Going Home

Hong Kong has been an amazing city to live in for two months - the people, the beautiful skyline, and the culture have shaped me and allowed for me to call this place home. I’m in love with this city not only because of it’s amazing culture and breathtaking skyline, but also because of the people and the relationships I have built here in Hong Kong. The mentor-mentee relationships built while working at my internship has provided me with a more in-depth view of consulting and the banking industry, while the camaraderie that I have here with other interns in the Study and Intern program gave me something to come home to every night after work - these friendships are what made the city truly become a place that I can call “Home”. 

Final Nights in Sydney

My time in Sydney is coming to an end.  This experience allowed me to understand and live in a cross cultural setting, and also find my identify as an American.

I worked at a startup in the Australian Technology Park.  Including myself, we were a team of seven that grew surprisingly close during our six weeks together.  What’s special is that almost none of us are from the same country!  In fact, the only commonality is that of our two scientists, Roya and Sammy, who immigrated from Iran of all places.  Working in this setting, with a team that represents Barcelona, Denmark, and India, has been an incredible immersing experience.  The confidence, comfortability, and preference I have developed for working with peoples of diverse backgrounds is shocking.  

This environment has also given me the opportunity to find my identity as an American.  Before the trip to Australia, I did not really have all that much American pride actually - certainly not as much as I do now.  Living on the other side of the world, I realized just how many things I take for granted as an American, and how much respect people have for the U.S.  

I am excited to return home with a fresh perspective on our nation, the many cultures around us, and how they all work together.

- Spencer Peterson

Grant Demeter talking about the great unknown

As a Sydney urbanite, it’s tough to absorb the fact that I am living in a tiny dot in one of the most massive, uncharted, and ancient wildernesses on the earth. Only 10% of Australia is populated by western man, and 89% of Australia’s known population reside in urban areas. A real visualization of this concept was the flight to Cairns, a northeastern coastal city along the great barrier reef. In the air, the lights of Sydney shrunk into a small clump of yellow, surrounded by a massive and unfathomable blackness. Flying north along the coast, smaller clumps of light were occasionally visible, only to be engulfed by darkness again. From the great barrier reef, Cairns is a barely visible strip of grey surrounded by massive mountains that disappear into the sky.  On Sunday, we drove into these mountains, and fields of sugarcane and bananas gradually faded into forested mountains and open valleys. We swam in pools that waterfalls took countless years to carve into solid rock.  We saw eels and crawfish that live their entire lives in these tiny and delicate ecosystems. Australia’s wildlife has had 99 million years to evolve isolated from other continents. 40,000 years ago, humans arrived in Australia. Still, we live in tiny colonies, too small to draw the attention of this massive and ancient wilderness. Anyways, it was a fun weekend. 

- Grant Demeter

June 19th from Sydney!

It’s hard to believe that we only have about two more weeks in Sydney! The whole experience has been so fun and I think we are all sad to be nearing the end.  These next two weeks are going to be jam packed with activities that we have been wanting to go, so I think everyone will be very busy having fun!  This past weekend was the group trip to Port Stephens, and there was so much to do.  We started with a shark and sting ray feeding trip.  We got to go into big pools with the sharks and sting rays and feed them shrimp.  There was a sting ray that was about 700 lbs! It was so cool to be in the water with them.  Then, we went on a hike with an amazing view.  The hike was short but definitely great exercise because it was all up a steep hill.  Everyone was out of breath at the top but the view was definitely worth it!  Later in the day we went whale watching and saw a lot of whales and a few dolphins even.  And then we finished the night off with a group dinner.  The next day we went to a beach where we were able to ride surf boards down some sand dunes and we rode camels!  Then we headed off to a beer and wine tasting to finish off the trip.  All in all it was a great weekend in Port Stephens and it was so much fun.

Another exciting thing that recently happened was the State of Origins Game, a rugby rivalry between New South Whales and Queensland.  New South Whales won the first game a few weeks ago, and we were able to watch the second game as a group to witness the New South Whales Blues win the second game of the series! They won the series for the first time in 8 years! It was such a fun atmosphere and it came pretty close to watching Michigan take on one of its rivals.  

I can’t wait for the next two weeks and I am already dreading the last day that we have in Sydney! 

-Allison Vogrich

Sydney June 12th

While working has brought with it meaningful projects and opportunities, the highlights of my stay in Sydney have been the various trips that I’ve spontaneously gone on. Whether standing precariously at the jagged edges of cliffsides, snorkelling the inevitably colder, wintery aquatic preserves at Manly Beach, or running screaming in hiking trails from sudden spidery movements in the underbrush, Sydney has plenty of dangerous and exciting things to offer to an adrenaline charged mind. 

Slowing down is possible, too. This past Tuesday, a couple of co-workers and I went down to the Sydney Harbour around sunset to have some appetizers, and just enjoy the view. I had the opportunity to look at the changing lights reflecting across the Opera House while casually scarfing down handfuls of potato wedges, and admired our own workplace among the various skyscrapers against the backdrop of the night sky. Afterwards, a quick train ride back, and a relaxation with some friends in the accommodation hot tub after a long day of work. 

The trip is only halfway over, yet there are still so many places to explore. Next weekend, I will be taking a crash course in scuba diving in preparation for a trip to the Great Barrier Reef. The weekend after will undoubtedly be just as exciting, awaiting new adventures.

- Michael Ding

June 11th from Sydney

We’ve been in Australia for over a month but the whole experience still seems surreal. The endless activities, sites to see and places to travel are keeping us all busy during our time down under. These amazing experiences not only give us the opportunity to learn more about the culture and the people of Australia, but they let us explore the unique and beautiful landscape. The last month here has been nothing short of amazing and I’m positive this will continue.

We’ve been working at our internships for 2 and a half weeks now and everyone is starting to adjust to the working world down here in Sydney. Even though we didn’t get the normal long weekend we do for Memorial Day, we were able to make up for it because this past weekend was a long weekend for the Queen’s birthday. When we all found out that it was a national holiday we were surprised, but more than happy to have a day off of work to further explore! Some people took this long weekend to venture out into the wine country area of Hunter Valley. They stayed at a hostel and took a tour of vineyards where they even saw wild kangaroos. Others stayed in the city and went on scenic hikes through forests and along the coast.

With our trip over halfway over, these next couple weeks will be filled with all the adventure we can possibly fit! People are traveling to the beautiful Port Stephens, visiting Cairns where the great barrier reef is, and some people are even hoping to take a trip to the outback. There’s no lack of activities to fill the rest of our time here and I couldn’t be more excited to further explore this amazing country.

- Colleen Miller

Trip to Prague May 17

The day began with a wake-up call from the hotel, it’s ringtone sounded like the most obnoxious of submarine alarms. Matt hung up on them. I managed to stuff some clothes into my backpack and made it in time for our 15 minute breakfast. 

We ate our usual eggs, sausage, yogurt, toast and rice cakes, but I can’t read anything so i’ll never be too sure. It turns out “quark” is sour cream. The bus driver is two minutes early so we have to leave our food and head out. We had a different bus  waiting for us this morning, hopefully there is not a compartment with a mattress and sheets in the undercarriage. 

We arrive at the train station with 45 minutes to spare, so we go to a waiting area on the second floor. Alex buys a sandwich. While sitting amongst the cheery looking locals a ruffled looking pigeon joins our ranks, one of our female peers screams. The wifi advertised on the wall is nonexistent. 

After our time expires we walk down to the track to board our train. Alex ditches his sandwich because it looked unappetizing. Contemplating his action, he considers buying another. Aziz buys pizza bagel chips. Lauren says our train is 10 minutes late. Steve buys regular chips. Our train is delayed two more minutes. Matt asks Haley a question about her backpack, no response. Our two minutes is up and no train in sight. A local man walks over the train tracks, he survived. We are notified of our train being another “two minutes late.” Lauren now buys pizza bagel chips. 

Our train arrives, oh wait it’s not ours. Aziz asks girls for their phone numbers and is denied. The locals try to shove past us; I smile and move out of their way — the smile is not received. Nate buys pizza bagel chips. Our real train arrives, we scramble to board it. 

We all sit down, Jeffery begins talking. Alex eats Matt’s sandwich. The train begins rolling away. After the train hits cruising speed Matt says he can out-walk it, Nate dares him and Matt contemplates. Connor still smiling pokes his head in our cabin to say hi. I nod off to sleep. 

I wake up from my nap, we made it to Prague! Our hotel is close so we all make the trek from the train station to the hotel. The actual beauty of Prague far surpasses the rumors, but dark clouds are rolling in and it looks as if it may rain. We make it into the hotel and everyone desperately searches for wifi. Turns out we have to pay for it. 

After we all settle into our spacious rooms we meet in the lobby for our tour of the city. The tour guide is sopping wet, my prediction was right. We took a tour of the city, I didn’t get to see much as I had my hood shielding my head from the rain. However, the tour guide was very knowledgable and thoroughly appreciated Matt’s snappy responses. The tour ends and a group of us decide to visit a 550 year old restaurant. It was packed, but we managed to find some seats. 

After the restaurant we all decided to rest a little bit at the hotel as it had been a long day. I wake up from my second nap feeling refreshed. Everyone talks about going to a 80’s/90’s club; we go to said club. The club gets good reviews from everyone, it was a great night out. 

- Lucas Rasnic