I asked my new pal Court Tallon of the USA to write a guest blog about her experience in Australia so far. She has been here a month or so and I wanted to see what she thought so far. Court and I met through http://www.explorergirls.com through our shared love of Travel and Adventure
Take Courts advice, come to OZ!
I’ve wanted to visit Australia for as long as I can remember. As a member of my hometown beach patrol, I’ve been enticed by stories, photographs, and personalities from the Land Down Under for the better part of a decade. I dreamed of the day I’d enjoy blue waters, cold beers, and fresh fruit.
I could see myself munching on some toast spread with Vegemite while listening to Midnight Oil and watching out for Mad Max, Steve Irwin, crocs, ‘roos, and spiders.
I’ve been in Sydney for just over a month and have done… pretty much all of those things. The activities and imagery for which Australia is stereotypically known are possibly the best in the world: great sport, great beaches, incredible cultural, ecological, and biological diversity, fantastic Thai food and friendly, sun-kissed, happy people.
But, as a student of history and as a citizen of the United States, I know that stereotypes can be a dangerous and hateful business. I won’t lie: I’ve enjoyed indulging in my share of shallow engagements with the continent; but, I’m here to study and study I have- from parliament to cricket, soap operas to coastal walks, wine tasting to goon tasting, surf comps, Chinatown, the Rocks, the Eastern Suburbs, and open markets. Australian (and let me qualify here: urban, eastern, coastal Australian) culture is as engaging and entertaining as I had hoped.
When I stepped off the plane at SYD, I was greeted by the usual scents of an international airport- cleaning product, coffee, air conditioning, etc.- but Sydney offered something more… a hint of sunscreen.
Instead of a German Sheppard, I was greeted by a Beagle and instead of walking out into a blizzard, I walked into 80-degree, err… 26-degree weather. That first scent of coconut anti-aging skin product had me hooked on this country. I love the coastal baths. I love the enormous spiders. I love the headlands, the water, the trees, the birds, and the free-to-air television. I love the politics, the history, the people, and the art.
I scored a three-day school week and met up with some Explorer Girls- Emma and Krystle and I joined the Outdoors Club at UNSW. My flat mates and I have battled three species of cockroaches. This has been a proper Sydney visit.
Since my arrival, I have certainly had a somewhat structured experience- there are limitations, social and otherwise, being a study abroad student from the US. Not a typical traveler, I have several novels to read, plenty of papers to write, and whole new government system to learn- I have homework.
I’m trying my best to become fully immersed, but there’s really only so much you can do in four months with limited cash and lots of lectures to attend. This trip is really just a foot in the door for me.
I can’t wait to come back!