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Australian exchange students choose UConn for American experience

By Annie Pancak
On October 13, 2013

  • Australian exchange students Ivan Parker (left) and Josh Lucas (right) are at UConn in search of the American college experience. ANNIE PANCAK/The Daily Campus

This article is part of a series profiling this semester's exchange students and their experience at UConn.
"Lip Sync is exactly what we came for," said exchange student Josh Lucas. "No, don't type that," interrupted his friend Ivan Parker, "talk about basketball or something."
The two friends are on exchange at UConn from Australia. What Lucas intended by referring to Lip Sync was that they choose to come to UConn to have the American college experience, which to them is being at a campus where students are involved and where there is more than one type of hat with the school logo on it to pick from.
Both are from Sydney but go to different schools in Australia - Lucas at the University of Melbourne and Parker at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. They wanted to study abroad together under the criteria that they were in the U.S., were on the same campus, and had a similar accommodation. UConn was the only university that both of their schools had a partnership with in the U.S., Lucas said.
They were able to be roommates, but to their surprise, that meant sleeping in the same room. Parker explained that in Australia people share houses or apartments but typically have their own room. He has not shared a room since he was 7 years old with his twin sister, he said.
"We're mates anyways," Lucas said. The two have been friends for eight years and traveled to India together with another friend at the beginning of this year.
They said they share a passion for traveling, and are headed to Toronto this weekend to see recording artist "The Weeknd." After the semester is over they are also going to rent a Winnebago van to "drive somewhere" in the U.S. for two months until they return to Australia.
Parker is interested in the different seasons and weather in the U.S. He called autumn "amazing" and said he doesn't see anything like the New England foliage back home. As for the snow, both are skiers so they've seen it before, but Parker specified that he is looking forward to living in it.
Lucas said what is most interesting about being in the U.S. is actually being here. "You get all American media here. We get three different media outlets, Australian, British and American, so it's cool to come and then wow, I'm in New York, it's crazy."
As for American's exposure to solely American media, the two Australians were able to clear up some misconceptions about their country. First, they said, they don't 'throw a shrimp on the barbie.' Lucas said they call shrimp 'prawns' and Paul Hogan made up the phrase in an advertisement for Australia.
Parker thought the greatest error was to tell an Australian they speak good English, because Australians also speak English.
And Lucas found the greatest humor in the kangaroo situation. "The number of times we tell people we have a pet kangaroo, and they believe it," he said.
At UConn, Lucas is taking classes for his master's degree in information systems. He has already completed his undergrad in business and worked in investment banking London and Singapore. Parker is working on his undergraduate degree in landscape architecture. Another difference between the U.S and Australia, Parker said, is age. While both men are 25 years old, Parker is one of the youngest students in his program at his university.

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