Studying abroad has this reputation that all you do is party and sight-see. But I resent that — I’m actually doing work here. Yesterday alone, I spent 6-ish hours on a lab report. Shocking, isn’t it?
Overall, I believe I’ve balanced my classes reasonably well: I’m taking two engineering courses on Soil Mechanics and Water/Wastewater Resources along with classes on the Biodiversity of Tropical Australia and Human Rights & Social Issues. The engineering ones are challenging and time intensive but for once, somewhat appealing to me. I can finally see their application and I’m sure they’ll be helpful when I get back to Farandé.
My biodiversity class has been a review of AP Biology so far (with Australian examples). It’s not too bad since I haven’t had bio in so long and I’m pretty excited for our field trip to Paluma Rainforest. On the other hand, I’m a little disappointed in my Human Rights class. I was hoping that my professor would be reasonably involved in some human rights problem or another. Not over the top, but at least be able to provide specific examples of current issues in Australia. However, she comes off as a bit detached since all she does is read her fairly vague and general lecture slides. I think I enjoy the readings and posted media more because they bring up interesting points. Still, I’m not very appreciative of theoretical ideas and concepts. I guess I don’t really understand the point of defining terms like “civil rights” if everyone agrees they need to be protected. By the way, did you know Australia doesn’t have a Bill of Rights?
There are other aspects about the university (uni) I’m still getting used to. Tuition is way cheaper and as a result, we get fewer benefits. This is only a problem because I’m used to being babied at Duke. I have a magic student card there that gets me (seemingly) free food, entertainment, t-shirts, gym access, football/basketball tickets, and a whole lot more. Student life, while present in a couple clubs, isn’t quite as vibrant here and there are tons of fees. If you set off the smoke alarm, they can charge you up to $1000. You can also be fined for not wearing a bike helmet ($300), locking yourself out of your room, and other (to me) seemingly small things.
I’m also a little thrown off by the student body size. JCU’s website boasts a population around 17,000, but I think I’ve seen more people at lunchtime on Duke’s plaza than I have in a whole day here. Maybe it has something to do with the engineering buildings being (as always) pushed to the fringes of uni and most people live off campus.
Finally, I’m struggling a bit with figuring out activities. Since buses are almost always reliably late, most volunteer opportunities are ruled out. Instead I’ve turned to sports. I’ve joined the rock climbing club and gone outdoor climbing (I repelled down a rock face for the first time!) and bouldering the last few weekends. I’ve also signed up for doubles tennis and played beach volleyball at Rotary a couple times. Before arriving here, I also promised myself I would try something completely new. So, I’ve gone out to ultimate frisbee these last two weeks. The rules are confusing but I think I’m getting the hang of it. It’s super social too.