Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

My Posts

{photos, text, video}

It’s Goin’ Down

Time June 4th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

What do you get when seven goofy study abroad kids decide to have a sleepover one night? A MUSIC VIDEO!! We had lots of fun making it, and I’m sure some of them will be embarrassed to find out that I’ve posted this (whoops!) so keep it on the down low… BUT for those of you who happen to look at my blog from time to time, I figured you deserve a treat.

So thanks for reading – hope this makes you smile :)

Love, Anna

ps. credit goes to Zack Silver for editing it and putting it all together!


Photos and Applause

Time June 2nd, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Week 13 of classes is upon us!

And by “classes” I mean one class. All of my lectures and tutorials ended last week, except for one class from which I just need to pick up some graded assignments – WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE?!

Even on the last day of my classes, I learned something new. Or rather experienced something new.

After my last lab, my lab partners asked if we could all take a picture together with our lab assistant. What a great idea! I loved working with them this semester, and our lab assistant had been really helpful and patient with us (VERY patient!). I figured they suggested a picture because it was probably the last time they’d see me again (I hope not!!) and it was a good way to remember the semester. As we all left, I was planning on leaving last so I could say an extra thanks and goodbye to our lab assistant, since I was leaving the country and everything, but I wasn’t expecting Nora and Farra to do the same thing. It made me realize I’m not the only one who might never see that lab assistant or our other classmates in that lab again. That’s just how it works here – there’s a lot more students than I’m used to, so you cycle through a lot more faces. Back home, I can guess who will be in my project groups next year, because there’s only 21 of us. I’ve never had the urge to take a picture with my lab group, or even lab assistant, because I’d just see them the next day, and we probably have pictures together ALREADY of us doing other things outside of class.

Lab Group

A similar experience happened at the conclusion of one of my lectures last week. As the professor closed his presentation, the auditorium filled with applause. The students were all applauding our professor, which I’d never imagined doing before. But why not?!  One of the main reasons I chose to go to Bucknell was the close relationships I saw students share with their classmates and professors. Which I’m so thankful for! But, UNSW’s culture has made me re-check the amount of respect we show our professors at Bucknell. Our small classes might make it a bit awkward to start a round of applause at the end of the semester, but all of our professors deserve that amount of thanks (and more!).

So, I hope I haven’t made this sound too cheesy, but this is me sending out a round of applause – a standing ovation – to all of the teachers I’ve had in my life. At Windy Hill Elementary, Mutual Elementary, Southern Middle School, Calvert High School, Bucknell University, and University of New South Wales -THANK YOU!


Taking a break: Part 4 – Remembering the magnificence of Sydney, and good gelato :)

Time May 22nd, 2014 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

“Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” –John Lennon

After living here in Sydney for almost 3 months, the Americans and I re-realized we live in Sydney. Somehow, we had become used to everything, and took for granted the things that wowed us when we first arrived. We decided one Friday night to take a break and remind ourselves how amazing it is to be here. So we hopped on a bus to Circular Quay, which is nestled between the Harbor Bridge and the Opera House.

On the way there, we stopped to check off something on our neglected bucket lists – eat gelato from the famous “Messina” in Surry Hills. It was an eclectic little shop, packed with people who were pressed up against the yellow cartoon-papered walls. The selection of flavors matched the unexpected atmosphere. They had the basics – my friend Alisia stuck with the classic vanilla and chocolate. But they also create a new flavor six days of the week, like “Pavlova,” which mimics a popular dessert in Australia, and “Fat Clemenza,” – ricotta gelato with cannoli shells, citron and chocolate bits. I tried a taste of heaven – which isn’t the name of the flavors, but definitely similar to what heaven must be like! I had “Caramelized White Chocolate” and “Really Salty Nuts,” which was peanut butter and caramel gelato with salted caramel swirls and caramel shortbread pieces. DELICIOUS! If you visit Sydney, definitely put it on your bucket list, and then be sure to check it off!


Picture 1 of 3

Then we went to the Opera House Bar, which is an outdoor bar right next to the harbor. My friends and I miraculously snagged a table (it was quite crowded, since it was a Friday night) and silently agreed that talking was unnecessary that evening. The live music and magnificence of our surroundings occupied our thoughts, as we felt a combination of appreciation for the beauty around us, and a bit of guilt for forgetting about it in the past weeks.

Opera House Bar

The end of this experience is accelerating towards us, and sitting next to the Opera House, casually enjoying a drink, will soon be just a memory. It’s definitely hard to focus on where I am now instead of what’s to come in the future, but returning to the Opera House kind of kicked me in the butt and said “Hey! Remember me?!”

Wherever you are, it might not be so obvious that the present will be gone tomorrow. You might not have a postcard-perfect setting to kick you in the butt and say “Hey! Remember me?!” So it’s probably not a visit to the Opera House, but maybe it’s an extra snuggle with your dog, a walk around your neighborhood, a phone call home, or a decision to forgive a friend, that I hope you’ll make, before the opportunity is gone.


Taking a break: Part 3 – Coming “Home?”

Time May 22nd, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

One of the weirdest feelings I’ve experienced so far being abroad is returning to UNSW after mid-semester break. It’s made me really think about home, and what home means to me.

In the United States, whenever I’ve gone on vacation (or “holiday” as they say over here in Oz), it’s a given that afterwards I’ll return home. And even at school – at Bucknell – I’ve come to think of that as home, too. Bucknell became a second home to me within my first semester there. And somehow, even though I’ve been here at UNSW for about 2 and a half months now, it’s not home.

It’s just a bit interesting to go on vacation, and not go home when it’s over. Where am I then, if I’m not home, and I’m not on vacation?

It’s not something that’s got me worked up or anxious – just simply something I’ve been thinking about and figured I’d share.

I’m thrilled to be back with my friends here at UNSW, and back to the familiarity of classes, and my room, bed, and washing machines (MUCH needed after romping around Tassie National Parks). But the feeling of being “home” eludes me. Mom and Dad are probably thinking “Hallelujah! She’ll come back!” at the moment 😛

There’s a familiar phrase – “Home is where the heart is.” Does that mean my heart’s not invested here? Going back to the United States will be easy? I don’t think so.

So I’ve decided that phrase doesn’t go both ways. It’s like the whole square/rectangle deal – a square is a rectangle but a rectangle isn’t necessarily a square. So, in regards to this, home is where the heart is, but where your heart is isn’t necessarily home. AND, just like there’s lots of different rectangles, hearts can be in lots of places at once. There’s another cliché – one about giving ALL of your heart to something – that’s a bit bogus. Don’t compare me to Voldemort now; I’m not talking about soul splitting. I’m just saying humans are capable of lots of love (that’s what my dad thinks “LOL” stands for).

SO, in conclusion, I LOVE Australia, and it”ll always have a piece of my heart. But, I left a good chunk of my heart in the United States. That’s where my square is. I wish I could fit my new love, Australia, into that square, my home, but then it wouldn’t be so unique and amazing, now would it? So you all have to come experience it for yourself, and leave a bit of your heart here, too.




Taking a break: Part 2 – Tasmania

Time May 22nd, 2014 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

Easter Sunday this year, I woke up at 3:30am to catch a flight to Tasmania for my mid-semester break. Side note – I’ve finally gotten used to calling it “Mid-semester Break” instead of “Spring Break” – kept confusing people in conversations by using the wrong season.

Tasmania is a state in Australia (not another country – common misconception) that’s comprised of a big heart-shaped island and a few small ones just south of Melbourne. It’s comparable to the size of West Virginia. BUT the population of Tasmania is just over 500,000, while the population of West Virginia is just over 1.8 million. Which leaves Tasmania with lots of beautiful land to explore, and places to walk where not many have walked before :)

I traveled with a friend, Clara, who is an exchange student at UNSW from Valencia, Spain. We met through the UNSW Outdoors Club. To get around, we rented a van for the week that also served as our home, complete with kitchen (portable gas stove) and beds (thin mattress pads laid over wooden storage compartments in the back of the van). It even had a mount in the back for a table, which we used to play cards on once the sun went down (which happened SUPER EARLY every night! So I got pretty good at Spanish cards, and Clara got pretty good at Egyptian Rat Screw and Speed). Dinners were typically cous cous and vegetables or rice and vegetables; we had soup twice, too. And lunches were always tuna, cucumber, and cheese sandwiches. Except for the last day, when we only had peanut butter and cheese left. So we did that. The dinners were always good though simply because they were warm! Except for that one night… Tasmanian devils and a BIG MOTH locked us inside the van before we could finish cooking.

The trip was amazing, but I can’t think of the right words to write down that will do it justice. So pictures will have to suffice, although they still don’t come close to the real deal. But enjoy! Be sure to read the captions under the pictures so they make sense :)

Day One in Hobart

Picture 1 of 17

"You can't have a rainbow without a little rain."




Taking a break: Part 1 – Organ Recital

Time May 22nd, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

One thing I’ll recommend to anyone going to a new place to live for a time is to go to a church. Even if you’re not religious, I can guarantee you that you’ll find at least one new friend! And some instant coffee and homemade cookies :) And maybe you’ll find something more, too.

Besides the amazing family I’ve found at my church here, I found a free organ concert thanks to my friend, Shane! We took a break from studying for midterms a few weeks back to go check it out. It was part of Sydney Town Hall’s FREE lunchtime concert series. Inside the town hall is a magnificent pipe organ, whose sound reverberated through the benches and made us FEEL the music the organist was playing. It was incredible!

The concert was performed by just one organist – Robert Ampt. You can read a little bit more about him here, but I can sum it up pretty quick: he is a darn good organist. It was a very dramatic set up as well – there were lots of large steps surrounding the organ bench, where you could imagine a large choir standing, but of course there was no choir. So it was just a giant decorated organ towering over a single man, who was certainly getting his work-out for the day with all the keys he had to simultaneously press with his fingers and feet and different switches he’d flip up and down. It was really impressive to watch (and obviously really impressive to listen to).

The program included six different pieces, two of which had multiple movements. That made for about an hour long concert, which was a perfect break from studying. My favorite one was the second movement of a piece that Ampt composed himself, called O Sacred Head, Dance – Moto Perpetuoso. It was probably the happiest sounding song I’ve ever hear played on an organ. Of course all the minor key eerie stuff was awesome as well :)

Sitting in the town hall was like being transported back in time, taking a break from the present. That organ was constructed in 1890! When we emerged from the town hall out into the sunlight and crowded streets, it was a surprise to see iPhones and cars instead of hats and horses. But, for that hour, it was very refreshing to take a break from the present. Although in that world I wouldn’t have been able to type this up and send it out for you all to read! So I had to come back :)

Your turn to dive into history! Just come back to tell us about it! We could all use a little inspiration :)



Taking a break: Series introduction

Time May 22nd, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

There are only 2 weeks of classes left for me! And even those aren’t full weeks. My lab class for chemical engineering has finished all of its lectures and tutorials for the semester, so I only have one more 3 hours of working time in the lab before my final report is due, and then that class is done! And my other classes are similar.

For “Sports: Law and Society in Australia,” the main research paper for that class was due last Friday. This week we’re going lawn bowling as a class instead of having a lecture, and the following weeks we’ll be debating in groups. My group’s topic to debate is “Should the NRL abandon its salary cap?” and I have been assigned to argue against its abolition. Then I just have to write an analysis of one of the films we’ve watched this semester, and that’s it for that class!

The only class I have a final in is Thermodynamics and Separations. My last class for that takes place on May 30, and then the final isn’t until June 23. Lots of time to study, but also lots of time to forget everything!

And my fourth class culminates in a 30 page research paper. I’m not going to talk about that. GAH!

So the point of this post is to introduce the next set of rapid fire blog posts to catch everyone up on what I’ve been doing these past weeks in Australia! This blog’s gotten a bit dusty.

The title, “Taking a break,” can apply to whatever you want it to – you’re probably taking a break right now from something more productive you should be doing, or maybe my time abroad has given you a much needed “break” from me! Being abroad has cut lots of new facets into the phrase “Taking a break” for me, and the next few posts with this title will hopefully show just some of those facets. At the moment, I’m taking a break from the strictness of my budget and have indulged in a cappuccino at one of the many on campus cafes, where I’m typing all this :)

I hope you enjoy this next set of posts!


A Day at the Races

Time April 15th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Lately there’s been some growing excitement on Facebook surrounding the start of Derby Days back home at Bucknell. Derby Days is a friendly week-long competition between the sororities. Different events are held, each of which can earn you points. But the big point-winner is the “Derby,” a white cross hidden somewhere on campus.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, I got to attend the REAL THING! This past weekend was the first weekend of The Championships at Royal Randwick, which is conveniently located directly next to UNSW! Eight races were held on Saturday, including the Australian Derby. The Australian Derby is a 2400 meter race for three-year-old horses. This year, it was won by a horse named Criterion.

But the horses aren’t the only ones competing at this event. There are also awards given for the best dressed woman and man attending the races, which are always given a color scheme of black and white. (So just that morning I ran out to a thrift store, called an “Op Shop,” to find a $15 black dress – what a steal!) To help attendees look their best all day long, L’Oreal and Clinique had complementary hair and make-up touch-up tents, and there were even shoe shining stations for the gents. Quite fancy! But, I think it was a lost cause to try to stay pristine all day, considering the wind, rain, and puddles everywhere. To the people that managed to do it, bravo!

1233561_10152019668003093_4422298522772576220_n.jpg   10153197_10152019641943093_6023407174121180842_n.jpg10247493_10152019640253093_3446361080157622027_n.jpg 

Fashion Awards Judging Criteria:

Best Dressed Women’s Racewear:

  • Style and originality
  • Hat or headpiece is compulsory, wool or felt for Autumn (no straw)
  • Covered toe shoes
  • Appropriateness of the outfit for Autumn racing, The BMW Sydney Carnival and the individual
  • Attention to detail with all aspects of the outfit such as shoes, handbag and accessories
  • Understanding and interpretation of racewear and current trends
  • Grooming and department
  • Suitability of the outfit for the climate of the season and of the day
  • Black & white (Championships Day 1 only)

Best Dressed Men’s Racewear:

  • Suit, jacket and tie are essential
  • Attention to detail with all aspects of accessories such as gentlemen’s hat and /or lapel flower
  • Understanding and interpretation of racewear and current trends
  • Grooming and deportment
  • Suitability of the outfit for the climate of the season and of the day
  • Black & white (Championships Day 1 only)

My favorite part of the whole day was being there with my friends, Katherine and Bridget. Despite the poor weather, the intimidating well-dressed women, the crowds, slightly intoxicated loud people, and sore feet, we all stuck it out and were laughing and cheering through it all. We learned how and where to place bets (you can bet basically ANYWHERE – people are always available to take your money. And you have to make sure you specify which race and the NUMBERS of the horses you want, not just the names. And what type of bet it is.) We learned that putting a table on top of two chairs against a wall was an acceptable way of getting out of the rain, and we timed our exit perfectly to get us back to the dining hall at UNSW for a hot dinner. A great adventure, and great memories made :)

Now next year, when I’m back at school participating in a different kind of derby, I’ll have a bit more of an appreciation for the horse on our team shirts!

Find more videos like this on Institute for Study Abroad – Butler University




Floor Night In

Time April 14th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Woke up this morning and opened my door to a hall filled with abandoned “lollies” (not necessarily lollipops over here, just the general term for candy), remnants of masking tape and black plastic on the walls, orange paint in the bathroom sinks and showers, and mattresses in the common room. Descending the stairs down from the top floor where I live (floor 7) took me past other odds and ends – green tissue paper, pieces of hay, mangled foliage, etc. All were souvenirs of the fun that took place the evening prior: Floor Night In!

Gather round, ladies and gents, and allow me to explain! Floor Night In is a competition within my college (side note – “college” is the term typically used instead of “dormitory.” When communicating that I’m a college student, I don’t say “I’m in college,” because that could be taken as saying “I’m in my dorm room,” or “I live on campus.” Instead, I’d use the phrase “I’m in uni,” short for university. Just to clarify.)

Continuing – it’s a competition in my college, Philip Baxter College, between the 7 floors in our building. Each floor picks a theme and a story to tell with that theme. After a lot of planning, the whole hall works together to decorate their floor into the theme, so that walking from one end of the hall to the other tells a story. At various places down the hall, the residents act out various skits or songs or moments that help tell the story. The dean of our college, Solomon (“Soli” for short), then walks through, one floor at a time, as the main character of the story, (AND WEARING A GoPro!) and judges each hall. Prizes were awarded for best decorations, best costumes, and best overall hall. It’s easier to explain with an example:

My floor (floor 7) chose to do Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. So Soli entered the hall, not knowing what to expect, and was called into the first room where a bunch of “old people” in bed were calling him “Charlie” and telling him happy birthday, and then they gave him a coin to go buy something at the candy store. (So by then he probably put together that he was Charlie in our story). Exiting that room led him directly to the “Candy Store,” where “kids” were playing and buying candy, and he was encouraged to buy a chocolate bar, which happened to have a gold ticket in it. Then he was ushered to the gates of Willy Wonka’s factory, where he met the other golden ticket winners: Augustus Gloop, Violet Beauregard, Mike Teavee, and Veruca Salt, and then Willy Wonka himself. The story continued down the hall, which included a full Oompa-Loompa performance in the bathroom (explaining the orange paint mentioned in the first paragraph), and ended with Charlie as the soul survivor of the tour. He was then **spoiler alert** given the entire chocolate factory as his prize.

Floor 1 told the story of The Little Mermaid, Floor 2 did Star Wars (Soli was Luke Skywalker), Floor 3 had a World War III theme where Soli was a soldier – they put him through “boot camp” at the beginning; Floor 4 did The Wizard of Oz (Soli was Dorothy), Floor 5 did Alice in Wonderland (Soli was Alice), and Floor 6 did The Passion of the Christ (Soli was Jesus).

It was a great night! A very creative and fun tradition that definitely made everyone feel like an integral part of the hall. Unfortunately, my hall didn’t win any of the awards, but of course, we were winners in our book :) I’ve already heard people planning for next year.

Below are some pictures I managed to take before decorations had to be taken down, and I’m keeping my eyes out for the video our RF took of my hall’s performance so I can share that as well.

Miss you all!



Fun Little Things

Time March 26th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

Looks like I owe a couple of posts, guys… don’t worry I’ll catch up!

It’s now WEEK 4 of classes here! I’ve never mapped out my semester like this before, but professors here organize class by weeks. So instead of using specific dates, they’ll list the readings for “week 3” or schedule a test for the “week 4 tutorial.” It’s a cool system of thinking – it’s easier to remember weeks than days. But it’s quite unsettling to feel like I’m still getting the hang of things and know that I’m almost a third of the way through the semester.

In this first third of my classes there’s been lots of fun little things that make me smile, outside of the big adventures everyone hears about, that make life a bit unique over here. I thought I’d share the ones I was able to capture so far.

And below are some videos of little moments that made me smile, too. A game of “Zorb Soccer,” some guys playing tennis outside my room in the hallway (I heard a mysterious “thump” every couple of seconds against my door and decided to investigate through my peephole), and some IFSA-Butler friends playing an intense game of ERS.

Find some little things to smile about today :)

Love, Anna



Find more videos like this on Institute for Study Abroad – Butler University

Find more videos like this on Institute for Study Abroad – Butler University

Find more videos like this on Institute for Study Abroad – Butler University


First Day of Class

Time March 6th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Monday was my first day of class at UNSW! The morning was spent preparing for this milestone. I figured out how to print things (10 cents a page!), mapped out the fastest way to get to my classroom, and chose an adequate “first-day-of-school” outfit. The debate consisted of “grey shirt or blue shirt?” My closet overfloweth.

When I finally got to class, I was so excited I could barely sit still. Also, I wasn’t 100% sure I was in the right place, so I had to make it look natural if I suddenly realized I was in the wrong place. That’s the actual reason I was slowly wandering around outside the classroom. At 2:01 when the professor hadn’t shown up yet for my 2:00 class, I was devastated! They were going to cancel my first class? I had prepared all morning! Silly Anna. Classes here typically start 5 minutes after they’re marked to start, to allow for walking time. And they end 5 minutes early as well. So, not long after I started to panic, the professor showed up and let us all into the lecture hall.

A lecture hall is new for me, especially for a third year chemical engineering class. At Bucknell, I’ll graduate with 20 other chemical engineers. I walked into a lecture hall big enough to seat all of the chemical engineers (all 4 years) at Bucknell. And their extended families.


I took a seat on the end of a row near the front so that I didn’t interrupt anyone’s unspoken group seating plans. There were 2 open seats next to me when another student walked up to my row. And then he looked at the empty seats and me and spoke these words:

“Do you have any friends?” 

What an honest man. Tells it like it is. Not knowing whether he was genuinely interested in my apparent lack of social life or if I was misunderstanding, I laughed and went along with it with a resounding:

“Nope, no friends.” 

He realized what an awkward exchange we were having and rephrased it to

“Friends coming to sit here?”

Phew! Okay there’s hope. Long story short, I started the class with no friends, and ended up with two: the boy who sat next to me, Bob (I tried really hard to pronounce his name correctly but he insisted I call him Bob instead. Must have butchered it pretty badly), and his friend.

And so begins my semester of thermodynamics! No matter who’s sitting next to you (although I do miss my pal Kev), or how the word “equilibrium” is being pronounced (the professor likes to say “eh-quilibrium” instead of “ee-quilibrium”), a phase diagram is the same. And once you start taking notes, it’s like playing a soccer game – you just tune everything else out except for what you need to focus on. Yea, there were 2 big projector screens instead of one, and the professor had to use a microphone, but I knew this stuff. Well, I knew where I was. And it felt good to be home.


Fresh Meat

Time February 25th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

I’m quite embarrassed and surprised about how much I missed having internet and my phone for the past week. I love being in the woods and not having cell service when I’m backpacking or canoeing, but whenever I’m doing that it doesn’t feel weird. But yesterday when I was finally able to plug my laptop into the new blue Ethernet cable patiently awaiting me on my desk (courtesy of UNSW), this wave of relief washed over me, not unlike the feeling I get when I’ve been in the car for too long and then finally reach an exit with a bathroom.

So, mom and dad, family and friends, I must admit, I miss you! And I’m blessed to have people to miss.

But I’m also blessed to have met so many new people! However, it’s not quite as easy as it sounds. Perhaps I complicate things a bit, but finding where I fit in this new place is quite tricky.

The first few of my days in Australia were spent staying at the Sydney Harbour Youth Hostel – a lovely place!! Probably the nicest hostel I will ever see. Families were staying there with their kids like it was a hotel, which seems like a very deceiving first impression of hostel culture, from what I’ve heard and read. Not that hostels are dangerous and grungy!! This hostel just seemed to be a misspelled hotel.

I stayed there with 34 other IFSA-Butler students, some of which have joined me at UNSW, some of which went on to study at Macquarie University, and some of which are studying at University of Wollongong. Together, we formed a large American tourist group.

Our student services coordinators (SCCs) Fiona and Jess, and our resident director Christi planned an amazing orientation for us that included all the main checkboxes on a Sydney tourist’s to-do list. We took a walking tour of the city, saw the Opera House, walked through the Royal Botanical Gardens, visited the Featherdale Wildlife Reserve where we met kangaroos and koalas (and more animals!); we hiked through the Blue Mountain National Park and saw the renowned Three Sisters; we saw an Aboriginal performance and painted boomerangs, participated in Sydney nightlife, relaxed at Manly Beach, and ended the orientation with a dinner cruise through Sydney Harbour. With all that experience on my resume, I was ready to be accepted into the community of locals! Right?

Well, of course not. Just like I’ve never been inside the Washington Monument even though I live an hour from it back home, many locals here have never taken a picture with a koala, and kangaroos are just animals they have to avoid on the roads. Arriving at UNSW reminded me that although I’m in my third year of college, I’m still “Fresh Meat” here. There are so many things that I don’t know! Besides the things I expected to have to learn, like the layout of campus and the bus system, I also don’t know what time breakfast is, and what events are going on, or what events I should go to! Us international students have been dumped into the middle of UNSW’s exciting “O-week,” short for orientation week, without water wings, and I’m not quite sure how to swim yet.

The good thing is, it’s a beautiful day to learn how to swim! And there are tons of people to help, as well as tons of people learning alongside me. A new friend I met at lunch today is going with me to try to find shampoo later today. And my inbox is full of emails already from clubs I wrote my name down on their interest sheet, inviting me to barbecues and cook-outs and meetings.

I guess in conclusion, help out the fresh meat around you. Tell them what time breakfast is! And then go eat breakfast with them! Someone who is eating alone doesn’t necessarily have leprosy, they probably just don’t know anyone. Go talk to them and make them feel welcome, because a false diagnosis of leprosy is a hard thing to overcome. I am so thankful for the people that have made me feel welcome, and hopefully I’m passing it on.



Time February 19th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

“Are you excited to go to Australia?!”

“Australia – what an adventure!”

“O man – Australia – that’s on the top of my bucket list.”

Well, anonymous quoters of the past 2 months, I’m officially off. Actually, currently snuggled in bed because I was unable to sleep anymore, but as soon as my toes get the courage to brave the cold air of my room, I’ll be up and moving! There’s so much to do this morning!

Like, umm, well… there should be, shouldn’t there? I mean I’m going to Australia! That’s a super big deal! And everyone else is so excited, so there must be anxious, exciting things to do this morning, right? The anonymous quoters of jealous excitement are probably picturing me waking up to GLEE’s Halo/Walking on Sunshine mash up, singing into a hairbrush as I throw colorful clothes into a Mary Poppins carpet bag where they magically fold themselves. I’m dancing with my parents down the hall on my way to breakfast, spinning and doing the polka (us Maassels do like ourselves a good polka!). I’m eating a pancake with strawberries for eyes, some scrambled eggs as a beard, and a chocolate chip mouth, with my little glass of orange juice on the side. No coffee -who needs caffeine when you’re as excited as I am?!

But I’m actually just here in my bed. From here I can see my big new purple suitcase that I packed yesterday, when I slowly rolled each piece of clothing into a tight little bundle. I can see my hiking boots sitting on top of my grandma’s old sewing machine cabinet, ready to be worn to the airport today (pro tip – they’re quite heavy, and there’s no weight limit on ME to get on the plane, but there IS a weight limit for my big new purple suitcase to get on the plane). I can see my “HEY, Don’t Forget!” giant post-it hanging on my closet door where I stuck it last week as I thought of things like my calculator, bobby pins, a towel, and a belt. The only things making noise are my keyboard and my heating vent on the other side of the room. And I will have coffee with breakfast.

It would seem as if everything is ready to go, and yet somehow I’m not quite ready yet. Shouldn’t I be as excited as that dancing girl with the hairbrush? Don’t get me wrong – of course I’m excited – I DO understand that this study abroad experience is going to be amazingly unbelievable and awesome beyond what I can imagine. But I think my excitement factor is still quite low because it just doesn’t seem real. I’m going to be on a plane later today? No, that can’t be right! Tomorrow I’ll wake up in this bed again, snuggled up in a familiar hoodie under 2 blankets and a set of flannel sheets, trying to find my fuzzy socks that squirmed off my feet the previous night as I dreamed I was meeting my fellow UNSW study abroad students, who all happened to have red hair (weird dream…), but I won’t actually be meeting these people – it was just a dream!

Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been motionless for the past 2 months as I waited for this moment. Rather, in slow motion I suppose. A person living in slow motion doesn’t simply wake up one day and get on an airplane to Australia. But, as life relaxed for me in that time, the world kept on turning time just like it usually does, and here I am. Me and my big new purple suitcase.

Maybe it’ll be when I hug my mom goodbye, maybe it’ll be when I’m asked to put away and turn off all my electronics on the plane as we prepare for take off, or landing (except I’ve heard a rumor that they don’t make you do that anymore? What’s that about?), maybe it’ll be when I take that first step outside in a new, unknown country. But when this DOES finally feel real, I’ll be back in motion, and that is what I’m looking forward to in Australia.

Well, I suppose it’s time for my toes to brave the cold! Here we go – one, two, three! And with that, ladies and gentlemen, she’s up!

Have a great day!


(or Nan, or Ann – you know who you are, nicknamers :)