Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Gina S. - Brisbane, Australia - Spring 2015

Hi everyone!  My name is Gina and I am studying abroad in Brisbane, Australia at the University of Queensland through ISA.  It’s been about a month down under and what a whirlwind it has been.  During my time so far I have been to rainforests, waterfalls, an amusement park, museums, zoos, held a koala, played with kangaroos, hiked in the mountains, went to the beach - typical Australian stuff and let me tell you the terrain and wildlife in Australia is unbelievable!
My first week here I had orientation with ISA where they had all this great stuff planned but unfortunately we were not able to do majority of it because there was a really bad cyclone.  The first five days all I saw was rain and spent most of my time in a hostel, not the most ideal situation.   A couple weeks later I went down to Cairns with ISA  for the second part of our orientation to go see the Great Barrier Reef and once again another cyclone hit and no one was allowed out on the water. Unfortunately my friends you can't control the weather. The reason I share these stories with you is because sometimes when people are planning to study abroad they envision everything is going to go perfect which is not likely but that DOES NOT mean it will make the experience any less amazing!  I am having the most incredible time in Australia because I am able to experience and see so many new things, don't dwell on things that may not have gone the way you hoped especially if it is out your control. And since I couldn't go to the reef it gives me another excuse to go back to Cairns with a bunch of my friends from school.  Do me a favor though and cross your fingers for me just in case.  Also I don’t want you to think the weather is typically like that in Australia I was just very unlucky, besides those two times the weather is pretty much sunny and beautiful all day. Queensland is the sunshine state of Australia. 
I am living on campus which is really nice because I don't have to worry about cooking my own meals (however I do miss home cooked food), it’s a ten minute walk to school, everyone gets their own room, and they even clean your sheets and vacuum your floor once a week!  The only downfall would be there is no air conditioning and it can get pretty hot here so most people gets fan but I don’t mind it.  Every month we have a traditional ceremony called Bara Khana where everyone dresses up and has a really nice dinner together. Everything is very traditional here and this year International House will be celebrating their 50th anniversary which makes it all the more special.  What is interesting though is the housing on campus are called colleges (International House = college) and their colleges are basically like America’s fraternities and sororities.  The first week at college is kind of like pledge week and then at the end of the week you go through something called brotherhood which is basically like an initiation.  This is where you become a “housie” which is a term of endearment for everyone who has ever lived at IH.  It was a very interesting process. There is also a student run executive board who run all kinds of events all the time.  What is so nice about IH is that there is such a variety of people here from all over the world as well as Australians and you find yourself having the most fascinating conversations.   It’s exciting to learn about different parts of the world from people who actually live there and see things through other people’s perspectives, it has been very eye-opening.  
Finally I want to leave you with a bit of advice.  The most overwhelming part of studying abroad is wanting to do everything and not being able to do it all for whatever reason: time, money, etc.  In the beginning I would ask all of my Australian friends what their favorite place or thing to do in Australia was and everyone said something different.  My list kept getting longer and longer and I soon realized there was no way I was going to be able to do it all.  Like Alice says you picked that place for a reason don’t spend all your time trying go elsewhere.  
Next you have to try and find a new balance and it takes a little time.  In the beginning I didn't want to say no to anything because I didn't want to miss out on any life changing experiences even though it feels that way but I’m telling you it’s not the end of the world.  Every single day there’s an opportunity for a new adventure so don’t worry if you miss a few things along the way. 
Also keep in mind while this is hard to come to terms with as well is that it’s not a vacation and it’s going to go much quicker than you realize.  What has helped me focus on how I want to spend my time is the reasons I am studying abroad. Your reasons and goals for studying abroad should reflect how you spend your time, take that assignment seriously.  Anyway let me know if you have any questions or concerns I would be more than happy to help.  I am so excited for the journey’s you are all going to embark on because I can promise you it will be unforgettable.  


Blogger Dani Inman said...

Hi Gina, I will be going to Australia in fall at Bond University. Your pictures are so cute! I was wondering how getting around to where you want to go is? Is it convenient? I know you aren't at Bond but Bond is in Queensland/gold coast. Also do you see a lot of kangaroos? Are they hanging around like our squirrels here do? lol.
Hope to hear from you soon,

7:32 AM  
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12:37 AM  

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