Archive for the ‘Orientation’ Category

I have been orientated!!

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

Sorry for not posting the past few days! I was at the DC Orientation for Fulbright, meeting everyone else who is going to Eastern Europe and Eurasia and getting tons and tons of information about the next 10 months!

Things I learned at orientation:

1) It’s Kyiv, not Kiev and it’s pronounced Keev, not Key-ev. Who knew?

2) I am not the only one going who doesn’t speak a lick of Ukrainian. Phew.

3) The Fulbrighters going to Ukraine rock! We all got along really well and have some really cool projects (one of the scholars is studying nationality through sports and is focusing on Euro 2012 – I want to get paid to study soccer!!).

4) Electronics are cheap and clothes are expensive. And be very, very careful about which ATM you use (ones connected to a bank: good. Free-standing ones: bad and most likely to be hacked).

5) Tons of us are going to be in Kyiv and 3 of us are at the same university, all studying political science! So, I will not be alone in my field, university and city – thank God.

6) Out of those 3, I found a roommate and travel buddy! Her name is Kaley and from the looks of it, we have found an apartment to call our own – fingers crossed that it works out – we’ll know within the week if it’s ours! Number one clue as to how I knew we were going to become fast friends: she looked at me and asked if it was bad that she already made a Google map pinpointing all of the museums she wants to visit in Kyiv. It was meant to be.

With the orientation answering almost all of my questions (such as what’s the best phone plan: Skype – $7 a month with unlimited calls to the USA), I finally felt prepared to buy my plane tickets and make it official!

So, I depart from Washington, DC on September 4: look out Kyiv, HERE I COME!!

Lies My Orientation Leader Told Me

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

As the semester is winding down to a close and I am finding myself more and more busy with school work and preparation for the onset of the windstorm that is the final exam period. This accounts for my recent lack of blogging and my lack of blog worthy activities. As much fun as I have doing research deep in the bowels of the reserve section of the library it certainly doesn’t make for a very fascinating blog entry.

In the little downtime I have found in between stressing and procrastinating I have caught my mind wandering back to my first few days here in Sydney. One of the first things we did during our Sydney orientation was to take a walking tour of the city. We stopped in Hyde Park for a few minutes while our orientation leader Russ described the War memorial in the middle of the park and the museums surrounding it. It was a hot summer day in February (I will never get used to Feb being hot and summery) and as we walked through the park Russ talked to us about the different types of trees in the park. As we all stared up into the trees Russ told us that the Autumn season in Australia was fundamentally different from Autumn in the states in that the trees in Australia did not loose their leaves all at once like ones in the states, but rather lost a few leaves year round, so there would always be some leaves on the ground. The explanation he gave for this phenomenon was that the soil in Australia was too nutrient poor for the trees to be able to pull up enough nutrients to be able to replace all their leaves all at once, so they instead replaced a few throughout the year as they lost them.

Russ talking to us during orientation

Russ talking to us about trees and pretty birds in the Botanical Gardens

This seemed very odd to me, but I was fresh off the plane and willing to believe just about anything I was told about this strange new continent I had found myself on. I thought this fact was so interesting that I began telling everyone who engaged in a discussion with me about the differences between Australia and America. I told everyone about the odd Autumn they have here.

When I went to Melbourne I was talking to a guy I met at a club and I shared my interesting fall fact with him and he almost laughed at me before asking “Who told you that?!”

This was my first indication that something was amiss. I began to make further inquiries of Australians in my classes, and I was consistently met with the same confused glances and chuckles. A boy in one of my tutorials even said

“Yeah its always tempting to mess with the tourists and tell them ridiculous things, my favorite thing to tell them is that I have a pet kangaroo, hahaha”

Despite all this evidence staring me in the face I just didn’t want to believe that I had been lied to by the very person whose job it had been to help orient me in Australia. I was thinking that perhaps I just hadn’t remembered correctly exactly what he had said. Maybe he had been talking about one specific tree and I had misheard and thought he meant all trees? I don’t know. But I do know that the fall season is in full swing in Australia, complete with all the traditional signs of Autumn I am used to in the Northern Hemisphere.

Moral of this story: either I’m a moron or my orientation leader is a liar. Either way, Autumn totally happens here in the same way it happens in the United States.

The leaves are not only changing color, but they are also all falling off, and its still warm enough for short sleeves.

Also during Orientation we were sat down and given a quick briefing on the major differences between American and Australian culture. One of the things we were told is that Australians had an international reputation for being drunkards, but this was a complete misconception. Russ told us that if we went out to a bar and got completely plastered we would be branded as the sloppy Americans, because this is not how Australians behaved. There are three campus bars at the University Of Sydney, which the university administration is actively trying to get rid of, and the students are fighting it tooth and nail. There are also no open container or public intoxication laws. So yeah, Aussie’s like to get drunk and they make it very public knowledge when they do. Alcohol can be consumed when you turn 18, and many of the museums in Sydney become clubs after hours. I have been to quite a few karoke bars since being here, and  have seen more belligerently drunk people than I am capable of remembering. Aussie’s love to drink just as much as Americans if not more.

The other thing we were told about bar culture was that as a woman if you allow a man to purchase you a drink it will be expected that you will put out for him. I think this was just Russ’s way of discouraging us American girls from taking advantage of the Australian guys because I have known many people who have been on the receiving end of alcoholic beverages from Aussie men and have no had to provide any lewd acts in payment for the gesture.

In other unrelated news, the hens of Apt 18 welcomed a rooster into our midst this weekend. Justin arrived early on Friday morning. Poor guy flew in around 6:30 am and I had set an alarm for 7:30 so I could meet him at the train station and walk him back to my apt, and of course I slept through it and he was left waiting for an hour. Oops. Welcome to Australia!

The Citadel graduated rooster invades Australia to stay in the apt 18 hen house

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.

What I’ve Been Doing

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Hey everyone! It’s currently about 10:30 pm here, which makes it 11:30 am there! The time difference is really confusing at times, especially because we lost a day in travel, so sometimes I’m not sure what day it is or how long I’ve actually been here for. My days have been fairly jam-packed, and the subjects we talk about differ from day to day, but for the most part this is about what my days consist of:
I wake up at 6 am (I’m still not on a normal sleep schedule), then go to breakfast at 8 am. Breakfast so far has consisted of rice, soup, kimchi (a fermented cabbage dish popular in Korea), and some “American food” such as toast, or eggs. After that we go to Korean class. Korean classes start at 9 am and are 4 hours long, with a 10 minute break after every 50 minute period. Classes are a lot of fun, and my teachers are very energetic. They teach in Korean, but it’s suprising how much you understand from body language. After classes we have an hour break and then lunch at 1. After lunch we have some sort of business meeting that generally has to do with Korean culture or teaching. Those meetings tend to last until dinner at 6 pm, and after that the day is free – for now. Pretty soon we’ll be able to participate in extra-curricular activities! I signed up for Taekwondo and for GLEE club (not what you think). This GLEE club is a conversation club between the ETAs and the Korean students at Jungwon University. Anyway, after dinner I’ve been studying Korean/reading/hanging out with other ETAs/passing out. Which is what I’m probably going to do right about now. I finally went through and took pictures of the gorgeous campus we’re staying at, so I should be putting those up in the next few days.

Hello world!

Monday, June 14th, 2010

My name is Emily Potosky and I received a 201o – 2011 F*lbright ETA (English Teaching Assistantship) grant to teach English in South Korea for one year!  I’m going to be at orientation at Jungwon University in Goesan, N. Chungcheongbuk-do, South Korea for the first six weeks, but after that I’m not quite sure where I’ll be placed.  As nerve-wracking as that is, I’m incredibly excited to see all of  the Korean friends I made at UMW again!  I leave the United States on July 2nd, which is just under 4 days, and I’m ready for adventure!