G’Day, mates! (jk, I haven’t actually heard anyone say that) As you can tell, I have landed in Australia and have been surviving the wildlife these past several days. The plane ride here wasn’t too bad. I watched movies, ate better-than-expected plane food, talked to a nice Australian lady, and slept a lot. An SCU International staff member named Amy met us all at the small (but busy) airport in Brisbane. I met other international students, along with the others from App State, and it was good. It was a 2.5 or 3 hour bus ride to Orion College, which is my new home. The first thing that happened was one of my roommates, Alex (I know, my third roommate to have the same name), saw a huge spider in her room and an RA had to help us get it out. We put our luggage in our rooms and headed to Lismore Square to pick up some supplies. Afterwards, we unpacked some and had a barbecue dinner. It consisted of a sausage and a slice of bread with onions and sauce on it. I have had this same meal 3 times thus far. We also had some kangaroo meat and Tim Tams (chocolate cookies). We have a nice little pool by the apartments, which is mostly occupied by international students. All of the international students I have met are from North America, East Asia, and Western Europe. Everyone is very nice. The Australians who live in Orion are very nice. Actually, every Australian I have encountered is very nice. It is very relaxed here. Everyone seems to like to chill and just take time to hang out and sit around.
On Saturday, I spent the day grocery shopping and shopping for things for the apartment. A few of us walked down to campus and wandered around. The campus is similar to App in size and abundance of hills, but there is much more greenery between and surrounding buildings. The walk to campus is “difficult” because of the hill, but for you App folks, it was like the walk from Mountaineer or App Heights to campus. It’s about 15 minutes, but there’s a shuttle once school starts. After coming back and chilling out a bit, I played some games and hung out in common areas with some new friends (mostly from Minnesota and Wisconsin). At night, a bunch of us took taxis to Mary G’s, apparently the only night club in Lismore, and we danced and had fun.
On Sunday, we had an excursion to Byron Bay. It is about 30 minutes to an hour away. We had an info session on how to be safe on the beach, taught by an SCU alum who actually studied abroad at App (small world!). Then, some of us took a hike up to the lighthouse and got to see the amazing view from up there. I was not prepared and did the whole hike in my flip flops. It took maybe 2 or 3 hours total. Afterwards, Alex and I went to lunch at a Fish n’ Chips place, walked around the shops, and sat on the beach. One girl got stung by some bluebottles (jellyfish-type creatures), but I braved the water for a few minutes. We all came back to the Village (another name for our apartment complex) and had the welcome barbecue, followed by some games and socializing.
We just had our first day of orientation, which was a lot of sitting in a classroom while having information thrown at us. We also got lunch and a bus tour of Lismore in the middle of the day. After the info sessions, I had the chance to open my bank account, have my student ID made, and purchase a gym membership.
Some things I’ve noticed: shops close earlier here, the concept of time is stretched (things don’t always occur at the time they are planned), everything is a bit more expensive (even though the USD is worth more than the AUD), shopping carts are trolleys (and they have these nifty things that hold a $2 coin while you use it so people don’t steal them… apparently these also exist in Canada and the midwestern US), parking lots are carparks, people use some words very casually that would be considered bad in the US, and I still don’t always understand Australian accents.
Written by: Alia Dahlan
Follow her blog: https://aliainaustralia.wordpress.com