By Mike Crossley
What an awesome journey it is to study abroad. It has only been a week for me here in Sippy Downs, Australia. I haven’t traveled far from the University of the Sunshine Coast, located in the tropical state of Queensland, but I can already tell you that it’s worth the 20-hour-plus flight. If warm weather, friendly people, a beach lifestyle, and vacation resort accommodations aren’t the thing for you, then I wouldn’t recommend making the trip here.
I soon found out that the daunting tasks of scheduling classes that match Rider’s, juggling my loans, attaining a visa, traveler’s checks, professor recommendations, medical releases, quitting the baseball team, and much more, were all well worth it when I was able to lay back in my inflatable tube at the pool, l the sun shining on my face with an ice cold beer in hand. Enjoying just the simple things in life. That is what can best sum up Australia for the short stint I’ve been here thus far.
The adventure started with the flight over to Australia. I found myself sitting next to a guy that had pitched against my roommate at Rider in the PA State Championship. Just when I thought that it was such as small world, I came to realize how big it is. I’ve met people from just about every continent since I’ve been here. My roommates are from Germany, the people that live next to me are from Norway, Australia above me, and Canada next to them. I barely spend time in my dorm as it is; the friends I’ve met extend to France, New Zealand, Sweden, Korea, South Africa, Spain, and Italy: just to name some off the top of my head. And of course, I can’t forget about the United States. I have met people from Tennessee, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Michigan, Minnesota, and California.
The most important thing that someone needs to be prepared to do while studying abroad is to step outside of his or her comfort zone. If you’re not interested in learning and understanding different cultures and ways of life then you will not have a good time. I expected Australia to be much like the US just because of the identical language. In fact, the language is much different. Words are used and spelled differently. It’s not “lots of fun”, it’s “heaps of fun.” Spelling-wise, it’s not “organized”, it’s “organised.” The z’s and s’s are usually swapped. This is something I’ve become very cautious of, especially being journalism major. One other big difference: the steering wheel is on the opposite side of the car than in the US. This means that the driving is completely opposite! The one-and-a-half-hour ride I took from Brisbane Airport seemed like a ride from Lawrenceville to Princeton because I was so baffled that cars passed on the right, not to mention the left lane was the slow one. And once it came to the round-abouts, forget about it! Also, I never realized that people walk the same way that they drive. I never thought walking in a mall would be such a task. Here, every time I’m in a mall, I find myself walking at someone.
So far, I have been to Mooloolaba beach which is located only about 10 minutes away. The beaches here are recognized as some of the best in the world. The waves are about twice the size as the Jersey shore’s and the water is warmer than that of the beaches that I have been to in Mexico. Another big difference is that there are no shells or rocks along the shoreline. Think about the pictures you see on computer backgrounds, that’s what they’re like here!
This weekend I’m going to Fraser Island, the biggest sand island in the world. Next weekend I’m going about an hour north to my friend’s hometown; she owns a boat and wakeboard. The following weekend I’m going on a two-day surfing trip at Spot X, located just south of Brisbane. So as you can see, there is plenty more to write about. As for now, it’s time to take a step outside of my room and jump right to the pool to relax in the sun…