The Catholic University of America

Top Five Reasons to Select the Program

1. Opportunity to travel - Australia is one of the most naturally beautiful countries in the world so like anyone visiting, I was very eager to see the sights. The Whit Sunday Islands, only a three hour flight away, was a great getaway for the weekend. I decided to take a sail boat for this trip, where I was able to snorkel and see the fringing Great Barrier Reef. Australia is a very large country (about the same size as the US) so you do have to take planes to many of these places, but I believe it is worth every penny!

2. Great location- Whether at ACU Strathfield, a suburb of Sydney, or the North Sydney Campus, the city is always easy to get to by public transport and takes less than 20 minutes from Uni.

1. Tight knit community - All of the courses that I took at ACU were split into two components of a lecture and a tutorial. While lectures ranged from about 75-150 students in a lecture hall, tutorials consisted of only 15-20 people in a classroom. This allowed for close engagement with teachers or "tutors" making my learning experience at ACU fulfilling and less intimidating as an international student. I was also very happy to see familiar faces everyday instead of getting lost in the mix of students that were both local and international.

3. Opportunity to meet locals - The international community at ACU was relatively small so that opened up the opportunity for me to meet more students who were natives to Australia. Since there are no dormitories at ACU Strathfield, many of the people I met commuted everyday by car or public transport. I was a commuter myself so I did not feel as though I was missing out on anything happening on campus, instead it was easier for me to meet some new friends out in the city for a coffee. I felt that because I was one of the only Americans, local students took interest in what my experience was being so far away from home and I had just as many questions for them.

5. Catholic Institution - As a Catholic "Uni," ACU engages in the Catholic intellectual tradition where faith and reason are compatible with education. ACU is committed to community wide service to others. Students are offered the chance to attend mass on campus each day as well as opportunities to participate in Campus Ministry and service events at ACU.

 

What I Wish I Would Have Known Before I Went

1. Aussie slang "how are you going?" "good on ya!" "far out!" "that's the pits!" You will learn what these mean right away because they are used a lot!

2. Unpredictable weather (bring a brelly everywhere during the winter time) also remember the seasons are reversed because Australia is located in the Southern Hemisphere. When I arrived in Sydney in February it was just coming up on the end of the summer, however winters are mild and not nearly as bad as winters in DC.

3. Australia's version of Iced Coffee is very different - For all of the coffee drinkers out there who want a cold iced coffee on a hot day be prepared to recieve a large frappe like drink with lots of cream and chocolate drizzle when you order an iced coffee in the morning. The closest thing to an iced coffee is an iced latte in Australia. WARNING: I only spotted one Starbucks when I was in Sydney.

4. Pedestrians never have the right of way. Be very careful while walking in intersections when there is not a traffic light. Always walk on the left side of the sidewalk especially in the city. Australians walk just like they drive, aggressive and fast!

5. Aussie's abbreviate everything! "Straya" "brelly" "brekky" "arvo." Even names, I was often called "Bec" instead of Rebecca. This certainly does not mean Australians are lazy, they generally are very talkative so it is easy to get more words in when they are shortening everything.

 

A Funny Story or Situation

"A pitcher or a picture?"

Since English is the native language in Australia, one would think that communicating is exceptionally easy. It certainly is, but it does take a bit of time adjusting to the Australian terms and slang that are different from those in the States. Very often I would catch myself just saying "huh?" I often felt rude always asking Australians to repeat themselves, but in this next case I was the confusing foreigner and the root of the joke. One night I was out with a couple of girlfriends and it was my turn to order a round of drinks. In order to be frugal I decided to buy a pitcher of our drink of choice. I did not realize the word "pitcher" has no real meaning in Australia, so I was taken back when the girl was holding out her hand for me to give her something. I automatically thought that meant she wanted me to pay first so I have her 20 dollars in return. Then she looked at her friend and laughed, held up her hands and made the movement of taking a picture. The girl thought I was asking her to take a picture of me all the while thinking I was crazy. Australians normally call a "pitcher" a "jug." Once I eventually figured that out over the noisy crowd I apologized for being so "American," payed the bartender and kindly took my "jug" back to the table. Needless to say I felt very embarrassed.

 

An Embarrassing Situation

When venturing to Uni on a Monday morning I noticed two very beautiful cockatoos squawking loudly from a lamp post overlooking on of the main intersections where I lived. Since cockatoos are domesticated back in the States and from was I hear are very expensive, I was very confused as to how and why these beautiful birds escaped their owner and how they would get them back. I started asking anyone I came in contact with on the street if there was a number for pet control that I could call to get these birds back to their rightful owner. Everyone just stared at me in confusion as they kept walking. Later on, after giving up my efforts to save the two birds, I told my host mother about my frustration that morning. After laughing hysterically at me she informed me that cockatoos were wild in Australia and did not understand why anyone would want to domesticate such an annoying bird. I guess I forgot about the fact that much of Australia is tropical and it is not unusual to see wildlife as beautiful as that roaming around. Now every time I see a cockatoo at the zoo or in someone's home I will be reminded of my reaction that Monday morning.

 

Teaching Staff

Michael Griffith, my 19th Century Literature lecturer and tutor was the teacher I learned the most from while studying abroad. Michael would make sure that each and every student had a chance to share their thoughts during a tutorial. Michael was very understanding if I was not able to show up to his class on a Monday if I had prior plans to travel that day. He recorded each and every lecture and tute and would promptly put them up on the LEO (the online learning community) if we missed anything in his class. The writing assignments and blog assignments were time consuming, but he was always available for questions if I had any concerns. Even though the texts we were reading were dated and complex, he always kept the lectures interesting with film clips and power points on his IPad or Mac computer. I thoroughly enjoyed his English course because it was so interactive and helpful to my adjustment in Australia.

 

Housing

While in Australia I stayed with a host mother. A lot of times living with a host family gets a bad rap because of the many different family situations students get put into. However, my experience was great. My host mother, Kaye, lived by herself in a beautiful apartment that was very close to the train station so it was very easy to get to Uni every day. She cooked three meals for me during the week and always had food in the house. Not only that, but she did my laundry and changed my sheets weekly! I think living with a host mother helped me to adjust to Australia a lot more quickly. I also felt that I had learned a lot more about the culture by living with her because she has lived in Australia all of her life. With Kaye, I could come and go as I pleased, I never felt isolated from my friends even though it was very different from my living situation at CUA.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a more social experience or living that is similar to a college a situation, then it is recommended that you plan to live in an apartment with the other international students.

Student Profile:

Major: Media Studies

Home State: Rhode Island

Program: Australian Catholic University

Term Abroad: Spring 2013

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