Nicole's way of keeping family and friends updated while studying abroad

The most amazing, crazy, fun-loving, international, and awesomest group ever of people to share this equally fantastic experience with. I present to you Port Lodge (minus a few residents)!

The most amazing, crazy, fun-loving, international, and awesomest group ever of people to share this equally fantastic experience with. I present to you Port Lodge (minus a few residents)!

"The Drawer" with my addition!

Photo Credit: Nicole Gomes

Perth Zoo Take 2!

Photo Credit: Nicole Gomes

Cottesloe Beach

Photo Credit: Nicole Gomes

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Well, my last two weeks in Freo are almost done! I’m definitely feeling some bittersweet emotions as I’m excited to go home and see my family and friends, but I’m sad to leave the amazing friends I’ve made here and the great places I’ve been. At least I have my memories and heaps of photos!

These last two weeks have been pretty slow due to it being time for final exams. A few friends who were in my classes came over and we studied a bit, but always feeling nervous going into the final. It was actually quite intimidating in the exam rooms. In one room, there were 125 desks and in another about 200 or so desks and everything is very official. But we all finished and now will be anxiously waiting for our grades! Fingers crosses we receive good marks!

The past weekend, I had my last get together with my host family for breakfast and had our dorm farewell breakfast. It was really nice to have a time everyone from all 3 dorms got together to eat and talk. I will upload our dorm picture (minus a few residents) that will go up on the wall, continuing the photos of residents of Port Lodge. Yesterday, Thursday, a local friend and I went to Cottesloe and hung out at the beach taking in the beautiful scenery, talked a bit, and saw dolphins! I later checked out the WA Maritime Museum, right by Bather’s Beach. Friday, I went to Perth Zoo again with a few friends and we had a great time goofing around and seeing the amazing animals.

Right now, it is 1:50 am on Saturday morning, and we are waiting until 3 to leave for the airport. I’ll try to post from Sydney if I can, but I will definitely post after I arrive back home. Home! But I can definitely say that not only do I have a home in California, but I also have a home in Australia. Thanks to those who have made Australia a great place to live for the past 4 1/2 months! You truly helped to make my experience abroad simply amazing and helped create memories I’ll never forget. =)

I'm a TEAN Student Blogger

I am a featured Student Blogger on TEAN’s Blog. Just to refresh your memory, The Education Abroad Network (TEAN) is the organization my school works with to send students abroad. They just started this blogging program this semester and after applying to be a part of it, I was selected to be one of their student bloggers!

I have a few blog posts on there and more to come! Just click on “I’m a TEAN Student Blogger” and check it out =)

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This week has been the definition of procrastination. It was study week and even though there were only a few of us around, we still managed to avoid any kind of studying. I know, I know, that just sounds horrible. But, if it makes it any better, we got other stuff done instead. It’s amazing how many things you can think of that need to be done when there are other things to you need to do but don’t want to do. But to be fair, there were people who did study, just starting later in the week as they have their final(s) starting Monday, tomorrow (yikes!).

Final exams are done differently than what I’m used to, at least that is what it seems like. Normally for me, exams are done in 4 days and, depending on the class/professor, will not take the entire testing time. Here, exams are done over a course of 2 weeks, tests are 2 hours with 10 minutes reading time (in total, 2 hours 10 minutes), and most of the time, you are expected to use the full amount of time to complete your exam. Also, this applies for most exams, once it gets to be about a half hour until the exam time is done, you cannot leave. This means that if you’re sitting in your exam, finish and it’s 1:00 (or 1:10) and the finish exam time is 1:30, you cannot leave. The reasoning behind this, I think, is that so students don’t try to rush the rest of their exam when seeing others turning in their’s before them. I know when I see people turning in their exams earlier than I, I tend to freak out. Why? I have absolutely no idea. I guess it’s because I assume that they knew their stuff and answered everything swiftly and correctly while I’m still struggling to finish or just taking forever to write my answers.

I have my first final, marketing, this Thursday followed by human resource management on Friday. Next week, I have digital photography on Wednesday followed by children’s literature on Thursday. Then I pretty much pack and clean out my stuff all day Friday before departing for airport early Saturday morning…that came WAY faster than I thought! I mean, I knew time would fly by fast, but I underestimated it’s speed.

Besides thinking about all this, I attended my first quiz night. My friend invited us to go to a quiz night as a fundraiser for one of their friends and we had fun trying to figure out the answers. I am proud to say I did my part in providing correct answers, which I wasn’t too sure of since trivia isn’t exactly my strong suit. But I did have a bit of an advantage when it came to American questions, like knowing New York is also known as The Big Apple/The City of Lights/The City That Never Sleeps etc.

Well, off to sleep now! Wish me luck in my finals; hopefully my next post will have some positive feelings toward how I feel my exams went. Bye!

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I am officially done with my lectures and tutorials! Now, we just have study week followed by 2 weeks of finals. I knew time would fly by, but it still managed to slip by.

This week, I spent heaps of time editing my remaining picture for my photography class. But it is complete and I am proud of it. I’ll post the link to it again so you may view it for yourself. I had to create a YouTube account to upload my time lapse though; I guess I use the site enough and it wouldn’t hurt to have an account. We presented them in class the next day, so I hope everyone liked my work, including my lecturer!

Tuesday night, after my last day of classes (yay!), a few of us who are studying here through TEAN met with our TEAN rep and a couple others from UWA (Uni of Western Australia) at the Lucky Shag, a waterfront bar, for a nice dinner. The live music, a guy and his guitar, was great! He had a fantastic playlist and sounded great in acapella. I shared a delicious sea food platter with another student. It was amazing how much fish we ate!

Wednesday night, I was quite proud of myself for making a pretty solid dinner: grilled kangaroo and mashed potatoes (and green beans, courtesy of another resident). I’ve made myself some yummy dinners, but this was the most impressive to me. I guess that goes to show I’ve got quite a bit of learning to do in the kitchen.

Lately, I’ve found myself drawing, well, more like doodling, a lot. I found some cool designs on instagram and tried replicating them. I think I’ve done a good job; I’ve made a few for some friends already. It’s fun to do and keeps me busy. It also helps clear my mind.

This Friday was the first time I really got to sleep in without having any boot camp or tute to attend. It felt nice to sleep in since I haven’t really been allowing myself to. I went shopping a bit around Freo with a friend and later watched a bit of Pride and Prejudice, Four Brothers, and the 1st half of The Holiday before turning in for the night.

Saturday, a few of us rented bikes from Little Creatures and biked a trail to South Beach and a bit further to a marina and back. It was really fun to get out of the house and go somewhere I haven’t been yet and biking rather than walking! Even though it is technically winter now and a bit chilly outside, the beaches are still beautiful and inviting. I wouldn’t get in the water since it’s probably freezing, but it’s still nice to look at. As a group, almost all the remaining residents who haven’t left for study break watched Hot Fuzz at night; it’s a British comedy.

Sunday was another day of shopping in Harbour Town, most likely my last trip there. I had a good time hanging out with my friend, but it was a bit cold…I wish I had brought my ugg boots over! Note to others studying in Australia during the Spring semester: bring winter clothes!

When we got back, I got some ingredients to make my Nana’s delicious oatmeal raisin bar (with chocolate) recipe, but it didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped. The others liked them, but they didn’t have my Nana’s oatmeal bars to compare them with. Plus, they got a bit burnt on the bottom and our oven isn’t the greatest. But we had fun hanging out, watching movies, and talking.

Today, Monday, is WA Day, a public holiday. We all pretty much just lounged around and hung out as per usual. Some of the guys are making community dinner for the remaining residents and it sounds delicious. Well, that’s all for now!

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You know what’s crazy???

It is June 1st…the first day of winter for Australia. Also, it means that I am flying home in 21 days…

For me, it’s a bittersweet feeling. I’m so stoked to see my family and friends back at home, but I’m going to miss my new friends I’ve made here and the places I’ve been to. I’m going to miss the Aussie hospitality I’ve encountered and being the one who is “different” with the “different accent” and “different vocabulary.”

But I hope that in the future I can come back, visit everyone, and show my family my temporary home that was so good to me. Also, I hope my friends I’ve made here come to America quickly, so they can visit and I can show them around!

After my last Dockers game with a few of my dorm mates

After my last Dockers game with a few of my dorm mates

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The next 2 weeks had quite a bit going on as well. In Digital Photography, we learned how to create timelapses and I created some cool ones; one is on my photography blog. I finished all but 1 assessment, had breakfast with my host family, spent heaps of time editing my photos in photoshop, cooked community dinner, rode a ferris wheel and relived my childhood in the park, had my last bootcamp and Human Resource Management tute, met with TEAN for our last coffeebreak, shopped around Harbour Town, participated in the HBF Run for a Reason, and went to my last Dockers game. Whew! That’s heaps more than I realized.

Time lapses are super cool! It’s easiest to do one with an intervalometer as you don’t have to take the picture manually every time. You put your camera on a tripod, set the intervalometer to go off as you please (I set it to take a picture every 2 seconds) and you have it take pictures for however long you like. After, you compress the pictures together (I did so at 25 frames per second) to get a video that looks like it’s sped up. My video came out to about 22 seconds. I think it would be awesome to get one at a party!

Not only did I create my time lapse, but I spent a bit of time editing some photos on photoshop. I didn’t have too much to do as I had already worked on some, but I definitely needed to fine tune some things. One of my pictures I decided to completely re-edit since the 1st time I did so was absolutely horrible. To edit my “Ole Rusty” photo, I had to blur the picture and then erase the blur to make the bike stand out. It took me 2 hours to do all the erasing on the tire, frame, and spokes. But I am happy with what I got out of the work.

I can officially say, that all my papers are turned in! Yay! My HRM paper and group marketing plan were due on the same day, but they’re in and done! It felt so good to have those off my back. They were hard work, but hopefully it’ll have been worth it.

My host family had me over for breakfast, which was delicious! I’ve never had a bad meal while in their care. I learned a bit about the mining industry as well since one of the family members works in the mines. The workers are on for a number  of days then off and they are flown in and out of work. Their food, housing, and transport is all taken care of since it is cheaper to do this rather than build a town. Seems like a good system to me!

Also, it was time for me to cook community dinner again! I cooked with the same girl as I last time and we make guac for an appetizer with chips, enchiladas for dinner, and a dessert from pinterest that I’ve always wanted to make. It all turned out great and everyone loved it. Even though the dessert didn’t come out as I had hoped, it was still yummy! It was supposed to be individual popsicles (you put all the ingredients in a paper cup and stick a popsicle stick in it), but the ice cream didn’t freeze enough. That’s what we get for using the store brand ice cream I guess. It consisted of chopped peanuts, vanilla ice cream, chocolate custard (we couldn’t find hot fudge), chocolate lollies (we couldn’t find Reese’s), and peanut butter all in layers.

After community dinner, a group of us went across the street to the park where a ferris wheel is and took a ride. Then we couldn’t help ourselves and decided to be kids again and played on the jungle gym, swings, slides, etc. of the playground. It was so much fun!

This was also a week of lasts. I had my last bootcamp, last HRM tute, and last TEAN coffee break of the semester. For the coffee break, we met at Kings Park and I had a hot chocolate and muffin. It’s always nice to talk with others and compare your study abroad experiences. After that, some of us walked to the Perth Arena to pick up our bibs for the HBF Run For A Reason the next day. Then, 2 of us walked to Harbour Town, an outlet shopping extravaganza! I don’t know what it is about the American flag, but it’s everywhere! I bought an American flag scarf…there were also shirts, phone cases, pillows, and folders with the flag on it. I mean, I knew we had a great flag, but I guess they thought so too. =)

The HBF Run was fun; you could either do the 4k or 12k. Being a non-runner, I chose the 4k. It was cool to see those who dressed up in costumes for it and the different group outfits; I wore my UNDA singlet. I ran the 1st k then had to walk as I got shin splints…it wasn’t smart on my part to all of a sudden start running when my body isn’t used to running. But I did finish and got a free massage! I waited an hour for it, but I felt great after getting it.

Finally, after the run, I attended my last Dockers game. They went up against Melbourne and pretty much smashed them, so it wasn’t as exciting as the others, but we still enjoyed ourselves. After the game, we stuck around to take photos and then something really cool happened: they let people onto the field! I hadn’t stayed long enough before to know they did that but I was happy we stuck around because it was fun to go onto the field and get a feel for how big it is.

Well, that’s all for now! Until next time!

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What a month May has been! It’s been crazy busy and again, I’ve fallen way behind on my blogging. So sorry about that! Thank you to those who are being patient with me.

There’s been quite a few things going on this month between footy games, assessments being due, cooking community dinner, and of course, Mother’s Day. Since I haven’t posted in 3 weeks, I’ll do separate posts for them all so there isn’t one big and overwhelming post.

Some fun things I got to do the 2nd week of May were meeting with the U.S. Consulate General of Perth, Aleisha Woodward, go souvenir shopping, and attend another footy game! TEAN was invited to meet with the U.S. Consulate General and she was heaps nice! We talked about our study abroad experiences and her traveling experiences and we learned about the importance of the relationship between the U.S. and Australia and her role as CG.

Souvenir shopping is always a fun thing for me. I admit it, I love to collect things. I’ve started to collect iron on patches to pin onto a bulletin board of the places I’ve been to. But since I went shopping with my mom while she was here for family and friends, I decided to get some souvenirs of my own. As in most places, the various souvenir shops all have the same thing but at different prices, but by keeping an eye out this whole semester helped me to see who had the best stuff for the best price. I got my share of patches as well as a few other staple tourist souvenirs, but I also was very excited to get a number plate (license plate) that says Australia with an Aboriginal design of a kangaroo. Let’s just hope I can fit it all in my luggage to bring home!

After an afternoon of souvenir shopping, I had a blast at the Dockers versus the Collingwood Magpies footy game. Apparently Collingwood is a team people like to dislike (all in in good fun, of course). The UNDA Student Life Office got a set number of tickets for international students and I was not about to pass that opportunity up! We had nice seats far up, which allowed us to follow the game that much easier. I got some great photos and ate a delicious Four ‘N Twenty (a meat pie brand). The Dockers were ahead for a while, fell behind, then pulled in front and never looked back taking the win!

Sunday was Mother’s Day. I know this is extremely late, but I want to wish all the moms a very happy Mother’s Day! To my Mom, Nana, Grandmas, Aunties, and family friends who are moms, I love you very much and wouldn’t be the person I am today without you! <3

I didn’t do much to celebrate as there aren’t any moms in Port Lodge, but I did write a paper for my Children’s Literature class. But it was on Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban, so I guess that made it better. I’m pretty proud of my paper and the presentation that went along with it. Since another student was writing on Harry Potter as well, we presented together and it went very well! Normally, presentations go for 15 - 20 minutes, but because he and I presented together, we got 40 minutes. However, we went for almost the entire hour because almost everyone in the tute had something to say about the book, which was great! And, the best part, we got an HD on it!

Turn your attention to the next post to see what week 3 had in store. =)

This was from the first few weeks in Freo, but I just figured out how to load it correctly. We were at the beach for our surf lessons and this group of Aussies asked us to participate in their Harlem Shake video…I didn’t exactly know what the heck I was doing, but we had fun =)

Ngilgi Cave Artist in Residence

In my post about my study break trips with my mom, I had mentioned an artist we saw at Ngilgi Cave (in Yallingup). The artist in residence is Adam Stanley. This is this link to his website; just click on the text. Check it out!

I attended another footy game this weekend&#8230;Dockers took on the Magpies and won!
Photo Credit: Nicole Gomes

I attended another footy game this weekend…Dockers took on the Magpies and won!

Photo Credit: Nicole Gomes