It had been two months since I was in classroom last when I started my first day of school at AUS. I have already met a few differences from the system that my home university employs and the “American” system that AUS has in place. Here is a short list of what are the differences; Read More »
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“When faced with a challenge, look for a way, not a way out.” – David Weatherford ~ Every day abroad has its challenges
Last Saturday, we went on a trip to Green Island as a part of our orientation at JCU. The trip started out with a little over an hour boat ride to the island. The ride was BRUTAL even though it was a pretty large boat. But the island was awesome! The high amounts of tourism were a bit of a negative for me, because I am really not into doing things that are “too touristy” per say and swamped with tons and tons of people taking pictures every second on end. Then again, I say this, and just my luck I went to take a picture of the ocean and dropped my camera into a puddle. That being said, the LCD screen is shot. However, it still takes pictures. So here’s to being surprised every time I upload my photos haha. Despite that minor mishap, I got to go on a glass bottom boat tour, snorkel in parts of the Great Barrier Reef and see awesome neon fish, and simply explore the island and that was incredibly enjoyable. So, overall, it was a worthwhile trip and the colors of the ocean were stunning.
Last Sunday we visited the Cairns Farmers’ Market. It was fabulous! So many stands with various fruits, vegetables, baked goods- basically anything and everything you could want or think of. My favorite purchase- HUMMUS. Best hummus I have ever had! It was delicious! The guy who ran the stand even gave a few of my friends and I a free container and free bread (haha sometimes just mentioning you’re a college student has its benefits). The Monday after, a few of my friends and I decided to go on a jungle hike in Smithfield Conservation Park. The hike wasn’t too challenging (except for the first initial incline up). We were immerged in the jungle for a little over two hours. We saw a few birds, ancient looking trees, and cool Tarzan like vines. I’ve never had the opportunity to hike through this type of biota before, so it was really awesome to follow the footpaths through the palms and massive ferns.
And then it hit- BAM! Class time. Tuesday I had my first class: Ecology and Australian Indigenous Cultures, and then Wednesday I had Human Rights and Social Issues, Cultural Anthropology and Biodiversity of Tropical Australia. And the first week is never that bad. I got my syllabuses and a few assignments.Through the rest of the week, we made a few trips to the beach (one of those trips we met a dog that was exactly like Air Bud and played soccer with us haha), the city of Cairns, the night markets, and Smithfield Mall. We even had a bus ride home from Cairns where the bus window caved in (apparently kids like to throw rocks at buses here), and we had to wait for a connecting bus. But hey, the more you get out, the more random stuff you see haha.
On Friday we visited Palm Cove Beach. Absolutely stunning. The beach has virtually no waves. The water is a surreal blend of teal and turquoise colored waters, with palm trees lining the beach and two private island lingering on the horizon. The beach is very popular, and it reminds of beaches at home because the general area is filled with resorts and unique restaurants and eclectic shops.
And then it was Saturday, when we decided to hike Mount Whitfield. The hike was a little over two hours in length (the estimated time on the signs was five hours). All I can say is STEPS. Everywhere. Up the mountain. Never ending. To say the least, going uphill was a challenge. But the view was completely worth it. The airport and highways looked so cool below us. Plus, you could see the ocean from the height we were at as well. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Challenge is great. Plus there were bush turkeys…..EVERYWHERE.
And Sunday, it all caught up to me. I was completely exhausted. A day of rest is never a bad thing. And then the next week was filled with more beach days, class, biking, and studying. Highlights included a Domino’s pizza dinner (I caved, we caved- it was grand), going to Gilligan’s in the city of Cairns for the first time, volunteering at YAPS (a local no kill animal shelter) and playing with puppies all morning, and seeing the beach at night. Each day is jam-packed. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve almost been here a month and the time has truly flown by. But it really has been the time of my life and I know I am never going to get this time back. Therefore, I am living up every single second of it.
And yes, there still are the everyday struggles:
1) Sun Bus has no reliable timing chart. And some days they just all decide to be out of service or something. The forty minute ride to Cairns can get strenuous. Public transportation is a joy haha.
2) I must have a REALLY strong American accent. Sometimes people from around here can’t understand me. At all. And honestly sometimes I can’t understand them. But I’m working on it haha. Maybe I’ll even pick up a slight Australian accent.
3) Sometimes you just miss things from home. Even little things. I miss Goldfish of all things. And most of all the people. For me, it’s never the location that matters. It’s the people- they’re the ones that help me feel familiarized and at home.
And the best parts yet:
1) My friends here are awesome and we have made so many memories together here already. It’s cool how you can bring people together from all over the world and they all connect in a sense. I almost feel like I’m starting freshmen year of college again.
2) Each day is an adventure. And every day it kind of hits me and I realize, oh wow- I’m actually living in Australia. This is pretty awesome.
3) I’m challenging myself. Academically, socially, physically- you name it. The classes are different and the material is like nothing I have ever dealt with/ seen before (all brand new knowledge). I am meeting all new people and also people that are from a different culture then I am (and, ye,s they have many different words that I have to get use to. Like they call flip-flops “thongs” here haha). And I have to bike and walk to get everywhere in addition to working out.
In the end, the challenges are great. Because, once I accomplish them, it’s a reward all its own. The challenges here are unique because a lot of them I can’t avoid. I have to face them head on or they won’t get done. Like if I want to go to the beach. Biking it. I don’t want to pay the bus fare all the time. So, anymore for me, it is truly a thought process of “how do I make this work?” versus a “how can I avoid this completely and take the easy way out?” All positive things and all influencing me each and every day while I’m here. I’m quickly understanding why people say that studying abroad makes you grow up and change- it’s all beneficial in the long run and makes you a stronger person overall.
So, to all the challenges to come…. bring it on! haha
I’ve tried to remember as many of the little differences as I can between English and American culture. Here are the main one’s I’ve noticed so far:
American vs. British
Trunk (car) vs. Boot
Elevator vs. Lift
Biscuits vs. Cookies
Cell Phone vs. Telly
Mail vs. Post
Call (a person on the phone) vs. Ring
French Fries vs. Chips
Chips vs. Crisps
“Have a good day!” vs. “Cheers!” or “Cheerio!”
Friend vs. Mate (apparently not just an Australian thing :0)
To Rent (apartment vs. To Let
Grilled Cheese vs. Cheese Toastie
Line vs. Queue
I’ll add others as I think of them. But overall, adjusting to English culture hasn’t been that difficult. Sometimes I forget I’m the foreigner and find it funny when they can’t understand my accent. It takes me a minute for my brain to digest the fact that I’m the one with the accent…not them.
As far as accents go, I can distinguish where people are from, for the most part. People from southern England, especially London, have a more westernized accent that is really easy to understand. The others British people often call them “posh.” Those from northern England can be harder to understand, especially when they are speaking quickly or in a big group. People from Wales and Scotland have distinct accents too…but I think the easiest ones to pick out are the Irish. Their accent, in my opinion, is by far the best! I haven’t purposely tried to pick up on an accent yet, mostly for the fear of failing horribly! :0) But I do notice every now and then a word slips out that has a British sound to it. Secretly, I would love to come home with a full-blown British accent, but I want that to happen naturally. We shall see!
Even though we speak the same language, are born from shared heritage, and from looks appear the same…England has so many things unique to itself.
Like milkmen. I thought they no longer existed. With the rapid growth of supermarkets and decline of hometown grocery stores, I am pretty sure the profession has completely phased out in the US. Not so in England. When I think about getting milk delivered, I imagine glass bottles, wire baskets, and empty ones waiting outside for replacement. To my surprise, that’s exactly the same image as what happens today. Ok, I can’t say for sure what the milkman looks like, but the whole idea is quaint and lovely!
Another thing I didn’t expect was for England to live up to all it’s stereotypes. Yes, people often describe England as rainy and a land overflowing with tea. But I’ve heard many descriptions of the US (cowboys…lazy…rough public schools) that aren’t true. Yet England is living up to it’s name. It rains almost every day. Although when I say rain, I mean more of a constant hard mist. It hasn’t rained once like I’m used to…downpours of soaking drops…but almost everyday the overcast sky lets down some precipitation. As for tea, they literally drink it all the time. And almost everyone seems to enjoy it, with the occasional exception. I absolutely love it, as long as they give some allowance for cream and sugar. The usual saying when you first enter a home or place of conversation is “Would you like a cup of tea?” This is usually followed by an offer of “biscuits” or cookies as we call them in the states. Kitchens come standard with a kettle so that warm water is only a few seconds away.
The last thing I’ve noticed is the difference in use of words. There aren’t many words here that I’ve never heard before, outside of some foods that are new to me. But they often call things differently. Flat instead of apartment. Biscuits never go with gravy. Chips instead of fries…and they eat those with everything. The car has a bonnet and boot, instead of a hood and trunk. Cheers and cheerio are normal salutations. Charity shops instead of thrift stores. And many others that I can think of at the present.
All in all…I’m loving life here in England. I’m sure it’s bound to just get better.