definitely had a bit more of a stereotypical image of Australians, only really receiving information on the country from the media around me. I loved watching the Crocodile Hunter when I was little, H20 was a show I watched in middle school, and everything else about the country seemed so remote. Mermaids and crocodile hunting were definitely more of a fantasy of mine when it came to Australia, but the beaches, wildlife, and landscapes were not. I came for the wildlife, that was always my number one reason for coming here, and in that aspect I have not been dissappointed, but also I guess I didn’t realize just how many other aspects there are to Australia. Like we watched in class and in the tourist commercials for international travellers, the brilliant landscapes and relaxed atmosphere are what seemed to be sold the most about Australia, but after coming here, those aspects have kind of taken a back seat. If anything, I felt more resonation with the Quantas commercials even though Australia isn’t my home because I understand that it is home for so many. It’s bizarre to say that but when you’re travelling it’s easy to forget that your vacation spot for someone else is where they’ve lived their entire lives. Once you open your eyes to that I think you experience more of the authenticity of the country you’re in.

You can connect to the people more personally and you may even start to feel like a “local” yourself. Adelaide is not my “home” but I feel at home here even after only being here a few months. The touristy commercials and expectations have faded away. Sure, I’ve experienced plenty of those things from diving in the Great Barrier Reef or petting a kangaroo, but I’ve also been invited over for a homecooked meal with Australian friends, gone for long walks around the city, and experienced life that’s not a vacation in a place that’s often looked at from that perspective where I come from.

It’s made me think about home a lot, specifically how I maybe don’t appreciate my own city for all the little hidden quirks or surprises it has. We had a conversation in my Australian Classics class the other day about a novel we’d read that takes place in Adelaide. In many points throughout the novel, the author describes with fervent detail small places around Adelaide, down to the names of the streets they’re on. The tutor asked if the class felt that the extreme descriptiveness might hinder readers who aren’t from Adelaide. A few people nodded in agreement but I felt, being an outsider, a little differently. Hearing the city being spoken of with such familiarity and fondness, though I may not have understood all of the references, I understood the feeling the author was trying to portray. The feeling of home, and knowing your own like the back of your hand. I don’t know Adelaide like that, even now, but getting to know it has been such a journey, and I feel more closely connected to the city because of it.

Here’s some photos from a little expedition I took around the city to try and capture the place I’ve been lucky enough to call home for the past few months.

Adelaide27
A local performer at Rundle Mall. Performers of all kinds can always be found up and down the strip of shops including a didgeridoo player, jugglers, escape artists, violinists, and more.

Adelaide26
A view of Rundle Mall (including the famous Mall Balls) from atop the Adelaide Arcade.

Adelaide25
University of South Australia students display their fashion designs inside of the Adelaide Arcade.

Adelaide24
A view of the Adelaide Arcade from the balcony.

Adelaide23
One of the many amazing street art paintings on display throughout Adelaide.

Adelaide21
The mural at the end of Rundle Mall, always changing and receiving additions from all different artists.

Adelaide20
Street art by Peter Drew as part of the art movement throughout Adelaide called “Real Australians Say Welcome”.

Adelaide19
An example of some of the old-fashioned buildings still remaining throughout Adelaide.

Adelaide17
Relaxing by the Botanic Gardens.

Adelaide16
A gorgeous greenhouse found inside the Botanical Gardens.

Adelaide11
Bridge leading to the University of Adelaide covered in hundreds of locks, very much like the Pont des Arts in Paris but luckily not collapsing.

Adelaide6
Some of the many black swans that can be found down at the River Torrens.

 

 

 

Share

Making Friendships to Last

Time October 11th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

For five nights I slept in a small one room shed-like house on Kangaroo Island. Remote, and away from anyone else, myself and 4 other girls spent these days traveling around the island completing a field research project, cooking meals together, playing endless rounds of “would you rather” on car rides to field sites, and just getting to know each other. Three of the girls were Australians and the fourth is an international student from Norway. We went into this trip none of us knowing anyone very well, and came out with friendships to last.

KIgroup2

It was my first time since coming to Australia that I’ve actually been able to hang out with Australians and get to know them on a personal level. I couldn’t be more thankful for the group of girls I was paired with. It was complete luck as I remember sitting in our Conservation and Restoration practical on the first day of classes that I ended up in this amazing group project. Everyone in the class seemed to know each other for years, all set in their majors for a while and the course being offered later on in the degree. I sat in the classroom, seemingly alone and then the professor announced that the big assignment of the semester would be a group field research project. Great. I looked around the room already seeing people whispering to their friends around them. I sat still, completely frozen until the girl next to me asked if I’d like to join their group. I don’t think I’d ever felt so relieved in my life, and then the excitement set in because we would be asking for the Kangaroo Island project. An island of kangaroos, sign me up! The three Australians, Charlotte, Esther, and Izzy, couldn’t be sweeter and then another exchange student from Norway, Miranda, asked to join our group and there we were, 5 girls ready to head on an adventure to Kangaroo Island.

KI39

During the second week of mid-semester break I packed up a duffel bag and hopped into a truck with the group early Sunday morning to catch the ferry to Kangaroo Island. Though I was still a bit shocked from the temperature drop coming back from Cairns, I was so excited to get to the island and to get to know the girls I would be spending the next 5 days with. Arriving at Izzy’s parents house, which she was nice enough to offer to us instead of camping, I was in awe. The property was immense with rolling green hills continuing all the way to the ocean. It felt so open and so secluded. I fell in love quickly. Then I went to the bathroom and was greeted by a lovely little Huntsman spider (what you’ve all been expecting since I’ve arrived in Australia).

KI1

KI2

After we got settled in our little home for the next 5 days, it was time again to focus on the actual task at hand. Our research project was a project that has been ongoing for years now, looking at the conservation efforts of the Drooping Sheoak on Kangaroo Island. The Drooping Sheoak is a tree that produces cones with seeds inside them. The Glossy Black Cockatoo eats only these cones and its population is struggling, Kangaroo Island being the only place they’re currently found in South Australia. Monitoring their food source and observing whether or not chewed up cones could be found under the trees we were marking, is a good indicator for where the cockatoos are feeding and what sites are doing well. We visited 8 sites over the span of 5 days, some being on private property, conservation sites, and re-vegetation sites, counting the cone production of 40 trees on each site (a very tedious process, trust me). The entire time, as many cones as we were counting, we had so much fun driving around the island, sharing stories, and returning each night to our little home.

https://flic.kr/p/MEraqhp/

KI11

KI4

With no wifi, cellphone service, or TV, we had plenty of time to get to know each other. This consisted especially of just having fun listening to each other’s accents, trying to imitate it in our own accents, much to our amusement. Charlotte, Esther, and Izzy definitely did not get tired saying “Hey! I’m walking here” anytime New York happened to come up, while I couldn’t quite get down “There’s a shark in the water!” One night while we began to play some card games, I asked (thinking it was a complete shot in the dark) if anyone had ever heard of the game Mao, a card game my friends and I love and play back home. To my surprise, Esther and Charlotte knew what I was talking about. Here I was all the way on the other side of the world about to play a game I must have played countless times Freshman year with my hall-mates. Such a small thing like a card game, in that moment, meant the world to me.

The next few days consisted of plenty of field work, but not without spotting some of the (adorable) wildlife on Kangaroo Island…

KI20

KI53

KI58

KI59

…Including my new favorite animal: the echidna. LOOK AT IT.

KI23

As its name suggests, Kangaroo Island is home to mainly kangaroos (shocker I know). What was shocking was how many kangaroos this actually implied. As we drove up and down the island, I counted 6 kangaroos that had ran in front of the car (way worse than any deer you’ll face in upstate New York or when you’re driving out to Montauk). They. Were. Everywhere. And it was absolutely amazing!!!

KI30

KI32

The different field sites we visited were also gorgeous in themselves, but coming back to our humble little abode after a long day of field work was always the best feeling. Master chef Izzy (no exaggeration) always prepared delicious dinners for us all and again nights were spent getting to know each other, discussing things as silly as what celebrity crushes we all would marry to social issues shaking all of our countries right now.

On one of our last nights, we had invited another group from our class, also doing research on the island, to come over during what would be the worst storm to hit South Australia in 50 years. Luckily the house ran on solar power so we were not hit with the huge power outage that South Australia experienced, but we did miss a day of field work. At some point during the night of the storm we had begun to swap ghost stories, some spooky enough to definitely raise the hair on the back of my neck. Of course, after the stories were shared I had to go to the bathroom, conveniently located in a separate shed next to the house. As I tiptoed to the restroom with the stormy wind and rain whipping around me, I shined my phone’s flashlight into the darkness in front of me. I kept telling myself that the scariest thing that could be in the bathroom was a spider and even that wouldn’t be so bad. When I began walking back toward the house, right as I reached the front door I heard a loud thud to my left. I couldn’t see anything, the porch light not reaching very far, but I could hear the thumping on the ground grow louder like footsteps coming toward me. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t ready to scream and fight some ax murderer when a little kangaroo hopped into the porch light. I learned it’s quite easy to get the spooks when you’re living on an island in the middle of nowhere in the middle of a storm, and believe me I was laughed at quite a bit when I walked back inside, but all in all I had such a great time with some great people. Learning more about Australia while making new friendships was definitely the highlight of Kangaroo Island. 

KI41

KIgroup

I did not want to leave the island on the last day and return to Adelaide where the start of classes awaited me. Especially after I had met 4 amazing new friends, it made getting on the ferry back to Adelaide even tougher. Now classes have started once again along with final papers and exams. I only have so many days left in this beautiful place, but I’m trying to push that thought as far away from my mind right now. 

KI38

Share

Top Five Mouthwatering Restaurants In South Bank.

Time October 3rd, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

We all know that the only reason students go abroad is to eat delicious food and take pictures of it for Instagram. So, to make sure you guys knew where to get the good stuff in Brisbane I decided to turn into a restaurant critic for a day. From date night to experiencing a new world or just enjoying some comfort food, here are the five places you need to eat at if you live in South Bank, Brisbane:

14550704_10154078754621936_1118433407_o Read More »

Share

Finding Nemo in Cairns

Time October 3rd, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

There are days that you know you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Days that will stick out in your memory forever when you look back on adventures you had or experiences you made. I was lucky enough to have just a few of these magical moments in Cairns. For the first week of mid-semester break my two flatmates and I traveled 3 hours by plane up North to the Australian state of Queensland. We were looking forward to spending 5 days swimming, exploring, snorkeling, and just soaking in the warm, tropical weather. It’s been quite windy and rainy in Adelaide lately, and we were dying for some Australian sun. Cairns gave us all that we asked for.

Rainforest3

Read More »

Share

The Whitsunday’s Must Visit List

Time October 3rd, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0331.

This past week was the University of Queensland’s mid-semester break and boy did we have a fantastic time. The Whitsunday Islands is a place I have been dreaming about visiting since arriving in Australia. These are islands based on the outskirts of the Great Barrier Reef and are just a short hour flight from Brisbane, and a quick boat ride out to whichever island your heart desires to go to. We ended up going on a day trip with Reefstar Cruises which took us to three beautiful spots in the Whitsundays: Northern Whitehaven Beach, DayDream Island, and Bali Hai Island.

14550627_10154078613871936_1780655920_o Read More »

Share

Fireworks, Alpacas, and Wine, Oh my!

Time September 14th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

First off I’d like to apologize for the blatant loss of Wednesday’s description in my last post. One of my photos cut out the paragraph, so don’t worry Wednesdays are just as fun here in Australia. They’re actually my day off from classes. I’ll usually stroll down to Rundle Mall or hide out in a cafe if the weather’s bad and catch up on some work.

It’s always fun though to break the routine I’ve fallen into and with mid-semester break coming up (a two week break in the middle of the semester which I very much believe F&M should adopt) I’m looking forward to all the new experiences other parts of Australia have to offer. I’ll be going to Cairns the first week of the break and snorkeling/diving in the Great Barrier Reef, and in the second week I’ll be heading to Kangaroo Island for a research project in my Conservation and Restoration course.

That isn’t to say of course that nothing exciting has been happening here in Adelaide. This past weekend I got to experience a lot of the rich cultural experiences Adelaide has to offer. The first of these experiences was known as the Royal Adelaide Show. The show was made up of markets, bazaars, art shows, musical performances, a giant agricultural show, food and wine tastings, carnival rides, and a stadium show with fireworks. I actually ended up visiting twice just to be sure I didn’t miss out on any of the attractions offered. First, I went with my IFSA-Butler class and our adviser escorted us around the grounds to all the must see events which of course included the dog show taking place. I don’t think I stopped squealing the entire time we were in that tent. Along with adorable dogs there were tents filled to the max with all types of different agricultural animals. We roamed around looking at the prize winning pigs, horses, cows, sheep, goats, cats, and even alpacas. Needless to say I was quite in my element.

BFFs

Our group adviser, Sharna, also showed us through the food tent, packed full of different vendors all offering free samples from smoked Australian sausages to even Eucalyptus flavored ice cream (and other outback inspired flavors). The grounds of the fair itself were huge and the amount of people there was perplexing. I’m used to small fairs back home for my town that usually run up and down main street, but this was full of multiple pavilions used just for housing art displays, small business set ups, or food stands. Later on when myself and two of my friends came back at night we walked around the carnival area of the show, full of your standard Ferris wheels, haunted houses, roller coasters, and kiddie rides. The night was lit up with neon lights and the grounds were flooded with people.

Eventually we made our way over to the stadium where we found motor car racing, stunts, and other spectacles being performed before the fireworks show. I was so close to the experience that  during the racing I got, much to my surprise, dirt flung all over me from the tracks. Needless, to say there should have been a “splash zone” warning if you were too close to the railing. My two friends who were with me, Tanner and Sydney, love going to car and truck rallys and felt right at home. I couldn’t help but laugh a bit as I shook the dirt out of my shoes, it was pretty cool after all. It was a taste of Adelaide and the community it supports. Everyone at the show was friendly and out to have a good time. There was definitely a lot of pride for the city and I could understand why after experiencing just some of what it has to offer, including a fascinating treat called “chips on a stick” which as weird as it sounds was actually absolutely delicious. 

Chips on a Stick!

The Royal Adelaide Show

The next day, IFSA-Butler had even more in store for us with a wine tour through the famous Barossa Valley of South Australia. We were picked up at our apartment building and on a small bus with about 10 other people we headed to the Barossa Valley about an hour out from the city. Our bus driver commentated the drive with some local history on the way there and how the valley came to be the prominent wine spot it is today. We drove over hill after hill as the sun rose in the sky. The further we got into the valley the more I felt like I was being taken back through time. The houses became very spaced apart and almost all were made with sandstone or blue-stone as our tour guide explained there wasn’t enough lumber in Australia to build houses out of anything else when people first arrived. It was so picturesque. We passed miles of rolling, grassy hills where herds of sheep, cows, and horses were grazing. Eucalyptus trees twisted and turned over the road with bark of a light gray. It’s amazing to me that just a small difference like the kinds of trees present here make everything seem like a new world as I watched them pass by. Before we got to our first wine tour we also stopped at a famous dam in the Barossa Reservoir called the “Whispering Wall”.

Whispering Wall

There didn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary about it when we pulled up, but our tour guide told half of our group to walk to one side of the dam and stand on the ledge while half of the group stayed on the ledge at the other side of the dam. As we stood far away on the other side our tour guide just said “hello” clearly but softly while we stood there. Next thing I new a voice sounded as if it was standing right next to me from someone all the way on the other side of the dam. You could just speak in a whisper and be understood perfectly on the other side. I was in shock. We continued having a conversation with the group on the other side. The dam was engineered so perfectly that the sound echoed across it to the opposite side without losing any of the vibration and volume. I giggled to myself as I thought about how much more entertaining this might have been on our way back from the wine tour, but it still blew my mind nonetheless. Now, it was finally time to head to our first stop (1 out of 5 wineries we’ d be stopping at). All but one of the wineries we visited had structured tastings and as someone who’s never had much if any experience in different kinds of wine, I was really surprised to see just how many there could be and how intricately each bottle was designed.

Barossa Valley Wine Tour 1

Barossa Valley Wine Tour

At one winery, Peter Lehmann, we were actually able to see the oldest shiraz grape vines still known in the world. The wine itself also wasn’t too bad. The whole day was full of cheese, crackers, wine and lots of fun. Obviously, the bus ride home was full of napping people.

Barossa Valley Wine Tour 4

It’s nice to know that even more excitement awaits me in Cairns and on Kangaroo Island but the rest of this week is strictly school work. Until mid-semester break!

Barossa Valley Wine Tour 11

*obligatory cliche study abroad photo*

Share

Settled In & Chowing Down

Time August 26th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

G’day mate, How ya goin’?

Yes, they actually say that. Yes, it cracks me up every time. Yes, it is still surreal to realize again and again that I’m currently living in Australia — and I have loved every minute of my time here! The people are amazing (I’m living with a mix of international students, everywhere from Norway, Ireland, Pakistan, Vietnam, and a good number from the States, as well as a bunch of Aussies) and I’ve been gorging myself on Schnitzels, chicken sausages, plus various cultural delicacies like curry and lasagna and all the food I could possibly want to eat through my accommodations. I’ve also tried a kebab for the first time (quite delish),  loaded chips (McDonald’s will put guac and chili sauce on fries — surprisingly good, but 99% different than American guac/salsa chips), sticky fig pudding (with caramel sauce. 12/10 would recommend), pavlova (essentially baked whipped cream), and lots of other unique foods that I didn’t know existed but now am very excited that I do. Read More »

Share

Two Days in Paradise: Moreton Island

Time August 23rd, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

Video of my trip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGv4F3u_NOs&feature=youtu.be

My alarm went off at 6:30 AM on Saturday morning, I know, it sounds terrible. Except we were heading out to Moreton Island for two days of activities and sunshine. I hopped out of bed, grabbed my bag, and headed to the bus which would take me to the ferry. We traveled with a group called Sunset Safaris who primarily took care of everything for us which allowed us to sit back and relax. As the boat arrived at Moreton Island, it seemed as though I had entered a tropical oasis. From the deck, we could see four wheel drives coasting along the sandy dunes and kayaks exploring the Tangalooma Wrecks. The island stretched out ahead of us and was made up of various hills and cliff sides, some covered in sand and others in trees. The ferry slowly pulled up onto the sandy beach and we unloaded. In front of us were turquoise waters and a friendly looking orange van with the logo “Sunset Safaris” printed on the side. We boarded the truck, backpacks and all, and headed off to our first adventure: Sandboarding. Read More »

Share

>>Studying<< Abroad

Time August 16th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia, First Generation Scholars | 2 Comments by

This post is being written under much more stress than the previous two as I’m quickly realizing, to my dismay, that the studying aspect of study abroad is very real.  Having just completed Week 3 of classes, assignments, papers, presentations, and project due dates are approaching much more rapidly than expected.  I have always been the type to organize and plan my schoolwork well in advance, but adjusting to the new self-taught style of learning here has made it much more difficult.  Advice — pencil in your assignment due dates in a planner straight away so that when planning trips you don’t accidentally journey to another country the day before a 2500 word essay is due (oops).  Although the idea of schoolwork is still hard to grasp, I’ve enjoyed the courses I’m enrolled in.  I was extremely hesitant to follow through with my “Performance: Production and Interpretation” theater class given that I’m majoring in Biology back home, but thus far I’ve actually been intrigued by the plays we’ve had to see.  Side note: I’ve had a hard time grasping the spelling differences between American and Australian English.  Theatre vs theater. Colonisation vs colonization. Colour vs color.  I’ve also been keeping note of some of my favorite slang terms used by Australians.  “Arvo” for afternoon. “Fairy floss” for cotton candy. “Brekky” for breakfast. “Heaps” for a lot/really/very (as in there’s heaps to do in Bondi or I’m heaps keen to go out tonight). Not sure if I’ll ever catch on but I never cease to be intrigued by their lingo. Read More »

Share

College and Uni: Going from Liberal Arts to Abroad

Time August 9th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

There’s been a lot of new slang I’ve had to learn since coming to Australia. Usually, everything is shortened and that was the case with the word university. The word college is basically non-existent here and even saying university can be a bit of a stretch. No, the word Aussies prefer is short and sweet when it comes to their schooling: Uni. That’s only the beginning of the differences between small liberal arts colleges in the U.S. and giant universities across Australia. Being in classes for two weeks now, I’ve slowly adapted to the giant lecture style classes and more independent teaching method found here at the University of Adelaide, and hope I can provide some insight for future liberal arts students looking to study abroad.

First off, it has just been plain bizarre even being back in classes when I see my friends posting photos on Facebook hanging out on the beach, going to concerts, and enjoying their summer when I’m off to my 10:00 AM lecture in 50 degree weather. Getting back into the school work grind is a process in itself, but throw in an entirely new university and teaching system and it becomes a whole new journey. The biggest course I was ever in at F&M had about 35 people in it while the biggest lecture I have here in Adelaide has about 150 students. So besides the obvious size difference, what are the big differences in course work, teaching method, and overall university life in Australia versus that in the U.S.? Read More »

Share

Not So Automatic Doors and Turkeys: Daily life in Brisbane

Time August 8th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

The past couple of weeks has been a whirlwind of learning about Brisbane and also myself. While walking the streets of South Bank or even running to a class I have found a multitude of differences between daily life back in America and everyday life here. So, here are the top six differences I have encountered while living in Brisbane.

1. Some sayings or greetings are confusing. “How are you going” and “what are you after” mean “how are you today” and “what would you like” not how are you getting to a particular place nor what are your goals in life. The confusion is real when you are standing in line to order food, and they ask “what are you after?” and you stare at them contemplating whether to disregard the question and just order fries or whether they want to know what you are after in life…”um, like my life goals?” Note to everyone everywhere, just order the fries.

2. Some doors are NOT automatic. Picture Allison and I standing in front of our apartment buildings door, waiting for it to open, until after about two minuets of walking up to it and then walking away, as well as some arm waving, someone reminds us we have to press a green button for it to open. It looks automatic. It works like an automatic door. We are lazy. The door should just open. Even worse we tried to get off the train and held up an entire car waiting for the doors to open by themselves (like normal trains do) until someone politely told us to press a button to open it. I mean try playing that off, “no I know I was just looking out the window, building the suspense…” Read More »

Share

Not in Kansas Anymore

Time July 29th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, Australia, College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Has it really only been two weeks since I left home?

It seems like I’ve already lived through another lifetime, and needless to say I’ve learned so much in the last two weeks that my brain hurts. After meeting so many people from so many different places, I truly feel as if I’ve already grown to be more worldly– never have I met so many people with these utterly unique accents and slang words, but I’ve also met people that are similar to me in so many ways that we could be twins. In two weeks I have traveled thousands of miles, dealt with cancelled flight plans and survived, explored beneath the Sydney Harbour and the downtown of Wollongong, and met both talking Aussies (the human ones) as well as some fuzzy ones (including koalas and kangaroos, OMG). Read More »

Share