The First Month (Jessie Richards)

I am shocked I’ve already been here on the beautiful Sunshine Coast of Queensland Australia for a month now. It seems like I only just arrived. I am still surprised by the little things- like being able to walk into a mall or shop without shoes and a shirt and having it be completely normal to everyone around.

During the study abroad orientation they explain a part of culture shock called the honeymoon stage- and I’m definitely in it. I have been traveling each weekend to Fraser Island, Brisbane, and most recently Byron Bay. I cannot think of any prettier places I’ve ever been to. Even the local beaches here seem like paradise. I keep reminding myself this is real and I am living here- but it doesn’t seem to set in.

I can’t say I’ve been too focused on school; I’ve been trying to travel as much as I can. But, I can tell by the amount I have been in class- it’s much different. There are fewer assessments so each of them is worth more. This is good in terms of having less to do but each assessment is then more stressful. For example, my final exams are all worth 25-40% of my final grade. Also, students are much more likely to talk out in the middle of lectures. If a student disagrees or wants to add to a conversation it is considered normal to talk out while the professor is presenting information. It is also strange that students call the professors by their first name without using Mr/Ms/Dr in front of it. It’s hard to get used to.

My first month here has been great and I can only hope the next few months don’t go by as quickly.

Jessie Richards is studying abroad at University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia.

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