Up to Speed...

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Okay, so I'm well behind the curve on this thing, so I'll try to recall everything as best I can for ya'll. I landed in Cairns, Australia after a series of flights and a ridiculous amount of hours logged in the sky. It was a hot, humid, sexy sunny day in the rainforest, a solid 34 degrees (in fahrenheit that's about 93). I am part of a program called Australearn, or after their official name change, GlobalLinks Learning Abroad, so I am among a group of about fifty Americans all heading to the University of Newcastle. From Cairns airport we hopped a bus to Gilligan's Backpacker's Resort, which is a pretty dope hostel in the city which has two full bars, a large dance/clubbing area, along with a deck and pool area. The next six days would constitute what is referred to as the "Bridging Cultures Program." We attended various orientation sessions where we learned about the Aussie lifestyle, culture, customs, and things like transportation and cell phones. We had almost all of our meals covered during this period, and I ate some daaaaaank food! The food is pretty similar, they eat the same foods, but in different fashions. For instance, baked beans are a staple breakfast food. Fries are chips, and are often consumed with a mixture of sour cream and sweet chili sauce as a dip rather than ketchup, which they call tomato sauce. Salad is pretty odd, the collection of greens is pretty different. Barely any lettuce if at all, and a lot of stringy shoot type things and a lot of things that look and taste a lot like thistles. Oh, and no dressing.
As far as language, they speak a confusing form of english. They like to shorten everything and throw a "ys" or "ies" on everything. Sunglasses are sunnies, flip flops are foamies, and the like. They say "heaps" a lot. Like for everything. Where I would say "hella", they say heaps. But way more. Heaps of this, heaps of that--when I was heaps little, heaps ago...heaps and heaps. You'll hear words like "bloke" and "wanker" and "pokies" (slot machines). There's a lot to it, kind of a lot to try and put into this blog, but I'll try to throw some in every time. Other cultural differences... they drive on the left side of the road here of course, and everything is pretty damn expensive when compared to back home. But minimum wage for someone my age here would be about $18, so they don't really complain. The most ridiculous adjustment is the price of alcohol. A 700mL bottle of rum or whiskey runs about $45 (keep in mind the Australian dollar and US dollar are virtually the same) whereas back home...I shouldn't have to tell you. So everyone here drinks goon (boxed wine), because it's all they can afford if you have a healthy drinking habit ;) Australia is in the midst of a mining boom right now, which means their economy is exploding at a ridiculous rate, so with so many dollars floating around, the price of goods tends to go up. As long as I'm on money, Australia has a sick deal where all advertised prices include tax, and they don't deal with any of this penny bs, everything rounds to the nearest five cents. But their money isn't perfect. They have a weird coin system, there are one and two dollar coins, and they are progressively tinier, so easy to misplace. And of course the twenty cent coin is freakin huge! Anyways, in Cairns we went out on a boat and SCUBA dived/snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef, which was absolutely incredible. So many fish, so many colors! I touched a sea turtle, saw a stingray.... amazing. Cairns is an amazing and tropical city, but way too touristy for me to live in. We also spent a day at Rainforestation, a park type thing where we toured the rainforest in an Army Duck (they can drive on land or in water), got a tour through a zoo full of Australian animals where we petted kangaroos, held snakes and koalas, and saw tons of cool Australian wildlife. We also got taught how to throw a boomerang and spear by aboriginals, watched a traditional aboriginal dance, and listened to some ill digeridoo performances. Another day was spent whitewater rafting which was great! I went out to various bars and clubs each night and had a crazy good time, but my wallet really took a hit. I'll fill in the move to Newcastle in my next blog.

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This page contains a single entry by primu019 published on February 24, 2012 7:49 PM.

Still Catching Up... is the next entry in this blog.

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