Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Koalas and Kangaroos with a side of Rugby

I had an exciting weekend, as you can probably guess from the title. On Saturday we took a trip to The Australia Zoo. As previously mentioned, this is the zoo that Steve Irwin, a.k.a. the Crocodile Hunter, worked. There were pictures of him everywhere and a statue out front, not to mention the road is called Steve Irwin Way! The people here really embraced him as an Australian icon. The zoo was about an hour bus ride away. Although the rain put a bit of a damper on our day, we still had a blast. We saw crocodiles, dingoes, wombats, koalas, wallabies, elephants, tigers, lots of kangaroos, and many more. My favorite part was getting to play with the kangaroos. There was just a huge field with trees and park benches where the kangaroos lived. We got to walk around and feed them and pet them and basically just hang out with them. I also got to feed an elephant. There was just a constant line of people circulating in front of the elephant and grabbing a piece of fruit and holding it out for him to grab with his trunk. It was a fun experience.

On Sunday I attended my first rugby game. Our team, the Queensland Reds, took on the Western Force. We ended up winning 50-10, Go Reds! We went with a big group of American students, which was interesting considering none of us understood rugby very well. We just cheered when everyone else did and had fun.

Other than that, classes are going well, the weather is improving (it was raining A LOT), and I am getting excited for Easter break when I get to go sky diving and bungee jumping. I also just found out that my mom and sister are probably going to visit me at the end of my time in Australia! I’m really excited to show them around this side of the world. Check out the pictures from the zoo and rugby match.

Right at the Entrance

Feeding the Elephant

Hanging out with Kangaroos

My roommate and I at the game

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

All Settled In

It is surprising how long it takes to settle in to a new home, at least for me. I was sick last week, my computer screen isn’t working, tuition is due soon, and I was missing home very badly. Thankfully I am feeling better, my computer screen is getting fixed tomorrow, I have my finances organized, and this place is feeling more like home every day. I’m hoping and praying that the most stressful part of my journey is over.

I finished my first week of class and have officially been living in Australia for over two weeks now. My classes seem significantly easier than the classes at Madison. This semester promises to be a breeze. Our apartment is slowly becoming more decorated as we get posters, souvenirs, or whatever we can find on the side of the street. (seriously, we found a cool painting in the garbage!) I have been walking everywhere around town instead of taking the bus. It is about $1.15 per bus ride, even if you’re riding less than a mile. That would add up if I take the bus every day to and from campus, so I’m working on my ‘power walking’ to get to class on time.

There are so many things to do and places to see here, we are constantly trying to find a weekend to do something. This weekend we are going to the Australia Zoo, the zoo that Steve Irwin used to work at. It’s supposed to be unbelievable and I’ll finally get to hold a Koala! I made my plans for Easter break. A few guys and I are going up to the city of Cairns, the main city by the Great Barrier Reef. We have 7 days there, and we are planning on snorkeling on the reef, white water rafting, bungee jumping, and sky diving! I’ve always wanted to sky dive, and now seems like the perfect time. The weekend after that we are going to Byron Bay with the beach volleyball club. Apparently Byron Bay is a great city along the coast south of Brisbane. Later in the semester we will hopefully plan a weekend trip to Sydney and another weekend to take some surfing lessons! I can’t wait.Last Saturday was International Student Day downtown. We all went and got tons of free stuff and got to see some Australian animals. I got to hold a wombat! See pictures below.

That’s all for now, I’ll update in a week or two.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Interesting Australian Differences

I have been in Australia for almost two weeks now. It seems like I've been here forever! I've learned so much already and am constantly finding out something new and interesting about Australian culture. I've been keeping track of all the differences I find. Some are simply a different word or phrase and some are a completely different lifestyle. Here is my list of Australian oddities and interesting differences.

- I do not go to 'College', I go to 'Uni' (short for 'University')

- "How are you going?"/"How'd ya go?" is the same as "How are you doing?"/"How'd ya do?"

- Internet is payed by usage, not by month. When we run out, we have to buy more.

- Eggs are not kept refrigerated, they are just kept down the normal isles at the grocery store.

- Phone numbers are really weird! The area codes are 4 digits, and the number is 6 digits, instead of 3 and 7 in the US. But, unlike in the US where numbers are represented in the 123-4567 form, numbers here can be represented any way you want. Ex: 123456, 12-3456, 12-34-56, 123-456.

- Distances are obviously measured in meters instead of feet or yards. It just takes me a second to think "How far is 50 meters down the road?" when I get directions from someone.

- Students have to pay each time they go to the rec center. You would think we could work out for free if we pay $9000 of tuition!

- There seems to be a stereotype that Americans are stupid. Thanks a lot MTV.

- Speaking of MTV, the cashier at the grocery store told me I "sound like MTV"... thanks?

- I never realized how Americanized the world was! The exact same music is played here. All hip hop/pop/rock music that is popular by US bands and artists is played everywhere here.

- Relating to that, there are Australian versions of lots of American shows. Example: Biggest Loser Australia, So you think you can dance, Australia?

- There are no hot dog buns here. They just use pieces of bread. I actually had someone ask me, "So do you really have special bread for your hot dogs?"

- Cars drive on the left side of the road, which makes scary to cross roads because you need to take a second to think, "Ok now which way will the car come from?" People also walk on the left side down hallways and sidewalks.

- The Australian money is different. First of all there are no pennies. Prices are still listed as $2.99, but you are just charged $3.00. The coins are 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, 1 dollar, and 2 dollars. The cash is $5, $10, $20, $50, $100. Which means anything less than $5 is in coins. I hate carrying change around! Last but certainly not least, the cash is un-rippable! I tried to tear a 50 dollar bill... impossible. Their money is made with some sort of plastic that makes it basically waterproof and tear-proof.

- French fries are called "chips"

- Rent is payed by the week

- Subway advertises their $7 footlongs

- Guys wear short shorts

- No sales tax

That is all I have right now. I'll post more if I come up with another list.