Oz Down Under

It’s been such a great month and a half here in Townsville. There are so many fantastic people I have met and made friends with. I was lucky enough to spend my 21st birthday here with all of them and was surprised to find out how fast you can become good friends with people. They all made it such a special day for me, even though I had class for the first time ever on my birthday! We celebrated by going out for gelato, hanging out on the beach and taking a drive to the top of Castle Hill (no drinking seeing as it was a Monday night).

Love these guys!

Love these guys!

Other things that have been going on down under:

Townsville’s Cultural Festival: this was filled with food from different countries including, Thai, Greek, Italian, Indian, etc. and several performances by each culture

Drinking Coconut Milk straight from the coconut!

 

VisitedPallarenda which acted as an old fort base during World War II and walked along the beautiful beach that included the city of Townsville and Magnetic Island in its view

Pallarenda

Pallarenda

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Had a holiday themed floor party that included St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, Australia Day,Cinco de Mayo, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and New Years.

Floor Party: My quad was St. Patrick's Day

Floor Party: My quad was St. Patrick’s Day

Attended my first touch rugby game as well as my first netball game

Touch Rugby: Uni Hall vs George Roberts Hall

Touch Rugby: Uni Hall vs George Roberts Hall

Completed the ice bucket challenge

Completed and handed in my first assignment! (GIS related)

I made this beautiful masterpiece.

I made this beautiful masterpiece.

Learned how to identify leaf families and have now started to press leaves

Figured out how to get netflix on my computer (it has not come to this country yet) and have made new friends by sharing the wealth

Fed a polychaete

Took a road trip up to Cairns for a weekend and spent it visiting waterfalls, walking through the rainforest, mountain biking and canoeing

Road trippin' to Cairns

Road trippin’ to Cairns

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Stopped at the beach on the way to Cairns

Female Cassowary!

Female Cassowary!

The gals.

The gals.

Cathedral Fig Tree

Cathedral Fig Tree

Milaa Milaa

Milaa Milaa

Saw 3 wild Cassowaries!

Swam under a waterfall

Learned about culture and life in Singapore

Went for a hike up the mountain behind Uni

Have used the word “keen” to show how excited I was for something

Say “oi” on the daily

Held the world’s largest cockroach

Found out cotton candy is called “fairy floss”

Ate my first mandarin

Ate my first scone

Completed all seasons of Breaking Bad

Planned trips to Sydney and Melbourne

Played a few jokes on some of the wonderful Australians here

Painted faces using ochre

I am truly blessed to have all of these wonderful opportunities and couldn’t ask for anything more. Classes are going really well although I find it difficult to want to go to class and do work while I am here. My next assignment is due this Friday but it’s going pretty well so far. I get to use the concepts and ideas of behavioral ecology in the real world by going out into the field and finding examples. It is a lot of fun and a new way to learn material that will be useful in the future. I have not received any grades yet which makes me a little nervous because a majority is based solely on the final exam. I just need to stay on top of the work and I am sure it will all work out. I am still loving every second here and will continue to keep you updated!

Graduate School Isn’t For Everyone

Whether you’re thinking about going on with higher education to pursue a Masters or Doctoral degree, there are a lot of things you need to take into consideration before taking the dive. Financing is an obvious issue, as is how you’re going to support yourself in the meantime- you know, eat and stuff.

Beyond those types of things, there are some others which aren’t as apparent; things that don’t happen during undergrad.

Going through the History Masters program here at SUNY Oswego has made one thing painfully obvious to me: There are people who are much, much smarter than me. During undergrad I was a pretty good student. I loved studying history, writing papers, analyzing- all that stuff most of you hate. It made me seem smart because I was invested in the process. However, at the graduate level, I had to step up my game. There aren’t a ton of us in the program, so standing out negatively is easy. Teachers, and frankly your peers, expect more out of you. The days of the kid who doesn’t know what he’s talking about speaking up every class making people look good are over. You’re in the big leagues now. If you didn’t read for that day, stay home. People will eventually figure it out.

This is a good time to bring up my next point: You better love what you’re studying. If you’re pursuing a degree after your Bachelor’s it should be something you don’t mind spending every weekend for a few months…who am I kidding? You’ll probably be spending most days researching, studying, and writing about. You may have to skip out on some nights out with friends or with a significant other, which is never fun. Dedication and perseverance will be key. It’ll get tiring, trust me, but at the end of the day I’m proud of the result and focused on getting my degree. If you feel that maybe it’s not for you, do more research, talk to people already in the program and the professors in the department, and choose your University or College very carefully.

Finally, being in graduate school also brings on this feeling of limbo: Am I a student or a professional? I work 30 hours a week, but I go to class at night. How do I introduce myself in a meeting or to people I meet? I’ve personally had trouble understanding the difference. Many times I’m expected to be professional, going to meetings and creating events, but I need to make sure I’m home in time to finish a paper or study for an exam. It’s a delicate balance that will work itself out. In the mean time, do your best to just concentrate on what you’re doing.

At the end of the day, make sure you take your time with your decision and way all the pros, cons, and everything in between.

- Jon (@jonzella)