Travel Log 4: “Studying Abroad…More Than Just a Walk in the Park” by Nicole Muckenhirn. Gold Coast, Queensland

“You see it long before you get to it-shimmering towers of glass and concrete rising beside the sea and snaking off down the coastline to a distant, hazy vanishing point” (Bryson 197).  This quote from Bill Bryson’s In a Sunburned Country is about Surfers Paradise, only a 15 minute tram ride from me.  What he describes is what I see every time I walk back to the hotel I now call my home.  I live in one of the tallest buildings in Broadbeach and I find myself gazing up at the building whenever I’m on the street.  I can’t help but admire its location and enjoy the luck I have in getting to call it home.

In a Sunburned Country is about three separate trips Bryson took to Australia.  What I enjoyed the most about reading it was that Bryson included historical facts about the locations he visited as well as his personal opinions.  He shared his experiences with the locals and how he felt about each place.  It was interesting to read what he wrote about the place I currently reside in.  “People outside Queensland will tell you that the gold coast is rife with unsavory elements” (Bryson 197).  Bryson thought it was beautiful but very developed, which is true.  In total he spent all of 3 pages on the gold coast, which I’ll admit was slightly disappointing to see how irrelevant he felt it was to his experience as a whole.

Walking around Australia is so similar, yet so different than the states.  Bryson actually refers to the Gold coast as “Australia’s Florida” (Bryson 197).  I spend a lot of time exploring the city around my apartment.  Coming here I was aware that that Australians drove on the left side of the road, but seeing as I wouldn’t be driving I didn’t think it would affect me much.  I was definitely wrong in that it changes the flow of pedestrian traffic too.  I find myself often getting tripped up while walking because here people also pass on the left side.  It’s been engraved in my head for so long to always walk on the right side that I constantly have to remind myself not too.  It also became so important when crossing the street.  We automatically look left and this has caused a lot of my friends to almost walk in front of cars.

One of the big things I heard coming here and that Bryson echoes is that “Australians are always nice” (Bryson 84).  On my walks I found this to be mostly true, but not hugely different from the atmosphere back home.  People would stop to engage in conversation if I made the effort and approached them but otherwise people usually were focused on their own affairs.  There were a few occasions were this “extra niceness” was showcased.  At the bus stop I got into a particularly engaging conversation with a couple who were interested in hearing all about my experiences in Australia so far.


The picture above is a view of the sunrise from the beach near my apartment.  Out of all the walks I’ve taken this was by far my favorite.  The streets were quiet but there were still a handful of other people who had ventured out at 4:30am to admire the sunrise.  Sometimes I think too much and I have a problem shutting everything off and just enjoying my surroundings.  I don’t know if it was the tiredness but I had no problem just forgetting everything else and enjoying the moment.  Simbach writes “Expect the orientation period to reveal only the first steps toward this end” (Simbach).  The sunrise in this picture is like my journey.  I’m no longer in the orientation phase but everything is still so new.  The possibilities for my journey are just starting and they’re already so bright

Bryson, Bill. In a Sunburned Country. New York: Broadway, 2000. Print.

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.


2 thoughts on “Travel Log 4: “Studying Abroad…More Than Just a Walk in the Park” by Nicole Muckenhirn. Gold Coast, Queensland

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post, Nicole! Like you, I too have the problem of sometimes thinking to much and not being able to shut it off. I am glad you found a place or had a moment where you were not thinking and just enjoying the moment. I think it is so important to have those moments, whether you are abroad or not, to help refocus yourself and not stress yourself out by thinking so much. I too found a place in Florence where I completely forget about the world around me and take it all in. This is just one of many ways as to how walks can be teachers. I hope you continue to have walks like these and find more places in your new home just like the beach at sunrise.


  2. Wow Nicole,
    I am so jealous of your view, this is absolutely breathtaking, not to mention how you and Bryson describe the area. what else is there around you? Are you simply near a beach or do you also have a city? is the city the same as in the states? I find that in Galway the entire atmosphere of the city is so different than that of America, they are way more rustic looking and relaxed feeling. I also find it difficult adjusting to the side in which they drive and walk, I noticed that that has been a dead give away to the natives that I am American.

    I hope to hear more of your experiences and I can’t wait to see more of your beautiful beach and city! Have fun

    ` Breanna


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