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


Changing Your Life

I was perusing some of my favorite blogs the other day and while I was on She’s a Fit Chick, I read this post about an article that questions where you are in life and where you want to be. Like Jennifer, I decided to answer the questions. This gets a bit long, but hopefully you enjoy it anyway.

1. Where do you want to be in life right now and in the future?

I’m in a really good place in my life, so there isn’t much that I would change. I’m in my senior year at an amazing college, where I’ve met so many fantastic people and learned more than I imagined. I’ve been involved in various organizations that I’m passionate about, started a club that will hopefully continue to grow and help other students who are interested in the magazine industry, and had a fantastic job at the fitness centers where I’ve discovered passions I never knew I had. Not to mention I’ve been lucky enough to live in New York City twice in a year and work at a magazine I absolutely love and 100 percent support.

But that’s only the work and education side. I’m also in a very loving relationship with my boyfriend of practically two years (13 days away) and I’ve never felt more sure of myself than I do when I’m with him. He listens to my worries, basks in my successes and encourages me to keep pushing even though I doubt myself at times and want to give up. He makes me laugh, I never (ok, maybe sometimes) get sick of him and he’s not too shabby on the eyes, either. What else could you ask for in a boyfriend?

I also have fantastic friends that I’ve kept in touch with throughout life and I can’t wait to see these friendships grow. My roommates in Oswego, Kayleigh and Meghan, are phenomenal; I love my good friends from back home and I can’t wait to be reunited with my ASME friends from NYC! I’m so blessed to know this many amazing people.

So yeah, I’m pretty content right now.

But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop moving forward. My college career is ending in four months, which means a new part of my life is beginning. The adult part. The no-relying-on-anyone-else part. The make-it-or-break-it part. I’m moving to NYC with two of my ASME friends, Libby and Victoria, and I couldn’t be more excited. Or scared. I’m nervous about getting a job in the magazine industry. You never know if the timing will play out and in magazine world you can’t start looking for a job until two months before graduation (So if I’m a stress ball the last few months of college, you’ll know why). However, I’ll be positive and hope for the best! This time next year, I want to be living in NYC and working at a magazine I love. Hopefully I’ll be able to do it without living on Spaghetti O’s, too!

2. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t?

I’ve always wanted to go on a cruise. Since I was little, I’ve dreamed of traveling on a huge ship to some exotic and warm location with my friends. I don’t care if it’s with my family, a girls’ getaway, a mix of guys and gals, or a vacation with Dustin — as long as I’m with people who are ready to relax and have fun in the sun! This year, I’m determined to go on a cruise, possibly to the Bahamas, to celebrate my graduation!

3. What’s something you would regret never having done in life?

Applying for the ASME summer internship, hands down. I remember looking at the application, talking with my professor about it and wondering whether or not I should apply because all of the students who were accepted last year were from big-name schools. I mean, I went to a SUNY school — did I really have a shot of getting in? Turns out I did. I had no idea how ASME determined who got in, but I later found out it’s based completely on what you’ve done to get ahead. Nobody cared that I went to a state school. If I had let my fears get the best of me, I never would have gone to NYC and worked at FITNESS, met great people from all over the country and had the best summer of my life.

4. What are you doing to make yourself available to new opportunities?

Networking like a mad woman. I try to meet someone new every day and learn about who they are and what they do in life. I’ve learned not to be shy around new people and just say hi. I’ve been meeting with a lot of different magazine editors as well, just to learn about how they got to where they are. The mag industry is very much about paying it forward, so making that initial contact, and then preserving it, opens a whole new world of opportunity every time.

5. What do you like/dislike about your life?

  • I love my friends, family and boyfriend.
  • I like that I’m graduating in four months.
  • I like that I’m living with two fantastic people in NYC in a few months.
  • I like that I’m studying to become a nationally certified personal trainer.
  • I dislike that I’m going to be six hours away from my family and best friend.
  • I dislike that my college friends and I are going separate ways (except for Tom!)
  • I dislike that one of my closest friends and I no longer talk because of what he thinks are irreconcilable differences.

6. What are you doing in your life right now to make it better?

I’m working in my desired career field at a magazine I love, growing a networking organization at Oswego State to help future journalism students, launching an online magazine, meeting amazing people through blogging, and training to run my first half-marathon and complete my first triathlon!

7. Are you comfortable with yourself?

More and more every day. There are things I don’t like about myself, but movements like Operation Beautiful are teaching me that I’m an amazing person despite my flaws.

8. What’s holding you back from what you want in life?

A fear of failing. Which I guess segues into confidence. I’ve been successful at a lot of things because I push myself to the limit and because I’m afraid of what it will be like if I fail at something. I need to learn to forget fear and just go for it. I know life is lived to the fullest when fear isn’t a part of the equation.

What suggestions do you have for fighting fear? I encourage you to answer these questions about yourself and if you blog about it, send it my way!

Four Years, Millions of Memories

I’m finally settling back into the groove of things in Oswego, and it’s starting to hit me that I’m a senior. What?! Yes, a senior! After four long, yet unbelievably fast years, there are only seven months left until graduation. Therefore, this is a blog of reminiscence. And if you know me well, you understand that I often live my life with a camera close by. Here are the most important lessons I learned at college, and the pictures to express them.

1. The friends you make here will give you the memories you’ll never forget.

I’ve come to know so many people, but there are a few that I know will be with me forever. These people take classes with you, go to lunch with you, hit parties with you, and eat absurd amounts of food with you (Subshop, Zonies, Enzo’s, Azteca’s, Rudy’s etc).

From top left, clockwise: Jeff, Dylan, Me, Kyle, Meghan!

2. Get involved in organizations — you’ll learn much more than in just the classroom.

After working at The Oswegonian for three years, I’m confident that I’ve developed the skills I need to enter into the journalism field after graduation.

The 'Gonian before we switched to broadsheet in 2009!

3. Find something you’re passionate about.

I joined Colleges Against Cancer my freshman year, even though it had just launched. This organization has people with so much heart, and I love working in Relay for Life each year to help work toward a day when cancer can be cured.

My 2009 RFL team!

Now I’ve launched Ed2010 at Oswego State, an organization that helps students break into the magazine industry. I want Oswego State students to understand that just because we go to a small school doesn’t mean you can’t make big dreams a reality! So if you’re interested in working in magazines, join our Facebook group here!

4. If you have a good roommate, stick with them.

People often dread figuring out who their roommate is going to be each year. Will they like me? Will I hate them? Are we going to have conflicting schedules? How do we set ground rules? Fortunately, I found a great roomie. Meghan Stewart and I have been living together for three years now and we currently share a house off-campus with another fantastic friend, Kayleigh Kimberly. Which brings me to my sub-point: be nice to your R.A’s! They could end up being one of your closest friends. Kayleigh was my R.A. and we’ve been inseparable ever since.

Meghan, Kayleigh and I

5. Get a job.

Believe me, it’s so much nicer when you have a continuous flow of money coming into your bank account. And you can’t rely on Mom and Dad forever (nor should you), so you might as well start weaning yourself now.  I’ve worked at the campus fitness centers for three years and my co-workers are like a family. Some of them even took me to Canada for my 19th birthday!

My gym family in Canada for my 19th!

6. Don’t force relationships…

Too many people go into college trying to sustain high school relationships. If that’s what’s really meant to be, then good for you. But don’t hang onto something that you shouldn’t! College is about growing and getting to know yourself. I was single for two and a half years and it was one of the best decisions of my life.

7. But if you find someone great, don’t be afraid to commit.

Notice I said number six was one of the best decision of my life. Knowing when to take a chance on love was another great decision. I met Dustin during my sophomore year and we started dating during spring semester (We’ve been together nearly two years now). We were just friends first and he’s become one of my best friends. So my advice is find someone you can talk to, that you love being around, that you can trust. Someone you can laugh with (and at), who listens to your biggest fears and encourages your wildest dreams. That’s when you know it’s worth pursuing.

Dustin and I in N.Y.C. for New Year's Eve

These are the most valuable life lessons that come to me immediately. What are some of the things you’ve learned in college?

Looking Forward

As the summer is very rapidly dying off (there is only a little more than a month until we return), I am beginning to seriously think about this coming year and what I am going to try to do in order to make it better than my freshman year. I didn’t really have the best year last year, and I know that that really is more or less the case for most if not all freshmen (since they’re in a new environment and are just beginning to learn the ropes), but for me, it was more of a personal thing. I made a really stupid decision, and it seemed like I was becoming something I didn’t want to become, and I blamed it on so many things, including myself. The point is, however, that I am actually looking forward to my sophomore year, because it seems as if so much is going to be different.

Yes, there are some of the usual things that bothered me during my freshman year, one of which was my roommate and I coming from very different environments and attempting to tolerate each others’ very different personalities and lifestyles, which, I admit, was not very easy for me to do, even as accepting of a person as I am, and this year, that’s going to be different. I am rooming with my friend Allain, and he’s a really cool kid, so I’m looking forward to that. I also know of a lot of friends who will be living in the same residence hall as me (Waterbury), on the same floor even, so that will be great as well!

There are some people who don’t think so because they see a totally different side of me, but I am a very social person. I don’t like being alone (I vehemently loathe it, in fact), and I don’t like feeling isolated, which I did almost all of the time during my freshman year, and that became a very serious problem for me. I like being with people, even if it’s just to watch a movie or even just to do homework together. Like I said, though, I will be with a lot of friends this year, so I think that things will be a bit different.

I definitely need to try to improve my sleeping pattern; that’s for sure! That’s because, for the most part, during my freshman year, I didn’t have a sleeping pattern! There were times that I would walk to class in the morning like a zombie, because I didn’t make it to bed until 4 or 5 in the morning, and obviously, that’s just not acceptable. I can’t and won’t do that this year! I am making it a mission to be in bed every night by 1 a.m. at the latest. The biggest issue last year was the unbelievable amount of homework I had (which will most likely, God forbid, only be worse this year), which I stayed up very late doing, but my hopes are to try to manage my time better, which, I know, is easier said than done, because as a college student, you kind of just want to have fun and be free of authority and responsibility, but my education is very important to me, and I don’t want to screw it up. I want to be responsible, and I want to do the very best that I can do, which I don’t feel as if I did my freshman year.

As far as my summer is concerned, it has been relatively uneventful so far. I have spent a lot of time with friends, sure, but it’s not like I’ve taken any vacations or anything like that. I have had a massive amount of dentist appointments (bleh) thanks to my inexplicably massive amount of cavities (I rarely ever drink soda, and I brush all the time), so that hasn’t been much fun, but taking it easy is nice; that’s for sure. It’s certainly a very different lifestyle than what it was like in college. I very much enjoy not reading ninety pages out of my Astronomy book or writing three papers all due in a week’s time. I have been tutoring a kid who is in transit between sixth and seventh grade, and of all things to be teaching, yes, I am teaching math! Let’s just say that it has been rather interesting. Well, I’m going to run for now, but I hope to write again soon!