Tuesday, 24 July 2012

This Isn't A Vacation?

I have been in Australia for a full week and a half, and I am happy to say I am over the jet lag! I tried to distract myself from the tired feeling by going to the beach, cooking real meals, (or at least trying!) and going to Sunshine Plaza to walk around and window shop.

As I skyped my Grandparents this morning, Grandpa gave me the great idea of posting a map of exactly where I am. Australia is a big place, so I hope this helps you get a better idea of my location. I am in the Sunshine Coast, in a town called Sippy Downs, about 30 minutes from Brisbane.

I am not used to cooking every meal for myself, and it is proving to be much harder than I thought (Mom, I don’t know how you do it!) Unfortunately I have resorted to spaghetti and cereal for the majority of my meals thus far. Don’t worry, it didn’t take long for me to realize that this diet plan is simply a bad idea. In future grocery shopping trips I am making a point to buy healthy options like chicken, nuts and salad, as opposed to instant noodles. I hope I can stick with this plan!
I accidentally steamed the whole stalk of broccoli instead of a normal portion.  

I am happy to say my friends and I have made it to the beach three times already! We have taken the bus to two different beaches, one called Maloolooba, and one called Alex Beach in Maroochydore (try saying those ten times fast!) It has been a blast, and thankfully the weather has been warm enough during the day to actually go swimming! It is hard to believe they call this winter.

In the midst of meeting so many new people, taking trips to the beach and just hanging out with friends, I almost forgot that I am here for school! I had a rude awakening on Tuesday morning when reality set in, and I realized that I am not on a 4.5 month vacation, but I actually have to go to class.

I have had only two classes so far, and they are much different than what I am used to at Elon. At Elon, I am in a small classroom with one professor and roughly 25 students. Here I am in a lecture hall with roughly 200 students and a new professor each week for certain classes. The course setup is also different here in the sense that I have two classes for each subject; one lecture, and one tutorial. The tutorials are smaller, similar to Elon classes, and both tutes, as they are called, and lectures meet only once a week. The grading scale here is different as well. Instead of receiving an A, B, C, D, and F, they give HD (High Distinction), D (Distinction), C (Credit), P (Pass), and F (Fail). Apparently less that 5% of students actually receive High Distinction, which is hard to believe. I am curious to see how these grades transfer back to my Elon transcript.
One of the Lecture Halls

I am lucky because my schedule allowed me to have my four lectures and tutorials on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. This means a four-day weekend! I am not sure what I will do with such a long weekend, but I am sure I will find some fun adventures to keep me busy.

I am off to my second class of the day! I am having a wonderful time here, but I also miss everyone from home! If you want me to send you a postcard from Down Under, just email me your address and I would be happy to write!!

Kangaroo Love,


*And for those of you who were curious, here is my address!
Tessa Jones
79C/7 Varsity View Court
Sippy Downs Queensland, Australia

Friday, 20 July 2012

My Room

Here are just a few snapshots of my room in Unicentral! I am lucky because I have my own bedroom and bathroom (thank goodness!) My three other apartment mates and I share a kitchen and living area. I am also happy because many of my Elon friends live either right below, above, or next to me! It makes it easy to meet up for "family dinners/breakfasts" which we like to do quite often!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Jet Lagged

I have been in Australia for three days now, and it has been and exciting and exhausting adventure. Some of the highlights have been seeing my first wild kangaroo, eating my first Roo Pie (yes, as in kangaroo), seeing the beautiful beach and signing up for a surfing trip at the end of August!

JET LAG has hit me hard since I’ve been here. I have experienced jet lag before when I traveled to Europe and China, but it hasn't affected me quite like this. Australia is 14 hours ahead of Cincinnati, and the time difference has really impacted me. I thought I would adjust quickly by keeping myself busy so that I wouldn’t think about it. Although I have kept plenty busy with orientation, exploring, etc., I have been completely wiped by 5 p.m. every day. It also doesn’t help that the sun goes down around 4:30 p.m. here, which completely confuses my body into thinking it is time for bed.
I am determined to beat the lag tonight as a bunch of people are getting together for an official welcome party at the school’s club house. 

ORIENTATION is three days long and so far I have attended several helpful sessions that inform us all about the campus and university procedures. I got my official USC id card and my bus pass, which is already loaded with $65! I can use the bus to travel to a large shopping plaza, Mooloolaba Beach (see picture below), and various places in the town of Sippy Downs.

One of the most important investments I’ve made so far is in an international cell phone. I went to a place called Crazy John’s to buy a cell phone and it is free to text and call all other Crazy John customers. Thankfully all of my Elon friends used the same company and it is easy and free to communicate with each other. The limited selection of cell phones resulted in about 10 of us with the same phone, and we often would take each other’s phone by mistake. In an effort to eliminate this constant confusion I took the initiative to personalize mine (see picture below).

I have had an incredible time the past few days, and I’ve people have been nothing but friendly and welcoming! I will keep everyone updated as often as I can!

Much Love,

Tessa xoxoxoxooxoxox

Saturday, 14 July 2012

A Smooth Landing

My name is Tessa Jane Jones and I am a junior at Elon University who has the once in a lifetime opportunity of studying abroad in Australia. This is my first blog, and it is designed for family and friends to follow me through my travels and adventures, as it is often difficult to communicate to people back home. I am not completely sure what I will include in this blog. Some posts may be more formal or informal, detailed or vague, long or short, happy or sad (but hopefully mostly happy:). This blog is a part of the big, mysterious adventure that will take place over the next 4.5 months, and I am happy for anyone to read along to get a glimpse of my life Down Under. 

Today, or shall I say the past 48 hours have been a whirlwind of overwhelming emotions, excitement, and exhaustion! I am happy to say I am blogging from my bedroom at the University of the Sunshine Coast, in Brisbane, Australia, but getting here was an adventure in itself. 

I left Cincinnati at 2:35 pm on July 12, 2012 and headed to Dallas, Texas. I checked my two large suitcases, both just under that dreaded 50 lb mark, and carried my backpack with some magazines, and of course my favorite stuffed animal, Bear (Original, I know. I also have a stuffed dog named Puppy).  I was all set to go on an adventure of a lifetime. I said my goodbyes to Mom and Dad at security and made my way to the gate. I got some Subway and boarded the plane. This plane ride was not the most enjoyable for me. (For those of you who don't know, I really do not enjoy flying, or airplanes, or airports, but I often make the sacrifice because I DO love to travel). Already anxious about the serious of flights about to take place, I board the smallest plane known to mankind. They packed us in like sardines and we all settled into our cramped seats. The ~2 hour flight had a bit of turbulence but nothing unbearable.

After a brief layover in DFW, we board a plane heading to LAX. Now I am seated in the middle of three seats with an overly chatty woman to my left, and a dad with an infant to my right. Now, I am typically a very chatty and outgoing person who loves to talk to different people. My personality takes a 180 when I am in travel mode. I like to keep to myself, listen to music, and simply shut my eyes and relax. The lady to my left didn’t catch on. After giving me her life story about her daughter who lives in Alaska, her dogs, and her job as a driving instructor, I rest my head on the tray table on the seat in front of me. As I begin to doze off, I feel a tap on my shoulder. As I slowly open my eyes, this lady tells me that it is perfectly okay for me to rest my head on her shoulder, since the tray table didn’t appear to be so comfortable. (I am all about snuggles with friends and family, don’t get me wrong, but this was a complete stranger!) I kindly replied saying, “No thank you” to which she responded, “Are you okay?” Needless to say, I didn’t respond and I went on with the rest of my flight. Once my interactions with this bizarre woman ceased, the infant next to me decided he was hungry, sleepy, thirsty… something! Because he would not stop whining and screaming for the rest of the 2.5 hour flight... 

One departure and 2 Advil later, it was time to go to Australia! I met at gate 41 with several other Elon friends, and we caught up and shared in the excitement during the 5-hour layover.  As our Qantas plane approach the gate, I think we were all in shock its size. One thing that ran through my mind was, how the heck this enormous piece of plane would actually become airborne and stay in the air?! 
Qantas flight 16 is a 2-story plane that travels 14 hours to and from Australia!
We finally boarded and we were off to Brisbane! With a little help and assistance, I fell right asleep, but I unfortunately slept right through dinner and was quite hungry when I woke up 10 hours later.

I managed to stay awake for the duration of the flight, and watched The Lucky One with my remaining few hours (I have a huge celeb crush on Zac Efron!) Before we knew it we were preparing for landing, with our seatbelts fastened tightly across our laps. As I looked out the window, the Australian soil was becoming closer and closer, and suddenly a feeling less than a jerk, but more of a mere bump occurred. WE MADE IT! And not to mention one of the smoothest landings I had ever experienced.
I was overjoyed to have my two suitcases and Bear (on top) with me when I exited the Brisbane airport. A smooth landing and a great day!
I was overjoyed to have my two suitcases and Bear (on top) with me when I exited the Brisbane airport. A smooth landing and a great day!
Everyone departed the plane and made our way through customs. This is when I had a freighting realization; Bear wasn’t with me. He was still on the plane and there was no way I could go back through customs to find him. Tears filled my eyes as I confessed to Haley and Alexandra my mistake. I pleaded to the people who are in charge of lost baggage to let me go back to get him, or to at least have someone else search the plane. They said they would see what they could do, but no promises. I waited at the carousel for my bags, and was relieved and overjoyed to see BOTH of my suitcases fall to the spinning carousel. Typically I am not so elated to see my luggage, but after my last study abroad experience in Italy, where I went 4 days without my bags, you can imagine the joy I felt. My happiness grew even more when I looked back to the baggage claim counter to see Bear sitting on top! His head was slouched over to the side, as it always has since my dog Skye tries to rip him to shreds every chance she can. I held Bear tight as we took our bags and boarded the shuttles that would take us to campus!

I had a full day of shopping, moving in, and much more that I will post about at a later date. Right now, I am having trouble keeping my eyes open, and I am just happy I stayed awake until 8:07 pm. I miss everyone like crazy! Look for more updates in the coming days as I dive into this adventure.

Much Love,

Tessa Jane Jones xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo