We Have Arrived: James Cook University

After travelling for over 35 hours, I am happy to say that I made it to Australia! This was the longest trip that I have ever made away from home and it was not a fun time. I started my travels by leaving my house at 9 AM on Tuesday, July 15th and drove down to JFK with my parents where I met  my travel buddy, Deanna. She is in the same program however she does not go to Oswego, but goes to Oneonta instead. We had been discussing everything before the trip but this was the first day meeting each other. After having trouble printing my boarding ticket, I finally said goodbye to my parents and headed toward the gate. It was easy to find the gate and navigate through the airport. But of course there had to be a thunderstorm directly headed our way so our plane to LAX was delayed 3 hours! It was a good thing we had a long layover there because by the time we landed and got our next boarding pass, the plane was boarding for Sydney, Australia. This wonderful flight was a whopping 14 hours over nothing but ocean water, and it was a red-eye flight so there wasn’t much to look at. Luckily it wasn’t too hard to fall asleep and I slept for 8 of those hours, making the trip a little more bearable. There were also plenty of movies to be watched which took up the rest of the time. But this flight did have one good part to it; the girl who sat down to my right happened to be going to the same exact place as Deanna and I; town, school, dorm building and all. So we made a new friend, Natalia. There was another study abroad student, Luke, who sat in front of us who was traveling from Kansas State to Perth, Australia.

We all got off the plane together at about 6 AM on Thursday, July 17th. After collecting our luggage in Sydney, and going through customs, we got separated from each other! I did freak out for a few minutes but then realized that if I just keep going to my next gate that we would meet up there. As I got back in line to recheck my bags, I found Natalia but Deanna was still nowhere to be seen! I waited with Natalia for a few minutes before getting on the bus to our next terminal. Finally, when we found the gate, Deanna was there with Luke, safe and sound. Luke’s plane left first and we said goodbye as we prepared for boarding as well and after landing 3 hours later at our final destination, we went to pick up our bags and meet our ride to the Uni (what they call the college campus). There was of course one more setback; my bags were lost. Come to find out, they were left in Sydney and never boarded the plane to Townsville. But I brought 2 changes of clothes and travel size shampoo. Deanna let me borrow a towel for the shower and I should be getting my bags today (Friday)!

Townsville Airport

Townsville Airport

After arriving to uni and our dorm building, I met my RA, Andrew, and got to see my room for the next 4 months. It has its own balcony which is the highlight of the whole building. People, mostly those here for the whole year, have decorated them and even have hammocks too. But besides this awesome feature, it is a pretty standard dorm building. It’s not as enclosed as those in Oswego, for obvious reasons, so there is more air flow making for a beautiful tropical feel.

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The view from my balcony

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The balcony

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My room

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My room

Deanna, Natalia and I decided that we would go to the store and get a few things after we showered and looked decent after travelling for such a long period of time. We asked someone on our floor how to get to the store that was on the uni and they said it was a short walk down the street, so off we went. It was literally a 5 minute walk, and I just got a few things, including a phone that I could use just in Australia. We walked back, dropped our stuff off in our rooms and walked around for a bit, exploring a little before we went to the dining hall for dinner. We had a nice chat with one of the cooks who told us about some of the local birds and the kangaroos that enjoy sitting on the grass right next to the dorm building! I also met another exchange student from Norway! She got there the day before. Her name was something very Norwegian (I could not pronounce it to save my life) so she told us to call her Chessa. There are so many people to meet still and O week hasn’t even started yet. It is going to be an exciting time here in beautiful Australia!

Australia in T minus 7 Days

Hi everybody! My name is Kelsey Thomas and I am a senior zoology major with a photography minor and I am studying abroad at James Cook University in Townsville, QLD, Australia this upcoming fall 2014 semester. It has already been a stressful process of filling out an endless supply of paperwork however this last week is going to be crazy! There are still so many things I need to do, such as going to doctors and dentists appointments, verifying my visa (which was not completed correctly the first time), verifying my flight, printing out all necessary papers, visiting family and friends, oh, and packing too. I am just praying that I remember to do everything. Determining what is necessary to bring with me will probably be the toughest part of this whole process! What to pack and what not to pack will be difficult but starting a week early will hopefully give me enough time to look through everything a few times over.

I have to say, I am very nervous about the trip. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely excited as well, but I will be sad about leaving everything behind for the next four months. Learning a new culture and finding my way to classes is going to be stressful at first but I know it will all be worth it in the end. It does make it a little easier with Australia speaking English (kudos to those studying abroad in countries that don’t). I really can’t wait for all of the new memories and friends that will be made in this country. The school looks absolutely beautiful and the town itself looks nice as well, not to mention that it’s located right on the Great Barrier Reef.

Heads up to all of the Biology and Zoology students out there; I picked this school because the man I talked to in the international office said that Australia was the best option for our major. It is so different from what we have here and they do focus a lot on science majors. If you’re looking to study abroad, check out JCU’s website!

http://www.jcu.edu.au/

James Cook University

Townsville, QLD www.nextstepaustralia.com

Departure is in one week and now I am just counting down the days. I will be sure to keep you all updated on this wonderful adventure!

-Kelsey

Intro to Tasmania

Hello! And welcome to my OZ blog. I am hoping this blog will demonstrate (somewhat mundane) sociological and cultural differences that I come across in Australian culture in Tasmania. For now, I am keeping the blog light, as this is just an introductory post to prepare my followers for my adventure (and to practice blogging skills…).

Honestly I still don’t really think about how I will be across the world In Tasmania, Australia in about a month and a half. It really hasn’t sunk in yet, I suppose. At the same time, I don’t know how I would be able to “expect” anything since I’ve never done something like this before. Sure I’ve traveled before, but never alone. Which happens to be the most appealing part of the entire experience for me.

It’s funny because being alone is what was once deterring me from the idea of studying abroad. Oddly enough, I eventually decided to follow in my sister’s footsteps, who recently traveled for a semester abroad to Tanzania, Africa. DISCLAIMER: Sarcasm should be included in the previous sentence. Following in my sisters’ footsteps is something I have been doing since I can remember.

I’m weirdly excited to be in a place where no one has any idea who I am. And I happened to choose Tasmania… mainly because I’m not ready to take on another language (AKA: I’m lazy).

a building on UTAS campus that I thought looked cool

a building on UTAS campus that I thought looked cool

Check out the school’s website here!

Before I go, I’d like to give a few shout outs. As the Spring 2014 semester came to a close, I became sad thinking about the many ineffable people I would be leaving behind for almost five months.

Dear…

OSWEGO:

I will miss you, my geese….

 

PATHFINDER:

I will miss working with this wonderful, hard working, personable crew. Thank-you so much for opening my eyes to a group of dedicated and caring individuals, and for being patient and helpful. You have impacted me in ways more than you will ever know, and I’m glad that I am showing my appreciation before I graduate! I’m excited for working for you for one last semester! ;)

me workin' hard

me workin’ hard

 

NEWMAN CENTER:

Ahh.. the center. Sorry for not saying bye to anyone, by the way… I really wanted to avoid any crying that may have occurred, and I’ll see you next semester anyways so no harm, no foul. I hope everything goes well with the retreats and please know that I will miss all of you so much! I’m also upset I’ll be missing the Fall retreat… make sure you folks stay up late and have extra special conversations in dedication of my absence. And have some of those sugar cookies at the meetings at LEAST one time. You know what I’m talkin’ about.

peace OUT.

peace OUT.

MY FRIENDS:
OMG you know I wish I could put a personal picture up with special captions for each of your individually, but I would say too much and then no one would take the time to read the blog. I will miss all of you SO MUCH and hope you have AMAZING SEMESTERS (but then have an even better one when I’m back from Australia). Thank-you for constantly supporting me, listening to my troubles, and giving me a good time. That’s all we need in life <3

Cats & hats!

Cats & hats!

the last [high school] dance!

the last [high school] dance!

FAMILY:

Thanking you over a blog post seems so lame… but if I didn’t include you it just wouldn’t be fair. I cannot express my gratitude to you in words. I hope I can show you it through my actions for the rest of my life. It is through your love, hardship, fighting, honestly, and trust that I am how I am today, and that alone is inspiring enough for me to go across the world in confidence. Thank-you Mom, Dad, Jenn, and Becca for making me a large part of who I am! I love you all.

Well, the next blog I post will hopefully have a picture of me holding a koala. See you then!

-Patty