Insight from Abroad: Australia

Meet Andrew Cox, a mathematics junior who comes from a land down under, hailing straight from Melbourne, Australia.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Cox

The Big Green: What drew you to America, and more specifically, Michigan State?

Andrew Cox: “I came to America because I was interested in seeing what it would be like to study in a different English speaking culture. I was born in Ohio, so I was very keen to study somewhere in the mid-west and I wanted to go to a big university with an active sports program as well. In the end I chose MSU because it had the academic program I was after, as well as hundreds of school groups to be a part of.”

TBG: How has your family supported your choice to study abroad?

AC:  “I’ve been away from home for about six months now, which has been the longest time in my life. My parents and family have all been very supportive of me going away, but I miss them and am looking forward to seeing them again next year. I miss my brother, who will have graduated school and be at university by the next time I see him.”

TBG: Where do you live at MSU? How has that experience been for you?

AC: “I live in Wilson Hall in the South Neighborhood. It’s been a really good way to get to know people and I’ve really enjoyed the experience for the most part. It is slightly strange though, because in Australia by the time you graduated high school, you wouldn’t share a room with anyone ever.”

TBG: What activities are you involved in on campus?

AC: “I play underwater hockey at MSU, which is a lot of fun. We train twice a week, and I went to London, Canada for a tournament with my team, which was a really memorable weekend.”

TBG: Can you talk a little bit about your culture at home?

AC: “Australia is quite similar to America in many ways, but there are some differences. While we still love our sport we play Australian Football, Rugby and Cricket at home. Because there aren’t as many big cities in Australia, there will generally be a fairly even mix of fans at a game, and the stadiums aren’t like fortresses for the home team chants. It’s also much warmer at home, which is something I miss a lot!”

TBG: What are some other differences between life at home and life in America?

 “While we speak the same language in Australia, I often get caught out saying things that have absolutely no meaning to American people. I think attitudes towards things like politics are very different in Australia, as the intensity of the attack ads in the recent election was a real shock [to me]. At home I am also really used to eating food from all over Asia and across the world such as Indian, Thai and Ethiopian but I’m finding that most people here don’t really like food like that.”

TBG: What is your favorite part about being in America?

AC: “I love getting to discover something new every day. There are hundreds of little differences, which I am slowly finding out about. Halloween was a particular highlight for me, and a huge change from Halloween at Australia where it falls in the middle of our exam period and is not really celebrated.”

TBG: What has surprised you the most about America?

AC: “How nice and welcoming the people are. Before I came to Michigan I was traveling around the U.S. and people would invite me to stay with them or help me find where I was going. It’s the same at MSU, people will go out of their way to make you feel welcome and are very friendly and more than happy to start up a conversation with you.”

TBG: So you’ve been treated pretty well here then?

AC: “People have always been really nice to me and really interested in what I’m up to. Everyone seems to enjoy my accent so I think I’ve been asked to ‘just talk’ by people I’ve just met about 500 times since I got here

TBG: How would you describe your experience as a study abroad student at Michigan State so far?

AC: “Studying abroad at MSU has been a lot of fun. All the study abroad students went through orientation together, so I have lots of friends also studying abroad here. It has been a bit of a shock compared to university at home, where most people live off campus in the main part of the city, go to their classes at university each day and then go home again. Attendance has never been marked in lectures for my degree, and your lecturers don’t know you at all and don’t really worry whether everyone passes or fails, so you have to be much more proactive in getting help. There is also a lot more continuous assessment in the form of homework and projects here, at home I am used to exams worth about 70% of the final grade for a subject.”

TBG: What do you miss most about home?

AC: “I miss my dogs the most! Every time I talk to my family, I Skype the dogs in the backyard and get them to do tricks through Skype. I also miss my friends, and just hanging out with them. I also miss the food from home, and being able to go to the beach whenever I want to.”

TBG: What are your plans for the future?

AC: “Unfortunately I need to go home after this semester to continue my studies in Australia, but I’m hoping I can come back soon and see all the people I’ve met here, because I’m going to miss them!”

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