Tuesday, August 26, 2008


It is springtime at UQ!

The weather is pretty much the same, but I can tell it is spring because all of the birds have gone crazy. Plus, ducklings!

Anyway, it is hard to believe but I am just about halfway through my semester abroad (already??). I thought I would take a minute to reflect on my classes thus far. Although not so much on microeconomics because micro is pretty much micro, wherever you happen to be.

Australian Popular Culture: This course has proven to be fairly interesting. We did a unit on 'Sport' during the Olympics, and we learned about how Aussies have a tendency to identify themselves as being naturally good athletes and how representing themselves that way to to the rest of the world during the Olympics is really important to them. We've also had units on the beach and the bush and tourism and the way that these things factor into the Australian identity (Austrialanness, a word I still cannot pronounce). Downside of this class is that it's one of those classes that encourages you to think critically of common ideas, to the point that you tend to focus a LOT on the less-common view of things and pay little or no attention to the more common perspective. That kind of thing makes me crazy.

Ecotourism: This class is pretty educational but a little intense and a little circular (because there is only limited literature about ecotourism available). I know more about tourism than I ever wanted to know, and I am developing a fantastic guilt complex about any tourism that I ever have taken or will take part in, ever. Not to say that I don't like the class though lol, it is one of my favorites.

Developmental Psychology: ...is pretty much what you would expect, but I just wanted to point out that I think the study of pyschology in Australia is much more focused on looking at empirical research studies, and also more directed towards students who are going to become research psychologists. This is only in my very, very limited experience though.

As a final note I want everyone to know that I ate kangaroo for dinner last night. It pretty much tastes like steak, but a little chewier. That is all.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I guess it makes sense that since there are different trees here the Australians might not put maple syrup on their pancakes, but it is not something I really thought about until I got here. Don't get me wrong, maple syrup is available, and "maple-flavoured" syrup is in abundance. I just thought I would call attention to the fact that it isn't the primary type of syrup, since maybe other people in America would also not have thought of it. Instead the Australians use something called golden syrup, which is gold-colored (obviously) and sweet and in my opinion really gross. But then again I am pretty picky.

Another type of syrup which is pretty scarce around here is corn syrup. No matter how many processed foods I read the ingredients of, I have yet to find any that have high fructose corn syrup. This is another thing I would have known before getting here if I had bothered to really think on it, but America just has more corn than other places (more than we know what to do with apparently). I have seen a variety of other sugary type syrups in things like coca-cola, but there is definitely a distinct lack of corn syrup.

There, you have all been educated.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Races

On Wednesday (as I mentioned in my last post) the entire city had a day off to go down to the horse races. Basically you get really dressed up and put on a funny hat and go bet on the 8 horse races that are spread through out the day. Despite my best efforts i was unable to acquire a funny hat or a 'fascinator,' which is like the frilly, flowery decoration on a hat but without the hat. If you're in uni you also start drinking at obscene hours on Ekka day (the boys in Kings College started at 6 am) to ensure you are totally wasted through the whole day. My college hosted a champagne breakfast with Kings College and then a bus ride over to the races. It was really good fun. I bet on two races and lost both times so that was the end of that. It was really fun to people-watch too, there were thousands of people there all dressed up in their race day finery. I have heard good things about the actual Ekka, which is like a fair with rides and face painting and so on that went on all week, but I didn't actually make it to that. Pictures of the races and also of the trip to the Sunshine Coast have been added to the album with the Bartopia pictures from earlier. Link:


Here are some of the pictures...Sunshine Coast:

The Races:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sunshine Coast

Last weekend I took a semi-spontaneous minibreak up to the Sunshine Coast for the weekend with 5 other Australearn kids. Because of Brisbane's location, it is necessary to travel either an hour south to the Gold Coast or an hour north to the Sunshine Coast to get to the beach. The Gold Coast is supposed to have a reputation of being more glitzy and touristy, while the Sunshine Coast is supposed to be more mellow and casual. I cannot speak for the Gold Coast, but the Sunshine Coast is certainly on the mellow side. We took a bus, two trains, and another bus to get there (it took approx 2.5 hours) and stayed in a hostel for two nights. The beach was really, really pretty. Absolutely gorgeous area. Pictures will be provided when my internet connection is being more functional. We had fun gallivanting in the surf (only about knee high, it was too cold to go in properly). I found some very nice shells, and got to climb on some really big rocks (which I love). I also learned that Australian playgrounds are way, way cooler than American playgrounds. The first night we watched the opening ceremonies of the olympics, and then we made an effort to go out, but there were only three places and one charged an $8 cover (high to pay for 11:30 at night) one wouldn't take us because of our flipflops, and the last one had almost no one in it. So the next night we got dominoes and watched hostel (while staying in a hostel - bad call - plus it was a pretty terrible movie) and ate a lot of junk food. I also ate the most amazing cold rock (coldstone) ice cream...honeycomb flavored with nutella and timtam mixed in. Yum. Anyway, my verdict of the Sunshine Coast is that (a) it was a good weekend (b) it is a really pretty place and (c) rumors of a mellow atmosphere are not wrong.

Tomorrow is the Ekka holiday, a day off for the whole city to go dress up and enjoy the horse races. I have purchased my ticket and will post about that after I have been.

Hope everyone is well : )

Saturday, August 2, 2008


I just got back from a 3-day environmental volunteer weekend through Conservation Volunteers Australia, at an absolutely beautiful site about 2 and a half hours southwest (ish?) of Brisbane. We were located at Bartopia Nature Reserve, and it was just a Nature Reserve that the owner is working on making into an ecotourism location for backpackers. It sported a family of kookaburras who were always hanging around. Our (myself and 5 other Australearn kids) assignment was listed as "weed management" which we thought meant we would be pulling weeds in the forest (which always feels kind of tedious and futile to me). Instead, we were taking down massive, tree-sized weeds called 'lentana' (sp?). For reference, a picture has been provided below. It was really great fun. Our team leader, Myriam, navigated her 4-wheeler up the perilous mountain roads to get us to the place, where we were greeted by Ben, the owner, and his semi-deaf mate Max. Both were very entertaining and very Australian men, who called us blokes and sheilas. They also called Jared, the redhead, "Blue". This is typical Australian humor (ie it doesn't make sense lol). We cooked dinner each night and slept in dormitories which were VERY cold...the last night I slept in one tshirt, two long sleeve shirts, two hoodies, flannel pants, sweat pants, and two pairs of socks, inside of my sleeping bag which was also covered in towels to serve as an extra blanket. But I think it added to the charm lol. The first night we tried our very hardest to make s'mores, but the lack of graham crackers and our inability to find thin-ish pieces of chocolate or marshmallows that weren't flavored raspberry made it a challenge. Possibly the most amazing part of where we were was all the stars you could see. Supposedly these were different from stars in the Northern Hemisphere, but I couldn't really tell except for how clearly you could see the Milky Way, which was amazing. I tried to take a picture of the stars, but it was to no avail. Please enjoy the pictures I do have posted, and here is a link to the rest of the album if you are interested:


Our shoddy s'mores ingredients:

The view from Bartopia:The big green thing that takes up most of this picture is one of the weeds we were destroying: