Times been flying by, and today started the 9th week of the semester. Classes may be coming to an end back in the States, but we still have two months left in our semester here in Freo. I’ve really tried to assimilate into Australian culture as best as I can, and over the last few weeks I’ve had so many great opportunities that have helped me appreciate Australia even more then I could have imagined.
Our first break of the semester came over Easter, and with ten days off we were able to take trips which allowed us to travel across the country. The first leg of our trip was in Melbourne which greatly differed from Perth’s laid-back lifestyle, and reminded be much more of Eastern cities back in the states. While the Central Business District is a great place to visit in itself, the uniqueness of Melbourne lied in the surrounding areas.I visted several suburbs but my favorites were Fitzroy which is known for its artistic culture as well as its vibrant nightlife, and St. Kilda which is where the best beaches are located and home to Fairy Penguins who live along the coastline. Although we did do a lot in our four days there, the highlights of my time in Melbourne was a tour of Rod Laver Arena which is home to the Australian Open and also watching a Melbourne Footy Derby between Geelong and Hawthorne at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which is the tenth largest stadium in the world holding over 100,000 people.
After Melbourne we flew to Cairns, Northern Queensland which is one of premier destinations along the Great Barrier Reef. It’s location in the heart of Northern Queensland’s rainforest gives the city a very tropical atmosphere. While in Cairns we spent one full day out on the Reef, making stops at several different locations. I’ve snorkelled in Florida and on different islands in the Caribbean, but none of those places came close to the Great Barrier Reef. In a little over two hours in the water I saw all of the fish from Finding Nemo, a Maori wrasse which was as big as I am, a sea turtle, and even caught a glimpse of a Reef Shark out of the corner of my eye. The next day we went to A.J. Hackett: Cairns, which is one of the most popular bungy jumping sites in the world. A.J. Hackett famously introduced the world to bungy jumping after leaping off of the Eiffel Tower in 1987. While I didn’t really want to bungee jump I did do the MinJing Swing, which takes you up 45 meters (148 feet) and then sends you swinging 77mph over the rainforest’s canopy.
As the week wore down we made it home to Freo and went straight back to classes. We were however off on April 25 for ANZAC Day, which is as Australian as you can get. The Australia-New Zealand Army Corps or ANZAC for short, became famous for their actions during the Battle of Gallipoli during World War I. Nearly 25,000 Australians were killed or wounded during the battle, so in 1916 the first memorial was held for these soldiers a year after the battle was fought. This event has become incredibly important to Australians, as it signifies the first major combat assignment for the newly independent Australian Army. King's Park in Perth holds the largest ANZAC Day memorial service, drawing crowds of over 40,000 people, so I decided with several of my friends in our dorm to take the 12:15am train into Perth in order to attend this event. Although it was cold and we had to camp out in the park until the start of the service at 6:00am, we were able to stand along the front row and get a terriffic view of the ceremony. Aside from being so close to the WWI memorial, we were within arm’s length of Western Australian Governor Malcolm McCusker and Premier Colin Barnett. The ceremony was incredible, but the sunset over the city and the memorial made the trip all worth it.
We have some exciting trips planned for the upcoming weekends and I hope to attend a few more Australian Football games, which I've really taken an interest in, so I hope that the next few weeks continue to treat me well.
It’s been a little over a month since we arrived in Australia, but times been flying by. We just finished Week 4 of the semester, and our Spring Break is right around the corner. I thought that I would have so much free time on my hands only taking four classes and not having any commitments here in Fremantle, but I’ve been able to keep myself extremely busy.
Western Australia is a pretty incredible place. Perth is known for being the most isolated capital city in the world, but there’s still plenty of things to do throughout the region. Transportation is vital for people getting around W.A., so buses and trains are very accessible and cheap. Back home it would cost me $25 for a ten minute train ride into New York City, but here the same ride into Perth costs $1.28.
I’ve been able to make it up to Perth several times now and there’s so much to do. King’s Park overlooks the entire city and has several monuments dedicated to Australian soldiers who fought and died in the Boer War, World War I, and World War II. Perth also has countless numbers of shops, cafes, and restaurants throughout the city that are great to visit during the day or at night. Claremont, Cottesloe, and Subiaco which are in between Fremantle and Perth also have their own great shops, stores, and beaches.
We’ve managed to keep ourselves busy on the weekends as well, and have taken several trips which have helped us explore Western Australia. Our first trip was to Caversham Wildlife Park where we were able to see and pet kangaroos, wallabies, and koalas. There were also dingos, crocodiles, kookaburras, and wombats throughout the park which were also really incredible to see.
For St. Patrick’s Day we went to Rottnest Island or ‘Rotto’ which is a small island eleven miles off the coast of Freo’. The island has an interesting history, as prison for Aboriginals during the 1800’s and then as a German/Austrian-Hungarian prisoner of war camp during World War I, but is a very popular tourist destination today. ‘Rotto’ is very popular for its beaches, snorkelling, and biking trails; which really reminded me of the Bahamas. The island may be best known however for its most famous residents, the Quokkas. I can best describe them as a cross between kangaroos and beavers, who are completely unafraid of humans and will hop right up to you hoping to get food.
Overall though, my first month in Australia was so much better than I ever could have imagined. I’ve been able to make Australian friends in my classes and playing for Notre Dame’s soccer team in the Western Australian Territory Games, and it’ been great getting to go out and experience Australian culture first hand with them. The next few weeks should be equally exciting for us as well, since we’ve booked a spring break trip to Melbourne and the Great Barrier Reef. Once we get back we’ll begin training for the Australian football or ‘footie’ team that we’ve started as international students called the Yankaroos. Once we get a few training sessions under our belts we’ll start playing local teams in the area, while continuing to work with the local South Fremantle Bulldogs club, who are a semi-professional team in Freo.
Things have been incredible though, and I can't wait for what the next few weeks have to offer.
I survived my first two weeks in Australia. After the three different plane rides and twenty-something hours in the air I arrived in Perth and eventually made my way to University of Notre Dame Australia down in Fremantle.
Our first few days here in Fremantle was ‘Orientation Week’ and we were kept incredibly busy. While still trying to adjust to the thirteen-hour time difference we had meetings with members of the university, guest speakers from around town, tours of the campus and city, and even a commencement parade as UNDA kicked off their 2012 academic year. Our best day however came on Friday when we participated in an ‘Amazing Race’ styled scavenger hunt around Perth, which turned out to be a great way to explore the city and meet the other hundred or so study abroad students who are here at the university with us.
This past week we started classes, and began to experience the differences between American and Australian college life. Each class meets twice a week, one lecture and one tutorial/lab depending on the class. The lectures can last anywhere between one to three hours, while the labs/tutorials usually don’t exceed an hour. The assignments have already been given to us and consist of two tests, a paper or two, and one other assignment based on the class. Aside from these assignments we are only expected to read our textbooks and hand in our assignments on time.
Overall though, the first two weeks of this semester have been incredible. Fremantle is one of the few surviving Victorian Era port cities in the world, and Notre Dame has done an incredible job of renovating and encompassing these buildings into their campus. The temperature has consistently been in the nineties, and drops to about seventy-five at night which has been perfect. Being only a block away from the Indian Ocean, we get a great breeze which also cools everything on campus down. The last thing that has been great to experience in our first few days here is the very low-key, laid back lifestyle. Everyone wears sandals, tank tops, and board shorts all day; and looked at me like I was crazy when I was in a collared shirt while trying to pass out resumes to local shops. Once again though, everything here has been incredible so far and I can’t wait to see what the next four months have in store.
Hey everybody, my names Andrew and I’m going to be SHU’s Study Abroad blogger for the semester. Unlike colleges here in the State’s, Australian semesters run during the Summer and Winter which parallels our Spring/Fall schedule. This means that unlike everybody else, I’ve had a few months to get ready for the upcoming semester.
The thing that’s been on my mind the most has been trying to figure out how I am going to pass the nearly 30 hours of flying between the time I leave JFK and arrive in Perth. The days I’ve spent waiting for my trip and semester to start have seemed to fly by, so hopefully thirty hours in a Quantas cabin go by equally as fast. I think I’m fairly prepared with dozens of movies, episodes of LOST, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, and Entourage, and even packed a few books.
Thankfully I’ll have a long layover in California where I’ll be meeting up with a friend who’s also coming to Perth with me, so I’ll be able to get a much needed break between flights and won’t be the only SHU student/American when we finally arrive in Australia. Although we leave tomorrow (Saturday) we don’t officially arrive until Monday, where we’ll jump right into Orientation Week. After figuring out our classes and getting situated in Fremantle which will be our home for the next few months, we start classes on the 27.
I’m extremely excited to leave tomorrow and begin this new adventure. Although I’ve gone to Sacred Heart’s campus in Dingle, Ireland twice for two and a half weeks; studying abroad for an entire semester should be much much different. I’ve only heard incredible things about studying abroad though from my two older cousins and a close friend who recently came back from Australia herself, so I’m more than ready to begin this new adventure and go Down Under.
So I am currently about half way through my stay in Australia, ten weeks in. Its Spring Break here, even though it is fall back home :). It was definitely hard to get used to the concept of an Ausi winter being as cold as a Connecticut spring. People were dressed in winter jackets while the study abroad students were in shorts. And the best part is that the weather only got warmer from there. The summer is starting and it has been perfect beach weather! The peak of the summer will reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit consistently. They however relate to degrees Celsius. When first landing in Australia, the pilot announced that it was eighteen degrees outside. Needless to say I was thoroughly confused.
I planned my flights so that my initial layover in Sydney would last a few days before I flew to Perth. This saved travel time and money. Sydney was absolutely amazing! The four days I spent there were jam-packed, yet I would have loved to stay longer and see more things. I travelled with Katherine, the other SHU student studying in Perth this semester. The two of us stayed in a hostel while exploring Sydney. It was an awesome experience; nothing like the movie! Hostels are a common housing for travellers and backpackers. The few days in Sydney were not only filled with site seeing, but also culture shock. The time difference had us wanting to fall asleep by 5pm. Driving on the other side of the road and the accent were the most obvious, but those are things you can prepare for. It is the little things that catch you off guard and remind you that you are in another country. After touring the opera house, walking across the bridge, and visiting many other attractions I can definitely say Sydney is a must among your travels!
When we finally got to campus, we got to meet the other students we would be living with. In Port lodge, there are two from SHU, one international student, and twenty eight Notre Dame US students. A little off balance, but we all meshed well. The first week was orientation which allowed for a lot of bonding time during the nights. The night life here is way more formal than America! Dresses are normal, heals are common, thongs (sandals) are not allowed, and guys need to wear collared shirts. There music is very American, for the most part. In some clubs, American songs are put to a techno beat.
Classes began in the end of July and, like any other American, I was not ready for an early start! But to my surprise it did not feel like school. Classes are formatted completely different here. Each class meets two times, but often all in one day. There is a two hour lecture that can have around 100 students depending on the class. Then there is a one hour tutorial. This is a discussion based class, often 20 students on average. Most of my classes had tut directly after class so it was basically three hour block classes all week. Most students are taking five classes but I only needed four here. I have one day off, and only one class every other day. Also, there was no homework for my classes. Just reading to be prepared for discussion, and only one of my classes had a test. My grade is determined by papers and a final. As you can see, when classes began there was no pressure. Luckily I did stay on top of my reading because the papers sneak up fast! The weeks also fly by. Since I did not feel like I was in school, I did not realize that the semester was disappearing! Weekends became filled with plans and trips.
There are three dorms on the campus of Notre Dame in Freo. I am in Port Lodge. There are 31 students, 2 residential supervisors, and we all have singles. The other dorms are Cleo’s and P&O. They have singles, doubles, triples, and even some quads. Each house has a similar food plan. Here in Port Lodge we are given two dinners a week. Actually, a group of four students that live here are given money to make dinner for everyone. Every week two different groups cook for everyone. They have to prepare an entree (appetiser), main (entree), and a desert. The group must create the menu, shop, and prepare all under budget and be on time for the scheduled dinner. Each dinner must be able to feed 35 people just in case guests are invited. The dinners are fun, a way to bond with people in the house, and a time that everyone is together. We have not had any major disasters, yet, while having some extravagant meals. We have had chicken parmesan, kangaroo steaks, sloppy joes, tacos, a pasta bar, burgers, breakfast, and many other things. Always filling and enjoyable :).
There is a competition held between the three dorms called Inter-hall shield. So far we have competed in basketball, cricket, a relay race, and a trivia night. Port Lodge has won every week! Port Lodge won over all last semester so we have a shield in our common room. As defending champs we have shown up this semester!
There was a 12k race that a group of us participated in. It started in the city and ended at the beach. It was a lot of fun! We also went, as a house, to Caversham Wildlife Park. There we got up close and personal with kangaroos, koalas, and wombats. The kangaroos were so friendly and calm; could be my new favourite animal :). Around town in Freo there is a shop that sells Didgeridoos. They also will teach you to play for free!! It was kind of hard at first but definitely an awesome experience. One trip that is required through the mandatory history class we have to take is a week camping trip in the Kimberly. We got to spend the week with the Aborigines and learn about their culture. I cannot elaborate on this topic because I do not want to ruin it for any prospective travellers, but the least I can say is that it was an amazing and life changing experience.
I am a massive NY Jets fan, and I am beginning to go through withdrawals and it is barely week four of the season. There are some games that are aired live here so it is common for people to be up at 1am or 4am on a Monday to watch their team. But if that is not enough, there is always footie! The Australian Rules Football League, AFL, is my replacement for the NFL. The grand final was this past weekend and it was an awesome game but it ended in a tie! There was no over time, they just play another game next weekend. I could never imagine if the Super Bowl ended regular time in a tie that we would wait another week to play another whole game to decide the winner. I am excited because I am not emotionally attached, but it is an interesting house since each of my RSs are following a different team. It was a calm week because neither could gloat, that will all change this weekend, unless there is another tie.
I went SCUBA diving yesterday!! It was my first dive in Australia and I plan to go a few more times. It was so beautiful! There were starfish that were wider than my two hands next to each other! Sea slugs of all different colours! We were down for an hour and we travelled along the ‘Grain Jetty.’ It was basically a bunch of large pylons that had growth surrounding every inch. There were so many colours, so much to look at, I could have stayed down for another whole hour. The temp was mid 60s so it was not that bad for me; the Ausi’s I dove with were a little cold though. It was defiantly a great way to end my spring vacation!
So I will defiantly be back sooner than later :). I have my last few papers due this week so I will let you know how that goes! Peace out!!!
Time is winding down, day by day I’m one step closer to being back home. I feel like I’ve been here for so long that it’s almost weird thinking about what it’s going to be like when I’m back in New York. It really is a different culture here and I feel as though I’ve just about adapted to it. When I get home I feel like I’m going to be walking on the wrong side of the street, or asking my friends “how ya goin?.” Maybe I’ll even ask for some Tomato Sauce for my hot chips.
A lot has gone on since my last blog. First off my father and brother came to visit me which was amazing. They finally got to see what my life is like here, and put visuals to all the things I’ve been talking about on the phone. I loved being able to show them around the city, like I’ve been living here my whole life. It reminded me of how I felt when I had just arrived, amazed with everything about Sydney. It was so great to see family, and I had hoped that when I walked into the lobby of my apartment building to meet them that they would remember what I looked like…luckily they did. When they arrived we did some fun things in Sydney, like the wildlife park, the aquarium, a wildlife sanctuary where you could pet and feed kangaroos and wallabies, and even a bus trip into the Blue Mountains. I was able to show them the touristy side of Sydney, as well as the hidden treasures I’ve come about through befriending locals.
School is done, I finished one final and now I have to get through three more. It’s like that last little hill I have to climb before I’m home, well, that and the 20 hour plane ride. I started to send some stuff home in the mail, it’s weird packing up my room. This has become my home. The major difference with study abroad and a vacation (aside from the school work) is that when you go on vacation, you know your going to be going home soon. When that point comes on vacation, where you think to yourself “I can’t wait to be back in my own bed” you know it’s not far away. With study abroad, a point hits where you realize this isn’t a vacation, your actually living in the country. When the “can’t wait to sleep in my own bed” thing hits, you have no choice but to suck it up and wait it out. It really pushes you out of your comfort zone.
Throughout the trip, I personally haven’t done much traveling. Instead I did exactly what I wanted to do which was to immerse myself in the culture. I have made so many great friends who live here, so I’ve been able to go out with them, have family dinners at their houses, etc. It’s been so wonderful being able to fit in somewhere where you have a noticeable difference that makes you stick out (the accent). As different as cultures may be, the natural principle of what it is to be a good human being remains the same. Therefore, no matter where you are from, or where you go, as long as you are respectful, you should have no problem fitting in, adapting, making friends, and exceeding all expectations.
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So I know it’s been a while, but take that as a good thing. If I was sitting here every day writing a new blog, clearly it would come off like I wasn’t busy at all. So the fact that I’ve been having SOO much fun, and keeping SOO busy that it’s been hard to find time to blog is a positive quality and should inspire those thinking of going to Australia for a semester to go for it! (excuse? I think not.) First off, so far school has been great. I find myself keeping busy with class and schoolwork, but at the same time I have plenty of free time to explore. I had my first presentation last week, where I stood up in front of the class and talked about Apple’s allocation of corporate resources. First challenge; how was I going to take 20 pages of textbook information and turn it into a 5 minute oral presentation. Second challenge; how was I going to keep the class awake while doing so. Luckily, being from New York, the speed at which I speak excels that of the Australian standards…a lot, in turn keeping the class interested due to their constant attempts at trying to understand what I was saying. It actually turned out to be a great learning experience. I decided to study abroad to learn these kinds of things, like how knowing your audience goes just beyond the context of the material, but the way you present it. After class my professor explained how when he travels and makes presentations, he needs to adjust his speeches to match the speed of the culture he is presenting to, by using tactics like adding pauses, and talking a lot slower.
Went to surf camp last weekend, which was just unreal. It started off with a six hour bus ride to our destination. We got on the bus to find that Spicoli himself was our driver, it was a little frightening, not going to lie. There were times where I wouldn’t be surprised if, while still in motion, there was suddenly a knock at the door of the bus with someone delivering a cheese pizza, which of course he ordered via his shoe-phone. So about one hour away from our destination (about 12am at this point) there was suddenly a huge SMASH at the windshield and the bus driver pulled over and sprinted out. We had no idea what had happened but a real life game of telephone erupted from the front of the bus to the back. I was in the front, where we were hearing “I think a rock hit the window”, in the back of the bus however, they were saying “we hit a kangaroo, there’s so much blood!” Turns out it was a rock. Not only that but some 14 year old kid threw it at the bus. The poor kid was probably expecting some old fat man to be the driver, little did he know it was some young fit surfer dude who sprinted out to chase him down and eventually grabbed him. Once we got there, the next two days were an amazing experience of sunshine, beautiful beaches, and a butt-kicking workout.
Something I am extremely excited about is the fact that my Dad and little brother are coming to visit me a week from today! I can’t wait to see that little piece of home. As wonderful as it is being away, I really do find myself missing things that I knew I was going to miss, as well as things I had no idea I was going to miss. First off, I miss my family like crazy. Being at SHU, I was away, but knew my parents were always on call if I really needed them. Here it’s a whole different story. If I find myself stressed, homesick, etc, Mom can’t just get in the car and be here in two hours. I also really miss driving my car and playing my piano. There are also things I miss due to the fact that they don’t really exist in Australia, like New York pizza, Dunkin Donuts, light beer, the NHL, Glee, and bagels. Bagels are usually my go-to breakfast choice, here they just don’t exist. Now they do have these things called hot-cross-buns, which either sound like something from a nursery rhyme or something you would find in your Great Aunt Edna’s cabinet but don’t let the name fool you, they are delicious!
Can’t wait to show my Dad and brother around Sydney, because obviously by now I’m an expert ;) . Will post soon, until then, “All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I'm fine.”