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Staff Member Travels to Australia
December 06, 2019
With assistance from a Faculty Staff Exchange Grant through Padnos International Center, Kayla Cupples, Assistant Director of Marketing for Recreation & Wellness, traveled to Australia in October/November 2019. She spent nearly two full weeks visiting partner institutions (Macquarie University (MQ) and University of the Sunshine Coast (USC)), learning about the culture, meeting new people, and exploring the country.
“I have always regretted not studying abroad during my undergraduate degree at GVSU, so with two universities to explore (along with the beautiful weather forecast and kangaroos!), this opportunity was easily one of the best experiences of my life. The international exposure changed my perspective, increased my diversity of thought, and made me excited about coming back to GVSU to expand on what I learned abroad,” explains Cupples.
With student wellness being top of mind in the Division of Student Affairs, understanding the landscape of this topic became a major focus. At MQ, Cupples met with 14 individuals across numerous departments, including MQ Orientation, MQ Connect, MQ Student Engagement, MQ International College, English Language Centre, Student Wellbeing, MQ Sport & Recreation, and Group Marketing, as well as toured the campus and accommodation offerings. At USC, she started with campus and accommodations tours, followed by meetings with 15 individuals within Student Guild, USC Sport & High-Performance Sport, USC Marketing & External Engagement, Student Wellbeing, SafeUSC, Study Overseas, and International Marketing & Recruitment departments.
“Spending two full days at each institution provided strong insight into various aspects of their roles. I was also able to connect with three GVSU students who were studying abroad while I was there (two were pre-arranged, and one yelled GO LAKERS when he saw my GVSU shirt!). Time with our students was one of the best parts of this trip, as it was great to hear about their varied experiences, growth, and love for Australia,” includes Cupples.
Some interesting facts she learned while traveling:
- Uni is short for university.
- Semesters are called sessions.
- Students attend lectures (offered both online and in-person) and tutorials (required).
- To-go orders are called takeaways, “fortnight” means two weeks, and AirCon is used instead of AC or air conditioning.
- You don’t have to tip anywhere!!!
- Jacaranda trees are purple and amazing (google it!).
- Kangaroos hopping across campus is the cutest thing!
Cupples admitted, “Even being across the world, it was eye-opening to see how comparable GVSU is to both MQ and USC. We face many similar challenges, yet have students at the center of everything we do.”
In addition to the specifics learned about student affairs, this experience helped deepen her understanding of other cultures and further develop her communication skills through collaboration with new partners.
“It was deeply meaningful to my professional and personal life, and I came back with a renewed perspective on the work we do and its value to students and our entire campus community. I look forward to continued communication (and staying updated via social media!) with those I met at GVSU’s partner institutions in Australia,” adds Cupples.