Thursday, February 16, 2012


As expected, my blog posts have become less and less frequent.  The longer I live here, I often forget how my home culture differs from my adopted one.  Therefore, I continually overlook things and don't really stop to notice the difference.  Everyday life is pretty routine, so I guess there's no need to document it.
To give just a silly example of me not paying attention to culturally differences:  Yesterday, an American friend on Facebook posted a picture of her Starbucks Venti Iced Latte.  I took a minute to really stare at it.  The cup was HUGE! I don't even think that you can get a 24 ounce coffee drink anywhere in Melbourne.  I haven't yet visited a Starbucks here (there are only about four in the metropolitan area of over four million people), but I know from my other extensive international travelling that typically, an American Grande size (16 ounces hot) is everyone else's Venti size (whereas American Ventis are 20 ounces hot).  In the majority of cafes here, you never need to specify the size of coffee you want because there is only one size.
I really look forward to our first American visitors (which should take place sometime this year).  I can't wait to see their reactions to everyday Australian life.  I love those moments when visitors point out what is different, then I need to think, "Oh yeah! I guess that is different! I had totally forgotten!" 
We've been here for over seven months now. [Side note: if I cumulatively add up my time here from 2001 and now, I've spent an entire year of my life in Australia!]  I still love it and don't really ever get homesick.  I certainly have no reservations regarding staying indefinitely.  Again, I always miss my family, friends and certain constant components of American culture (stores remaining open until 10:00pm, proper Mexican food, competitive pricing on goods, affordable health club memberships...), but I never feel like I want to board a plane and hightail it to the U.S.  
I've got a little more than a week to go until I return to school. I'm really looking forward to my next semester.  It's been a great summer, but you can definitely feel that fall (or autumn, as it is called here and in the rest of the world) is in the air.  I'm ready.  I'll try to post more too, okay? 
Later. xo



Australia Day was January 26th.  This particular date marks the arrival of the First Fleet from Britain in Sydney.  The national holiday is filled with festivities.
Our first Australia Day holiday was filled with friends (both Australian and Brazilian), food (both French and Chinese), street art, meditation, a skateboarding exhibit and beer (in no particular order).  While all these activities stand out, the most memorable thing from that day for me occurred in the span of five seconds or so.
For those that know me well, you already understand that I am an avid people watcher.  Put me in a group, I'm the slowest walker.  The last one there.  I'm busy observing everything.  It's constant.  I enjoy being around people and have found that everyone has got a story to tell.  The best part of travelling, or even living in general, is experiencing the people.  No question there.
While my friends and I waited at the corner of Flinders and Russell Streets for the crosswalk to light up, two beautiful, young men caught the corner of my eye.  The men that had grabbed my attention were clearly Sudanese refugees.  If I had to guess, I'd say that they were both in their early twenties.  Their clothing was functional and modest, smiles radiant.  One of the men wore a baseball cap with the colors of Australia.  The other had a bandanna with the Southern Cross on it.  Both men held Australian flags and seemed to be headed to Federation Square for the celebrations honoring Australia.  Walking past these men, I nearly began to cry crossing the road.
Can you imagine?
Honestly, think about it for a moment.  Really pause and reflect on the following idea:
Can you imagine the feeling of seeing your country torn apart by an extremely violent, seemingly never-ending war, right before your very own eyes?  Can you imagine having to flee to a refugee camp, unaware of if and when you'll be able to escape, continually wondering and worrying about your family and friends?  Can you imagine starting a new life somewhere far away, perhaps with or without your loved ones, watching your home country from afar, while awaiting peace?
The men I passed by were clearly proud to celebrate their residency in Australia, one of the world's most welcoming, safest and most-developed nations.  I still can picture their wide grins in my mind. I began to think about how they got there.  I wondered what life was like for them before Australia.
Can you imagine?
I believe that as humans, we continually relate to others' experiences through the lens of our own, whatever that may be.  I began to think about all the petty, completely irrelevant things in life that I complain about: the tram being five minutes late, my new shoes giving me blisters, running out of coffee while getting ready for work, etc.  I know we all do it, but I really want to make an effort not to.  Understanding how good I've got it constantly proves to be a work in progress.  I continually resolve to work on this more and more each day.
To everyone living in a developed nation, absent of extreme poverty, famine and war; take a minute to think about how lucky you are.  Most of the world's population can only dream of these conditions.  We've got it pretty good, I reckon.