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Reflections on my Aussie Study Abroad Experience

Now that I’m back up top from the down under, I shall reflect on my experience studying abroad in Newcastle, Australia. If I had to sum up my whole trip in one word, it would be “fulfilling”. Fulfilling because this study abroad program satisfied all my cravings for adventure, relaxation, challenge, and fun. Going to a different country across the world, studying there, and exploring all it has to offer independently is something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve basically visited almost all the major places of eastern Australia. Exploring all the places I’ve visited and studying in a different college environment have all been a great adventure for me. This trip has also been very relaxing. Newcastle is a very laid back, relaxed coastal town. This, combined with easy access to the town’s beaches, gave me many opportunities to sit back and wind down. This was especially nice since this was my last semester. Doing a study abroad trip has also exposed me to challenges that I have learned to overcome independently. Whether it’s getting used to stricter grading or dealing with flight cancellations, this journey has helped make me more self-confident and responsible. Lastly, this experience has also been very fun. I did many exciting things I never thought I would ever do from hiking up mountains to riding a camel to learning to surf. I am very content with my Newcastle study abroad experience and am happy with ISA for organizing such awesome activities and having such great, supportive staff. I also very much enjoyed my time at the University of Newcastle (UoN). UoN is a great campus with friendly, cool students, professors and staff, excellent facilities, and plenty choices for socializing, clubs, and entertainment. If you’re hungry for a study abroad that offers adventure, relaxation, challenge, and fun all in one program, then I would strongly recommend the ISA Newcastle Program. I loved it and so will you!

Home Sweet Home

Aman Kukal is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Economics. Aman is spending the spring semester in Newcastle, Australia with the ISA Newcastle, Australia: Courses with Locals program.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Helpful Tips for Studying Abroad

Now that I’ve successfully completed my study abroad, I shall share some helpful tips for studying abroad. Every study abroad program offers different experiences and challenges. However, I would like to share some general tips that I have learned from my own experience that I feel will help make any study abroad go smooth.

  • Pack the bare minimum, as light as you can go. Make it easier on yourself. Also, it’ll help you avoid excess baggage airline fees for domestic travel outside the US.
  • Arrive to the airport a few hours before your flight as you never know what might happen regarding weather, traffic, and long security lines at airports.
  • Make sure before you go, you research your destination city regarding the city’s transport system and public transportation.
  • Changing your currency at the airport is not the only option. There are many other places available to do this. Research before you go. You might get better rates and lower fees.
  • Take the proper plug converter for your destination country’s electrical outlet. Different countries use different outlets and voltages.
  • Pack your clothes according to your destination’s season.
  • Make sure you have your program adviser’s phone number, email, etc. for easy communications.

With these tips in mind, take the plunge and enjoy the adventure of a study abroad!


Aman Kukal is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Economics. Aman is spending the spring semester in Newcastle, Australia with the ISA Newcastle, Australia: Courses with Locals program.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

What a Day!

The day before I left the US was a chaotic day like nothing I had ever experienced before. On June 29th, I was to take a flight from Newcastle to Brisbane and then stay the night in Brisbane and then take a morning flight on the 30th to Sydney. Then from Sydney, I would take my flight back to the states.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go exactly as planned. First, my flight from Newcastle to Brisbane got cancelled because of heavy fog in Brisbane. Upon learning this, I had to speak to airport staff and figure out how to get to Brisbane. I had to go to Brisbane because my flight from Brisbane to Sydney and then to US were all connected and if I missed any of the flights in that itinerary then my whole itinerary to the US would’ve been cancelled. Luckily, the airport staff were able to change my itinerary and get me on an earlier flight to Brisbane and then a same day flight from Brisbane to Sydney.

After that got sorted out and I reached Sydney, I ended up receiving only one of my two checked bags. So I had to go to baggage services and file a missing luggage report. The next day, on the day of my flight back to the US, I went back to baggage services in the morning to see if they had my bag. I had to take a flight at nine in the morning so I was short on time. The baggage official told me the bag was received but was sent to the hotel I was staying the night before near the airport. The hotel I was staying at never notified me of this so I got quite irritated. I then had to quickly take a cab back to the hotel and back to the international terminal. It turned out that when I got to the hotel they had just received my missing bag so that was why I had no word of my missing bag.

After that last debacle I checked in my missing bag, went through security, and made it just in time for my flight back home. After this experience, take it from me, its always best to be at the airport a few hours early before your flight. It’s better to be safe than sorry. You never know what might happen!


Aman Kukal is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Economics. Aman is spending the spring semester in Newcastle, Australia with the ISA Newcastle, Australia: Courses with Locals program.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Last Days in Newcastle

My room before moving out

During my last 1 ½ days in Newcastle I packed my bags, cleaned my room, and enjoyed Newcastle for one last time before heading out. On the 27th, I began my morning by having brekkie (breakfast in Australian lingo) with my Resident Assistant (RA), Sean. We met for the last time and had a nice breakfast at a local café. I had a scrumptious traditional Australian dish of Chicken Schnitzel with Chips. Chicken Schnitzel is chicken pounded flat, breaded, and then fried. Chips is the Australian term for what we call French fries.

As we had our breakfast, me and my RA talked about various things from break plans to movies and games to career plans. My RA is a 3rd year student, equivalent to a junior in the US. I’m a last semester senior. We joked about how we weren’t ready yet to step into the “real world” and how we still wanted to enjoy student life. But alas, for him, he still has one more year to go. I’m done, so now it’s time for me to begin adult life.

Enjoying the beauty of Newcastle for one last time!

After our breakfast, we wished each other all the best and I began my packing and my RA left for his hometown. After me and my mom finished packing, I cleaned my room and checked-out of my university. We then dropped my bags at my mom’s hotel and we visited Newcastle’s beach for the last time. While walking along the beach we stopped at a café and got fish and chips and sat a table and took in the beautiful views. We had a splendid time enjoying the ocean views while munching on crispy fish and ships. We remained there for most of the rest of the day.

The next day my mom left Newcastle for Sydney on the train as her flight back home was from Sydney. I took the bus to Newcastle Airport where I was to fly to Brisbane and then to Sydney and then from Sydney back to the US. As I rode the bus to the airport, I snapped a nice view of Newcastle.

See you Newcastle, we shall meet again someday!


Aman Kukal is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Economics. Aman is spending the spring semester in Newcastle, Australia with the ISA Newcastle, Australia: Courses with Locals program.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Trip to Cairns

On June 24, me and my mom traveled up north to Cairns. The first thing we did there was visit the Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome, located on top of The Reef Hotel and Casino in downtown Cairns. This place is basically a dome with an artificial rainforest that contains many indigenous wildlife and plants for visitors to see as well as facilities to zip-line, rope climb, and walk around the dome outside. Me and my mom did the dome walk which was very fun and exhilarating. We also marveled at the beautiful wildlife inside the dome.

Here are some photos of the wildlife that were there:

Some photos of the Dome walk:

The next day we went on a boat cruise towards the Great Barrier Reef with a stop at Green Island. We saw stunning views of the hills near Cairns, as well as the ocean and Green Island, a resort island east of Cairns. At Green Island, we took a submarine and glass bottom boat tour of the reef, where we saw lots of vibrantly colored fish and coral.

View of Cairns from the sea
Panoramic view of Cairns and the hills nearby
Green Island
Coral as seen from the submarine tour
Another view of Coral
Pretty fish seen from the submarine
Fish seen on the glass bottom boat tour
This fish kept following us around from both the submarine and glass bottom boat tours!

Aman Kukal is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Economics. Aman is spending the spring semester in Newcastle, Australia with the ISA Newcastle, Australia: Courses with Locals program.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Trip to the Coastline South of Sydney

On June 23rd, my mom came and visited me and we visited the coastline south of Sydney towards Wollongong. We drove there with family friends who live in Sydney and were thus able to experience many beautiful sites along the way. I’ll explain my magnificent coastal journey through some nice pictures I took from the trip.

A view of the southern coastline. It’s not visible in the picture, but at this lookout at Bald Hill Headland Reserve, you can see the city of Wollongong in the distance.
Austinmer Beach, a beautiful beach near Wollongong.
A nice park area in Kiama, a town along the southern coast.
Another scenic view from a park in Kiama.
The Kiama Blowhole, the town’s famous natural landmark where, under certain sea conditions, water will shoot up high in the air from the hole shown in this picture.

Aman Kukal is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Economics. Aman is spending the spring semester in Newcastle, Australia with the ISA Newcastle, Australia: Courses with Locals program.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Thoughts on Studying in Australia

I just got done with all my exams and essays! Now, I think is a good time to reflect on my experience taking my elective courses here. Overall, I really enjoyed the experience here. As I explained in one of my first few posts, here classes are divided into separate sections rather than having all aspects of a class (lecture, discussion, etc.) combined in one class session. I found this arrangement to be very manageable and positive towards my learning experience.

Since classes are separated into different sections, I could focus on the individual aspects of the sessions such as the lecture session and discussion session. In the lecture session, the professor gives the class lecture and nothing is due. In the discussion session, students and teachers discuss the subject of the day from the lecture session and assignments are turned in or discussed. Another aspect I liked here is that the grading is much more strict. If you want to get an A, then you have to go beyond an assignment’s minimum requirements and put in more effort to demonstrate you really want an A. While grading here is done on a number scale, the number scale determines the grade of your assignment based on the quality of the work. This ranges from fail, pass, credit, distinction, and high distinction. This form of grading really challenged me and I felt it motivated me to do better on my assignments and exams. The professors I had were also very nice and took the time to discuss and help me with any assignment I was unsure of. Some of my professors even treated me and my peers to coffee! Overall, I really enjoyed my time studying in Newcastle! Australia might be tougher in terms of grading compared to the US, but I feel its ultimately beneficial as it encourages you to always do your best.


Aman Kukal is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Economics. Aman is spending the spring semester in Newcastle, Australia with the ISA Newcastle, Australia: Courses with Locals program.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Trip to the Capitol

On June 14, I took a magnificent 1 ½ day trip to Australia’s capitol, Canberra. Getting there was simple, I took a train from Newcastle to Sydney and then another train from Sydney to Canberra. I had to start the trip at night to make it to Canberra early so I could make the most of my time there. I boarded the train to Sydney at almost two in the night and off I went to Sydney. After reaching Sydney Central station, I lounged around in the beautiful grand concourse section of the station. The station is very old and historic. After taking in the surroundings for about an hour, I boarded the train for Canberra. Unlike the train from Newcastle to Sydney, which is paid for with the Opal public transportation card, the Canberra train must be pre-booked online. The train journey to Canberra was one of the most beautiful train journeys I had ever taken in my life. I passed through various sheep grazing fields, mountains and hills, and cozy small towns along the way. I was even able to see a few wallabies! The journey was overall very picturesque to say the least!

Me in Sydney Central Station
Train from Sydney to Canberra
View from Canberra train

After reaching Canberra station, I walked to a nearby convenience store and purchased the local public transportation card. Canberra is in its own state, the Australian Capitol Territory. The state is situated within New South Wales. Because of this I had to purchase a new public transportation card, as Opal cards won’t work in Canberra. Once I got that situated, I walked to my hotel. Canberra isn’t a very big city, so it can easily be traversed by foot.

Reached Canberra!

After getting refreshed, I headed out to the Parliament building for a tour. The Australian Parliament building gives out public tours which is a wonderful way to check out the building and learn about the central government. The tour was very informative, and I learned a lot of interesting things about the Australian government and the building itself. I learned, for example, that the Australian government has a senate and house of representatives and that the parliament building was designed by an Italian-American architect. The parliament building is itself quite an architectural masterpiece.

Parliament of Australia!
House of Representatives chamber
Senate chamber
Another view of Parliament

Afterwards, I traveled down and toured the Old Parliament Building which is situated right across from the current Parliament building. The Old Parliament Building is the original parliament building that was the seat of government during the early to mid-20th century. This building has a more traditional colonial architecture and both chambers of the bicameral legislature are built to resemble the British house of lords and house of commons.

Old Parliament Building
Prime Minister’s room in Old Parliament Building

By the time I got done touring, it was five in the evening and all the other landmarks were closed so I walked down to the National Library of Australia and chilled in there while checking out their historical literature collections.

National Library of Australia

The next day, I woke up and went to the Royal Australian Mint where they manufacture the country’s coins. There I also took a tour and learned about the history of currency in Australia. An interesting fact I learned is that during Australia’s early colonial period, coins were used from all over the world as the colony had a shortage of coinage, so the colonists used anything they could get of value from Spanish coins to raw gold ingots. The mint also produces medals and currencies for other countries around the world.

At the Royal Australian Mint!
Coin manufacturing area

After seeing the mint, I traveled to the National Museum of Australia. Like the Parliament building, this museum is also an architectural wonder. I toured the museums various exhibits, all of which display a comprehensive history of Australia and its peoples. The museum is a great place to learn Australian history and culture through various artifacts and exhibits.

Entrance to National Museum of Australia
Cannon from Captain Cook’s ship, the Endeavour

The last landmark I saw on my Canberra trip was the Australian War Memorial. The Australian War Memorial is a breathtaking site. The landmark hosts a museum dedicated to Anzac history and service as well as a memorial to the Anzac forces who served in wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping missions. The most striking part of the memorial was a wall with the names of those who died in service. Seeing the wall was a humbling experience as I learned about how Anzacs played pivotal and heroic roles in major conflicts throughout recent history from World War 1 to Iraq.

Australian War Memorial
Inside the dome of the Memorial

Canberra is a beautiful city and I enjoyed my time there. I wasn’t able to see all I wanted to see due to time constraints, but I was satisfied with what I was able to experience. The city has many museums, galleries, and monuments. They provide a great opportunity for learning about all things Australia. If you ever visit Australia, make sure Canberra is on your itinerary!


Aman Kukal is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Economics. Aman is spending the spring semester in Newcastle, Australia with the ISA Newcastle, Australia: Courses with Locals program.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Trip to Melbourne

After the Canberra trip, I took another 1 ½ day trip to Melbourne. On my first day, I took a hop-on hop-off bus tour. Like the one I took in Sydney, this provides a great way to tour the city as the tour takes you to all the city’s major landmarks and also provides narration throughout the tour giving you great insights into the city you’re touring. Here I’ll explain my trip through the pictures I took throughout my tour and from on foot.

Federation Square. The structure on the left is an art gallery. The structure on the right with the “i” sign is the Melbourne Visitor Centre.
Flinders Street Railway Station. This is one of Melbourne’s biggest transportation hubs.
St. Paul’s Cathedral. Located across from Federation Square.
The Immigration Museum. This museum explores the history of immigration in Australia.
Eureka Tower. This is Melbourne’s tallest building. It also has a skydeck where you can view the city from the top floors.
Some interesting architecture!
An Olympics training facility I spotted on the bus tour!
St. Patrick’s Cathedral. A very cool looking cathedral with Gothic Revival architecture built in the late 1800s.
Melbourne Cricket Grounds. This is one of Australia’s largest and most premier sports and entertainment centers.
The Arts Centre Melbourne with its iconic spire.
Luna Park near St. Kilda, a nice beach and port area near Melbourne.
The Spirit of Tasmania. This ship takes passengers and cargo all the way to Tasmania from Melbourne.
View of Downtown Melbourne from the tour bus
Entrance to Melbourne Chinatown
Delicious pan-fried dumplings I had in Chinatown!
Cook’s Cottage. This house was built by Captain Cook’s parents and was brought to Australia all the way from England in 1934. It is located in Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne.
The gun and cartridge bag used by Ned Kelly, one of Australia’s most famous “bushranger” or outlaw from the 19th century. This is located in the Victoria Police Museum.
This is the City Circle Tram. A free tram that runs throughout Downtown Melbourne. It is one of many trams in Melbourne, which has the largest tram network in the world.
The Shrine of Remembrance. This monument honors all the Australian men and women who died in service throughout the various wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping missions of the 20th to 21st centuries.

These pictures are just a few of the many I took in Melbourne. Melbourne is packed with interesting places to visit and see. If you really want to experience all this city has to offer, I would recommend coming here for a few days or even a week.


Aman Kukal is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Economics. Aman is spending the spring semester in Newcastle, Australia with the ISA Newcastle, Australia: Courses with Locals program.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Newcastle Knights Rugby Match!

The McDonald Jones Stadium

On May 27, I attended a really interesting cultural activity, an authentic Australian Rugby match! For those unfamiliar with this sport, Rugby is a complete contact sport (meaning no pads or helmets worn!) in which two teams of thirteen players attempt to outscore each other within 80 minutes (in two 40-minute rounds). Points are scored when a player carries the ball and touches it on the ground space beyond the opposing team’s goal line. Additionally, points can be scored by kicking field goals over the opposing team’s goal post. Some interesting aspects about the sport are that the ball must be passed backwards at all times and each team gets five tackles to score, after which they have to kick the ball to the opposing team for their turn to try to score. Each player specializes in a certain position. The game requires a lot of speed, strength, and passing and kicking prowess. That’s Rugby in a nutshell!

Me and the Knights Mascot

The game I saw was held at the McDonald Jones Stadium at the Newcastle International Sports Center. As the name suggests, this is Newcastle’s premier sports center. The stadium is home to two of Newcastle’s prominent sports teams, the Newcastle Knights (Rugby) and Newcastle Jets FC (Soccer). The Rugby match I saw was between my city’s home team, the Newcastle Knights, and a team from Sydney, the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks. The match was very interesting to say the least. I had never seen a Rugby match before, so this was a unique experience. It was thrilling and exciting to see the players run across the field passing the ball backwards attempting to get the ball past the opposing team’s goal line as the opposition tries to bring them down. As a Novocastrian (the local term for someone from Newcastle), I rooted hard for the Knights. The stadium was quite packed, and it was fun engaging in the enthusiasm of the match. Despite our lively cheers and show of support, the Knights unfortunately lost to the Sharks, 10 to 48. Although the loss was a bit disheartening, I overall had a spectacular time. I was impressed by the performance of all the players. It takes a lot of strength and stamina to play Rugby and seeing the players play for almost 40 minutes straight in two rounds astonished me. If you ever get a chance to see a Rugby match, I would strongly recommend seeing it. I’m not a sports person at all, but I greatly enjoyed what I saw!

In the Stadium, before the Match.
The Stadium Scoreboard
The Match going on!
The Knights huddling together.
Me after the match, feeling good despite the loss!

Aman Kukal is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Economics. Aman is spending the spring semester in Newcastle, Australia with the ISA Newcastle, Australia: Courses with Locals program.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.