Thursday, March 20, 2014

Welcome to Tropical Northern Queensland, Australia!

Well I am a little late starting my blog but here I am! My adventure began Wednesday February 16, 2014 12:00am when I left my home in LA California and landed Friday February 18, 2014 for my first stop in Brisbane, Queensland Australia...

I attend James Cook University which is located in the northern, tropical region of eastern Townsville, Australia. What's even more cool is that the school is just minutes with a short boat ride to the world renown Great Barrier Reef!

This is my first time living out of the U.S. and so far it seems that I have adjusted very well. At first though, I was a little taken aback about how the cars drive on the opposite side of the street haha! As I am in Australia, there are many things that I would see back home in California and even in Hawaii such as restaurants, clothing stores, etc. However the things that I believe distinguishes Townsville from the rest of the cities on the east coast is that it is very small and still developing. Stating this, there are smaller shops that are unique to the area and very different from back home.

The people here are really nice as well! My previous perceptions about Australia was that there were going to be nothing but White people, however I was mistaken big time haha! Like the U.S., Australia is very diverse, having citizens from all around the world, in fact 45% of Australians were not born in the country or had parents that were not born in the country. I also love the fact that I walk among Indigenous Australians. Their culture is really fascinating and everyday I learn so much more about them! Majoring in Environmental Studies at HPU, many of my classes here are based upon that. Not only do we learn modern Australian and global environmental topics, we also go into great detail about indigenous or, "First People's" values and attitudes about the environment.

Going back to actual school, there are things that potential study abroad students should consider. The first thing is to plan out everything months before you even go. For me, I decided to come to Australia on sort of a last minute ordeal, (I decided to go the semester before my departure lol -_-). The HPU study abroad office as well as my academic adviser did an excellent job in helping me coordinate my classes so I didn't have a problem with that at all. The next step was applying for housing. Now for my case this was kind of tricky because the time period JCU wanted exchange students to apply was after the housing application deadline, but that didn't mean they were not going to consider. So to make long story short, I did not receive on campus housing when I arrived in Townsville, but instead I am living with a local Australian family! This actually turned out to benefit me better because I've heard other student somewhat complaining about the dorms haha. My exchange family is really nice and caring, in fact, the mom insists that she do all the cleaning such as washing the dishes, clothes, etc. It got to the point where she sometimes told me to leave and not to see me in the kitchen washing again! Haha, but exchange families can be really fun, so don't let that option go. But again, MAKE SURE YOU PLAN AS MUCH AS YOU CAN BEFORE YOU LEAVE!! HAHA!

And last but not least, make the most fun out of your stay...I know I am!


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