Category Archives: Pre-Departure

Single Digits

Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve hit single digits and my excitement levels have hit triple digits. I’m leaving from LAX next Friday, February 15, 2013 just before midnight. Safe to say, that’ll be a mix of emotions between finally heading off into who knows what, and saying goodbye to my much beloved family, friends and southern California. Since the last post I’ve finished interterm and been kicking it around my home for the last two weeks. It’s been wonderful to spend time with my family and this time to prepare and finalize preparations has been quite useful.

I’ve made quite good use of the last two weeks. Have taken care of many things that needed to be addressed pre-departure, including sleeping in, eating mom’s cookies and other less important things like paying deposits, gearing up, updating computers and phones, setting up banking and communications etc. Mostly sleeping and eating noms. I’ve also been able to do some things I’ve been wanting to do including hiking Saddleback Mountain, which I’ve lived at the foot of my whole life, with my dad.

16 miles, 4000 ft climb

16 miles, 4000 ft climb

On the London front , I’ve been accepted to the program officially, which is great news, and I was able to get all my courses approved thanks to Prof. Murphy and Dr. Fahy who have both been ever so helpful during this whole process of planning what courses to take. All looks well regarding that and I’m sure preparations regarding that will kick into gear as soon as I return to California in July for summer.

Most importantly, Melbourne is about to happen. Nearly everything is set, I’ve found out where I will be living and have gotten an idea of some of the other travelling I’d like to do while there. I’ll be living at RMIT Village, a very nice looking apartment building literally across the street from U of Melbourne campus. See for some pictures and whatnot. Yes, it’s got a pool. Stoked. I’ll also only be a few blocks from Queen Victoria Market, the largest outdoor market in the southern hemisphere. So I think I know where I’ll be shopping. I’m also looking into picking up an internship or part time job while there as that could be both invaluable experience and some funds for my adventures. So if any of you 5 people who will actually read this have a connection for me, please let me know.

You’ll likely hear from me within the next week or so for a final pre-departure post and then it’s on with the walkabout.


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Anticipation, Visas, and Blessings

And the countdown rolls on. 31 days left. This time next month I’ll be in the airport preparing to board. I’ve got a week of class, a final, one class and a second final. My time at Chapman is that close to being finished. Grades from last semester came out very nicely and my grades over interterm are looking to follow suit.

I kept hearing how much of a headache getting my visa was going to be… it took all of a half an hour. The hardest part was the price tag, nearly $600. I honestly don’t have much more to do outside of packing for the next 4 months and frankly, I’d really like to being doing some preparation or something to keep me occupied. My three week break between interterm and departure may drive me nuts with anticipation. It’s not helping to read blogs of people I know who have already begun their time abroad and to see all their pictures. Watching videos like this make me straight giddy. 

Much more importantly, the awesome people at GlobaLinks are not only running my program but have also decided to award me a scholarship for my semester abroad; which will be immensely helpful. Apparently they liked what I wrote in my application essay. Lesson learned: Always throw your name in the hat.

My courses for next year in London are being checked for approval right now and I should hear back regarding that shortly. Also, the Chapman Center for Global Education have approved a program specifically for International Business through CEA in Grenoble France, which look as if it should fit me perfectly. So I may end up spending next spring in the French Alps instead of in London, or I may finish my college education there Fall 2014. 4 semesters abroad would really be something. We’ll see how that works out anyway.

For now, finish interterm, get all of my course approved for my time abroad, final packing and preparation and then walkabout.

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4:30 AM

It’s about 4:30 AM as I’m writing this. Why I’m awake at this hour I’m not quite sure, but I am finding a distinct peace of mind in this strange hour.

I’ve found that I rather enjoy being up with the sun and winding down with it. Daylight is too beautiful a thing to waste. It lights the soul, excites the mind and invigorates the body. I recently watched the documentary 180° South. It concerns one man’s trip to Patagonia and I’ll be honest, I never realized just how beautiful Patagonia was until I saw this. Have to add that to my travel list. Anyway, for anyone with any sort of curiosity for the world I’d recommend it, it’s not the best made film nor the clearest, but the scope of the journey and the mentality that it does such a wonderful job of capturing are things that reverberated with me in an incredibly genuine manner.

My penultimate semester at Chapman University concluded last Friday. The last portion of the semester was in no manner easy between the projects, papers and finals. But all in all, the semester went very well and I can have no complaints. It looks as if all of the courses I need at the University of Melbourne will work out for me, but I won’t know till I’m actually down under. Currently working on the preliminary forms and course selection for City University in London as well.  Now enter Christmas Break, the last two weeks I’ll really have to relax and spend some quality time with my family and friends from home. After this, it’s 3 weeks of interterm entailing accounting and web development courses, work and more prep work for both Melbourne and Australia, then 2 weeks at home getting everything in order and packed for the semester in Melbourne. And then the walkabout begins and I have a feeling my feet will barely hit the ground for almost two years. Although it feels as if it really began over a year ago, quite honestly I’d be content with it not ending for some time. There’s a whole lot of things I intend to accomplish and places to immerse myself in. I’m already mildly overwhelmed and overexcited for still being 56 days out and that likely has something to do with me being up at what is now 5:00 AM.

Oh well. I find myself in such a different place than from where I ever expected to be at this point, and there are no regrets to be found in me, only gratitude that I’ve made it to here and have the opportunities that I do. The changes I find realized in myself over the last year are on many levels. It comes down to a mindset of self improvement, curiosity, wonder, joy and a passion for doing things the right way. These things drive men, they resonate with me and I fully intend to run with them.


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So a quick update:

I was able to get the class I needed to get over interterm. If that had fallen through my whole plan would have been shot. So that was real nice to get taken care of especially considering the mass amount of complaining being done by my fellow students over not getting their classes.

More importantly I’ve got preliminary approval through Chapman for this: 

So pretty stoked to get clear of the first step to study abroad in London all of next year. I’ll basically have to have that all squared away and ready to go before I leave for Melbourne on February 15th. But it’ll be more than worth it. I also just submitted the first step of my application to Arcadia University College of Global Studies. As long as I am accepted by them, which shouldn’t be an issue I am basically good to go for London. Some exciting stuff, just trying to keep focused on finishing this semester strong. Oh, and I am managing to tutor and make some money to sock away for all my grand plans which is real nice.

Anyway, only 91 days left.

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T – 100 days until I depart on this mind boggling adventure. It seems so short and so long at the same time.

Only 100 days left to spend with my family and friends before I leave doesn’t seem like a whole lot of time, especially considering that I’ll be at school for a good chunk of that. Gonna have to make the most of it.

I also have a feeling that I’ll have a rather impatient countdown going in my head. Oh well.

It’s daunting to think that in a few months I’ll across the world from everything I know. But that’s the fun of it all. There’s not a whole lot more I need to get done before I leave. Just get my visa, finalize housing, figure out a whole list of logistics from banking to how many socks to take. Oh, and finish this semester and interterm. Easy enough. I should hear back within the next week on my initial approval for London next year. I don’t expect to hit any major issue there, but who knows.

I’ll be updating this every now and then until Melbourne. Once I’m there I’ll do my best to provide weekly updates for my own sake and in the off chance anyone is still following this.

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So I guess I’m doing this for real now.

There goes $2000 out of my account. And here comes one roundtrip ticket to Melbourne, Australia. There’s been other significant milestones reached and hurdles cleared, but this makes it real. I’m locked in. Can’t really just pay that much money for nothing now can I?

My current favorite picture of Melbourne, taken from the Shrine of Remembrance

I guess I should back up a little bit to give you (in the off chance anyone besides me actually reads this) a little context. My name is Doug Woodward, I am a Business Administration major and Computer Science minor at Chapman University. I’m from Rancho Santa Margarita CA, went to Santa Margarita Catholic High School and loved every minute of that. My first year at Chapman? not so much…

It’s astounding how much a part of your life and identity something can become. For me that was football and I rather lost that last year after getting my third concussion in three years. Doctor said keep playing and dementia when I’m 30. No thanks. Anyway, long story short, I spent most of the following year not knowing who I was, being depressed and angry and all of those lovely things. It was awful.

But it was also one of the defining experiences in my life so far. It forced me to understand who I was, what I wanted and what made me happy. It also allowed me to realize just how ridiculously blessed I am. My family is astounding and irreplaceable. They kept me afloat when I was struggling and always keep me grounded and guided. It gave me a resilience and spirit in all things mental and emotional to add to the physical resilience gained through football.

Throughout my rough year last year I only really had a desire to go to class and not much else. I wanted to transfer out. But in early spring I saw a sign for study abroad first step meetings. That managed to pique my interest and spur me into action. I figured I’d still transfer but it couldn’t hurt to check it out. I went to the meeting, found that everything I heard resonated with me and brought me excitement and life. So I looked into it further and decided that Australia seemed pretty awesome, and Melbourne piqued my interest more than Sydney. So Melbourne it was.

The next couple of months involved more of the same, class, gym, eat sleep. I still was pretty sure I wanted to transfer, but I figured I’d keep the study abroad door open, it just felt right. Got approval through Chapman to go, was simply the very first step, didn’t mean much. Still wanted to transfer. Summer rolls around and I’m very happy to simply be done with such an awful year. Next year will be better, I’m transferring, a fresh start. Got into every school I applied to. Wanted to go to USC, made sense for me in so many ways, it was exciting and I was pretty sure I was going. Then, as is normal in life, money showed up with bad news. Financial aid package was awful. Therefore I couldn’t go. Well shit. Not much I could do about that, figured I’d just keep my head down, keep working and coaching and putting away that money and enjoying my summer. Grew my hair out too. Bad idea, looked like a convict. About a month passed and I figured, screw it, I’ll just go back to Chapman, it’s a great school, close to home, doesn’t cost me much at all and I have some incredible opportunities. Like going abroad for 3 semesters and still graduating in 3 1/2 years.

So that’s what I decided to do. Came back to Chapman this semester, kept working hard and finally broke out of whatever sort of depression or mental state I had been in since August of my freshman year of college and began working through the next steps to go abroad. Had to meet with a dean of discipline and explain to him why taking the screen out and throwing water balloons out my window was bad idea. Got past that, got accepted through the GlobaLinks Learning Abroad program and started on the next phase. This one was the most time consuming as it involved attending a pre-departure meeting, being mildly overwhelmed by that. From that I had a list of new things to get done. The most pressing being my Academic Planning form. Such a joy to spend hours on the web finding correlating classes at the University of Melbourne to my academic program here at Chapman. Then had to go get signatures from department chairs. Went to the business dean, got a couple approved, a few denied. Had to go and find alternate courses to take. Came back to the dean, he approved most of what I wanted, not all. Had to restructure what I wanted to take, realized the form was due that evening and I still needed signatures from the Computer Science dean. Fortunately he’s one of my professors and I had his class that afternoon, got him to sign off (took a bit of convincing at that) then ran back across campus to drop off the form before the deadline.

Now that all of that was out of the way, wait, never mind, I’m planning on spending the 2013-2014 school year at City University in London. Now I had to do some more work to plan out all of my courses for the next 4 semesters at 3 different Universities in 3 different countries. After quite a bit of referencing and jiggling I had produced a spreadsheet that brought me more excitement than any other before. I had my course plan for the rest of my college life.

And then today, I bought my tickets. the tickets to an adventure that I have a strange feeling will come to define me in so many ways.  I’m excited, shit my pants scared if you will and full of anticipation. After riding out the storm last year I find myself happier and more content than ever before. I find joy in random moments of the day, the sunshine, gaining knowledge, drinking coffee, eating tater tots and bacon for breakfast, it doesn’t matter what it is, I have found a path. It may not be the usual one nor the road less traveled or a road at all, but it calls to me and that’s what matters.

I’m going walkabout.


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