17 September 2014

Beyond Borders

Australian: “How you going?”
American: “Are you asking where I am going?”

These minor colloquial differences such as the usage of words like: ‘mate’ ‘keen’ ‘heaps’ ‘uni’ ‘flatmates’ 'jumper' and ‘doona’ add to a gnarley cultural clash between the United States and Australia.

My name is Jennifer Crane and I am a third-year communication studies major and environmental systems and society minor from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).  I have received the privilege to study abroad here at the University of Sydney for one semester, and I couldn’t be more excited!

So far, my adventures in Australia have given me more than I could have ever dreamed. I have made heaps of new mates (to use the Aussie lingo), that I can already tell will be lifelong friends of mine.

The Australians I have met have been nothing but kind and helpful. I still cannot believe the amount of information Australians are willing to share with me, however ignorant my questions about Aussie culture may be.

Every weekend spent in this magnificent country has been eventful and daring. I have tried to keep active, may it be venturing out to a national park for some hiking, surfing at 7 Mile Beach, or just going out to pubs with friends. *Future plans include snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, hiking and skydiving in New Zealand and a road trip along the coast with mates.

In addition, I have been exploring Australia’s natural beauty with my mates in the class “Learning in Outdoor Education.” During these last couple weeks we received the opportunity to venture out to the Royal National Park and the Blue Mountains for a three day hike. The experience was absolutely incredible, and as such, led to a lot of self-reflection of my own life and personal growth.

A couple of mates and I taking a break along a river bed in the Blue Mountains

My time spent at the University of Sydney has proven to be significantly different than my home university in terms of the academics. I have found the work here to be structured differently than what I am normally used to. Although there are less assignments due, they are graded a lot more heavily compared to having more assignments with a different grading scale. The study vacations, woven into the semester, have proved to be beneficial. I am able to explore Australia and recharge so as to prepare myself for a focused and productive time at Uni.

At UCLA, our quarters are composed of 10 weeks and are very stressful. We usually always have some sort of exam or essay due every week throughout the quarter since it is relatively short. Unlike the University of Sydney, we do not have as many study vacations (which I wish we did!).

I have found the “tutes” (tutorials) to be much like my discussions back home minus the classroom presentations. The tutorials are definitely helpful and a great way to receive clarification on lectures and facilitate debate about relevant topics to the course.

Although my time is short, there’s one lesson I have learned from it all.

With an open heart and an open mind, we may find comfort in knowing there's always a silver lining of human kindess and compassion that runs far beyond borders.

A panorama view of the Blue Mountains as I self-reflect on my time in Australia

Jennifer Crane
Current student at the University of Sydney and Marketing & Communications Intern at the University of Sydney Business School

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