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The Buchtelite

The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

Culture Shocks and First Impressions of Australia

My first week studying abroad in Melbourne, Australia.
Map of Australia with pins. Picture Credentials: Pexels, Catarina Sousa.

Studying abroad has always been on my bucket list. Being able to immerse yourself in a culture so different from your own, live like the locals, and meet individuals from all over the world is an experience unlike any other.  

The University of Akron has an impressive list of partnership universities to choose from. I knew I had to take advantage to study abroad  

As I was choosing countries to study abroad, there was one which stuck out to me. Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia has numerous qualities that were appealing to me.

I consider myself to be a lover of nature, and Deakin’s proximity to beaches, forests, and mountains was alluring. 

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Melbourne Botanical Gardens. Picture Credentials: Taylor Lorence

The incredible wildlife also drew me in, as I have always wanted to hold a koala and pet a kangaroo.  

Given that the seasons are reversed in the southern hemisphere, I knew warm weather and sunshine were waiting for me in Australia this semester.  

After a heartfelt goodbye to my family, two long travel days, a sixteen-hour flight from Los Angeles to Australia, I arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday, Feb. 14. Immediately, the warm air and palm trees greeted me, and in a weird reality, I felt like I was in Florida. A complimentary shuttle service took me straight from the airport to my apartment on campus.  

My first culture shock was that Australians drive on the left side of the road (I still can’t get used to this). Their speed limit signs are also in kilometers, not miles. I thought everyone was driving extremely fast until I came to the realization that I must adjust my thought process for kilometers.  

Public transportation is the primary way university students travel to nearby places. Coming from a small, rural town in Ohio, I am used to driving my car everywhere. In fact, I had never been on a bus or tram prior to arriving in Australia. A tram is a streetcar that we typically call a trolley here in the U.S. 

Within my first 24 hours in Melbourne, I had to get a public transportation pass, and ride the buses and trams to get to the grocery store. Not having my car has been the biggest adjustment, as I am solely reliant on the schedules and times of buses and trams.  

My two friends and I riding public transportation. Photo Credentials: Taylor Lorence

Deakin University has a high international student population. This made me feel less like a fish out of water, since so many people are experiencing the same shocking reality as me. In my short week here, I have become friends with people from India, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, and South Africa.  

Deakin also does a fabulous job of hosting free events for students who live on campus. Attending these events has been my primary way of making friends. They have hosted a cinema night, a trip to the Melbourne Botanical Gardens, a barbeque and Hawaiian Luau night, an ice cream party, and many others.  

Another huge culture shock was interacting with native Australians. Although they speak English, it is a fast and casual dialect with lots of slang and abbreviations. I had to watch a video explaining Aussie slang terms so I can better understand my roommates.  

Many of the natives I have spoken to say I have an American accent, and that I overpronounce my r’s and w’s. I find this amusing, and I still have a hard time understanding natives with thick accents.  

One of my roommates is an international student from Japan, and she told me that she understands

 my English better than our Australian roommates. I call that a win.  

Street art in Melbourne. Photo Credentials: Taylor Lorence

The drinking culture in Australia, and Australian universities, has been perhaps the biggest shock of them all. The legal drinking age in Australia is 18, unlike the United States where it is 21.  

Due to this, every college student at my university is legally allowed to consume alcohol. Unlike American universities, Deakin promotes safe drinking habits, and even throws sanctioned parties for college students. You can walk around with a bottle of alcohol in your hand, and a faculty member would not bat an eye at you.  

My classes do not start until March 4, as they operate on a trimester system at Deakin. I have been using these first three weeks to make friends and become acclimated to my new home for the next four months.  

I will be taking three classes on campus, and I am anxious yet excited to see how their curriculum and education system differs from the United States.  

Australia is a beautiful country with so much rich culture and scenery. My first week living abroad has been challenging yet rewarding. 

Given that this is my first time living away from home, I have learned that I am extremely capable of being on my own.  

I hope to travel and see more of beautiful Australia during my short time abroad, and maybe see a kangaroo or two along the way.  


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Taylor Lorence
Taylor Lorence, Secretary
Hi, my name is Taylor Lorence. I am a 20-year-old junior at the University of Akron. My major is Public Relations, and my minor is International Business. This is my first semester joining The Buchtelite, and I am so excited! Fun fact: I have been whale watching in 3 different states: Alaska, Maine, and Massachusetts.
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