April, 2009

G’Day

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

jenniferaus.jpgG’day! My name is Jennifer Ta, and I’m a senior at UW studying Marketing and Psychology. I am currently studying abroad at Macquarie University in the wonderful– Sydney, Australia!

All I can say about my study abroad experience so far, is that—it has been amazing! I really wish that I started earlier. The people here are extremely friendly and the university caters really well to study abroad and exchange students. Getting to Australia took a while, but the university arranged for a driver to come pick me up at the airport and whisk me away to my dorm.

img_1994.JPGMacquarie University has a buddy program that pairs study abroad students with a local student that has studied or wants to study abroad in your country (for me, it was the U.S.). Through the buddy program, I met a girl from Arizona with the same buddy and we ended up being on the same flight. I had a couple days to spare before orientation and we both did a pre-orientation trip together up to the Blue Mountains. It was a really great way of meeting people from my school and from places all over the world.

Living in the dorms is a great way of meeting people, I’ve been there for about a month now and I’m still getting to know people! The dorms (residential colleges) aren’t anything fabulous, but they provide 3-squared meals a day—which is great for me because I can’t cook. There’s always something to do which is the greatest part.

Studying has become one of the hardest things to do, but people here take their studying really seriously. The library’s always packed. In any case, I should probably get back to doing that myself. In the meantime, enjoy some of the pictures I’ve taken.

From Friends to Family in Three Months

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

p2241327.JPGAfter spending almost three months in France, I have learned so much about my career, my relationships with people, and myself. First, group projects are just as encouraged at Audencia here as they are back at UW. Before studying abroad, I would feel comfortable in saying that I am a strong team player. I had no idea how much my teamwork skills would grow after being in a group of five people from four different countries. Learning from my teammates’ unique perspectives concerning how to approach and solve problems has been priceless. Also, I’ve learned how different a phone interview is between a live one. It only took me to absolutely embarrass myself and completely blow two phone screenings. Oh well. I now know that accurate preparation is essential and self creation of an interview atmosphere can be vital to your performance.

p2241338.JPGAs you can imagine, being away from home has made me appreciate my family and friends more in Seattle. Also, I’ve learned how quickly newly made friends can become family. A month ago, I spent my first birthday without my family and friends at home. After spending 10 hours at school, I was jamming to my Ipod as I walked home from the tram looking forward to a Nutella sandwich and my bed. As I walked into the residence, I turned to the lobby to see all of my international friends singing to me in front of a table covered with desserts, candy, Spanish hot chocolate, and Candle-topped cake especially for me. It was so touching to see so many people taking the time to make sure my day is special.

p2241339.JPGFor me, travelling abroad has opened my eyes to so many things in the world. Putting it straight, simple, and grammatically incorrect, I’ve learned that “Distance makes the heart go fonder” conquers over “out of sight, out of mind,” Time isn’t borrowed – rather given for a purpose, hot dogs and corn can be a good replacement for expensive veggies and meat when you are experimenting in the kitchen, and a simple change of your attitude can change your whole day.

Make good local friends!

Monday, April 20th, 2009

I’m going to be honest with all of you, when I first decided to do the exchange, I spent most of my time worrying about where I wanted to travel to, whom I was going to visit, and how many places I could go in 12 short weeks. I even went as far as scheduling my classes (all of which meet weekly), on Monday and Tuesday, greatly freeing up my availability to roam from Fri-Sun to Wed-Sun.

So I started making lots of REALLY great plans. I was probably only in Rotterdam my first month there a handful of days. If you don’t recall, my living situation was a little different from the others on my program because I had decided to rent a room from a local Dutch girl going on exchange herself. Her roommate also went on exchange simultaneously, and the girl renting from her wouldn’t get to Rotterdam until February. But since I was essentially living alone, it was lots of guilt free traveling.

When my new roommate moved in (a Dutch girl who was doing an internship at a large hotel in Rotterdam), I helped her get settled in a little in exchange for some basic Dutch lessons.

At this point I should provide a brief background on some basic things The Netherlands. Education is heavily subsidized. Local students pay less than we do per quarter for the year, receiving a monthly housing/living stipend, and a transportation card that permits FREE public transportation travel (like the U-pass) on everything IN THE COUNTRY. That’s right. Buses, trams, metros, inter-city trains. FREE. (but MUCH better than the U-Pass). The only catch is that I can use it on weekdays only. On weekends, I get 40% off.

Being an exchange student makes me healthy contributor to the housing rental and transportation industries of Holland. My friends and I griped regularly. But boy, was my luck about to change… (more…)

Truly Asia!

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

dscf2807.JPGThere is only about a month left in my exchange, and I am getting busier with projects and studying for finals. Sometimes I walk on the streets here in Singapore and I would go, “Hey, I seriously AM in Asia!” I have tried speaking Singlish, had two days Chinese New Year holidays when I normally wouldn’t, explored the beautiful Angkor Wat, walked through the extravagant Royal Palace in Bangkok, paid an entrance fee to a temple in Phnom Penh that applies ONLY to foreigners, rode in Tuk-Tuks, and bargained yet still paid premium for taxis. I am so glad I bothered with the application process and everything (though it wasn’t all that tedious anyway), ‘cause I seriously AM in Asia and enjoying every minute of it!

By the way, in my previous post I mentioned that it doesn’t rain that much in Singapore. Right after I sent off that blog, it started and still is raining thunderstorms. I am talking about actual thunder, lightning, and heavy pouring rain!

dscf2791.JPGThis is a blog on my travel experiences in Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Thailand. My first formal tour of Singapore was when I just got to Singapore. I had a tour of the city with two other friends with the help of their local buddy. My second tour was back in late February, my friend Bob from Taiwan visited and we had the chance to tour around Singapore a little. Bob was an exchange student at UW and we met in Speech & Science class. We walked around Fort Canning Park and Clarke Quay, took pictures with the Merlion, and had Hai Nan Chicken Rice, a famous local dish. Singapore is really compact, it is a city state with everything inside neatly organized.

n122600077_38145074_6426267.jpgMy Malaysia trip, was really a short trip to Kuala Lumpur. One weekend back in February, my friends and I took a trip to KL. Flying around Asia can be really cheap with the budget airlines. They are strictly no-frills (meaning food, snack, and water are for sale only; yes, even water is not included in the ticket fare). We flew Tiger Airlines and stayed at Tune-Hotel.com, a budget hotel by another budget airline, Air Asia. Because we spend most of our times outside the hotel, staying budget is a great way to save money. It didn’t occur to us that Kuala Lumpur had much to see as we were not interested in spending time at museums. It is an urban city and the things to do are shopping, shopping, and more shopping.

I will stop here and continue my blog on traveling in Asia (Cambodia and Thailand trip that I took in March!) next time =)