It’s not the end

August 31st, 2014 by under Australian Internship, Summer Break. No Comments.

Alice bio picBy Alice Lu
Three weeks ago I was in Sydney, Australia; one of the world’s most vibrant, beautiful, nature-filled, delicious and friendly cities. Now that I’ve moved back to College Park I’ve realized that I was truly living in a dream. A couple of things I can’t help but miss from Sydney are its friendly, jovial and diverse citizens, the gourmet healthy food, the exercise culture and the number of things there is to do in that city.

Wherever one goes in that city, they can find a different suburb at each train stop. One can explore the small urban modern day Buddhism city, Newtown or the hip gourmet food suburb, Surry Hills. Let’s not forget the beautiful beaches and relaxed Kiwi (New Zealander) filled beach towns from Bondi to Coogee. There are beautiful snorkeling and scuba diving areas at Gordan’s Bay and the surrounding cliff walk area.

Whoever I talked to always made me laugh. Their humor would be purely to take a piss out of you or out of people near you. Its all good fun of course, there is never any maliciousness behind the words. Never is there a sensitivity issue either, people in Australia that I’ve met were the most carefree people I’ve ever met.

Being back in College Park has made me realize that I don’t know America as well as I can say. There are 50 states each with different types of culture and people. One state can’t represent all 50 states so I can only speak about my experience in Maryland and few other states I’ve really spent time in. After this experience, I want to travel to more cities and countries and explore all different types of cultures. I want to learn the differences and be aware of just how many different people there are in this world.

I’ve missed the various types of healthy food I had in Sydney now that all I have are chain restaurants surrounding me. Sometimes I even still walk on the left side and then it dawns upon me that I’m no longer in a left side culture. I’m sure my travel adventures won’t end here. I’m excited for what the future holds for me!

Our friends we made while in Melbourne. As we disembark on a helicopter ride over the 12 apostles

Our friends we made while in Melbourne. As we disembark on a helicopter ride over the 12 apostles

These little birds are insane. They attack you when they see you have seeds to feed them. Good thing they are so pretty.

These little birds are insane. They attack you when they see you have seeds to feed them. Good thing they are so pretty.

Our second ferry ride to Manly Beach to walk along the Cliffs

Our second ferry ride to Manly Beach to walk along the Cliffs

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Change

August 29th, 2014 by under Australian Internship, Summer Break. No Comments.

BoothBy Jenna Booth

Now that I have been back in the U.S. for about two weeks, it is hard to believe that I was just thousands of miles away for an entire summer.

It is taking a much longer time to adjust to the jet lag coming back than it did going over to Australia. Even my stomach is getting confused, thinking I am eating dinner in the wee hours of the morning.

Settling back into university life was pretty easy actually, but I didn’t have much of a choice since I was only home for two days before I had to move in.

I quickly was whisked away into my job training and then training my staff, and now everyone has started moving back on campus! It has truly been a whirlwind.

Everyone has asked me how Australia was and I just have so much to say that I don’t know where to start and I usually opt for “Ask me questions and I’ll give you answers.” (This is actually an improvement because for a few days I would usually mutter a tearful “It was great”).

I did take back pieces of Australia with me and I proudly display them on my wall in my dorm. I also have become quite akin to using “Cheers” to close out many of my emails.

My aptly named “Australia Wall” adorned with various tickets and mementos.

My aptly named “Australia Wall” adorned with various tickets and mementos.

I have been eager to see my friends and it’s a nice feeling to have people who are just as eager to see you.  The flip side to that: knowing I may not have reunions like this with all of the great people I met in Australia is a bit of a tough pill to swallow.

The pace at which my life has moved over the past few weeks really highlights how important it is to be adaptable in an ever-changing environment; that is a skill that has just been reinforced from this experience and I will take with me for the rest of my life.

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It’s a Wrap!

August 29th, 2014 by under Australian Internship, Summer Break. No Comments.

GaldiBy John Galdi

 

First of all, I’d like to thank everybody that made this experience over the summer possible for me, starting with my parents. I wouldn’t have been able to learn so much and have such an incredible experience without their help… and money. I’d also like to thank the University of Maryland for sending us to Australia through this great internship program. My expectations were blown away and I would absolutely recommend this program to anybody that is considering it.

After finally being in Maryland for a few weeks, everything is back to normal and I’m all situated. Surprisingly, I settled in very quickly once I got back, as it only took me one day to get back into my sleep schedule. Trying Chipotle and all the typical fast food places is really exciting. After being out of the country for so long, I now truly appreciate what we have in America and how lucky we are to live in this incredible country. Also, the first time I hopped behind the wheel of a car was a little scary because I hadn’t driven in 3 months and I’d only seen cars driving on the wrong side of the road. Luckily, I made it to my destination with no crashes or problems.

Soon, I will have a video posted that is a quick overview of what we did while we were in Australia. Over the summer, I tried to take short videos of the views we had and what we were doing. I pieced together these little clips into a video that captures most of the experiences we had while we were in Australia. Hopefully the video will give you a better understanding of how incredible the experience was and will entice you to travel abroad.

Finally, as this is my last blog post, I’d like to thank everybody who took the time out of his or her day to read this blog. I truly appreciate your support and cannot thank you enough. Until next time…

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Thank you Mom, Dad and the Business School

August 20th, 2014 by under Australian Internship, Summer Break. No Comments.

Alice bio picBy Alice Lu

The night before I left Sydney seemed like any regular Friday night. My coworkers threw a going away party for me and invited the IT, Supply Chain, Human Resources and Finance department. I couldn’t believe I was leaving my coworkers who taught me so much, joked with me so much, planned weekend activities with me and made it so easy for me to call them my mates. It wasn’t until at the end of the night when one by one they all started leaving that I shed some waterworks.

Living in Sydney was truly a whole other world that even now I can’t believe I was a part of. I’ll miss being able to walk out of my apartment and get $8 delicious thai food or have $20 all you can eat gourmet authentic Italian pizza only 15 minutes away. I’ve always felt fortunate to have the train station conveniently located near me, in fact not just one but two train stations! On the second to last night, Jenna and me went up to the opera house one last time and gazed at the beautiful humble skyline lit up bridge, quiet harbor, and still opera house. The silence helped me reflect on everything that I experienced that summer and how grateful I am to my family and the business school for giving this opportunity.

If there’s one piece of advice I can offer to anyone studying abroad in the future, it’s to live your study abroad with no regrets. Don’t worry about the money, don’t be afraid of the unknown, don’t let anyone hold you back and most importantly if you have to argue with yourself about wanting to do something-do it. Studying abroad is the one moment in your lifetime that you can do whatever you want because it’s a fleeting time period. It’s you chance to be selfish and learn more about yourself. Studying abroad gave me the opportunity to be more independent, gain some street smarts, taste some truly delicious cuisine and learn more about myself than I ever would at home. This summer taught me more about what I want to do as a career and not to plan out my future because there’s no guarantee it will work out.

So go out there and discover something about yourself! Go out there, live life and don’t let anything hold you back when you get there!

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Me at a gorge in Melbourne at the 12 great apostles. A devastating shipwreck happened here in the 1800s.

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A helicopter ride over the beautiful 12 apostles- now only 7 surviving

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Sliding down a slippery slope in a rainforest in Cairns while raining!

 

You will most likely always see these "Aborginals" at the Rocks near the Opera house playing techno cultural aboriginal music using their digeridoo.

You will most likely always see these “Aborginals” at the Rocks near the Opera house playing techno cultural aboriginal music using their digeridoo.

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Wow! What a trip!

August 17th, 2014 by under Australian Internship, Summer Break. No Comments.

GaldiBy John Galdi

Wow. That’s just about all I can say after finally making it back to the states, bringing an end to this incredible journey. My time abroad has left me speechless. It has been difficult to put into words exactly what I did in Australia and how amazing it was. Words just don’t do it justice. I met tons of new people, learned more about the world and myself than I thought was possible, and most importantly had a great time! Hopefully I will be returning sometime in the future.

The last week of my internship was very rewarding. I spent most of the week preparing my presentation of the potential commercial licensing partner reports I had been developing over the previous 8 weeks. The presentation was in a very formal setting, much more formal than it would be in the U.S. While I was leading the presentation, the speaking floor was open for any comments or questions from anybody in the room. This style really gives everybody a chance for contribution. After I was done the presentation, the company threw a going away party for me with enough food to have the same going away party twice. Anyway, I could not have asked for a better internship while on this study abroad program. The people were great, my supervisors were very respectful and took my advice into great consideration, and everybody there was very reasonable.

The plane ride back to the United States was brutal to say the least. We had a 14-hour trip from Sydney International Airport to San Francisco, and I must’ve gone through 5 movies and a couple of TV shows. I probably walked close to half a mile on that plane, walking up and down the aisles during the lengthy trip. Once we got to San Francisco, we had to get our luggage at baggage claim, which took about 20 minutes, after we had already gone through customs. We then had to re-check our baggage at another kiosk before going through another security checkpoint with a long line. When we were finally at the gate from San Francisco to Dulles, most of the other passengers were already boarded and we slid on just before the doors closed. I cannot imagine what I would have done if we missed that plane. I don’t even want to think about it. After the second leg of the plane ride from San Francisco to D.C. (which was only 5 hours and went by relatively quickly compared to the first leg) we finally were able to meet up with our families again and sleep in our own bed. That first night of sleep was easily one of the best nights of sleep I have ever had. I slept most of the next day away.

I’d like to thank everybody that made this experience for me possible. Thank you.

As we left Sydney, we got one last look down into the city, as our 14-hour plane ride began.

As we left Sydney, we got one last look down into the city, as our 14-hour plane ride began.

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Goodbye

August 17th, 2014 by under Australian Internship, Summer Break. No Comments.

BoothBy Jenna Booth

Leaving Sydney is harder than I imagined, but it shouldn’t be that surprising considering this is the longest time I have lived somewhere that wasn’t my house or my college dorm.

Now that I have literally lived and breathed a different country, I do not find being a cookie-cutter tourist as appealing anymore. The funny thing is that we are inundated with photos of major landmarks all the time, especially on social media, and somehow you expect them to look different in real life. Spending a few days and seeing the major attractions is still an incredible experience, don’t get me wrong, but going forward I don’t know if it will be enough for me.

It’s not the same when you can go to your favorite pub and get your favorite pizza and wedges every weekend.

My order: Devils pizza (salmon, spinach, shrimp, scallops, and bacon), gluten free crust, no cheese. I’m pretty sure the chef is going to notice when I don’t turn up anymore.

My order: Devils pizza (salmon, spinach, shrimp, scallops, and bacon), gluten free crust, no cheese. I’m pretty sure the chef is going to notice when I don’t turn up anymore.

It’s not the same when you have the train platforms memorized.

It’s not the same when you are telling other bewildered tourists ask you for directions and you proudly tell them exactly where to go and can give them multiple options (quickest route? Scenic route?).

My favorite walkway through the Rocks with an old tree growing out of the cobblestone and tiny restaurants spilling outdoors.

My favorite walkway through the Rocks with an old tree growing out of the cobblestone and tiny restaurants spilling outdoors.

It’s not the same as seeing the recurring graffiti “GRIME” painted in impossible-to-reach places near the top of buildings at various places around the city.

It’s not the same when you get a handwritten goodbye letter from one of the receptionists at the front desk in your apartment building that you became friends with.

It’s not the same when you can tick off a bunch of “firsts” in one country – first time flying alone, first time traveling with friends and not family, first time buying an alcoholic drink, first helicopter ride, first internship, first time living without a phone for two months, first time you have seen your bank account balance so low…

I found many adventures in Australia but I also found another home. Everyone is asking me to tell them all about my time there and I’m telling the same stories over and over but it is hard to capture the feeling of being there and the context of the people in the stories.

I tear up every time I think about it because I have a hard time accepting the fact that I may never see some of these people again, but as one of my coworkers put it: “Coming back to Australia will only be as long as you make it.”

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Las Familias Mías

August 12th, 2014 by under Maryland Social Entrepreneur Corps, Summer Break. No Comments.

Victoria ZhaoBy Victoria Zhao

In a blink of an eye, more than half of my time in Ecuador has already passed. It only feels like yesterday that I touched down in the humid Guayaquil airport, with no idea of what to expect, but soon we will be leaving this beautiful country to return to home.

With field work in different regions and projects with different community groups, no day is ever quite the same. But at the end of an exhausting day, I return home — home to a wonderful homestay family.

Because of the nature of our program, the eight weeks are split into three separate experiences with three different families. Four of the eight weeks will be spent in Cuenca, with two more in the North and two in the South. Although a part of me wishes that all the time could be spent with one family, I know that such would be impossible. Luckily, since Ecuador’s unique nature lends itself to different cultures in each part of the country, I have been extremely fortunate to experience completely different personalities in getting to know each family.

My host brother in Pulinguí is a new Maryland fan!

My host brother in Pulinguí is a new Maryland fan!

Up North in Pulinguí (about forty-five minutes north of Riobamba by bus), I was welcomed into a large family of five: Luis, a construction worker studying part-time to become a teacher; Teresa, an ama de casa, literally “lover of the house,” or housewife; and their three children Veronica (14), Michelle (11), and Luis Jr. (10).

The first morning in Pulinguí, I accompanied my host mom to take care of the animals. First we visited her mother in the nearby village, who only speaks the indigenous Kichwa language. We then walked up the mountains for about an hour, following the cows, a donkey, and an adorable piglet, until we reached her family’s plot of land, and started to cut grass to feed them. At midday, we returned to the house to prepare lunch for the children as they returned from school. The following days, as I joined the other interns to work in communities around the area, my mother would wake up around three or four every morning to pack me a lunch for the day.

Sometimes, it was tiring to return after a long day. All I want to do is go to bed to prepare for the next morning, yet I stay up with the family, speaking barely intelligible Spanish and making conversation. However, I cannot imagine how different my experience would have been if all the interns merely lived together, with limited immersion with the culture and the people. My siblings would clamor at my iPhone every evening, scrolling through all my photos and asking me detailed questions about my life in America. Michelle and Luis would turn on the radio to dance and sing to bachata for hours.

My family in Pulinguí may not have hot water, or wi-fi, or any of the luxuries that we have at home. Days are long, and life is hard. Yet, they all welcomed me into their home and into their lives, and allowed me to experience their day to day experiences. When we left Pulinguí, my dad reminded me that I was welcome to return any time.

I may not know when the next time that I will be in Ecuador may be, but my lovely homestay families will forever be in my heart.

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Eyeopening

August 5th, 2014 by under Australian Internship, Summer Break, Uncategorized. No Comments.

BoothBy Jenna Booth

Sydney is a unique experience compared to other study abroad programs partially because of the simple fact that it isn’t that much different from the U.S. If you asked me what major cultural differences there are, there is nothing that I immediately think of. The value of coming to Sydney and realizing how similar it is to the U.S. makes it cast a more reflective lens upon your life back at home.

Example #1: Talking with native Australians about the exciting things we have been doing while we’re in Sydney or our weekend excursions is always interesting. A lot of people have not climbed the bridge, even if they have lived here their entire lives. They are in no rush.

I don’t blame them either. Climbing the bridge is easily one of the highlights of my time here and is basically on my mental list of lifetime achievements, but if I lived here I probably wouldn’t have done it. It is hard to appreciate the things that you are accustomed to.

If I had people from other countries asking me if I have taken a tour of the White House, I would say no. If I had people ask me what the best restaurants, bars, and museums in D.C. or Baltimore were, I would not be very much help. I can’t remember the last time I went to any of the memorials in D.C., or if I have even been at all.

Example #2: College in Australia is not like college in America. Everyone talks about “the college experience”, but until you talk with people who are going to school here, you don’t realize how true that phrase is.

There is so much of a focus on campus life at American universities and you take it for granted. In Australia there is very little on-campus housing offered, and it is usually reserved for people who live extremely far away or are rather (read: very) wealthy – it is not unusual for students to have one, two, even three-hour commutes one way.

The lesson: I’m going to make a conscious effort to live a little more “carpe diem” and soak up the things back home that I usually take for granted – the obscene abundance of campus events, clubs, opportunities, and resources at our disposal as well as the proximity to our nation’s capital. Just because they will always be there, doesn’t mean I always will be – who knows, I could find myself back in Sydney in a few years…

How to not seize the day: Nap on Bondi beach.

My first time to Bondi and I decided to take a nap on my towel on the beach while my roommates are in the water

My first time to Bondi and I decided to take a nap on my towel on the beach while my roommates are in the water

How to seize the day: Venture perhaps a tad too far out on the rocks in the ocean.

Me and my amazing roommates at Bondi Beach exploring the cliffs on the Bondi to Coogee walk

Me and my amazing roommates at Bondi Beach exploring the cliffs on the Bondi to Coogee walk

 

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Happy Birthday Margaret!

July 30th, 2014 by under Australian Internship, Summer Break, Uncategorized. 3 Comments.

GaldiBy John Galdi

First off, I’d like to wish my younger sister a Happy 16th Birthday! Have a good one! I’ll be home before you know it.

In other news, Australia is one of the most incredible countries that I have ever been so lucky to travel to. As my time here winds down, I am starting to reflect on how great of an experience this has been for me. There has never been a dull moment, whether it’s at work or on a journey through the bush. Mostly I’ve been boring you with information about Australia…but don’t worry, I won’t do that again today. This post is strictly to share with you how incredible my journey has been and maybe give you some tips on what to do when you’re in Australia.

BridgeClimb

One of the coolest views of Sydney’s skyline can be seen from the top of the harbor bridge. Yes, the top of the harbor bridge. BridgeClimb is a company that organizes “climbs” to the top of the bridge (which is much higher than I thought it would be… don’t look down) via a staircase on the arch of it. Once we got to the top (pictured below), we were able to look back on the city and stare in awe. This had to be one of the most impressive views I’ve seen.

Me on top of the world! Jk, only on top of the Sydney Bridge which might as well be the top of the world

Me on top of the world! Jk, only on top of the Sydney Bridge which might as well be the top of the world

Luckily, Vivid Sydney was going on during our bridge climb, so we were able to look down on the projections on the Sydney Opera house and many of the buildings.

Taronga Zoo

Taronga Zoo is a very famous zoo in Sydney. It has animals from all over the world. I don’t have much else to say about it. You have to go to really experience it. Definitely worth the trip though!

One of the zoo’s most famous features is the view when looking at the giraffe exhibit, with the city in the background.

One of the zoo’s most famous features is the view when looking at the giraffe exhibit, with the city in the background.

Port Stephens  In Port Stephens, we went on hikes to lookouts over some beautiful coastline. It felt like we were on top of the world for a little while. We also did some whale watching where we got to see some humpbacks. Port Stephens is a quaint little town, great for weekend trips!
Port Stephens
In Port Stephens, we went on hikes to lookouts over some beautiful coastline. It felt like we were on top of the world for a little while. We also did some whale watching where we got to see some humpbacks. Port Stephens is a quaint little town, great for weekend trips!

 

Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains are a mountain range in Australia that has a bunch of impressive hikes down into the valley. Some of the plants there cause the valley to have a blue hint to it when you look down on it, hence the name Blue Mountains. We went on a nice hike down to the bottom of the valley, followed by a train ride back to the top… on the steepest railway in the world.

Here is one of the waterfalls we walked down to. Some awesome views!

Here is one of the waterfalls we walked down to. Some awesome views!

Cairns

If you ever come to Australia in the “winter” (our summer), you MUST go to Cairns. Make sure you pronounce it “Cains”, or you will be corrected immediately. Apparently, summer is not the time to go to Cairns because of all their cyclones (hurricanes that spin the other way) and unpredictable weather. Fortunately for us, we went at the right time of year and got incredible weather. Cairns is a relatively small town, but it has tons of things to do for tourists. From great food, to scuba diving at the reef, to walking through the beautiful rainforest, Cairns was breath taking.  Scuba diving was much harder than it looks, but definitely worth the experience. (Sorry for the scare mom & dad)

This beautiful lagoon in Cairns was right next to the main wharf. We all agreed it was the most refreshing pool we’ve ever been to, special thanks to the hot weather in Cairns.

This beautiful lagoon in Cairns was right next to the main wharf. We all agreed it was the most refreshing pool we’ve ever been to, special thanks to the hot weather in Cairns.

 

Scuba diving in the great barrier reef!

Scuba diving in the great barrier reef!

Only 2 weeks left! See you soon College Park! Cheers!

 

 

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Melting Pot

July 30th, 2014 by under Australian Internship, Uncategorized. No Comments.

Alice bio picBy Alice Lu

When I told me friend I actually only knew one Aussie my age, he freaked out. He couldn’t understand it! So this is what I told him:

“The reason why I haven’t met many other Aussies my age is because they all live at home with their parents. They commute to their universities and then go back home at the end of the day. Some don’t even go to university, they go straight to work or they begin their year long backpacking adventure around the world. They also don’t live in the city where I do, they’ll be in the suburbs. I am never in the suburbs unless I’m at work.” I see the most Australian students in the morning and after work when private school students in primary, secondary, or high school are boarding the train. Or when they are coming home on the train from after school sports practice. I think it works better if the state does not provide public school buses when public transportation is so convenient.

Surprisingly I’ve met more Kiwis (New Zealanders) and Europeans than Australians. It’s because so many Europeans travel after or during university before they decide to settle down in the real world. They all come down to Australia because of the similar language and the appeal of this magnificent country. Most of coworkers are not Australian, in fact two of them are Kiwis, two of them are from India, one from Nepal, and two from England, one being the supply chain director himself. Only three of them are actual Aussies.

I think I’ve met more non-Australians than Aussies and that’s because Australia is a big melting pot of ethnicities, just like America! When I went to Cairns I stayed in a hostel where I met more Germans than I did Aussies.  It really makes me wish that all parents in America could raise their children up with the thinking that life is short and one should take full advantage of it by seeing and learning from it as much of it as possible. The number of backpackers and high school graduates who are able to find employment in Sydney without prior work experience was something that surprised me. We’re all used to the competitive nature to find employment in the USA but here in Sydney, people can work for a company and after a couple of years move up the ranks. If only it were this easy in the states.

It’s bittersweet, more bitter than sweet but this is my last weekend in Sydney and I just can’t believe how fast time flies. I can’t wait for what’s in store this weekend when I fly to Melbourne with Jenna and then enter my last week at work. Cheers!

My coworker had extra tickets to a Tigers and Bulldogs Australian Rugby League game. Clearly I was a tigers fan that day (who won by the way- GO TIGERS!)

My coworker had extra tickets to a Tigers and Bulldogs Australian Rugby League game. Clearly I was a tigers fan that day (who won by the way- GO TIGERS!)

This is one of the examples of gourmet food Sydney offers here. These are gourmet pancakes at a fancy place called Pancakes on the Rocks which is open 24/7. I found my Sydney food heaven.
This is one of the examples of gourmet food Sydney offers here. These are gourmet pancakes at a fancy place called Pancakes on the Rocks which is open 24/7. I found my Sydney food heaven.

 

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