Posted by: phoebeannjohnson | April 23, 2014

Rio de Janeiro

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Cristo Redentor from a distance

Rio. Everybody loves Rio. Everyone. (except my mother who warned me not to trust cariocas) There are songs and movies about this fascinating city and its legendary beaches, so I was excited to find out what exactly was the allure of this beautiful and somewhat dangerous place.

For this being my 5th time to Brazil, its surprising that this was my first trip to Rio. I went on a bus of 50 other gringo exchange students and our tour guides, Lucas, Igor and Eduardo. We didn’t have much time in Rio, only about 2 days, but I’m content with that since it certainly won’t be my last trip there (I’m planning another one now!)

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Favela Santa Marta

On Saturday, our first full day, we went on a tour of the Favela Santa Marta. Favela is the Brazilian term for slum. Some of them are quite dangerous and overrun with drug lords. Some people felt uncomfortable with the idea of touring a favela, but it has actually become quite common in recent years. Michael Jackson even filmed his music video for “They Don’t Care About Us” at this place. Our tour guide was a resident of the favela and appreciated our curiosity about his neighborhood. During the tour he invited all of us into his house, which was very tidy and tastefully decorated. We said bom dia to his mother who was cooking lunch, and then headed up to a nice area to have our own lunch of feijoada. Feijoada is a very Brazilian stew of beans, beef, and pork. It originated with the slaves in Brazil who were given beans and meat scraps from their owners to make a meal. The favelas were painted bright different colors as part of a beautification project. On the way up, we climbed thousands of steps to the top, but on our way back we discovered how the residents make their way up and down every day- an electric tram. Of course. The homes were nice – simple, but nice. Many of them even had flat screen TVs. We walked through the favelas, past the residents carrying on with their daily lives. Children were playing, women were doing each others hair, and groups of guys were hanging out, whistling at the gringas walking past and casually passing around a joint.

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On Sunday morning, we witnessed the sun rise in all its glory from the east horizon on Copacabana Beach. There are 28 million posts on Instagram hashtagged #sunrise, and I’m sure each of those is special and unique as all sunrises are, but there’s just something about being with new friends from all over the world in Rio de Janeiro on Copacabana watching the sky go from pitch black to bright blue while blasting all of the colors of the spectrum in between. Its one of my most special memories in Brazil and I will always treasure it.

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After the sun had risen and was sitting high as if it had never set in the first place, we found an amazing place which served an American breakfast buffet, complete with fresh orange juice, eggs Benedict and, most importantly, lots and lots of bacon. The rest of Sunday was spent on the beautiful beach of Ipanema. We spent the time napping in the sun and surviving the waves. By using the word survive, I’m implying that they were trying to kill us. Or at least injure us to a certain degree. You have to get past the breaking point of the waves to really enjoy the ocean, but getting in and out of that was a struggle. The waves knocked me over multiple times- I’m pretty sure I actually did a 360 degree flip multiple times, ending up upside down. At one point, after being knocked down and shoved back to the beach, I was left sitting in the sand trying to cough out the salt water and pull myself together. I thought, I’m way too far back to have to worry about the waves… WRONG. Another giant wave heaved itself out of the ocean, smacked me in the face and caused me to skid probably about 20 meters across the sand. You could have filmed it, it was such a joke. But, an excellent exfoliation opportunity.

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The waves were exhausting and we ended up taking a break in search of food. I found the most heavenly beach snack my mouth has ever discovered, tapioca recheada. It’s these Brazilian crepes/pancake pockets made of tapioca flour, which provides this amazing soft, warm, crunchy but chewy texture. Mine was stuffed with cheese and pork, but they can also be made sweet with fruit and dulce de leche. I’m going to look the recipe up, master this and make it when I get back to Texas!

Até logo, Rio. I’ll be back.

 

 

 

Posted by: SA Coordinators | April 14, 2014

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Posted by: SA Coordinators | April 11, 2014

The Trip Has Been Perth It

- by Kristen Stanley

So many events and activities have kept me insanely busy since classes have started.  Classes here at ANU are not as structured as they are at UT because lectures are recorded and uploaded online so you don’t always have to attend class (but yes mom, I go to class anyway) and the days and times of classes can be different.  For example, I only go to Marketing once a week, but it is a three hour lecture while the rest of my classes are over the span of a couple days during the week.  Also, grades here are composed of less assignments that are worth a larger percentage of the overall grade.  Most classes have a minor assignment, a major assignment, an exam (usually a final), and tutorial participation while at UT you may have three or four exams throughout the semester and homework every night.  But enough about classes and on to what I’ve been doing outside of lecture halls!

My life at Burgmann College is fantastic!  I am so incredibly happy that I get to live here for these six months because the people, community, culture, and activities are so welcoming and fun.  The food could potentially be better, but thanks to Domino’s $5 pizzas on Mondays and Tuesdays, McDonalds Amore Meals, and Jeremy Jones’ (one of my best friends that lives a few doors down) Two Minute Noodle Parties keep my tummy happy.1511036_1382623128678682_63250095_nOver the past month Burgmann has had tons of events!  We kicked off the semester with Commencement in which we all got to dress fancy and eat delicious food at a beautiful venue and swing dance all night!

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We had a real-life Hunger Games situation going on during Kill Week in which each resident is assigned another resident to “assassinate” in which you pin them with a clothes pin or quirt them with water through a water gun or syringe.  Let’s just say I should never be a part of the Hunger Games because I didn’t even last a day, but I was able to tie for the first kill of the week by shooting my neighbor at exactly midnight of the first day of Kill Week (sorry Harry!).

Although Kill Week is fun by helping your friends kill one another and hoping you get the bragging rights as the winner of Kill Week, by far my favorite experience at Burgmann so far was winning the Women’s Volleyball tournament against all the other colleges on campus.  The tournament lasted three days and we played every team in a round-robin and then played our rivals in the final game.  A large number of people from Burgmann came to cheer us to victory at the gym with painted faces and wearing yellow all over.

1911948_1390604331213895_441569925_nIt was definitely the best atmosphere I’ve ever played in and the most fun season I’ve ever participated in.

1912514_1390603164547345_1809238304_nI miss it so much, but I am definitely excited and ready to play some basketball and table tennis next term!

1901360_1390603714547290_49527657_nAnother great event I got to participate in was cheering on my friends and Burgmann family in Inward Bound 2014.  This is a competition in which each college gets 7 Divisions of 4 people each that are blind-folded and driven on a bus for 4-8 hours and dropped off in the middle of the bush, given maps of Canberra and told to run their way to a secret destination (turns out it was Cotter Dam) and colleges are awarded points based off of the place in which each division came in.  These teams were running anywhere between 40km and 115km for 8-12 hours trying to get to End Point.

1425703_1398348683772793_843564830_nBecause I don’t like running for long distances, am scared of the dark, get sick in the car, and didn’t want to go through the training, I joined all the other non-IB runners at End Point and waited and cheered for teams as they ran in.  We got to Cotter Dam at about 7:30AM where eggs and bacon and pancakes were being cooked for us and we bundled up in jackets and sleeping bags and screamed our heads off any time any division of any team made their way to the finish line.  We had a live band play for each Burgmann Division that ran in and definitely had the most spirit of any college out there!

1920579_1397814420492886_2099734370_nThrough cold, sunshine, and even rain, we stood out there until all the Burgmann teams made it across the finish line (thankfully everyone was in by 3PM).  Although it was a long day for everyone, especially the runners, it was great to cheer on everyone that made the great journey of Inward Bound, not to mention all the good food and good company!

10173707_10200792740220257_1175827028_nI haven’t done much traveling since classes started because I’ve been busy with projects and assignments, but I have spent a lot of time getting to know the great city of Canberra including visiting all the embassies and admiring the architecture of each country (and of course loving to US Embassy).

1898139_4194863727858_208789374_nAfter finishing the first half of the semester last week, we now get a two week break where I will be going to Sydney for a few days with some friends and then I will fly over to Perth to visit my cousins and aunt and uncle for Easter.  Homesickness hasn’t hit very much for me because of the great support system Burgmann provides and although I miss my friends and family and my dog, I am really enjoying my time here and wouldn’t wish it any other way.

1902989_1382625122011816_1541899069_nI love it so much here that I am officially extending my stay in Australia to do more traveling for an extra month over the UT summer break.  The food is great, the accents are awesome (and still a little confusing), the university is terrific, Burgmann is fantastic, the people and my friends are superb, and I can’t wait to see what Australia has to offer for these last few months!

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Posted by: SA Coordinators | April 10, 2014

McCombs Ranks No. 6

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