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


I LOVE TRAVELING!

A friend of mine and I went on our first trip out of our college town this weekend. We went to Milwaukee and we fell in love with it the second we got off of the bus! We went to some cool shops before meeting our couch surfing hostess Felicia, who took us back to her place – giving us a little tour along the way. After putting our bags down and relaxing for a while we decided to go ice skating, it was fabulous – just like rollerblading but a little bit harder. Both my friend and I forgot to bring our cameras so we didn’t get any pictures 😦 After that we just went home and had some sleep before waking up on Saturday and doing even more fun stuff.

We figured out the county transit system quickly as we made our way to Mayfair shopping mall in Milwaukee. Most of the locals think it’s an ‘okay’ store, not much happening in it and not many shops, but when Claire and I walked in, we were amazed. It was two storeys, shops from wall to wall. We saw American Eagle, Gap, A&F and all those awesome places. We went into a shop called Pacsun and managed to buy 4 things each for only a total of $21.00, we couldn’t believe it. They had a half price sale on and when you went to the counter they took another 50% off… unbelievable. It was also a really cool shop, had many Aussie surf brands like Roxy, Billabong, Quicksilver etc. It was great. After having a pretty productive shopping trip we decided to go home again.

Saturday night we went to an NBA basketball game. It was amazing, so many people and an awesome amount of community spirit. One of the basketballers on the Milwaukee Bucks team (the one we were cheering for) was Australian. Andrew Bogut. He was 7ft tall… he was a great player – apparently one of the best in the league. When they announced all of the players they mentioned that he was from Australia and everyone cheered. Throughout the game we tried yelling Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi, but I doubt he would have heard it in the slightest.

On Sunday (today) we did a little more shopping, I learned some songs on the piano and we caught the bus back home. I’m currently sitting in my room listening to people yell and scream out of their windows (hundreds of people) every time the Green Bay Packers get a touchdown… I kind of got into the spirit by buying a T-Shirt that says “feelin’ so fly, like a cheese head” on it… a cheesehead being a Packers supporter or someone from Wisconsin.. it’s great. So once the superbowl is over, everyone will go back to normal and the craziness will die down… eventually.

I’ve noticed many weird things about Americans and their slightly skewed perception of Australia. The first thing (as said in a post below) is the fact that the kangaroo is the first thing that comes up in conversation. When I first got here it was about the time of the floods in QLD and EVERYONE asked me if I was from there, which is nice and considerate. I’m not though, so I didn’t have much of a story to give them. Many people try and do the Australian accent, every person fails. One of my friends has taken it upon himself to incorporate any sayings or little phrases that I have into his own vocabulary, he’s pretty good at it. He likes to say pulling the piss and footy a lot haha.

Anyway, until the next update.

Cheerio!

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Americans

I’ve found that to most Americans, Australia is seen as a great holiday destination with strange animals and friendly people. This is a very good reputation to have but unfortunately, it is these topics which make up the bulk of the conversations I happen to have with Americans.

The kangaroo usually comes up first in conversation which I don’t really mind. In fact I enjoy talking about what is unique about Australia; although I am starting to suspect that Americans are not really interested in my version of Australia. They are more interested in simplified caricatures and national symbols, that offer them a more comfortable albeit conventionalised version of Australia. I suppose this is something that I’ve found difficult to understand, because I am aware that I don’t exactly represent the quintessential Australian, but I offer some diversity that could potentially educate Americans about Australia, and relieve some of the simplistic views they might have of us. I think that a country is more than just the image it projects, but sometimes the image is all people care to consider. It is not bothering me so much right now, but it is starting to dawn on me. I do miss my family, but I love being here. I don’t miss my life back home as much, because I definitely think I am having way more fun where I am.


University of Miami

So on tuesday I have been in the States for 3 weeks and 2 days. I have finally settled in and bought a lap top, mobile or cell as they call it here and all household items. It was a looong flight to get there as i had to go to from sydney to LA which was like a 13 hour flight and then from LA to miami was another 5 hours. When i got to Miami is was about 9pm so i decided to book a hotel. I ended up staying at a hotel in South beach which is like the Bondi of sydney. I was absolutely exhausted when i got there and all I wanted to do was sleep. My hotel however happened to be on the main strip where all the night life happens so I put my bags in the room and ventured out. I was gobsmacked at all the lights, tobacco shops, tattoo shops, pizza places and night clubs on this road. I walked along with caution as i didnt feel safe at all as it was my first night in the US. I ended up meeting some guys from Chicago and went clubbing with them. I ended up back at the room at 3am. With three hours sleep I woke up and got ready for orientation. Drained as I was a got up ate breaky at the hotel and then ordered a cab to UM. At orientation I met some of the other Aussie blokes and they said there was like 25 people from Australia on exchange here. I was the only one from UOW. Towards the end of orientation I left and wen to  my room and crashed, having not slept in nearly 48 hours.

When I lay down on the bed I was SHOCKED! The mattress was literally made out of some sort of plastic and was sooo uncomfortable. At this point i was sleep deprived, angry lonely and really missed home as this was the first time I would be away from my family for so long. I lay there freezing and trying to sleep thinking how am I going to make it through the next three months. It was not a good feeling, I had never felt like this before, I just wanted to go home. To everyone that thinks exchange will be really exciting and a great experience, think again. Post my departure I only thought about how good the experience would be and never even imagined how challenging it would be. Lying there I kept saying to myself its only you here, you have to be strong, I believed in myself, knowing that if i accomplish this i can do anything. This was a really good experience even though it was challenging, it gave me will power and strength.


Land of the Free, Home of the Brave – but it’s not my home.

Hello,

Been a while since the last blog, I think I was ranting about my Brazilian VISA experience, which worked out thank goodness. I did go to Brazil for winter break and had a wonderful time with my best friend and her family, that is definitely something I will not forget any time soon. Back at UMass Amherst now and I have four-ish months left of my experience here and I’m starting to miss home, everything about home, my friends and family and the feeling that I really belong. As soon as I got back to UMass and class started again it was evident that this semester was going to be different from the last. I had close friends leave to continue their adventures and other friends let me down when I needed them. I had tried so hard to make this the best experience I could that I wanted America to be my home. But it’s not my home, it’s not the place where people love and care for me and help me through tough times, Australia is and I had forgotten that. Thankfully my sister is arriving for a visit later this week and I’m going to have two crazy busy weekends ahead of me, one in Boston and one in New York City. Then later in March my parents are arriving to visit me and have a little American experience of their own.

I don’t want to seem like I regret going on exchange, I don’t at all but I do have to admit I was a little bit too cocky about how I would cope over here. Bad shit happens everywhere, no matter who you are or where you are and exchange isn’t going to be all fun times and happiness, especially not for 9 months straight. So my best advice for pending and current exchange students is don’t forget where you are from, don’t get caught up in a swirl of new things and forget about home because eventually you have to go back home and it should feel good.


Americans…

.. like to eat savoury foods with sweet sauces.

And they have a tendency to put the name of other countries before a certain food to make it seem authentic and less American for e.g “Italian Sausage” and “Brazilian Mojito” (a drink my Brazilian friend told me he has not heard of lol)


Student Today, Husky Forever

Even though I have only been home for a month, it seems like a lifetime since I left the University of Connecticut on a very, very cold day. Summing up a week is hard enough, so 5 months is all but impossible! Instead, I will write about some of the things that I learnt that stuck with me.

Firstly, there were the little things that were different to Australia that I simply did not think of, but made a lot of difference. Driving on the opposite side, not a problem, but crossing roads defiantly did! The first night my 2 friends and I arrived in LA, we decided to walk down to Dennys (best restaurant ever). After standing at the traffic lights, having a chat, for AGES, we were soon embarrassed to discover that in LA the ‘walk’ signal doesn’t make a noise, so we had missed about 3 goes, because we weren’t paying attention! It may seem insignificant, but I can still clearly remember it, 6 months on! Being a western country, I had naively assumed that everything would be the same as in Australia. Boy, was I wrong. And don’t even get me started on tipping! 5 months later, and I’m still not 100% sure of the proper way to do it.

Next up, adapting. While for the first couple of days I felt like a fish out of water, by the end of my stay, I was an unofficial American. I adapted really quickly to all the little things that would make my life easier. With limited funds and no one but yourself looking out for you, you have to! I also started saying ‘bunch’ instead of ‘heaps’ and ‘chug’ instead of ‘skull’, just to make my life easier when the Americans had no idea what I was saying.

I cannot write about my stay in America without mentioning School Spirit. At UConn, there is a slogan written all over the place ‘Student today, Husky forever’, and that is how I feel. Long after leaving there, I will still be a Husky, and I have all the merchandise to go with it! On any given day, half the students would be wearing UConn clothing, on game day, this would go up to 99%. The basketballers were famous around College, people would literally go up to them and ask for photos. The Co-Op sold UConn branded EVERYTHING, from Christmas decorations to dog collars to baby clothes. UConn wasn’t just our school, it was our life.

By the end of my trip, I was feeling homesick, and I was ready to go home. After 1 week back in Australia but, I was already missing everything about the place that had been my home for the last 5 months, and the best 5 months of my life. Exchange was the best thing I have ever done, and the experience will stay with me for life.


Living the American College Student Life!

Quite a few of the international students at UWW this semester.

An American basketball game – cheerleaders and all!

It’s actually snowing in this picture, but you can’t tell.


America = Insanity.

I’ve been here for a little more than 2 weeks now, and it’s starting to feel a little bit normal. Seeing millions of squirrels is normal. Seeing skinny girls with massive amounts of food is normal. Repeating myself one thousand times is normal and even being in the freezing cold temperatures is normal. I love that I finally got here and I can say I live in America, but I still feel like I’m missing out on a lot from home. I’ll no longer take the way the uni runs for granted, they optional lecture, it’s availability on the internet and then a two hour tutorial seems much easier than the three 1 hour mandatory lessons per week.

On the other hand, I am not missing the non-community feel of Perth and the lack of school-spirit that they have so much of here. I love being part of the community here, it’s great. I have been to a basketball game, watched the ‘bring-it-on’ style cheerleaders, mastered my American accent and taught many people about the wonders of Australia.

There is an international student dinner coming up where we will have a chance to inform all of the people around us about our home countries, I’m looking forward to it, because a lot of people are intrigued when it comes to Australia – especially the animals. I’ve even been asked if we have cows… my response – ‘No, we don’t have milk in our country’ with a heavy coat of sarcasm.

There’s an another Australian here, Claire… she’s just as amazed by the American way as I am. It’s good to have another person here who understands what I’m missing when I am having Australia withdrawals. It’s also good to go and hang out with another Australian after only interacting with American’s. In fact, we’ve both decided to go to California and watch the Ellen Degeneres show – that would be amazing.

Anyway, I’m so happy to be here, no matter how much I miss my family and I can’t wait to get out and explore America 😀


Life abroad.

As you can probably imagine from the picture above, it’s freezing here. It’s about minus 8 at the moment and somehow, that’s considered an ‘okay day’ here in Whitewater. I must admit though, I am getting used to the cold, I can bare it in one pair of leggings now, instead of three.

I know my home uni told me I’d get homesick and want to leave, but I didn’t expect it to be such a strong feeling as I had when I first got here. When I was in my hotels it was alright, it was like a holiday, but as soon as I moved into my dorms, was all alone and knew nobody – the feeling sank in and I wanted to leave that day, that second. Then we had orientation, and I made some friends. Now that I have friends and people to hang out with it’s not such a bad place to be. I haven’t had many classes yet, but I’m sure once they start up it’ll be even better. I’m waiting for the new feeling to end so that I can finally say ‘I live here’.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me why the hell I came to Wisconsin from Australia, especially to the small town of Whitewater, but I think I made the right decision because it feels more like a community here. Everyone is nice to everyone, it’s a short walk to whatever you need, and there seems to be no kind of segregation of people that I would sometimes see in Australia. I’m starting to really like living here.

🙂


Washington D.C

It is now officially week 4 of my adventure. After being in San Francisco travelling around by myself for 5 days I was ready to get to my dorm room and meet people!

The first week was orientation week for abroad students with 3 days introducing us to each other, to the school and to the city. Meeting so many other people from all over the world, Europe, Korea, Egypt, Africa and other Aussies too it really opens your mind to everything the world has to offer – I know that sounded so cheesy but it’s very true – and I made myself a promise, a promise that I will make the most out of this year and take advantage of every opportunity and explore everything I can.

In one day I visited the National Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and saw the White House, granted they were only quick visit’s but even so the smile from my face just never left, to actually see these symbols of America and history and freedom just made me feel incredible (and being a history major you can imagine how excited I was!). I’ve also visited some local areas, Chinatown, Georgetown and Adams Morgan and the rest of the city is just waiting to be explored!

The university (or college I should say) is incredible, the buildings are beautiful, the people are lovely and the work is intense with 5 books for just 1 history class. The social aspect is also widely different. Yesterday I became a Pledge member in the Greek sorority Alpha Epsilon Phi, already through this sisterhood I have met some amazing women who I know will support me all the way. I am also auditioning for a student run dance group that performs at the end of the semester which I will hopefully be able to participate in.

The weather is cold, the work is hard and I am missing my family already. BUT. I knew all of this coming into this experience and I welcome it with open arms, this is going to be the most amazing opportunity for all of us abroad students and I welcome the bad with the good because I know at the end I would have had an experience of a lifetime.

Safe travels everyone 🙂


Hawaii

My first stop on my way to uni in victoria BC is Hawaii. i was so lucky on the plane and had a spare seat next to me so i had a glass of wine and slept the whole way! i am apart of a group called “couchsurfing” where you stay on locals couches for free and they can show around. they are the host and you are the surfer. (just explaining so you will understand when i say my host). So my host lives in the middle of waikiki! she is 19 and a uni student so i slept on her collage dorm. I only had a bed for the night as she was going home for the holidays but when i met her 2 of her friends offered me there couch! so i was set for the rest of my stay. This is my first trip to USA and oh man they are soooo nice! really friendly and helpful. here are some things that stood out of my shot time here:

Australian beaches are better: there beach has coral on the bottom! but they have really good snorkelling. and there break is often way out the back where the drop of is.

Their crossings: at intersections they have like a zebra crossing so i am just crossing the street when ever and people arnt stopping much, so i asked some local near by to tell me how to cross the road “um..excuse me i have a really dumb question but…” you have to wait for the signal to cross at lights but some dont have the signal, also it dosnt make a noise, so i am day dreaming and missing the lights.

language: pretty similar however when i was waiting for my host to come home i said “oh i will just go for a wander around the shops till you get here” andshe thought it was the cutest thing ever “wander” her and her friends payed me out for ages!! and sometimes when i am telling them a stoty or just talking they will just be lauging at me because i have a funny accent – i was a bit confused at first – why are they laughting this isnt even the funny bit…

they photos are of: my ‘couch’, the famous hawaiian surfer, my hosts, a guy in his army uniform, the barbie (more like a grill), the potato bake i made, they loved it!, and the beach/ islands that i kayaked to.


US of A!

I’m finally in Chicago, my 2nd last stop before I’m where I need to be for the year! It’s freezing cold, snowing and soooo much different to home. Through all of my excitement I didn’t really stop and think about what it’d feel like being here with absolutely nobody to talk to or to rely on. You have to make all of your own decisions, you can’t pick up the phone and just call someone and ask their opinion, it’s here, it’s now, it’s fast paced and it’s freakin’ scary!

My flights and stops went pretty smoothly for the most part. Each stop was scary because I had no idea where to go and what to pay and what to do, but after asking about a million questions I finally got my way. I’ve been on a plane for 32 out of the last 48 hours and I’m now laying in my Chicago hotel room, excited that I made it here and I can sleep now. When I got to JFK airport in New York, I expected the transition to be as smooth as the others, but because of the snowstorm my flight was canceled. Delta airlines gave me a cab voucher and told me where to go to wait for this specific cab to take me to another New York airport where they had a flight available, but when the cab never showed I had to get into a (cliche) yellow New York City taxi and go through New York City! (not that I’m complaining). Anyway, so after going through even more security checks and bag check ins I had to wait for a flight one last time. I must say though, after seeing the way that the staff of Delta Airlines handles their customers (not me specifically, but others around me), I don’t think I’ll be flying with them again. It’s like they just don’t care, but what can you do?

I’m in America… it’s mind blowing.


only a matter of days away

Hi everyone!

I’m only 4 days away from the most incredible experience of my life so far! I’m leaving for San Francisco for a bit of travel before heading to Washington D.C. for my year of study at the American University!

I am constantly nervous/excited/terrified and I don’t really think it’s actually kicked in that i’m leaving everyone behind so soon!

After the continuous paperwork and fees i’m finally getting to the end and started packing yesterday! How does one fit their life into a few bags?

Can’t wait to start this experience and read what everyone else is doing!
Goodluck everyone 🙂


Los Angeles: The place where everything happens

I am in the process of making the final preparations for my departure to California and this will be my first (and last) post from home.

I’ve heard a lot of crazy things about LA and the type of people who live there. Hopefully my future posts won’t end up sounding like Hollywood gossip columns, but either way it will definitely be something new and exciting. I’m sure it will open my eyes in a good way. Of course, studying at UCLA will add a lot more diversity to my experience. I am soooo looking forward to it.


The countdown is on!

So it’s 3 weeks until I leave for the USA and I couldn’t be more excited! The amount of paperwork, the number of meetings and appointments and the constant anxious waiting is over and the adventure is about to start! Every single signature, application, email and planning is forgotten because it’s going to be SO worth it.

Where is everyone else heading?

I’m heading to Wisconsin, USA. It’s currently minus 21degrees Celsius – that’s going to be a little different…

Good luck to everyone embarking on a new adventure this coming year. Can’t wait to read everyone’s stories.


Drive Across the USA!

From Boston MA to Golden CO, three days of straight driving to my future home where I have never been before with my girlfriend Kat.
We came across some pretty American things, when driving west they have these water towers which are in the shape of an upside down water droplet with the town name on them written in massive letters. Now these things hold probably enough water so that everyone in the town could flush there toilet once and it would be empty, so its not much of a reserve but every single town had one! They came in many different colors and fonts, but they were all the same shape and size.

We all know that Americans love their big pick ups! The parking spots are bigger here than at home but still some of the trucks don’t fit into them. This guy here is pulled right up to the front of the park but he still has a good chunk of his ride hanging out.

I spent Thanksgiving with Kat’s family which was a lovely time, we really don’t do that enough in Australia. Getting the family together really should happen more than just around Christmas. The day after Thanksgiving they have an event called Black Friday which is like the biggest most epic shopping day of the year. I spent like $400 that day which may not seem much to some people but to me that’s massive. Every shop has massive sales like 40% off the leading brands.

There lack of tax on there alcohol is AWESOME! look at this   first my favorite beer from back home is $10 a six pack. THATS HALF PRICE! So they import it  and sell it for half price and still make money.

This is something my Father would love about this country, he would probably find some other beer he would lie here though.  Can I also point out this 9 liter bottle of bubbly. I should of put up a normal size bottle there to give you prospective but you can get the general idea. It turns out they don’t have RSA here so i guess this is what it leads too.

A good thing to get once you get here is a state I.D they really don’t like my Australian licence and I don’t want to carry my passport around with me. So as soon as i get a permanent home I will get one.

This will conclude my first post, I’m going to enjoy a white Christmas soon and some more crazy american driving.


First Snow!!!

So I woke up this morning to find that it had snowed last night!!!

It has been so cold here in Storrs that it was bound to happen soon. What baffled me is that some people were still walking to class in jeans and a jumper! The wind here is so cold that it cuts through that sort of clothing and freezes your soul. Nah i’m exaggerating a little there. Everyone in my class this morning had a good laugh at me as I walked in with my big snow jacket and beanie, they just said its gonna get colder, and I believe them.

Seeing the snow is making me look forward to some snowboarding trips and Christmas with my mate and his family in Vermont.

I’m really excited about the snow and I can see how the winter would be unbearable without it here, it makes the bitter cold worth it.


“Ooooh you have an accent!…are you English?”

Apologies for the lack of post. I have been in the US (specifically UMass Amherst) for about 2months now and I have noticed a lot about America, laughed a lot at American things and ranted A LOT over American short-comings. I do try to stop my self if I notice that I’ve been ranting/complaining for the last five minutes straight, I tend to do this to my American friends and I wonder if they even understand why I’m annoyed. I think, just for therapeutic reasons, I will list the irritating things that I so much love to rant about:

  • Whenever an American finds out I’m Australian I get – American: “Put another shrimp on the barbie! *elbow jab*” me: “uhm you know we don’t call them shrimp in Australia, we call them prawns” OR American: “Oooh do you have a pet kangaroo!?!?” me: “No…do you have a pet squirrel?”
  • Peanuts…specifically peanut butter is in everything. EVERYTHING!
  • 4 out of 5 times I will get “Cool accent, I’ve always wanted to go to England” or something of that nature. I don’t know what that says about my accent but it’s making me paranoid, I always thought I my accent/speech was a tad on the bogan side but evidently not!
  • The work here is different, vastly different then how it is structured back home and it took a while to get used to. Although I have noticed that the grading is on the easy side and I don’t really mind that at all!
  • Bros/Barbies…oh lord they are annoying! but fun to bag out I suppose.

Okay I’m done. forgive. I’m sure there are a lot of things that my American friends would love to rant about me…I think number one on the list would be that every time I see a squirrel I can’t suppress the urge to yell SQUIRREL! and point. I think that  probably stopped being cute about 20 squirrels ago. I think this is what is great about exchange, being immersed in a culture that sometimes irritates you so much you just wish so bad for someone to offer you a cheeseybite scroll instead of PB&J but loving it so much all the same…

Hat’s off you to American, damn do you make my eye twitch sometimes but I will concede you sure are good for a laugh.

 

I couldn’t help but add my photo of a squirrel that sat long enough for me 🙂 *points* SQUIRREL!