Note: This story also appears in the May issue of the Sho'men Club Newsletter. To become a member of the Sho'men Club, click here.
Junior volleyball player Jenny Lee spent the spring semester in Australia and writes about her experience from the Land Down Under. Here is her experience.
G'day mate! I can't believe how fast my semester in Australia has gone. For as long as I can remember I've wanted to study abroad in college. I knew I would never want to miss a volleyball season, so spring of my junior year was the perfect time to go. Although sad not to be able to practice with the team for our spring season, I couldn't miss this opportunity. With a 22 hour flight, Australia isn't a place to just go for a week's vacation. And the country is around the size of the continental US so hopefully five months will give me a chance to see at least a good portion of it.
I'm attending Monash University near Melbourne, which is the second largest city in Australia. So far I've gotten to travel and see a ton of places. My first trip was to Sydney to see the Harbor, Opera House, and Blue Mountains. From there I went to Cairns and went scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. The fish, corals and sea turtles were spectacular and I even got to do a night dive where I was surrounded by reef sharks! Most weekends I've had the chance to take day trips around my state, Victoria. This includes things like seeing penguins on Phillip Island, touring the scenic south east coast on the Great Ocean Road and trying outdoor rock climbing in the Arapiles mountains. Throughout my travels I have gotten to see several of the Aussie animals in the wild including koalas, kookaburras, emus, cockatoos, and the ever famous kangaroo.
While I've been here I've had some really cool opportunities to try new activities. I've joined several clubs including juggling club and bushwalking club. I'm learning how to juggle poi and I got the chance to twirl a lit fire staff. I've been camping several times around Victoria and tried kayaking through rapids, intense bushwalks, mountain biking, abseiling, and surfing.
Monash is very different from Washington. First off, just at my campus there are 26,000 students. However, most students live off campus usually with their families and just commute to school for the day. I live in a residential hall on campus. This is great because there are always people to hang out with and we have some type of dance or dinner or event almost every week. I've been playing on my hall's netball team and also got to play some Aussie rules football and even a game of Quidditch (muggle style of course). Most people make their own food here, so I've had to learn how to cook. Another interesting difference is the lectures. Most are recorded so students can watch them online instead of going to lectures. We usually have one or two lectures a week and then a tutorial or practical or lab which is mandatory and breaks the class into smaller groups. Several of my classes have gone on field trips to get data for labs.
One worry I had about studying abroad is that I wouldn't have the chance to practice my volleyball skills. This problem was solved when I joined the Monash Club Team in the State League. In Australia the sports are more laid back and it's not just current Monash students who play on the team. The Monash University Club Team is comprised of players everywhere from around 16 to at least 28 who all share a common love of the sport. I'm also practicing with the Australian Volleyball League team for Uni Blues team that is one of the teams representing Victoria in a series of tournaments in July. Sadly I leave before I would be able to play in that, but I will get to play several tournaments with the Monash club team once their games start in May. I hope I can take what I learn back to my team at WAC.
My study abroad experience has been amazing so far. Everyone I've met has been really nice. Australians in general are very friendly and welcoming. It's so cool being the one who has an accent. I've also gotten to meet people from all over the world including England, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and so many more places. Studying abroad has been an unforgettable experience and I'm so glad I had the chance to visit such an amazing country!