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April 2012

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After three months of fast food, partisan politics and unsustainable shopping sprees, I recently returned to Sydney from exchange in Washington DC. However, I didn’t feel like I had come home - if anything, I felt like a foreigner. It is very strange to think that you would associate the word, ‘home’, with a place that you had only spent three months in.

I’ve since realized this is what they call ‘exchange withdrawal’, and it isn’t as bad as it sounds. It gave me the refreshing opportunity to experience Sydney as if I had just moved here – everything seemed new again.

Now I’m not going to lie, it has been a good two months since I’ve returned, but I still haven’t fully completed the transition. Sure, I’ve returned to the usual daily grind and routine of standing on crowded buses and sitting in less-crowded lecture theatres, but something is still missing. I think going on exchange has created an extra home for me, one that I will always be homesick for. But don’t get me wrong; it’s the type of homesick that will always make me smile whenever I reminisce about my time there.

Read more about my time in DC.

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I’m writing this blog post from London, where I'm training for the next three weeks. I’m a first-year student at Sydney and I’m also an elite athlete in canoe/kayak slalom. And I've just been selected to compete at the 2012 Olympics.

Here's a quick video of my training. For those of you who don’t know what canoe slalom is (most people don't!), it might give you a better idea.

So my trip didn’t start all that smoothly. I’m only at uni two days a week, and the past few weeks before uni break were really busy, so I can’t say I was 100% focussed on uni. This became obvious when, on the last day before uni break, I actually realised the break was that week and not the next! Living under a rock, I thought I had plenty of time to let my tutors know and email some letters about my absence. But no. I had a huge panic, but thankfully all my tutors and coordinators were really helpful and we were able to find solutions for my missing a few weeks of uni and some assessments.

I definitely have my head screwed on for the next few weeks – it’s time to get down to business and stay on top of uni by correspondence (this could be tricky...), train twice a day, gym and recovery and maybe, just maybe, if I get time, I’ll get some sightseeing into the program as well!

Training here is so exciting, especially with the "100 days to go" celebrations yesterday. The whitewater is big and bouncy - really powerful and I know I’ll need to build up my strength before the Olympics roll around. I’ll be based here for three weeks in Lee Valley - Waltham Cross about 30 mins from central London.

London has put on the best of UK weather - a lot of rain, wind, cloud, bit of hail and sometimes you might even spot the sun. Here’s hoping it clears up as it is absolutely freezing on the water! On the plus side, the cold and rain means more time indoors, and more uni work completed... in theory.

For more news on my adventure to the Olympics
check out my blog or Facebook page.

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From the perspective of a current student, the upcoming Alumni Awards can seem rather distant from our sphere of university life. However the Graduate Medals awarded are for students who have only just graduated ... people we’re likely to know! The different categories, each of which has a short list of nominees who also receive recognition, include Indigenous, Sporting, International, PhD and Undergraduate achievement, and are a reminder of the many ways students and alumni contribute to the community. Find out more. Nominations close Friday 27 April.

As President of the Student Alumni Association, I have had the opportunity to interact with alumni on a meaningful level when fundraising for various philanthropic causes and as such, appreciate the width of applicable recognitions and congratulations that our university can bestow on deserving nominees. The nominations and the awards themselves are a salient marker of the spreading alumni community, deeply rooted in the tradition of individual excellence and community contribution.

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You may have noticed that the Uni website has taken on a slight shade of blue in recent days. This, dear students, is in response to the ‘What Matters’ community outreach project, which aims to gauge public opinion on some of the work done by Sydney staff, students and alumni.

It's an opportunity to realise that we're part of a university that has a significant impact on how our society works, and also allows us to have our say on what we think is important.

You can vote on issues that matter to you. Cancer research? Improving children’s literacy? The environment? Expanding the arts? The introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes? Each of these issues is vastly important and the university wants to know what YOU think is important.

Personally? I voted for increased funding for cancer research. Yes, no doubt, reducing our environmental footprint and ensuring our children grow up more than competent is of great importance, but for me (maybe because I am a health sciences student) we are still mountains away from developing an effective and consistent treatment for cancer. The arts will always strive wherever there is a right brain, and packaging for cigarettes won’t cure an addiction (although surely will reduce the number of new smokers) but we cannot dismiss the fact that all of these matters must be addressed.

It’s up to us to help them decide.

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