August, 2009

Arrival in Auroville!

Friday, August 28th, 2009

cecilia1.jpgMy name is Cecilia Velazquez. I am a senior studying accounting at the Michael G. Foster School of Business.  For the next month I will be participating in an exploration seminar that takes place in the village of Auroville in India. Previously, I had studied abroad in Rome, loved the experience, and wanted the opportunity to go abroad again. The exploration seminars offered provided the perfect opportunity to get a taste of another country right before starting up classes in the fall.

As a college honors student, I am required to complete three science classes, and I decided to ad-hoc my seminar to meet this science requirement. During my time in Auroville, I will be conducting a three-week long internship under the direction of the Center for Scientific Research (CSR) with a professor at the UW-Bothell campus to understand renewable energies and focusing primarily on solar power.

I arrived early on Tuesday morning after a day and a half of traveling and only two hours of sleep. I was told that “India attacks your senses”, and I have found this to be true as I confront new sights, cecilia2.jpgtastes and smells all around me. Although I have done some traveling in warm climates, India’s constant high temperatures and even more prevalent insect population have proven to be a handful. Nevertheless, I am excited to see what  the next couple of weeks have in store. The group I am traveling with is small, and we come from a variety of different disciplines. We are finishing up our first week of orientation where we traveled to the various sites where members of our group will be doing their internships. So far I have tried all the food that has been offered to me, which includes eating a meal solely with my hands, and I have not gotten sick and hope that my lucky streak continues.

Silly Season

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

post-4-rubics-cube.jpgFor all the on-campus residential colleges, the first week was called “Silly Season”.  Each day of the week there were an assortment of social activities for the “fresh fresh” (incoming students) to get to know the other students, and for the other students to catch up with everyone else.  Here are a few of the activities.

Highlander Bar and Rubics Cube
There is a bar in St Andrews!  Semester started the next day, everyone hadn’t seen each other since last semester.  Fresh fresh didn’t know anyone.  It was a good opportunity to meet a lot of the residents.  We started the Rubics Cube party with all of the colors of the rubics cube.  During the party, you trade clothes with people you meet.  The objective is that by the end of the night, you are dressed in one color.

EGM – Extravagant Meeting.
It started at 7:30pm and lasted until 7:30am the next day.  The freshmen sat on one side of the Junior Common Room, and the 2nd/Seniors sat together on the other side.  The student leaders ran over school news/minutes/general news and upcoming events.  Fresh fresh got nicknamed by the 2nd/Seniors.  Freshmen got hazed (a little) some.

Walkabout Auctionpost-4.jpg
A group of 3 freshmen were auctioned off by 2nd/Seniors.  Walkabout – a group of 3 freshmen (minimum of 1 male) are dressed in ridiculous costumes, males usually get their hair shaved as if a 5 year old did it, girls get vegemite and honey in their hair.   Anyway, the group gets dropped off by their auctioned party hours and hours away from Sydney in the middle of no where.  The group gets left by the 2nd/Seniors, so they’re responsible getting home on their own – hitchhiking, or “Amazing Race” style traveling.  Group has no phone or money; although, the group has to carry objects (taken from their room) back.

Settling into the University of Sydney

Monday, August 10th, 2009

USyd hosted a 2 day orientation for incoming abroad students.  There were people coming from all over the world; in particular, there were heaps of Europeans and Americans.  I had the opportunity to meet a lot of other international students and share our excitement about our next 5-6 months in Australia.

The school also provided us with information about places and activities in Australia.  Some examples include:  New Zealand, surf camps, scuba diving, bungee jumping, outback camping, petting zoo,  sports, Melbourne, more beaches-trails-nature,  etc!

So much to see, so much to do, so much excitement.

post-3-capes.jpgI moved into St Andrews College (my student housing) on Sunday July 26, the day before school.  All of the new residents, about 11 of us, were invited to lunch with the SAC’s Principal, staff, and school leaders.   Total, there are about 280 residents at SAC – nearly 120 freshmen.

St Andrews College looks like Hogwarts in Harry Potter.  Dinners (Monday to Thursday) are business formal and we are obligated to wear academic gowns (like Harry Potter capes).  I’ve been meeting a lot of locals – especially in comparison to the other international study abroad students who are staying in apts/houses/Sydney University Village/UniLodge, they usually have a hard time meeting local students.   Everyone is really nice and hospitable.