An Intern Abroad

Imagine a 5’2 American girl lugging 15 lbs worth of equipment on and off the Tube, through places like Trafalgar Square and world famous museums like the Victoria & Albert. That’s my reality every time I go to work.

I’m one of the 3% of American students who intern abroad. I work for a news and entertainment channel called London Live. I get sent all over the city to cover all different kinds of events. My repertoire now includes filming a theatre show designed around accessibility for both deaf and hearing audiences, to covering one of the most famous portraits in the world at the National Gallery.

The Arnolfini portrait is one of the art world’s greatest mysteries. This is a screenshot from one of my pieces I filmed for my job.

Work has also enabled me to attend an exclusive opening at the world famous Saatchi Gallery. After spending a day filming different exhibitions within the gallery, the curator handed me an invitation to attend the members-only opening that night. It was definitely one of the more surreal moments of my life.

A piece by the delightful and talented Daniel Crews Chubb, who I had helped interview earlier that day.

However, that isn’t the only type of things I have covered. My first real day in the office was the bombing at Parsons Green. My train had been cancelled before work so I had to walk/jog to make it. Nobody understood the magnitude of the situation. Even as we covered the scene live, details would trickle out slowly as we learned exactly what happened. I even managed to track down an interview with someone who was on the train. Sure enough, as what happens in big news situations, even reporters from the BBC and other international news companies started trying to record the interview I was getting with the London Live journalist I was sent out with. Talk about an intense and exciting first day!

One of the images I captured at the scene of Parsons Green.

 

Media frenzy at Parsons Green.

My work experience in London has been challenging and immensely rewarding. Finding your footing abroad is no easy feat. I’ve had to adjust to different styles of storytelling, different spellings, navigating a foreign workplace (not to mention an entire city!). However, I truly enjoy all of the change that’s happening in my life. I’ve grown so much in many different ways, both personally and professionally. The tests and challenges keep on coming, but the best way to grow is to keep moving forward and to keep learning.

This is an overlook of–in a broad sense–my office.

Laker Guide: Part 1

This Laker Guide is for all the new, wonderful additions that will be joining the Laker family this fall! I will bestow upon you all the magical senior wisdom I have gained these past years at SUNY Oswego.  This first blog will be about coming to Oswego, dorm life, navigating the campus, stuff like that. Let’s get started!

What to Bring with You

Obviously, this is a very important part of moving into the residence halls. It all depends on a couple of things though, like how close you live to Oswego and if you and your future roomie want to share items. For instance, my first year in a residence hall my roommate was kind enough to share her mini fridge with me so I did not have to buy one. But that is all up to you!

Since my hometown is five hours away, I basically packed my entire wardrobe. So if you’re like me, be sure to bring along some storage containers!200w_d

Luckily, SUNY Oswego put together a Pinterest file of things to bring. You can check it out here:  https://www.pinterest.com/sunyoswego/what-to-bring-to-your-dorm/

There are a few items you should make sure to bring that aren’t on that list: a pair of waterproof shoes and a waterproof jacket. These will come in handy walking to class on rainy days.  Also, your room will be your home for the next year, I definitely recommend bringing along some decorations to personalize it. Things like pictures, posters and other wall decor.

Academic Buildings

So Monday morning arrives and it’s time to go to your first class. But wait…where the heck is Shineman Center room 114?

 

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*Queue freak out*

No need to worry, you have a couple of options here. Incoming freshmen and transfers are required to come the Friday before classes start, so you’ll have all weekend to explore the campus and get familiar with it. Or if you’re like me and waited till the last minute to figure out where your classes are, there is a campus map to help you find your way: http://www.oswego.edu/about/visit/maps/campus/#placemarks//zoom/16/lat/undefined/lon/undefined

Getting #OswegoFit

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There are two fitness centers located on campus. Cooper Fitness Center is located in the middle of campus between Hart and Funnel residence halls. Glimmerglass Fitness Center is located on West campus between Onondaga and Onieda residence halls. And during the first week of classes it’s FREEEE. Both offer group exercise classes like yoga, lifting 101 and zumba!

Most importantly, the food!

There are so many options all over campus to grab a bite to eat so you won’t have to deal with a rumbling tummy.

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There are five dining centers across campus and they all have special quirks. Here are a few;

Cooper Dining Center- Smoothies for breakfast on certain days. Cooper also has an ice cream parlor serving delicious Perry’s Ice cream.

Pathfinder Dining Center- Quesadillas for lunch and ‘Kevin’s Grill’ for dinner where you can order burgers, phillies, grilled chicken, hot dogs and fries! Yum.

Mackin Dining Center-  Mackin is only open for dinner but serves diner style food that really hits the spot.

Whether or not you’re seeking a whole meal or just a snack between classes, there about 10 other cafes around campus. For all you coffee fanatics, Lake Effect Cafe in Penfield Library and F.A.N.S in the Marano Campus Center serve Starbucks coffee!

 

 

Well that’s all for this edition of my Laker Guide, I hope you will find some of this helpful as you begin your adventure here at SUNY Oswego!

Until next time!

-Shanna

 

 

 

Alternative Spring Break Iowa 2015

One of the perks of selecting the spring semester as my exchange semester was that I would be able to experience the famous, Spring Break. Growing up in Australia, I would frequently watch American teen TV shows and films which would depicted college students during Spring Break. Thus it was a concept I was familiar with and excited about. Back in Australia we have a “mid-semester break” but this is generally a week where students catch up on their studies, study for exams and rest. Prior to researching my options for Spring Break I assumed that most students went to Florida and partied similar to the film Spring Breakers. This option didn’t really appeal to me because of financial reasons, so I went on the search for alternatives which would still allow me to have fun whilst seeing more of the United States. One of my friends was taking a communications class and her teacher informed her about the alternative spring break trips. She then discussed it with me, we looked at all the different locations which were offered, and we signed up. Prior to arriving in the United States I had no intention of travelling to the MidWest as I did not think the opportunity would arise and in addition to this, it is not exactly the typical tourist destination. We were both excited about the idea of the trip but did not know what to expect.

Our home for the week

Our home for the week

SUNY Oswego’s alternative spring break’s are organised through Habitat for Humanity, which is a non-profit organisation. I had heard of this organisation and the worthwhile work they do, so I felt comfortable and safe embarking on this trip. Our group was going to Iowa so we were volunteering with the Iowa Heartland Habitat for Humanity. This specific location builds between 10-12 homes a year which is an incredible movement to be part of.

Day 1

We travelled through the night in an attempt to preserve whatever sleep patterns we had prior to the trip, and arrived refreshed and ready to explore our new home for the week. We were staying in Cedar Falls, Iowa, in a United Methodist Church, this church was more like a community centre rather than a church. It had modern facilities that we were able to utilise including a basketball court, cinema, games room, three kitchens and general common areas. We spent the day unpacking, becoming familiar with our new setting, preparing for the week ahead and getting to know each other.

Community service project

Community service project

Day 2

Day 2 marked the beginning of our work week and thus our routines were established. We woke at around 7:30am, ate breakfast as a team, travelled to the site and commenced work at 8:30am. This first day we completed a project in the community. We pulled down a fence which surrounded the oldest property in the area. This was a sensational effort on our part, as initially we were predicted to complete the job in three days, we did it in one. We left the site at 3:30pm and spent the remainder of the afternoon exploring the main street in Cedar Falls and visited the University of Northern Iowa. Our evening traditions emerged which consisted of watching a crazy number of The Cleveland Show episodes, whilst playing trivia board games, before bed at 11pm.

Day 3

Once we arrived on site, we were advised that we would be working in the warehouse and creating the exterior frames of a house. I was clueless about framing but fortunately we had an excellent instructor. Framing is reading a wall plan, following the measurements, doing

St Paddy's Day!

St Paddy’s Day!

some basic calculations, cutting the wood to size, fitting the wood together, and nailing the wood together. It’s quite a process. The first day it took each team all day just to complete one wall each as we were all still learning. It was actually St. Patrick’s Day, so after we had finished work for the day, we decided as a team to celebrate by getting a McDonald’s Shamrock Shake – we do not have these in Australia so I was very excited. In the early evening we attended a dinner which the church was hosting, this was great as we were able to interact with and meet some community members. Several of us decided to go for a jog in the later afternoon – it was beautiful. I really enjoyed being in the fresh air and seeing more of the town.

Day 4

Once agin we were framing, we became slightly better and each team

Framing

Framing

managed to complete either two or three frames, we saw this as a significant improvement. I discovered that I am allergic to saw dust as even with a ventilator my throat was still irritated. This was annoying but didn’t put a damper on my day as I knew I just had to endure several more days. After we had finished work for the day we went to the local sports complex which was fantastic. We worked-out individually for around half the time, before coming together and having an epic volleyball game.

Day 5

Day 5 was the last day of framing and by this point we were serious pros. At the end of the day, we had actually completed the entirety of the exterior walls of a home. We were really proud of this effort as not only had all of our construction skills improved, we were the ones responsible for these frames being completed which a family in need would eventually live in. Once we left the site we returned to the church where we had Brinner (breakfast for dinner – duh); it was incredible. We then went downtown to explore the main street more, purchased specialty popcorn and checked out the local ice-cream parlour where we devoured some tasty treats.

Photoshoot!

Photoshoot!

Day 6

Day 6 marked our last day working for Habitat and it was bittersweet. We spent the morning doing another community service project which consisted of pulling down a handicap ramp, and then spent the rest of the day assisting with cleaning up the warehouse and yard before finally doing a photoshoot as a team and saying our goodbyes to the Habitat team. We spent the afternoon packing our bags and napping before heading out for a Mexican dinner and attending a semi-professional Ice hockey game. The Ice hockey game was like nothing I had ever witnessed before. The fans were all shaking their cow bells when their team had possession, and the hosts were engaging with the audience through shouting and dancing competitions. My seat was apparently lucky as I won a coupon for a local ribs outlet.

Day 7

Chicago!

Chicago!

We hit the road at 7am, Chicago bound. We arrived in Chicago around noon and driving into the city was sensational as we were able to see the skyline and the Willis (Sears) tower very clearly. My first impression of Chicago was that the city is a smaller version of New York City. We explored Millennium Park and I was in awe the entire time. I was so excited to see the Big Bean and couldn’t wait to see what else the city offered. We passed the Chicago river which was still a hint of green from St. Patrick’s Day, and also walked down the Navy Pier. I was amazed by the pier, and Lake Michigan’s beauty. It was one of the most beautiful shades of blue I had ever seen. We had intentions of walking down the magnificent mile and shopping, however our stomach’s interfered with this plan and instead we went to Pizzeria Uno to eat the original Chicago-style deep-dish. We waited around an hour and a half for this pizza, but in my opinion, it was worth it. The pizza had a fruit pie-like base with fresh toppings. After two slices I was uncomfortably full. By this point it was around 5pm and it was time to go. We once again drove through the night and arrived back at campus at approximately 5:20am. Although it was a long day, this day was one of the best days of my life.

The group

The group

Final thoughts

We all agreed that the trip was a very worthwhile experience and I would certainly recommend it to students looking to do something different during their break. Working for Habitat put life into perspective for me, and allowed me to see how fortunate, blessed and lucky I am. I want to give back where I can, and prior to this trip I found it difficult to discover these kinds of organisations which were inline with my visions and values. Habitat provides this opportunity in a safe environment with the chance to learn useful, valuable skills. The kinds of people that you meet on these alternative trips are a special kind, I feel it takes a certain type of person to be willing to sacrifice their break in order to go and do community service. I am sure that the friendships which were formed during this trip will last in years to come.

Thankyou SUNY Oswego for providing me with this opportunity, thankyou to the incredible group I was able to experience this with, and a massive thank-you to Scott Ball for being an incredible leader and role model.

Peace Out

K

Ozzie scored a job at Cooper!

Working in Cooper

Working in Cooper

SUNY Oswego has 13 residency halls as around half of the enrolled students live on campus. To accommodate this large volume of students, Oswego has 5 dining halls. As an international student living in Hart Hall, I eat approximately 80% of my meals in Cooper Dining Hall. Because I was spending a large proportion of my time in this dining hall, I was able to witness the culture and attitude of Cooper and its employees – I wanted in. Whenever I was being served a meal the staff were always smiley, friendly and wanting to strike up a conversation; I loved it. I was also motivated to earn some pocket money due to the AUD being weak.

So I did the next logical thing, I applied for a position. Initially I didn’t hear back as there were no openings, however several weeks later I received a call asking if I was still looking for a position. I started two days later. So far I have only worked as a server (dishing out and serving students food) and in the deli section (making wraps and sandwiches) but I am enjoying the work and grateful for all the new friends I have made so far.

I have a positive attitude towards this job as that’s exactly what it is, a job, it’s not a career, and it’s a way for me to make friends whilst earning some cash. Being employed has forced me to setup a US bank account and obtain a Social Security number, both which put me in good stead if I decide to return to the states in the future for work purposes.

Hard work is good for the soul,

Peace out

K xx

Snowshoeing in the Adirondacks – an Aussies POV

Early start

Early start

Since I began my semester abroad, my new friends would always speak of travelling to the Adirondacks on weekends and hiking, fishing and camping. The word Adirondacks itself sounded like some foreign language and I could barely even pronounce it initially. I had heard of snowshoeing but only on TV and in movies and I was under the impression snowshoeing was when someone straps a tennis racquet-like head to their shoe and walks through snow. Technically I was correct, but those were the “old school” style of snowshoes – they are more sophisticated these days.

I joined the SUNY Oswego Outdoor club with some friends and signed up for this snowshoeing adventure to Lake Placid, Adirondacks. I honestly had no idea what to expect or what it would entail but I was very eager to see part of the Adirondacks.

Beautiful snow capped trees

Beautiful snow capped trees

Lake Placid is located roughly 5 hours from SUNY Oswego so we left at 3am on Saturday to begin our journey. We stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts and various convenience stores on the way to use the bathrooms and stock-up on snacks. I found it remarkable that convenience stores in the U.S are reasonably priced and items are priced almost identical to their prices in Walmart. In Australia the prices are approximately 2-3 times higher in convenience stores.

Fortunately enough I was able to get several hours of sleep through the night during our travels so by the time we arrived I was refreshed, excited and ready to snowshoe. Once we arrived at the Adirondacks we layered up, fastened out snowshoes and set out on the trail. We were chasing Tabletop Mountain which is one of the 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks. It was approximately a 7 mile hike with snow literally everywhere.

Incredible

Incredible

The hike up was difficult to say the least. It started off okay as it was mostly flat with small inclines but as we progressed the trees became thicker, the trailer thinned out and the inclines were steeper. About a mile before the peak was when the real inclines began and it was a struggle. In several places we resorted to getting down on all fours and climbing (scrambling) up the mountain as it was too steep to walk. The whole climb we were regularly stopping to take off layers as we were sweating, however once we reached the peak the wind had a strong chill and all these layers needed to be put back on to essentially prevent hyperthermia.

The view from the peak was breathtaking in my opinion. It was grey, cloudy and snowing heavily so it was hard to capture the outlook on camera, however I thought the view suited the atmosphere of the day and exceeded my expectations.

Peak

Peak

Once we had admired the scene for long enough we proceeded to slide down the mountain and go back to base. We had begun the hike at around 9:30am and were all back at the lodge by 5pm; it was a long day. Because it had snowed so much during the day it was a longer trip home, but I mostly slept so was not phased. When we arrived back to campus, myself and two friends went to late-night and ate our hearts out – it was fantastic.

I feel so lucky, blessed and privileged that I was able to go on this trip as it is so different to anything I had ever experienced or imagined I would do in my life.

Peace Out

K xx

The Oscars! In Hart Hall

Oscars!

Oscars!

Being from Australia an all, I had never actually watched the Oscars – only ever the highlights. This is because the timezones are so out of whack. Anyway! This year because I am in the U.S.A I was fortunate enough to not only watch the oscars, but also attend a party organised by my hall. It was so much fun! The Oscars reminded me of the Logies but on a bigger scale as all the big stars were there, lame jokes were cracked, award winners made moving speeches and all the celebrities looked incredible. My highlight of the evening was seeing Lady Gaga perform a tribute to the Sound of Music, as I grew up watching this film with my Mum and Ba, so this was really special to me.

death2At our event in Hart Hall, there was a red carpet setup to make us feel fabulous as we entered, big cardboard images of cinema film reels and stars dangling from the ceiling and walls, posters on the walls, and food. Lots and lots and lots of food.

We all watched (and cheered) the Oscars and participated in mini competitions whilst continuously stuffing our faces with food. I did not win anything but one of my friends won a Walmart voucher which we all thought was pretty neat. I had a great evening and really enjoyed watching the Oscars all the way through as it’s something I probably will not be able to do again.

 

Peace Out

K xx

 

 

 

 

My first Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year decorations

Chinese New Year decorations

In Australia Chinese New Year is recognised and celebrated but because I do not have many ties to China, I had never really embraced it before… this year was different!

Because I live in Hart Hall (where most international students reside), I meet many different students from all over the world, many being from China and Taiwan. To respect their traditions and for something fun to do, our residency hall threw a Chinese New Year Party! There was food from China, Taiwan & Korea (Korean New Year is typically on the same day as Chinese

New Year except when a new moon appears) and many students chatting, having fun and celebrating this occasion.

Goodluck gift

Goodluck gift

I was very fortunate that two of my new friends who are from Taiwan and China, both gave me red envelopes which symbolise good luck. One of the envelopes contained One New Taiwanese dollar coin, and the other was a rectangular shaped red purse with embroidery.

I love living in Hart because I am exposed to so many different cultures and traditions, it really is unique and special.

Peace out

K xx

University in Australia vs. College in the States

On my decision to come to SUNY Oswego for an exchange semester, I knew that things would be different, but I assumed that more or less Australian and American university life and culture would be very similar. I was wrong. I have outlined the main differences below. Enjoy.

College is love

College is love

1. College is love, college is life. Literally. Since beginning college my days typically consist of eating all my meals with friends, going to class, going to the gym with friends, doing homework with friends, watching Netflix with friends, and sleeping. This is vastly different to my university days at QUT as everyday would always be completely different. In Brisbane some days I would go to work, others I would have class, and others I would do absolutely nothing but hang out with friends. I like the structured format of college in the states because I am forced to be more dedicated to my studies and I actually feel like I have time for things (such as working out) because everything is on campus.

2. Homework and pass grades. At QUT in my course, to pass a subject you simply need to get 50% or higher, which is simple and makes sense to me… Here it varies on the subject. For instance one of my subjects is 60% and another is 70%. However it is easier to get marks here (from my recent experience anyway) as professors tend to give out marks for attendance and small homework tasks. Which brings me to my next point; homework. Per subject at QUT I would have two exams during a semester and 1-3 large assignments, and class work/homework is completely optional. Whereas at SUNY Oswego I actually have to keep up to date on course work by submitting graded homework tasks weekly. I like the feelings of always being on top of my course work here, and it gives me reassurance that I will pass and do well, but I do miss weeks of procrastination and doing things last minute as I work well under pressure.

3. Structure of classes. At QUT all of my weekly classes are made up of two parts: one being a lecture which takes place in a hall and is run by a professor, and the other is a practical session in a classroom environment which may be run by a professor or a researcher. At SUNY Oswego all my subjects are in a classroom environment. I feel as though I am back in high school at times. I prefer my university’s style of teaching because a lecture might be one day, and the practical session the next, so it gives me time to digest the information. However I feel as though I have the potential to develop closer, more meaningful relationships with professors here as the contact is more personal and regular.

Snow storm

Snow storm

4. Classes are cancelled if there is a snow storm. This is vastly different to what I am used to. It doesn’t snow in Brisbane, but when we do have extreme weather, scheduled activities are rarely postponed (the exception being sporting events). I was surprised that classes were cancelled when there was a blizzard because most students live on campus and have the warm clothes needed to withstand these conditions anyway.

5. Not everything will kill you in the states. I was bitten by a spider two nights ago and I did not die; I initially thought it was a mosquito bite as it was itchy, small and hard, but turned out it was a spider bite. If this had happened in Australia I probably would have gone straight to the ER. I am enjoying the fact that I do not need to fear for my life when I encounter bugs and reptiles here.

6. American’s have awesome accents. I am always interested in what my peers and professors have to say because I cannot get enough of the accent.

7. American’s have a different definition of thong. I was telling some new friends about my regular encounters with spiders and how I kill them with my thongs (flip flops), and they thought this was hilarious because they were imagining me killing them with a g-string. Lol.

College food

College food

8. Dining halls. At QUT we do not have any dining halls, rather we have food courts, cafes and bars, where items must be purchased in $AUD. When I arrived at Oswego the whole dining hall and dining dollars thing was so foreign, amazing & like something from an American movie. I love that there are so many dining halls on campus and their hours are long and flexible. I wish we had this culture at QUT.

 

Peace Out

 

My first impressions of Walmart

For years I had always heard Walmart referenced in movies and pop culture and I was always so intrigued as we have nothing quite like it in Australia. The college is really well serviced with public transport so getting to Walmart was not an issue. My friends also had never been to Walmart before so we decided to make a day of it.

As expected it was huge. I had built it up so big in my mind, however it really wasn’t as incredible and exciting as I had expected. It was underwhelming to be completely honest. It was just like several stores in Australia combined (Woolworths and Big W). I was really impressed by how inexpensive everything was, especially makeup. I was able to pick up lipsticks which are usually around $17 in Australia, for $6 at Walmart. I also loved how friendly and willing to help all the folks there were and the great range of cheap, American candy.

Sweet selfie we took

Sweet selfie we took

Ski Trip to Bristol Mountain Ski Resort

Yesterday I went twilight skiing. It was awesome.

Beautiful views

Beautiful views

As a student from Australia, the idea of going skiing as a college related activity, is unheard-of. There are always posters around SUNY advertising upcoming events and I saw this ski trip to Mt. Bristol listed. I was in. I signed up for the trip, paid the small fee and was all ready to go with eight of my closest friends.

The mountain is only 1 hour 30 minutes from campus and besides not having cell reception for most of the way, the bus trip proved to be enjoyable. When we arrived I was so ready. I had been ready since I saw the trip listed and finally I was here.

I had only ever been skiing at Coronet Peak & Perisher prior to this trip so when I arrived and looked at my surroundings I was amazed. The flora and fauna was completely different to anything I had seen or skied in before, it was beautiful.

feeling very 80s with my beanie

feeling very 80s with my beanie

We skied between 4pm – 10pm which forced me to make productive use of the time (i.e. spend as much time on the slopes as possible). Some of my friends elected to take lessons before skiing, so whilst they were doing this I was exploring the slopes with two of my friends who, like me, did not need a lesson. We warmed up by skiing around 6 or 7 green runs until I decided I was comfortable enough to take on a blue. I was wrong. The sign indicated that there was a blue trail ahead, however it lied (or maybe I read it incorrectly) and there were only two track options – both black diamond runs. Fortunately it was still early in the afternoon (so I was not tired and my technique was fine) and the snow was powdery. I only fell over twice, ejected from my skis once, and most importantly did not get injured. I am glad that I challenged myself and went down this first diamond run as it gave me confidence, and desire to explore the mountain.

My friends and I all met up for dinner in the Rocket Lodge and it was perfect. It was this big wooden hut with long tables, a canteen service, and great vibes. We ate hamburgers, pizza and waffle fries – can I seriously be doing anything more American? I love it.

I think by the end of the night the only runs I had not attempted were the double diamonds, and skiing through the deeper woods. By the time 10pm came we were all fatigued and ready to go back to campus. We stopped at a McDonald’s on the way back and all went to sleep content.

wow pretty
Thankyou SUNY, you are awesome.