Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Final Blog Post

Now that I have returned safely to the United States, and have begun my junior year, back at Carlow University, I will take some time to reflect back on my study abroad experience by answering some questions.

1. How have you changed as a person after studying abroad?
From studying abroad, I have learned to embrace every moment and get to know and learn something every person that you can. While on my trip, I became close friendsw with so many new people that I originally did not see myself getting along with. Spending a month with new faces helped me to realize that making the best out of every situation with all you encounter is the best way to approach every situation. I found that by following this technique in every day life, it will pay off. You will create a more pleasant environment around you that will in turn affect how other people view you and treat you. This trip has changed how open I am to new people and different experiences. I am so grateful for this change.
2. What self-discovery surprised you?
While studying in Australia, I discovered that I am able to adapt very easily to new environments. Before going into this trip, I was nervous about living with a foreign family and having limited communication back home. What suprised me was that after about one week of studying in Adelaide, I had already adjusted to my home-stay family, the local Australians, and the basics of Adelaide living. This self-dsicovery inspired me to want to travel to other, more exotic places in the world because I trust that I will be able to manage other styles of living with ease.
3.       Single greatest benefit of studying abroad?
It is difficult to narrow all of the benefits of studying abroad down to just one. The best benefit of the trip would have to be the stories I was able to bring home and tell about my trip. The people I met, and the places I was able to see, along with the conversations that unfolded over the summer of 2012 are irreplaceable. The funny, goofy, serious, and even scary moments that happened to me are unforgettable and so valuable to me.
4. How did your life goals change?
From this trip, I have adjusted my life goals in that I will strive to "work to live", not to "live to work", as most Americans do. I found that Australians have a much different view on life in general from Americans. They typically put in 5 hour days at work, but spend the majority of their time enjoying themselves, whether that be with friends or family. The Australian ways of life taught me to be more relaxed and to enjoy the simple things in life. This has impacted how I view the next 20 years of my life. I will still be working toward my D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathy) degree, but will earn this degree while maintaining a joyful and rich life.
5. What was your favorite experience?
While abroad, I was able to experience many new and exciting things, but my favorite would have to be taking a trip to the outback and camping. On this trip, we were able to experience Australia's rare wildlife like kangaroos and koalas while sleeping under the stars and enjoying the company of other Aussies. This weekend trip allowed us as students to grow closer to one another while we got away from the city life and classes. Some fo the students even ate kangaroo burgers on this excursion!
6. Any advice for future participants?
I would advise future studiers to definitely stay at a home-stay family in whatever country you are staying. The bonds I made with my host family and the inside scoop they gave me on EVERYTHING Aussie was priceless! My program was fantastic with matching me with a vegetarian, very liberal, laid back family, with an 18 year old daughter. Even if you are shy and a bit scared of staying with someone you do not know, I still reccommend this accomodation to fully delve into the culture and customs of the country in which you stay. It is my hope that you also have such a fantastic experience as I had!
7. Would you study abroad again?   Why?
ABSOLUTELY! This study abroad trip was life changing in so many ways. It has instilled a drive within me to travel to other places around the world, opened up some of the best friendships I have ever made, and taught me about a differt country's culture, all while taking credits that would transfer home to Carlow. I already miss Australia and everyone I met on my trip and I have only been home for about a week! I am anxious to get travelling again as soon as possible.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Wrapping Up

My study abroad trip is just about over. I was reluctant to say the long and drawn out goodbyes to my homestay family and some of the students I had gotten to know so well through this experience. The last bit of my trip was spent in Sydney and Cairns, Australia. In Sydney, I was accompanied by some of the students in my program. The city was gorgeous and reminded me of America with the hussle and bussle I had been missing in Adelaide! While there, I was able to do the Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb, visit the Aquarium, tour the Sydney Opera House, as well as indulge in some of the best food I'd had on the whole trip. I was able to add a trip to Cairns onto my program in order to go scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef all by myself. This trip was absolutely worth the extra money and made it even harder to leave Australia. I got to swim with tropical fish and snorkel along the reef. So breath-taking. Scuba diving was a bit scary in some ways (being so far under water with a weighted belt, only relying on a hose for air), but I learned from the underwater panic, followed by a self-controlled calm, that I can tackle anything and overcome fears. After these last two cities, I headed back to the U.S. I may have been dragging my feet to come home the whole time, but it was a great feeling to see the friends and family I hadn't seen in so long. I plan to keep in contact with all of the new Australian and American friends that I became so close to over the past month. I hope to some day return to Australia, but only after I have seen the rest of the world first. :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Thinking Ahead

I thought that I was busy at the beginning of this adventure. The whole program has been calm compared to recently. Within the past week or so, I have been to concerts, karaoke, internships, and midnight walks on the beach with new friends; while I still have yet to finish up school work, go to Uluru (Ayer's Rock), have farewells, and pack before heading to Sydney and Cairns. I have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful new people. The other American students I have met on the trip will be friends forever. Even though I have been staying at a homestay, I have still managed to become extremely close with the other study abroad students. The Australian friends I have made are begging me to rearrange my flights and/or come back very soon. I would have no problem doing either of those, if only I had a job of some sort here. Since the Australian economy is extremely well-off at the moment, my American earned dollars are not going very far. This does in fact mean that I will not be rearranging flights and staying longer, but I do look forward to coming back and catching up in the future (hopefully sometime in the summer whenever the beach is not so breezy). Attached is a photo I took of an Australian sunset. I will only be able to enjoy this for one more week!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Slow Down!

My program is going way too fast! I only have about 2 more weeks before I come back home, and I feel like I have only been here for a few days. My politics class has already ended, and the community class' end is quickly approaching. I still have much work to finish up before coming home, and many trips to still make.
As a group, we went to Kangaroo Island last weekend. BEAUTIFUL! I could not get over the amazing scenery and wildlife. I even got to pet an echidna and sleep outside next to a fire! The whole evening, I was terrified of waking up next to a snake or spider. We went sandboarding and fit TEN people on three sandboards connected together, then went soaring down a sand dune. See attached picture! Best time ever.
This weekend, we are learning how to play footie, which is apparently a mix between football and soccer. Should be.....interesting, considering how uncoordinated I am. The weekend to follow, we will be taking a trip into the outback and camping out. I predict this outing will remind me of home. The only thing that will be missed is s'mores. They do not have graham crackers in Australia. I suppose they make up for it in having other fantastic foods. These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of fun and excitement and I am already trying to plan a return trip.

Friday, July 6, 2012

What have I been doing, you ask?

Aside from classes, and interning, I have been taking beach walks, attending music trivia games, hanging out with the other Americans  for the 4th of July, and meeting heaps of new people through my homestay sister, Scarlett. I have developed a wide new vocabulary that I can't wait to bring home. Aussies use word like heaps, keen, parroed, uni, capsuchin, and jumper. Sometimes, it is as if they are speaking English, but I cannot understand them! So glad I didn't go to a different speaking country. English is apparently "arduous" enough.
It feels as though I have completely settled in in Adelaide, but I can already see the end of my program coming up way too fast. I have already had many of those "I don't want to come home" moments. Wish me luck in getting on the plane back to the States. I am not looking forward to unregulated food, the accents that I grew up with, 20 degree winters, and, most of all, rude Americans. Nearly everyone I have met here so far have been prime examples of kindness, acceptance, health, and awareness. Aussies are a different breed of Anglo's; a breed that I could get used to.

Hanging at the Hub

It is about 6:45pm here in Adelaide, whilst it is 5:15am back home. I am sitting in the student Hub area on campus, working on papers and research while I wait for the clock to strike 9:00. I can explain....
Last weekend, I realized that having a cell phone with a net value of about $20 is a terrible/wonderful thing. The terrible part of the issue is that I do not value my cheap "pay as you go" phone enough to keep a close enough eye on it. From this, my phone went missing after a night in the city last weekend. Thankfully, I was still able to communicate through email and facebook for this past week, and hope and pray that my phone would be found; which brings me to the wonderful aspect of having a non-smart phone. No one wanted the phone badly enough to steal it! Hooray! Electric Circus (where I lost it) called my homestay sister and they actually found the silly thing. The business is not open until 9 tonight, so after a full day of internship at V.S.S., I patiently wait and work on homework until I can walk across town, grab the phone, and finally catch the bus home.
Today has been a pretty typical day for what I have experienced so far in Australia: Learning much, both from school and work, but also through life experiences.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Classes have begun

Classes here at UniAdelaide started on Monday. I am taking a course in Australian politics and a community engagement project. The politics class is extremely difficult to follow. All of the students have some sort of background in how Australia's system works...except me. Many of the students are law students. The four hour long class consists of me sitting in a lecture theater, then a tutorial, and listening in on political debates about people, policies, and issues that I have never heard of. Granted, I am learning a lot about Australia's political framework, and the class has progressively been easier to catch onto, but it is a rough 4 hours. On the other hand, the Community project is interesting! I have been placed with the Victims Support Service and will be working with victims of crimes, and victims' family members starting next week. This goes perfectly along with what I study back home and will give me a great sociology outlook on the cases that I will be dealing with back home.
Today, I am doing some city exploring and museum attending, and Saturday, we are taking a trip to Coorong National Park. All in all, this week has flown by, and I am soaking so many things in in very little time.