Sunday, March 05, 2006

News from the land where swans are black, mammals lay eggs, and trees keep their leaves but lose their bark.

So much to tell as the first two weeks of uni have flown by and we’ve passed the one month mark of our stay already! A note about the title of this post…it’s referring to a quote that early explorers made about Australia and what a strange land it can be. A photo of a black swan follows, the stringybark eucalyptus sheds its bark, and of course, the platypus lays eggs.

School is going well now that I have all of my courses worked out. I’m taking four which is a bit of a heavy load but I would really like to finish the year with a masters if at all possible. That means I’m taking three courses now and the fourth is an independent research project. Next semester I’ll be taking two courses and the other two will be research units for a total of eight courses over two semesters. I’m now enrolled in Environmental Policy and Planning, Water Resource Management, Human Ecology (study of the sustainability of human interactions with the environment) and an independent research project which is still coming together. I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed coming back to the university after five years away, having to get accustomed to a new system, similar of course, but still with a much different assessment system and I would say, higher expectations of it’s students. That of course could be a function of this being postgraduate work, but even the upper level undergraduates here are expected to take on independent research.

I really like my department which is the School of Resources, Environment, and Society. We have morning tea together every Wednesday at 10:45 a.m. and most lecturers will even let their students out a bit early from classes scheduled until eleven, as morning tea is rather sacred. Yesterday, there was an all day outing for new students in the department to see some of the sights around Canberra and meet some environmental professionals working in the field. Here is a photo from the top of Mount Ainslie of me with three of my office mates. Did I mention that I also have my own office space? It’s a large room that has a number of desks and computers in it, but it’s very spacious and I don’t know what I would do without it! I spend a lot of time there between classes and on my days off (unfortunately.) Liz is enrolled in the same program as I am and we have a lot in common. We’ve had no trouble making Australian friends and in fact spend very little time with the Americans that we do know.

Kim, Jenn, Liz, and Deazy

Here's a photo of the view behind us, Parliamentary Triangle, which is essentially the center of the city, without us in the way.

On another note, I went to the local Rotaract meeting this week. Rotaract is a Rotary sponsored service club for young people ages 18 to 30. I was planning on looking them up once I got settled in but they had a booth on campus during orientation week and I happened to run into them there. As we were introducing ourselves at the beginning of the meeting, I said my name and that I was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar from District 6630 in Cleveland, Ohio and I heard a squeal and a clap from across the aisle and a girl says, “I was on a Rotary youth exchange there!” When we got to talk after the meeting I found out that she lived in Warren, Ohio for a year in 2002. How funny is that? She loved the experience and has just recently found Rotaract and is happy to be able to be involved with Rotary since she feels they gave her so much. Small world.


  1. Glad all is well down under. Just getting ready to leave for points south, and will be dropping off dogs tonight.

  2. Nice pict Jenn :)

  3. Deazy!

    How nice to hear from you! Were you surprised to stumble on your photo online?

    Hope all is well...