Monday, July 29, 2013

As classes begin...

With school becoming a part of our everyday routine, the daily partying seems to have died down to a weekly thing. However, I am looking forward to this huge back to school party at the uni bar Wednesday night, where you dress like a nerd; I think all of us are going, it sounds like a good time!
Last Wednesday, we went to the uni bar, which is better known as the Bar on the Hill, for a fun international students karaoke night. It was actually one of the best times I've had in awhile since the entire group decided to sing me "Sweet Caroline" as I sat on a stool front and center in the audience. Maybe you figured it out already, but Wednesdays are the big nights for students to go out. Isn't it just lovely that I have class from 9 am until 7 pm on Thursdays? eek.
good times never seemed so good...
The Sunday before the first week of class we attended a rugby game (or as aussies say a "footy"), which was literally so so awesome. It was the Newcastle Knights versus the Sydney Roosters. Despite the piddling name, the Roosters came out on top. I don't know too much about rugby so I wasn't entirely aware of what was going on throughout the game, but it was a great experience nonetheless. I'd really like to attend another one if possible!
the roomie and I at the bar before the footy
rugby stadium
Something that has entirely slipped my mind throughout my last few blogs is the weather! I must address it. "Ohhh Australia...soooo warm....shorts, flip flops, t-shirts, ay?" Not quite. The first couple days here were actually fairly warm, but it was trickery. It's been pretty chilly here the past week and a half. Like I brought out the North Face jacket a few times, so clearly it got pretty serious. When you wake up in the morning and as soon as the sun sets, it can get as cold as thirty-five/forty degrees fahrenheit. The next few weeks will be tough, especially since I didn't bring too many warmer clothes, but once it warms up it's going to be such perfection.
So, Uni classes started this week. The campus is so incredibly overwhelmingly huge. But really. Although, we do have an app that gives you step by step directions to any building and includes pictures of each side of the building for reference, so that's helpful. I've only had one class so far, and it was Australian Pop Culture. It seems like a great class, except not being from Australia is really going to have its disadvantages. Just within the first class, I was completely lost; the class was discussing past events that happened in the country, Australian tv shows/ movies/ people... and I hadn't heard of one. The good thing is the class is about one third international, so I'm certainly not alone.
I have class pretty much every day, except nothing on Friday, and on Tuesdays all I have is this one credit course with our program coordinator that we're all in together and it's really not bad at all.
My Thursdays are going to be pretty rough though.
There's been murmurs of plans to go into Sydney this weekend, I'm one hundred percent on board! It costs like eleven dollars to get there and back, and it's a two and a half hour train ride. I really want to get some Australian stuff for myself and people back home so I don't have to worry about it for the rest of the trip.
We're starting to discuss where and when we are traveling and it's getting seriously I just can't even believe that I'm here and that I'm so close to Asia and New Zealand and everywhere else. It's truly unreal.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

One week later...

It's been a week since I've left America, and I'm certainly living the good life. I can already tell I'm going to have an absolute blast and nothing less. I'm in love already!, not with a who, with a where. I am one hundred percent in love with this country. The uni campus is perfection, it's like a jungle. The campus land is actually rented from the Aboriginals, so it's like sacred land or something? Pretty neat. In order to get to the uni from where we live, you must take the train. It's about a fifteen minute walk to the station, then a ten minute train ride.
train station at the uni
Today was the first day of Orientation Week, or "O" Week. We had an info sesh and after they had these zoo people come and bring a few reptiles for us to see and hold. There was a giant snake and a few lizards, and I got to hold a bearded dragon! After that, we had a BBQ at the campus bar with all of the other International students and there was a live band and everything. I met people from Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and the like. It's amazing meeting people from other parts of the world.
my bearded friend & I
As far as the animals go here, they're say the least. Especially the birds! The magpies sound like cats meowing and there's some sort of bird that sounds like a monkey...and it really seems to enjoy sitting by my window and waking me up early.
So you might be wondering about my living accommodation, here's a few pictures.

my bed!
I really like it! At first the bathroom bugged me that it was so tiny, but it's really not that bad! Our apartment is really close to Darby Street (like a two minute walk), which is like the main street of downtown Newcastle; tons of shops, places to eat, clubs/pubs, etc. It's been really fun going out this past week, since I'm legal here. I'd never really been to a bar before, so now I've officially had the bar experience.... and I like it!
Classes start next week. I'll be taking Australian Pop Culture, Intro to Social/ Cultural Anthropology, Design Studio Photography, and Visual Communication Drawing; I'm especially excited for those last two. The classes here are pretty different, there's usually two classes for each class: a very populated lecture and then a smaller tutorial/workshop/studio period.
I'm so excited for classes to begin...updates to come as soon as they start.
Cheers, mate!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

First thoughts

So I'm here.
The flight wasn't as bad as I thought, it was about fourteen hours from San Fran to Sydney. I had the window seat, so that definitely softened the blow (although the entire flight was during the night, so there wasn't much to look at except the stars, but the guy in front of me kindly pointed out constellations!). They gave us three meals, which was nice, except they weren't the most tasty.
Once we got to the airport, I got myself in a bit of trouble by bringing a sandwich through customs (I had meant to throw it away, but forgot) and had to stand in a separate line from my buddies to claim it. I finally got through customs and met my Happy Cabby driver at the McDonalds. He drove us for a couple hours north to Newcastle to our new home, the Abbeywood Apartments. We all live in 7 different apartments that are next to each other. My roommate, Brittany (from Wisconsin) and I share a bedroom and we have our own kitchen and living room as well. I'll upload pictures once everything is in order!
My first day was very overwhelming, and I wasn't in the most optimistic mood from the jet lag, I was definitely missing home a lot. At night, we decided to go to a bar down the street because essentially the "superbowl" of Australian rugby was playing. I left so early though because I was so tired. But waking up for my second day this morning and finally taking a shower was absolutely fantastic!
My roommate and I did the majority of unpacking in the morning then walked to Bar Beach with some others. The beach was incredible, we even saw dolphins! It's crazy that I'm only a fifteen minutes walk from somewhere so beautiful. We ate lunch at the bar and then went grocery and cell phone shopping. I'm still trying to figure out the cell phone situation right now, why is it so difficult to activate a phone plan?! Goodness. Hopefully I'll get that figured out within the next day or two, because it's just strange not having a phone.
Tomorrow, we are touring the campus, which is a short train ride away, and then having a welcome dinner at a nice restaurant downtown. I'm so excited to see the campus, I've heard it's gorgeous!
To sum up my experience so far, I absolutely love the city of Newcastle and Australia overall seems like a wonderful country! I'm eager to explore the city more and start going to classes :)

Bar Beach, 15 minute walk from my apartment

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Oh, the places you'll go

Where do I want to go? Probably the most common piece of advice I've received for going abroad is to, before going, make a list of the places I want to visit while there. Originally, this list was long, too long, so I've narrowed it down to a top five. If I make it to all of these, fantastic! If not, I know my experience won't be any less spectacular. I guess we'll just see what happens!
I have a feeling Fiji and Bangkok will be some tough ones to find others to go with me, but the other three are within Australia and shouldn't be difficult at all. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Preperation...or lack of

The anxiety attacks have begun. With 5 days, 18 hours, 54 minutes, and 3 seconds left until plane departure, I have begun reflecting on my short, but sweet, summer. This summer was my busiest yet. I worked an unpaid internship, waitressed at a pizza restaurant, and took a summer class. Seeing my friends here and there was unfortunate, but I thoroughly enjoyed my summer nevertheless. The experience I have gotten from my internship is truly priceless and makes me even giddier to go into the real world in just 2 short years.
I haven't even started packing yet....whoops. It takes steps. Step one: bring suitcases up to room from basement- check! See I'm getting somewhere. How am I supposed to pack an entire semester's wardrobe in merely two suitcases?! Please! This will be a struggle.
Did I mention my anxiety attacks?