And finally, we’re here!

Tara Fontana
Exchange to St. John’s University 
Semester 2, 2017

After the long months of countdowns, preparations, packing, back and forth emails and those final goodbyes to friends and family, I have finally moved into my dorm and am about to experience what it is like to live and study in New York.


I left Melbourne 3 weeks before my initial move in date and travelled around the USA before making my way into New York. I visited LA, San Francisco, Arizona and Chicago before moving onto the Big Apple. Different parts of the USA are incredibly diverse, with similarities comes great differences. Whilst I loved visiting other parts of the States, I couldn’t be more excited to arrive at my final destination. New York holds a very special place in my heart, this is my fifth time to the greatest city in the world and every time I visit the city, that title is proven more and more. The only difference between this trip to NYC and the other four is that I actually get to live here and experience life as a ‘real’ New Yorker.


Upon arriving on the St John’s campus in Queens, my expectations were blown out of the water, and this continued greatly during the week. SJU in Queens has an absolutely gorgeous (and very large) campus. Almost 100 acres of land = very easy to get lost! It’s a little different to ACU in Melbourne so it may take some getting used to (with a map in hand). One of the first things I noticed on my first day on campus is that everyone here is SO helpful. I must have been quite obviously looking when I was lost, but anyone who passed me, whilst I was looking at one of the many large maps around the campus grounds would stop and ask if they could be of assistance.


St John’s has been great in helping international students feel very welcome (and tired) with a week full of orientation activities that have been so much fun. There were a bunch of Orientation Leaders that are current students helping international students feel welcome and with an Aussie accent, you kind of stand out like a sore thumb. I have quickly learnt that Americans LOVE asking us Aussies loads of questions about the ‘land down under’ such as ‘are there really bugs everywhere?!’, ‘how do you eat that vegemite thing’ and more commonly ‘how long did it take to get here’. Those questions are closely followed by ‘I’ve always wanted to go to Australia’.


I have also come to notice that whilst America and Australia are similar in some aspects, we are also quite different in others. For one, terminology. I really need to get used to calling a bin, the ‘trash can’ or ‘garbage’, and walking to the right NOT the left.


Classes begin next week and I can’t wait for the MASSIVE SJU campus to be filled with thousands of roaming students.