Saturday, August 31, 2013
Today was a beautiful spring day here in Victoria, Australia so I decided to pack a lunch and see where my Nikes could take me. I came across two historical sites. First, The Shrine of Remembrance, a tribute to the citizens of Victoria that served in WWI. Next, the world renown Royal Botanical Gardens, of which my pictures could never do justice.
Stop by and check them out for yourself sometime.
If I had to describe Denmark in only a few words, I'd say that Denmark is old yet clean, extremely organized, and environmentally concerned. Denmark borders with northern Germany but also consists of over 400 islands and is close to both Sweden and Norway. While it may seem like a small country, Denmark also has two autonomous constituent countries, the Faroe Islands and Greenland, so it is actually the largest country in Europe. Denmark is probably best known for its environmental concern as well as the popular building bricks called Legos (they actually have a park called Legoland where all the little setups are made out of legos).
While the mass transit system is better than most, it is somewhat expensive and can be potentially confusing for newcomers (I'll talk more about it another time after I fully understand the system myself). Because of this as well as being environmentally conscious, many people travel by bicycle. Since it is so popular, there are specific lanes next to the sidewalk that are for bicycles only. They even have stop lights for bike crossings. But if you don't know or don't follow specific rules for riding a bike (hand signals, specific lights and reflectors, etc.) you would not only annoy the Danes, but could get in serious trouble as well as even fined.
Monday, August 26, 2013
|Bumboat that we rode over to the island|
|My friends and I arriving at Pulau Ubin|
|Our bikes for the day|
|Perfectly blue lake on Pulau Ubin|
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
So here’s a pet peeve of mine: Cash.
I could guarantee that those same people who complain about the traffic on the way home from work are the one’s holding up the line at the grocery store while they trade paper and metal with the cashier. Those same folks telling their kids not to play in the dirt are the ones who insist on stashing a collection of strangers’ germs in their purses and wallets. Hypocrites! Right? They’re right up there with the kid who raises his hand at the end of class when the professor asks “Any questions?”… or those terribly ignorant people who squeeze the tube of toothpaste at the middle…
Cash is no longer a convenient form of currency. It is outdated, obsolete, and does not offer the many benefits that credit cards do. It doesn’t build your credit score, it doesn’t offer kick back money and offers, and above all, it annoys me.
That all being said, this page is not about my pet peeves and there are tips and pointers I wanted to share so here’s my segway:Many people use the excuse that only ever using cash is the simplest way to maintain a weekly budget. Though this is absolutely true I believe that this is more of an excuse to be the laziest budgeter possible. The concept of budgeting is about managing and proportioning your money. It is about understand what is going where and in what amounts. Here’s my big point - budgeting takes place before spending, not during! If your idea of budgeting is slipping X amount of dollars in your wallet at the beginning of the week and hoping you make it through, you’re going about it all wrong. Understand how much it costs to survive, and how much above surviving you prefer to live. $Surviving + $Living = Budget!
Here’s the second important point that seems obvious but must be distinguished as an entity outside of but along side your budget: Self control, though not a budget itself, determines the effectivity of your budgeting endeavors. Nothing more to say about this, as it should be quite obvious.
So here is what I’ve been doing while in Australia that might help you to 1- budget, and 2- break your addiction to (crack) cash. First thing I did when I got here was open a bank account with debit card capabilities (that describes pretty much any bank account). I decided not to apply for a credit card while over here, which may be foolish of me or not but whatever. I used it everywhere that I made a transaction and gathered receipts for each. These can be a bit annoying to deal with but not half as annoying or dirty as cash. More importantly, within three weeks I had a detailed breakdown of all of my spendings, which I then split up into necessities and everything else. I took an average of the necessary items over the three weeks and then see how much of the rest I can afford to keep. For me, in case you’re interested, I’ve found myself to be budgeting comfortably at $50/week. That’s with Melbourne grocery prices (ouch).
Now, here’s a kind of cool feature of the debit card that I’ve been using since I established my budget. Every Monday morning, I go online to my banking account and see how much of my budget remains. If it’s more than nothing, great! Fill it back up to $50 and that extra money might send me on a last minute trip to somewhere along the coast once courses are finished and before I head back home.
Here are some pictures I took around Port Melbourne on Sunday. Though it's winter here, Melbourne offers all 4 seasons in one day.
The classes that I am enrolled in are:
MA3111: Complex Analysis
MA3265: Introduction to Number Theory
ME3122: Heat Transfer
SC2205: Sociology of Family
I am most excited about my Sociology of Family class because it is a nice change from engineering/math courses. The class will cover how family is defined, marriage, gender roles, familial relationships, family disruptions, etc. It will also be very interesting to see family from an eastern perspective and compare how the aspects of family vary across cultures.
Wish me luck with my classes!
Sunday, August 11, 2013
I had originally signed up for 8, then narrowed it down to 4 once I got through orientation and was able to get a feel for the nature of the classes. As with everything else in studying abroad, preparation is key. In comparison, it is much easier to get 4 extra pre-approval forms signed a semester ahead while you're still at Clarkson than to get 1 signed from halfway around the world when one of your courses falls through.
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Friday, August 2, 2013
Hello there dearest Clarkson friends,
Let me apologize right now: I'm an engineer, not a writer. I originally started a blogging at thelucasjamesblog.tumblr.com with the expectation of my mom and maybe my sister reading it. Therefore, if you're not my mom or sister, God bless you, but I'm not making any guarantees that you're going to find my content educational or entertaining. That being said, I will do my best to leave potentially useful tips somewhere in my ramblings, so help yourself to them. The best way to do this is for you to ask questions! If you're interested in spending a semester out this way or traveling in general, I'd love to weigh in on something that has direct audience interest so ask away! (I have an "Ask Me Anything" link on my Tumblr or you can comment on my posts here)
It’s been a cold and rainy Saturday, and sort of the first relaxing day after a busy week that started halfway around the world. Then again, the very fact that I’m sitting here writing indicates the kind of day it’s been.
For my first time flying on my own, things went quite smoothly. I would say that if there are more than 3 people aboard the plane that you find yourself on, then there is someone who knows the answer to most of your how-to flying questions. You just have to ask. The only real hiccup of the journey was the fact that my luggage was delayed in LA, resulting in a less preferable start to the week. Always pack a change of clothes with your carry on. Assuming you’re not the next survivor man, or just too cool to be smart (that’s me), be safe and pack it. I would also say, in hindsight, that the 25 bucks that Quantas charges to choose your seat would have been a rewarding investment, as the 16 hr flight from LA to Melbourne can be detrimental to your sanity if it’s spent jammed between two full grown men. Oh yeah, that’s the other thing: airlines should definitely start seating their passengers amidst like-aged groups. I’m just saying, that old crazy guy sitting two rows ahead next to that cute girl would have enjoyed my seat much more… What a waste. Anyways, the last I’ll say about flying is that if you ever do find yourself jammed between two dudes on an international flight, the toilet in the back is rather comfortable.
So far, Melbourne has been great! #1 golden piece of advice if you plan on coming here: be rich. I’m talking rolling in dough, dove chocolate rich. Everything here is so expensive! Beginning with the visa fees and airplane ticket to now the price of rent and food… I guess coming from a small city like Rochester it is eye opening. The cheapest meal I’ve found here is the cheeseburger meal at Hungry Jacks (the Aussie version of Burger King). It’s $5.50 with the student discount - what a bargain! Anywhere other than fast food, good luck eating under $12. Even for breakfast, I see advertisements “Long Black (American Coffee) and Toasted Sandwich - $8.80" I’ll have to show you a picture. Needless to say, ALDI’s is my new best friend over here. So far, I’ve learned to cook burgers and pasta, while brushing up on my PB&J and Ramen skills. It is slightly an overstatement, but folks here call me Chef Ramsey.
The city truly is beautiful and I’ve only explored a few miles - sorry, kilometers - out. The other exchange students are so friendly and ready to meet and make new friends. Their accents and cultures are so much cooler than mine…
And ultimately, I guess I am here to study. I’ve met a few of my professors already and am pumped to start these courses.
We’ll see how things go. I’ll let you know soon.
Here are some pictures that I took during a trek around the city on Thursday.
The train tracks leading away from Flinders Station with the AFL stadium beyond.
ACMI - Australian Centre for the Moving Image
The Yarra River
The State Library of Victoria
Some random parking garage
Me and some fellow exchange students during orientation