Preparing for my trip

Preparing for my trip was a little frustrating. First, I had to make sure I found a ride to Newwark airport because who wants to take public transportation with heavy luggage?! Second, I had to figure out the right ammount of stuff to pack because I only have one free check bag and didn’t want to pay $100 per extra checked bag. I’m a poor college student. Third, I had to figure out a way to say goodbye to my Puppy Tessa. Most think I’m crazy because of how attached I am to her, but shes my daughter and I’ve never been away from her for this ammount of time. This was the hardest thing for me.

 

Overall preparing for my trip wasn’t easy but I got through it and now I’m in Ireland!

Papers

After two weeks of classes I have finally figured out what to expect from my classes. It is very different than the way classes are scheduled at SUNY New Paltz. With classes I have a lecture that meets twice a week, and then I go to a tutorial once a week. In a tutorial we meet in a small group and we discuss the readings. This week I had my first tutorial, and I enjoyed it a lot. It was more interactive betweens the students and professor, and I also got to know my classmates better.

One of the biggest academic adjustments for me was how they use different terms in names of classes. In New Zealand they do not refer to courses as classes, but instead they call them papers. This was an adjustment for me because when they said papers, I first thought wow they have a lot of course work. So throughout the week I thought wow there are a lot of papers that I need to write. But when students and professors kept saying papers it confused me, until I asked about it and they told me it was another word for courses.

Another adjustment is having all of my classes in lectures after being in small classes at SUNY New Paltz. All of my classes are lectures except when we meet in tutorials, so I’m in a different classroom environment. What also makes it different is how the professors are more relaxed with attendance and being on your phone in class. I was so used to being in classrooms where attendance was required and cell phones were not allowed to be used in class that I was amazed by how people were getting away with it. When students missed class they weren’t too concerned, which surprised me at first until I learned they do not take attendance. I did not realize that being in the classroom was going to be another culture shock.

Cultural Adjustment

Hello Again! I have been having an amazing time in New Zealand. One of the biggest adjustments for me was the cultural adjustment. I have never been to New Zealand before so I had no idea what the cultural adjustment was like for me. The adjustments have ranged from different names of food, to the accents, and to people driving on different sides of the road. Fun fact there have been numerous times where I almost got hit by a car just because I looked on the wrong side of the road. Another adjustment for me was how they call ketchup tomato sauce. I was at a a barbecue eating a sausage, so I poured ketchup on it, but little did I realize that tomato sauce was a lot sweeter than ketchup. Also when you use it you are not supposed to pour a lot on, as what we do with ketchup and mustard. I also had some difficulty with understanding people with their accents, but I have become used and have a full understanding of it. During my first few weeks I had difficulty understanding what people were saying when I asked for directions or when I ordered my food. This happened when they asked if I wanted sugar with my tea, and I still had no idea what they were saying, so they had to spell out sugar for me.

Another cultural adjustment that I have enjoyed was the different types of ethnicities in New Zealand. In the United States the predominated ethnicities are African-Americans and Latinos. In New Zealand there are many different ethnicities with Pacific Islanders, Maori people, and people from Asia as well. This is unique for me as I get to learn more about different ethnicities with my Maori culture class and the different languages spoken as well. It is also good to hear that because of all the different ethnicities people have not dealt with discrimination.This stuff is too sweet for meThis stuff is way too sweet, but it does taste good.

Academic/Cultural Adjustment

Hi!

I just wanted to mention a bit about my classes to inform those who would like to know. The largest personal adjustment has been the commute to campus, but that is only a long time for me because I found off campus accommodation. Regarding classes themselves, I really love them all so far. The first week was kind of hectic because time tables (schedules) were getting sorted out still, and nothing was going right for the teachers with room allocations etc. A major difference between classes here and classes at New Paltz are best summed in an example – For my Math class, where in new paltz there would be simply 2/3 classes a week depending on the course, same teacher same room – here there are different lectures, tutorials, and practicals depending on the class. So for my math I have two lectures on different days of the week (that are not mandatory to go to, I happily add) and also a tutorial on a different day – where you are required to show up to and where quizzes/tests take place. The same goes for my other courses. All in all a week for me is only monday – wednesday, and its amazing. The work load is not unmanageable  – just a bit different, as could be expected.

Apart from academically – I find myself having a really hard time adjusting to some aspects of the culture here. #1 big flashing sign – Racism + Sexism. As a student at New Paltz as well as an educated woman – it bothers me a lot. I spend an enormous amount of time either biting my tongue, or arguing with senseless people. I realize people are brought up in certain ways and this is how it is here, just as it is in my hometown in the US, but that doesn’t mean it is okay. Its really alarming to hear some of the things even teachers say that they think are funny, and then hear the roar of the class laughing when it is most of them being targeted by the cruel jokes. I just dont get it.

The weather is cooling down – that was fast. I kind of miss the heat already. Making future mental note to pack for any weather circumstance considering this country has had sweltering – cold – rainy – windy  all in one solid day.

One month until the Great Barrier Reef.

 

Getting lost

I have had a wonderful first week in Wellington. I have had the experience of buying and making my own food, getting lost in the city at three in the morning, and meeting many nice Kiwis. Kiwis are people from New Zealand, the name Kiwi is not named after the fruit but the indigenous Kiwi bird that can be found only in New Zealand. This week was all about getting acclimated to my new environment and learning how to get around everywhere, which was not easy. The amount of times I got lost can be counted on more than one hand, but each time I got lost it was a learning experience. My campus is also on top of a huge hill so walking back to campus from the city is always a huge hike. The only way I can get back to campus is by taking a huge steep flight of stairs, and then walking up another steep hill. I was not used to being in a big city after growing up in a small town, going to school in a small town, and New Paltz being a small campus.

I had the pleasure of meeting many nice Kiwis. They have been very accommodating to me with helping me know my way around the city and giving me tips in places to check out. I never been in an area where majority of the people saw me as unique because I was an international student who has never been to New Zealand. They are always interested in knowing what my life in The United States is like, and how it compares to New Zealand. When I mention that grandmother came from they see me as a Kiwi with having New Zealand heritage.

My first week has been a big adjustment for me with having to make my own food and using different measurements, such as the usage of the metric system here in New Zealand. I still have no idea what the weather will be like when it is measured in Celsius. Whenever I have to describe the weather to a Kiwi person I always have to say in Fahrenheit at the end. Another adjustment is when I excercise at the gym and all of the weights are in kilograms, so I had no idea how much I was lifting. It is nice with making my own food I can choose what I want to eat, but it is difficult encouraging myself to cook when all I want to sleep after a long day of exploring the city. Despite this being a challenge it is good for me because it will help me in the future when I am living on my own, and I can become more confident in my cooking.IMG_0100 This is Oriental Bay where I got to swim at the beach. It is summer here, so it totally beats the snowy winter back at home.

IMG_0089 This is the view of the city I have from my bedroom window totally worth walking up all those stairs it can’t get any better than this.

Goodbye USA

During my last week at home before I left for New Zealand there was a lot I had to do. Since it was my last week I had to enjoy the food offered here that I is not in New Zealand. This included eating at my favorite restaurants, such as Subway, Panera’s, Chipotle, and my local Jamaican restaurant. I was not sure if this type of food in New Zealand, but I was excited about trying new food with going to New Zealand. I believe that if you are not willing to try new food, then you are missing out a lot of opportunities to do something exciting (sorry picky eaters). Since I will be away from my family for awhile my mother  made my favorite meals of Moroccan stew and chicken soup with dumplings. It was low key but I enjoyed it a lot.
To prepare for my stay in New Zealand I have made a list of things I want to do. What I want to do most is visit my family that lives in New Zealand. My grandmother was born in New Zealand, so there is a rich family history there that I’m excited to learn about. My family was also very excited for me to explore my roots. They had lived together in New Zealand for five years before moving back to the United States. My mom was very excited and she kept helping with ideas to enjoy New Zealand, and also helped me improve my cooking since I am not relying on my parents in New Zealand. My sisters gave me tips on how to get adjusted based off their experiences studying abroad in Venice and Trinidad. My cat though did not seem excited that I was leaving. In this picture she was resting in one of my bags, which is something she likes to do when she sees a suitcase, luckily there was no cat hair in my bag. 10994946_1775983652627800_2941727022195500077_n

No Parlo Italiano

No worries!  Look who found fro yo in Milano

No worries! Look who found fro yo in Milano

My first pasta dish in Milan

My first pasta dish in Milan!

I cannot even lie.  Adjusting to the culture in Milano is still something I must work on everyday.  I don’t think I thought too much about it before arriving, but it is certainly something I think of now that I live here.  Things that you don’t even realize are a part of our American culture change instantly in Italy.  The first thing that came to mind was dinner time.  I get “hangry,” that I do.  I still remember the first night my roommate, Ashley and I attempted to eat out for the first time and we were starving at 6:30.  We could not find a single place open!  We did eventually find a place which to this day has served me one of the best meals of my life.  But I still have not gotten used to eating dinner so late.  I spent all of last semester in New York City eating dinner around 6pm, so this new nighttime dinner thing has proved to be a challenge for me.  Especially on a day like today that I didn’t eat lunch!

10628384_10153107071758921_1717626272852435863_nI am very fortunate to have attended such an open minded University such as New Paltz.  However, I can say another cultural adjustment for me has been attending a Catholic university.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Unicatt!  But it does take some adjusting for this born & raised Jewish girls to have Jesus staring at her from upon a cross whilst I am in class.  This university is beyond beautiful though, which has helped with my adjustment.  Beyond this though because Italy is a very religious country, we have found more places to be closed on Sunday as well, which was a big adjustment coming from New York City where everything is open 24/7.

10959911_10153107017133921_8953669135401091455_nMy body has had a tricky time adjusting to all the carbs this country loves to eat.  Italian pizza & pasta is unreal, but there have been many times where all I want to sink my teeth into is a salad, something that is only commonly seen as a side dish here.

The jetlag and time difference worked itself out within the first week.  As hard as it is, one really should try to resist naps within the first week.  I have adjusted well to the metro system here, which is not only easier then the NYC subway system, but is also cheaper.  Which is something I no longer take for granted in Milan!  The prices for things are mostly very, very reasonable.  Taxis and peanut butter are overpriced in this country!  Espresso and pasta are cheaper than I have ever experienced!  I also have been adjusting to not having a dryer for my clothes, paying per plastic bag at the supermarket, and sorting my trash.  Italy is very environmentally conscious.  I also have been adjusting to the lack of tap water served in restaurants.  Adjusting to an apartment wasn’t too tricky considering I have lived in that style my whole life.  The language barrier has been tricky, but manageable.  I will say I thought being in such a cosmopolitan city that more people would speak Italian, but after taking a two week pre intensive course in Italian, I do have a better grasp on fixing language gaps.  But I would be lying if I were to say I have not set off an emergency exit before, since I cannot read most signs.  I have been able to buy frozen yogurt, ramen noodles, and last night managed to order delivery Chinese, so those adjustments have been few and always make me feel at home.

Basically, yes in turn there are lots of adjustments to be made upon joining a new culture.  However, with a lot of patience, support, and acceptance I have taken all adjustments in stride and continue to bloom where I have been planted.  Thanks for reading!

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Week 1 in Oz

Week 1 

From what I understand – my first week here in Australia was very different than they were for other study abroad students. This may be because I am not living in the student housing provided by the Uni I am studying at down here. I had previous arrangements set up to live off campus with some Australian friends I had met online about a year prior to my application to study abroad.

Within my first week here I had dealt with some serious jet lag, and homesickness (first day jitters), traveled the distance to my new college and explored around the campus, opened a bank account here so I was not sucked dry by exchange rates by using my American debit card, bought a prepaid cell phone to use while I am here as my personal cell is not international, signed up for a public transit card,  attended Uni Orientation, almost walked straight into a massive and I mean massive spider as it spun its web, (didnt leave the house for at least a day after that) traveled up to Sherbrooke Forest in the Dandenong Ranges and had the privilege of not only seeing the amazing sights – but being completely covered in cockatoos as they fought over the seed I held, completely oblivious that I was even a human. Their claws left quite the impression. That moment, although my skin was being pierced all over the place, was the first moment I realized how cool this place is – and how much fun I was in for during my precious time here. Little did I know – the following day (the last day of my first week) we traveled to Healesville to visit the Healesville Animal Sanctuary where I entered a massive Australian animal enclosure and was free to walk among the animals in their habitats. It was as if I was the one that was caged – in their natural homes, instead of them being caged and me walking by peering in. The entire experience was amazing, to say the least. Again – little did I know that this would not compare to my experiences to come.

 

Wow, its Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The first day in Brazil was spend walking up and down the beach of Ipanema, beautiful weather and amazing people 😀 I was so excited to be just walking around in Ipanema  and enjoying the beautiful beach and amazing weather.

Ipanema Beach

Ipanema Beach

Later in the week we visited Pontifica Univeristy of Rio de Janeiro and met with our professors, the view from our classroom was breathtaking.

PUC of Rio de Janeiro

PUC of Rio de Janeiro

The same night we decided to go to a Futbal (soccer) game, we did not know the teams and some of us were not even aware of the rules of the game; regardless, we had went of a game just for the experience. Well, it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life, I met so many people, got to learn more about different teams, cheered and interacted with the fans and the crowd and more than anything else, I bonded with the other girls in my group.

Fluminese vs Sao Paulo

Fluminese vs Sao Paulo

I will never forget this experience.

The next day was a site visit day, this day allowed me with the rest of the group to visit the financial district and downtown area also known as Centro of Rio. What a beautiful day was to be outside and to walk around Centro, on the corner of the street right after the visit I sat down with my friend Michelle to eat some corner street food. It was authentic Brazilian food comprised of: Chicken, Rice, Beans and Fries. Michelle and I had a funny time ordering food, since the vendor knew no English and us no Portuguese, we had to use the communicate through universal sign language. And this experience made me realize how thankful I am for recognizing other way to communicate with people even if I do not speak their language. So, I guess you have never eaten Brazilian food, if you do not eat chicken, rice, beans and fries.

Brazilian food

Brazilian Food

Continuing on with this week, the next was spend in our beautiful university. And I mean it, it is very beautiful, located inside a rainforest this university is much smaller than New Paltz, yet so beautiful. When we were discussing a regular day at PUC University with our professor in PUC, we learned that in a regular day, the students and professor take a break to go the beach and enjoy themselves. Off course not all students go out to the beach but long breaks are given in the day for students to focus on other activities. Now this concept is so foreign to me, yet very exciting. So, the long break that we did receive during the day, I decided to explore the campus with my friends and came across so many exhibitions and activities that PUC students participate in. We had lunch in the cafeteria and made a friend their by the name of Jennifer added her on facebook and will be in contact with her throughout this trip.

PUC University

PUC Univeristy

One of our trips also included the city tour, it was rainy and wet and most of us were not super excited to head out and take a city tour in this wet weather. Yet, we did and I am so happy I did because it made me realize that wet or dry this is my experience and the ones who came before me had a different experience and the one that came after me will have a different experience and with the in mind, I saw the Christo which was hidden in fog and cloud, saw the beaches which were experiencing high tide, saw the Rio Rainforest and saw the famous stairs of Rio, called Escadaria Seleron, which were wet. Regardless it was fun and exciting to watch famous place and monuments in Rio.

Rio Rainforest

Rio Rainforest

The Hostel that we live in Pasaduo Bonita has also been an experience in itself. Almost everyday I meet new people here, people who are friendly, want to talk, learn about USA and teach me about Brazil. Within a week I have made 12 different friends, some Brazilians and other non-Brazilians. And I realized its so easy to make friends here, the culture is to smile and make eye contact with the people you meet so, people approach you and you can easily approach them as well.