Getting situated in my apartment, it was such a relief to know how close I was to campus. Standing on my front balcony, I could just make out the tips of my campus’s castle-like buildings off in the distance. As I look up, I notice that there wasn’t a cloud in the sky – the weather was perfect, just like every other day that I have spend in this country. I opened the front door of my apartment, and started to make my way to the university. I didn’t have an agenda; this was my time to soak in my surroundings.
Walking down the street, I can never help but notice how cars move on the opposite side of the street here. The first week I was in Australia, I had several near death experiences due to a lack of understanding to look RIGHT before I cross the street, as opposed to the American left. Now, as an experienced traveler (I use that term loosely) attempting to break free of my communitas and distaste for foreign culture, know to look RIGHT before crossing the street. As I continue my walk, I hear the yelling of the school’s rugby team, as they intensely practice for their next game in a week. I think it is interesting how something that is so deeply rooted in American culture, such as American football, holds no importance in Australia. And moreover, a sport like rugby, is given very little attention in the states. As I walk onto campus, I smell the faint aroma of Asian noodles. Being a huge fan of Asian food, the food services are certainly in my favor, as they cater to the surprisingly large population of Asian students on campus. Walking through the grand courtyard of campus, I notice a light breeze hit my face and the sounds of colorful birds call for each other. Groups of friends were playing a relaxing game of Frisbee, and many students were relaxing on the grass.
As Slimbach states, “Space changes utterly when we experience it on foot. We can stop at a place, focus attention on a particular person or object, wonder, and ask questions to discover clues about something we desire to know or understand”(Slimbach 182). I agree with this claim. While on foot, I am able to spend as much or as little time as I would like taking in particular surroundings. I think one of my largest problems is that I was born into a culture that revolves around being fast-paced. Although this is an efficient way to live, I admit to missing out on the small details that the world has to offer. From my perspective, the Australian culture certainly adopted a very European, relaxed way of living. Coming from the east coast of the states (one of the most time-intense places in the world) to eastern Australia is a huge change of pace for me that I still need time to acclimate to. I think there are many beneficial lessons to be taught while living in a slower-paced community – it’s just a matter of me opening my eyes to see the beauty of this relaxed environment.
The book, “In a Sunburned Country” by Bill Bryson, is a travelogue written by an american who takes three excursions to many of the major cities of Australia. Along the way, he tells a brief history of the cities he visits and goes into detail with the great stories he shares with his new foreign friends. He stresses the importance of making connections with locals, as they could very well be the host to your next stay. Also, he talks about going outside of your comfort zone; in other words, breaking out of a communitas to make the process of being a liminoid as short as possible. The entire book is riddled with humor of predicaments that Bill gets himself into and gives me great insight to another American’s journey down under. This book was refreshing for me to read because I could relate to many of the struggles that Bill went through.
The picture I have chosen is of a road going off into the distance. This symbolizes the distance I have covered since I’ve been here, but more importantly, the distance I have to travel in order to be fully immersed within the Australian culture. There is still so much I need to learn about this amazing country, and I cant wait to take on my future endeavors with an open mind.