The First Week is a Blur

Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening All. I am in Australia and have been for just under two weeks. This time has been extremely busy for me and only now have classes truly begun to contribute an ounce or two of regularity to my days. My schedule is excellent, if a little grueling. I have classes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays leaving Mondays and Fridays free to dissolve into my weekends if I let them. This will provide opportunities for traveling around this giant of a country, one of which I will be taking advantage this weekend. I will be heading up to Cairns to celebrate the 21st birthday of a friend from high school.

I have been fortunate enough to be able to catch up with several friends from high school already since I’ve been in Brisbane. Kevin in particular has been very welcoming and introduced me to a few of his friends. Everyone has been very nice. More recently, I managed to catch up with Sam and walked around with him and my friend Morgan for a while. Morgan and his girlfriend Mel have been awesome also. They are they are both Australians from New South Wales. It’s Morgan’s first semester at university so he’s in the same boat as all of us exchange students and we all figure stuff out together. Of course, I can’t forget about my fellow international students. I have truly met amazing people this week, and among the super stars are Ditte, my stunningly gorgeous and unbelievably intelligent neighbor from Denmark. I am so lucky to have her living just next door; Yash who is a guy from New Zealand and is incredibly sweet; and Alex from Germany who is teaching me a bit of German sentence by sentence. Of course there are many, many others, all of whom are incredible people. The exchange students who have met each other and become close already organized a trip to Moreton Island where there is a resort that offers activities such as snorkling, dolphin feeding and sand tobogganing. I opted for the sand tobogganing which was AMAZING. I got some incredible pictures also.

This trip was just organized amongst ourselves. There was no comprehensive orientation that organized activities the way I had in Spain. Perhaps I should back up a little bit. I am tired but I am sort of forcing out an entry so that I can write about Cairns when I get back. When I arrived in Australia I had a weekend before the week of University of Queensland orientation started. This orientation consists of a week of sessions designed mostly for international students who start in the middle of the year. Since Australia is in the southern hemisphere their school year and that of the northern hemisphere are off-cycle from each other. So while I am embarking on my first semester of my fourth year of university (aaah!) I am attending the second semester of Australian university. Got it? This means we are currently mid-year and the activities are a little sparse because they are geared toward a smaller number of people. I went to the obligatory sessions which consisted of one day of introduction. The best thing I learned from that is that the top three countries that sent students to the University of Queensland this semester were the US, Malaysia and China…in that order. There are 223 students from the United States attending UQ this semester. It’s incredible. I also met a bunch of Mexican guys at that session who told me that I speak Spanish with an accent from Spain…duh. They’re nice and I keep running into them all over the city.

I didn’t bother going to a whole lot of the sessions. I had no questions about classes as I had already figured it out (or so I thought) and I didn’t care to sit through an ironic Australian shrugging about his/her nation’s fascination with concentrated yeast products and abundance of dangerous animals. I tried to take it easy during orientation but I explored the city a fair amount with Ditte and the others. Classes didn’t start until the beginning of this week, and although I’ve had to change things around in the interest of taking classes that I will actually like, this semester promises to keep me plenty busy, but also be very interesting. I have gone out at night a little bit but not an overwhelming amount. It always feels so much later here than it is, so I’ve been going to be earlier than I usually do and I definitely like the party style here a little better than in the Iberian Peninsula. It’s easier to get some sleep and wake up early the next day–that’s how I like it.

The best decision I made was enrolling in that Spanish class at the Institute for Modern Languages. I had my first class tonight and it is taught by a very nice Spanish woman named Anna Gonzalez!!!! Two ‘Ns’ but still an exciting coincidence because that is the name of my flatmate in Spain! I really enjoyed speaking Spanish for an hour and a half and I was even able to make it to dinner on time. I have one more class tomorrow and then I am free to go up north where it will be warm! It’s been FREEZING lately. Well, not really. But I’ve definitely been glad about my blanket with dinosaurs all over it. Pictures to come.

I really must go to bed because I am exhausted, but I will write more soon and hopefully have something a little more concrete to say. I feel like thinking in English makes me take what I think for granted. When I was speaking Spanish all the time I had to work to express myself and say things in the most effective way possible while still speaking at a normal pace. It made it more rewarding to get it right. In English I am just a talking machine. I think I am trying to apply the idea of not taking my thoughts for granted to my English speaking. I don’t know what I mean by this, but in my defense, I am all but falling asleep at the keyboard. It’s been like this for a while now. I think I might still be jet lagged even through it’s been almost two weeks since I got here.

Stay tuned for pictures, and as always, thanks for reading.

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