As the semester is winding down to a close and I am finding myself more and more busy with school work and preparation for the onset of the windstorm that is the final exam period. This accounts for my recent lack of blogging and my lack of blog worthy activities. As much fun as I have doing research deep in the bowels of the reserve section of the library it certainly doesn’t make for a very fascinating blog entry.
In the little downtime I have found in between stressing and procrastinating I have caught my mind wandering back to my first few days here in Sydney. One of the first things we did during our Sydney orientation was to take a walking tour of the city. We stopped in Hyde Park for a few minutes while our orientation leader Russ described the War memorial in the middle of the park and the museums surrounding it. It was a hot summer day in February (I will never get used to Feb being hot and summery) and as we walked through the park Russ talked to us about the different types of trees in the park. As we all stared up into the trees Russ told us that the Autumn season in Australia was fundamentally different from Autumn in the states in that the trees in Australia did not loose their leaves all at once like ones in the states, but rather lost a few leaves year round, so there would always be some leaves on the ground. The explanation he gave for this phenomenon was that the soil in Australia was too nutrient poor for the trees to be able to pull up enough nutrients to be able to replace all their leaves all at once, so they instead replaced a few throughout the year as they lost them.
This seemed very odd to me, but I was fresh off the plane and willing to believe just about anything I was told about this strange new continent I had found myself on. I thought this fact was so interesting that I began telling everyone who engaged in a discussion with me about the differences between Australia and America. I told everyone about the odd Autumn they have here.
When I went to Melbourne I was talking to a guy I met at a club and I shared my interesting fall fact with him and he almost laughed at me before asking “Who told you that?!”
This was my first indication that something was amiss. I began to make further inquiries of Australians in my classes, and I was consistently met with the same confused glances and chuckles. A boy in one of my tutorials even said
“Yeah its always tempting to mess with the tourists and tell them ridiculous things, my favorite thing to tell them is that I have a pet kangaroo, hahaha”
Despite all this evidence staring me in the face I just didn’t want to believe that I had been lied to by the very person whose job it had been to help orient me in Australia. I was thinking that perhaps I just hadn’t remembered correctly exactly what he had said. Maybe he had been talking about one specific tree and I had misheard and thought he meant all trees? I don’t know. But I do know that the fall season is in full swing in Australia, complete with all the traditional signs of Autumn I am used to in the Northern Hemisphere.
Moral of this story: either I’m a moron or my orientation leader is a liar. Either way, Autumn totally happens here in the same way it happens in the United States.
Also during Orientation we were sat down and given a quick briefing on the major differences between American and Australian culture. One of the things we were told is that Australians had an international reputation for being drunkards, but this was a complete misconception. Russ told us that if we went out to a bar and got completely plastered we would be branded as the sloppy Americans, because this is not how Australians behaved. There are three campus bars at the University Of Sydney, which the university administration is actively trying to get rid of, and the students are fighting it tooth and nail. There are also no open container or public intoxication laws. So yeah, Aussie’s like to get drunk and they make it very public knowledge when they do. Alcohol can be consumed when you turn 18, and many of the museums in Sydney become clubs after hours. I have been to quite a few karoke bars since being here, and have seen more belligerently drunk people than I am capable of remembering. Aussie’s love to drink just as much as Americans if not more.
The other thing we were told about bar culture was that as a woman if you allow a man to purchase you a drink it will be expected that you will put out for him. I think this was just Russ’s way of discouraging us American girls from taking advantage of the Australian guys because I have known many people who have been on the receiving end of alcoholic beverages from Aussie men and have no had to provide any lewd acts in payment for the gesture.
In other unrelated news, the hens of Apt 18 welcomed a rooster into our midst this weekend. Justin arrived early on Friday morning. Poor guy flew in around 6:30 am and I had set an alarm for 7:30 so I could meet him at the train station and walk him back to my apt, and of course I slept through it and he was left waiting for an hour. Oops. Welcome to Australia!