The worldwide Augustana College experience

No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive. -Mahatma Gandhi

Dear Sydney,

You have so much diversity and culture here it is unbelievable. I am honestly so surprised that it has taken me this long to see this side of Sydney. I have gotten and will get to yet experience some of the most amazing cultural traditions and expressions this week and I feel so very blessed to have been exposed to all the opportunities that I have had.

Sunday: So I last talked to you on Sunday, but that was before the Chinese New Year Parade! Around 6 on Sunday evening me and the rest of my CAPA intern group made our way down to the Sydney Chinatown. I studied Chinese for 2 years at Augie in order to pass my major requirements, but I was ill prepared for the language, the people, the atmosphere, and the culture that instantly surrounded me when I got there. From the gorgeous Chinese terrace entrance to the massive line up of Chinese food options, I felt I had been transported to central China in a matter of seconds. I have always thought that the Chinese culture is one that is easily seen, felt, and one of the most observable cultures of our day. It has such strong traditions, beliefs, and practices that it is hard to not almost envy them the experiences and complete commitment they have to their culture at times. Anyway, after what I considered a very authentic Chinese dinner, me and few friends waited along the Chinese New Year Parade route in anxiousness. So many students who had visited a year before had been amendment on our attendance to the parade and our hopes were high. After an hour of standing around and being slowly sucked into a Chinese crowd of oblivion, the parade started shortly after sunset. We were signaled the arrival of the parade to our area of the route by a score of fireworks off of a nearby buildings roof. After that is kind of a blur because I was so overwhelmed with sound, color, and lights. I do remember though that the first thing I saw and was so excited about was the real Chinese dragon costumes with the awesome faces and bodies that people hide underneath and move to realistically. They were white and gold with red accents and it was incredible and I couldn’t stop taking pictures. Other parade items included a lot of Chinese dancers in traditional garb, Chinese drum bands, samurai warriors, large floats in color and light of huge horse (it is the year of the horse in Chinese tradition), and more dragon costumes. (Pictures below). I also saw a LOT of lit up buildings that had moving projected pictures along their outside walls, as if a movie was being projected and played across the outside of the building in the craziest and brightest colors. I loved those and I loved the excitement of the crowd. No one was just excited for the waving people and lights, everyone was truly invigorated and excited for the New Year. You could tell it meant so much to them and they were beyond happy to be experiencing it. I think the most incredible part for me though is that I left this parade and within seconds was back in down town Sydney. A modern place of massive diversity and modern buildings and people. One parade and the millions of people honestly made you believe you were the middle of China celebrating the most amazing old traditional holiday. Anyway, A really great experience and I couldn’t be happier I was blessed enough to witness it.

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So I saw a kangaroo…

Dear Sydney,

Thank you for the beautiful weather you have given me this week. I am a little resentful I had to work through most of it, but I would be lying if the sunlight hasn’t been good food for the soul. While this week wasn’t completely filled with adventure and traveling excitement, I did have some pretty cool experiences both at work in good ol’ Sydney.

Thursday: So I this was my third day of work this week due to the public holiday of Australia Day on Monday. Not too bad of a gig if you ask me. However, Thursday was a long day all the same. I had been given my third project of the internship on Tuesday and had been furiously working through updating the data for the International Wine and Spirits Research. I’m trying to impress my supervisor since he had a phenomenal intern before me apparently. I was able to finish by lunch time on Thursday, but then I spent that whole afternoon validating the data and information with my supervisor’s assistant, Roy. I was a headache and half to say the least and I was so tired of looking at an excel sheet after 5 hours. However, Roy and I made it through the data and I was extremely proud of myself for getting through my third project within 3 weeks. I’m hoping it is enough to keep my supervisor happy. So in combination with my excitement at finishing ahead of schedule and my pounding headache, it was meant to be when my fellow interns’ supervisor, Charlotte, offered to take us out to dinner and drinks at a local pub. We ended up at a place close by called El Loco. It was a pretty cool Mexican atmosphere. We got Jack (obviously) and ginger ale because it was Charlotte’s favorite. She also ordered some Cherizo Quesadillas for us as well. We socialized a bit, learned more about Charlotte, her career path, and what she thought about Sydney and Australia. We also learned more about Brown Forman and some of the back ground and history of they place. It was a really great time and I appreciated her reaching out to us and including us to hang out and talk like equals instead of just interns.

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I Met Nemo!

Dear Sydney,

Wow did you exhaust me this past week! Since this past Monday so much has happened. For starters,

Wednesday: me and the rest of my CAPA group from Augie had our first ‘academic’ class of our time here. The class is taught by a younger lady and it’s mostly to help us work through issues at our internship sites, share our failures  and successes, as well support each other as we feel the pressures of working in another country full time. I won’t lie, the first meeting (and only 1 of 2 that will be in person, the rest are online) was a little redundant. We already had a 5 week program which consisted of 40 hours of internship and cultural research which we took on campus at Augie before leaving the country. Most of the work for the course will probably be pretty reflective and full of our observations though so it can’t be that bad.

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A new side of Sydney

Dear Sydney,

I probably shouldn’t be writing to you today given my mind is not really here. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was jealous of you who are home in the cold, but with your friends, family, and loved ones. I was told by more than one person that time which will really decide if I can handle being alone abroad would come in the third week. After the “honeymoon” stage, after the vacation-feel, after the initial excitement. When it really starts to hit the new world I would be living in. The different food, signs, people, atmospheres, bed, lifestyle, and smells. It has not been the easiest of trips and I am even in an english speaking country. I give so much credit to those who travel for extended periods of time to countries in which they do not speak the language. I already feel as if I am in a different world and I can still communicate with everyone around me.

I will not dwell on the negative however, there has been so much amazing that has happened as well! As of last Tuesday, much has happened at both my internship and this weekend.

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So.. Jack Daniels anyone?

Dear Sydney,

Why must I say goodbye to the Australia Vacation? Do I REALLY have to work full time in the gorgeous place with wonderful weather and no shortage of sunshine? MUST I sit at a computer from 9-5? Yes, I know. I’m going to hell for complaining about working in Australia. But for real, it’s been the next hardest transition of the trip so far. After not working or even going to school for over a month, I’m not just returning to a couple hour long classes, I finally had to enter the world of adulthood and start working full-time (minus Fridays of course :P ). Therefore; my attention span is untrained again and lasts little over 20 minutes at a time, business attire feels suffocating and tedious, actually putting make up on and straightening my hair daily has become a chore worthy to be compared with laundry, and the indoors for 8 hours straight gives me cabin fever.

However, I digress and I admit I really do have an amazing opportunity on my hands. In case you didn’t notice from my earlier posts, yesterday was my unofficial first day and interview with the International Company, Brown Forman. Since a majority of you may not know what that is, Brown Forman is the parent company for a number of name brand liqueurs. These liqueurs include but are not limited to; Jack Daniels (it’s full line including the Winter Jack , 1907, & Gentlemen Jack), Southern Comfort, Canadian Mist, Finlandia Vodkas, Chambord, Jagermeister, and Herradura Tequila. Stop there right? It’s obviously already the coolest place ever to work, especially in Australia where they drink 2x the amount of Jack Daniels than Americans do.

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Blessings from Down Unda

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The day has finally come! For the past year, myself and 48 other Augustana students have been preparing for this day. We’ve written essays, filled out lots of paperwork…I mean lots and lots of paperwork, and learned all there is to know about the Australian culture. I’ve saved every dime, nickel, and penny, and have done my best to avoid my Starbucks cravings and nail polish addiction. For just a short time, I’ve endured the snow, ice and wind, so that on January 2,nd I can really appreciate the 90 degree weather I’ll be living in for 9 weeks.

All of this preparation has left me packing and re-packing for the past week. Two months and two 50lb bags– the struggle, my friends, is real. But, nonetheless, I have done it. Two 50lb bags, a purse, and a backpack, and we’re off!

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Hello Sydney Australia

My amazing Boyfriend, Austyn My loving family! Mom = Kelly; Dad = Steve; Weirdo girl = sister named Sarah First Day in Sydney! First night out in Sydney with some of my Roommates! Amazing rocks to climb on and potentially die if your stupid on.. welcome to carefree Australia Don't judge me.. I look awful More deadly rocks.. and me

 

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East Asia Term 2013 – Retrospective

It was strange landing in Chicago after 10 weeks in Asia. The flight was from LAX, just before noon, and it was almost uncomfortable to be around people that openly speak English. It seems like a blur, but for an obvious reason: our route started in Kyoto, Japan and ended in Beijing, China.  In between we coasted along Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Hiroshima, Matsuyama, Beppu, Kumamoto, Tokyo, Taipeh, S.A.R. Hong Kong, and then got to China to see Shenzhen, Guilin, Wuhan, Kunming, Li Jiang, Chengdu, Xi’an, Chengde and Beijing, and topped it off with 5 days of Honolulu. It is hard to put it all in one little blog, but I’m warning you, it might be a long one.

Augustana’s expedition with 74 students and 4 professors flew over Greenbay, WI to get to Japan; just a strait line over the North Pole. Japan was a shock in every sense, since humidity was high and we came from a pretty mild summer in the Midwest. However, Kyoto was a great place to have a culture shock since everything that is ancient in Japan is in the Kinki Prefecture. While in Kinki, we were able to make one whole-day excursion to Kobe, a city that was devastated by the earthquake in 1996, and Nara Prefecture, home of Todai-Ji temple and one of the biggest Buddha statues in the world. I also got to visit old friends, Yuki Serizawa and Masami Arai at Kobe City University for Foreign Studies, and they took me to the traditional archery class, Kyudo.  Kyoto and Nara are two of the only places that were not bombed in WWII, thus they represent true Japanese heritage.  They were lucky not to have military bases that should be bombed (unlike Tokyo and Osaka that were carpet bombed).

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Hong Kong through a typhoon

Landing in Hong Kong was everything but a normal procedure, since we were going through a turbulence in the middle of the biggest typhoon in 30 years, but I really started freaking out when captain turned on the seat belt sign, as well as Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (Spring, of course), at which point everybody exhaled and closed their eyes, as if they are being hypnotized to a very certain and painless death.

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