The seeds for my interest in Australia, the far-away exotic land, were planted by Men At Work’s song “Down Under.” My dad would sometimes play this song during the car ride to school in the morning and I would sing along to a string of words that didn’t quite make sense to me and mumble over the parts I didn’t know. One of the verses mentions Vegemite, the well-known yeast extract spread. When I first heard the song, I had no idea what a Vegemite sandwich was, so naturally, I asked my dad to explain what it was because aside from my mom, he knew everything. “A Vegemite sandwich is something they eat in Australia.” That was all he said and that was all I needed to hear. He didn’t go into what Vegemite was made out of and at the time, I didn’t care. My mind was racing. What a funny word, Vegemite. What an interesting country. It’s so far away, how exotic. Learning about kangaroos, koalas, and the Great Barrier Reef watered the seeds and their roots anchored themselves in the back of my mind.
Fast forward to freshman year of college. The possibility of studying abroad and my dad’s recent connection with family in Australia reawakened my dormant interest in the land down under and the seedlings rapidly and uncontrollably grew. My desire to study abroad in Australia intensified as quickly as an airplane flies through the sky.
After flying 9,904 miles, I finally made to the country I’ve been dreaming about visiting for years. Not only am I visiting, but I am also living here for the semester. My parents made the intense trip with me and after doing some sightseeing and visiting family, they are going to drop me off at school.
While I’ve been abroad for less than a week, here are a few differences I’ve noticed between the US and Oz so far:
1. Australians drive on the left side of the road, so crossing the street will require more vigilance on my part.
2. Contrary to popular belief, toilet water does not spin the opposite direction when you flush. At least with the toilets I’ve seen, the water doesn’t spin at all; it just sinks down. There’s also less water in the bowl compared to the toilets in the US, which is kinda weird to see.
3. The outlets have on/off switches, which is very practical, but they have a downside: forgetting to turn the outlet on overnight will result in you waking up to find your dead battery uncharged, which really puts a damper on the morning.
4. Australian’s don’t say “G’day mate” as often as you might think. Granted, I haven’t even been in the country for a week and I’ve only visited two cities so far, but not once have I heard this phrase uttered.
While I’ll miss my friends and family back home, I’m excited to see what this adventure has in store for me. I am looking forward to noting more differences between the two cultures and appreciating them more as a result.