Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Sorry I've been slacking on my blog posts the past couple weeks.  I have been quite busy working on assignments and being productive.  While the social life at my Australian uni has been quite fun, I've also been dedicating quite a bit of time to getting projects and essays finished before the mid-semester break.

To start off, I have been absolutely loving my classes so far!  My experience with cotton grew immensely at the beginning of the semester, due to my trip to Goondiwindi.  It has been quite interesting learning about cotton, as I had pretty much 0 knowledge of the crop before I left.  So far in my Cotton Production class, we have discussed  the major types of cotton grown in Australia, cotton breeding, irrigation, and nitrogen needs.

My Ecology of Plant Populations class has also been going quite well.  I must admit, it was challenging at first, as this is the first ecology class I've taken as a college student, but I have found it so fascinating to learn about how different organisms interact with each other and how small interactions can have large effects on the ecosystem as a whole.  We're currently working on the Pollination and Breeding aspect of the unit, which I have taken great interest in, especially in terms of mutualistic relationships between pollinators and plants.  Last week, I had my first major assignment of the semester due- a 2,500 word essay on how recent climate change has affected plant populations- and I was extremely thrilled to find out I got a High Distinction on it- the highest letter grade in Australia.  This has given me more motivation to keep up the good work.  While I am taking 19 credit hours total this semester (4-400 level classes and 1-300 level class), I am trying to make it my personal goal to come back to the states with a 4.0.
A lot of lengthy codes for R!

I have absolutely fallen in love with my Genomic Analysis and Bioinformatics class!  It is so fascinating to me how with a little statistics and programming, geneticists can predict and discover so many things about the genomes of numerous species.  This class incorporates a lot of livestock- including Australia's two biggest largest animals species, cattle and sheep- which I have found quite interesting, since in the past, I have dealt primarily with plant genetics.  I am learning a lot about the R program and how to use it for Anova and for QTL mapping and Genome Wide Association studies.  I hope I can apply the lessons I have learned to future research projects I contribute to, especially in terms of QTL mapping.

Since I am pursuing a minor in communication, I decided to take a Digital and Social Media class.  We have learned a lot about how technology has changed so rapidly since the mid-1900's.  We've discussed how social media has become a tool of surveillance, both for governments and for advertising, and how the rise of technology presses many ethical questions, especially in terms of robots and intelligent machines.

As some of you may have seen, last week, I attended the trimester 1 Albies academic dinner.  At academic dinners, students in the college are rewarded for their hard work from the previous semester based on the grade averages they received.  Our senior common room members were also invited to attend, and we had a lovely dinner, wine, and entertainment throughout the night. This academic dinner was particularly exciting for Albies, as its grade point average had improved 10% from the previous trimester.

In other academic news, I am also thrilled to announce that I was just named the Purdue Honors College Off-Campus Representative.  For the next year, I will help keep other off-campus Honors College students in-the-know with upcoming events in the Honors College and provide one-on-one assistance when I get back by holding an office hour each week.

I know this semester has already been so busy, and the rest is going to fly by!  I'm trying to do my best to take it all in and gain the most I can out of the cultural experience, while also ensuring that I am meeting my own personal academic goals.  For now, I am going to try to work on my second major ecology essay for the trimester.



Friday, March 17, 2017

St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

In honor of the holiday, I decided to do a throwback blog post to my study abroad experience this time last year.  For spring break '16, I participated in the "Agriculture in Ireland" program where I got to explore the country, become immersed in the culture, and of course, learn a bit about Irish agriculture methods.

One of my favorite places in Ireland was Dublin.  I really enjoyed going to the UCD College to learn more about their agriculture programs.  Ireland is known for dairy cattle production.  While in Dublin, we got to explore Temple Bar- the pub scene- which consisted of numerous pubs.  The night life was fantastic and everywhere seemed so alive!  We also got to tour the Guinness factory and drink a free pint- one of my favorite parts.

Throughout my time in Ireland, we also go to visit numerous historic sites, museums, and castles.  I particularly liked climbing the stairs of the Blarney Castle and kissing the Blarney Stone for good luck.  I must say, though... looking down from the tall castle was pretty scary!

While on our trip, we spent numerous hours in a bus, traveling from city to city.  It wasn't too bad, though, because the view of the country side was absolutely beautiful.  Here is a road-side picture of our trek to the Cliffs of Moher.  

Speaking of the Cliffs, this has to be another one of my favorite places I got to see in Ireland.  The view was clearly spectacular.  Even though Ireland is known for having constant rain, our group lucked out because it didn't rain a single day we were there- making our view of the Cliffs perfect.  Not going to lie, I was pretty scared when taking this picture, though.  There is literally nothing to catch a fall, making the Cliffs pretty dangerous.

I had such a fantastic time in Ireland that I really hope I get the opportunity to go back someday.  For now, I hope you all have a fantastic St. Patrick's Day!  And remember... It's always a lovely day for a Guinness. 😉



Wednesday, March 8, 2017

UNE Campus

Hello everyone!

In honor of my "one-month anniversary" of being in Australia, I wanted to dedicate a blog post to the beautiful University of New England campus.  While walking half an hour up a hill to class every day may not seem too great at first, the beautiful campus with many sights makes the trip enjoyable.

First and foremost, the Booloominbah building is absolutely stunning- it makes me feel like I'm looking at a castle.  This is a central building at the UNE campus.  If you're important, chances are, you'll be in this building a lot.

Secondly, on my way to class each day, I have the pleasure of walking by "Deer Park."  It's a cute little area with wildlife, including deer, rabbits, and of course, kangaroos.  I feel much safer knowing I can get as close to the fence as I want and they won't touch me.

Sheep are a huge part of Australian livestock, so it's only fitting that we have a huge pasture full of sheep on our campus.  There are even numerous classes students can take regarding wool production.

Throughout my daily walk up top, I also cross numerous bridges and creeks.  During O-week, some of the leadership actually jumped in the creek- I personally wouldn't try it.

Also, it's nearly impossible to go a day without running into these "cute" little Australian magpies- they're nearly everywhere.  I've never woken up late because they always sing bright-and-early in the mornings.

It doesn't even seem real that I have been on the other side of the world for a full month!  I've had a wonderful time, making some awesome friends and being involved in the Albies and UNE community.  But I guess it's true what they say- time flies when you're having fun.



Sunday, March 5, 2017

Ablies Rugby

Hello Mates!

This weekend, I had the chance to experience what is pretty much the most marveled Aussie sport- rugby!  While it took me a little to follow the rules of the game, I had a blast getting to sip on some cider with my new friends and cheer on the Albies rugby team.

A boys team from Sydney travelled all the way to Armidale to play against our boys- roughly a 6 hour trip for them.  The day consisted of 3 grades playing- which made for quite a long afternoon.  Luckily, we dodged the rain, for the most part.

A few facts about Aussie rugby:

  • Rugby has been a popular sport in Australia since the 1850's
  • The first rugby game in New South Wales (the state I'm in) was in 1860
  • The Australia National Rugby Union's mascot is the "Wallabies" 
  • Australia has appeared at every world cup since 1987
  • Australia is one of the most successful teams in the Rugby World Cup tournament’s history
Some facts about St. Albies rugby:
  • We've won the grand final in all 3 grades 4 times
  • Since the club started, we've won 10 premierships from 19 Grand Finals for our 1st grade team
  • In the past 8 years, we've won 5 Premierships from 8 Grand finals for our 1st Grade team
  • We've won the Club Championships for all 8 years
Some things I learned about rugby:
  • It's sort of like football, except you can only throw the ball backwards
  • They don't wear much equipment
  • No one says "touchdown," but the crowd does get pretty involved during the game

While I might not be too keen to participate in rugby myself (contact sports definitely aren't my strongest suit), I'm really looking forward to cheering on my team the rest of the season 🎉