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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.

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.

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.

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.

Anzac Day 2018

Military vehicles at the beginning of the march

On the 25th of April, I went to Downtown Newcastle to attend the Anzac Day march and commemoration service. Anzac Day, which is observed every 25th of April in Australia and New Zealand, is a national day of remembrance that commemorates all the Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping missions. Anzac is an acronym that stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Anzac Day is held on this date because it marks the anniversary of the first major military engagement fought by Australian and New Zealand forces in World War One. On this date in 1915, Australian and New Zealand forces landed in Gallipoli peninsula with the objective of capturing it from Ottoman forces. This would allow the allied forces to pass through the Dardanelles and capture Constantinople (now Istanbul), the Ottoman capital. This would knock Ottoman Turkey, an ally of Germany, out of the war. The Anzac forces met heavy resistance from the Ottoman forces and the campaign to take Gallipoli turned into a stalemate that lasted for eight months. At the end of 1915, the allied forces, of which the Anzac forces were a part of, evacuated the peninsula. Both the Anzac and Ottoman forces suffered heavy casualties. Although the Gallipoli campaign was unsuccessful, the brave and heroic actions of Anzac forces during the campaign became forever crystallized in the memories of both Australians and New Zealanders, becoming part of both nation’s identities. Anzac Day honors this legacy.

The Australian troops who led the commemoration ceremony

To honor Anzac Day in Australia, commemoration services are held at dawn (which is the time the Anzac forces landed at Gallipoli) and then later in the day veterans and current servicemen and servicewomen meet to take part in marches throughout Australia. In Newcastle, I attended the march as well as a second commemoration ceremony that took place after the march. The events made me reflect on the contributions Australian and New Zealand servicemen and servicewomen made towards ensuring peace and freedom in our world and the struggles they went through to achieve it. The whole experience was a very humbling one.

Under the tent are public officials, veterans, and current servicemen and servicewomen and their families. Some of them laid wreaths during the commemoration ceremony.
Australian fighter jets flew over to signal the beginning of the commemoration ceremony
The cenotaph at Civic Park in Downtown Newcastle

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.

A Taste of Aussie Cuisine!

At the University of Newcastle, one of my go-to places to have lunch is the Uni Bakehouse. They serve up fresh baked goods at very affordable prices. One of the deals I always get is their 7.50 A$ combo deal which gets you a savory item, a sweet item, and a drink. Many of the foods they serve are traditional Australian favorites like sausage rolls, meat pies, and lamingtons. What are these foods exactly? Sausage rolls are basically puff pastry with a minced sausage filling. Meat pies are hand-sized pies that have a meat and gravy filling. At the University Bakehouse, you can get all kinds of these miniature pies with different kinds of filling from curry to mashed potato to the traditional minced beef and gravy. Lamingtons are sponge cakes coated in chocolate and rolled in coconut shavings. How do they all taste? Absolutely delicious! The meat pies and sausage rolls are very savory and mouth-watering. The lamingtons are excellent as well. They are sweet, but not too much, and in fact, taste quite refreshing. It sounds weird that a cake can taste refreshing, but trust me, when you have a lamington you will know what I mean. You can’t fully experience Australia without trying these scrumptious local treats!

Lamington on left. Steak, Cheese, and Bacon Pie on right.

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 Class Formats at the Uni

I have officially completed my first full week of classes at Uni (University in Australian lingo)! I would thus like to share my thoughts on how classes are done at the University of Newcastle. Here, classes are separated into different sessions. They are divided into a lecture session, a tutorial session, and in some cases a laboratory session. Some classes have a seminar session which is a combination of a tutorial and a lecture session in one sitting. The lecture session is of course, the session where you hear the lecture. The tutorial session is where you get together with your classmates and discuss the lecture as well as the course readings for the class. I have tutorial sessions for my Australian History, (History, War, and Film), and Professional Writing classes, as well as, a seminar session for my Popular Culture and Society Class. I found the tutorials to be unique as they helped me to better understand what I’ve learnt and also allowed me to gain new insights into my courses from my classmates. I have had within my first week many lively and insightful discussions on war films, parallels between Australian and American History, the state of professional writing in the social media age, and the critical analysis of pop culture as a legitimate academic field. At first, I was anxious about this method of doing classes. But after having my first full week of classes, I realized that this format is nice as it allows time for me to absorb what I’ve learned so that I can have productive class discussions and do better on my assignments afterwards.

One of my course readings; An interesting read so far!

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.

 

G’Day from Down Under!

G’Day Everyone! My name is Aman Kukal. I am a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Economics. I am currently spending my last semester of my undergraduate college career in Newcastle, Australia with the ISA Newcastle, Australia: Courses with Locals program. After many days of lugging luggage, orientation, flights, and settling into my new home in Newcastle, Australia at the University of Newcastle, I have finally found time to get down and relay to y’all all the cool things that have transpired since the time my flight touched ground in Sydney. It’s been a dazzling almost two weeks since I reached Australia, so let me start of the tale of my journey by describing my first day down under.

After flying some 20 hours from my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, I finally touched land on February the 13th in Sydney. As I disembarked the plane, a blast of warm air greeted my face and reminded me that here in Australia it’s summertime, whilst in America it’s winter! It was a quite refreshing experience as back home in St. Louis it was literally cold as the Arctic. As I made my way through immigration, I was told I had to grab my checked-in luggage and take it through security again and check the luggage in again for my connecting flight to Brisbane where my ISA orientation pick-up is. After flying for so long, I was crazy tired and was not looking forward to lugging my luggage all over again. I somehow managed to muster enough strength to make the last push and got my bags checked through security and finally checked-in for my next flight and got my boarding passes as well. After that, I had to take a bus to transfer from the International Terminal to the Domestic Terminal. It was on that bus ride that I got a breathtaking view of the skyline of downtown Sydney!

Sydney Skyline

Finally, after reaching the Domestic Terminal, I made my way through to my gate and alas I was on my way to Brisbane.

Brisbane, Here I Come!

As I exited the Brisbane Airport after landing, I made my way outside with my luggage, still wearing my big red puffy jacket I had worn since entering my flight from St. Louis to begin my journey. I felt like I was almost going to pass out as the refreshing warm summer air I first felt upon landing here in Australia turned quite discomforting to me. I had worn my big jacket throughout my trip coming to Australia since I did not have any room in my suitcase or backpack to keep it (they were both stuffed as I had to pack a semester worth of stuff). Thus, I had no choice but to keep wearing it. Wearing that big jacket while carrying a backpack and dragging a stuffed suitcase through the middle of summer made me very hot and uncomfortable. Despite the discomfort, I hailed an Uber and made my way to my hotel where I would stay for the night. After making it to my hotel and settling in, I checked my emails and noticed on the email receipt from Uber that there was no option for tipping. After pondering why, I remembered ISA in their online orientation telling us that in Australia tipping is not common and is not expected because wages here are much higher than in America and the UK.  Upon the satisfaction of answering my burning question regarding tips, I crashed in bed for a few hours.

Upon waking up from my short slumber, I decided to check out the area of my hotel. I was hungry and needed to exchange my dollars, so I asked the hotel front desk where I could do both and to my joy there was a mall nearby called “Toombul” that had places to do both. The Uber driver that took me to Toombul, David, to my shock, was from Newcastle. We had an enjoyable conversation about Newcastle’s great beaches and laid-back atmosphere. After our conversation, I was even more excited about the time I would spend in Newcastle. The mall was quite an interesting place.  As I entered the mall, I found out to my surprise that they have Target and K-Mart here in Australia too. At the mall, I got my US Dollars exchanged for Australian Dollars (lucky for us Americans, the US dollar is stronger!) and I chowed down at a familiar eatery: McDonald’s (known here as “Maccas”).

Toombul Mall
Good Ol’ Maccas!

After checking out the local Target and K-Mart and strolling the mall, I headed back to my hotel and after taking a nice, hot shower laid down in bed and drifted to sleep awaiting the adventures that I would soon behold.


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.