“Americans don’t mind being mistaken for being Canadian, but if you mistake a Canadian for an American, all hell breaks loose,” said about three people in the last week. Apparently those who visit from Canada need to make it clear that they are indeed not from the country that makes every holiday a good reason to drink. This conversation seems to spur from my sounding Canadian, even though I still have doubts that I have a thick enough accent for that. At this point I just say sure, I’m basically from Canada, because no one here really knows where Minnesota is anyway. Meanwhile, Danny cheerfully informs everyone that she is from New Jersey, and all of the ears perk up and a conversation about Jersey Shore or New York ensues. All I can pathetically do is share that Minnesota has a lot of lakes…and that no, the depiction from How I Met Your Mother is exaggerated and it doesn’t actually snow in the summer time. At least not that much.
That is just the beginning of the amusing conversations I’ve had pertaining to America. I actually just enlightened an Australian the other day that the U.S is in fact divided into states, and that no, Florida is not a city. Needless to say, their mind was blown. Not including that kid, I’ve learned that more Australians have visited the U.S. than it seems Americans have visited Australia. Traces of America are everywhere here from the restaurant chains (I haven’t escaped the red gleam of KFC if you can believe it) to the TV shows and movies. I’m not really here to talk about America, though. I’m here to experience the surf and use cool measurements like Celsius and kilograms.
Other than switching conversions I haven’t experienced too much of a culture shock. You shake your head at that knowing that I still go to the wrong side of the car, but besides those minor details, it’s more of a new and refreshing atmosphere rather than a new planet. At first I was fascinated by everyone’s accent, and found it really intriguing that I actually had the accent. All of us on campus have become a family of sorts and I don’t notice accents so much anymore. I am only reminded of the differences when I pronounce words in another way or use other words for certain things. You can imagine how confused everyone was when I first said ‘clusterfuck’.
So far, my experience has involved a lot of on campus festivities, more specifically themed parties put on by the tavern that is in the center of campus. Many trips to the city have been had where there is excellent shopping and some mighty clubbing.
In the past couple of weeks I’ve made it to Hervey Bay where I experienced some exceptional fish and chips, as well as Bribie Island to try out some surfing. This involved hopping into a truck and driving through a path of deep sand embedded in the bush until we reached the ocean. We then drove up the beach and examined the waves until we reached an adequate location. Like a rock star, Danny made it up on the board her first time. Me, not so much, but in my defense the waves were ‘subpar’ (says our friend Lauren, the surfing expert…she was probably just saying that. Even though I have been to multiple oceans, I don’t have the Australian sixth sense of detecting good waves). Every big wave was like a very salty riptide to me, even so I am very eager to stack heaps when I return to the water.
School break is almost underway. I think I will finally have the chance to tag those of you I promised with some exotic animals. After some weekend camping we will fly to Cairns, a supposedly very beachy atmosphere with multiple gateways to the Great Barrier Reef. For ‘some’, the quest will continue on my behalf to find the world’s best fish and chips (you know who you are). It will also present more chances to ride a wave with fewer nosedives and ocean wave body slams. After that endeavor, it will be time to visit the city I have always coincided with Australia: the wonderful world of Sydney.
Cheers from down under,