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.

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^ 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.

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^ You can obviously see how excited I am

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^ 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.

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

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^ 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

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

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

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

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^ 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!

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^ 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)

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Where is my Troy Bolton?!

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

ANYWAYS….

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

Road trip to Wuyan

I have been at JUFE for over one week and classes are now in full swing!  This semester I am taking mostly Chinese language courses including reading, speaking, listening and comprehensive Chinese.  I did take some comprehensive Chinese classes last semester, however, despite this, the classes this semester are proving to be equally challenging, especially listening and speaking classes as many words sound similar but have different meanings depending on which of the four tones they are spoke in!!  Our teachers have suggested that the best way to practice improving on these skills is to become immersed in the Chinese culture and what better way to do this than for a group of newly found friends to take a short weekend trip!

My new friends from Germany, Lena and Sebastian, and my new friends from Czech, Sophia and Lenka, decided that it would be nice to experience some traditional Chinese culture by exploring the villages of Wuyuan together.  Wuyuan is located in Jiangxi province, north of Nanchang and is renowned for picturesque landscapes, rapeseed and tea leaf crops and architecture that dates back to the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1636–1911) dynasties.

Our journey began on Friday where we took a high speed train from Nanchang to Wuyuan which was such a unique experience!  These trains travel at over 300 km per hour however being inside felt like you are flying in an airplane or taking a casual drive down a country road! It was so smooth and cut our travel time in half from over 5 hours to just over two and a half hours.

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Train Speed

On arrival at Wuyuan the first village we visited was Likeng where we strolled the winding streets built over creeks, saw traditional homesteads and visited a Taoist temple where we lit incense and gave thanks….a truly humbling experience! We each brought a “wish” that was written on a red ribbon and blessed by a Taoist monk and then tied our wishes to the “wishing tree” outside of the temple. In Chinese culture the colour red symbolizes good luck and joy and it is believed that tying the ribbon to the “wishing tree” will make the wish come true. The higher the ribbon is tied, the more likely it is that the wish will come true.

After our tour of Likeng, we needed to check into our hostel and this brought about the first opportunity to test out our new found Chinese language skills as we negotiated the size and price for the rooms and also to have breakfast included the next morning! While this was a rather difficult task as our Chinese was very limited and the residents of Wuyuan spoke with a different accent to those of Nanchang as they belong to a different minority group and no English, we felt very proud of ourselves once we reached our end result!

The next two days were spent exploring Xiaoqu, Huanling and Guankeng villages where we saw rapeseed crops, tea leaf plants arranged on terraces and local crafts such as calligraphy and rice wine making, all whilst trying our best to order food, ask for directions and organise transportation all in Chinese language!  While we are far from expert level, I believe that these experiences have increased my appreciation and understanding of the role history has played in the shaping of Chinese culture and have greatly assisted in the continuing improvement of my Mandarin abilities and I am very much looking forward to the next opportunity where I can put them into practice!

One door closes, another one opens

Last week was a week of lasts.
Last day in my dorm room, but I opened my hear to my roommates.
Last day studying at GCSU, but not the last day in my memories.
Last day I will see a lot of people, but so many more I’ll meet in the future.

I could type for days, explaining everything I have done, and everything I have seen but all I need to say is that this experience abroad has been the most rewarding experience of my life. I would do it all over again 100x over.

The biggest advice I can offer is GET INVOLVED IN THE INTERNATION CLUB! I might have come to America but within the semester I feel like I have done an around the world trip.

1 semester; LA, San Diego, Grand Canyon, Los Vegas, San Francisco, Atlanta, Alabama Gulf Shores, New Orleans, Savannah, New York, Miami.

For now, in summary…

 

 

GOODBYE USA.. Back to Australia!

Saturday January 17th 2015

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So I am currently at the airport typing up this blog  feeling very bittersweet as my time here in the USA is over. I am excited to go home but then I am going to miss the USA!

( due to technical difficulties this last blog is only getting published today However I did have this all written out though )

Apart of me will always have a place for Mansfield and for the USA in general. Even though this time I Didn’t get to go back to San Francisco this time I am for sure going back next time!

The last 6 and half months in the USA have been rewarding and an overall great experience. I got to go to places that I hadn’t been before such as Dallas, the coal mine, Philadelphia , Pittsburgh and I walked the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time ever.

I really enjoyed my time here as at Mansfield I was the British Australian and I enjoyed telling Mansfield students about England, Australia, Singapore and even California.

It was really rewarding being able to share your culture and learn so much about other peoples.

I am also sad to leave because I had to go say goodbye to my family however I will be seeing them in June though!

I know that someday I will go back to Mansfield and visit everybody. I am so thankful for this experience as I got to make so many more friends and have so many different adventures. I also learnt that I don’t really have just one home but many and my time in the USA will never be forgotten.

This photo was taken when I left Australia last July

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This photo was taken today leaving the USA!

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Its been a wonderful 6 and a half months USA and I will be back soon

See you soon Australia! 🙂

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PS. I am thinking about starting another blog page about all the countries I have lived in/visited around the world so stay posted 🙂

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My second to last day in the USA!!

Friday January 16th 2015

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So today was my last full day in the USA!
I just got back from having a nice meal out with my family. We went to a restaurant in Morristown New Jersey not far from Madison.

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Today I walked into town to have lunch and a coffee. It was ridiculously cold today I don’t think I will miss this cold!

Apart from that I walked my puppy and packed most of the day.
I can’t believe I leave tomorrow it’s all gone by so fast but I’ve had such a great time here in the USA!!

Some of the best things I’ve done have been

Philadelphia

Six Flags Theme Park

Exchange at Mansfield University

Dallas, Texas

Baseball Game

NFL Game

Pittsburgh Weekend

Broadway Musicals

Statue of Liberty

Washington D.C

Niagara Falls

Fleetwood Mac Concert

The MET

The Jersey Shore Beach

Skiing

Coal Mine in Pennsylvania

Brooklyn Bridge

and Pretty much everything !

This photo here sums up my entire past 6 months in the USA!!

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Also I am really going to miss my puppy and cat!

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Keep posted for my last blog!!

X

The MET and NYC!!

Friday January 16th 2015 Soo yesterday my mum and I went to the famous metropolitan museum of art in NYC! We got the train from Madison New Jersey around 9:20 and were at Penn Station New York by 10 am. We then went straight from there to the met. We got a cab which was about a 20 minute ride and costed 20 dollars .

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The met is one of the most famous museums in nyc There is just so much to see from ancient Egypt to Rome to Asia and there’s even an expedition about American mourning dresses in the 1800s! The Entry cost is suggested to be 20 dollars however you can pay what you want. We did the Ancient Rome and Greek expeditions which were really cool. We also looked at the mourning dresses which was pretty impressive music was quite depressing though but it was worth seeing, we also looked at ancient Egypt which I love as there is just so much to see. Then we had a look at Asian art and cubism! It was well worth going to the museum!

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After that we got a taxi to little Italy! We had a delicious lunch at this cute Italian restaurant.. Sadly they didn’t have a bud light beer but the food was really good though!!

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We then walked from little Italy back to Times Square which took about 40 minutes it was a rather cold walk but the sun was shining. After that I got a typical tourist photo in Times Square !

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Then we headed back to Penn station to go home,. I really do love NYC and I can’t wait to go back next time! Keep posted for my best blog 🙂 X

Skiing in New York!

Thursday January 15th 2015

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So last Sunday my family and I went skiing in New York! I was beyond excited as I hadn’t been skiing for over 2 years!

We went to a place called Belleayre Mountain which is located in the Catskills ski resorts in New York! From our house its about a two hour drive and if you buy lift tickets online they are about $50 dollars!

We left around 7 am as we had two hours to drive and we wanted to make sure that we had most of the day to ski!

we around 9 am and then went and got our rentals and had a rather ordinary coffee by  10 am we were on our first run of the day!

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The skiing wasn’t so bad. It wasn’t the greatest and not the worst.  The only negative of the day was that it was really cold!

Around 11:30 am we stopped to have lunch.

After lunch we skied for another hour and a half as a few of the runs were closed and it was even more colder!

It was a really good day though! I was so happy that I finally got to go skiing!

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We left the ski area around 2 pm and on our way home we stopped at the famous town of Woodstock! We had a great coffee, didn’t get to look at the town though but there’s always next time!

If you want to go skiing in the USA the best time to go is in February as there is a lot more snow!

Hopefully I can go skiing again this year!

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Keep posted for my next blog 🙂

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