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Happy medium

Busy, busy, busy and happy. My time in Australia has been slipping through my fingers, my days passing by in the most unreal pace. On the other hand, my fleeting time can be described as one of great wonder and joy. At this point, I am very settled in my surroundings and in my university courses. Although I have been hit with some pangs of homesickness, I have made some of the most amazing friends that have been a great emotional support system for me. I am going to narrate the past couple of weeks’ events.

No longer am I completely confused in my surroundings. I described in my first blogs how frustrating it was for me to get oriented with such a simple task as locating the building where my class was (I have no sense of spatial direction). Now I’m at this point where I know where important basic things are for me like bus routes, supermarkets and buildings for class yet, I still maintain a level of excitement in exploring new cool places. My courses have been finalized and I have already turned in a few assignments that haven’t been too difficult yet. My courses are as following: Anthropology of Aboriginal Australia, Aboriginal Women, Australian Art and Archaeology of Pacific Islands. Some of the things I have learned has completely opened my mind in evaluating perspectives I have never considered before; however, I will save that for my next blog.

I feel I have jumped the hurdle of culture shock. One month settled in Australia so far and I have not felt unease at any point. Australian cities parallel those of American cities in many ways, although there are some cultural differences significant enough where one would feel as being away from the States. Yet, I have felt some pang of homesickness. I miss my family and some of my very closest friends, and I will not deny the fact that I cannot wait until I see them again. However, I have become very close to a few local Aussies of mutual religious faith and they have been some of the most wonderful, hospitable and warm people I have ever met. Lately my schedules consist of: attending class; periodically going to work (I am a casual worker at Origin Kebab at the University of Queensland food court); weekend escapades and going over to my closest Aussie friend, Mikala, for dinner at her house almost every night. Thanks to Mikala, I have learned many necessary life skills that make me human such as cooking food! I feel she is the sister I never had and I feel very grateful to have her in my life.

Last night, I was over at Mikala’s house (as usual) and we organized a “Spanish Night.” Having grown up in a predominantly Cuban community near Miami, I have been used to hearing Spanish spoken everywhere. When I moved to Rhode Island to attend university, I did not hear Spanish spoken with the prevalence it was spoken in South Florida but there is a pretty large Hispanic population. However, here in Brisbane, hearing Spanish is a complete rarity. This was a fact that I informed my friend about, so on our “Spanish Night,” she organized some friends to come over for dinner at her place that were of Spanish descent. One of the friends was from El Salvador and it seemed really strange to me to meet anyone of Spanish descent here in Australia. In my mind, it’s almost an anachronism (yet, look at eccentric me). Having this Spanish friend over allowed me to have a very tiny taste of home in just hearing the Spanish language spoken.

Last weekend, friends went together to Montville – a very mountainous, scenic area up the Sunshine Coast from Brisbane. It was absolutely stunning to see wild turkeys roaming about and horses galloping downhill in this majestic beauty. The weather was gorgeous, sunny and breezy. My friends and I had some Chai lattes in a cute little café (I have been disappointed with coffee over here a little bit, but these lattes have been amazing). Our disappointment for the day was to see that the Montville winery had harvested its grapes, leaving us viewers with naked, shameless vines. Aside from that subtle annoyance, we had a lovely day.

Earlier during the week, Ekka day was being celebrated. I honestly do not know what the holiday is about and neither could my Aussie friends explain it to me very clearly. Ekka day which was on Wednesday, August 14th this year gave us students a free day from school. The actual Ekka day event involves horse racing and a showcase of livestock. However, I cannot really tell you more about the holiday itself because I was away from Brisbane for the day. My friends and I drove up the Gold Coast to see the Surfer’s Paradise in the very in vain and futile attempts to tan (it was frigid that day). A lot of the architecture of buildings in Surfer’s Paradise reminded me of Malibu (if the reader remembers, I toured L.A. the weekend prior to flying to Australia). The ambiance, however, resembled Miami in different ways. Ultimately, I was not too fond of Surfer’s Paradise but at least I felt very happy I got to see it at some point in my stay here.

Other than these major little day trips, I have been pursuing different activities and exploring. Sometimes when I go over to Mikala’s house, we work on some craft project (she knits, I scrapbook about my travels), drink some tea and watch cute little Jane Austen movies. If it’s not hanging out with friends, I have been trying out different foods (much to my disgrace, I have gained six pounds or as Aussies would say, about three kilos). As far as restaurants, I have been to Ahmet’s, a Turkish food restaurant. I do not remember what I had, but the rich herbs and spices have been some of the most delicious I have ever tried. I have eaten at the fast food chain, “Hungry Jack’s,” which would be the American equivalent of Burger King. Surprisingly I have enjoyed Hungry Jack’s more than I have enjoyed Burger King in the states. Reader, my greatest pitfall has been falling slave to the evil, yet sweet, grasps of Cadbury Chocolate’ Marvelous Creations. It has been the most amazing chocolate I have ever had. Mikala, who has backpacked through Europe and has had Cadbury Chocolate in London states it does not compare to Australia’s Cadbury Chocolate. Whether there is bias there or not, I cannot ascertain but I concur with her statements (for now).

Well readers, I will conclude for now my adventures. Hopefully I will continue to keep having the nice experiences I have been having. So far I have not felt out of place at any point. I have fallen in love with Australia. As I mentioned in my first blog, there is no such thing as a utopia and I am certain that there will be facets of Australia that might irk me possibly in the future. However, at least in the present moment, my personality has meshed well with those of Australians. Until next blog!

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One Response to “Happy medium”

  1. Michelle Says:

    Odalmy, the very recognition that your culture shock stage wasn’t too bad tell me that you are already so nimble at navigating cultures! I mean…. Cuban Miami to Rhode Island? First gen college student to Brown? You were totally ready for Australia. And I’m glad to hear you’re making close connections with locals there– sounds like you will have yet another “home.” Can’t wait to read more about your adventures and reflections!

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