I have now been in Australia for twenty-one days. It is unbelievable to me that three weeks has already passed by. I feel like I have known my new friends here for a lifetime. I think that the unique position that we are put in, being half way across the world, forces us to become extremely close, extremely fast. I have found my family here, which has made my transition that much easier. As old struggles become the new normal, I begin to face new challenges as the days go on. On location 3495 of Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning, Slimbach states, “A Third threshold to pass during our orientation period concerns time or, more specifically, time management.” This has become my biggest struggle. I am currently only taking three classes at Bond University. I only have to be on campus on Mondays and Tuesdays. This leaves me with five whole days a week to do as I please. This sounds appealing until you do not know what to do. Being in this foreign country, there is obviously always something to do. This amount of endless possibilities is almost overwhelming. As I have stated in my previous blog, my goal for this semester is to be able to do things on my own.
I took this new found free time to go on a walk as directed by Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. I live in a small city right by the beach. The contrast between beach and city amazes me every single day. I love how I can walk between high-rise buildings and then end up on the beach. On my walk through the streets, I stopped to get coffee at a local coffee shop. In Australia, you do not have to tip your waiters/waitresses. This seems as if it would be wonderful but what you do not realize is how it affects your dining experience. In America, waiters and waitresses are working for tips. They are always at your side and are ready to hand you that check the second your fork hits your plate. In Australia, the wait staff is more laid back because they get a salary, regardless of how their performance is that day. This results in a constant battle of trying to get the check, something that is almost unheard of in America (or at least in New York). If you do not ask the waiter/waitress for a check, you may be sitting there for a half and hour waiting. To Americans, this seems crazy. We are always in a rush. We go out to eat just to eat and leave. In Australia, people will go out to eat for hours. They are not concerned with what is going to happen next. They live in the moment. I have learn to love the laid back culture that is Australian culture. I already see a difference in myself. I am becoming less of a New Yorker who always has to be somewhere. Instead, I am becoming an Australian who enjoys the process of getting to where they need to go. I take longer routes and walk slower. I sit and enjoy what I am actually doing. These past three weeks have already changed me. I am looking forward for more changes to come.
In A Sunburned Country was interesting to me. The first sentence of Chapter 1, on location 51, Bill Bryson says, “Flying into Australia, I realized with a sigh that I had forgotten again who their prime minister is”. This was how I felt coming into Australia, almost blindsided in a way. Australia, to most people, is a beautiful country but that’s the extent of their knowledge. If you ask someone who was Australia’s prime minister, they would most likely not know the answer. If I am being completely honest, I have been here three weeks and I still do not know the answer. By location 4893 of the book, the author describes the mistreatment of the Aborigines. He goes into depth about their struggles and he seems to have true empathy for them. This change throughout the book stood out to me. I believe the more time you spend in a country, the more of a connection you feel towards that country. As he was coming to Australia, he was still not completely separated from his home, which did not allow him to completely immerse himself into the culture. But as his travels went increased, so did his appreciation for Australia.
I chose the picture below to represent my walk because I think it perfectly shows the two different landscapes that makes up where I am living. It is one of the many things I love about where I am studying abroad. I am fortunate enough to have the city life but also have the amazing nature that is waiting right outside the concrete side walks. I took this picture recently and it has become my favorite picture from this trip. It reminds me every day, just how blessed I am to be here.