University of Sydney

Coming Home & Reflecting

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

Written by undergraduate student Eric Schroeder

Sydney, Eric_2

It’s now been a full two weeks since I was last in Australia. Having some time at home has allowed me to reflect on all the awesome adventures I got to go on, and how much I learned and grew as a person while abroad. Obviously the weather transition has probably been the most difficult thing about coming back to Washington. My last week in Sydney saw back to back days of 100 degree weather (Fahrenheit of course), and since returning home it has either been freezing cold, or pouring down enough rain to flood the valley’s near my house. But how can I complain? Even though I’m back home, I’ve still been frequently talking with a lot of the friends I made while abroad who live all across the world. All of those friendships seem so strong that it’s crazy to think I didn’t know those people a few months ago, and that I would never have had the opportunity to meet such a diverse group of people had I not had the opportunity to study abroad.

 

Tangible things like friendships aren’t the only great things I gained in Sydney. I have a real understanding of Australian life and culture, but also learned a lot about Europe from all of the European exchange students I met. I feel like I understand the world so much better after interacting with people from all over, and never realized how important gaining a global perspective was before this experience. Meeting people from all over the world with different cultures, customs, and ways of life, has made me a lot more open minded to certain things, and I’m now inspired to learn even more about other people in the future. It was so interesting to see the differences between life in Australia and life here in the states, and I really loved seeing how other cultures view the American lifestyle.

 

Finally, I am extremely thankful for all of the hiking, backpacking, and exploring I got to do during my time abroad. Growing up in the northwest, hiking has always been a passion of mine and was something I hoped to do from the beginning in Australia. I could never have imagined just how beautiful the different landscapes I got to explore were. Australia (and New Zealand where I spent a week during our spring break) had such stunning and diverse landscapes. And hiking, or bushwalking as it is called down under, was an excellent way to meet like-minded people who I shared some unforgettable experiences with. Study abroad truly was the experience of a lifetime, and while I already wish I could go back, I know I’ll have memories to last me a lifetime. To anyone considering study abroad, I would say that while it is a big commitment it’s something that you will absolutely thank yourself for doing if you find a way to fit it into your graduation plan while here at UW.

Exploring Beyond Sydney

Friday, October 16th, 2015

Written by undergraduate student Eric Schroeder

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Well, spring break has ended which means that I am officially half way through with my time here in Sydney, and well over-due for another blog update!

This past month in Sydney has been really good. Now that I’m all settled in and am feeling comfortable with my surroundings, I’ve gotten to do a lot more exploring. The Sydney metropolitan area is HUGE, after all, it accounts for nearly a third of the population of the entire continent, so there’s always unique places to travel too around Sydney Harbour.

I’ve really fallen in love with a suburb to the north of Sydney called Manly. Manly is just a beautiful 30 minute ferry ride across the harbour but it feels like it’s a world away from the bustling Sydney. It is a much more laid-back town with great food and beaches just as spectacular as the ones closer to the city center, but way less crowded.

The warmer weather is starting to bring in the tourists and crowds too, but I don’t mind it too much. How can I complain about it being 85 degrees when everyone back home is already heading into fall and a long winter? And now that I’m more familiar with the area, I feel that I know all the secluded spots where the locals hang out.

I haven’t just been spending my time in the Sydney area though. Before spring break I had the chance to go camping in the Blue Mountains, about two hours west of the city, for three days through an outdoor education class I’m in. Needless to say it was a fantastic experience, especially for someone who loves the outdoors. I got to see my first kangaroo (not counting the zoo) as well as beautiful waterfalls, valleys, and sandstone cliffs. The entire class is made up of international and exchange students so it’s a great way to meet other like-minded people who are trying to explore Australia in our limited time here, so it’s been a really easy way to make friends.

During spring break I spent a week in New Zealand and then five days back in Australia but in the tropical rainforest of Queensland with a few friends. New Zealand was absolutely mind blowing and far above any expectations I had for my time there. The landscape is even more diverse than Australia’s. We got to do everything from exploring empty, black sand beaches, to hiking up through the jungle, and even got to hike through a snow covered mountain that we were direly under-prepared for. Of course we also got to see first-hand some of the landscape settings for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, including Hobbiton which was a convenient 20 minute drive from where we were staying most of the week.

Queensland was fun too, even though I think we were all a little run down after doing so much adventuring in New Zealand. I got to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef and hike through the dense Daintree Rainforest, and even got to celebrate with the region as the local team won the Australian Rules Football Championship! I can also say that I’m officially a pro at driving on the left side of the road, as I’ve now rented and driven cars in three different places without running anyone over.

After almost two weeks traveling around, it feels really nice to be back to my routine in Sydney. And my bed has never felt more comfortable! Australia is lovely year round, but things are really coming to life now that winter is over and spring is in the air. Daylight savings time means that we get another hour of sunlight too, so I no longer have to deal with the frustration of the sun setting before 5 P.M. like I did when I first came to Australia.

I’m really getting used to the way of life here. Even though things are always more hectic in the big city, I feel like Sydney is simply a lot more laid back than most places in the United States. And I’m happy to say that I’ve adopted some of this more easy going mentality. I even find myself picking up Australian lingo such as “keen”, “no worries”, “reckon”, and of course, “mate.”

I’m sure the future holds even more exciting adventures for me, and even though I know my time is starting to run short here with group projects and even finals approaching, it makes me appreciate the experience a lot more. I’ll be excited to report back with new stories in the coming weeks!

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

Written by undergraduate student Eric Schroeder

Sydney, Eric_1

Traveling the world is something that I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember. But with school, work, and just life in general I’ve always had something holding me back from exploring everywhere that I’ve wanted to. From the moment I started school at UW, I promised myself that I would do whatever it takes to finally get an opportunity to travel to another part of the world by doing study abroad, and I’m happy to say that dream has finally become a reality!

Besides simply getting away from home, one of the main reasons I wanted to study abroad was to experience different cultures and gain a better world perspective. I’ve lived in the Seattle area all my life, and until this summer I had never even left the United States except for a few trips to Vancouver and Whistler, Canada. While I do love the Pacific Northwest, living in one place for so long makes me eager to switch up the pace and see how another culture lives their day to day life. From this experience I hope to not only better understand how Australian culture compares to American culture, but also to see how my culture is viewed through the eyes of others. I guess that reading about other nations and societies in textbooks would be one way to do this, but for me, getting out of my comfort zone and having a hands on experience would be a much more engaging lesson.

While my parents have always been happy that I stayed close to home for college, they were very encouraging of me to do study abroad because neither of them did much traveling in college and sort of regretted it. I have friends from high school and UW who studied abroad in Europe this past year and all had fantastic experiences, so hearing their stories was the final push for me to really make sure I got the opportunity to do the same.

I’m doing a semester abroad at the University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia. Studying in Australia was especially tricky because not only is my university a semester school, but it’s in the Southern Hemisphere, meaning that the start of their spring semester happens when it’s still summer up in Seattle. For that reason, I’ve actually been studying in Sydney for about a month already, and so far I love it!

The University of Sydney’s business school is very similarly structured to the Foster School of Business, so I don’t find the academic transition to be very hard. Although I guess that’s easy to say when I haven’t had any major tests for any of my classes yet. I’m really happy with my living situation as well. While there were many accommodation options to choose from, I signed up for a dorm just off campus that is new this semester and it’s incredible! There are lots of other international students, not just from the United States but from all over the world, so it’s easy to meet other people who are in the same situation as you and looking to explore. The dorm itself is VERY nice too. There are over 800 rooms, nearly all singles, and the facilities are impressive due to the fact that the dorm is so new. Just like everything in Sydney, it is pretty expensive, but I’m definitely happy with my choice.

Sydney itself is surprisingly similar to Seattle. Even though spring has just now started, it has been sunny and in the 60s here pretty consistently so that made the transition from a sweltering Seattle summer little easier. The city has a beautiful mix of really modern architecture and some older, almost European looking buildings, and Sydney Harbour is gorgeous! Sydney feels really safe as well and I’ve found that the locals are really kind. University students are always interested to hear about what life is like in the states and every time I’ve been looking at a map while in the city, friendly locals always approach me asking if I need a hand.

Of course, there are so many differences about living here in Sydney versus back home that make even the most ordinary days exciting! Sydney has some of the most interesting (and unbelievably loud) birds I have ever seen or heard, and the palm trees around the city and campus are a nice tropical touch. Sydney is a very multicultural city too, so there is every type of food you would want! And as you can imagine, the beach scene is great. Even in the end of winter/beginning of spring, Sydney’s sandy beaches are a really relaxing weekend destination, especially since they aren’t too touristy this time of year.

I’ll leave it at that for now but I’ll have many adventures to share next time I check in! Very excited that I still have 3 months here in front of me!

The Last Hoorah

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Written by Amy Shin, Foster undergraduate

With just under three weeks left in the land down under, a couple of crazy kids decided to venture even further south to Melbourne and drive the Great Ocean Road. Our adventures would be jammed packed with no time to waste in the four days we would spend together.

 

Our flight was set for 7:30am because we are cheap college students trying to save every last buck. Even though we were all a little groggy and a lot hungry when we arrived in Melbourne, we did not let that stop us from taking a bit longer to walk around and find the best brunch spot possible. And boy, did this place not let us down. (Check out the Hardware Societe if you are ever in Melbourne)

 

After our stomachs were satisfied, we hopped on a tram to explore more of the city. We visited the celebrated landmark Hosier Lane, which is home to urban street and graffiti art. Afterwards, we opted to travel on sets of wheels and rented bikes from Melbourne’s bike share system and rode alongside the Yarra River to a playground, which we of course played in. At night we walked to the famous Queen Victoria Market, which was packed with amazing street food, shopping booths, and music.

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Now for the road trip. Were we hesitant to put our lives in the hands of someone who had never driven on the left side of the road before? Yes. Was that going to stop us? No. We packed our rental car with our luggage and set off on the open road while jamming to our dear friend, Spotify. Our goal was to make it to the Twelve Apostles by sunset and along the way we stopped at some amazing beaches along the Australian coastline. We made it to the Twelve Apostles just in time and for an amazing view. It was so breathtaking that we went back the next morning to see it in a different light. Though our trip may have been a short one, the five of us had plenty of laughs and incredible sights to last us for the rest of our time in Australia.

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Apt 3, 11-21 Rose Street

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Written by Amy Shin, Foster undergraduate

New country, new school, new everything. Of all the new things that were undeniably about to enter my life, I was most anxious about was the people I was going to live with, my roommates. I went in trying not to have too high of expectations and telling myself that if we didn’t get along, I could always hang out with different people. But who was I kidding, I knew that these humans were the ones I would wake up with, go to sleep with, and basically see more than anyone else. With all of this in mind I moved into my apartment.

 

For being strangers, we were actually not awkward at all and I seriously thanked the heavens that I could at least converse with these people. Within the next few days we learned more about one another and explored Sydney together as roommates. At this point we were all fairly comfortable around each other, but still missing the close friendships back home.

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*Beginning: notice the awkward space between

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Me, Madison, and Ant(oinette)

I could not tell you at what point that the switch flipped from being just people that cordially lived together to people who are now depressed beyond words to be apart. It could have been that we were literally living in a confined space for five months and named ourselves “Club Diversity”. Maybe it was our weekly dinner outings and love for MasterChef Australia. I could even blame it on the alcohol. No matter what the reason was, we had an infinite amount of inside jokes and endless group messages by the end of the semester.

 

I was lucky enough to find people that I could be my completely weird self around, people who I now don’t think I could have survived Sydney without. I know that this is the most cliché and cheesy thing to happen after studying abroad, but I am beyond happy that it happened to me and wish it upon anyone abroad.

I’m Actually in Australia

Sunday, May 10th, 2015

Written by Amy Shin, Foster undergraduate 

I really had no idea what Sydney would be like. I might have imagined kangaroos to be hopping around the streets, a scene out of Mary-Kate and Ashley’s 2000 film “Our Lips are Sealed” (kudos to you if you get that reference), or the ultimate dream: extremely attractive Australian men around every corner.

 

As I left the airport in a taxi to my new home for the next five months, I couldn’t help but look out the window the entire time and take in the new scenery. My apartment for the next five months was located in the quaint suburb of Chippendale, which I soon discovered was an ideal location close to school, Central train station, and the supermarket. Though I didn’t know my roommates beforehand, I could already tell by our excited exchanges of “hey!” that we were off to a good start.

 

A few days later was our exchange student orientation, which happened to be on what I believe was one of the hottest days in Sydney. As my roommates and I sat in the University’s Great Hall, our makeup melting off our faces, it hit me that February in this country meant the middle of summer and that I really was in the southern hemisphere of the world.

 

After being in Sydney for over four days and I still had not seen the infamous Sydney Opera House. With this in mind, my roommates and I decided to finally make our way downtown to Circular Quay. We clearly looked like tourists trying to navigate the bus system and constantly checking Google maps to make sure we weren’t lost, but after a short struggle later, we could see the water in the Sydney Cove.

 

The Sydney Harbour Bridge was right in front, standing proud in the harbor and as we walked a little bit more towards Bennelong Point, we could see glimpses of the Opera House glistening under the bright Australian sun. It was truly an epic moment as I got closer and closer and took in the sight of what I had only seen through pictures before. I went in not expecting much, it is just a building after all, but trust me, it’s so much more than that.

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At the end of the week, it was about time that I saw some classic Australian animals. The roomies and I took a train to Featherdale Wildlife Park where we could touch koalas and feed kangaroos and wallabies. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more like a five year old since I was actually five years old. I was on a natural high of pure joy from witnessing these creatures with my own eyes and you don’t have to ask, I have all the pictures in the world to reminisce with. And that was officially the beginning of my adventure in Oz.

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Chapter 2: Removal

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

Written by Evan Rumpza, Foster undergraduate

Let’s recap how we got here. 4:30AM, wake up. Deposit 1,000 Baht into my pocket. Leave passport and any other form of ID, lest we get caught. 4:45AM, get tuk tuk. Argue in broken English about the drop off location. 5:00AM, avoid the guard walking around the barbed wire fence. Duck under said fence. 5:15AM, wake the sleeping homeless man. Bribe him 200 Baht to open pad locked gate. 5:30AM, climb.

49 stories later I sat atop Sathorn Unique, better known as Bangkok’s infamous Ghost Tower. The sun was just rising, but we had already been up for hours. Heartbeat still racing from the unassisted assent, we sat victorious. The little band of rebels I called friends and I had raced the sunrise and won.

What lay before us was an unobstructed three-hundred-and-sixty degree view of downtown Bangkok. To our left was the Lebua sky bar (where they shot the Hangover part II). We had been there just a few nights before. The view was similar, except here there were no fifteen dollar cocktails waiting for us at the top. Rather, we were currently being treated to a natural drunk. Thanks in no small part to every shade of orange and red reflecting through the fog and dust as the sun crested the skyline. Welcome to Thailand.

In all honesty, I was planning on writing this reflection about my experience in Australia. However, after two weeks in the Land of Smiles, I am convinced it should be on everyone’s “to travel” list. And isn’t learning all these things exactly what study abroad is about?

Anyway, I decided a while ago that Thailand was where I wanted to spend my single week of freedom from classes. I wanted to so badly that I decided to carve an additional week out from my studies. So now I faced the second plane ticket in a row with a destination that was truly foreign to me.

I flew from Sydney to Kuala Lampur, Malasyia then on to Phuket, Thailand. One night there and it was off to the Gulf of Thailand and a week on island time. A few buses and a ferry later we arrived in Koh Phangan. If you have heard of it before, it’s probably thanks to the Full Moon Party, and before you even ask, of course we went. The first night was spent in preparation for the next day. April 3rd was the full moon, and on Koh Phangan that meant only one thing, we would not be sleeping. Without going into too much detail I will just say the island lived up to its reputation.

Next up was Koh Tao. One of the top worldwide sites for SCUBA diving, how perfect for this newly certified diver. (I got my certification the weekend before in Sydney.) We spent the days snorkeling and SCUBA diving on the water and racing ATVs and scooters through the streets at night. We climbed to the top of Nang Yuan Island and jumped from a few boats. The nightlife consisted of beach bars and one incredible night at a four star resort playing in a pool with a view to die for.

Then, just like that, it was off to Bangkok. First stop, the sky bar at Lebua. Fantastic drinks with an even more fantastic view. (I think Amy and I made UW Student Life with a picture from Lebua.) A pants only policy almost excluded one from our group, however as it turns out the locals are aware of this. After a strange talk with a woman in a bush and a 150 baht exchange, he was right back with the rest of us – a fresh pair of rented trousers around his waist. The next day consisted of a few temples, some meditation with Buddhist monks, BB gun target practice, and consumption of the worlds largest grilled cricket. Little did I know, that would not be the last strange thing I would eat. Later, Khao San Road, the mere mention of its name sends a shiver down the spine of any experienced South Asia backpacker – or so I’ve heard. After yet another perilous tuk tuk ride, we found ourselves in the middle of a street party like nothing I’ve ever seen, definitely a place to hit while in Bangkok. It is also the location where I ate a scorpion – whole. Moving on, the next day consisted of world class (knockoff) shopping and catching a flick at the local cinema, nothing too eventful. We had an early morning coming up.

So there we were, the next morning, on top of the world. But what goes up must come down. We said goodbye to our little band of rebels and I boarded a train to Chiang Mai. The next two days were a whirlwind of tigers, elephants, and Songkran or Thai New Year. Also known as the worlds craziest water fight. People literally blocked traffic and dumped bucket loads of ice water onto passing motorists, tourists, bicyclists, really anything that moved. It was insanity. We also snuck away just long enough to visit an elephant sanctuary. Which was a huge highlight of the trip. I’m a fan of picnics; I’m a bigger fan of picnics with one-ton elephants.

To be honest, this reflection has absolutely nothing to do with Sydney, but rather the Study Abroad experience in general. This adventure would not have been possible without it. If you have been, you know what I mean. If you are going, seize every moment. Spend your money and effort making memories, because you rarely regret the things you did do, only the things you didn’t.

**Picture is of the Sathorn Unique at sunrise.

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Chapter One: Arrival

Monday, April 27th, 2015

Written by Evan Rumpza, Foster undergraduate

It was 75 degrees on the plane – the sky was grey. I left Seattle with one large dark green suitcase, a light green 48-liter backpack and a grey schoolbag. I had enough clothes for two weeks and no clue what lay ahead. Sydney, Australia was the destination on my boarding pass. It was on the other side of the world, and seventeen hours later so was I.

It was 95 degrees in the airport – the sky was clear. I still had on my long pants and layered jacket from take off, a poor decision if you have ever been to Australia in mid February. The thirty-minute ride by train combined with the five-minute walk to my hostel, bags in tow, left me sticky and gasping for air. Solid start, I only had five months to go.

Two weeks later I signed my first lease agreement. I had successfully navigated the complex and expensive Sydney housing market and landed a three bedroom flat in a little bohemian suburb known as Newtown just minutes from campus. The air conditioner might not work, but it is a good place. It took a little convincing but eventually each of the four beds was filled. A Welshman, a Canadian, an Italian, and myself – a completely dysfunctional group of exchange kids who had known each other for less than a month were now supposed to live and learn together.

One hurdle down – next was class. The funny thing about study abroad is that you often times put a good amount of effort into the “abroad” part but neglect the “study”. In the case of registering, this could not have held truer. See, registration for exchange kids at the University of Sydney amounts to this:

Step 1: Blindly enter classes you might like.

Step 2: Computer slots you into random classes at random times.

Step 3: If you are unhappy you must submit a hard copy change request.

No online registration. No add/drop link. No, instead if you are unhappy with the classes/dates/times that the computer randomly selects for you, expect to submit a paper in person and cross your fingers you do not need additional faculty approval. Above all else, hope to whatever higher power these credits still transfer and that you graduate on time. Not the most pleasant experience.

Second hurdle down, and after all of that, I really was quite fortunate. I even landed an internship with one of Australia’s leading investment research firms. But enough about the boring stuff, I am supposed to be selling Australia, and so far I am doing a pretty bad job.

Lets see, the weather is fantastic. The beaches are fantastic. The surfing is fantastic. There is every type of food imaginable. The nightlife compares favorably with some of the best locations in the world. The campus is beautiful. The people are very welcoming. I mean, you can trust me, look how big a critic I’ve been up to now.

Being serious for just one moment, moving to Sydney has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I knew that the moment I first stepped out onto the Sydney Harbor Bridge and peered down at the billowing white sails of the world famous opera house. To anyone who has ever travelled, you know the feeling. To be so wrapped up in a moment. It is easy to find, but impossible to hold onto. I hope that this trip is full of moments like this. I will be sure to get back to you on that, unless the sharks, snakes, and spiders get me first.

**Below is an actual picture my roommate Jamie Chapman took on a day trip to Manly Beach.

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Returning to the States – Reverse Culture Shock

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

By: Jasmine Reliford, Foster Undergraudate

As finals came to an end in Australia, I decided to do all the things that I had not yet done but said I would; everything from visiting the Blue Mountains (see photo) to being at the Sydney Opera House at sunrise (see photo).  I spent my last hours with my friends who were from around the world and from around the United States. The perfect end to my trip was spending it with the people I grew so close to at an iconic location of Australia. So I hopped on the plane home that night and 14 hours later I landed at SFO.

I was nervous to see my friends and adjust back to American style living, which was ironic because just a few months before I was complaining about the Australian culture and how NOT American it is. Since Australia’s summer starts in December I had a full month and a half of relaxing before I had to head back to Seattle. It was not until school started and being exposed to the Seattle winter, that I realize that I was not in OZ anymore.

While my Aussie friends have a three month break in 100 degree weather, I am sitting in class bundled up in 30 degree weather. My weekends that were once filled with going to the beach, or traveling to New Zealand or the Great Barrier Reef or Melbourne were not consumed with studying in a heated apartment. I still keep in contact with all of my close friends from abroad and we all complain about being back and having to do American style schooling together. I think that is what has allowed me to get through this tough transition period. It is finding people who are just as shocked to be back as you are. While the adjustment is tough at times, and I feel that everything out of my mouth is “In Australia they do this…” or “When I was abroad…”, I would not change that experience for the world. Being abroad you learn so much about that country you study in, about American culture and world views about America, and most importantly you learn so much about yourself. Your comfort limits are pushed, and you learn who you really are when you are plopped in a country and forced to figure EVERYTHING out. The transition back is worth every moment, every picture, and every memory I had while I was abroad.

Spring Break in Australia!

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

By: Graham Brew, Foster Undergraduate

One benefit about spending August through December in the Southern Hemisphere is getting a second spring and a second summer. And with a second spring, comes a second spring break!  I rented a van with four of my European friends, threw four surf boards in the car, and took off on a giant ten day road trip up the coast of Australia.

Our first stop was a city about 1100KM north of Sydney called Surfers Paradise. The comparisons I’ve heard the most are a mini Miami or Vegas. We stayed at an 18 dollar a night hostel, which was questionable to say the least. I was woken up the first morning with police in the room kicking someone out. The longest resident of the hostel makes sand sculptures for a living. It was quite an experience.  The beaches were amazing though, being so far north of Sydney the weather was also much better.

Stop number two was the beautiful town of Byron Bay. A much different feel from Surfers, Byron is known for being a small, laid back, hipster town. We visited the different surrounding beaches every day and made a hike up the famous Byron Bay lighthouse. It’s the most easterly point of mainland Australia. In Byron we were able to use our surf boards every day. I’m not like the local Australians but I like to think I’m getting better. By the end of the trip, I was standing up on the board at least a few times every surf session. It definitely hurts your ego though when you see the local ten year old boys making it look so simple.

It was a great experience traveling in a group where I was the only American. My group consisted of two Brits, a Dane, and a Frenchman. The diversity made the trip much more entertaining, and in a way educational. My Danish friend made a video of everywhere we went, it’s a little corny but I suggest you check it out.