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Bearcats on the Road

Starting to Feel Like Home—Settled in at School and Internship

Posted by Catherine Kohler on Thu, May 30, 2013 @ 02:34 PM

I have now been living in the land down under for almost three and a half months and I can slowly feel myself turning into an Aussie! I catch myself saying their phrases and adapting to their low-key, laid-back attitude about life. The students as well as the teachers have a “no worries” perspective about everything they do. The professors are so laid-back that if you walk out and leave their class early, they will wave to you and thank you for coming. I have professors that come to class with no shoes on, wearing just shorts and a T-shirt. I am sure my school being in a surf town also contributes to this. There is no wonder Australia is the world’s happiest country!

I am currently enrolled in a Children’s Literature course, where we analyze children’s books and determine if the child has a voice and whether children’s literature is even possible, considering it is written by the adult and not the child. I have enjoyed this class and it has been interesting to look at books that I have grown up reading, from Where the Wild Things Are to Harry Potter and Perks of Being a Wallflower. What surprised me the most about this class is my final research paper; the topic is Shrek and the Disney Princesses, and how these characters affect children’s perspectives about how they should act. I just couldn’t believe that I was writing a research paper on Shrek!  The teachers are so helpful and kind, they let you submit your paper to them early and will actually edit and grade your paper for you before you turn it in! While writing my paper, I was getting frustrated and stuck about where to begin. So after a quick email to my professor to ask for guidance, she emailed me articles to read and gave me a book of hers to use in my paper the next day in class. The teachers here really do want you to do well, and they will help you in any way that they can.

What about my Australian Internship?

My internship has been getting very exciting as well. Every week, the school's website becomes more developed. This past month I have had the opportunity to become very familiar with programs such as Photoshop and our content editing software called Squiz. My jobs include editing, resizing, downloading and uploading images, linking pages, editing the layout of content and so much more. Every day here, I am learning how to better work with a team and how to best appeal to your target market. We work with SEO (search engine optimization), so that The University of Newcastle can be better marketed to future students as well as researchers compared to other Universities. Our goal is also to improve the accessibility so that users can easily find the information they are looking for within the website.

Katie Kohler in front of the Sidney Opera HouseBut don’t you worry, it hasn’t been all work and school while over here. I have had my fun as well. This month, I saw a ballet in the Sydney Opera House called Vanguard. It was a modern ballet that featured both male and female ballerinas. The way they could move their bodies was incredible, these were the best ballerinas in the world. And the Opera House was beautiful! The inside was filled with red velvet seats and a beautiful stage. Everyone was dressed up in their finest fur coats and classiest high heels.

Sidney Opera House Inside rotated

Just last week, I did some traveling as well. My friend Emily and I traveled to Airlie Beach in Queensland, where we stayed for five days and four nights. Airlie Beach is a part of the mainland of Australia, and off the Airlie coast we took a boat the Whitsunday Islands, home to Whitehaven Beach. Whitehaven Beach is four miles long and is known for its white sand and crystal clear water. The sand is 98% silica, giving it the white color. The silica was brought to the beach through sea currents over millions of years. The sand also does not retain heat, making it easy to walk on it barefoot on a hot day. It is so fine that it can polish your jewelry or exfoliate your skin.

Katie Kohler at Airie BeachWhitehaven Beach, Whitsundays

From Airlie Beach we took a speedboat and visited parts of the Great Barrier Reef. I was able to snorkel the reef for the second time this trip and it was just as incredible as the first time! We spent the day visiting different locations along the reef and laying out in the sun at Whitehaven Beach. Every minute of this day trip took my breath away.

Katie Kohler, enjoying Australian LifeThe Water at the Great Barrier Reef

Like I said earlier, I can slowly feel myself turning into an Aussie! I am starting to say their phrases and adapt their “no worries” attitude. The Bacon here is different from what you are used to in America. It looks more like ham here and is similar to Canadian bacon. When I return home, I don’t think I am going to buy American bacon ever again because theirs is so much better!


Lessons from an Almost-Aussie

If you ever want to pretend to be Australian, you must first adapt the slang. First thing is that it is not “Australia” it is “Straya” and the most common way people will say hello to me is, “G’day mate how yer going? Welcome to Straya” which translate to “Hi how are you? Welcome to Australia.” Their most common words are heaps, keen and reckon. Heaps meaning a lot, as in “There are heaps of people here.” Keen means you’re ready or excited for something: “I’m keen to go get ice cream”, and reckon means what do you think: “how long do you reckon it will take to get there?”

Here is your Aussie Dictionary of the most common words used:

  • Thongs - flip flops
  • Doona - comforter 
  • Jumper – sweatshirt
  • Sunnies – sunglasses
  • Arvo – afternoon
  • Esky – cooler
  • Brekkie – breakfast 
  • Bloke – man
  • Dodgy – sketchy
  • Ice block – popsicle
  • Lollies – candy
  • Mozzie – mosquito
  • Rubbish – garbage
  • Uni – university
 Once you memorize these, you will be ready to head on over to Australia! I only have a few more weeks left here in Australia but I still have so much planned. This weekend I will be exploring the Blue Mountains, and in mid-June I have a trip planned to Nadi Fiji!

Topics: study abroad, internship, Katie Kohler, Australia

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In Bearcats on the Road, students chronicle their lives while studying abroad or completing internships away from campus.

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