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Sydney, Australia

Kavya Kavanakudy

UMBC In Australia: Macquarie University

Computer Science, Psychology

20 May 2019

The Little Things

Last time I was at the halfway point of the semester, but right now I’m only a couple weeks away from the end of the semester. Most of my weeks have been filled with writing papers and working on various projects. These past couple of weeks I’ve felt like I haven’t been utilizing my time properly.

Studying abroad really is a once in a lifetime experience and five months seems like a long time when you’re preparing for the trip, but it really isn’t. The hardest part about studying abroad, once you get over homesickness (and sometimes you don’t which is totally fine!) is time management. There are some weeks where all I want to do is travel and explore the city and surrounding areas even more, and then there are some weeks where I’m playing catch-up or trying to get ahead on my work. I’ve gotten better at it overtime, but the pressure of final assignments is really starting to hit, as it probably was recently back home.

Sometimes I just need to take a moment and remember why I came here. I came for new experiences and to meet new people; I came to make memories. Sometimes it’s easy to forget this goal, especially with on weeks when I feel like I have so much to do and so little time.

But some of the best experiences I’ve had while here are the moments I’ve spent with friends, even if we weren’t doing anything “significant” or adventurous. Walks along the coast, movie nights with lots of junk food, learning a new position on the aerial hoop, brekky after circus training, all of these little moments, although they may seem insignificant at the time, are some of the best experiences I’ve had. Not everything has to be a grand adventure or getting work done.

I can’t believe I only have a couple of weeks left in the semester. Although everyone back home may be happy to be done, it will definitely be bittersweet for me.

Here are some pictures of the adventures, big and small, this past month.

 

Views from the Coogee to Bondi coastal walk

 

 

I’ve been training with the Macquarie University Circus Training group, with a focus on the aerial hoop.

This is the outside of the St. Mary’s Cathedral

The inside of one the 3 halls in the Sydney Opera House

Catch you soon,

Kavya

22 April 2019

A Day in a Life

As I write this, I am traveling around the South Island of New Zealand. That’s right New Zealand.

I am currently on break right now, which marks the halfway point in the semester; I’m already halfway done! Sometimes it feels like I just got here yesterday and have not had a chance to do anything, but other days, like today, I realize I have done a lot, especially more than I ever would have done if I were back home.

This past month I’ve mostly been busy with school, because I am studying abroad, and my grades here do transfer back and impact my GPA. However, my schedule here is a lot less stressful than back home, which is probably because I’m taking a significantly lighter workload.

Typically, I have one or two classes a day which consist of lectures, tutorials, and practicals. Many of my lectures are livestreamed online meaning I watch them from the comfort of my room. Tutorials and practicals are similar to the labs and discussions we have back home and are in person.

Overall, it feels like I’m in a physical classroom significantly less than I would be back home. Having livestreamed and recorded lectures is standard at Macquarie and can be seen in many other universities around the area too. Unlike in the US, most people in Australia go to their local universities and rarely live on campus; my accommodation here is mostly for international students.

So, what do I do with all this free time? Whenever I’m not doing schoolwork, I typically go to the Macquarie Centre and catch a movie, go into the city with friends, or visit my family here in Australia. On campus, I have joined some clubs like the Macquarie Circus Training group. I’ve been learning how to do a variety of aerial arts, but I mostly go as a way to stay fit and have fun.

That’s all I have today guys. Here are some pictures from my New Zealand road trip with TEAN so far.

Catch you soon,

Kavya

 

18 March 2019

The Adjustment Period

My friends back home will tell you that I’m the epitome of paranoid (thanks mom). I like
to have everything planned as early as possible. I always leave earlier than I have to because I
have awful judgment of time. If nothing goes as planned, I can usually wing it, but I’ll be
freaking out internally. It’s a great life, really. Back home, being proactive was never a
hindrance to say the least; I tend to surround myself with people that have similar thought
processes. But now, I’m in an environment that’s so relaxed and it’s definitely an adjustment.

This past month has been filled with a variety of experiences. There have been more
instances of things going wrong this past month than my entire life. I got on the wrong bus on
my way back from the grocery store didn’t even realize until half an hour into the bus ride by
which point, I was on the complete other side of town. I’ve gone to the wrong classes because I
kept forgetting when my classes started. On my way to visit family, my train was two hours
delayed and then an hour into the trip, we were stopped again and had to get on buses instead;
a three-hour trip took eight hours. With each instance, I’ve started freaking out a little less, and
it’s only been a month!

However, there are other aspects to the adjustment period besides getting lost all the
time. I’ve found myself getting hit with homesickness in waves. Overtime it’s gotten better, but
it’s still there. Making friends is a lot harder than I remembered. I’m naturally an introvert;
socializing mentally drains me. Having to go out and meet people is not my ideal situation, but I
promised myself to step out of my comfort zone while here. It’s not a change that can happen
overnight, but I’ll get there eventually.

The reason I say all this isn’t to discourage anyone, but just to show that it’s not always
going to be sunshine and rainbows. I didn’t want to believe that I would miss any part of home
while here; I wanted to be in the honeymoon period as long as I could. But just like how I didn’t
stay in the honeymoon period for long, I won’t stay in the adjustment period for long either.

Okay out with the informative sentimental stuff, what did I actually do this past month.
That’s why you’re here right?

Most of my days during the week are usually filled with classes, school work and other
day to day activities. But there’s always something going on somewhere. Some of the things
I’ve done are a walking tour of Sydney, visit family, attend the Mardi Gras parade, visit the
Grounds of Alexandria and of course, go to the beach.

The Royal Botanic Gardens is a must see in Sydney. It’s 30 hectares of greenery in the city. Many major events are held here

 

Can you really say you’ve visited Sydney without seeing the Sydney Opera House?

Mardi Gras is one of the major parades in Sydney with around 200 floats this year

The Grounds of Alexandria is a famous café spot and partners with Disney.

Bondi Beach is one of the most iconic beaches of Sydney.

It’s been quite the month, but it’s getting easier. There’s so much to learn and do here and I’m
excited to see what happens next.
Catch you soon,
Kavya

18 February 2019

An Introduction to the world Down Under

After traveling for what felt like forever, I finally landed in Cairns, Australia for TEAN’s cultural immersion orientation. My exhaustion

View of Cairns from hotel room

and restlessness were immediately cured after getting a glimpse of the stunning city of Cairns. The greenery and ocean vibes were quite calming. Little did I know, that these next couple of days were going to be far from calm.

The purpose of this orientation is to help TEAN students assimilate with Australian culture and meet other students that will be studying abroad around the country.

The day we arrived in Cairns mostly consisted of housekeeping and meeting other TEAN students. I haven’t had a normal day since.

 

 

 

 

 

On the first activity day, a group of us went skydiving. I got to fly around and see the sun rising over the city, which was quite the sight.

 

Afterwards we had a session where we talked about cultural immersion and what to expect when interacting with the locals.  We learned a lot about the history of various Australian policies on issues like climate change, guns laws and foreign trade. We were told ahead of time that these were some of the topics that the locals would want to talk about and understand the American perspective on them.

That afternoon, I went canyoning which is basically descending down a gorge in… creative ways. This includes cliff jumping, swimming, water sliding and floating down the river. To say the least, I had a very long first 24 hours in Aus.

This is the area where we went canyoning.

The second activity day, I celebrated my birthday by snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. Seeing the reef has been a dream of mine for a long time now and is one of the reasons as to why I wanted to come to Australia. The colors of the coral were vibrant even from the top of the ocean. It was definitely one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had.

 

Pictures taken by staff from @reefexperience

 

Arranged marriages were common among the Aboriginal people and this is where many proposals would occur to join the two families

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last activity day, we hiked through the Daintree Rainforest and visited a wildlife reserve to see the various indigenous wildlife of Australia. Our guide for through the rainforest is a descendent from the Rainforest tribe of the Aboriginal people of Australia. We were introduced to many customs and traditions of the Aboriginal people like their wedding ceremonies and face painting. Afterwards at the wildlife reserve, I got to see crocodiles, hold a koala and pet kangaroos and wallabies.

Fun Fact: Queensland is the only state in the Australia where it’s legal to hold a koala. Koalas can only work 30 minutes a day, so they have to rotate throughout the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My time in Cairns were definitely some of the best days of my life. Whenever I wasn’t putting my life in danger, I went and explored the city with my new friends and fell in love with it and the country even more.  I learned a lot about Australian philosophy and culture just by walking around the city and meeting people.  TEAN’s orientation program was very helpful in getting situated with the country and culture. Although it was time to say goodbye to Cairns, this was only the beginning of what’s ahead for the rest of the semester in Sydney.

Catch you soon,

Kavya

1 February 2019

My first real introduction to Australia (besides Finding Nemo of course) was my Zoology class sophomore year of high school. It felt like every unit, we were learning about some obscure animal that was indigenous to Australia. The phrase, “Is that from Australia?” popped up a lot whenever we learned about an animal that was…unique to say the least. The answer was almost always, yes.

But the animals aren’t the only reason why I chose to study abroad here. I started to look into the culture, environment, and people of Australia and was intrigued; I just had to see this continent in person. Now 4 years and a lot of paper work later, I’m about to achieve my dream.

G’day everyone! My name is Kavya and this semester, I will be studying at Macquarie University located in Sydney, Australia.  My program provider is the Education Abroad Network (TEAN). I’m a Computer Science and Psychology major and while abroad I will be taking general education classes and electives for my majors.

This past semester was hectic getting everything together for this massive endeavor. Sometimes I would find myself questioning if it would all be worth it. The rest of the time I was freaking out that this was actually happening. Even while writing this first entry, I’m pinching myself to remember it’s really happening.

This trip is going to have a lot of firsts like travelling alone internationally and living in an apartment. It seems daunting, but one of the best parts about studying abroad is the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone. I’m excited to meet new people, try new things, and be in warm weather. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and can’t wait to share it with all of you.

I’ll be posting every couple of weeks so stay on the lookout. Feel free to email me about any questions you have about the study abroad process, TEAN, Australia, and anything else you can think of.

Catch you soon,

Kavya