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MU Students Visit Businesses Down Under  
Holly Pawlak
Staff Writer

Breathtaking is the only word to accurately describe Australia according to junior Max McConnell, who took Professor Joe Messer’s Business 485 down under for his January session class.

In Australia, the students experienced first-hand the daily nuances of Norwood Agriculture, a company based in tractor and farm machinery with branches in healthcare distribution and pharmacy services, agribusiness manufacturing/distribution and agricultural and materials handling equipment supply and services. They also worked with Ball Horticultural Company, a national distributor of quality flower, vegetables and cut flower seeds from breeders worldwide.

“Academically, this trip gave us the opportunity to experience a hands-on type of education and presented real-world situations in a way that a classroom never could’ve,” said sophomore Aubrey Conard.

They also learned that money does not grow from seeds. “A culture shock moment was how expensive everything [was] compared to back home,” McConnell said. “I wish I would have brought more Australian money on the trip with me because a lot of it was spent on souvenirs at the beginning of the trip.” Included in the educational portion of the seminar class was the comparison between the United States and Australia’s cost of living. “Australian rent is like ninety-something percent higher than America’s and grocery prices are about 60 percent higher there,” McConnell said.  “The Australians don’t have as much purchasing power either.” Tourism, after all, contributes 3.9 percent of the Australian GDP, or a staggering $32 billion.

All business aside, the students still had some memorable moments. What were McConnell’s highlights? “The day we spent on Bondi Beach, the great ocean tour, where we watched penguins wash up on a beach to feed their baby penguins, relaxing at the waterfalls and the wax museum of celebrities,” he said.

Regarding the visit to the waterfalls, junior Nicholas Norman concurred with McConnell. “My favorite part of the trip had to be hiking through the Blue Mountains and being able to walk around a waterfall that in the States would most likely be blocked off with rope,” he said. “I also enjoyed eating the food that was there that isn’t available in the States.”

As for Conard, choosing specific moments of the trip as highlights proved to be difficult. “My favorite part of the trip cannot be broken down any smaller than the trip as a whole,” she said. “Especially now that we’re back to ‘real life,’ I would be more than happy to relive any given moment of the trip no matter the specifications.”

On the original itinerary was a visit to the Carlton BrewHouse in Melbourne, but a tour cancellation left the group disappointed. “When we rode the train from Melbourne to Sydney, it was kind of sad knowing half of our trip was over as well,” McConnell said.

The memories of Bondi Beach sent a beaming smile to McConnell’s face. The beach also boasts whale and dolphin sightings during the months of migration, and occasional surfer interactions with fairy penguins. “My favorite part of the trip was getting to learn how to surf [there]” McConnell said. “I would go back in a heartbeat and I would probably choose Melbourne, just because it has more of a countryside feel than what Sydney had.”

Whenever spring semester surprises McConnell with a rough patch in the future, he keeps as a reminder in his mind that he is “tan, single, and went to Australia!”

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