Here are some excerpts from what the students had to say in their first blog posts...
From Asa Westerdale:
"The trip to Australia was long, though not so arduous - a lot of waiting and triple-checking gate numbers, or trying to figure out what time it was in the US. After thirty-something hours of plane rides, landing in Melbourne and getting outside for the first time in two (or three) days was a godsend.
It helps that there's a huge variety of foods available, from Tzatziki-imbued lamb to burgers. Turns out the Aussies know how to make french fries - "chips"r than most places in the US. Go figure.
The first thing you notice when stepping out onto the streets is the distinct lack of noise - people don’t seem to chatter on and on as much as folks in the US... so tram rides, flights and streets are generally unnervingly quiet in comparison."
Ryan Sheridan says:
"Arriving in Australia was so exciting and long awaited after such a long flight. When first arriving, the first thing I noticed was people walking and driving on the left side instead of the right. This was very interesting because I’ve never been in a country where this is the norm.
The second thing I noticed was how nice the cars were here. A majority of people are driving a Mercedes or BMW.
Another thing that was apparent to me was the amount of cranes in Melbourne. After asking, I was informed that this is because the city is steadily expanding.
The most outstanding difference between here and the US is the personality of people. The citizens in Australia are just all around friendlier and most respectable."
Ryan Cass added:
"As soon as we landed in Sydney it was quite apparent how pleasant the Australians were to interact with. When compared to Americans in general I feel that most people here are much happier and more interested in interacting with one and other. We had a great time at the Carlton Brewery and the business tours were very informative. It’s been great getting closer with everyone on this trip and I am extremely excited for the remainder of this trip!"
Quintana Hart said:
"In Melbourne straight out of the airport we caught two buses that would take us to the Adina Apartment Hotel. On the way into the city it was an amazing sight. If you have ever been to NYC some of the buildings they are just ugly and not fun to look at. But here they have these aesthetically pleasing buildings. Each is different and if your in a part of the city where there are many of them it’s just a great view."
Kyler Johnson observed:
"Upon our arrival in Sydney, it was apparent rather quickly that the Australians tend to be a very kind and helpful group of people. Every local that we encountered in the airport was very helpful, and they were all very friendly. Other travelers did seem to be in a rush just like in the U.S., however the level of rudeness seemed to be noticeably lower than what we would encounter in a major U.S. airport.
I also noticed a couple of other small cultural differences in the first day or so in Melbourne. First, the public transportation system was very clean. Some cities in the U.S. have great public transportation as well, however some of the larger cities do have dirtier systems.
When paying a bill with a credit card, nearly every merchant has tried to “tap” our cards rather than insert the chips so there is clearly a difference in technology there.
Finally, restaurants are very hesitant to split checks among a table for some reason. In general, I have a very positive first impression of Melbourne and Australia as a whole."
Josh Krog adds:
"After getting to the hotel, we had a few hours to explore before going on a brewery tour. This gave us plenty of time to see what there was around our apartment. It turned out that it there were little restaurants every few feet and each one smelled amazing in its own way. So we decided to get a quick lunch of a small pizza from a pizzeria just down the road.
Thankfully the Carlton Brewery tour was not too late, or else I would have fallen asleep long before we started. Getting to see the behind the scenes of making beer was extremely interesting and a good way to start the trip since beer is something that is very often associated with Australia. Our guide was great and she did a good job explaining each step of the process but near the end I was falling asleep where I stood from exhaustion. The food and bear sampling were both fantastic and woke me up long enough to get back to my bed before I passed out... ...Overall my first impression is that I can look forward to another great time in this country."
From Alex Lotko:
"When we finally got to Australia we immediately stuck out. We were all walking on the wrong side congesting the whole airport . Even after being here a few days we keep noticing we slip up as we start to walk against the foot traffic."
"Jet lag is definitely a thing. We all thought we were wide awake and ready for the brewery tour and suddenly we were all dizzy and ready to pass out. The beer was definitely good, but all of us were half asleep so we couldn’t fully appreciate it. Our first few days have been interesting converting times back and forth between US and Australian. As a result we somehow are constantly feeling like we are in two different states of time one minute to the next."
And lastly, Rebecca Nathanson summed up with:
"When we finally left the airport after traveling for days, the first thing I noticed was the difference in the culture. People were driving and walking on the other side of the road from what I was used to. They had an interesting accent and dressed in an unique way that seems to be a flashback of the 80's. The first thing I noticed on the bus to the hotel was a big ferris wheel, which I thought was pretty cool. I was shocked by the large number of public transports and felt that I was back in a city. The city feeling made me feel comfortable and at home in an unknown place."