Ithaca College Quarterly 2004/2  

 

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Semester Down Under

A student shares his journal from an unforgettable spring term on the other side of the globe.

Text and photos by Eric Pierce '05

It is late July, and I'm settling back into the New England way of life. The past five months, however, will not soon release me of their hold. An entire semester spent in Australia has that kind of effect on you.

Aussie note #1: At the airport I encountered a stand of trees absolutely saturated with song birds, their din drowning out the whining fleet of jets on the tarmac. Australia has some of the most beautiful birds I've ever seen . . . now if only they'd shut up!

Thirteen of us, from all different parts of Ithaca College, made the 30-hour trip down to Perth, in the southwestern region of the "lucky country," way back in February. Australia is one of those "different-but-not-too-different" countries. They've got McDonalds and Ford and Blockbuster. But the McDonalds sells burgers with beets on them, the Fords are tiny El Camino-style pickup trucks, and Blockbuster . . . well, Blockbuster's not very different at all. The point is that it's still a different country, on the opposite side of the globe -- and I knew it as soon as I stepped off the plane.

Fremantle, a small city just south of Perth, was home for the first month of our adventure. We attended nearby Murdoch University, where we took a rigorous short media studies course that covered everything from Australia's history of communications to producing our own radio shows. Between our six hours a day of classes we explored the markets, the stores, the pubs. We escaped the 90+-degree heat by cooling off at the beach. Looking out at the Indian Ocean and realizing that it would be just as quick to go that way to get home as it would be to fly back the way we'd come was a somewhat surreal experience. Sunburned and happy, we laughed at the incongruity of building sand castles in February.  next

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