(adjusting to Australia)
Before I left for Australia I purchased a brand new pair of sandals. Note: sandals are often referred to as “thongs” here, so that can provide many awkward moments. When I first arrived in Australia, my sandals were harsh, rigid, and uncomfortable. I felt out of place, and my comfort zone had been smashed. The straps of the sandals dug in to my feet, mocking me. “Go back home,” the sandals would sneer. “Where are your precious socks and sneakers you’re so used to?” Quiet sandals, I will adjust.
My spirits were nearly broken after the first few days. Still, I knew I had to press on. As the days and weeks passed, my sandals started to become worn in. It takes time to break in a new pair of sandals. It takes time adjust to a new place. I have been here for over a month and now there is a definite footprint in the sole. I am more confident and at ease, sometimes even brash. I can jaywalk without the overwhelming fear of being struck by a car going some absurd direction. I talk using the metric system. “It’s 100 meters that way. Pick up that five kilogram chair. Those M&Ms have far too many kilojoules for my diet.” I even claim to understand the intricate game of cricket.
Alas, there are still a few aspects of Australia that I may never understand.
Saying “Yes” To Everything
While going against everything I have learned in D.A.R.E., all those associated with studying abroad will tell you to always say “yes.” This is, apparently, the best way to truly experience a culture. At first I was a skeptic. I was stubborn and convinced I could do it all myself. It did not take long to see I was missing out. I bought a ticket on the “yes” plane, hopped aboard, and never looked back. Do you want to go to the mall? Yes. Do you want to go on a mystery bus tour? Yes. Do you want to go on a spear fishing journey? YES!
When one goes to college, one begins to build a relationship with that college’s website. It can take years for one to fully understand how to operate the various uses of the college’s website i.e., email, blackboard, signing up for classes, and so on. I believe college is meant to be four years long for the sole reason of grasping the magnitude of a school’s complicated web system. And when one goes to study abroad, one is supposed to learn an entirely new system in a matter of weeks. This becomes a giant headache. I have tried, unsuccessfully, to hunt down the top IT people so I can access my email. Now I must come to grips with the fact that it is simply impossible to learn a new school’s website in one semester.
The 5th Year
In the states, the 5th year is commonplace. In fact, I’ve been told graduating in six years is the new four. Not here. The university system is based on graduating in three years. Needless to say, when I explain how I am not going to be a doctor, yet still in my 5th year, some look befuddled. Australians please watch Van Wilder.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of Australia is their Internet restrictions. As a Communications major, it is my job to engulf as much digital media as humanly possible. This means spending hours upon hours on sites like Hulu and Youtube. Here, a site like Youtube comes at a premium. Even on campus Internet is pay as you go. I suppose this could be a good thing. Maybe I will finally kick my Internet addiction. Maybe I will use my time in the library to actually study and not watch monkeys teasing tigers. Ehh maybe some habits are too hard to kick.