The End – 5 things I’ll miss most in the USA

 

It’s such a shame that my time in the USA has come to an end. Depressingly, I  have returned to Australia and the real world of house hunting, finding a job, and enrolling in new subjects. On the plus side I get to see my family and friends… I have definitely left the United States with plenty of unforgettable memories due to the memorable experiences I had. So I thought the best way to end my blogging is with a classic top 5 countdown of the things ill miss the most about my student exchange, number one being the most missed.

 

5.Walmart, Macy’s, and everything in between

I never ever thought I would be saying this, but since my return to Australia’s expensive retail I’ve started missing some of the USA’s best shopping spots. Shops like Walmart and Macy’s offer identical, if not better, quality products for sometimes half the price of what Australian outlets provide. I also yearn for the variety of products the USA offers, it seems they have so much more choice in absolutely everything. The food is cheaper, the clothes are better, and cheaper, and shopping seems to be so much more convenient with thanks to shops like Walmart that offer virtually anything you need. My solution to this heartache has been found however… Macy’s online now delivers to Australia – YAY!

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4. Ice-skating, Ice Hockey and Snow

In complete contrast to the NRL I follow in Australia, college ice hockey was the in thing in Oswego. Many Friday and Saturday nights were spent supporting the SUNY’s Lakers as they played neighbouring teams. Ice Hockey equalled royalty in Oswego, and going to games showcased intense school spirit on and off the rink. As SUNY Oswego had their very own ice rink, wishful students were able to hire skates during the weekend. I took advantage of this on several occasions, and fell flat on several occasions. It’s not as easy as it looks, but it is really fun. I can’t think if many places in Australia where I can go ice-skating.

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3. Easy Work at SUNY Oswego

It turns out the rumours are true. Study in the United States, although different, is considerably easier then in Australia. The workload is heavier, but simpler. I will miss being able to write essays and reports on anything I feel, and being generously marked for doing so. I will also miss group exams with permission to use A4 double-sided notes while answering questions. I must admit although it was easy work, I did learn a lot  – so it still works.

 

2. Oswego Night Life

Living in a small college town in the United States definitely has its perks. Every night of the week there was 6+ bars open to serve the thirsty students of SUNY Oswego. Some nights of the week consisted of 50c Yard Glass and/or mug refills, $9 Fishbowls that contained 24 shots of alcohol, and $2 Coronas, as well as $1 tacos and burritos – all enjoyed responsibly of cause. This was sadly missed as soon as I re-entered the Sydney nightlife.

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1. Friends

This will sound very cliché, however it is the honest truth. My global exchange allowed me to make life long friends. Thanks to the exchange I have made close friends from Bolivia, Brazil, England, Nigeria, New Zealand, the United States (obviously), and most importantly, Australia. During my time at SUNY Oswego I grew very close to a few Australian friends, two that reside in Brisbane and the other in Melbourne. At the beginning we were pushed together because of our obvious likeness, but as time went on our friendships grew stronger. These people and the memories I made with them will remain in my life forever, and I plan to visit every single one of my Australian and international friends in the future.

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Anyone considering doing a global exchange should apply now! It was the best time of my life so far!!!

Thanksgiving in Florida

Hello Followers!

Last week saw the passing of a long lasting American tradition, Thanksgiving. A few friends (from New Zealand, England and Nigeria) and I reluctantly passed up the opportunity to have an authentic Thanksgiving break to seek out theme park adventures in the heat of Orlando and Miami in Florida.

Our first days were spent at Orlando’s Universal Studios, where crowds were still surprisingly large considering that Thanksgiving is such a valued traditional family holiday. This meant we received no break in everlasting theme park lines. Something good about the lines however, was the fact that we could over hear many southern accents, the main thing I wanted to hear while visiting the south of the United States. The newest addition to Universal Studios in Orlando was the Harry Potter themed park; where muggles were dared to ride Harry Potter themed roller coasters, shop in stores identical to the ones shown in the movies, and drink authentic ‘Butter Beer’. The Harry Potter section of the park was a clear standout from the rest of the park, and much of the time was spent there and on all of the big thrill rides.

Our next days were spent at Disney World, were much the same occurrences took place. Having visited Disneyland in California, Orlando’s version was much larger, with so much more to do. Disney World was made up of four different ‘lands’ that included the ever-popular Magic Kingdom, as well as Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom (yes a zoo) and finally Epcot, a park that was surprisingly amazing due to its imitations of several global cities and countries (Australia not included).

 The last day of our trip (the best day) featured a tour of the Everglades, South Beach Miami, and the city waterways of Miami. The Everglades tour was utterly amazing. The tour started with a walk through tour of a wildlife rescue zoo that gave us insight into the many animals of Florida, including the Black Panther, Cougar, Alligator and Crocodile. This section was ended with the opportunity to hold a baby alligator, an opportunity that I happily took up… It wasn’t as scary as I thought. We then pressed on down the highway towards Miami. As we entered the city limits, the Miami skyline made me cringe with excitement. As soon as I stepped of the bus I was in love. South Beach was amazing, and the area around the beach was also amazing. The art-deco buildings looked surreal, and the South American influence was exceptionally strong. I could help but feel familiar with the streets after watching numerous hours of Dexter.

 Our day in Miami ended with a boat tour around the harbour of Miami. As it was the afternoon, we were lucky to see the sun go down and see the bright city lights come to life. The tour pointed out several million dollar mansions owned by the rich and famous, the most renowned being the mansion featured in the movie Scarface. After eating Cuban food and watching Cuban dancing it was time to get back on the bus, then airplane and back into reality.

 Upon landing in Syracuse we were greeted with a large amount of snow, and since then, in the past week, it has snowed about three times. Many locals complain about the snow, but I definitely love it!

 It has come down to the last few weeks here in the United States for me. Many assignments and final exams lay ahead of me, so I better get to work… All the best!

S

Canada O Canada, Toronto road trip

Two fellow exchange students from New Zealand shared the same birthday weekend, so a large group of Aussie’s and Kiwi’s decided to hire a couple of cars and voyage into Toronto, Canada to celebrate. None of the group realised that we were entering another country, so we didn’t even think of activating ‘global roaming’ on our precious iPhone’s – that we all heavily rely on for our day-to-day function. Being unable to log onto to Facebook was just horrific and inhumane for most of us, but the biggest thing we were missing was map navigation. We struggled, but after five to six hours of driving on the wrong side of the road, and going the wrong way, we finally arrived into the city. Being caught in a traffic jam for an hour pleasantly reminded me of being home in Sydney, my rapture promptly ended when I had to pay a ridiculous amount of money to park the car, just one of the many benefits of living a big city life.

We were happy to ditch the cars the next day and explore Toronto by foot. We walked and walked and stumbled upon CN Tower (Toronto’s version of Centrepoint Tower), a miniature version of New York’s Times Square and world-class shopping centres. We also had the pleasure of spray-painting some random guy promoting his clothing line and encountered a few thousand zombies! I’m not sure what the zombies were about, but there was thousands and thousands of people dressed as zombies parading down the main streets of Toronto. After all the excitement we finally made our way back to the Hostel and went for a night out on the town.

On our final day in Toronto, we decided to head to Casa Loma, a majestic Canadian (but European designed) castle complete with decorated suites, secret passages, an 800-foot tunnel, towers, stables, and 5-acre estate gardens.

The time in Canada was short and sweet. I highly recommend a trip to Toronto if you’re ever in the area.

S

Boston. Boston. Boston. RUSSEL BRAND

Ahoy hoy,

Road Trip! My first road trip since being here consisted of Boston, Russel Brand, Chowder (or choowwdaa, [Boston accent]), Fenway Park and Harvard University.

The decision to go to Boston was purely made to see my favourite comedian, Russel Brand, in his stand up show.  Russel lived up to the hype and pretty much went crazy walking through the crowd, climbing from the stage up into balcony seating. After the show Russel walked through the theatre foyer where the audience had the opportunity to get an autograph and take a photo… I wasn’t so lucky; Russel was pretty much mobbed. My best photo is below.

As we arrived late in the afternoon on the first day and headed straight to Russel Brand’s show, we didn’t get to see the real Boston until the next day. My group decided to go see Harvard in all its glory. This campus was beautiful. The way the campus was depicted in Good Will Hunting was eerily accurate, especially after seeing Harvard Square and the student housing; it didn’t look like too much had changed. As I strolled through the halls that Barack Obama once walked I felt slightly out of place, but it was a really nice inspirational experience. A friend mentioned that fees alone cost $50,000 U.S per semester to attend. My thoughts of enrolling were shut down immediately…

The next stop was Fenway Park, where we were taken on a guided tour through one of the oldest venues in Baseball history. Fenway Park is home to the world famous Red Sox.  It was cool to see their locker rooms, sit on the bench (I think they call it a dig-in) and pretend to be important in the ‘media only’ lounge.

That night we went out on the town after we were strongly advised to eat Boston clam chowder. Not being the biggest fan of seafood, I was hesitant to try it, but I was glad I did because it was actually amazing.

It’s really hard to describe Boston because it’s nothing like any other city I’ve ever been to. All I can say is I loved it! And if you’re in the area, Go, or just watch Good Will Hunting….

After a good nights sleep, it was time take the 6-hour trip back to Oswego where a mountain of assignments await my doing.

S

Niagara Falls

Hi followers,

Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Niagara Falls in Niagara Falls City right on the American/Canadian border. It was a 3hr bus trip from Oswego but I was well worth the time.

As the falls are located right on the border, you had the choice of seeing them from either country. My group of friends and I spent most of our time on the Canadian side mainly because there was a Rainforest Café (somewhere I highly suggest eating in the USA, Google it!) and other rides and attractions. The best part however, was catching the ‘Maid of the Mist’, a boat that takes u right up to the falls. It was like being in a thunderstorm, it felt very refreshing. I was happy that entry included a free poncho.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words!!

S

Life @ SUNY Oswego

Hi followers!!!

Since my last blog I have been very busy living the American college life. Class officially started 2 weeks ago and it has been fairly intense. I’ve quickly found that American culture entails an incredibly strong work ethic. Students study sooo much. It’s not uncommon to walk through the halls at 3am and find students studying and working on assessments. I have gained a considerable amount of respect for American students, and now understand why Australian’s have such laid-back image to foreigners.

I have had a birthday since my last post. It was celebrated with a night out on the town, then the NY State Fair in Syracuse the next day – bad mixture. The State Fair is very similar the Sydney Royal Easter show. There were rides, markets, monster trucks and most importantly food! The variety of food was hefty and quirky. For example, you could buy chocolate covered bacon, deep fried Oreo’s, deep fried Twinkee’s and hot beef sundae just to name a few. I tried a deep fried Oreo; it didn’t taste too bad!

S

Settling in

Ice cream taco

Shopping at Wallmart

Oswego scenery

SUNY lecture hall

 

The first week at SUNY has been pretty breezy. I’ve just been attending orientation and setting myself up into a routine. Classes begin next week, so at the moment I’m very happy just relaxing and settling in….