Orientation – It begins!

Orientation Day and the first week of classes

My second week, started with Orientation Day. I admit I was nervous going to orientation day, as there weren’t many mature age students. Amongst the 70 exchange students from all over the world, I noticed 3 others mature age students who were enrolled in architecture courses. I quickly brushed away thoughts of insecurity and I met some wonderful colleagues. We were soon sharing stories, classes, breaks, post class drinks and sightseeing together around the city. I am learning so much academically and culturally and enjoying every moment.

Meeting my new classmates

From Departure to Arrival

Departure Day

As the weeks and days got closer to the departure date, saying my goodbyes to family and friends got harder as reality kicked in that I will be gone for 1 year. I realised emotionally this is going to be a big move. Nervous? Yes. However, I am positive and excited at the same time. Having a good friend’s support at the airport helped calmed my nerves. I am blessed to have family, friends and CSU supporting me along the way.

Saying goodbye at the airport


As soon as I arrived at Barcelona I went straight to Vodafone inside the airport and purchased a temporary SIM card for my mobile. This gave me immediate access to a wide range of information including Google Maps. and I was immediately able to communicate with taxi drivers, agents and do shopping on my first day. Although I was excited and wanted to sightsee, I was simply knocked out from the long flight.

In the first week

There was so much to do and see in the first week of arriving in Barcelona. I thought, not being able to speak Spanish or Catalan would make it very difficult to move around; however, it was the total opposite. The locals are amicable and always willing to assist. Google translation was a big help, and if that doesn’t work, a big smile goes a long way, so I had no problems here. I was able to totally soak myself in the Barcelona’s culture and lifestyle.

I visited the famous Antoni Gaudi’s artistic architectural buildings Casa Batllo, and enjoyed delicious local food such as tapas at the local cafés. Getting lost and simply walking about was the best way for me to explore the city. I still cannot believe I am here in Europe! Even though it was cold and rainy most of the week the excitement of this old Catalan culture gets me up early every morning to see what’s out there. Every day presents a new adventure.

Tapas time!

Casa Battlo

‘Dragon’s Back’ Casa Battlo

Back streets of Barcelona – the things you find when you get lost!

Another day, another hike

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It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve posted and life is still very fast paced. Uni is still going well, I’ve moved in to my new home and I also have a waitressing job 4-5 nights a week so I’ve been busy, busy, busy!!
The only highlights lately have been some fun and beautiful hikes in the Vancouver area… here are a few pics of my time!

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These were taken at Lynn Canyon (including the suspension bridge up top) which is a short hike in North Vancouver.

The following were taken at Quarry Rock in Deep Cove, north Van as well. This is a bit of a bigger hike but SO BEAUTIFUL. It looked just like Narnia and fresh snow was falling and I even fell on my butt!! This has been my favourite place so far hehe


Stay tuned for more pics as the weather warms up and more hikes are had!

My First Month In Kentucky

It has been officially about a month since I packed up everything and moved to the University of Kentucky. To be honest, I don’t even know how to begin explaining my experience so far. From saying goodbye to my family at the airport till now, it still feels surreal.


^ This is me and my mum (Caroline) at the departure terminal. My step dad had to take this photo because iPhones are way too complicated for Nan hahaha

The lead up to going on exchange is so long and you have so much time to think about what you’re going to do and what it’s going to be like. Once I got here I knew it was completely different than what I expected. It’s like starting year 7 again except you have bigger responsibilities, you really stand out from the rest, you go to frat parties and there are 30,000 more students walking around campus. It is all extremely exciting and a little intimidating.

I arrived in Lexington KY on the 3rd of January after 3 terribly LONG flights. There was the sweetest university volunteer waiting for me at Lexington Blue Grass airport named Esther. I have never been so excited to see someone in my life after travelling for so long. We spoke about her family and she told me about her kids as we walked around Target late at night trying to gather all the essentials I’ll need to sleep, shower, eat etc.
(A few weeks later Esther invited me over for dinner with her family and her children all made drawings for me *nearly cried*!!! and mind you, I was so pleased to finally have a home cooked meal)
The first few days on campus I was completely alone, my other 3 room mates were not back from holidays yet. This gave me time to meet the other internationals and settle in perfectly during all the orientation activities the university had planned for me that week.

Let me skip forward a few weeks..

Okay, so its FREEZING. Who knew Lexington actually got this cold. I’m going to put a picture in here of me standing in the snow because I was so embarrassingly excited that there was snow fall. THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN IN SYDNEY!! I would be walking to lunch and there is snow just falling all around me, it’s just so amazing and so much fun.


^ You can obviously see how excited I am


^ Bathurst seriously needs to pick up its game, the campus is beauuuutiful!

I have made friends with freshman and juniors now and have become closer to an English girl thats also on exchange, I have been to a few frat parties (yes everyone, they are exactly like the movies) and I have eaten A LOT of food. (American food is so bad for you but everything tastes so good) There is food everywhere you look, it’s incredible.
I have had to make so many adjustments that I didn’t know I would have to. Socially, America is very different! I think it comes down to sarcasm? I mean, I honestly don’t know but making friends (whether you are out at night or not) is more difficult than what it is like in Australia. When I say difficult, it’s not negative…just really different! This makes it all really interesting.


^ These are freshman girls I met and this was my first night out!!


^ Taelah is on the left (she is from my home town but she is doing exchange in Indiana!!!! which is so cool. I am doing all my travelling with her at the end of exchange) The girl in the middle is Bailey, she was so excited to meet an Australian I honestly thought she was going to cry


^ This is Taelah again at Local Taco, best tacos ever!


^ This is just a cool photo of the old Kentucky theatre that I thought everyone should see hahaha


^ This is my friend Kelly (We are going to spring break together in Florida…I mean how American!!!) and myself just eating more food


^ This is Shelbi!!! Shelbi and myself met when she did exchange at CSU a couple of semesters ago. Why is she painted in gold? Well… there was this event called Greek Sing where all the fraternities and sororities have this massive dance competition! Yes, the boys dancing seriously for a 5 minute routine was very entertaining!


^ This is Shelbi and I at the movies after we ate our body weight in sushi. This just proves how amazingly unhealthy America is…
Pour extra melted butter on everything?! Yes please!

Adapting to new learning styles has definitely been the biggest adjustment so far! America has homework every week and exams more often, AND attendance is marked every class (which is twice a week). It kind of feels like I have gone back to high school in a way, so managing my time has definitely changed due to having so much on all the time.

ALSO!!!! I went to my first basketball game a couple weeks back. I don’t know if you (whoever is reading this) are aware of how serious college sport is here in America but MY GOODNESS. I have never seen anything like it. I mean, these basketball players are literally famous and the coach is like the highest paying employee here!! AND its all on ESPN?!?!? This is sooooo different to good old res cup down in Bathurst and I absolutely loved it. It was a packed out massive stadium with thousands of people all dressed in blue yelling ‘Go Wildcats’. For those of you who don’t know me you will not understand how excited I was when this happened. Growing up, High School Musical was everything which mean I had a little obsession! So yelling out ‘Go Wildcats’ in the eruption zone (where all the students stand and scream) was like my childhood dream coming true.  Who knew going on exchange could make all this happen! (seriously best moment of my life)



Where is my Troy Bolton?!


^ This is when we won!!! Ps. None of these photos or videos do it justice!


I have honestly learnt so much so far and its only been a month. On a sad note, this whole experience is going so fast and I am going to look into staying for a year because I just don’t want to leave.
I feel as though I have rambled about so many different things for so long but it’s all just so incredible and I can’t wait to keep everyone posted on what I do next.
Everything has been so exciting from getting my student card (I was way too happy to get my first offical Kentucky ID) to going to typical American events and even sitting through long classes! University of Kentucky has definitely out done itself and it’s only been a month!

– Abbey

My acceptance into the Student Exchange Program

When I learnt that I was accepted into CSU Global Student Exchange Program (SEP) I must admit that I was absolutely surprised, and even more so when I was accepted into La Salle – Ramon Llull University of Barcelona for one year. I kept thinking “what a wonderful opportunity” to learn a new culture, and language with a fresh vista to promote my future studies and career. A great way to open new doors for a mature age person in search for a new life in different industry or career path.

Visa interview

One piece of advice for applying for your Spanish visa is plan ahead of time! Start planning early as there is a long check list of things to do prior to applying for your appointment at the Consulate General of Spain. Some of the check list items may take between 2 to 5 weeks, like the Police Fingerprint Check Certificate. I started planning from October and by mid-November, when I had all my documents ready for the visa appointment, the Consulate General of Spain informed me that they were booked out and I had to wait till January. Getting closer to my departure date without a visa, I was very nervous, however with the support of the SEP team, I never felt I was alone and when the visa arrived, I quickly announced it to everyone. Feeling of happiness!.

Now, looking back, during all my planning I really would like to thank my family, teachers and the CSU Global team, who were extremely supportive in many ways, especially getting my visa, throughout my journey.


More than just packing

Many friends advised me that packing less is better and since the climate is so different to Sydney, I will be better off buying a new wardrobe from Barcelona.  Yes, I liked that idea, however I still could not comprehend taking one suitcase of clothes, shoes, souvenirs and toiletry for a whole year. So, I packed away my wetsuits, surfboards and my favourite hair straightener. Matter of fact, it was a big move as I had to packed away my whole apartment and temporarily closed part of my business, as I would not be able to do the service part from overseas. Being organised and making a priority list of what to do helped smooth the transactions.

Barcelona, here I come!



Ready To Go ….

It’s been an interesting project preparing for my trip to Spain. I know I’ll miss my family, friends and the love of my life, the ocean. However, how could I resist this fantastic opportunity. I am Suzan Rundle, a mature-age student studying Business Studies and very interested in international business.



My first month in Canada (the calm before the storm)


Okay, so one thing I did not realise before embarking on a year exchange, was that my month long holiday before school starts in my new home would be SO jam-packed full of foreign fun activities.

I arrived to Vancouver on the 7th of December, and because my (Canadian) best friend lives in Vancouver, we have been looking forward to this moment for a LONG time. I was picked up from the airport, and after so many hugs/tears and smartfood popcorn (my favourite food on the planet) I slept through the night and the very next day we were set for a trip to the USA. Being so close to the border means it’s something Vancouverites do often, so after a (mildly scary) border cross, we were in Washington. We spent one night in Seattle and the next in Portland, and it lived up to every expectation I had. So many friendly and generous people (I’m talking free Ubers and photobooths just cause you’re ~international~), we went to endless craft breweries and ticked off a few bucketlist items, like the Gumwall and Pike Place Market (and also Olive Garden because you can’t get any more American than a chain food restaurant).

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Shortly after our USA weekend, we also had another holiday planned to Kamloops (further inland BC) to spend the weekend at Sunpeaks ski resort, celebrating my bestie’s 25th birthday and coincidentally- New Years. There was a group of us 7 girls in a lodge right at the base of the ski hill. We did the usual thing, like go to Walmart and Costco to get enough food and drink supplies for 8 hungry and thirsty girls for a New Years Eve weekend. Our lodge was even equipped with an outdoor hot tub, so we lived our best lives all weekend, snowboarding and skiing by day, relaxing in the hot tub by night (especially relaxing when it is -18 degrees outside).

sunpeaks view(Just one of the views from our lodge).

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Another highlight since my arrival and before school starts is I got to see an ice hockey game, another item off the bucket list! My friend got given 2x free tickets to go see the Vancouver Canucks vs the Calgary Flames, this was a huge game and the stadium was full to capacity, unlucky for us the Canucks lost, but the game was so much fun to watch!

flames vs canucks(Vancouver Canucks vs. Calgary Flames, Rogers Arena)

Now it’s over a month later since my arrival and I’m already in to my 3rd week of school at the University of the Fraser Valley, in Abbotsford. Everyone has been really helpful and friendly so far, I’m making friends in my classes and I’m loving all the new content I’m learning. I’ve settled in quite nicely, found a waitressing position in Yaletown and my friend and I are moving in to our new home next week. I can’t wait to be settled and to make even more friends 🙂

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset(View from my favourite place in Vancouver, a 5 minute walk from our new home)