Kalyee Ham embraced many new opportunities, such as holding a koala, while she studied at Macquarie University in Sydney.
Taking a vacation with her family during her semester abroad, Kaylee Ham and her mom loved visiting Hobbiton in New Zealand.
Kaylee Ham has experience of a lifetime Down Under
Yes, she pet a kangaroo. Yes, she held a koala. Yes, she went surfing and scuba diving. By all accounts, Kaylee Ham had all the stereotypical Australian experiences, but as she explained upon her return to the States, her study abroad experience was so much more than that.
“I went to Australia to learn Australian culture,” she said, and there, she observed a very relaxed living style. She enjoyed the option to just go to the ocean and hang out when she wanted to, and she would recommend anyone who has the chance to visit Australia to “Go!”
In addition to witnessing the local culture, Ham explained that she learned about cultures worldwide. At Macquarie University in Sydney, she was housed at west campus primarily with other international students. She lived with several other Americans, as well as people from Pakistan,India and all over Asia. Since the Australian students tended to live on east campus, she had to make a concentrated effort to meet locals.
“I just decided to be very outgoing and immerse myself,” she said, and that decision paid off. She met peers in her classes and around campus, and it didn’t take long for her to meet her boyfriend Nick Feather, a Sydney native. By getting to know him, Ham spent time with his family and friends, becoming immersed in the culture.
She made a point to attend a rugby game and watch some cricket on TV, and she even got in on some backyard cricket. “I was not the best at it, but I tried,” she laughed.
One adventure taken with Feather’s family was a two-week roadtrip through the Outback, and it was one of the highlights of her six months abroad. They began in Darwin and took the long way to Broome. It was crowded, she said, but so much fun.
Another memorable aspect of Ham’s semester in Australia came when her parents, Ken and Kristie Ham, spent a couple of weeks visiting. In addition to showing them around Sydney, they visited Melbourne and Cairns. They also traveled to New Zealand, where they were delighted to see Hobbiton, the movie set of the Shire from “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” movies.
The best thing from her six months in Australia, hands down, was scuba diving. “It was something I was interested in, and this was a great opportunity for it,” she said. Before she set out on her semester abroad, Ham went about getting her scuba diving certification, which required a trip to Utah to complete.
During her initial orientation, she had the opportunity to scuba dive at the Great Barrier Reef. The vivid colors and huge fish she saw made it one of the most beautiful places she’s been. In total, she did four dives at various points.
Now that she’s back in the United States, she is already looking for her next scuba diving opportunity. Someday she would like to return to Australia to dive on the other side of the Great Barrier Reef, and she also has her eye on Hawaii for a future dive.
Now that she’s been there once, Ham has her heart set on returning to Australia again. It will probably have to wait until she has finished school, she said, but there are many places she didn’t get to see yet, including Perth and the Gold Coast. She hopes to also visit the other island of New Zealand, as well as Fiji and various places around Asia.
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