So…. Maybe I haven’t found the world’s best cup of coffee, but I have been on the hunt for Manly’s best cup of coffee! My goal for this term has been to try every little cafe, and there are a ton, and see which one had the best latte.
I have been spoiled since being in Australia because they know how to do coffee here. Drip coffee, pressed coffee – any sort of non-latte does not exist. The closest thing you can get to that is a long black or Americano (which in my opinion are not worth it). Everywhere you turn, there is a coffee shop, so it is safe to say that I have been thoroughly caffeinated since the moment I arrived in this wonderful country.
There are several cafes within walking distance of campus, so I have slowly been making my way around town trying different coffees.
Though most coffees are pretty equivalent around town, I have narrowed my selections down to these three:
#3. Muffin Break – cute coffee chain around Australia and it has the BEST version of iced coffee (coffee blended with ice cream, so like a frappuccino but way better).
#2. Fika – I am in love with this bright, quaint Swedish cafe. They have great coffee and even better cinnamon and vanilla buns. They top their mocha lattes with a Dala Horse in cocoa – can’t get much better than that!
and finally… (Drum roll please)
#1. The Roast Office – I am definitely in love with this place for several reasons. Their coffee is delicious of course! It is also the closest cafe to ICMS – I sound lazy, but if you had to climb the hill up to the school, you would understand too! The music choices are incredible every day, the cafe is the most adorable place in the world, and their banana bread is awesome. No, most of that has nothing to do with the quality of coffee, but its the best in my opinion, and I have spent many a morning in this beautiful place.
After a few months of living in our beautiful ICMS castle, I still haven’t been able to get used to the fact that I am in Australia. Yes, I am going to school, studying, hanging out with friends, watching Netflix, drinking an absurd amount of coffee – the usual things that college students do! But I am doing all of that in AUSTRALIA. Plus, I live in a castle.
Do I consider myself a princess?
Yes I do.
A hardworking, beach-going, coffee-loving princess!
Quick time lapse of walking up to the castle! I got really into time lapses this term…
However, sometimes castle life isn’t all its cracked up to be (I know what you’re thinking – that’s what all princesses say). It still is uni, and like at any college or university, some of the most important things are how nice your dorm room is and how good the food is.
My room is amazing with tall ceilings, gorgeous views, filled with TimTams, a Swede, and an Australian! My roommates are awesome and living the triple life hasn’t been as bad as I thought it might have been, and I’m grateful for that!
Daily struggle of climbing the staircase (Featuring my good friend, Sam).
If you like eggs, tater tots, rice, and bread rolls, then this is the uni for you! The food is pretty good most days, the very limited options can make it a little difficult some days (Ubereats is my hero). Something I personally miss is iceberg lettuce (arugula and that purple stuff is too popular here) and good old American ranch dressing!
I think the fatal flaw of living on campus is that I don’t have access to a proper kitchen. Anyone who knows me knows I love making cookies and birthday treats almost more than life, so not being able to do that has been a little difficult! Everyone be prepared for heaps of sweets the week I fly home…
But regardless, living in the castle has been more than just a dream! I get to look out my window and see the gorgeous Manly beach, walk down two flights of stairs for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and enjoy the warm breeze in the beginning of December! What more could I ask for?
This Thanksgiving obviously has been a strange one – being in a foreign country that does not celebrate Thanksgiving is a new one for me for sure! No one is yelling at you to stop playing Christmas music until after Thanksgiving (so for all you Christmas music lovers out there, come to Australia) which has been a nice change! People are already saying Merry Christmas around here. But enough about Christmas – it is Thanksgiving after all.
My sister and brother-in-law just so happened to take a trip to Australia over Thanksgiving, and I was lucky enough to spend two incredibly wonderful days with them – Thanksgiving being one of them.
Though this holiday was not like any other, I am incredibly thankful for the things we did and time I spent with my family and friends. Thanksgiving morning, I woke up, got a “Happy Thanksgiving” from my good friend from New Zealand, picked Emily and Braden up from the airport, and we were off to explore the city! That night we got the fanciest dinner I have ever had in my life, and probably will ever have in my life. We dined at the Bennelong restaurant in the Opera House and ate like kings! I had to Google most of the menu because I had no idea what any of it was – but it all ended up being delicious.
Though the night was incredible, there were no mashed potatoes, casseroles, or pumpkin pie; no going around the table saying what we are thankful for; no cramming 25 people around the table. There was nothing normal about this Thanksgiving, but I realized it didn’t have to be normal. Nothing about 80 degree weather in November is normal! I had my family there with me and over Skype, my good friend Rachel, and we all ate dinner and enjoyed each other’s company.
That is what I’m thankful for – having friends and family there for you, even if you’re halfway around the world.
Since arriving in Australia, I haven’t had much of a culture shock necessarily since it is an English-speaking, developed country. However, Australia does have its quirks – some commonly known to the rest of the world, others not so much!
One of my favorite things about Australia is the laid back surfer lifestyle. “Shirts and shoes required” is not a thing for most businesses here. Back home, I never questioned it because I’m always so cold… why wouldn’t you wear at least 3 layers of clothing with wool socks and a jacket? Now I understand – not everyone lives in the tundra we lovingly call Michigan.
Sitting in a coffee shop by the beach, people walk in with wet suits, swimmers, rarely wearing shoes, and carrying the occasional surfboard. It still surprises me a bit when someone walks in with wet suit half on, smelling like the ocean, and talking to the barista about the surf!
Though not the most difficult, the hardest thing for me since getting here are that there are a few Aussie-style words that completely confuse me. It leads to me giving people that “what are you talking about – oh no… my American is showing isn’t it” look.
Here are some of my favorite Aussie words and phrases that are a little different than how we say them in the US! See if you can figure them out 🙂
how you going?
Other words that just bring me joy but make total sense are: doggo (and anything else that is shortened and ends with -o), bloody, recon, washing, and of course, the classic: g’day mate.
A couple of friends and I decided to spend the weekend hard at work…
How could we not go when there is an opportunity to go to the Melbourne Cup? For those of you who don’t know (I was one of those people if I’m being honest), the Melbourne Cup is the biggest horse race in Australia. It is known as “The race that stops the nation,” and after experiencing it firsthand, I can confirm that statement is true. Even back at uni, there were countless parties throughout the day – this race is truly the one that stops the nation! Anywhere you would go, people would be getting ready for the race.
The state of Victoria even declared Melbourne Cup day a national holiday! Even though I have never had much of an interest in horse races, there is no denying the excitement surrounding the Cup.
The amount of crazy outfits, excessive drinking, and loud cheering made the event one to remember! Thousands of people flooded the stadium, all placing bets and waiting for the main race of the day. Though it only lasted a few minutes, the race was spectacular – not one person lost focus on the horses, and when they passed by, the cheering couldn’t have been louder!
Though I didn’t place any bets (I have terrible luck), we met a group of people and cheered on their horses alongside them. The second the race ended, the shouts of joy and cries of disappointment surprised me from all of those who placed bets. It was a wild time to say the least!
One of Sydney’s greatest treasures is it’s Opera House. Lucky for me it is just a hop, skip, and a ferry ride away from my beautiful campus.
A few weeks ago, my program,TEAN Australia, hosted an event for all study abroad students in NSW that was a tour of the Opera House. I was THRILLED to be able to go inside and check out this iconic building (without having to spend a small fortune going to an event). We got a quick background of the history of the building. The story behind it was actually extremely interesting for the world of architecture!
We got to see the inside of two theaters, one was set up for a play and the other was set up for the orchestra. They had a Harry Potter event in which they played the score of the film live while they projected the movie on the screen! How I missed this, I don’t quite know.
We also stopped by the Utzon Room (named after the architect Jørn Utzon), and at first, the room was not that impressive. Taking a closer look at it and hearing the story behind the design of the room, however, made it so much more exciting! Every detail was intentional. The floors were meant to wear, showing the history and memories made in that room. Even the light bulb filament was in the shape of the Opera House (I thought this was the coolest)!
Just short time later, my good friend Rachel found an event that celebrated the 44th birthday of the Opera House – a champagne tasting! That day also happened to be world champagne day AND it is her dad’s favorite type of champagne, so how could we resist?
We show up to a sea of people waiting to be counted and filed into the building. Rachel, Evelina, Corinne, and I were the youngest people there by far, but we didn’t care! Over the course of two hours, we had three different tastings accompanied by an assortment of yummy hors d’oeuvres. Definitely was the fanciest thing I’ve done since I arrived in Sydney!
This tasting was an attempt to break the world record for largest champagne tasting, and we CRUSHED it. #moetmoment
During orientation, we had a compulsory surf safety presentation (can’t get more Aussie than that!), and we were told about Surf Camp Australia. Two days of nothing but “SURF EAT SLEEP REPEAT.” Sounds great right? So we got a bunch of people to sign up and within no time we were off!
With our bags packed and eager to get going, we arrive at our meeting place just a little early! Okay, we were an hour early… Luckily, they plan to take the first 20 people by train instead of bus, so after waiting for a few more people to arrive, we’re off to the train station! Because we are so excited about our adventure and hanging out with other ICMS students, we are chatting away with the group while we wait for the train. Unfortunately, our surf camp instructor, Scott, leads his sweet, innocent little ducklings onto the quiet carriage of the train…
for our two hour ride…
20-odd college-age students…
Of course not.
We tried. We really did. Thankfully after an hour, most people start getting off the train, but not without scolding our group multiple times for talking on the quiet carriage. So after a long, awkward, exciting, and at times uncomfortable train ride, we make it to Gerringong, where our cute little surf camp oasis is expecting us.
We have a meeting once everyone arrives about the breakdown of the weekend. Two groups of campers with two surf lessons, one Saturday and one on Sunday!
Surf, eat, sleep, repeat!
Getting up on Saturday, we are full of excitement! We get our wetties (wetsuits) on and head to the beach for lesson number 1! It’s not the best day to swim, let alone surf, but the wetsuits definitely help. We have our basic instruction about how to surf and the anatomy of the surfboard, but unfortunately the wind and the waves are so bad we can’t surf that morning. We still have tons of fun hanging out back at camp, playing giant Jenga and talking with our fellow surfers.
The conditions still are pretty bad in the afternoon, but they let us attempt to surf anyway! I try my best to remember the steps, but by the end of the day, I still am not able to stand up on my board. However, I am determined to get it day 2. But for now, it’s dinner and some dancing at the local pub!
Sunday morning we get up at 7 and we’re surfing by 8! After a bit of help on some better waves, my lovely instructors get me up on a wave and it was incredible! Gliding so smoothly across the water I throw some shakas at the guys signaling I finally had it! After our lesson, we head back to camp to pack up and have our closing meeting. They weren’t kidding – Surf eat sleep repeat – I was beat by the end of it! However I wasn’t quite ready to get back into school mode…
After what seemed to be ages of multiple orientations and time spent on Manly Beach, week one is officially here! Leading up to this week, I was so curious to see what my classes would be like compared to what I’ve taken at Hope. Finally, I could log into the ICMS app and my timetable appeared! Four classes, similar to a schedule at Hope, but the similarities end there. At ICMS, we have class once a week, and each class lasts three hours. That being said, we only have a few days of class per week, meaning we have loads of time for studying and homework… or beach days, parties, and exploring Sydney!
Since ICMS is an international school, I have met so many people from around the world – surprisingly a lot of Germans! There are a few schools that are partnered with ICMS, so it gets a large influx of students from various schools in Germany and Asia. That being said, this September term is high on international students compared to locals. I wasn’t expecting it to be rare to meet Aussie students, but it is so exciting to know people from all over!
My first week of classes didn’t take much getting used to. Though different, the way they schedule classes here is simpler than in the US. I don’t have class on Mondays or Fridays, so I was able to ever so gently ease into school life. Spending
most of Monday on Manly Beach building sand castles, reading, and watching surfers and swimmers in the glistening ocean waves seems to me like a well-spent day! Tuesday rolled around and I had to get it together. Dressing in a slacks, blazer, and flats instead of my swimmers and (of course) Chacos, definitely is a bit of a change, but after a few weeks of fun, its about time! Though three hours of class feels much longer than three hours, I can hardly complain. All my teachers give me coffee breaks about two hours into class, so that always helps me get through the last hour!
Though this first week has been pretty basic (much like most first weeks of classes are), I know I will have plenty of papers and projects in the near future! But for now, here’s to swimmers, sand castles, and sunshine!
The International College of Management, Sydney (ICMS) is located on what seems to be the tallest hill in Manly, Australia. Driving up to it after a weekend in the outback seemed like a dream. With only about 200 students living on campus at a time, it is a small but incredibly stunning school. Just to show how amazing it is, here are some fun facts about ICMS!
It is casually known as the Hogwarts of Australia.
The Great Gatsby was filmed here.
There are at least 5 beaches within walking distance of campus.
Downtown Manly has countless cafes (food + coffee = happiness) and shops all within walking distance of campus as well.
There are more aspects of ICMS that makes it great, but those are some of my favorites! On top of it all, most students only have class about three days a week, so there is so much time outside of class to go enjoy these beautiful places surrounding campus. One of the more interesting things about ICMS is that we have to dress in business professional attire to class in order to prepare us for the working world once we graduate. Even after being in class for only a few days, I feel out of place when I’m not dressed up. I feel as if I need to look as classy as this castle that I have the opportunity to live in!
I categorized this post as “daily life” which blows my mind because this paradise is my daily life here! A typical day consists of going to your 0-2 classes, then quick change into your swimmers and head down to the beach for a swim, or to watch
the sunset down on the water. The motto of my hometown, Lake Orion, is “where living is a vacation,” but those Michiganders must never have been to Manly. This is a vacation where I get to earn college credit. It’s a win-win! Two weeks in and I’m so thankful I was given the chance to be here.
After 20-odd hours in multiple airports and various planes, I finally made it to Sydney, Australia! …only to leave this beautiful city less than a day later to fly to my program’s orientation at a resort surrounding Ayers Rock, also known to the aboriginal people as Uluru. For those of you who don’t know what that is – I definitely had no clue before I came here – it is a giant red rock in the middle of a very flat desert! Sounds thrilling, right? Yeah, I was a little concerned too. Flying to the middle of nowhere in a country I have never been in with a group of people I have never met did make me a bit nervous! However, when we arrived, there was nothing to be worried about.
We arrived at what seemed to be the world’s smallest airport (with only two gates) and hopped on a bus that would take us to our hotel for the weekend. Little did I know that this was actually a very nice resort! We weren’t roughing it in the outback as I had expected. We had normal hotel rooms surrounded by the gorgeous red sands of the desert. There were multiple small hotels, a few restaurants, and the town square with some shops and even a grocery store.
After finding our rooms and a bit of exploring, it was finally time to eat! We met at the main bar/restaurant area where it was an Aussie self cook BBQ dinner. I do not know how to grill, yet they handed me a plate of raw steak and kangaroo, and happily showed me to the rows of grills stationed for us to use. I was worried that I would kill this meat many times over on this grill, but I was so hungry I had to do it! Thanks to my many years of experience watching food network, I actually grilled up a pretty decent steak and kangaroo! I highly recommend trying kangaroo – it was quite delicious.
The next day we took a tour at Kata Tjuta (another giant rock in the middle of nowhere). We hiked with our guide to a couple of different stunning viewing areas, but had to leave quickly in order to get back in time for our other planned events. We stopped at a viewing area of Uluru in order to watch the sun change the color of the rock as it set. It was amazing but again, we
had to hurry to our last stop before dinner. This last spot was one of my favorites because it was incredibly unique. It is called the Field of Lights, and it was just that – a field of lights! There was a sea of little handcrafted bulbs that changed colors as you walked around them. It was such a peaceful and gorgeous experience to have in the middle of the desert. After that, we finished our adventure back at the resort and were treated to a five star interactive buffet dinner! It was just as amazing as it sounds and yes, I ate just about one of everything! After dinner, we called it a day because the next morning we had a sunrise hike around Uluru that we definitely did not want to miss!
When we arrived at the rock, the sun was just starting to peek out on the horizon. Our tour guide, Jason, moved pretty quickly as he informed us that this would be a 12 km walk around this rock. He took us to places where we could stop and gawk at this desert wonder; however, there wasn’t much time for standing around and taking pictures because Jason would already be on the move! He would stop and tell us some of the stories that the aboriginals pass down to their children about a certain section of the rock, and there were quite a few! All of the stories are meant to teach some sort of moral to the children, just like we do in our culture. We also saw many cave drawings that depicted characters from these stories being told to us. Popular drawings would be of emu tracks (hunting image), people sitting, and their version of what we would call the devil. The hike took about five hours to complete, and by the end of it we were entirely exhausted. We got back, slept for a few hours, then got up for another incredible dining experience – this time in the middle of the desert.
Our dinner was truly an experience. We started on a hill overlooking Uluru, so we were able to watch the sunset against it for a second time. They had endless drinks and hors d’oeuvres including crocodile, chicken liver, kangaroo, and smoked salmon – all irresistibly amazing! After the sun was almost set, we were escorted to our tables to enjoy our three course Sound of Silence dinner experience. Another beautiful buffet was offered and as the night progressed, we were entertained by a didgeridoo player and, for the main event, an astronomer talked to us about the countless stars in the sky. I have never seen so many stars in my life – I even saw the milky way! We had a moment of silence to appreciate the quiet of the nature around us. That moment quickly became my favorite moment of the weekend. After a long day, we made it back to our hotels for our last night of the trip.
After a hearty breakfast and some last-minute exploring, we finally made our way back to the airport for our short flight back to Sydney. We got back just in time to see what orientation has in store for us at ICMS!