2018-03-07 / Opinion

Hello from Down Under

BY EMILY KOVAC

Editor’s note – Emily Kovac, of Lexington, a student at Michigan State University has completed her winter term, study abroad program in Australia. We hope you’ve enjoyed following Emily’s experiences through her Down Under “letters to the folks back home.” This is her final article.

After another long flight, I finally arrived back in the United States after six short weeks in Australia.

My study abroad program is credited by Michigan State University as my spring semester. I will not have to go back to East Lansing until the fall. Being back in Michigan for only a week, I am already missing being by the ocean and enjoying the warm weather of the Southern Hemisphere at this time of year.

The last few weeks of my trip were spent exploring the less touristy parts of Australia. During that time, our group from MSU visited Canberra, the nation’s capital. We observed their parliament building and learned about their judicial system. Canberra was a nice break from the bustle of Sydney, as it is a much smaller city and much less of a draw for tourists.

One of my main impressions about Australia is how dramatically it differs from America in terms of what people eat and how they view physical fitness. The food throughout Australia does not even begin to compare with the food in the United States. Although many menu items look the same as they would in an American restaurant, they are prepared and served very differently. Fast food options are also extremely limited compared to those in the United States. The only one you will find around Australia is McDonald’s, referred to by Aussies as “Macca’s.”

Walking through Australia’s malls, it is rare to find an American-style food court. Instead, the Aussie’s food courts are more like our farmer’s markets, where people dine on authentic hand prepared foods and a lot of fruits and vegetables.

The change in food and eating habits was easily the most difficult thing for me to get used to about Australia. I am very glad to be home and to be eating American food again.

The healthy life-style of the Australian people is something I appreciate and admire. It is built into their culture and their daily lives. Physical fitness is constantly promoted, especially in the bigger cities where exercise equipment is accessible to their citizens for free throughout their parks and downtown areas. People use these things a lot. Aussies can always be seen running through their parks or along their beaches.

The layout of the streets and other infrastructure of Australian cities leaves little room for cars, so people are forced to walk a great deal. Even those who seek to ride a bus face long walks to the bus stops which are few and far between.

During the last week of our trip, we flew to New Zealand, which is beautiful, but quite dull in comparison to Australia. Somebody we met on the trip said there are more sheep in New Zealand than people.

Over the course of my trip, I learned a great deal about people, human nature, and myself. Things like how to present yourself confidently to strangers, and how to safely and efficiently navigate new and strange surroundings. These are things that cannot be learned in a classroom.

I believe my experience oversees will help me in my new management position with Student Painters, and also wherever the future takes me in the larger corporate world. Overall, my studying in Australia was an amazing experience. What I appreciated most was the warm, friendly, and welcoming attitudes of the Aussies. They were extremely nice, and many wanted to learn as much about us and America as we did about them and their country.

Australia is a great place to visit. I highly recommend it, and am considering another visit there. But for now, I am happy to be back home with my family and friends and to be back at work.

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