Honors mechanical engineering and physics student Adam Osmon chose to expand his academic and cultural horizons in during a semester study abroad in Australia, where he dove into video production and indigenous cultures at the University of Adelaide.
I spent the last two months in Australia, and it was the most incredible two months I’ve ever experienced. I took two classes at the University of Adelaide – Australian Stories: Video Production and Indigenous Cultures and History (ICH). I enjoyed Video Production more than ICH simply because I like technical classes more than essay-based classes. In the video production class, we learned about different aspects of video production – go figure. We learned about different types of cameras, mics and so forth, the different jobs available in this particular sector, and we learned how to edit using Final Cut Pro. I already knew much of what the professor taught us because I have edited and helped film several videos in the past, but I still learned several things, especially in regards to filming and producing videos.
In ICH, we learned a little bit about the culture of Aboriginal people, but we mostly learned about the different policies and legislation the Australian government has imposed upon Aboriginal people since its creation. This class definitely increased my knowledge of Australian culture and helped me understand the relationship between these two groups of people.
I was also able to draw many parallels between Australian history and the history between the U.S. Government and Native Americans. The video production class will definitely benefit me in the future. If nothing else, I will be able to incorporate the skills I learned into videos I make for fun, but it might benefit me professionally as well. Videos are used to communicate information in one way or another in almost every industry in the country, so the ability to produce a quality video may be a great asset to my professional life as well.
Studying abroad isn’t all about studying for class, though. I also learned a great deal about Australian culture. Since Australia is a British commonwealth and America was once a British colony, the two cultures are similar. Even so, Australians are definitely generally more laid back than Americans. Being on time isn’t as important, and hearing a honking a car horn is a fairly rare occurrence, even in large cities. There is a large difference in the food in the South and the food in Australia. I found that the portions of food served in Australia are smaller than they are here, and they don’t have pulled pork sandwiches, root beer, or sweet iced tea. The Asian food there is also infinitely better than any Asian food I’ve ever eaten in America. Since the drinking age in Australia is 18, there was a bar on campus; that was a little different. Another student and I lived with a host dad while we were in Adelaide, but living in an Australian house was really very similar to living in a house in the States. His house is around one hundred years old, but it was still nice and very comfortable. I didn’t experience culture shock or homesickness while I was gone, and I’m sure the similarities in our cultures contributed to this.
We took several trips on the weekends while we were living in Adelaide. We went to the Cleland Wildlife Park, where we got to pet and feed kangaroos and koalas and got to see all kinds of native Australian wildlife. We also went to Kangaroo Island, which is the third largest island off the Australian mainland behind Tasmania and Melville Island. We saw some awesome scenery at KI, as well as kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, sea lions, possums, and even an echidna. During our last weekend in Adelaide, we went on a two-day trip to the Outback. We drove to Flinders Ranges, which is about 120 miles northwest of the city. Looking at the stars on the first night during that trip is probably my favorite memory of being in Adelaide. There isn’t really any air pollution in the Outback and there is definitely no light pollution, so the skies are incredibly clear and we could see countless numbers of stars. That night, I saw the Milky Way for the first time.
The constellations in the Southern Hemisphere are a little different than ours, so trying to remember what my high school astronomy class taught me was fun. The night sky was absolutely incredible. After that trip, half of our group went to Sydney for three days while the other half stayed and finished up their classes, and our program was officially over. I had made plans to experience a bit more, though, so I spent the next two weeks traveling around Australia and New Zealand. I went on a three-day outback camping tour where I saw Uluru and Kings Canyon, then I went scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef for three days. After diving, I went to New Zealand for about a week, where I went on Lord of the Rings tour. I went on a tour around Hobbiton in Rotorua, I took a tour of the parts of the movies that were filmed in Wellington, and I went to the Edoras filming location in Christchurch. The scenery in New Zealand is absolutely stunning.
Studying abroad was a blast, and I would definitely recommend this program to others. I studied at the University of Adelaide through a company called GlobaLinks. The program is fairly expensive, but is definitely worth the money. Australia is a great place to go to school and to live, and I would love to go back and work for a couple of years after I graduate at the U of A. Taking this opportunity to study abroad has increased my interest in international travel, and I can’t wait to seize the next chance I have to spend time in a foreign country.
Mechanical Engineering and Physics