July, 2009

First Few Days in Australia

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

post-2-sydney.jpgI arrived in Sydney, Australia on Friday, July 17, 2009. Quintin Rares, a GBCC 2009 participant (University of Sydney team), picked me and my friend Meredith at the airport to take us to Hunter Valley. Quintin also brought Franz, a full-degree study abroad student from Germany, and a resident at St Andrews. Hunter Valley is located 2-3 hours away from Sydney, it is a beautiful wine valley with acres and acres of wineries, cute restaurants, and hospitable resorts.

Meredith and I spent a couple nights in the C.B.D. or city (synonymous for downtown). My cousin, Chris, lives in an apartment complex in the heart of the city and has a breathtaking view of the Darling Harbour and city skyline. At night, he took us on a walking tour of the city. Everything seemed larger than life and very surreal. At 11:00pm, the streets were bustling with business(wo)men, teens, nightgoers, tourists, etc; the streets were lit up with nightlife lights, sky-scraper buildings, and small-locally owned shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars.post-2-giraffe.jpg

Meredith and I moved to another hostel, Billabong Gardens, in Newtown to be closer to campus. Billabong was very accessible – a minute walk to the bus lines and a 5-10 minute walk to the University of Sydney campus. King Street, which runs through the heart of Newtown, is very similar to UW’s “Ave” – just 100 times better and bigger. There are three Thai restaurants every other block!

Judith, who Meredith exchanged messages with on Facebook prior, was also a resident of Billabong. She is from University of North Carolina. Throughout the course of 1-2 weeks, Judith and Meredith looked at several places to live all over Sydney.

Meredith and I shared a room with 4 other residents – some students, some backpackers. A few of them were from Germany (there are a lot of Germans in Sydney!) – at this point, I met more Germans than I did with locals. We spent several nights cooking dinner together, singing along to songs Martin and Rene (German roommates) were playing on the guitar, and checking out Sydney attractions.

Getting Ready for Sydney, Australia!

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

My name is Karen Ucol, I am a junior majoring in Management and Information Systems. I am currently studying abroad at the University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia.

Top 10 reasons why I love Sydney, Australia:

1. Diversity
Weather – their winter is gorgeous, sunny, and full of blue skies;
Public transit is convenient and easy;
University of Sydney has a number of international students – they cater to our academic, social, and personal wants/needs;
The language – English with (lazy) twang + hot accents;
Beaches — SURFING!;
Wildlife/other natural settings — koalas/kangaroos, the Great Barrier Reef, Blue Mountains;
Sports (they have 3 rugby leagues – I can’t tell the difference between them yet); and finally,
The people are AWESOME.

Before I Left for Australia:

post-1.jpgThe University of Sydney International Office created a Facebook group for all study abroad/exchange students coming into USyd Semester 2. I exchanged messages with Americans and Europeans. Coincidentally, I found another student from the University of Washington (Meredith Dugoni) studying abroad at USyd.

I kept in touch with the University of Sydney team, including Quintin and Nhi, from the Global Business Case Competition and asked them lots of questions about accommodations, tourist sites, classes, etc. They recommended that I apply to Sydney University Village (apartment complex with many USyd international students) and either St Andrews College (where Quintin resides) and Womens College (where Nhi resides).

The application process for St Andrews College was somewhat demanding – applicants were to complete a personal statement, submit a resume, and be interviewed on the phone. Quintin did me a wonderful favor and recommended me to the staff. I also applied to the International House (an on-campus residence) and Sydney University Village.

Because on-campus accommodation for international students is very competitive (very few spots, very high demand), a majority of international students either: 1) find an apartment or room in a house before arriving or 2) live in a hostel, meet people they want to live with and look at places they could live in, and then move.

The Experience

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

The study abroad program at Audencia School of Management in Nantes, France has been amazing. Not only did I learn a lot from this trip in terms of school, but I learned a lot from my host family and the people that I met on this trip.

loc1.JPGBeing the only person from the University of Washington on this summer program was quite nerve racking. However, all of this changed on the first day of school as I learned that there were other people who were also here by themselves. I knew that the only way to not be uncomfortable for the upcoming six weeks was to throw myself into the crowd and meet as many people as possible. Now, I know almost everyone in this summer program because we hang out with each other in and out of class.

Another great thing about this program was getting the chance to interact with the French students. Interacting with them outside of class has allowed me to learn a lot about the French people and culture in such a short amount of time. It was a great opportunity for me as I get a chance to improve my French speaking skills.

As a student, this exchange program has been great, and every minute of it has been a learning experience for me whether it was good or bad. I would encourage everyone to participate in this study abroad program or any other abroad program that they are interested in because of the vast knowledge you will acquire in such a short time.

A Normal Week at School

Monday, July 6th, 2009

loc.JPGSummer classes at Audencia are very similar to that back at UW going from Monday to Thursday. Each class is two hours long with 5-10 minutes breaks in between. My day starts at 9 AM and ends at 1PM. After that, students usually go for lunch around campus or take the train to downtown. Lunch usually last from 1-2 hours every day because French people like to take their time to eat and enjoy. After lunch, there is French class for those students who are taking French. The class is broken into three levels: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advance.

The professors at this school are very energetic and full of enthusiasm.  I enjoy their lectures because what they talk about is interesting. I learn so much everyday going to class, especially about the European Union.

During the weekend, many students travel around to different places such as Bordeaux, Barcelona, Interlaken, Munich, London, Marseille, and etc. Then when all of us meet again for class on Monday, people tell each other stories their weekend activities and all of the great things they did or see. However, at the same time there are many students who choose to stay in town and do sightseeing because Nantes is rich and full of amazing medieval buildings and artworks.