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.