Phillips Island and Melbourne Cricket Ground

June 28th, 2015 by under Australian Internship, Summer Break. No Comments.

Jamie WongBy Jamie Wong

Our global marketing course began at RMIT on June 1st and our week consisted of lectures and site visits. This 3 credit class is one of the most interactive and challenging courses because it not only taught us the marketing theories, but it was reinforced through site visits to various businesses. These visits consisted from meeting executives from companies in sky scrapers to rangers at koala conservation centers.

In Melbourne, Phillips Island was definitely a memorable highlight of these two weeks. We first went to the visitor center in Phillips Island, and met the economic development manager and marketing directors of the island. We were greeted and welcomed with snacks as we learned about the ecotourism challenges that the island faces. Then, we traveled to the Koala Conservation center and the tour was led by a local ranger. Although these animals are usually asleep most of the time, we were fortunate to be able to see one Koala that was fairly active. As the evening approached, we ended our night with the the Penguin Parade by the beach. Hordes of little penguins would come to shore from sea to the beach and hatch their eggs. It was an impressive scene and one that I would never forget.

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On June 5th, we visited the Melbourne Cricket ground and toured around their stadium which can hold 100,000 Aussie rules fans. This stadium is by far the largest sports stadium I have ever set foot in. The tour guide taught us some of the basic rules of the game as we walked around their facilities. It was quite regular that athletes would have a concussion while playing; only until recently they have adopted this new rule where head injuries must be checked by the doctors. We also had a fantastic time at their sports museum as they had a section to try the Aussie rules for football and a popular sport called net ball. In the late afternoon, we then had a presentation by the finance director at the MCG and learned about how their finances affected their marketing decisions. The next day we watched Carlton versus Adelaide Crows, which ended up as a loss for the home team. This match was even and the scores were very close the whole game but it was unfortunate that the home team Carlton lost. Despite the loss, our group had a great time regardless of the outcome.

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Food in Melbourne

June 26th, 2015 by under Australian Internship, Summer Break. No Comments.

I am terrified of spiders. Unfortunately huge spiders are something Australia is famous for. So you might be asking why I chose to study abroad here. One of the main reasons is the program. The coolest thing is this program allows me to study abroad over the summer and work an internship in another country.

Broken up into two parts, the first part is a two-week global marketing class in Melbourne and the second part is an eight-week internship in Sydney. In this post, I’ll talk about my time in Melbourne.

One of my favorite parts of Melbourne was the food. Not having a kitchen was a great excuse to sample the local cuisine as much as possible. From trying the hottest dish on the menu at a local Thai restaurant to sampling different food at a night market, I truly spoiled my stomach. Foods Australia is famous for include meat pies (basically all kinds of pies), vegemite, kangaroo, Tim Tams, lamington, and Pavlova (those last two are types of dessert).

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This is lamington, an Australian dessert.

More surprising is the plethora of Asian cuisine options. Four of the top six highest immigrant populations in Australia are from Asian countries. This is clearly visible in terms of culinary options. One of my favorite meals in Melbourne was at a place called Sushi Burger, which used two round, flat, stacks of rice as buns and put the fish/meat/vegetables in between.

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What a Sushi Burger looks like. My pictures didn’t turn out great so this one is from Google.

In addition, Melbourne has the largest Greek population of any city outside of Greece. Our first attempts to go down Lonsdale St (a street known for having many good Greek food options) failed because a nearby restaurant was on fire. I did come back a few days later and satisfy my gyro craving.

Food is something Melbourne does very well. I came to find the best restaurants are the ones you didn’t plan on visiting but just happen to wander into. I’m excited to see what Sydney has in store for me.

 

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Let’s talk about our flats

June 21st, 2015 by under Australian Internship, Summer Break. No Comments.

When I first began writing this post, I was going to write about Melbourne, and how exciting it was to see the sights, and go to the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology for our classes, and other normal blog stuff. But I’m sure that both of my fellow bloggers (Jamie and Blake, who you can find here and here) will talk about that in a much better way than I would.

So, let’s talk about our, er, highly prestigious flats in Sydney.

Maybe I’m biased because of our amazing accommodations in Melbourne at the Sheraton. And yeah, I do miss my complimentary breakfast (with mini muffins! And danishes!), and I do miss my unlimited wifi, and I do miss our daily cleaning services. I can’t deny that. But at the same time, our flats in Sydney have some serious questions to answer.

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Seriously, who wouldn’t miss these little guys?

Let’s start with the design. Out flats (which I won’t specifically name here, for reasons you’ll soon see) have three elevators that service a total of 29 floors. They putz between the various floors on whatever speed they decide to choose for that day, but one of them only goes to the 10th floor, and the other only goes from the 15th to the 29th. Not that it matters for the latter one, since it’s been out of service for most of our time here.

Then there’s our near-comical list of appliance problems. Our washer’s ‘high’ spin speed sounds like a lazy twirl.  Just two of our four stove-top lighters were operational upon arrival (though in the flat’s defense, that was actually quickly fixed). Our dryer appeared to have all the drying power of a wet fart before it fizzled out completely. And let’s not even talk about our hyper-responsive fire alarm, which just today was set off by the smell of medium-rare sausages and ramen.

I think one main problem is that our flat is under-staffed. For instance, they had one elevator guy on call to fix their elevators (which, remember, only number three), and he was “busy” when we first arrived. Seriously guys, you’re telling me you couldn’t find any other elevator technician in Sydney?

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Our number one enemy the first week here.

Obviously, I’m playing all of this up a bit. At the end of the day, it’s really not that bad! The fact that they even have all these furnishings in any semblance of working condition (Our dryer aside; screw that thing) is very nice, and the carpeting and walls and such are all very well kept up. Hell, they even have weekly cleaning services, and it certainly can’t be easy to even attempt to run a place as massive as ours is.

But on the other hand, they accidentally let me walk into and consequently be trapped (albeit very temporarily) inside an elevator where the buttons didn’t work. So I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

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Kicking off Australia 2015’s Internship Program

June 17th, 2015 by under Australian Internship, Summer Break. No Comments.

Jamie WongBy Jamie Wong

On May 27th, my roommate Eric and I started our journey to Australia. We traveled to Washington Dulles international airport then flew to Melbourne via Los Angeles. The Virgin America and Qantas flight brought us to our destinations on time with comfort and limited turbulence. The total travel time was 25 hours including the 2 hour layover in LA. Despite the long hours inside a confined aircraft cabin, we overlooked all of this partly because of the anticipation and our excitement for this study abroad program.

After, we landed in Melbourne; as soon as we arrived I noticed that the airport had Chinese translation written all over it. Then, looking over at the airport arrival board, I noticed that there are flights arriving from Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and different parts of China. It gave me a broad sense of how many Chinese immigrants there are. Looking over at the billboards while waiting for our luggage, I also saw advertisements from Air China which now has opened up direct flights routes from major cities from China.

Then, after getting our bags we took the sky bus which took us straight to the hotel. As the bus roamed around the out-skirts and into the city, the things that stood out to us is the architecture of the buildings and the variety of the Asian restaurants. When we arrived to the hotel, we finally regrouped with some of the members in this program at the lobby. Everyone seemed extremely friendly and eager to get to know one and another. Afterwards, we as a group explored a bit on our own. Here is a picture of the Flinders train station which is 10 minutes away.11350230_10153065638059296_268595388_n

We awaited our professor inside our hotel room but after a hot shower, the jet-lag kicked in and some of us just rested through the day. It was quite tiring but I managed to get through until later at night. I was fortunate to have a good friend that studies in Melbourne and we met up right away. He showed me around the city and it was an incredible feeling being in a new place like Melbourne. I attended his close friend’s birthday party at a pub and it was interesting talking to college students from Australia.

It was a very good first day and it still felt surreal to be in Melbourne. I slept extremely well as sleeping on the plane gave me a few aches here and there, but it didn’t matter as I sunk into my bed. I still remember waking up in the middle of the night not remembering where I was. After a few seconds of confusion, I reminded myself that I am embarking on this incredible study abroad journey in Australia with 13 others.

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Exam Post Part II

May 25th, 2015 by under Italy, Semester. No Comments.

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by Alyssa Lesho

I have my second-to-last exam today. On Wednesday I have one more, and then I fly home on Friday. Many exchange students are staying for a few weeks after exams to travel without having to worry about classes, but I start my summer internship on June 1st, so that wasn’t an option for me.

Since this is my last post, I guess I should probably finish on some advice and tips and reflections, in case anyone reading this is thinking about coming to Bocconi for a semester.

The church where da Vinci painted "The Last Supper"

The church where da Vinci painted “The Last Supper”

Milan is a wonderful city to study abroad in. It’s very centralized in Europe. With three airports close by, it’s easy to find a cheap flight for a weekend trip. If you haven’t been to Europe before, like me, you should try to travel most weekends. Meet up with UMD friends abroad, because that will make the trips more special, but also get to know some fellow exchange students. Eat local food. Spend money to get experiences, not to drink.   Understand that you probably won’t stay within budget and be okay with that.

Don’t leave Milan for the end of the semester – you want to study then. Try and explore a little of Milan every week. Get tickets for “The Last Supper” early on. Go to exhibitions at Palazzo Reale, the Gallery of Modern Art, and Pinacoteca di Brera. Sometimes there’s free entry to museums on the first Sunday of the month. If you come for Fall 2015, get tickets for the Expo (Bocconi might still be giving out free ones).

Try and learn Italian. Many people speak English, but you should know the basics. Eat gelato often. Don’t order the same thing at every restaurant. Appreciate that you are living and studying in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

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Last Week in Milan!

May 24th, 2015 by under Italy, Semester. No Comments.

I can’t believe it’s the last week in Milan. I finished 3 finals and I’m hoping I passed. I now realize why Italian students get three separate tries to do well on their final exams. They’re incredibly “pesante” which in italian means heavy, given they are usually cumulative. You have multiple professors throughout the semester in some classes who all write their own questions for the exams so that when they all come together the exam feels very inconsistent and has no flow to it when you’re taking it.

I spent some time in the “Bunker” which is almost the equivalent of 2nd floor Mckeldin at Bocconi, it was so sad to watch all of those finals snapchats from our beloved university library. I now have one more exam to go tomorrow, international economics. I warn all of you now to never take this course on your study abroad. It WILL consume you.

Especially because I’m dealing with a lot of neck back and shoulder issues that radiate down to my hands causing pain and numbness, i’m finding studying to be an extremely difficult task to concentrate with the pain, but luckily I have my pharmacy right outside my apartment to supply me with mediocre pain medication.

But once I’m done with my exam, I’m off to Lisbon, Portugal to visit my friend Weimin who I lived and experienced the Language House with my second semester, freshman year. (He was in the German cluster.) It was actually a coincidence because I didn’t know he was in Lisbon and I shortly received a message saying that he’s a bartender at the hostel I had booked. Serendipity at it’s finest!

But before I leave I have to pack everything up, take selfies and say goodbye to all the wonderful friends I’ve made here, my most important people: my baristas Ana and Jing, my hairstylist Michele and the lovely people at Mood Factory, the burger joint where I can always go up to the counter and always be asked”di solito?” (the usual?)

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The notebook I bought to study for finals. “Che Sbatti!” I would translate it to english but i’m probably not allowed to write profanities on this website.

Thank you Milan for becoming my home for the past 4 months, it’s been a pleasure!

 

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Exam Post Part I

May 11th, 2015 by under Italy, Semester. No Comments.

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by Alyssa Lesho

It’s the last week of classes. I have two exams next week and two the week after, and I’m starting to understand why the Italians at Bocconi have been studying for months already. It doesn’t feel like I’ve had a semester’s worth of classes, yet there is so much material to be reviewed.

Walking through Expo 2015!

Walking through Expo 2015!

Since next weekend will start the beginning of the real study sessions, I took this past weekend to do all the things I hadn’t done yet. I went to the Expo on Saturday afternoon, which was a nice break from studying. The Expo site is really beautiful, the country pavilions are very interesting, and the food is incredible. It runs from May to October, so anyone in Milan for the Fall 2015 semester should really go.

On Sunday I went to Santa Maria delle Grazie, where Leonardo da Vinci painted “The Last Supper” on one of the walls of a chapel. Only days after being finished, people started to notice its decay. It’s been painted over and renovated so many times, and even bombed in 1943 during WWII and exposed to the elements. They had to cover it with a tarp until they could reconstruct the church. To see it, you have to walk through three ventilated rooms, and you can only stay for 15 minutes. Tickets sell out months in advance, but I managed to snag one last week when someone canceled their reservation.

I can’t believe I only have a few weeks left in Europe. Back in College Park, I can’t walk a block down the street and suddenly be surrounded by ancient Roman ruins. I can’t buy a ticket to see one of the world’s most famous paintings or buy a €30 plane ticket to anywhere. I can’t get a decent espresso or gelato or brioche. I’m genuinely going to miss Milan when it’s time to go home.

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Music, Studying and Beachin’

May 10th, 2015 by under Italy, Semester. 3 Comments.

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It’s finals week at home and it’s pre-finals week here in Milan! My final exams span from the 20-25 and then it’s almost freedom!!

International Economics is killing Alyssa Lesho and I but we’re working hard to get through it! (Never take this class if you come to Bocconi.) So we got the lovely news on this side of town about our beloved Wally Loh’s tuition increase per semester of $700 whopping dollars. Now apart from finals I’m stressing about trying to get a job in the fall and now I’m even more stressed about passing finals given the cuts to our financial aid if we fail a course and become part-time students. Which HOPEFULLY won’t happen because we’re excellent studious Terps. ;)

So to motivate myself for this finals week I got to hit up a concert of one of my favorite blues guitarists, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and took a mid-study vacation to Nice, France.

I never get to see Kenny play in MD because he plays 21+ venues so it was awesome to be able to venture out and see the band here! Being the only american at the show, I was able to exchange views on Van Halen and David Lee Roth with Kenny and chat for a bit with a drummer I may be working with at Zildjian during my Artist Relations internship this summer, Chris Layton, who just got inducted into the Rock’n’Roll hall of fame with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. Kick-ass show and the band and crew were so incredibly sweet. It was great to have a dose of home in Italy.

 

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Nice was great; I really needed some quality beach time before I locked myself permanently in this very library I’m sitting in and I got to meet some really awesome people from all over at the hostel we stayed at.

Time to continue the study grind, it was good checking in with you Terps, catch ya later!

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Bocconi University Life

April 27th, 2015 by under Italy, Semester. No Comments.

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by Alyssa Lesho

ESN Bocconi is the International Students community of Bocconi University. They plan weekend trips and events around Milan. Many (most) of these events involve expensive aperitivos and clubs, but the weekend trips are a really good way to meet people. They also organize events like seeing “The Last Supper,” which is really great because reservations for things like that can fill up months in advance. I recommend that when you get here, you purchase the ESN Student card and use it!

The semester is nearly over – only one month left – but classes aren’t slowing down at all. If anything, my professors are trying to fit in even more material. Apparently they aren’t used to the 3-week spring break either, and everything is starting to feel rushed. I’ll be getting new material in 3 out of my 4 classes until the last day before the exam period. Only one professor is setting aside the last week for review.

The more classes I have, the more different this university feels from UMD. At first, I really enjoyed Bocconi’s approach to learning. I liked the discussions in class, and that I could catch up with the readings whenever I had time, and that I wasn’t getting new assignments every week. Now however, I’m starting to miss the security that UMD provides – review days and practice exams and homework assignments that let you know how you’re doing.

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The park between Bocconi and my apartment.

Since I got back from spring break, I’ve spent a lot of time sitting in the park next to Bocconi, doing readings from a month ago and reviewing 60-slide PDFs of International Economics lectures. Starting May 1, the Milano Expo will begin and Bocconi has provided all students with a free 1-day ticket. It will be a welcome, short break from studying, but I think that most of May will be devoted to the “study” in study abroad.

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Caffè, Chitarre, Lezione; ma donna!

April 25th, 2015 by under Italy, Semester. No Comments.

Today I’ve realized something. I don’t view 1 and 2 euro coins as currency. I basically view them as coffee tokens. Finding one or two euro coins here in my jacket pocket, purse or backpack excites me as much here in Milan as finding quarters in my car back at home in MD with which I can try to unsuccessfully avoid a ticket from DOTS.

 

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It’s now the time when exams are starting to catch up with all the students. I have 4 exams spanning from May 21-27 that are all cumulative. So I now am paying 6 euros to study in the library near my house every weekend (yes i’m going broke,) and really trying to eat healthy and workout to keep my energy high throughout the next couple weeks. Then when I get home before starting my internship in Boston, it’s gonna be me, orange juice, a box of Rice-krispie treats and Netflix! :)

But I’ve really been learning a great deal at Bocconi, it’s an excellent university with an excellent faculty. My most challenging course is international economics, but our professor is so inspiring intelligent and helpful; she makes me want to push myself harder to study and understand the concepts.

So in the stress of exam studying, I decided to find a guitar store in the area because I chose not to bring one to italy to let my muscles and nerves relax and take a break….turns out I’m crazy enough where I actually bought a brand new gorgeous guitar here. It took one hour of public transport hell in the rain, but this baby is totally worth it!

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Unfortuantely, my nerve and tendon issues are sparking up again with the frequency I’m using my computer to study and using my hand to take notes while also trying to play crazy metal shred solos.

 

I think it was some form of divine intervention to get me to actually study without distractions.

I’ll check in soon!

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