Australia: Heaps of Fun

by Vanessa Arieno on February 23, 2017
Australia: Heaps of Fun

Hey, NU students!

I have officially survived my first week “down under” in Queensland, Australia, and it is just heaps of fun. The first two days were scary, uncomfortable, overwhelming and I honestly wanted to go right back home. I could not get through a conversation on the phone with my family and friends without crying, but thankfully I met my first friend, Alex.

Alex and I met at the airport while waiting for our shuttle bus to take us to the Varsity Apartments. Since we were both from New York, we immediately clicked.

Our first day was a rollercoaster, but we met our first Aussie, Ayla. After getting stranded at the Sunshine Plaza with our groceries, along with a few other girls, Ayla noticed our situation and offered to give us a ride back to the apartments. Ayla was the most genuine and down-to-earth person I have ever known (at least from what I gathered from a 20-minute car ride). We learned she absolutely loves America and wants to visit every state, and said that everything is just too expensive here in Australia.

vanessa2As the weekend went on, my roommates, Rasmus and Shay, helped Alex and I feel at ease living across the world from our friends and family. Rasmus, being from Sweden, made sure that I knew he felt the same way his first few days here, but he was alone for two weeks. They took us out around the town to show us how much there is to explore and, soon enough, all of our worries and fears vanished.

Aside from Alex, I became good friends with Julia, another student from NU studying this semester at the Sunshine Coast. “O Week” (orientation week) was a bonding experience for us and we ended up meeting another Aussie named Joe who lives right above my apartment.

Even though Joe is only 18, he has an incredible story. Since he is getting his nursing and social work certificates online, Joe is able to work four jobs, three in the field of mental health. Joe is also in the process of becoming the legal guardian of his 8-year-old brother and saving up money to move out of the Varsity Apartments with him.

As we are only able to use public transportation, Joe has pretty much become mine and Julia's tour guide for experiencing Australia. We've gotten to try meat pies, the BEST frozen yogurt place (according to Joe because he drove there every day for two weeks straight when he lived an hour and a half away), The Big Pineapple, Caloundra Beach, etc.

Every day, Joe lists new things that we're going to do, including visiting Fraser Island and the Australia Zoo. Joe is the most hard-working 18-year-old I have ever met. He’s also pretty humorous – he wants me to share with you guys how he is the most awesome Aussie alive (no sarcasm; he made me promise I would share this on my blog).

Where I live, at the Varsity Apartments, you meet new people every minute from all around the world. Some are from Australia, others are from Germany, France, Denmark, and Sweden – the list keeps going. Some are studying for one or two semester, others have finished getting their bachelor’s degree and are doing their graduate degree, and some are finishing their school here to get a permanent residency because they love it so much.

It's actually really cool how awesome everyone here is, including the staff. This is orientation week so many activities have been going on, including information sessions for your specific major.

When I attended the communications info session, I met Gregory Nash who is the communications department leader. He grabbed my attention in the first five minutes of his session. Professor Nash preached about being an undecided student after his wife enrolled him at the Sunshine Coast back in 2002.

"It's the best thing to not know what you want to be because over the next year or so, you will be exposed to so much more information that something will click with you and you'll just know," he said.

Professor Nash also stressed how important it is that the directors of your program know who you are and can put a face to your name because that relationship is crucial and will only help you that much more in the future and in your career.

I hope you all are having an amazing spring semester back at Niagara and wish me luck for when classes start this Monday! I will be soaking up the sun by the pool and beach, along with some awesome day trips here in the “Sunshine State” until then!