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Falk in Australia

‘We Made Memories That Will Last a Lifetime, and Bonds That Will Last Forever’
A group of people are posed together on a beach.

Nineteen Syracuse University students, including 14 from Falk College, spent nearly three weeks in Australia starting in mid-May for Professor Rick Burton’s “Australia: Sport, History and Culture” class (Burton is in the back row with red jacket and hat).

From mid-May through early June, 19 students from Syracuse University–including 14 from Falk College–spent the start of their summer in Australia for the “Australia: Sport, History and Culture” class taught by David B. Falk Endowed Professor of Sport Management Rick Burton.

For nearly three weeks, the students traveled from the Melbourne Cricket Ground to Cairns to the Great Barrie Reef to Sydney, Australia’s largest city. As part of their immersion trip, each student was required to contribute to Aussie 24, a blog that captured their day-to-day experiences.

The entire blog is worth your time, but here’s a video and daily excerpts from the blog to get you started:

The Day Before: Kate Bradley ’26 (sport management major)

Currently, all of the students are working on writing research papers to prepare us for this trip and give us background knowledge on the various topics we will be learning during this course. My research paper topic reflected on the Australian Football League Women’s (AFLW) and female leadership and representation within that league. The entire league is full of successful women the prioritize supporting each other and encouraging diversity within the league.

I am looking forward to landing in the beautiful city (of Melbourne), grabbing a cup of famous Australian coffee, and heading to the Melbourne Cricket Ground for a tour of their facilities to kick off our week in Melbourne before we depart for Cairns.

Day 1: Ethan Canals-Fernandez ’27 (sport management)

Today is day one of travel for most, but for me I am already halfway to Melbourne! I decided to leave a day earlier to be able to acclimate to the time difference before the fun begins. I am extremely excited to learn about the rapid growing sports culture here as well as attending some local games.

Each student wrote about different things, but for (my research paper) I chose to write about economic growth as well as racial issues in sports in Australia. Through this paper I was able to see how rapidly the sport sector is growing and the positive affect it has on the economy.

Day 2: Elizabeth Carchia ’26 (chemical engineering)

At 1:15 p.m., after a warm shower and change of clothes, the whole group of us set off to Melbourne Cricket Arena, where we were able to get a tour of the facilities and watch some professional players warm up. It was here we were able to learn more about the Australian Football League and its significance to Australians.

After our tour or the facilities and the museum we headed back to the hotel for a quick rest before we got dinner at a local food market. I am looking forward to catching up on rest from our long days of travel and watching a real Australian football in person tomorrow!

A group of people are standing in a circle in a park.

Learning how to play rugby.

Day 3: Julia Cronin ’26 (sport management)

Our group walked to Victoria University, where we met with Dr. Matthew Klugman, who was kind enough to come into work on a Saturday to teach us about the history and rules of Aussie Rules Football as well as the social impact of the game. After a captivating lecture, our group got lunch and headed to Flagstaff Gardens Park with Damian Hecker (“Damo”) to try out Aussie Rules Football! We started out with drills and then played a scrimmage game. I even surprised myself and scored a goal.

Later, we watched the St. Kilda Saints vs Fremantle Dockers at Marvel Stadium (in Melbourne). We all got dinner at the stadium, and many tried the famous Australian meat pies and kangaroo meat! Our group was able to understand the game much better after getting the chance to play it ourselves in the park earlier. Unfortunately, St. Kilda (Professor Burton’s favorite team) didn’t pull off the win but the game was so fun to watch nonetheless.

Day 4: Sean Cullen ’26 (sport management)

We were given a day today to explore the city of Melbourne, and some of us headed off to the Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium. While seeing penguins for the first time was surreal, looking at large sharks a couple of days before going scuba diving may not have been the smartest move of the afternoon.

My last activity of the day was dining at a restaurant called “Ghost Donkey,” solely because of the name. While I expected a Mexican-style restaurant, it turned out to be a very relaxed and calm bar/lounge with beautiful decor. After about an hour of just hanging around there, we all departed and went back to our hotel to prepare for an early morning tomorrow.

A group of people are posed on boardwalk stairs going down to a beach.
Walking the Great Ocean Road.

Day 5: Liam De Vos ’26 (education)

Today the group went on a massive road trip along the Great Ocean Road. We saw beautiful sight after beautiful sight, getting amazing photos and memories captured over the course of the day.

We made a stop to see some koalas, but the birds stole the show and I was able to get some birds to land on my arms. After lunch, we took a very scenic route where we saw amazing views as the sun was starting to set and we ended the day at McDonalds to feel at home. It was truly an amazing day that I will remember forever!

Day 6: Finley Dermody ’27 (sport management)

This morning, we started our day with a walk to the Twenty3 Group’s office, where we met with CEO Mr. John Tripodi. He gave us a presentation on the (marketing) company that he started himself. He started out in the candy business, then moved to hair care brands, and then to starting his own agency. It was fascinating to hear about his journey.

Next, we heard from Mr. Raphael Geminder, a Syracuse alum and chairman of the (packaging company) Pact Group who flew in from Europe to speak with us. Mr. Geminder shared his experiences at Syracuse University and talked about sustainability initiatives at Pact. He talked about the circular cycle compared to the linear cycle, as well as the importance of a good role model over a good job.

At 2:15 pm, we walked to the Melbourne Museum and had the chance to explore the museum prior to the official tour. We then had a guided tour at the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm. The tour was very educational and gave us a deeper understanding of the Aboriginal culture and history.

Day 7: Edison Friday ’27 (sport management)

The flight to Cairns wasn’t too bad, just about 3 hours long. After landing safely in Cairns, our guide took us up the mountains where we eventually learned about the culture of the Djabugay people.

The Djabuygay people were the nation’s first people whose culture and stories were represented through the voices of the Pamagirri guides who work at Rainforestation (National Park). We eventually made our way to what I call a “bird sanctuary,” and our last stop was the sky rail before we eventually made our way home.

A group of people are posed on a basketball court.

Visiting the Cairns Taipans Basketball Club.

Day 8: CJ Green ’26 (sport management)

The day started with an excellent presentation by Dr. Glen Deakin, who discussed the health of Indigenous communities, particularly in the Solomon Islands. His talk was thought-provoking and made me reflect on our privileges and the things we often take for granted.

After the presentation, we visited the Cairns Taipans Basketball Club. Playing basketball and touring the facility, especially the recovery room, was definitely one of the highlights of the day. It was interesting to see how the club’s facilities compare to the NBA facilities.

a collage of underwater photos with the phrase "we even got to swim with turtles"
Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef.

Day 9: Anna McDonald ’26 (sport management)

The trip to the Great Barrier Reef took about two hours through rough ocean waters. On the way there the boat crew taught us about the marine life we might see, proper scuba diving and snorkeling techniques, and told us what to expect from the day.

Arriving at the reef was beautiful, from the boat you could see some of the corals and the water was very blue. I got the opportunity to scuba dive for the first time, and it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. I got to see some many different types of fish and all the corals. After the first dive we ate lunch and had the opportunity to dive or snorkel again, this time I just snorkeled, which was just as cool.

Day 10: Johann Perera ’25 (sport analytics)

Today we had a free day to explore Cairns. So of course, I decided to do a free fall 14,000 feet in the sky. Anna, Dante, and I took a one-hour drive south in order to make this bucket list experience possible. And after a two-minute debriefing and 20-minute plane ride, my instructor decided it was time to kick me out of the plane. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

Later, Dylan, CJ, and I went to the Cairns Dolphins’ (basketball) game. Even though the arena was small, the atmosphere was great. We watched the entirety of the women’s game. It would’ve been much better if they won, but instead they lost by 40. It was still a great experience.

Day 11: Dante Reese ’26 (sport management)

Growing up in Los Angeles, my elementary school mascot at Kentwood Elementary was a koala. Today, that childhood memory came full circle as my group and I had the chance to pet and take pictures with a koala at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures. We also fed and petted kangaroos, took a boat ride through a crocodile-infested swamp, and watched an engaging crocodile show where we learned about saltwater crocodiles.

After our thrilling time at the zoo, we visited Palm Cove Beach, where we swam in the warm ocean waters. We were also treated to ice cream by the generous John Tripodi (first introduced in Day 6). Thank you, Mr. Tripodi, for taking the time to inspire us with your success story. I was truly moved by how one can create such a successful business through experiences in various occupations.

Day 12: Leda Rossmann ’26 (history)

We arrived in sunny Sydney very excited for warm weather since it’s been pretty rainy in Melbourne and Cairns. We drove to Bondi Beach to visit the legendary Bondi Icebergs Swimming Club. The pools are saltwater and freezing cold. I was so excited to jump in. I was a competitive swimmer for most of my life so the water is one of the most calming and nostalgic places I can be.

Our amazing bus driver took us on a guided tour of the Sydney sights. We saw The Gap and heard the story of Don Ritchie, who saved at least 180 people who were going to jump off the rocks. We also saw Lady Macquarie’s (rock) Chair, where she would look into the harbor to watch for ships bringing news of her family during the early colonization days. We saw some of Vivid Sydney, a light/art show in the harbor with lights into the sky and on the bridge and art projected onto the Opera House and other buildings.

Day 13: Dylan Taylor ’26 (sport management)

To start off our second day in Sydney the group traveled to University of Technology Sydney for special lectures from Prof. Burton’s good friend, Dr. Daryl Adair. The first lecture was an overview of Australia and its history as well as some of its pillars of society. The second lecture was very special about the history of race in sports as it relates to Australia. This was a treat as the lectures were informational, engaging, and eye opening.

After a nice lunch break, we went to one of Australia’s most famous landmarks, the Sydney Opera House. This time we were able to attend an hour-long guided tour through the building. I found the story of the architecture and the history of Aboriginals prior to the building’s construction to be the most interesting.

Day 14: Cate Vickery ’26 (sport management)

Today we had our lecture of the day in the morning at the University of Technology Sydney. The lecture was about the history of politics and geopolitics within the Olympics and what that’s going to look like this year at the 2024 Paris Olympics. After our short lunch break, we went over to the UTS’ main campus area, where we met Fadi Chadayda, who works for a company that helps organize and create esports locations and events in universities and other spaces.

We got to see a few different esports rooms, with the main one sponsored by Red Bull. It was very cool because everything in that space was sponsored by Red Bull or other companies to help promote esports. Fadi then gave us a presentation on esports in Australia, the history of it, and where he thinks it will go in the future as well as what his company does and what his job is.

A group of people are posed in a rugby stadium during a game.

Attending a Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks rugby game.

Day 15: Doug Capdeville ’24 (communication and media studies)

After spending time on the beach and listening to a presentation about the local surf club, we headed to the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks rugby facility. There, we got to learn how to play rugby. The staff was super friendly and taught us the basics, which was really fun. We even got to try out some drills ourselves.

After that, we sat through a lecture by the Sharks’ staff. They talked about the team, their strategies, and what it’s like to be part of the rugby community. It was really interesting to hear about the behind-the-scenes stuff.

The day ended on a high note with an exciting Sharks game, which was about an hour away from the rugby facility. The atmosphere was incredible—fans were cheering, and the energy was off the charts. The game was intense and really fun to watch. From the beach to learning rugby and experiencing a live game, it was a day filled with awesome memories.

Day 16: Aylee Weiss ’25 (broadcast and digital journalism)

Today was our free day in Sydney so Kate Bradley and I decided we had to catch some waves in one of the best surf cities in the world. We hopped on a ferry and headed to Manly Beach just outside the city of Sydney.

We had a blast catching waves with our surf instructors for about two hours, and we could’ve stayed out there longer. We were having a blast. Later we then headed to Coogee beach to walk around and get some things for us and our families. We wrapped up our day watching the sunset on the beach and then got a quick dinner and headed home to get some sleep.

Day 17: Thomas Wildhack ’26 (sport management)

After an unforgettable two weeks, the final day had arrived. Fortunately, we had had another free morning, which gave some of us the chance to fit in one last adventure, and others to catch up on some much needed sleep.

I had previously found out that not only was June 1st the first day of winter, it was also the first day of whale season. All of the humpback whales would begin a great migration from Antarctica up the coast of Australia in search of warmer waters. I figured that whale watching would be a great way to go out on a big splash. Once we made our way into the ocean, it didn’t take long to find some activity. A few whales were splashing around, and swam over to the boat to show off their skills. I thought the whales would be sacred of the boat, yet I learned many whales are incredibly curious creatures and often approach boats.

We finished off the trip with one final group dinner at the Great Southern Bar. We reflected the on our favorite moments of the trip, and took one final group photo. All of us couldn’t believe how fast these last few weeks went by. We made memories that will last a lifetime, and bonds that will last forever.

Day 18: Robert Yardley ’26 (sport management)

Unfortunately, our time in Australia together has reached its conclusion.

These last few weeks as a group have flown by, and most of us are left feeling that it all ended too soon. However, there is no doubt that the learning experiences we have shared and the memories we have created together will be with us for the rest of our lives. Most of us came to Australia as strangers to each other, but we all left as a family.

Visit the Department of Sport Management to learn more about other experiential learning trips, academic programs, and career opportunities.