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Posts Tagged ‘OzTREKK Orientations’

Friday, December 22nd, 2017

OzTREKK office closed for Christmas holidays

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

OzTREKK office closed for Christmas holidays

Enjoy your break!

It was our pleasure to assist all of you over the past year. We wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season, and we can’t wait to help our new students in the new year and greet our current students in Australia for OzTREKK Orientations!

Don’t forget to visit the OzTREKK Boarding Pass for the latest information about your Australian university orientation dates, accommodation options, student visa tips, and much more!

Like our Australian universities, the OzTREKK office will be closed during Christmas and the New Year—from Friday, Dec. 22 at noon to Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018, and will reopen at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018—bright-eyed and bushy-tailed!


If you are a current OzTREKK student getting ready to study in Australia for semester 1, 2018 intake and you have an emergency, please contact OzTREKK at info@oztrekk.com, as it will be checked periodically during the holidays.

Friday, December 22nd, 2017

OzTREKK Orientation in Australia? Please RSVP!

It’s OzTREKK Orientation time!

We have organized a ton of OzTREKK Orientation for you and any family or friends travelling with you. Most are scheduled just prior to your Australian university orientation! Unfortunately, it’s difficult to be in more than one place at a time—I’ve tried; it didn’t work. But we do our very best to accommodate everyone!

OzTREKK Orientation in Australia? Please RSVP!

Have you RSVP’d to your 2018 OzTREKK Orientation?

How does OzTREKK Orientation work?

On the first day we’ll get together and have food. This is where you will have the opportunity to meet upper-year students, and then we’ll do a campus tour. There will be days (and, in some instances days and days and days) of OzTREKK Shuttle service where I’ll pick you up, take you for groceries or whatever item you’ve found on Gumtree, and drop you off.

Here are our tentative dates so far—stay tuned for additions and details!

  • Bond University – Jan. 13 – Dinner @ 6 p.m.
  • Griffith University – Jan. 14 – Dinner @ 6 p.m.
  • University of Melbourne – Jan. 16 – Breakfast @ 9 a.m.
  • University of Sydney – Jan. 19 – Breakfast @ 9 a.m.
  • University of Queensland – Jan. 24 – Breakfast @ 9 a.m.
  • James Cook University *Townsville – Feb. 6 – Breakfast
  • University of Queensland – Feb. 9 – Lunch @ 12:30 p.m.
  • Griffith University – Feb. 11 – Lunch @ 12:30 p.m.

Jaime’s Top 5 Orientation Tips

  1. Come! It’s a free meal and you will meet a bunch of people. We have focused on various meet-ups this year and they’ve been fairly regional. This will be the first time you see the whole class and you won’t regret it!
  2. Bring your Costco card. Yes, there are Costcos. Yes, your card works. No, I can’t lend you mine 🙂
  3. Hold your horses. If you need to get to IKEA, just hold tight and I will not only drive you to IKEA, but I’ll also pick you up with your Billy bookcase and any other Swedish-named furniture. We’ve wrangled king-sized beds in the van before. Easy-peasy.
  4. Bring your patience. There may be a lot of students, so everyone might not get into the shuttle on the first day, but we’ll coordinate it so you get all your stuff. I love logistics and I will do my best to make it work with your schedule!
  5. Bring the beats! Last year I heard “Play That Song” by Train approximately 36 times in one day.

Finally, I will give you my number, and if you ever text me, please tell me your first and last name and your program/uni. A “Hi, it’s John” is sometimes hard for me to decipher. 🙂

See you all soon!


Of course, be sure to RSVP! If you’ve misplaced the link to the OzTREKK Orientation RSVP, just send your admissions officer an email!


For further information regarding these upcoming OzTREKK Orientations in Australia, please visit your uni on the OzTREKK Boarding Pass site, or contact your OzTREKK Admissions Officer! Call 1-866-698-7355 or email jaime@oztrekk.com.

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Your Australian University Orientation Survival Guide

I cannot believe that plane tickets are being booked! I really can’t believe we’re well into “predeparture” and are starting to quickly get to orientation time—both with your Australian university and with OzTREKK!

I will not lie: OzTREKK Orientations are my single-most exciting time of the year. Beyond the whole “skipping winter” thing, there’s something a little magical about being able to observe, first-hand, so many lives changing. I tell all my friends that I really do feel our office is lucky to play even a teeny role as our students are on their way to becoming doctors, dentists, physios, vets.

Your Australian University Orientation Survival Guide

Learning what classes will be like at UQ med school

The first thing I want to promise you is that something is going to go wrong.

Our goal at the office is to try to ensure that the thing that goes wrong isn’t giant—but just be prepared. You’re travelling around the world, you’re losing days, you’re bringing luggage and your stomach is full of nerves. A little hiccup here or there is really a part of the experience, right? 😊

Anyway, outside of trying to remain as calm as possible, I thought I’d put together a few tips for you to try to make your first few weeks in Australia a really exciting and enjoyable time:

Be mentally (and physically) prepared for the weather

You’re leaving in the worst of winter and you’re arriving in the best / worst of summer. Take your vitamin C, drink water and get a lot of rest—your body is going to need it. You are going to have a shock. In OzTREKK Orientation 2015, I left Ottawa with a -40 degree wind-chill and I landed in Brisbane where it was a steamy +33. It was hot. I mean, it’s great when you settle but it’s a bit of a shock to the ol’ body!

Give yourself some time

I totally understand the desire to maximize every minute at home, but don’t forget that you’re making such a giant investment in time and money that you don’t want to short-change it! We recommend giving yourself at least a week to settle, get over jet lag, get your bearings, meet some people and be prepared for the start of classes. If you are hunting for housing when you arrive, you will want to give yourself at least two weeks. If the stars align and you have a week off, then get yourself to a beach, explore your city and try to embrace the Aussie lifestyle!

Your Australian University Orientation Survival Guide

The OzTREKK Shuttle—we legit fit everything in there!

Attend the OzTREKK Orientation

In the leading-up to your orientation, you received an invitation to attend an OzTREKK breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Depending on the number of the students, it may be a casual fish and chips, or it might be a large breakfast. Either way, I promise you, you will not regret going.

Last year at the UQ MD orientation, I remember thinking that all participants got a head-start: their tour involved the best places to sit in class, tips on the anatomy labs, the secret study spots, and guidance on how to start out strong on your PBL. It really was valuable! And it also means that you’ll get a really great opportunity to network with your future cohort. You’ll meet people in your program and not. You’re going to be there for years, so take this opportunity to make some friends when you land!

Get out and explore

Sometimes with all the prep of immunizations, enrollment, offers and deposits, this fact can be lost: you are going to study at a world-class institution in Australia! ENJOY it! Spend a little time and prep your “before I leave bucket list” and do some dreaming. You’re in an incredible country and there is a lot to see. Explore the little things (the great night market in the Gold Coast) to the big things (um, the Great Barrier Reef?)—there is a lot to do everywhere. I remember a rural dental student years ago saying, “If you’re bored, it’s not because of your surroundings.”

Anyway… the clock is ticking and the days are sliding by. I can’t wait to get on that plane (I’m a person who loves the plane—a delightful mix of sleep and so much TV)!

See you all in Oz!



Have you received your OzTREKK Orientation invitation? If you haven’t, please let us know by emailing your Admissions Officer or info@oztrekk.com.

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

How do you deal with homesickness when you’re studying in Australia?

You’ve got your confirmation of enrolment, your short-term accommodation arranged, and you’re almost packed and ready to go.

What have you forgotten?

How do you deal with homesickness when you're studying in Australia?

You’re not alone—tips to survive homesickness

Believe it or not, one of the most frequent concerns OzTREKK students encounter is homesickness. In theory, you feel prepared for your journey to Australia, and you’re excited to begin this new stage in your life, so it may come as a surprise to you to find you are missing family members and the comforts of home more than you expected.

This is totally normal!

In general, homesickness kicks in as soon as the frenetic pace of starting your classes and familiarizing yourself with your campus has morphed into routine. What then?

Well, first, it can be very helpful to not ignore the possibility of homesickness before you leave. People think it won’t happen to them and that’s the first big mistake. If you accept the fact that you might be homesick, it will make things easier. Being prepared helps, too.

Because we love to stay in touch with our students, many have shared their tips to deal with homesickness when they’re studying in Australia, and of course we’re going to share them with you!

Bring the familiar

Sometimes just the sight of photos of your family members is enough to snap you out of the homesickness funk. If there is something small and light that can fit easily into your suitcase and you think it will help, bring it along!

Get Skype

Of course you already know this one! Skype gives you instant access to family and friends back home, and it’s cheap. Once you’ve figured out the time zone differences, you’re good to go!

Explore your surroundings

You’re in your room, staring at the wall. It’s time to get out of there! When feeling homesick, one of the worse things you can do is to mope around feeling sorry for yourself. Getting out of your place and exploring your city is a great distraction from any home-related anxieties. It also helps you become familiar with your surroundings and that in itself can be comforting. Take some time to stroll through the park or the area where you live. Actually look at the buildings. Find one near your home that will help be a beacon of familiarity.

Look after yourself

If you’re stuffing your face with junk food and forgetting to exercise, you can bet your mental health will be heading into a downward spiral. And if that happens, who will have the energy or desire to study? It sounds simple, but eating healthily and getting some exercise and regular sleep can really help to boost your well-being.

Give yourself time and praise

Okay, it’s been two weeks and you still haven’t snapped out of it. No worries. Take an evening to yourself to examine your reason for being in Australia: to study and to get that degree! That in itself is an amazing, brave thing, so be proud of yourself. Do you know how many people are too scared to do what you’ve just done? Give yourself a pat on the back and know that you have what it takes to not only get your degree, but also to have an great time doing it! Positive self-talk is healthy and will counteract the negative emotions you may be feeling.

Meet other Canadians

Know that you’re not alone. Meeting fellow Canadians is an instant pick-me-up. OzTREKK hosts orientation sessions for new students, giving them an immediate access to multiple Canadian connections on campus. We also provide you with a “Student Contact List” that lists everyone who is in your university and program. Not everyone chooses to attend our orientations or to be on this list, but we recommend that you do! If you’re interested, please be sure to contact your OzTREKK admissions officer. And guess what? This also gives you the opportunity to support others who may be feeling homesick.

One day at a time

Sometimes it’s easier to take it one day at a time. Setting mini-goals or achievements for your stay helps, too! It might be helpful to take each part of the process in steps: Made it to Vancouver, made it to Sydney, made it to the hotel. Day one done, day two done, etc. It’s a handy little trick and before you know it, you’re on day 248. Easy-peasy.

Keep a journal or a blog

Another handy-dandy OzTREKK student tip? Writing in a journal or starting an “Adventures in Australia” blog or vlog is an excellent way to keep track of your progress—and to share your experiences with everyone back home. If you can regularly keep up with an online blog (even Facebook or Twitter posts), you will receive encouraging messages from everyone! At the end of your journey, you will have an amazing record of your time in Australia. Show your grandkids. Also, we love following our students on social media!

Ask for help

Sometimes, even after attempting the above, you still may find yourself missing home a little too much, and this is where Anxiety likes to step in and reek havoc. Worrying about your studies or your finances will only make things worse, so take steps to sort any issues out or get support as soon as they arise. Your university has international student support groups, as well as student groups. Ask your university for a list of groups or student counsellors or upper-year students who may be able to help, then contact them!

Even though it may feel like it sometimes, you’re not alone. Many people have endured homesickness and have come out on the other side happier, stronger, and braver. You can do it!


We hope this list helps you feel more prepared for your journey to study in Australia! Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns—we’re here to help: info@oztrekk.com

Monday, January 16th, 2017

It’s OzTREKK Orientation time!

It’s Monday!

It's OzTREKK Orientation time!

All aboard the OzTREKK Shuttle!

This means it’s actually Tuesday in Oz, which means I have landed in lovely Melbourne!

It is, officially, time for the 2017 version of OzTREKK’s Orientation. For those of you haven’t been bombarded by the emails it’s, basically, the best time of the year. It’s the time when 300+ students arrive with their bellies filled with butterflies. We try to replace the butterflies with bacon and eggs.

John Graham and I will be “doing the tour”: starting in Melbourne, then Sydney, then Brissy, then Gold Coast, then Townsville, and then back to Sydney!

There is a full-on heat wave in Oz at the moment and my flip flops thongs are ready. I cannot wait. Like, at all.

For the last few years now I’ve been the lucky recipient (don’t know if I can really call it that) of this trip and it is so.much.fun. And, it’s a job, I hear. 🙂

By now all OzTREKK students should have received the invite with the details and should be mentally preparing to meet—or to see again—the rest of the students who have made the (giant) leap across the pond with them. If anyone needs any assistance, just fire me an email. I look forward to seeing you all very soon.

Hmmm… I wonder if they still have those sweet potato chips… she types, while hearing the noon-o’clock hunger grumble….


Why attend an OzTREKK Orientation?

You would be amazed at how many students arrive in Australia, move in to their accommodations, and rarely leave their rooms. Why? Because they don’t know anyone.

Well, don’t worry. As part of the OzTREKK Orientations, we host a welcome breakfast, lunch or dinner—a great way to meet other new Canadian students, so that you can establish a network and friends right away. It’s also a great way to meet upper-year Canadians who can show you the ropes and share their experiences with you so that you know what to expect.

We wish all OzTREKK students the very best!


Do you have any questions about upcoming OzTREKK Orientations in Australia? Log in to the OzTREKK Boarding Pass site, or contact your OzTREKK Admissions Officer! Call 1-866-698-7355 or email info@oztrekk.com.

Monday, December 12th, 2016

Don’t forget to RSVP for your OzTREKK Orientation in Australia!

It’s a Monday in the OzTREKK office and I’m excited: my flight has been booked!

I am really excited to meet you all in Australia. The venues are booked, the van has been reserved and I’m mentally preparing for my attempts to not hit the windshield wiper when I mean the signal. Last year it took me about two weeks to get over it. Then another two weeks when I came back.

It’s orientation time!

Alrighty… we have organized three Welcome Breakfasts for you and any family or friends travelling with you. These are scheduled just prior to your Australian university orientation so I’m hoping you can all join us.

Don't forget to RSVP for your OzTREKK Orientation in Australia!

Don’t forget to RSVP for your OzTREKK Orientation in Australia!

So how will this work: On the first day we’ll get together and have breakfast where you will have the opportunity to meet upper-year students, and then we’ll do a campus tour. There will be days (and, in some instances days and days and days) of OzTREKK Shuttle service where I’ll pick you up, take you for groceries or whatever item you’ve found on Gumtree, and drop you off.

Based on the feedback from last year, I wanted to take a quick moment to give you my top five tips—a survival guide if you will:

  1. Come! It’s a free meal and you will meet a bunch of people. We have focused on various meet-ups this year and they’ve been fairly regional. This will be the first time you see the whole class and you won’t regret it!
  2. Bring your Costco card. Yes, there are Costcos. Yes, your card works. No, I can’t lend you mine 🙂
  3. Save up. If you need to get to IKEA and you’re there a week ahead of me, just hold tight and I will not only drive you to IKEA, but I’ll also pick you up with your Billy bookcase and any other Swedish-named furniture you can muster. Last year we even wrangled a king-sized bed in the van. (It may have involved a winch and a lot of muscle but it got to its destination!)
  4. Bring some patience. At some of these events there may be a lot of students so everyone might not get into the shuttle on the first day, but we’ll coordinate it so you get all your stuff. Logistics is fun for me and I will do my best to make it work with your schedule.
  5. Bring the beats! Last year I heard “Love yourself” by the Biebs approximately 47 times in one day.
Don't forget to RSVP for your OzTREKK Orientation in Australia!

A few OzTREKKers enjoying their welcome get-together in 2016

Finally, I will give you my number: If you ever text me if you could start with a “It’s First-Name Last-Name from UQ Med” it will be a big help. “Hi, it’s John” is sometimes hard for me to decipher. 🙂

Of course, be sure to RSVP!

I will explain the “how” of the shuttle when we meet at the breakfast.

I will be landing in Australia on the 15th of January and will happily chat locally any time after then. Please let me know if you have any troubles, questions or other.

I’m super excited to see you all—in flip flops thongs.

Happy day!


For further information regarding these upcoming OzTREKK Orientations in Australia, please log in to the OzTREKK Boarding Pass site, or contact your OzTREKK Admissions Officer! Call 1-866-698-7355 or email jaime@oztrekk.com.

Monday, February 8th, 2016

Jaime’s adventures in Oz: UQ Medical School

Last week, Jaime of OzTREKK went to Brisbane to welcome our University of Queensland students. Here’s her latest installment!

Hi everyone!

It’s noon and our UQ MD students are heading into their orientation kick-off. It ends with the stethoscope ceremony for which many are excited-slash-nervous. There was much discussion (among the guys and the gals) about what to wear. I think it’s the balance of 1) want to make a good first impression and 2) holy smokes, it’s super hot. Which it is. The super-cell did nothing (it didn’t even rain but a little sprinkle) and it’s toasty right now. It’s 33 degrees now and is going up to 39 tomorrow, I believe.

UQ Medical School

UQ Medical School information session

I’m excited to get to the horrible weather of Melbourne (where it will be 27 and sunny tomorrow).

Before I get into the details of the shuttle I thought I would share my lesson: So, at each orientation I warn people about the sun and advise that they should put on sunscreen. I’ve been pretty diligent and am pretty much as white as I was on January 13th. Yesterday I took eight students out to North Lakes (which, for the record is not Brisbane) because they needed 50 rolls of toilet paper…. I kind of joke because they were all very thankful and very happy for a little familiarity, I think. I’ve realized that students—at least initially—really cling to things they know. They go to Kmart and Coscto and IKEA even though some of the better deals are at Aldi and Fantastic Furniture, you know? They have four years to realize. 🙂

Anyway, while I was waiting for the “Coscto Kids” I decided to go for a walk (I’m really trying to stay active and avoid crap food as much as possible). It was on the verge of rain and so I took off. Well, sure enough the clouds part and the Aussie sun comes out. Now, I’m about 30 minutes away from the car and I don’t have sunscreen on. I do a little on my face but not on my body. I spent the remaining time of my walk darting between shadows and trees trying to avoid the crisp I can feel forming around my neck. I even let my hair down for a sec but then the sweat house that created was difficult to deal with. Anyway, I ended up with some pretty burnt collarbones and back of neck. I feel like a rookie.

So… UQ. Well, I’m the new captain of the UQ Medical School Rocks team. The former OzTREKKers who helped out were AMAZING. They were really, really amazing. They came out for the breakfast and stuck around for some students until around 1 p.m. And that’s when I left. A former OzTREKK student even invited some students back the next day and she took them around campus again and answered their questions… again. They were incredible.

So the UQ turnout was incredible. There were about eight parents and about 60 to 70 people there total. It was really great. Everyone was sooooooo appreciative of the setup and the food was delicious. The people at Cromwell were really super friendly and accommodating. Sarah, no spider slaying this year. Just in case you were wondering 🙂

I would say that the vast majority of students had their accommodations by the time I was there. There were a few that had booked accomms but hadn’t moved in yet. I’d guess that students seemed to be pretty split between managed student accommodation and houses. Probably more so than any other uni I’ve visited thus far. The UQ’ers were very friendly and were very thankful to OzTREKK (Sarah, your speed at replying was mentioned quite a few times!) for our help.

University of Queensland Medical School

OzTREKK Shuttle, at your service!

UQ was the busiest shuttle—back and forth to IKEA, groceries, Kmart, etc. I roughly counted and estimated that 30 to 40 students got in the shuttle at one point or another. I felt that this group really used the services and that made me happy! Shuttle ran from about 8 a.m. (if not earlier) through to about 6 or 7 p.m. It didn’t stop, although after having completed the shuttle tour I can say that I didn’t turn anyone down who needed to go somewhere. So hopefully students are feeling settled. I think the UQ’ers—many of whom I’d met at the consultations—were the most ready and prepared. There was a lot of excitement. Actually, at most unis, as many students had been there for a while they were all really anxious to get going, you know? I heard that students were “bored” a fair bit. Just wanted to get it started. Speaking of get it started… the Costco version of highlighters was a pack of 30 (!) so there’s lot of work ahead!

Oh, and accomms, just for your reference: I felt the majority of students actually seemed to be around the CBD—South Bank, West End and Toowong. Very few seemed to be in St. Lucia. Most students were really comfy with the transit and seemed to judge the commute by “on bus” which was great. A few others in the Gabba, Spring Hill and Dutton Park.

So many of the students were so lovely. I am so excited for them. I’m very fortunate to be here right now and see this exciting time in their lives.

Anyway, I’m meeting university people shortly so I should get going. I miss you guys!

Onward to Melbourne where it should be a really great time.

Toodles, y’all!



Find out more about the UQ School of Medicine and the 2017 intake of the Doctor of Medicine program. Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Medical Schools Admissions Officer Courtney Frank at courtney@oztrekk.com.

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

Jaime’s adventures in Oz: Sydney!

So, what’s new?

Sydney Dental School

Enjoying the OzTREKK Welcome Breakfast

I can’t remember exactly where I left off but Sydney has been great! The students are amazing. Everyone is very friendly and really keen. The breakfast was quite busy and everyone seemed really happy to be there.

My favourite part of the OzTREKK Orientation was as the University of Sydney‘s Chris Lawrance and I were greeting people in the Sancta Sophia lobby, a girl walked in with her parents. I told them to go ahead and they could grab some food. They didn’t want to bother her and I told her that some other parents were sitting at a “parents” table. She turns back to them and holds up her hands and says, “Dad, I think I need to do this alone.” It was so adorable!

Sydney Medical School

OzTREKK’s tour of the University of Sydney hosted by Sydney’s Chris Lawrance

I then walked out with two parents back to the street and they were both raving about Adam and Sarah (one dentistry  and one medicine student) and all the support that OzTREKK provides to parents and families. So, thank you, both (and Nic, who works behind the scenes)!

A funny thing: Chris asked we start the tour early because he was driving to Adelaide afterwards and we talked about leaving at 10:30. When I introduced Chris at the breakfast, he clarified that everyone was to meet at the front door at precisely 9:50.

I chuckled.

Anyway, another student comes in about 9:45 and I said to him that he’s got a couple minutes to grab some food and then we’ll go out. It was funny because I assumed that 9:50 meant that we’d leave about 10  and Chris was giving time to coordinate 50+ people and fill up water bottles, etc. That was entirely incorrect and the tour started exactly at 9:50. I had to text to find out where they were (I was with the late-comer). I shouldn’t have been surprised!

Sydney Dental School

What a great pic of our OzTREKKers!

Anyway, Chris was really great and  encouraged students to join clubs, get out and meet other students, etc. The University of Sydney campus is giant (I forgot how big, actually, as it eclipses Melbourne) and so we didn’t go everywhere but it was OK. Chris had taken great lengths to get into MacLaurin Hall and the Great Hall on a Saturday, which was great. Suzanne (Semester in Australia) said those buildings are never open. I was actually getting a little bored waiting for the guy to unlock the room (we probably had to wait for 10 minutes, which Chris filled with history). I assumed the other students were, too. But every time I looked, they were totally engrossed in Chris’ story. Not to mention as soon as the rooms got opened, all cameras went up. It was a pano party!

We had a few students from last year and I noticed they came on the tour. I asked why they came and Mike says, “Are you kidding me? I’ve been here a year and I’ve never been able to get into this place. It’s kind of cool to see where we will graduate.” That was great. Oh and Chris was, obviously, the best tour guide of explaining interesting things about the room and the shields and the wood and the you-name-it.

Sydney Dental School

Time for the OzTREKK Shuttle!

After that it was OzTREKK Shuttle time. The shuttle in Sydney was very busy and there was lots of interest. I nearly lost my marbles after driving an hour to get to Costco (which is, like, 5 km away, but traffic was horrendous). I got over it, though. The 12-pack of croissants, chocolate protein powder and the roasted chickens seemed to be real hits at Costco. Anyway, I ran three full days of shuttle (starting around 8 on a couple of mornings and ending as late as 10 one night). I really liked that because I felt that this group made use of the shuttle the most! They were really great for me to get my feet wet, though. I now dream of the pathway between Abercrombie (a street where we’ve probably got 10+ students living) and IKEA or Costco. Oh yeah—IKEA was a very popular destination as well.

Sydney Dental School

The best chips in the world

Overall it’s going really well! All the students were really thankful for the help (without the van in Sydney, it virtually eliminates a Costco or IKEA visit) and, again, a lot of them made use of it, which was great!

Oh and I found the most delicious chips I’ve ever eaten in my life. They are “Red Rock Sweet Potato Crisps Green Chilli & Coriander.” That discovery made me quite happy and may impact my desire to be healthy on this trip. If I can manage to figure out a way, I’ll bring you guys some.

Seriously. Life changing.


Stay tuned for Jaime’s next blog: Brisbane!

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Jaime’s adventures in Oz: Melbourne

Hi, everyone!

I have heard it’s crazy busy in the office but that you’re all staying afloat! I hope you’re doing well, though, and are able to share a little in the excitement of the 2016’ers!

Anyway, I wanted to provide a little update on the last few days for you. I kind of imagined that I was going to be able to write detailed emails about each day but a few days I’ve been absolutely pooped and just basically do emails and give up. In exciting news, though, I am sleeping like an absolute champion. I think I am probably awake for 90 seconds before I’m out. Then I wake up around 5:30 (which is pretty usual for me) feeling just grand. And, Julie knows very well that does not happen back at home. I’ve become a terrible sleeper. In any case….

So, where did I leave off?

Well, late Monday I arrived in Melbourne and basically went to bed (I think I got in around 11 p.m.). I woke up and wanted to drive around to make myself more comfy with the whole signal thing before I have a group of students staring at me. The first place I drove was to the Apple Store where the “Geniuses” happily swapped my iPhone with apologies and away I went. By “away I went” I really mean “I put my name in a queue and then waiting for TWO AND A HALF HOURS to get the text to return to the store. I did also get a bank account, too, which was quite painless. I pick up my card when I’m back in Melbourne in a couple of weeks. Then I drove around the CBD, kind of orienting myself. I think it’s because I love Melbourne so much that I find it pretty easy (also the fact that the town is a giant grid) and it didn’t take too long to become pretty comfortable with the suburbs and where I was.

University of Melbourne Dental School

OzTREKKers enjoying the classic OzTREKK Welcome meal!

Wednesday was the first “big” group. Nearly all of our Melbourne Dental School students seemed to be there (I didn’t get to do the sign-in sheet because staff thought they were garbage and pitched them while I wasn’t looking!). We also had four med students from last year; they were great! Even though the programs were not the same, the conversation flowed as people grilled them about Melbourne tips and tricks. It was great to see the Melbourne DPT students (there were about six there, I think), too. After breakfast we got a campus tour from two absolutely adorable Aussie students. The funniest part was when one of them was explaining what’s in the student centre. He mentions that you can get your hair cut for cheap in there. The irony is, I swear, that his haircut was nearly identical to this: http://images.dailystar.co.uk/dynamic/1/photos/913000/1913.jpg. I loved it!

I spoke with a few students who were glad to be able to get a card of an actual person (Aileen) and to speak with previous students so that was good. If schedules align next year, I’d love some DDS students. Because their program starts in a few weeks, the students I checked with weren’t in country yet. Aileen was really happy to see students that she had spoken with earlier. She invited them to come by her office for tea any time they wanted.

Oh, I also had Suzanne from Semester in Australia with me at this stop to help me navigate and offer assistance on housing. Most students had housing by this point but she was a great tour guide, giving everyone really great tips about things like a great library that’s nearly always free and has a great coffee shop at the top of a building with some the best views in Melbourne (which I noted!). Plus, it probably saved me from getting a ticket for phoning and driving. 🙂 She was also really great for those students who didn’t have places and were asking about certain buildings.

We shuttled people back and forth to IKEA and Kmart for the rest of the day, and did a few other stops to pick up other random items and that was about it. Pretty simple! Everyone was really great and everyone seemed in good spirits. It didn’t seem (to me at least) that anyone was concerned with anything. So, hats off to Sarah and Adam for that! We probably wrapped up around 7 p.m., give or take. All the dentistry students were going to Lygon Street for dinner together so they were excited and really buzzing. Oh, and one of the trips to IKEA I had a pretty full group in the car and I turned on the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal and they died. It started as a little rumbling and ended in full-on hysterics. It was so funny! It’s been a long time since I’ve been at the root of such mockery and it was quite amusing. I’m sure my face was red as I surely tried to play it cool.

Wednesday: no one needed the van so I took it back around noon. I emailed the Melbourne MD students and waited to hear if anyone needed it; everyone seemed to have their stuff, which was good (and DDS started that day). After taking back the van, I wandered over to the Australian Open (by wandered I mean that I looked at my watch and thought “I’m not in a rush; I’ll walk.” After an hour, I had visions of Adam’s walk home from Tullamarine and decided to hop on a tram). I just got a grounds ticket, which gets me access to all matches except for the ones in the big arenas. I don’t know anything about tennis so I just went over to a big venue that didn’t have a line. I watched some girls (a girl in pink and a girl in yellow) play tennis. I didn’t think they were that good. Their serves didn’t look strong (they were around 150 kph) and I kind of thought I could do that. So I left. Plus my flip flops were sticking to the floor and I was really concerned that they were going to break and that I’d have to walk around without shoes.

University of Melbourne Physiotherapy School

OzTREKK students getting a tour from a current Melbourne student during orientation

So… then I wandered over to the Raonic match and literally happened to walk into an entry without a line. It was actually weird. I asked the lady “Like, can I go?” because all other gates had huge lines. It’s a one-in-one-out kind of deal. So I walk in and I see some seats. In the front row. Beside the Canadians with a flag draped over the railing. For reals. So I sat down with two guys from Vancouver and another guy with a Canadian tie but who spoke with a pretty good Aussie accent. I assumed he skied in Whistler. My new neighbour warned me, “We’re on TV back home so don’t pick your nose.” He kept getting calls and texts from friends in Vancouver saying that they saw him on TV. It was amazing! First of all, Milos’ serves were regularly over 220 kph. You could feel them, you know? It was pretty impressive. The game was quite long and I felt like they really earned every point. Milos won and was a fan favourite as he threw out all his gear into the audience—like sweat bands and arm covers. After four hours in the sweltering sun, you could not pay me to take them. The crowd loved it, though. I also found it comical that he teased the audience with each of his rackets (like he was going to toss them). They also loved it. I was on to his little tricks by racket #2. I think he used about four or five rackets through the game.

Now. The sun. So it’s pretty intense. When I started my walk from Thrifty it was cold and I was questioning my clothing attire (shorts and tee). By midway through the Raonic game, I was furiously applying and re-applying sunscreen. I felt that my skin was going to bake right off. I kept having to remind myself that the sunscreen will protect me (rather, hope that it would protect me). I was really questioning buying Life brand. At that moment, I wanted the expensive brand-name stuff. Immediately after the game, I found some shade and just sat. And re-applied (again). Classic Melbourne weather: four seasons in one day! I woke up today and was pleasantly surprised to see no burns. I was really terrified that I’d show up in Sydney like, well, a Canadian who just arrived in Australia.

Thankfully, I’m still as pasty-white as I was, but a week ago.

Phew. I write a lot.


Stay tuned for Jaime’s next blog: Sydney!

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

The year of the selfie

OzTREKK Director Jaime Notman is currently in Australia welcoming OzTREKK students and hosting our annual OzTREKK Orientations Down Under. She’s also practicing her left-hand driving by chauffeuring the OzTREKK Shuttle! To capture her adventures for the rest of us stuck in the Great White (Freezing!) North, Jaime has agreed to check in periodically with the Canadian Headquarters staff via email.

Here’s her next installment!

I think everyone has heard about my left-hand-side-driving learning curve, but I officially feel pretty good about it. The driving part is A-OK. The part where I have to have a real convo in my head is around parking—like when I pull out of a parking spot, I have to remind myself to go onto the left. Otherwise it’s been, well, normal and uneventful. Just in case you were concerned!

Griffith Medical School

OzTREKK Shuttle time!

Oh, but the windshield washers. They mysteriously go off every time I attempt to turn my signal. 🙂

And, in other exciting news, I also got my bag! :: slow claps :: (For those of you who don’t know, my bag and I did not arrive in Australia together. It happens!) It arrived Saturday night and it’s so nice to have clothes today! I had to get an outfit for yesterday (winter clothes wouldn’t cut it) and a few toiletries, but now I’m a happy camper.

I feel that the lost bags started a bit of a domino effect, though, because I didn’t have any clothes, I needed to go and get some new shorts and a shirt. They’re really ugly (Kmart was the only place open). So, begrudgingly, I buy the shorts and mosey on.

Saturday was Griffith (more in a sec), but on Sunday (as I have a full suitcase) I woke up bright and early and was all “OK, I’ve gotta go for a run.” So I did. I tucked my iPhone in my bra strap and set out. Felt oddly good, actually. Then a few hours later, I go to take a picture of something and realize my back camera is all foggy. Can’t figure it out. I look again and realize there’s water under the lens. Only thing I could figure is that it’s my sweat, from my run. So, now I don’t have a rear-facing camera.

Anyway, I thought I’d give you a little update on the Griffith Orientation. So… we met the students at the Student Centre on campus. Lots of partners and wives. I was on the plane with another student. He was lovely.

We got a campus tour by a Griffith Mate (student volunteer) who was Canadian, and a Sri Lankan student, Tash, who is going into her third year at Griffith Medical School. She was amazing. She had a pass (it was Saturday) and so we got a pretty good tour of the med lecture halls and the med building and gave everyone advice about changing placements, getting study notes and secrets to the PBL. She was really great, absolutely lovely, and had lots of great advice for our OzTREKKers.

After the tour, we got in the van and because the Gold Coast weather wasn’t cooperating (wha??), we skipped the fish and chips on the (rainy) beach and went to a local surf club for some lunch. It was great: lots of chatting and fast friendships made. A couple of the students had a car (or a dad with them) so they didn’t need the shuttle.

A little later I shuttled everyone to Pacific Fair (which is *enormous*) and they shopped to their hearts’ delight.

Yesterday, as everyone didn’t need the van (they’re all quite settled!), I took it back and got a normal car for driving around. I figured while I’m here I’ll beef up on my familiarity with the area. Two places I wanted to check out were the Gold Coast University Hospital and the Robina Institute of Health. So I tooted around for much of the day.

Bond Physiotherapy School

The Bond Institute of Health & Sport — selfie style

Now, I’m no doctor, but the Gold Coast University Hospital is like nothing I’ve ever seen. It provides high-quality treatment for patients while also offering world-class facilities for health research and teaching, allowing Griffith University students of medicine, pharmacology, dentistry, nursing and public health to train in a genuine medical environment. The last time I was here we didn’t get a complete tour—at least I didn’t appreciate how absolutely enormous this complex / district is! Plus, because it’s new, everything is shiny and glistening. I really can’t say it enough: impressive is simply an understatement.

Because, you know, I know everything about medicine, I thought I’d take a spin through the hospital until someone told me to get outta there. After getting a cup of java (the cafeteria is lovely in case you were wondering), I just sorta wandered and it all seemed very medicine-y which is what you want, I suppose.

Then I went out to the Bond Institute of Health & Sport. I was all excited to take some pics for our Australian Physiotherapy Schools Admissions Officer Krista McVeigh, but without the rear-facing camera, I could only take pictures selfie-style. But I didn’t want to actually take a selfie, so I’m standing in the field trying to hide from the front lens while taking a picture over my head. The hardest part was when my brain couldn’t flip my actions property (everything was backwards), so I’m looking at the screen (my back to the building) and it took forever while I had to do the “OK, tilt the camera up, no, no down… left…no, right.” I got one decent picture but my phone isn’t allowing me to attach it.

When I fly to Melbourne, I will visit the Apple Genius Bar and hopefully get some phone help.

Otherwise OzTREKK Orientations 2016 will be the year of the selfie.

Stay tuned for Jaime’s next blog!