Beaches, Boats, and Bush Dancing

Author: Jessica Hanson

Location: Newcastle, Australia

Well, I’ve officially survived three weeks here in Australia! It’s been crazy getting into the swing of things, but I’ve found fun friends and activities to keep me busy and figured out how to shop and cook for myself! It’s definitely weird getting adjusted to a new country, but the experience already has been absolutely amazing!

Over the last three weeks, I have done everything from checking out new places to Australian dancing to beach clean ups or just hanging out at the beach and so much more! Before starting the semester, I was really nervous that I would get here and not find anyone to hang out with or activities to keep me busy, but I promised myself I would get involved so that my limited time here in Australia would not go to waste! This last week was a bit less exciting as I’ve been battling off a cold for a week now, but I didn’t let it totally stop me from exploring and doing stuff around Australia. It’s definitely paid off to put myself out there- everyone here is so nice and welcoming, and, of course, they do love the American accent!

So here’s just a sneak peek into everything I’ve accomplished while I’ve been here so far. I haven’t done much traveling yet as I am at the mercy of the public bus and train system, but those adventures are coming very soon, so stay tuned! ūüôā

Recreational Activities:

Perhaps the weirdest thing I’ve done so far is decide to join my building’s Girls Touch Rugby Team! I figured it was a great way to meet some girls in my building while getting some physical activity in at the same time. I had no idea what I was doing, but the girls were heaps helpful and at least I get the rules now (I think!) We lost our first game last Monday but at least it was fun!

I’ve been looking for some dance opportunities here in Australia since I miss my beloved Valpo Ballroom Team so much… While they don’t have much ballroom dancing in the area, I have thankfully found a few opportunities! One was a classic Australian Bush Dancing night, which I can’t describe as anything other than the kind of choreographed dancing you always see at Old English Balls- but country style! And the other is a place called Club Jive over in the city that teaches Modern Jive (not to be confused with ballroom Jive). It was great to get dancing again and, like all other social dancing I’ve been to, I was by far the youngest in the room!

Although their mild winter of 60-70 degrees is nothing like the cold Wisconsin winter I’m used to, it still is a bit chilly to go to the beach. However, we did have a lovely day hanging out with other international students at Glenrock beach playing cards, ultimate frisbee, and sand volleyball!

My lovely friend Rosie was nice enough to take me with her to the Newcastle Farmer’s Market last weekend for my weekly supply of fresh fruits and veggies! Cool to see, but nothing extraordinary here- it was a pretty big spread of lovely local produce and handmade food items typical of an American farmer’s market.

Last but not least, I was feeling lazy and needed a day to hit the city and explore. Original plans to do a Memorial Walk along the cliff were derailed by rainy weather, so me and my friend Jade improvised and hit two of the museums in the city- the art gallery and the steel workers museum. Pro Tip- if you have the chance, always go to museums with someone who knows the culture- Jade was by far much more informational at answering some of my questions and giving me insights into Australia than simple exhibit descriptions could ever be!

Environmental Involvement:

One of my hopes choosing to study in Australia was that I would learn heaps of interesting things about the environment and ways that the Aussie culture promotes its upkeep and preservation. In addition to the wonderful things I am learning in my Sustainable Society class, I am part of the Newcastle University Student Environmental Club (NUSEC) on campus which keeps me updated on all the environmental activities going on during the semester. So far, I have participated in two beach clean ups and gone to three different environmental info/speaker events focusing on climate change and sustainable practice. It’s been fun to get involved and learn about the policies and practices of a new country!

And the crowd favorite- Parties!:

First- Autonomy Day! Autonomy Day is a huge deal here at University of Newcastle! It happens during second semester every year during the first week in August and commemorates when University of Newcastle became an independent campus from University of New South Wales. Apparently their autonomy is a huge deal since they’ve been celebrating it for over 50 years!

  Second- The Sydney Harbor Boat Party! Now THIS was another once-in-a-lifetime experience that could not have happened on a more beautiful day! The Exchange Student Network here on campus organized an event for any University student to come hang out for a lovely evening on a 3.5-hour cruise around the Sydney Harbor! We went under the famous Sydney Harbor Bridge and passed by the Sydney Opera house. The coast and skyline was beautiful during sunset and it was a perfect night to meet new people and hang out without a care in the world. If you ever get this opportunity, 10/10 recommend!

Well that’s all I have for you today mates! Sorry I’m a little light on specific pictures, I guess I didn’t take as many during my fun outings as I would have liked! Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in a couple weeks ūüôā


2017 Photo Contest Winners: Grand Prize

Grand Prize

Name: Peaceful Request
Photographer: Ian Olive
Location: Venice, Italy
Program: Germany Study Center
Description: A calm protest and request

2017 Photo Contest Winners: Valpo Near and Far

Category: Valpo Near and Far

1st Place:

Name: The Penguin Peninsula
Photographer: Katherine, Carlson
Location: Otago Peninsula, New Zealand
Program: Summer in New Zealand
Description: Ocean lookout at the end of the Otago Peninsula with penguins

2nd Place:

Name: Guinness Lake
Photographer: Michelle Ford
Location: Wicklow Mountains, Ireland
Program: Christ College Spring Break in Ireland
Description: We’re always proud to rep Valpo!

3rd Place:

Name:¬†Reppin’ Valpo in the Prague Schools
Photographer: Hannah Purkey
Location: Prague, Czech Republic
Program: Summer in Prague
Description: My Valpo flag and I got lost and ended up at a Prague college!

2017 Photo Contest Winners: Unforgettable Moment

Category: Unforgettable Moment 

1st Place:

Name: Polluting the Ganges with Sins
Photographer: Emma Chelsvig
Location: Varanasi, India
Program: World Internships
Description: Each day thousands of Hindus journey to the holy (and heavily polluted) waters of the Ganges River to cleanse themselves of their sins.

2nd Place:

Name: Through Binoculars
Photographer: Tiffany Luehrs
Location: Xixi Wetlands, Hangzhou, China
Program: China Study Center
Description: When I went bird watching for my biology class, I noticed how the binoculars made a perfect circular frame every time I focused on a different part of the wetland. I decided to take photos through the binoculars and was surprised at the results!  I made this collage with a few of my favorite images from the day.

3rd Place:

Name:¬†Dear Porto…
Photographer: Jewan Attallah
Location: Porto, Portugal
Program: French Language Immersion Semester
Description: The photo represents my personal love for Porto.

2017 Photo Contest Winners: Sense of Place

Category: Sense of Place 

1st Place:

Name: Descending to Ascend
Photographer: Emma Chelsvig
Location: Varanasi, India
Program: World Internships
Description:¬†Locals and Indian tourists flock to the ghats in Varanasi where they bathe themselves in the Ganges’ holy water.

2nd Place:

Name: We Have  Seen the Light
Photographer: Savannah Jorgensen
Location: Florence, Italy
Program: England Study Center
Description: Florentine people celebrating

3rd Place:

Name: Nymphenburg Palace
Photographer: Kostadin Pendev
Location: Munich, Germany
Program: Reutlingen Summer Engineering Program
Description: The Nymphenburg Palace was built from the 17th to the 19th century for the Bavarian royal family. Behind the palace, there is a garden that is 88 square miles.


2017 Photo Contest Winners: People

Category: People 

1st Place:

Name:¬†A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words
Photographer: Savannah Jorgensen
Location: London, England
Program: England Study Center
Description: Local artist showing his chalk talents off at the National Gallery

2nd Place:

Name: Reflective
Photographer: Katherine Carlson
Location: Mirror Lake, New Zealand
Program: Summer in New Zealand
Description: Self portrait of me looking off in the distance at Mirror Lake

3rd Place:

Name: Gondoliers in their Canals
Photographer: Amy Klass
Location: Venice, Italy
Program: Germany Study Center
Description: Venice, Italy is a beautiful city consisting of hundreds of canals ruled by boats, tours, and of course, gondolas! Taking a ride through the canals is the best and most unforgettable way to view the historic city of Venice.

2017 Photo Contest Winners: Crossing Cultures

Category: Crossing Cultures 

1st Place:

Name: Spaetzal
Photographer: Ian Olive
Location: Reutlingen, Germany
Program: Germany Study Center
Description: Lucy makes Spaetzal

2nd Place:

Name:¬†Chasin’ Cataratas
Photographer: Vincenza Zaia
Location: La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Program: Costa Rica Study Center
Description: Do things that scare you, things that make you realize how small you really are.

3rd Place:

Name: Nice Flags in France
Photographer: Amy Klass
Location: Nice, France
Program: Germany Study Center
Description: Flags from all different countries lined the street along the Mediterranean and the path to a lighthouse in Nice, France!

Introducing the Bloggers: Keith

Blogger: Keith Nagel

Location: Windhoek, Namibia

Major: International Relations and Geography

I chose to study abroad because I feel like the only way to truly understand foreign places is to go and experience them yourself. I am most excited about the amazing scenery that Namibia has to offer. With one of the most beautiful and desolate deserts in the world, I’m sure the views will not disappoint.

Introducing the Bloggers: Janelle

Blogger: Janelle Bouman

Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

Major: Biology with minors in Chemistry and Humanities

I chose to study abroad because I’m really passionate about traveling and experiencing other cultures. Studying abroad is the perfect opportunity to do this. I am really looking forward to expanding my horizons by immersing myself in another culture, and sharing my adventures through photos and writing!

Introducing the Bloggers: Rachel

Blogger: Rachel Silcox

Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

Major: Mechanical Engineering

I chose to study abroad because I wanted to experience a small honors college in Europe. This program was organized through Christ College, so my studies there will be centered in the humanities and liberal arts. Normally at Valpo, I take many quantitative courses, and while I do enjoy these, in today’s society, quantitative solutions are not always the best ones. I am looking forward to taking many humanities courses to better comprehend and resolve misrepresentation, misunderstanding, and conflict. I am most excited to make new friends from many different cultures. University College Utrecht, where I am studying, is an international community focused in the liberal arts and sciences and I am excited to be part of such a place.

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