Living in the “down under”

Ever since high school, I have always dreamed of studying abroad in AUSTRALIA. I don’t know what urged my desire for this location, but I just knew that whatever University I went to had to have Australia as an option.

To be honest, I never really did research prior to choosing Australia as my destination. Being that I am a very independent person, unconsciously I was probably drawn to the fact that it is located on the other side of the world.

Before coming here I didn’t really fear the plane ride, the culture shock I would probably experience, the lifestyle, the currency, and most definitely not the weather considering that in New York we were attacked with nine blizzards prior to my departure.

During my winter break, I would just count down the days until Feb 7th, where I would then take a 21 hour flight to my “DREAM LAND.” I did not know what to expect except that I would be welcomed by SUMMER, a nice living arrangement at Cathedral place, and a 14 hour time difference.

Finally when I arrived at the Brisbane airport- it was love at first sight. The weather was tropical, the people were unbelievably friendly, the accents were absolutely amazing and I was going to be surrounded by this for 5 months!

The first HUGE difference I encountered when I got here besides the cars driving on the wrong side of the street and the electrical unit being different were the supermarkets. At home, I food shop every week so I know how everything works, which brands I like and how much food will last me for the week. Here, I was in total shock when walking into Woolsworth. All the fruits and vegetables were measured in KG, the nutrition labels used kJoules instead of calories, the cold cuts were already pre-cut with a minimum selection and had to be ordered using grams. The eggs were not refrigerated, the aisles were organized differently, and there was not one brand I was familiar with.

After having moldy bread after three days, thinking that 100 grams of turkeys would last me for a week, and finding out that muesli is not cereal, I now know that bread here has no preservatives so it has to be refrigerated, 100 grams of turkey is probably only good enough for three days and muesli is actually granola. I now feel confident when I go food shopping whether it’s at Coles or Woolworths and I have even become a smarter shopper by comparing prices at each and knowing which supermarket offers what for better prices.

Other differences I have noticed when it comes to food and beverages is that sushi is not like America; my favorite roll is the California roll which consists of imitation crab meat and avocado, but in Australia it had fish eggs (yuck!). At subway, in American you can get a foot long for $5 and in Australia its $7; they also don’t have balsamic vinegar as a dressing. When ordering anything with avocado somewhere, they tend to give you guacamole (which I LOVE so I can’t complain).

ICED COFFEE. I think this has been the biggest disappointment ever for study abroad students. We are accustomed to going to Dunkin Donuts (for those who live in Australia this is similar to Starbucks but more inexpensive) at home when ordering a medium iced coffee for less than $3. In Australia, when ordering an iced coffee from any of the ten coffee shops situated in one block, we receive coffee with ice cream and milk. In America, an iced coffee is simply brewed coffee over iced cubes with the option of milk and sugar. Even ordering a regular coffee here is a challenge for us because we are used to saying “can I have a regular coffee?” and we will get American coffee in a cup. We now have to choose between lattes, cappuccinos, espressos, flat whites and tall and darks (which is more similar to American coffee). Instant coffee is also something that is not used too much at home, instead we brew pots of coffee at a time.

Although the language here is English, it is as if Australians have their own language. They abbreviate everything with catchy phrases like “breaky” (breakfast), “uni” (university), “picky” (pictures), “footie” (football) and even “Brissie” (Brisbane). I absolutely love these abbreviations and have definitely expanded my vocabulary at least twice as much. Some tricky differences are “chips”, which for Americans means potato chips, but for Australians it means French fries. “Biscuits” mean cookies for Australians and a puff roll for Americans. “Thongs” means flip flops for Australians but lingerie for Americans.

I am currently a student at Australian Catholic University. The amount of work we get here all semester per class is equivalent to a week at Fairfield University at home. The professors are much more laid back and don’t even require students to purchase textbooks. They also give you breaks every 50 minutes or so while at home we sit in a lecture for two and a half hours and get 15 minutes break at most.

The boys here are DIFFERENT than at home. They don’t yell or whistle out the window like most guys in America do. Most of the guys I have also met here are full of personality and sense of humor. Clearly boys will be boys, BUT there is something about the boys down here that sets them apart from all the ones at home and all 10 girls in the study abroad program will definitely agree with that.

The LIFESTYLE here is B.E.A UTIFUL at the very least. I LOVE how everything is more laid back unlike like the rushed, stressful lifestyle of people in New York. Everything here is cleaner unlike the dirty, unpaved streets at home. People are polite and randomly ask “how’s your day going?” without even knowing you. At home you walk down the street and literally just look straight ahead the whole time.

Even the jobs here are different. Interning at EIDOS INSTITUTE is way different than any other internship I have ever had. At home, I have had two internships and not only do the employers not care about how you are doing, but the stress level in unbelievable. Here at Eidos, everyone is friendly and welcoming. This makes me actually want to come in every time instead of dreading the work and the people. Through the assistance the workers here provide, I have learned so much in just a short period of time. I also feel comfortable asking questions because I know I will not get a screaming bark like most interns at home tend to do.

So far I have traveled to the GOLD COAST, SUNSHINE COAST, BYRON BAY, MELBOURNE, WHITSUNDAYS and in just a few weeks I will be going to MORETON ISLAND, SYDNEY and NEW ZEALAND. Every place I have gone to has its own uniqueness to it and its strange how every time I get back to Brisbane after every trip, it feels like home.

My experience so far has been EVERYTHING I have ever DREAMED OF AN MORE. Of course, I have only been here for a six weeks and my bank account is nearly empty, but I LOVE every second of being here. My mom and I are really close and every time I talk to her on the phone I say “Mom, I’m not coming back! (and she nearly cries)” The truth is that if the opportunity ever arose for me to live here I wouldn’t really think twice. I would obviously have to get permanently accustomed to NOT drinking iced coffee, not reading the same COSMOPOLITAN as home and not having my FAMILY AND FRIENDS close to me, but in the end it would totally be worth it.


About funfabdelish

Welcome! My name is Mabel Del Castillo. I am a graduate from Fairfield University. My major was Journalism and my minors were Communications and Marketing. I am obsessed with fitness, beauty, wellness, health and nutrition. I also have a huge sweet tooth. My interests include working out, traveling, dining, reading magazines and books, going on adventures and living a fun healthy life! I hope you enjoy reading my blog and follow me while I discover and indulge in the little bits of life!
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