Australia 2: Acclimation

Recap: I’m studying abroad in Australia this semester and chronicling my experience through HerCampus. If you’re just now joining, you can find my previous articles here and here. And I decided that way too much is happening between my HerCampus articles, so I’ve set up an email chain. If you’d like to be included, email [email protected]. Cheers!

To say I’ve had some adventures in these last three weeks would be an understatement. I’ve done just about everything I said I’d never do, including surfing. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m absolutely terrified of the ocean and practically all of its inhabitants. Luckily for me, my study abroad group had a surfing excursion planned for our introductory program. I was going back and forth, ready to pull the “I Have a Stress Fracture” card, but eventually decided you only live once. And if I was only going to live 20.92 years before being eaten by a shark, then that’s what was going to happen. We practiced for about thirty minutes before the true test came: getting in the water. A happy surprise is in store though. We only went in up to our waists. I figured if a shark was going to eat me at this depth, it would have to be pretty small, so it couldn’t possibly do as much damage, right? Well, it turns out there were no sharks in the water, only a couple of jellyfish (still panicked), and I’d say that if I wasn’t terrified of the ocean, I’d missed my calling as a surfer. So I lived to see another day (and hopefully my 21st birthday).

We eventually made it to my uni, La Trobe, and it took me all of thirty minutes to completely unpack. That’s the life you live when you can only bring 80 pounds of luggage. I won’t bore you with every detail of my orientation week. Basically, I attended multiple informational sessions that ended with, “...or we will report you to immigration.” Very fun. The good stuff is in the city. Probably my favorite experience so far has been the one that centered around food. Lots and lots of food. Queen Victoria Market is famous for its massive farmer’s market by day and even more massive, all food-encompassing, delicious market by (Wednesday) night. I’m not kidding when I tell you that there were tents the size of warehouses storing booth after booth of every kind of food you could imagine. Now, I’m a food fanatic, but I’m also outrageously indecisive. So this was both a dream and a nightmare for me. Eventually, I landed on some Jamaican jerk chicken and a dessert that I could only describe as groundbreaking: mini pancakes filled with Nutella and Oreo, encompassing a scoop of ice cream, covered in chocolate sauce and sprinkles. This will be my Wednesday night religion.

Can I just say that I love my campus? And maybe all of Australia? This is a daily experience for me, only a five minute walk from my dorm. There are literal Rainbow Parakeets flying around the trees. I couldn’t figure out what was making this strange sound, so I look up, and it’s a fruit bat. Naturally. I was just trying to get to class, and was confronted by security saying I needed to find a different route because the bridge currently had a snake crossing. Maybe I won’t live to see my 21st birthday.

At the end of the day, I have to remind myself that I did in fact come here to take classes. The structure is so different from anything I’ve ever known. Going from class sizes of 20 at DePauw to classes of 150 here was a little tough. Thankfully, those are just the lectures. Each class then has smaller “tutorials” and labs where you reinforce concepts from lectures. So the majority of what you learn, you’re almost teaching yourself. It frees up a lot of time though, which I’m thankful for because that means more Wednesdays in pancake heaven.

Then there’s a couple of things like Bed, Bath, and Table that I think are only amusing to me. I must’ve looked like a straight up fool stopping in the middle of the road to take a quick picture of a commonplace Australian store. Also, Target here is deemed “Fake Target,” because it is not actually the same Target brand as the United States. It’s stolen Target. And, of all places, Kmart is the place to be. It’s open even later than Macca’s (McDonalds).  In some places, it’s even open 24 hours. What a world.

I’ll let you know if I ever make it to my 21st birthday; I need to survive three more weeks! Until then, enjoy your winter in the Northern Hemisphere. I’ll be sweating buckets and living with a perpetual sunburn. Cheers!