Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Alexis Schwartz James Cook University, Australia


December 24, 2015

Hello, wonderful, beautiful, everybody’s. It’s been awhile since my last post, I know I’m sorry. I’m not exactly a consistent one. But! I have good reason. I had finals and I’ve been traveling a lot so I’ve been pretty busy. I know my last post wasn’t exactly sunshine city, but it comes with the territory. I’m trying to show you why studying abroad is a great and amazing opportunity (and it is) but I’m not going to lead you into a false sense of belief that it’s always rainbows and smiles. I mean, it is mostly, but still. 

Anyway! Over the next week or two I’m going to have a few blog posts to catch you up because droning on about everything all at once would just be way too much. And before we get to the fun stuff about New Zealand and the adventures there, we’re gonna talk about finals. Yaaayyyy.

Australia definitely has finals before the states. I know that finals have just about ended for my home uni but I’ve been done for weeks. In fact, I ended the 17th of November. A few of my friends at uni at home didn’t end until December 17th, an entire month after me. I’ve been on holiday for almost two months already. Wow, that’s actually quite mind blowing. Finals, are finals though. Regardless of where you study or live, they’re just as stressful as ever. Actually, they’re a little more stressful in Australia because they tend to be worth more here. I’m sure if you’re looking into uni in Australia you’ve heard of the differences in how the academics work. Instead of how it is at home, where we have tons of little projects, tests, and quizzes, a midterm, and final, in Australia, it’s basically the final, the tutorial grade, and maybe a research project or paper. The final can be any amount of the grade. I’ve seen a few courses where it’s 70 percent. But I’ve taken courses where it was only 30 percent. You just have to be aware and prepare accordingly. No worries. Finals are stressful, but don’t let it make or break you. Stay on top of it and you’ll be alright!

Now, since I’ve finished my finals so long ago, I already have my grades for the courses. Receiving these is just the same as back home (for me at least), online. In all honesty, this can be a little discouraging. Because the grading system is also different than back home. If you did worse than you thought or you don’t understand how you could have gotten something so ‘low’, remember how they transfer over. Also remember that an Australian D is definitely not an American D. And the same thing with a C. I got D’s and C’s (Australian) for the semester and I am so happy about it. I thought for sure I was going to have at least one lower grade. And even if you do, don’t be too hard on yourself. Education is important but so is enjoying yourself. It’s not always easy to balance it, so don’t beat yourself up. You’re abroad in a new country and deserve to experience it; you didn’t go to it just to study and be stressed like you are at home. I suggest taking stress breaks of adventures that you want to do in that country. Two birds, one stone you know? That way you can experience everything, or at least most of it, while still studying. 

All in all, it’s a stressful couple of weeks anywhere. Don’t think it will be different because you’re a paradise country. Prepare and be aware for everything, but don’t be too stressed out about it. You’ll be alright, I promise.

Now, to move on from that a little bit; I want to talk about Thanksgiving in Australia! So, Australia obviously does not celebrate Thanksgiving; it’s an American holiday. And because of where Australia is, it’s also not cold. Most people love Thanksgiving, because who doesn’t love a holiday where all you do is stuff your face, right? Well, I’m one of the people who does not. I don’t like Thanksgiving food so it’s not really a holiday I’m too fond of. So I wasn’t going through withdrawal like I’d expect most people to have. I did celebrate in my own way though. I went to the beach! It was extremely hot and sunny so I figured if I’m going to do something it might as well be to enjoy the sun and sea and relax a little. And it was great. And, by what I assume is coincidence, the dining hall made turkey for dinner that night so it did feel a little more like Thanksgiving. If more of my friends were still on campus at the time, I would’ve suggested that we do a mock Thanksgiving ourselves like I normally do with my friends at uni in America. I think that would be fun. So I’d suggest definitely doing that if you’re in Oz during that time. You can share a little bit of your culture with the Australians instead.

The next holiday is Christmas and New Years. I was told that most Australians go to the beach for these two holidays. Unfortunately, I will not get the chance to have an Australian Christmas/New Years because I’m home! I came home about two weeks ago to surprise my family. Most of them don’t know I’m back yet, but they will tonight! I’m very excited to get to surprise them. That’s also why I have been a ghost lately. After finals I wanted to just take a break from everything and relax and then I went to New Zealand and I had so many adventures to do and experience and then I traveled back home (which took 43 hours, layovers are awful) and after I got over my jet lag the first couple of days, I ended up getting sick and it was just an exhausting first 10 days back. So I’m sorry I’ve been gone so long but I promise I have many adventures and picture to share with you!

For now though, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!