Living Life Down Under!

by Melissa Mika, soon-to-be-a-junior Honors student in Civil Engineering

First off, not only was choosing to study abroad one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, but from what I’ve heard, I picked a GOOD WINTER to head south (sorry, Iowa!). From the moment I stepped off that 30 hour plane-train-taxi, and into Australia’s temperate 78 degrees, it finally hit me that this would be my home for the next 5 months. And what an adventure it has been. From surfing the waves on the coast, and walking around Sydney harbour, to hiking through the rainforests of Tasmania, Australia has so much to offer.

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Let’s be real though – I came here with some pretty false preconceptions about Australia, so here is a brief Mythbusters – Australia Edition!

Myth 1: Everything in Australia is poisonous and will probably kill you
— Although, yes, this is technically true (seriously, even the SHELLS sometimes bite), it is way over dramatized. I came here thinking, “Get in the water? Are you SERIOUS? I don’t even want to step OUTSIDE!” Happy to report that I have not seen a single poisonous or potentially life-threatening animal in the wild – not even a jellyfish! As long as you don’t go sticking your hand down any mysterious dark holes, it’s pretty safe where the cities are.

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Myth 2: “G’day mate! Good on ya! Throw a shrimp on the barbie! Those waves are gnarly! Beeeauty”
— I blame Finding Nemo. Seriously, people don’t talk like that. Sure, I hear the occasional “mate” thrown around here and there, but not once have I heard someone say “g’day” or “barbie”. HOWEVER, I must admit that this myth is PLAUSIBLE. I can honestly say that, despite being here for 3 months already, I often have NO idea what anyone is saying to me. For example: “Hey mate could you pass me a serviette, I spilled cordial. Cheers. Looks to be a good arvo, are you keen to play some footy after brekky?” … Seriously, are you speaking English??

Myth 3: Australia is just one big, red, desert
— Only the middle, and only what’s not used as farmland. The rest of Australia (all along the coasts, where nearly all the major cities are located) is everything from bushland (woodsy) to beaches to rainforest. Who knew.

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Myth 4: Australians are crazy, friendly, easygoing partyers who drink all the time.
— Well… hmm… Nope, this one is spot on. “No worries” indeed.

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Myth 5: Australians all wear khaki and cork hats and eat strange things like crocodile
— In my personal opinion, Australians are WAY more stylish than Iowans! Their clothing is a classy twist on 90’s styles – overalls and patterned pants, here I come! And besides spaghetti for breakfast and Vegemite, the food is pretty normal.

It’s definitely a challenge living in a completely different culture, but it’s been a great experience, and one I wouldn’t give up for anything else. The best part is, I have 22 FANTASTIC Iowa Staters here with me, and we’re having a blast! See you soon, Iowa. Cheers!

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