Last week in Australia

Hey everyone!

So if you haven’t already guessed, I am leaving Australia in one week!

What am I feeling? 
Mixed emotions really. I’m excited to see my family and friends, and sad to be leaving my friends here. Some of the new friends I have met are headed back home for good, whereas others (like me), are coming back for another semester!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been following my posts and writing to me! I cannot tell you how cool it is to be hearing from people all over the world (i.e. Iceland, Brazil, and Canada), asking me about Australia! It’s been great! 🙂

All the best,


Australian Campus Life:
What’s your typical day like?

Interacting with Australians and other cultures:
Have you been able to kindle Aussie relationships?
Yes. One of my housemates is Australian as is my boyfriend.

Are you involved in an international community?
Yes. I live with 5 girls (from Australia, Canada, Lithuania, Norway, and Brazil) and we’re friends with other international students from the United States, from France, and from parts of South America.

Culture Shock:
Did you have issues with culture shock?  How did you overcome it?
At first, but it’s easy to get used to.

Do you feel homesick?  How do you deal with it?
At first, no: But at times, yes. I’m looking forward to coming home in one week’s time.

How’s the food “Down Under”?
Expensive. But good. I haven’t had kangaroo steak yet, but I hear it’s amazing.

How is eating/socialising out different?
You don’t tip in certain places. Some places you are not escorted to your table, you have to go to order, pay upfront then take a number. Then, you are to be seated and then a waiter will come around and give you your meal.

University / Academic:
What are some differences in the grading system?
I find marking is significantly harder in Australia simply because they mark you from 0 to 100%, whereas in the U.S. and Canada we start at 100% and marked down towards zero. In other words, it’s all about not making mistakes in the U.S. and Canada, and Australia is about earning every percentage.

How are your professors?
Back at Carleton, I find my professors take the time to throughly introduce the material and their expectations. At Macquarie, I find for the most part, lecturers here are very vague when it comes to outlining their expectations. Therefore, when writing assignments, it makes things very complicate when the professors themselves do not articulate what they’re looking for.

What are tutorials like in comparison to your home university?
I really enjoyed my tuts with Dr. Atkin, he made the tuts very interesting and fun 🙂 I find tutorials at home very boring (at times), but very helpful and essential to my success.

What’s the workload like?  How do you balance it all?

What are lectures like in comparison to your home university?
Lectures are not compulsory, however small classes make attendance mandatory.

Living in Australia:
What is your favourite thing about living in Australia? What do you think of Aussies? 

Cultural Differences:
Have you been in any funny, interesting cultural experiences?
When my friend Tom picked me up to take me out to dinner, I hopped in on the wrong side of the car and he asked me if I was going to drive us to the restaurant.

How have people reacted to you?
I am always asked if I am American, but past that, there hasn’t been much reaction. People in Australia have been very welcoming … must be because I’m foreign. That fact alone must automatically make me cool right?! 🙂

Have you gone on any trips, excursions?

Does your uni provide excursions and have you participated?
Yes it does! Macquarie provides tons of opportunities I wish I took more advantage of … oh well, there’s always February! I went to the Harbour bridge and the Hunter Valley Wine tasting trip 🙂

What has been your favourite location/activity?
Favourite Location: Darling Harbour.

What are the must-see locations?
Check out my updated Top 20 list:

Interest in Australia:
What brought you to Australia?
Need for adventure. What’s making me come back? An international relation. 🙂

What is your favourite aspect of being in Australia?
That it’s nothing like home, but kind of feels like it.

Have your opinions or ideas changed?  How?
Not quite, looking forward to seeing you again next year!

How have you managed your money? What advice do you have to stay on a budget?

Do you have a job?
No, but I would like to get one when I come back.

Returning home:
What have you gained from your study abroad experience? How have you changed from studying in Australia?
More responsibility, more confidence, more knowledge, more connections, more experiences, and more happiness. 🙂

Postcards from Australia:
Adventures Down Under:

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What’s the workload like? How do you balance it all?

Hey everyone!

I know it has been ages since I’ve written to you last.

Unfortunately, it’s that time of year again .. and I don’t mean Christmas – even though I’m ridiculously excited about Christmas! – It’s exam season.

Today’s question: “What is the workload like? How did you balance it all?”
– Well, evidently, I haven’t been doing such a good job balancing it all. The workload depends on every subject. For example, my political science assigns many more readings than my French or Music class. My music class expects me to practice every day. It’s give and take really. Some days there will be a lot to do (i.e. prepare for a music showcase). Other days it will be very easy going (i.e. read a chapter or two).

The main thing to remember is to do everything in moderation:
1) Work hard.
2) Study hard.
3) Play hard.
4) Party hard.
5) Rest and relax.

It is very important in this day and age to drink plenty of fluids and eat healthy.
Believe it or not, but eating healthy will do wonders for you. You’ll feel 20x more energized and you’ll start to feel good about everything.

Currently, my workload is as such:
1) PHL essay 35%
2) FRN examination 50%
3) POL examination 50%

So I better hop-to-it and study!

Talk soon,

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Re: Post birthday week

Hey everyone!

My birthday was an awesome week!

October 22nd: My birthday (as written on my license)
Branden made me pancakes for breakfast with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and vanilla ice cream. We watched some harry potter and opened presents! Branden gave me roses, a beautiful bag I had my eye on (Valleygirl) inside this wonderful Paris storage box. He also gave me a Tiffany & Co necklace. I cried. It was the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me. How could I not cry? Henrique, Branden’s flatmate also surprised me with birthday presents! Organic soap, toothpaste, vegan chocolate chip cookies, and mint chocolate 🙂 Following my morning with Branden, I took it to the shops with Ida. Ida and I travelled to Chatswood where we picked out my outfit for the evening. My mom, uncle, aunt, and cousin all wished me a happy birthday from India. As did my dad who is at home in Toronto. Before getting ready, Ruta (one of my flatmates) had presented me with flowers and three kinder surprises for my birthday! Around 7:30PM the gang and I were ready to go to World Bar to party it up for my 21st … but not before receiving my gift from Branden’s other flatmate Franc! Franc bought me fairy wings, a tiara, matching ring, and clip-on earrings – which really did make me feel like a princess!

October 23rd:
Emma, Matt and I had travelled to the Sydney Aquarium around noon. We saw Dugongs, fish, penguins, and tons more – we even found Nemo and Dori!

October 24th:
Monday morning was a tough day. Music class did not go well. My mood also followed. It was one of the hottest days I had experienced yet! Turns out I ended up not baking cookies, but I did buy the ingredients!

October 25th:
I had been planning for this day for a little over a month now. Knowing that the likelihood that Branden and I won’t be able to spend Christmas or New Year’s together (because I’ll be in Toronto, and he’ll stay in Sydney), I had decided to organize a special date so that we could celebrate christmas together. I put up the christmas tree with decorations and lights, cleaned up my room, bought him the remainder of his gifts, put the wrapped presents under the tree, and played my Christmas playlist. Branden was in shock. He loved it. I gave him a bunch of gifts ranging from those I bought for him while I was away on vacation with my mom to a book filled with quotes by one of his favourite authors Christopher Hitchens, another book by Michael Foucault, random bits and bobs, a christmas card, and a printed picture of us together on my 21st birthday.

October 26th:
In the midst of all the birthday celebrations, I needed to spend some time doing homework and to my recollection, that’s just what I did.

October 27th: My birthday (the day I was actually born)
Branden and I celebrated my birthday at 2:45AM. … well I did anyways, he was half asleep. He gave me a hardcover book of fairytales (real ones) and two tickets to see the Harry Potter exhibit. Is he the greatest boyfriend or what? After my French class, I headed home and started baking cookies with Emma and Ida. All of a sudden Dani asked me to come upstairs. She presented me the gift from the girls: a photo album filled with our pictures, a snow globe with a christmas tree (because everyone who knows me, knows that I love Christmas), and a card that read “Happy 6th Birthday.” Simply because the card had a princess on it, and they felt that they had to get it for me! 🙂 — I wanted to thank Emma and Ida so I hugged Dani and headed downstairs. To my surprise the girls sat there waiting with a huge princess cake and cupcakes! It was such a wonderful surprise! 🙂 After calling Branden over, we all got dressed and headed to my birthday dinner at Cabana Bar and Lounge. My friends Rhys and Tom were also in attendance. I met both Rhys and Tom on a trip to Ireland last year. It was so sweet of them to have bought me a Swarovski green clover charm for my birthday! Dinner was great. The day was great. My friends are great. My birthday was great.

For the past three days, I’ve been in Branden’s room working on papers. He is truly something incredible, and I hope that we’ll find a way to spend Christmas and New Year’s together in Toronto. Until then, I’m going to cherish the time we do have together – because I love it!

On the academic to do list: Music Portfolio. French Translation Assignment. Political Science Essay. Philosophy Essay. Music Showcase. — Flapperjacks.

Talk soon, xo Paroma

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My birthday week!

Hey everyone!

This week is my birthday week (October 21st-October 28th) 🙂

That is to say, the real celebration begins the 22nd and ends the 27th. The 21st and 28th are used to prepare for the festivities and recover from them as well 😉

Here’s the plan:
October 22nd: Morning Breakfast with Branden, at night = World Bar
October 23rd: Aquarium with Emma and Matt
October 24th: Baking cookies with Emma
October 25th: Special date I’ve organized for Branden and I
October 26th: Some time for homework
October 27th: Birthday dinner with friends at Cabana Bar and Lounge

… and watching Harry Potter every time in between!! 🙂

While I’m swamped with school work, it’s always nice to take a week off for your birthday celebrations! After all, you only turn 21 once!

Talk soon!
Paroma Ray

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Re: Study in Australia – Future Unlimited Video Contest

Hey everyone!

I recently submitted my video submission for the Study in Australia video contest.

Here’s hoping I win the two round tickets to Australia just in time for my 21st birthday!

Thanks for all the support!

Paroma Ray

— Off to Manly Beach! It’s such a lovely day in Sydney! Talk soon 🙂

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Spring Break (Reading Break)

Hey everyone!

There’s loads to fill you in on, but first, I would like to apologize for not having been able to write to you for the past couple of weeks – as you may already know, internet is not as easy to come by as in Canada or the United States. That being said, here’s what I did on my spring break!

My mom reached Sydney the 17th of September. That day, mom and I travelled to Cairns, Queensland, Australia. Cairns is definitely a must! It was awesome! We went to Kuranda by train (kinda similar to a toy train set) where I was able to take loads of pictures of some pretty spectacular sights. I got to pet kangaroos, hold koalas, and of course, I went snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef!

From Cairns, we then travelled via Sydney to Melbourne. Melbourne is a lovely city. It’s full of life and laughter. There, I saw a double rainbow, walked alongside penguins in the Penguin parade (INCREDIBLE!), and got up, close, and personal with some cockatoos!

From Melbourne, we travelled via Sydney to Queenstown, New Zealand. Queenstown was absolutely beautiful! The view from the plane alone was worth the trip! Mom and I took a cruise around Milford Sound, thankfully the weather was on our side. We were able to spot penguins, fur seals, and sea lions in the wild!

From Queenstown, we travelled to Auckland where we went up to the sky tower, saw some kiwis, llamas, ostriches, peacocks, and more! That being said, the number one, best thing about Auckland (in my humble opinion) was definitely the Hamilton Gardens. I loved the gardens and highly recommend for people to go and check it out if ever visiting Auckland. – That, and the fact that the rugby world cup was being held there! I love rugby! While mom and I didn’t see a match (since rugby really isn’t her thing), I really enjoyed just being there! I felt so welcome in the foreign country when I saw all the Canadian flags everywhere!

On the way back, to the place I now call home, I was coming back to reality. Whereas, my mom was still on vacation. I had to make sure my mom was still enjoying herself. That meant, while I was working on a paper (which I later needed an extension for), I asked Branden to take my mom to see the Harbour Bridge, to eat at the Rocks, and to see the Sydney Opera House. Mom said that she had thoroughly enjoyed herself and loved Branden’s company. The following day, I took her out myself to see Manly Beach by ferry. Afterwards, I showed her the Royal Botanic Gardens (given the fact we both love gardens, something I learned while we were in Auckland). The third day, my friend Kelly, my mom, and I went to Taronga Zoo (also by ferry). It is often said that Taronga is a must-see attraction when visiting Sydney. All I’ve got to say is, be prepared for a lot of walking. The zoo is huge! There’s plenty to enjoy whether you’re 6, 20 (on the verge of 21), or 60! Mom left Sydney the following morning (2nd of October) and I’ve been stuck working on assignments!

Since then, I’ve been trying to play catch up with all of my assignments. My lecturers have been pretty nice about helping me out with extensions, while I tried to organize myself (hence I’ve been busy keeping up with the numerous essays I’ve had to submit and performance I had to practice for). In recent events however (October 4th), I went to see an opera! Seeing Don Giovanni at the Sydney Opera House was probably one of the highlights of my trip, it was awesome! It was a most lovely and unforgettable night.

People often say that plans often change and you have to go with the flow. Mine have done just that. Being in Sydney has been amazing … which is why I’m considering staying another semester!

Talk soon,
Paroma Ray

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P.S. I’ve tried to upload pictures from Auckland from Taronga zoo, unfortunately, after numerous attempts it doesn’t seem to be working. I’ll try again soon!

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Feeling homesick?

Hey everyone!

Hope all is well with you, today’s post is all about: Feeling homesick

Fifty days later and I’m still not feeling homesick as of yet. Occasionally there are the days where I wake up in my bed and wonder whether I’m dreaming … and then I hear one of my housemates dropping the dishes on the kitchen floor.

I’m actually surprised how much I’m enjoying my time here in Australia. It’s pretty wonderful having housemates you get along with. Studies are going well. I’m having some trouble keeping up with all of the required readings, but I’ve been keeping up with submitting all of my assignments in on time.

It’s funny to think that I was home (in Toronto) only a couple of months ago. I’ve often wondered whether or not I’d be missing home, my parents, my family, and my friends – but oddly enough, I don’t talk to them often. When I was back in Ottawa, I remember talking with my parents about 5 times a day, now, I’m talking to them about twice a week for about 15 minutes. Mom’s coming up to see me for the spring break so that should be fun. We’re off to see Cairns, Melbourne, Queenstown, and Auckland! Today, I decided to spend time calling up my friends through google and it’s so nice to hear from them!

I’ve also taken the time to mail a few postcards to a couple of friends back home, total came to 8 dollars. Not too too shabby. In any case, for those who are experiencing home sickness, I would just try my hardest to focus on enjoying my time because this kind of opportunity won’t come by too often. Travelling abroad can be a scary experience, but it’s important to note that it is a big step, but it will help you grow in ways you never thought possible. Although the ways I’ve changed aren’t as apparent to me as I would like them to be, I can feel the change in myself… and I am looking forward to seeing how these changes will affect me when I return home.

That being said, I’m off to wash up and get ready for another round of studying.

Talk soon,
Paroma Ray

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