Archive for the ‘Beat the System’ Category

A Freshman Once More, Now Internationally!

Friday, February 25th, 2011

So after a week of orientation I got one day off, and in that one day I must have somehow become askew again because I had to go to a different orientation today! I am going to be the most oriented human being by the time I return to the states.

My orientation for the University of Sydney began this morning at 10:30 am, and I had no problem waking up for it. (Miracles do happen, you just need to go to Australia for them to occur apparently) My roommate Courtney and I are both attending  University of Sydney so we set out together and ran into a group of about 10 or so other kids living in our building who were also headed to orientation. The University is about a 20 minute walk from our apt which means I am going to have to carefully budget my time to ensure I get to class on time. (pray for me)

Most of the walk to Uni (as they say in Oz) is through suburban glebe, but once you get to the main drag you cross the road and this is what you see:

Large public park that backs up to my Uni

The fountain in the center is HUGE. We saw a guy showering in it as we were walking to orientation this morning. Although we suspect it was some sort of hazing thing as he did not look like a hobo, more like an idiot.

Once we had walked through the park we moved onto the main campus of The University of Sydney. The main buildings on campus are modeled after Oxford, and even knowing this could not prepare me for the striking similarities. To me, when you say something is “modeled after” something else that means “inspired by” or “in the same style as” but in actuality the main building at USyd is an EXACT REPLICA of the main building at Oxford. The very same building in which the great hall scenes were shot for Harry Potter (the oxford building not the USyd one).

walking up the hill towards USyd. There was a huge club carnival going on which is what all the colorful tents are about.

EXACT replica of Oxford building. USyd was established in 1850, which makes it the oldest university in Australia but a spring chicken compared to many of the universities in the states. It also has a student population of 47,000. Which is nuts.

We were met at the bell tower (the big pointy structure in the center of the above pictures) by the international studies organizer. She was very lovely and had a bubbly personality but a name that I have sadly forgotten. She walked us across campus (our group was about 40 or so once the kids living in the other housing options joined us) to a classroom where she proceeded to go through a powerpoint presentation with us on how we go about adding/dropping classes, finding our schedules online and other administrative issues. We were given our registration paperwork and had to fill out some forms to finalize our enrollment and then she left us in the care of this chubby guy who seemed very bored. His lack of enthusiasm seemed to stem from the fact that he was leaving for vacation as soon as he got through the orientation program with our group (something we were told by the lady who presented after him). People began to ignore him and he didn’t seem to mind as he continued to talk. Once he had finished and told us we were done we all got up with more questions than answers. We were supposed to get our student ID cards, but where ? and how? We were supposed to go to the international student office at 1 to do add/drop but where was that?? Once we got there how did we add/drop? Did this all have to be done today? WHERE WERE WE?!

All these questions would have been nice to get answered, but since they weren’t, me, Courtney and a small contingency of our fellow Glebe-ers set out on the scavenger hunt from hell. Rules of the scavenger hunt: You have a vauge idea of what you need to get, but not a clue as to where it is, how to get to it, where you are, what time you need to have it by, or how to get back to where you started once you have finished. ReadySetGo!

Any of the adult uni employees we asked for help gave very conflicting information. One lady told us that we could not acquire our student ID cards until we had finalized our schedules, which meant going to the international office first. This turned out to be false. A different university adult employee told us to get our Uni ID cards in the basement of the Law Building, this was false as well. Someone else sent us to the international student lounge which is in no way the same thing as the international office. We were also told that we were exchange students, which we are not. Exchange students are students who directly enroll at the university as opposed to doing it through a program as we did. Exchange students are treated differently from study abroad students, which is what we are. This is an important distinction to be aware of when dealing with administrative matters.

Luckily for us Australian students  are super friendly and find bewildered americans endlessly amusing, so we were able to locate the international student office and the student ID services center after 20 or so minutes of trial and error and running around in circles. We had to laugh at ourselves when we discovered the two buildings were basically next to eachother. We asked one australian guy where the ID office is, and he stopped what he was doing to walk us there. They are such a friendly/helpful people.( with the exception of the university employees who deal with international students apparently) So once we had acquired our IDs (and waited in a line that would rival those at the DMV to do so) and finalized our registration at the international student office we spent some time wandering through the club carnival.

In order to join any of the clubs on campus (of which there are hundreds, and there are things like scuba diving club, rock climbing club, rapelling club, cocktails club, basically awesome things that you want to be able to join) you have to purchase a “Uni Access” card for 70$. Having this card also gets you a 15-20% discount at hundreds of local bars, restaurants, and shopping locations. It also gets you all sorts of student discount prices and free stuff. Although I was hesitant to purchase it, when I looked at the brochure that explained all it could be used for it seemed like something that would in time pay for itself, so I ended up doing it. Once you have the access card you get a nifty gift bag with USyd gear in it, which kinda softens the blow that you just spent $70.

I got this towel in my gift bag, its way cooler than I could show in this picture being so close up.

Courtney and I looked into a bunch of clubs but many of them are kinda pricey to join because they go on trips(which is just obnoxious because college clubs are free to join in the US, which is the way I think it should be done, wether that sounds internationally prejudiced or not) but we decided to join a club called “Beat the System.” While this sounds like a political activism thing it isn’t at all. It is actually a music club that puts on local music events. They organize shows with live bands and DJs both on campus and in the community. Plus if you bought a tshirt for 5$ and wore it to any of the events you get a free shot when you come in the door. So now I have a “Beat the System” tshirt- obviously. I mean, free booze? Come on. They really know how to market to college students.

After all was said, done, and oriented, it was about 3pm and we hadn’t eaten lunch yet. Courtney, Lindsay (who lives in the only apt that has internet right now) ventured back to our Glebe residence, and stopped on the way at this adorable outdoor cafe called BYO. I got a pumpkin, sun dried tomato, capcium, brie, and eggplant sandwich on wheat bread (they don’t use white bread here, at least not that I have been able to find) and it was DELICIOUS. I also had a pumpkin, squash, tomato salad on the side. It was an amazing lunch. The amount of healthy food options here is glorious. And when the check comes, you just leave the money on the table because there is no tipping. Minnimum wage here is 12-18 dollars, and increases depending on your skill level and age.

My Beat the System tshirt (punny!) and USyd ID card. I am official now!

After our cute and healthy lunch we headed back to the apt and Lindsay (the fabulous human being that she is) showed me a sketchy website that enables me to watch Glee and all my television shows overseas. We are going to be best friends, I can already tell.