My time in Canberra has come to an end, but the trip isn’t over quite yet. I’ll tell you now though, there aren’t many pictures in this post. Exams aren’t very picturesque.
The final few weeks of class were fairly monotonous, and like most students, I was ready for the school part of the semester to be over. Routines would involve going to lectures and tutorials as usual, keeping up with any homework, preparing for the onslaught of exams heading my way, working out, spending time with friends at the Thursday afternoon happy hours at the campus bar, and taking advantage of every chance I got to hang out with the friends I’d made here.
The onslaught of exams I mentioned was a pretty ominous cloud hanging over my head- I started with 3 in 4 days, and then had to wait until the last day of exams to sit for the fourth one. Yes, exams in every single class. It was a rough stretch, but I’m pretty sure I did alright on each one. It’s always a good feeling to be done.
One major difference between these exams and the ones I’d be taking back home is the style- I had a total of ZERO multiple choice questions on all my exams. But it’s sort of nice because it makes you 100% accountable for your score, whereas multiple choice exams don’t always allow you to prove you’ve mastered concepts. The scores are all dependent on the answer I provided- in this case, one exam’s worth of solving finance word problems, and three others that were short-answer/essay style involving marketing, consumer behavior, and corporate strategy. I realized I hadn’t done that much handwriting since maybe the TAKS tests back home since my hand cramped up on every writing exam… Whatever, in a decade all the exams will be taken on laptops anyway. You would hope.
I’ve been out exploring Canberra a bit more since I had some time off in the dead week and after exams. I went out to James’s (the guy I went with to Melbourne) house out in a suburb of Canberra and it was really fun. Every major city anywhere has its outskirt towns with more sparse populations, and this was a prime example. It’s called Murrumbateman, and it’s the definition of a small town. It was about 30 minutes away from campus, but there was no city life around there at all. But James introduced me to a prime local spot- the Murrumbateman Take-Away (everyone here uses the term “take-away” instead of “to go”) and I got fish and chips there, both times that I went to his house. Delicious- I hope I can find places with good fish and chips in Texas.
One cool thing about living with a decent chunk of land is the ability to own animals. This was far from suburban Dallas… For instance, James has two sheep. And I got to pet one of them! It was pretty funny- they’re not quite as friendly as a dog would be but they can tolerate some petting.
Life in Canberra wasn’t too different from Austin, but there were aspects I’ll definitely miss, and some things I won’t. As you can see:
What I’ll Miss
- Community feel at the dorms
- Recorded lectures
- Playing rugby
- “Lollies” – all their assorted candy
- The people. But that’s a given.
What I Won’t Miss
- Having only an hour to eat each meal (only the case if you choose “catered” accommodation)
- The exchange rate – it’s a killer here
- Store hours – only bad in Canberra, in big cities it’s not a problem
- The loud birds! There’s a mountain right next to our stretch of dorms and there’s a large bird population that goes with that. Those cockatoos may look cool, but hundreds of them screeching gets old fast.
It’s strange having to say goodbye to people I’ve met here that I’ll likely never see again (not counting Facebook…). It’s pretty sad. I really thought I’d be far more detached as the time came to leave but I’ve actually made a lot of friends that I enjoyed hanging around. So to those of you preparing to study abroad, or considering it, make sure you take advantage of the time you’re given with the people you meet. Becoming friends with people across the world, regardless of where they’re from, is not only entertaining but will make you a more open-minded person because you’ll understand how other people live. As similar as Australia may come across as to America, the people are unique in their own ways and have a very different culture in some aspects. The opportunity to meet the people I’ve met and see the places I’ve seen have hands down been the best part about studying abroad. If you haven’t gathered already, I highly endorse it.
I’ve got over a week until I get back- I’ll be traveling to a warmer spot in Australia before heading home to Texas, and I’ll be sure to let you all know how that goes.