Monthly Archives: April 2016

Field Work, Festivals and (Soccer) Finals

I am now halfway through my time in Australia. It’s a weird thing to realize and even stranger to watch other people realize. I’ve gotten to the point where everyone is starting to feel the rush to fit everything in and it’s making time fly. I’ve only exacerbated the issue by finding more and more ways to get involved. This post is going to cover my favorite extracurriculars from the past couple of weeks.

A couple Tuesdays back I went on a day trip to help a graduate student collect data for his research. We drove around the Mornington Peninsula I got to see a more of the area as we went between and into field sites. I learned a lot by getting to talk to someone in graduate school at the University of Melbourne. And while I didn’t get to see any new wildlife, it was fun to hear all his stories about the animals he’s worked with.


The fondue stall at the Wine and Cheese Festival

Last weekend I volunteered at a wine and cheese festival in the city. I worked for 10 hours and in exchange I got lunch, a couple bottles of wines, a festival shirt and free tastings. The volunteering itself was fairly dull (I just handed out cups for most of the day). I did get to meet a lot of interesting people though: from security guards to college students to professionals in the wine industry. I got tips on places to visit, learned more about Australia and just generally had a good time talking to some new people. The festival was a small one that attracted about 1,400 people, but the vendors were excellent. I sampled fudge, cider, beer and, of course, wine. A common festival food in Melbourne seems to be fondue and I’ve been eager to try it. Turns out it’s melted cheese over potatoes and herbs – not what I was expecting, but delicious all the same. I thought going behind the scenes at a festival might change how I saw them, but it didn’t feel any different than a Theta Formal or any other function I’ve put on – it was just on a larger scale. It was interesting to see event planning done in the real world though.


The UC soccer team!

The highlight of this week has by far been the intercollegiate soccer tournament. Just like intramural sports at Whitman, the residential colleges around Uni Melb run sport competitions every year. The tournaments run for a couple of weeks with knockouts starting two games in. University College (UC) has a history of being good at soccer and this year was no different. The team made it to finals on Friday at 8 am. Despite the early hour, most of the residents and administration turned up to support the team. People walked through the corridors with speakers blaring to wake people up and face painting started at 7:15 in the common room. The school mascot costume was worn and by the whistle at 8 there were dozens of people on the sidelines for both teams. The enthusiasm and support was unreal. Even I got more invested than I ever have been in a sporting event. Even though we lost I had a blast scream and chanting on the sidelines with my fellow UCers.

All of these activities have made life in Australia feel more meaningful. I’m finding an actual life here and that thought is as scary as it is cool. To add to that I’m now the Assistant Costume Director for the Intercollegiate musical and have a Tasmania trip planned for this weekend. With time flying by it’s harder and harder to stop and write about my experience, but I learn most about myself when I take the time to write these. So look out for another blog post soon.

Over and Out,


Traveling Styles

Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen to this week’s edition of (Wild)life Down Under (as I shall henceforth be calling my blog). I promised to discuss my travels on this blog, but as fun as it would be to detail all the places I’ve gone and the things I’ve done there I think it’ll be more meaningful to talk instead about what I’ve learned. I’m now at the end of my Fall Break and before it started I went on trips the two weekends preceding.

Hanson Bay Wildlife Center on Kangaroo Island

Hanson Bay Wildlife Center on Kangaroo Island

These were all amazing trips and I’ll be definitely including photos from all along the way, but when I started thinking about what I wanted to write my blog on I found myself caught not on the different locations but on the different styles of travel. I’d just traveled with a small group of friends, a large group of people and completely alone. It struck me how much of an effect that actually had on my experience. Each varied in the level of control I had, how I interacted with the people I met, how engaged I was, how much I saw and more.

Let’s start with the most recent trip – a week alone in Adelaide and Kangaroo Island. Traveling by myself was a completely new experience for me. It was exciting to pick a destination and a place to stay all on my own. I got to do exactly what I wanted, when I wanted. I went on the hikes that interested me, ate the food that

Seal Bay on Kangaroo Island with a day tour

Seal Bay on Kangaroo Island with a day tour

looked good to me and when I found myself bored – arranged to leave when I felt it was time, even if it was earlier than originally planned. I met a lot of new people both at my hostels and on the tours I went on. Despite all of these perks I decided that traveling alone is not for me. It’s hard to completely independent. I didn’t realize how much that sensation had already been weighing on me just from studying abroad alone until I intensified it by leaving everyone from my program and residential college behind. It takes a lot of self sufficiency to enjoy traveling on your own; you are always responsible for your own entertainment and other arrangements. I’ll be interested to see if these feelings change later in my life, when I’m not already so removed from my family and friends.

The weekend before was the trip organized by IFSA Butler. I was impressed by how smoothly everything went. When we arrived at the departure location the bus was waiting for us and our

IFSA group at some of the beach houses Australia is famous for

IFSA group at some of the beach houses Australia is famous for

tour guide arrived soon after. Our guide ran through a lot of information as we drove and we stopped at a crazy amount of attractions where tickets were quickly acquired for us. The accommodation and food was booked ahead of time and fantastic. Both our guide and bus driver were knowledgable and friendly. On the other hand we had no say in where we went and for how long we stayed so sometimes were had to hurry through interesting places and other times we sat and waited for the bus to leave less engaging places. The restaurants we went to only had one vegetarian option so I had no choice in food and I don’t think I interacted with anyone outside of the group except a couple of rangers and ride operators. It was nice to have completely carefree travel, but you definitely give up choice and some of the experience by going with this style of travel.

Finally, my favorite type – a weekend trip to a friend’s hometown of Warnambool. I most enjoyed traveling with a small group of friends because it’s the perfect mix of the

Emus in Warnambool

Emus in Warnambool

earlier two. You don’t have to plan as much, because that responsibility is split between people but you still have say so you can ensure that you’re doing things that interest you. You have the ability to go off and do your own thing when you want or stick with people. Your group is also small enough to be approachable to strangers giving you the opportunity to meet new people.

Learning what I like and what works for me has been one of the best parts of my study abroad experience so far and I look forward to more of it. I didn’t realize how much I’d learn about myself by going abroad, but it’s really opened my eyes to what I need and how I function. I thought I’d just be coming here to learn about another culture and other people, it’s really cool that I’m doing both. It looks like I’ll be trying many new things this week like field work with a graduate student and volunteering at a wine and cheese festival. I can’t wait to tell you all about them.