Happy Update :)

Hi family and friends,

I hope you are all doing well in the U.S.! There are more souvenirs on the way, so be on the lookout and make sure you stay in touch so I can get some to you. 🙂

Things are going very well in Sydney these days. While there have been some increases in Australian COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks, the country as a whole has been doing well and restrictions are being put in place to keep us safe and reduce the spread. Even with these restrictions, I have been able to get up to quite a lot! It’s been great to get out on the town again. From doing the Sydney Tower Skywalk again, seeing beautiful creatures at WILDLIFE Sydney Zoo, Kayaking in Lavender Bay, having a blast at Luna Park, ice skating on Darling Harbour, scuba diving Sydney’s reefs, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and more, these past few weeks have been full of fun and adventure! Now that state borders are somewhat reopened, I’m even looking forward to visiting Townsville & Magnetic Island and scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef as early as next month!

Being an au pair to two cute kiddos has been quite rewarding as well. My host family has welcomed me with open arms and have been very accomodating and supportive. They’ve invited me to live with them and work for them, as both a nanny and for their personal companies, for as long as I wish, even past graduation if I so choose. I really feel like I’ve been accepted as part of their family in just a few short weeks!

While I don’t quite know when I’ll be returning to the United States, I know it will be quite a while before we all see each other again, so please STAY IN TOUCH! I still have both my U.S. number and Australian number, but I’m easiest to reach by my Aussie number, or by email.

Sincerely,

Robynn ❤

Au Pair Here, See Ya Next Year!

Hi Friends & Family!

I’m super exited to announce that I’ve been able to successfully register at the University of Sydney for the upcoming semester and will be able to stay in Australia through January 2021 with my new student visa!

With the conditions surrounding COVID-19 in the U.S. and at Ole Miss (my home uni) still being so uncertain, I felt it was best for me to remain in Sydney for the remainder of the year. The beautiful campus at Sydney Uni has started to reopen study spaces, retail stores, on-campus offices, food outlets, and more, giving me hope that we may be able to return to campus during Semester 2. With fewer than 500 active cases of the virus in all of Australia, the prime minister has announced that schools can reopen as well as non-essential workplaces and the vast majority of commercial services. It has been great to see Australia recovering and Sydney getting back to the city it was when I arrived.

I have also been extremely fortunate to have found a job position as an au pair! For those of you who aren’t too familiar with the term, an au pair is basically a live-in nanny, typically a young woman from a foreign country who comes from overseas to work as a child’s caretaker in exchange for housing, food, and some additional spending money from a host family. Many people do it during a gap year before uni to travel abroad while working and having a real home to live in. The host family I will be living with is amazing- the mom is a professional photographer with her own business, the dad owns his own architectural and construction company, and the kids- a 4-year old girl and 18-month old boy- are the sweetest! The home is a very open, comfortable, chic space and gives me the entire third story to myself! I’m excited to set out on this new experience and to keep learning about life in Sydney.

I hope that you are all staying safe in the States and that things start improving soon so that we can all start fresh in the new year! See ya then! And as always, pictures below.

The Grounds @ Alexandria
The Sydney Tower Eye
The Sydney Tower Skywalk
Nirvana & Jonathan (Nirvana’s B-Day!)
Sunny Day @ USyd
My Host Family

Robynn ❤

Plans for Fall 2020

Hi friends and family,

Sorry for taking such a long time to post another update. Classes have been absolutely crazy and I’ve been trying to alleviate some of my cabin fever by getting out of my apartment a bit more!

My semester in Sydney, Australia definitely has not gone as planned. With my host university moving courses online, lockdown measures and travel restrictions being implemented, and the cancellation of my study abroad programs all due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, this experience has changed in ways I never could have expected.

As many of you know, I have still not returned home yet. With over 1 million active cases and counting of COVID-19 in the United States (>7,500 in TN and >5,000 in MS), I know I made the right choice to remain in Australia for the time being (<650 active cases and <100 deaths nationwide, <450 in New South Wales). I feel safe here in Sydney, and as the local government is beginning to relax restrictions, I have high hopes the the University of Sydney will resume in-person courses for Semester 2 (Fall 2020).

In that spirit, I am looking into options to remain in Sydney for an additional semester. I am taking the first steps to re-applying/re-enrolling to the university, and Ole Miss is working with me to insure my course credits and financial aid will transfer again. This will be the best option for me because I struggle to succeed in online courses and I feel quite sure that Ole Miss will be online in the Fall. Additionally, if Ole Miss does host in-person classes next term, I wouldn’t feel comfortable returning yet given the worsening conditions and the influx of students from around the country and world that in-person courses would bring to the campus. If classes at the University of Sydney go online in the Fall, I would still feel safer and more comfortable being here than in Oxford to live and work, and I would have greater opportunity to complete an international internship given that my grant for an internship in Thailand this summer was cancelled.

If I am unable to work out remaining in Sydney for an additional semester, however unlikely, the earliest I will be returning to the States is mid-August 2020. The latest I should return is January 2021 to complete my final semester at Ole Miss and- finger crossed- have my graduation ceremony.

Feel free to text me or message me on Facebook for updates! Also, many of you have postcards on the way! They are extremely delayed because I sent them just as Australia post halted all shipping to the U.S., but they should be on the way now that shipping has re-opened! If I did not get your address and you want a postcard, let me know!

And as always, here are some photos from the past few weeks. ❤ 🙂

Campus Stroll

Sunset @ Taronga Reserve
Walk to Circular Quay- Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House
Spit to Manly Scenic Coastal Walk (10km/6 Miles)

I hope that you are all staying safe and healthy! Please keep in touch!

Robynn xo

Hunkering Down in Australia

Hi family and friends,

As you may have heard, classes around the world have moved to online formats, and most study abroad programs from the United States have been canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. My study abroad program in Australia has been cancelled, but fortunately I have been able to remain enrolled in my classes at the University of Sydney (online) and in my housing in Sydney where I can stay safe and isolate until the global situation improves.

As of today, 24 March 2020 (in Australia), there are more that 43,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States making it the third most widespread nation after China and Italy. This number has been growing by the thousands overnight. Getting on an international flight in a pressurized cabin and spending hours in an airport with other individuals returning from abroad was not in the best interest for my health or the health of anyone I would interact with. Instead, I have decided to remain in Australia where the number of confirmed cases is below 2,000, the spread has been at a much slower rate, and the country’s border is closed to reduce imported cases.

I plan to stay in Australia until the end of my program in late June. If the situation has worsened by that time, I am prepared to stay longer, but I am praying that the world is in the recovery stage by that point or sooner. I will keep you all updated, and I thank everyone who has been checking in and sending messages of love and support. ❤

I hope you are all staying home and remaining safe and healthy! I sent out my first round of post cards last week so be on the lookout for those! If you would like a postcard from Australia, please send me your address and I will do my best to send you one while the post offices are open and operating.

And as always, here are some photos from the past few weeks!

Blue Mountains Australia- Most hardcore hiking I’ve ever done
Three Sisters Rock Formation
Mardi Gras Parade (In Australia, Mardi Gras is for LGBT pride instead of New Orleans and voodoo, really confusing)
Shark Dive XTreme at SEALIFE Sydney
Yes, the sharks did get VERY close (And I got a shark tooth from the tank! Super cool!)
From Bondi Beach before it was closed 😦 😦
Gelato after a day @ Bondi Beach
Murals @ Bondi Skatepark
Chinese Garden of Friendship;
“Jobs fill the pockets, Adventures fill the soul”
The best friends anyone could ask for
La Perouse Beach
La Perouse
Annika’s farewell 😦
Opera Bar on the Sydney Harbour
The Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Harbour Bridge (If you zoom in, you can see people climbing to the top!)

Wishing you all health, safety, and prosperity in this crazy time,

Robynn ❤

Thailand Here I Come!

Hey Friends and Family!

As many of you may know, I have been waiting on a decision for my grant proposal that would allow me to intern and research abroad this summer. I am so happy to announce that I have officially been awarded the Freeman Grant that will support me interning in Thailand for two months!!!

After I finish my semester here in Sydney, I will be flying directly to Bangkok, Thailand to complete a two-month-long business internship through the Asia Internship Program focusing on PR & Marketing as well as Supply Chain and Logistics Management. I will let you all know when I get my specific internship offer and tell you all about it. I hope that you will all stay in touch (I finally got a Facebook so friend me!), and I look forward to posting more soon!

On another note, things are going wonderfully in Australia and my first week of classes has been great! In the meantime, more pictures from Oz!

First Time @ Sydney Uni
Study Abroad Orientation @ USyd
The Chinese Garden of Friendship, Sydney
The Chinese Garden of Friendship, Sydney
Darling Harbour (5 Minute walk from me and Fireworks every week, I love it!)
Short sleeves, shorts, and beach weather every day!!!! ❤ ❤ ❤
Great roomies and awesome friends!

With love from the Land Down Under,

Robynn ❤

Safe & Sound in Sydney!

Hey everyone! I wanted to check in and let you all know that I have arrived safely in Sydney and settled into my new apartment. After a short program in Byron Bay, AU and a day in Sydney, I have plenty of pictures to share!

Byron Bay Lighthouse
Bryon Bay Lighthouse
Byron Bay Lighthouse
Byron Bay Lighthouse
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary- Feeding Lorikeets
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary- Petting Kangaroos
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary- Feeding Kangaroos!
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary- HOLDING KOALA!
Sydney Opera House and Harbor
Sydney Opera House and Ole Miss

I’ll be posting articles for my ISA Castañeda Featured Blogger and Study Abroad Correspondent programs soon, so be on the lookout for those! I hope that all is well in the U.S. and that you will all keep in touch! Also, if you want to see more pictures, be sure to let me know!

With love from the Land Down Under,

Robynn ❤

Welcome to my Blog

Hi, everyone! My name is Robynn and I am excited to be getting my travel blog started. I want to start by introducing myself and giving thanks to the people and organizations that helped make my journey ahead possible.

I am a junior first-generation student at the University of Mississippi studying for my B.B.A in Marketing with an emphasis in Global Supply Chain Management and a minor in Entrepreneurship. I am a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, the honors society Phi Kappa Phi, and the Ole Miss School of Business Chief Emissary Officers. I have also been involved in the Ole Miss Scuba Program through which I have become a Certified Open Water Scuba Diver.

Coming up in just a few days, I will be starting my ISA study abroad program in Sydney, NSW, Australia, and this will be one of my first international experiences and my first extended stay abroad. I will be attending the University of Sydney full-time for Semester 1 2020 where I will be taking classes including Consumer Behavior, Strategic Management, and Entrepreneurship and Innovation. During this time, I also plan to begin research for my Honors College thesis studying business internships abroad compared to those here in the United States. I am also signed up to participate in the University of Sydney MATES Abroad Program and the University of Sydney Union (USU). 

I would like to thank a few people and organizations who have made this incredible journey of studying and researching abroad possible for me.

  • The Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College Fellowship
  • The Mobley Scholarship
  • The Wilhite Family 
  • The Patterson Family
  • Mr. Stephen Davis
  • Mrs. Debra Mcgee
  • International Studies Abroad
  • The University of Mississippi Study Abroad Office

To my donors, your generous donations and scholarships have been a huge support in addition to my financial aid. Without your support, this year and a half of planning may have resulted in me not being able to commence my studies abroad. I cannot express to you all how grateful I am for your tremendous support and I hope to keep you all updated on my journey through my blog. 

You can all find my travel blog at robynn21.wordpress.com, and I hope you will all keep in touch while I’m in the land down under!