“How You Going?”

It’s been a little while since I’ve done an update on my adventures. It’s partially because I’ve been pretty busy with school, but mostly because blogging about schoolwork isn’t all that interesting.

I will say though, there are few differences between the Aussie and Canadian school systems that I do find quite interesting.  Firstly, professors in Oz are much less formal.  I would never refer to a professor here by their title or last name.  I’ve actually had professors correct me and specifically tell me to call them by their first name. Whereas in Canada, particularly during my undergrad, I rarely referred to any professors by their first name.

I also have one professor, in particular, who is committed to ensuring that our class remains as informal as possible.  On my frist day of class he told me that were to act “more like a family, than as classmates”.  This professor is also somewhat obsessed with the idea of having a student make and bring a fresh-baked cake to each and every class. It was my turn last week to bring said cake.

Since I don’t have access to an oven in my residence I had to be pretty creative.  I decided to make Rice Krispie Squares.  Apparently, they’re not really that well-known here.  It’s also funny because you’d think that it’d be easy to find the ingredients for Rice Krispies, given that there’s so few  of them, however there are so many little differences here, it made my baking task challenging.

Rice Krispie Ingredients

First of all, the Aussies don’t exactly have Rice Krispies – They have “Rice Bubbles”.  Second, I looked everywhere for white marshmallows, but there are none.  I had to settle for these odd pink and white ones.  Since I wasn’t confident in how the pink marshmallows would taste in my Krispies, I decided to add melted Snicker Bars.  At the end of the day, I’m pretty confident I was successful in my very random school assignment.

Rice Krispies

I’ve found it very interesting how similar, yet different things are here, as opposed to back home. I’m still trying to wrap my head around certain Aussie sayings.  For example, generally when you say “hi” to any Australian, their immediate response is “how you going?” aka “how are you?” – I never know what to say in response! Should I say “I’m going by bus” or do I respond with “I’m well, thank-you”?

Some of the other interesting sayings our “bogans” aka. rednecks, or “thongs” aka flipflops, or “lollies” aka. candy. I’ve also determined, through conversations with other exchange students, that in every Western country other than Canada, your 21st Birthday is a huge deal.  Even though in every Western country other than America, nothing significant actually happens on your 21st Birthday.

Another thing, particularly unique to Brisbane, is the wild turkeys.  First, I found them to be quite annoying, because they’re everywhere, and they don’t seem to care about getting out of your way as you try to pass them.  Now, I’ve discovered that at this time of year the turkeys start building huge piles of dirt for their nests.  When I say huge, I mean about 5 feet wide by 3 feet high. It’s pretty impressive that such a small animal can kick around enough dirt to make such a huge pile.

Turkey Mound (Nest)

It’s also annoying because the turkeys will kick all this dirt from one garden, onto a footpath, then into the next garden where their pile is.  I was incredibly confused the other day as I walked to class and had to scale this two foot pile of dirt right in the middle of a footpath! Finally, the worst part about these turkeys – I’ve been told they taste horrible.  They’re everywhere and you can’t even eat them!

Wild Brush Turkey

Wild Turkeys aside, life in Brissie has been going pretty well.  I had a great time last week at my residential college’s ball.  The hall served amazing food – with delicious, edible turkey – and it was fun to get dressed up for a night. After, spending so much time in school this past week, I’m looking forward to getting out and about this upcoming week!

Cheers!

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The Hinterlands and Beyond!

Hey All!

I’ve had a pretty eventful past week.  On Saturday I left my city surroundings and headed south to the Hinterlands, in the Gold Coast.  The Hinterlands cover a vast area and contain several beautiful, national parks.  The scenery consisted of mountains, waterfalls, ancient trees and Australian wildlife.

Hiking the Hinterlands

While it only took an hour to get to the Hinterlands, it took our bus driver an additional 45 minutes to navigate the windy, steep and narrow roads, to get us to the top of the Hinterlands forest.  It was rather entertaining and somewhat freaky.

My group’s first stop was at one of the many lookouts in the area.  We visited two lookouts and both provided amazing views.

The view from lookout #1

The view from lookout #2

After the lookouts, we headed to a glow-worm cave.  The caves were pretty much what you would expect. They were full of thousands of tiny glow worms that light up at the tip of their tails.  Apparently, they use their little light to attract insects into their webbing.  I found the critters to be surprisingly interesting!

Following the cave adventures, we continued our “Forest of Dreams” tour and fed some native Crimson Rosella birds.  However, when I use the term “fed” I should actually say we were “attacked” by Crimson Rosellas.  The birds were extremely happy to be eating out of the palms of our hands.  So much so, that they swarmed us!  I’m not much of  bird watcher-enthusiast, but these little guys were pretty cute and very entertaining.

The birds sizing each other up over who's going to get the bird seed first

The next stop on the tour consisted of a 6km hike of the Purlingbrook Falls. We started at the top of the falls and hiked down to the bottom. We sat at the pools below the falls for lunch.  I don’t know if the pictures justify the beauty of this area and I don’t know if I can put into words how fabulous the scenery was, but it really was amazing.

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Our final stop was at a natural bridge with a waterfall flowing through it.  There seems to be no shortage of spectacular views in this part of Australia.  I really enjoyed spending my Saturday in the Hinterlands.

The "Natural Bridge"

After my forest adventures on Saturday, I spent my Sunday hanging around my residential College.  Our girls grass hockey team had a number of games on Sunday.  I participated in the final two.  Despite the fact that we’re a terrible team and lost horrendously in almost every game, we did a really great job of having a good time.  We’re inspirational losers!

During our final game, as the sky opened up and began pouring down on us, we continued to try out best and get just one goal for our entire season.  We weren’t successful, but like I said previously, we still have a good time trying not to be so terrible! haha.

IH Housies

I also had a good time earlier this week when I attended court with a friend of mine.  In between my travels around this beautiful country, I’ve also been keeping busy studying the Aussie legal system. I’ve been taking Family Law here and was very excited to have the opportunity to sit in on a Family Law Hearing at the Magistrates Court in Brisbane.

Despite the fact that the issue was very minor, I still enjoyed the view into Australian family law.  The family law/parenting regime here is a little different from what we have back in Canada.  In particular, the Australian system has recently introduced a shared parenting regime, which was designed to encourage equal time to be spent between parents with their children.  There has also been a few notable problems with the interpretation of this law.

I find this issue intriguing as I did some research on it last year, because Canada is thinking of adopting similar protocols. While I’m studying in Australia, I’m getting a great first-hand view of the positives and negatives of this share-parenting regime.

All in all, I’ve been busy here in Oz, and I’m learnings lots both inside and outside of the classroom, which is always appreciated!

As a final note, while cats and dogs were not allowed in the Hinterlands, my plastic travelling pig is 100% acceptable!

Shrimp on the Barbie

In an attempt to dispel some stereotypes about Australian life, I thought I’d start this blog by describing my Saturday afternoon.  On Saturday a few mates and I attended a Uni Club (Quest) barbecue.  While I have been to several BBQs since I’ve been in Oz, none of them have included shrimp.  Its seems as though seafood on the BBQ is only particularly popular here during the Christmas holidays. AND Aussies general refer to shrimp as prawns anyhow.  So, despite my older brother’s insistence that Aussies always eat Shrimp on the Barbie, in reality, that’s not true.

Eating Roo-Sausage

While I didn’t have shrimp on the barbie at the Quest BBQ, I did try crocodile and kangaroo.  I wasn’t super impressed with my kangaroo sausage, but I really enjoyed the croc.  I’d compare crocodile to chicken.  I’ve also been told that if you want to try some decent kangaroo, it’s best to have it in the form of steak.  Hopefully, in a few weeks, I can report back with some more positive feelings regarding barbecued kangaroo.

Quest BBQ

I spent Sunday afternoon playing grass hockey for my residence’s hockey team.  I now completely understand why most of the outdoor sports here are played during the winter.  It was almost too hot to run around playing grass hockey and it’s still the middle of winter!

After hockey, I headed to downtown Brisbane to check out some of the weekend markets.  A lot of the commercial businesses shut down on Sunday and most of the local shopping is done at various city markets.  My friends and I stumbled upon a suitcase market in downtown Brissie.

In front of the Suitcase Market

On the first Sunday of every month the suitcase market takes place.  Individuals purchase a small space to sell their goods and can only bring two suitcases full of sellable items.  It was pretty neat.  initially, when I saw all of the suitcases, I thought it was a giant garage sale for backpackers who had accumulated too much stuff while travelling. I quickly noticed the crafts and antique goods and realized that was not the case.

On Monday I met up with a friend from home, Kellie, who is also on exchange (in New Zealand) and showed her around Brisbane.  Apparently, now that I’ve been living in Brissie just over three weeks, I’m an expert tour guide!

The Bamboo Forest in the Botanical Gardens

We spent the afternoon walking through the Brisbane Botanical Gardens.  The gardens had several pretty ponds, plants and local birds.  As someone who has next-to-no green thumb, I was pretty impressed.  The grounds are beautiful.

Kellie & I by one of the ponds in the Botanical Garden

Afterwards, I took Kellie to my favourite, fake beach – Southbank.  I love how I can spend an afternoon at the beach right in the middle of downtown Brisbane, (even if it is a fake beach!).

South Bank Beach

I also recently discovered the deliciousness that is Max Brenner’s Chocolate Bar.  It’s a pretty famous chocolate shop that started in Israel and has chains all over Oz.  Unfortunately, there are none in Canada.  The hot chocolate consists of the most delicious pure, thick, milk chocolate, it’s amazing!  I had to show off my recent find to Kellie.

Outside Max Brenner Chocolates

After my sugar induced-coma wore off, Kellie and I said our goodbyes and she left to go back to New Zealand.  It was really surreal to be meeting up with a classmate from home, at chocolate shop, on the other side of the world.  I love such random encounters.

Our sweets

Cheers!

Broncos, Surf & Rocks

Hello Again:

I just finished a great weekend here in Oz. I’ve started branching out and around the City of Brisbane.

On Friday night a few of my mates and I decided to check out a local National Rugby League game. The Brisbane Broncos were playing the Sydney Sharks. Having never watched a rugby game before, it was a really cool way to spend my Friday night.

Unfortunately (and fortunately) it wasn’t a very close game. The Broncos destroyed the Sharks, with a final score of 46 to 16. Regardless, of how one-sided the game was, I really enjoyed watching the rugby fellas smash
into one another, as well as cheering every 5 minutes or so as the Brissie
Broncos scored yet another try.

Brisbane Broncos score a try

I was also blown away by how massive the rugby stadium was. It
seated over 50,000. One thing I’ve learned quite quickly here is how
rugby-crazy the Aussies are. Rugby here is easily our equivalent to hockey back home. It’s funny how similar the atmosphere was to a hockey game, despite the fact that it was rugby.

Cheering for the Broncos

On Saturday a couple of friends and I got up early and caught a bus, then a train and then another bus to Surfer’s Paradise on the Gold Coast. After 2 hours of travel, I was incredibly happy to finally be at the beach! This was my first “real” beach experience in Oz. Despite the fact that it was a little cloudy, we certainly made the most of our beach trip.

A bunch of us played volleyball and explored the surrounding town. Surfer’s Paradise was exactly how I expected Australia to be. There’s
this beautiful long, sandy beach, tons of cute surf shops and lots of street
entertainment and pubs. I did a little shopping and tried some delicious
gelato, then ran through the waves along to the shoreline.

Shopping in Surfers

Despite the long trip there, it was a really great trip. It was exactly what I expected Australian life would offer. I will be back to Surfers and will definitely get myself some surfing lessons ASAP!

A little fuzzy but you get the idea. The Surfers' shoreline

On Sunday, I decided to check out the UQ Mountain Club’s Kangaroo Point Starters Day. I love rock climbing and was excited to try it out on an actual rock surface. It was really cool. The Kangaroo Point cliff is right along the Brisbane River. As you climb you face the city and the river. It’s pretty beautiful.

Climbing at Kangaroo Point

I also love the public transport there. The best way to get to Kangaroo point is via the City Cat (the local ferry). I’m in love with the City Cat. It’s such a novelty to be able to take public transit through the city, year round, on a boat.

Kangaroo Point Cliffs

After my experience with the Mountain Club, I decided to join. So here’s hoping I have massive arm muscles by the time I fly home from Oz!

That is all.