University in Australia vs. College in the States

On my decision to come to SUNY Oswego for an exchange semester, I knew that things would be different, but I assumed that more or less Australian and American university life and culture would be very similar. I was wrong. I have outlined the main differences below. Enjoy.

College is love

College is love

1. College is love, college is life. Literally. Since beginning college my days typically consist of eating all my meals with friends, going to class, going to the gym with friends, doing homework with friends, watching Netflix with friends, and sleeping. This is vastly different to my university days at QUT as everyday would always be completely different. In Brisbane some days I would go to work, others I would have class, and others I would do absolutely nothing but hang out with friends. I like the structured format of college in the states because I am forced to be more dedicated to my studies and I actually feel like I have time for things (such as working out) because everything is on campus.

2. Homework and pass grades. At QUT in my course, to pass a subject you simply need to get 50% or higher, which is simple and makes sense to me… Here it varies on the subject. For instance one of my subjects is 60% and another is 70%. However it is easier to get marks here (from my recent experience anyway) as professors tend to give out marks for attendance and small homework tasks. Which brings me to my next point; homework. Per subject at QUT I would have two exams during a semester and 1-3 large assignments, and class work/homework is completely optional. Whereas at SUNY Oswego I actually have to keep up to date on course work by submitting graded homework tasks weekly. I like the feelings of always being on top of my course work here, and it gives me reassurance that I will pass and do well, but I do miss weeks of procrastination and doing things last minute as I work well under pressure.

3. Structure of classes. At QUT all of my weekly classes are made up of two parts: one being a lecture which takes place in a hall and is run by a professor, and the other is a practical session in a classroom environment which may be run by a professor or a researcher. At SUNY Oswego all my subjects are in a classroom environment. I feel as though I am back in high school at times. I prefer my university’s style of teaching because a lecture might be one day, and the practical session the next, so it gives me time to digest the information. However I feel as though I have the potential to develop closer, more meaningful relationships with professors here as the contact is more personal and regular.

Snow storm

Snow storm

4. Classes are cancelled if there is a snow storm. This is vastly different to what I am used to. It doesn’t snow in Brisbane, but when we do have extreme weather, scheduled activities are rarely postponed (the exception being sporting events). I was surprised that classes were cancelled when there was a blizzard because most students live on campus and have the warm clothes needed to withstand these conditions anyway.

5. Not everything will kill you in the states. I was bitten by a spider two nights ago and I did not die; I initially thought it was a mosquito bite as it was itchy, small and hard, but turned out it was a spider bite. If this had happened in Australia I probably would have gone straight to the ER. I am enjoying the fact that I do not need to fear for my life when I encounter bugs and reptiles here.

6. American’s have awesome accents. I am always interested in what my peers and professors have to say because I cannot get enough of the accent.

7. American’s have a different definition of thong. I was telling some new friends about my regular encounters with spiders and how I kill them with my thongs (flip flops), and they thought this was hilarious because they were imagining me killing them with a g-string. Lol.

College food

College food

8. Dining halls. At QUT we do not have any dining halls, rather we have food courts, cafes and bars, where items must be purchased in $AUD. When I arrived at Oswego the whole dining hall and dining dollars thing was so foreign, amazing & like something from an American movie. I love that there are so many dining halls on campus and their hours are long and flexible. I wish we had this culture at QUT.


Peace Out


How to Survive Oswego’s Weather

Is anybody else confused as to how Oswego can go from 56 degrees and sunny one week to negative temperatures, massive amounts of snow, hail, sleet, and forty mile an hour winds the next? After last weeks beautiful weather I was just about ready to pack away the snow gear and bring out the shorts and tee shirts. Unfortunately, that isn’t looking like a possibility anytime soon. It seems that the weather here changes every other week, and mother nature doesn’t want to give us a break! This weather proves to be a major problem when it comes to having classes all the way across campus. It may seem near impossible to enjoy this weather, but there are definitely some great ways to stay warm, make it to class, and have a great time while the winds rage and the snow piles up.


The number one rule for surviving these frigid temperatures: LAYER, LAYER, LAYER! Unless you want to freeze, bundle up as much as possible. A heavy jacket, gloves, hat, and boots are all pretty much essential. Face masks are also great to block out the wind and keep your face warm.


Another great strategy to survive the winter is to utilize the Centro bus system, also known as the Blue Route. I was extremely surprised when a couple friends of mine told me that they have never ridden the bus before. If you look around campus, you’ll notice blue signs by the road (they usually have a picture of a bus on them) or the enclosed bus stops such as the ones behind Penfield Library and next to Oneida Hall. Just about every 20 minutes the bus will leave the Campus Center. The bus is free to ride, and is great if you need to get to a class that’s particularly far away. Here is the link to the times the bus departs from the Campus Center as well as a map of the Blue Route:


If you’re snowed in on the weekends and feel that the only thing the weather will permit you to do is sleep, I’m pleased to inform you that there are great things you can do in your Residence Hall without even having to go out into the cold! Normally, I’ll just read and relax, but if you have different preferences, you could always rent a movie from the front desk free of charge! There really is a huge selection of movies and TV shows that the front desk can rent out to you. Board games are also available for anybody. All you need is your Oswego I.D.!


This weather may seem to be a drag, but there are many things that the school provides to it’s students to make it as tolerable and comfortable as possible. All you need to do is utilize these services. hopefully these tips will help you out!


Cold Enough For Ya?!

Seeing as we’ve been struggling to find this season we call Spring, I thought it would be relevant to get everyone’s opinions on the weather we’ve been dealing with. I think these photos say it all. But really? I mean, coming to Oswego, I expected a few snowy days. But this is getting a little ridiculous. Can the weather pleeeease make up its mind?!

I’m from Buffalo, so I’ve dealt with snow since I was little. We’ve even had snow storms in October. But these past 3 years at Oswego have been really mild. I think I just have it ingrained in my head now that the Oswego snow was just a myth. Of course, my last year at school would be a wake up call to the reality of our school’s unapoligetic freezingness.

I think Oswego should be picked up and moved further south- kinda like in that episode of Spongebob. Maybe I just need to relocate to the south for the rest of my 6 years at grad-school.

There’s so many complaints we could dish out about the snow here, but we can account for a whole bunch of positives to take away from this situation as well. Snow ball fights, igloos, snow-men (or snow-women if you really have ambition). My roommates and I actually had such initiative one day 2 weeks ago and decided to make a snow-man outside our house in the Village. We ended up throwing my halloween costume on him and turned him into a bearded snow-man. Thinking it would be a good idea, I soon found out that it turned into an all out snow war between us. So cheer up, and make the most of this winter snow globe that we call Oswego! Be creative. Embrace it. You really have no choice but to embrace it at this point. It looks like the snow is here to stay.

Don’t be afraid to dish about the weather. It’s a big part of our school and it’s image. If you’ve been blown into a snow bank, slipped on an ice patch, tackled a friend into a snow pile, or just made a few snow angels, don’t be afraid to share!

It Only Gets Better

Try as we might to mention and big up the gorgeous sunset, the Bluffs and wonderful lakeside views we Oswegonians have penchant for the cold blustery winds that threaten to lift you off your feet and the abominable snowy conditions that bury central campus in its entirety. This lovely weather starts unofficially after Thanksgiving break and ends what seems like a year later sometime around the end of April.

It’s during this time when we (we being Oswego students, college faculty and year long residents) become a collective. During these long unbearable and miserly winter months the fractured relationship between town and rowdy party students are momentarily forgotten as door are held for fellow winter warriors braving whiteout conditions.

Weather like subzero temperatures, overnight snow accumulations that exceed the median age of dorm room inhabitants, are what we enjoy complaining about (don’t believe check your Facebook and Twitter feeds). It’s all good. No better way to show our true modesty as winter warriors than to masquerade it in some good ol fashion kvetching.

To the uninitiated, the freshmen you haven’t yet earned the right to take part in the harsh weather complaints. We (these Oswegonians; separate from 1st semester freshmen) chuckled as you told us you brought Ugg boots from home for the winter time. But despite the many times you did not heed our warnings we still wish you warmth and insight in the coming months. You’ll need it.

For the rest of us… We’ve been here once before, seen our fair share of winter astonishments. It seems like every class has that one winter that goes down in history as one of the worse. Which brings me to a question I’ve been dying to talk about. Which year has bragging rights to the worst winter in SUNY Oswego to date? And what did you do for fun (and survival)? I’d love to know. It’d be great to hear some awesome alumni stories about their biggest snow storms braved and maybe the freshmen can learn a thing or two on how to have fun in it all.

Speaking of fun. How could I ever forget the time I decided to make some snow myself.