UW student Lara Millman is currently in Brisbane, Australia with the OMA&D-affiliated exploration seminar studying how autonomous robotic systems can be used for biological monitoring purposes. During the group’s time “down under,” Lara will be sharing regular blog updates starting with her first entry below.
by Lara Millman
Hello all and welcome to the (hopefully from henceforth once every three day) report from Australia! My name is Lara Millman, currently a junior at the University of Washington studying Civil and Environmental Engineering. I apologize for the belatedness of this post, it’s taken me a while to figure out internet/my camera/all the things. So along that vein my post today is about figuring things out and various notable aspects of Australia that have caught my eye (at least thus far).
When you do something like this you think you’ve prepared for the culture shock by reading page after page about customs and etiquette, but as anyone who’s ever traveled before can attest, there’s a HUGE difference between reading about something and actually incorporating it into your everyday life. It’s common knowledge, for example, that cars drive on the left side of the street here as opposed to the American right side. But what I didn’t realize was that this practice of being on the left extends into so many other aspects of life. Things I’d never given a second thought to suddenly had to be consciously considered; things like walking on the sidewalk, predicting which side of an escalator will be of use to me, even having the right of way on a street as a pedestrian.
Other differences my roommate and I have noticed that exist between the US and Australia: Internet down under is metered. That is, their internet services are much like our cell phone services, in which you buy a certain amount of data and use it appropriately. Ours is 6 GB total, so goodbye streaming videos and general internet surfitude. Work/school ends promptly at 5 pm, after which the campus is a ghost town. “Barbie” and “G’day” are not the only Australian words, there are heaps of them and it is very confusing. Also, Tim Tams. Google them. They are a glorious edition to any aspect of life.
My posts are supposed to have a central point, an overarching message of sorts, and because I don’t want this message to go unnoticed or unheard (because even if it might be unpopular, I think it’s a message that could help someone) I will say it outright: When studying abroad, the first few days can be incredibly hard. There’s moments when you think you should act or feel a certain way and you simply don’t. And what I’m here to say is that that’s okay.