Sunday, June 27, 2010

The End

Well the end of my study abroad has actually come. I guess it really hit me when I was on the plane for Singapore, and I looked on the automated tv-map of where we were. It was tough saying goodbye to the friends I've made and the place I called home for 5 months. But, alas, all good things must come to an end. I hope you've enjoyed the blog, especially since it'll be closing in the coming weeks -- I don't need anything to come up in my records 20 years from now. I'll still have all the pictures on my flckr page, and can't wait to see all of you when I get home.

Signing off from Singapore,


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Australia: My Favorites

With my departure from Australia looming, I have decided to post about my favorite things that I've found in this country so far. I'd like to start out by saying that I've had an incredible time that can't be matched by any experience I've had in my life thus far. I've experienced a lot, travelled four continents and studied in places as close as Knoxville and as far as the Australian Sunshine Coast. This semester while studying abroad I've been able to expand my world view and experience another way of life. Australia really isn't that different from the U.S. Other than the higher prices, bigger government, kangaroos, and accent, we are very similar. I have found that the U.S., UK, Canada, and Australia are fairly similar for countries that span three different continents and have quite different histories, but there are differences that set us apart, whether they are positive or negative is of personal preference. So enough of my philosophical life-changing dribble, let the list begin (in no particular order):

1. The People. I think my favorite aspect of Australia is the people. Australians are fun-loving people who seem to have a strong sense of Australian self-identity. even in the bigger cities, they are laid-back and inviting -- much reminiscent of the American south. They are always up for a party and are open to new friendships and people. I think these values could have a positive effect if espoused by our country. Full of life and yielding cutting wits, you can never get tired of Aussies.

2. Kangaroos. Kangaroos are a nice aspect too. In the US we have squirrels and deer. Here, there are kangaroos, lots of them. I have found it quite nice to see them while sitting on my back patio or on my walk to uni.

3. The Language. Sure, they speak English, but they have a very distinct style and different set of idioms and words. I like how Australian English is quite distinctive from other English-speaking countries and representative of the history Australia cherishes. The longer I've been here, the more I notice how American English, while different, doesn't offer much originality -- rather we are known for being loud and having no accent (or having an accent depending on where you're from). I wish we had a language that was more representative and exclusive to America.

4. Tim Tams. They are a tasty chocolate cookie filled with chocolate cream and dipped in melted chocolate. We really need these!

5. Natural Beauty. Australia has scenery that is unlike anything I've ever seen on Earth. When I went to Uluru seven years ago -- has it really been that long? -- I saw the beauty of the desert. These five months I've been here, I've seen the Great Ocean Road and the beautiful beaches of eastern Australia. The Great Ocean Road is one of the most beautiful lines of scenery I have ever gazed upon. The rock formations that sit in the middle of the ocean are breath-taking and the nature is like none I've ever seen. The beaches of the Sunshine Coast are pristine and have the air of a casual, island lifestyle I dearly love. You could never get tired of what you see here.

6. State Pride. I enjoy seeing people from Queensland who consider themselves Queenslanders, or those from Melbourne who see their distinction in being Victorians. There is a great state pride here, something we lack. You don't see a large segment of the population saying, "I'm a Virginian!" or "I'm a Michigander!" It just doesn't happen anymore, and I think it's quite positive on Australian national pride.

As you can see, other than the tim-tams and kangaroos, I've grown to enjoy the non-tangible aspects of this country. This is not to say I've had some great spiritual awakening and am now relinquishing all of my prized possessions, but I think this experience has been more important than "things". I like the "bigger" things Australia has to offer and will never come close to forgetting or duplicating the experience that I have had.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Final Countdown

No, it's not the beginning of a trashy 80s big hair anthem, it's almost time for me to bid adieu (I'm not sure if the spelling is right, but I know Aunt Nella will be correcting that one) to the Sunshine Coast and Australia.

It's not that I haven't enjoyed my time here, but before I came I thoroughly researched the Sunshine Coast to ensure that I packed all provisions needed for such a difficult journey - almost on par with that of the pioneers moving west on the Oregon trail. And, by thorough research, I mean: I scanned the Wikipedia page the night before I was supposed to leave, in between mom nagging at me about how it was the 15th time she told me to start packing and dad telling me what kind of USC t-shirt he wanted, and decided that it was just like Vero Beach, Florida. Boy was I wrong. It got cold, real cold. And, by real cold I mean in the 60s (how am I able to survive such suffering?). Oh, and I only packed shorts, t-shirts and polos, and flip-flops.

I have just under three weeks until I get to enjoy the blistering heat of the swamp we call our nation's capital (Note: Washington, D.C. was a swamp before they built it, I'm definitely not making any type of parody about the current political situation).

I do miss everyone, and am excited about heading home to return to my American way of life and values of freedom, liberty, decadence, waste, and cheap crap made in China.

Oh, and before I head out, I was reminded about a few more Australian words that I left out in my previous post:

Brekky (n. Pronounced: breh-kee) = Breakfast, and no I definitely have yet to pick that one up yet.

Thong = Flip Flop -- In case you were wondering, yes, it is fairly awkward when you have to go to K-Mart and ask a middle aged woman where men's thongs are when one of your pairs breaks.

Heaps = Lots (but can also be interchanged with words like: so, very, totally, etc.) -- everything is heaps... Corky's tamales are heaps delicious. School work is heaps hard. I have heaps of things to do when I get back to the U.S. President Obama seems to be doing heaps about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Compare and Contrast

As of Thursday, May 20th, 11:25 PM, $1 AUD = $.0.8279 USD

So, since I haven't been updating my blog as of late I decided to put up a post. The main reason I haven't been updating is that I've pretty much not been experiencing anything that out of the ordinary recently, just hunkered down studying and enjoying the good life. This post is a little different though. This post is a comparison of the U.S. of A., land of the free, home of the brave, versus Australia. I've come to find a great many differences in the two countries, and when you read this you'll probably come to appreciate the United States more than ever.


United States: Three 12 Packs of Coke for $10 (Harris Teeter)
Australia: One 12 Pack of Coke = $24... One time I saw a really good deal! $13.99 for One whole pack!


United States: Fifth of cheap gin = $9
Australia: Fifth of cheapest gin possible = $40

United States: 24 Case of cheap beer = $15
Australia: 24 Case of cheapest beer = $50


United States: Water is cheap (unless you live in Arlington, VA), there is no limit to how much you can use.
Australia: We get to use 200L per day. Now, this may see like a lot but, it is really only 50 gallons. This also may seem like a lot of water but, considering the average shower head pours out 6 gallons of water every minute means showers are short. Also, don't forget flushing the toilet, washing your hands, washing your dishes, brushing your teeth, and drinking during the day. If you go over the 200L mark, well let's just say you'll be receiving a nice bill in the mail with more than one '0' on the end of it.


United States: We get unlimited Internet to do whatever we want, whenever we want for the low monthly price of around $50.
Australia: We get 3GB for $40/month and then $10 for every GB over that. To give you an idea of what a GB means: The average person around the world uses 12GB per month (which means Americans probably use at least twice as much). But, we'll continue to use the 12GB as an example. This means to use 12GB of Internet you would have to pay about $130 per month. Yeah, this pretty much means you can only download/upload so many pictures per month, no YouTube, no streaming music, no online games, limited file download capacities.

Freedom of Speech

United States: Say whatever you want whenever you want. Except for 'Fire!' in a crowded theater, unless of course that theater is actually on fire... I think?
Australia: Well as a few Australians have said to me, "Yeah, you guys take that free speech thing too far." Hmm, yes, we have to much freedom!

Well, the end of my vacation.. err.. study abroad is fast approaching. I have a little over 5 weeks left until I come back to the States. Am I ready to leave Australia? No. Am I ready to see family and friends in the U.S. and be able to suckle on the teat of Lady Liberty's 24/7 convenient and unlimited lifestyle? Absolutely! Life is so hard, is it not?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Finally, I'm Back

Yes, I know, I haven't updated in a while. But, I do have good reason. I've been swamped with school work and I had to cut down over 600 photos I've taken since my last post. There are far too many pictures to put in here so I'll give you my Flickr URL so you can see them there. As for my trip, I'll give you a short Itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive in Melbourne. It was the first time I ever stayed in a hostel. It was the last time I'll ever stay in a hostel. When I walked in the first thing I asked was where the complementary toiletries were. Yes, I was out of my league.

Day 2-?: Wandering around Melbourne. We went up into the Eureka tower (which is the tallest tower in the Southern Hemisphere) and I did something called the "Edge." You get into an all glass box and they push you out over the edge. It was awesome. It was like standing on air. We also went to an Art Museum and on a boat tour of the city.

Next: We get off on our trip to the Great Ocean Road. It started at around 6am -- so I wasn't in the best mood ever -- and we went to a national park that had Kangaroos (which I was so glad to see because I hadn't seen any kangaroos yet) and Emu, and an Aboriginal Learning Center.

Next: We arrive at the cabins we are supposedly staying at which are quite nice. They have a TV, clean kitchen, nice furniture, I was pleased because they didn't have the feel of a hostel. Well it turned out we had been dropped off at the wrong place and had to wait about 4 or 5 hours for our tour guide to find us and pick us up to take to the other place we were staying. This place was a cold hostel, but at least it had hot water.

Next: We are on the road again to a national park. Here we had to do a 2 mile hike up to the top of what I consider to be a mountain. I barely made it, and my lungs were on fire when I got to the top, but It was a pretty sweet view.

Next: We get on the great ocean road. We saw some amazing sights, which you can all see in the Flickr gallery. Stayed in a decent hostel. Finished Great Ocean Road, and then went back to Melbourne. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I took a helicopter ride up and down the coast of the GOR, it was one of the coolest things I've ever done.

Back to Melbourne: We spent some more time in Melbourne and went to the Aquarium and Botanical Gardens. Then it was time to go home.

That was the very abridged version of my trip. It was great, and I'm still having an awesome time in Australia. I can't believe I have less than seven weeks left. I don't think I'm ready for the real world. Although, I am ready for 24-hour stores, conveinience, cheaper crap, and having a car.

I also came to the awful realization that I'll be a Graduate in less than a year. UT had graduations last week, so, the real world is fast approaching.

Here is the link for my photos:

I'll try and get on a few more times before I head back to the good ole' US of A.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fall Holiday

Well, starting Friday -- which was Thursday for you all -- I went on Fall holiday. In Australia we get two weeks, instead of the measly two days in the US. I will be traveling down to Melbourne tomorrow to go on a tour of the Great Ocean Road. I'll be doing extensive traveling and I'll be sure to take many pictures.

Week two will be filled with studying. I have two presentations and one assignment due the week I get back. I'll update when I get back from Melbourne!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Campus and more kangaroos


Whatchu talkin bout Willis?

The prestigeous unviersity I'm attending.

The library