Archive for the ‘Sarah in Australia’ Category

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Sarah: Things I’ve Observed About Australia

August 10, 2009

-It’s strange to get used to people driving on the left side of the road, but even harder to get used to walking on the left side of a sidewalk. I’ve pissed off more than a few Aussies by passing them on the right. Oops!

-Books cost a fortune here. Like Twilight, which is $5.99 in the U.S., is 25 bucks here! All their novels are in the 20s, even the cheap paperback ones. And it takes three weeks for Amazon to deliver to Australia.

-There are more foreigners in Cairns than Australians. I have neighbors here from Norway, Germany, and the Netherlands but I haven’t hung out yet with any Aussies.

-Malls are bizarre. They look just like our malls, only the stores are completely different, which creates a very eerie feeling walking through the shopping center.

-NBC, CBS, and ABC’s websites don’t work in Australia. How am I supposed to watch my shows? My TV doesn’t turn on!

-There is an entire freezer aisle in the grocery store for frozen meat for your dog. They pamper their dogs with freshly cooked beef chunks. Crazy!

-Seafood costs even more here than it does in Minnesota. Even though we’re by the ocean. Prawns are like 25 dollars a bag.

-They call ketchup “tomato sauce” and you sometimes have to pay for it in restaurants. We’re going to start bringing our own bottle along.

-The buses, as I’ve said before, are a nightmare. It takes hours to get anywhere. We’re trying to convince our roommate Alex to buy a cheap car since he’ll be here all year. That would make life sooo much better.

-The campus bookstore doesn’t sell used textbooks.

-They don’t have pennies in Australia. They round all their prices to the nearest 5 cents. Also, taxes are included in all prices and there is no tipping. Anywhere! That’s amazing. It’s hard to get used to looking at menu prices at restaurants and not adding another 7 bucks to the price. Here, what you see is what you pay.

-“Aussie” is pronounced Ozzie.

-So far, I’ve found that they don’t really like Obama.

-They enjoy indulging in American cliches about Australians. Ask any of them to say something Australian and they’ll say “Crikey!” or “G’day” as if that’s how they really talk.

This place is like a parallel universe. Everything is the same but different at the same time. They look like us, but maybe a little better-looking. They talk like us, only they sound cooler. The weather is nicer and the scenery is way more beautiful, but it doesn’t look that different from Florida, if Florida had mountains. It’s like taking our culture in the U.S. and tweaking it just enough that you know you’re somewhere else.

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Sarah: Another New Home

August 10, 2009

Every night here, I fall into bed more tired than I’ve ever been in my life. Usually that’s the bus system’s fault. Last night, we got to the downtown Cairns bus stop before 10, and we waited until about 11 for that bus to come. The buses are on average 40 minutes late. Then when I get on the buses, I have to find somewhere to nap uncomfortably, since I unfailingly get extreme motion-sickness. The bus drivers fly around the roundabouts in the craziest and fastest way they can.

I moved into my new apartment a few days ago. It looks like a beach condo! I really like my roommates; I was super relieved that I was put with them, since there were a few girls that would have been hard to live with. Miraculously, they were all put in an apartment together and I got put with two girls who are very like me and one boy who’s quiet but pretty cool. The girls like to talk about books and stuff, so we’ve all bonded quickly. Any girl who has read the Twilight series multiple times is going to get along with me easily.

It’s shocking how much stuff I have to buy still. I feel like a spending machine, but I really can’t survive here without buying a bike, the How I Met Your Mother DVD set (which I found for super cheap!), and some cool souvenir stuff. I can’t wait to own a didgeridoo and a boomerang!

One last thing: the beach is just down the road and it’s beautiful! It’s so nice to be able to walk down there for an hour at the beach. We don’t have to have beach days, we can just go for a little bit. Ah, it’s wonderful.

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Sarah: My Life in Oz So Far

August 10, 2009

DSCN3004.JPGWhoa, where to begin! I promise this will be the only long post of the semester! I’ve done so much in the last few days, it’s hard to even wrap my head around it. It took a day and a half to get here, but it went by freakishly fast. The 15-hour flight to Sydney was overnight, so it felt like one long night that I dozed in and out of. Of course I got put in the ONE seat on the plane with a broken entertainment system. It was really unfortunate, but now I think of it as a positive thing: at least I got my bad travel luck out of the way already! Maybe I’ll be saved from more disasters because of those boring 15 hours.

When I got to Sydney, instead of lounging around a beautiful city for a few hours, I was ushered through endless “queues” of customs, baggage, ticketing, security, etc. It took 2 and a half hours of standing in line with millions of Asians who didn’t speak English before I got to my gate to catch my flight to Cairns. That flight was pretty fun, since I was with other study abroad kids. They made fun of my Minnesoooohhhh-ta accent the whole way.

I arrived in Cairns to find it completely different than I’d imagined. For one, it’s very mountainous. Think Lost. That’s what it looks like, only the mountains ring the city on three sides with the ocean on the other side. Cairns is a total tourist town. It’s all trashy motels with a very cheap tropical architecture (a.k.a. where I’m staying right now). Palm trees are thick here, and the weather is perfection. I mean, it’s the kind of weather you don’t notice at all because it is absolutely flawless. I can see myself getting exhausted by the endless beautiful days. The esplanade, or beach-side street, looks very different from the rest of the town. Think Miami Beach. It’s gorgeous and bustling and full of boutiques and restaurants. I can’t wait to spend my weekend evenings walking the esplanades.

The Program Introduction has been a whirlwind three days that I found out is costing me $600! But wow, it has been amazing. We snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef yesterday. It was a day-long trip on a big diving boat. It took over 2 hours to get to the reef, then we snorkeled for an hour (lots of people went scuba diving, but not me), ate a huge lunch, then moved to a beach where we snorkeled more. It was a pretty amazing experience. The colors of the reef are so not as bright as Pixar led me to believe, but the reef is just as intricate as in Finding Nemo. There are giant clams that look like they could swallow you whole, huge schools of fish to swim through, and big colorful tropical fish. You could snorkel there all day and never get bored. I hear it’s much, much better than any of the snorkeling people have done in other places, so I guess I’ve done the best and never need to snorkel anywhere else! Read the rest of this entry ?

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