Bringing the learning home (Australian Learning & Teaching Council)

The US

Exchange gave me not just an experience… but a home.

So I’m going back soon, however it I don’t feel like I’m leaving. I know I’m leaving, however it just feels like everyday I’m just going keep waking up in America and go about my normal life just as I have done for the past 11 months. It’s funny I remember a similar feeling when I was leaving Australia. However I know when reality kicks in I’m going to miss this place so much. It’s turned into a home, I don’t want to leave. This is the best thing I have done with my life and I will recommend exchange to anyone, but I’ll tell you the one negative about it… you have to come back 

Bacon with icecream

I just wanted to share this promotional display I found at a popular US fast food diner. I’m not brave enough to try it :/

Mardi Gras in New Orleans

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On the 4th of March we headed up to New Orleans (Nola) for the annual Mardi Gra festival. This well known party is known all around the world. My friends who came to Miami on ecxchange last year told me I had to go, the organising was a bit last minute as we did not have a hotel booked or flights. On the friday morning we packed our stuff, hired a mini van and left at about 11pm for New Orleans, Louisiana. This was our frist road trip and an epic one at that as its a 14 hour drive.

The next few days were filled with excitement, joy, colours, alcohol, beads, more beads, partying, screaming floats, and NO SLEEP! March was a crazy month which started off with Mardi Gras then Spring break then ULTRA music (festival)!

Nola is a realy nice city and i enjoyed every aspect of it from Bourbon St’s frezy to the live jazz bands and dancing on the street in the French quarter. The music, the people, the city made Nola one of my favourite experiences in the United States.

Fried chicken is a must in Louisina as they are known for making some of the best in the country, I got a chance to try it which was a treat and it sure tasted yummy!

Grocery shopping and Doritos: an outsider’s experience

Grocery shopping in a foreign country even if that country is America, is a unique and confusing experience. Apart from the obvious problems with locating familiar brands at a grocery store, there’s also that feeling you get when you realise you aren’t going to find what you’re looking for, because it doesn’t exist.

Like Doritos for example.

Doritos Australia market a total of four Doritos products to their consumers; Cheese Supreme, Nacho Cheese, Original and Mexicana. The U.S market for Doritos has a remarkable 19 different flavours (remarkable to me perhaps) among them; Jalapeno, Fiery Buffalo, Spicy Nacho, Pizza Supreme and even Cheeseburger.

To my disappointment, this list of 19 doesn’t include one of Australia’s most commercially successful (and incidentally my favourite) Doritos flavour; Nacho Cheese. The yellow packaged Doritos (Nacho Cheese is actually packaged red in the United States and tastes completely different, just to be confusing). The experience of not being able to find Nacho Cheese is not the most impressive cultural slap across the face, but it’s still pretty mind-blowing. People tend to think of Australian consumers in much the same way as American consumers, and to be fair we are reasonably comparable; we eat fast food, we watch Hollywood films and listen to American produced music. But geographical and cultural influence still drives the market for some things, and I find that many of the goods available here in the States, would probably not enjoy a successful launch in Australia. Due to the Mexican influence here in California, the market for spicy foods is very wide. The standard flavour is almost always some variety of seasoned chilli, and as a white person with very limited tolerance to spicy food, I’ve suffered at the hands of Mexican cuisine. But of course, Americans love it. Spicy food in every form; sweet, savoury, cold-serve, warm-serve is available in excessive abundance.

Fortunately for me, Australia’s limited knowledge of Mexico and the wide variety of spices found there, means that we will remain with a single spicy version of Doritos, (which I didn’t know existed until I sought help from Google), and that’s okay by me since I can’t obtain any benefit from heterogeneity in spicy corn chips anyway.

Extending my stay for another semester

Ok so there was no way I was ready to leave the states yet. Before leaving Australia I had zero intentions of staying longer than the planned 6 months. I remember my exchange adviser telling me to match up more than four subjects in case I did indeed decide to stay an extra semester. “As it is a lot easier to sort that out in the same room rather than from the other side of the world”. I remember nodding my head politely, however having no intention of doing such a thing. ” Why would i waste my time doing all that extra work for something i don’t need” .

But here I am now kicking myself that I didn’t listen, as it cost me huge amount of time in the long run… more than I should bore you with explaining. Anyway the take home message is listen to your exchange adviser! Oh and think carefully about how to tell your parents you wont be home for an extra 6 months, its a nice surprise ha


However now all is good and Im having the time of my life again, the weather is slowly progressively getting warmer which in turn gets everyone else happier even myself. It was a touch hard being in winter and seeing photos from everyone back home in our warm summer. That’s the closest I’ve come to being home sick, however i don’t think I would qualify it as that.


The plus side of the winter is it gave me the opportunity  to see snow for the first time! it was awesome playing in it for a couple of hours, then i came to the realisation it has a time limit on how fun it is, and slowly depreciates after an hour. oh and I got the nice experience of having to shovel it. they failed to show me that on the movies, you just see big plows coming through and doing it all, well not exactly the case for where I was staying ( Delaware ) It involved muscling it with snow shovels for what seemed like hours and hours. with this snow it gave me the opportunity to have that white Christmas, Just like we see on the movies every year starting from around December the 15th. It was strange, I spent it at my girlfriends house ( oh yea another addition that this exchange experience has given me, who would of guessed… not me!) as weird as it sounds it just didn’t feel like Christmas because i wasn’t sweating in the dry heat in Canberra ( normal tradition) however spending it with a caring family made the family holiday a good one, even though i couldn’t spend it with my own.


While im on the subject of family holidays ill mention my time on thanksgiving. GREAT DAY, I may not be able to appreciate the significance of the Indians and pilgrims but i tried. The one thing i did understand though was the Football all day, ( watching on tv and playing in the backyard) and the food.


There’s also the australia day i missed out on. We got a bunch of Aussies together and celebrated however it, however american seem to love our culture as well, ha so we ended up being the minority towards the end of the day with about 40 americans just doing really really bad impersinations of us ha, they just cant get it! So it didn’t exactly feel like like home, “unautenthicness” filtered its way into our day and before long it was just a house party and people playing beer pong ha. Being over here for it in 30 degrees Fahrenheit was a weird feeling. As girly as it sounds what do u wear on australia day when its to cold for boardies and thongs?


Venice Beach, Los Angeles

This might not look like your typical medical centre or hospital, but if you need a prescription for marijuana, you’d be most successful in getting one on the streets of Venice Beach.

American College Life

I am so glad and happy that I chose to study abroad in America. The experience that I’m already having is incredible and everyday I find myself doing something I wouldn’t do back home.

 At the moment life is crazy, I’m a pledge member of the sorority Alpha Epsilon Phi which is the best decision I have made here and perhaps one of the best decisions of my life. I’ve met so many people through this organization and have already found some friends that I know are for life not just a year. Everyone is so excited to hear about Australia and they just love my accent and new words like ‘Maccas’ for McDonalds and ‘singlet’ instead of ‘tank top’. Heaps of the girls from my sorority have told me I can stay with them during the summer so it’s great for networking because I have a home now anywhere I want to travel. Being in Greek Life is probably one of the most American College experiences to have and I’m loving every minute of it. I also joined a student run dance group and we meet once a week and have a performance in about a month, it’s interesting to see the difference in dance style too. Living in the dorms is also a typical American experience, it’s great that it only takes a few minutes to visit friends!

Very excited for Spring Break! – only 20 days away and I’m off to Cancun, Mexico with one of my American friends and 2 other international students, one from Canada and the other is Aussie. Again it’s going to be an amazing college experience that we wouldn’t have back home!

Classes are so different here and the work load is only getting more intense however I think grading might be easier, let’s just say I had a small paper (only 2 pages) to write and I know it wasn’t my best work yet I still received an ‘A’ – however that might be that physically I’m doing much more work!

Overall I’m loving every minute of the American College experience, I love the sense of community and the fact that it’s not just about academics, there’s a huge social aspect that I’m going to miss when I go back home so I’m going to try and not take it for granted now!

The picture below is a poster that was on my dorm door, it says ‘You’ve hopped your way into the hearts of AEPhi’ Which is the nickname of my sorority