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Monday
10/23/17

I can’t get away from my Chemistry 101 text. Australia, Part 4

Posted by bostonki on October 23, 2017 in Australia, travel

Hello, users of the internet.

I’m finally ready (in the mood, have adequate time) to continue my blog posts about this past summer’s study abroad trip to Australia.  I believe when I last left you a month (?) ago, I had just moved in to my apartment in Mooloolaba, Queensland.

The first two weeks weren’t that glamorous.  Mostly, we just went to class.  Monday through Friday, whatever early morning C decided to torture us with (8 AM was the norm) until 3 or 4 if we were really unlucky.  We spent most days at the University of the Sunshine Coast, which actually is one of only 40-something universities in Australia.

Education is quite different there, from the level of Year 1 (equivalent to preschool, I believe) all the way to higher education.  Something I really appreciated was that it was acceptable to take a different path and actually not attend college (hence why there are only 40 something of them).  Schools in Queensland produce a lot of college-bound students, but also produce a lot of students earning special certificates in subjects like Culinary, Trades, Tourism (which is actually what Bindi Irwin is pursuing currently, fun fact).  And this is okay.. it’s okay if you don’t go to college.  Every path is equal.  I still have trouble wrapping my mind around this.  And college is free.  Let me repeat that.

College.

Is.

Free.

I was also informed that starting at age 18, the Queensland government sent you checks for a certain amount of years to help support you living on your own.

And everyone wonders why American millennials are broke, angry, and depressed.

I did get a chance to look in the University’s bookstore and Pearson still has a monopoly overseas and textbooks are NOT any cheaper there.

Anyone recognize “Chemistry: The Central Science”??? LOLOL I can’t escape it from halfway across the globe #CHE101

Some other random facets of information I learned about Queensland education?  The school year runs January-December.  So there are a whole bunch of Year 12’s just beginning to line up and celebrate right now.  Also, teachers in Australia have to fulfill a service requirement during their time.  They have to spend time teaching at a location away from the Coast.  The more remote the school, the more “points” you rack up and the sooner you can escape the desert and get back to where all the action’s happening.  Unfortunately, many teachers don’t like this since they find teaching in Outback or very rural towns, especially those with high Indigenous populations, difficult.

As dazzling as the system sounds, it’s not without it’s faults.  Just like Native Americans, indigenous Australian communities suffer from problems like alcoholism, gambling, violence, a curriculum that doesn’t cater to them or their needs (which is slowly being overdrawn as Australia introduces facets of indigenous culture in), and friction with white teachers coming in from the coast.

What has made me really sad is the recent timeline of indigenous history.  The first British colony was set up in Sydney in 1788 and a subsequent ransack had taken place, but it was not until 1962 that they were granted the right to vote, until the mid-70s that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags were recognized, and not until 2008 that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologized for everything that had happened, including the Stolen Generation.

Aboriginal Flag, one of two indigenous groups.  The other are the Torres Strait Islander peoples from the Papua New Guinea area.

So we studied history (the real way – where C didn’t hold back on how crappy the country’s past actually was), culture, educational issues, curriculum – and then we went to visit schools!  This was the best part, as we got to see what they looked like, how they worked, the students, etc.

I don’t have any pictures of schools but there were def some major differences.  I didn’t see one school that was just one brick, prisonlike building.  They were all multi-building, one floor, and the campuses were huge!  You had to walk outside in beautiful garden areas to get from classroom to classroom or to the outdoor eating areas.  Backpacks were kept outside the classrooms.  Kids wore uniforms.  There was no cafeteria.  I’m sure these students would feel just as strange in New York as I felt walking around there.

At one school, a grandparent made us traditional Anzac biscuits (like a cookie).  At another, the kids decorated their own Australian flags and paraded us through a main area, giving us high fives.  At another, a kid walked by and yelled “I love Donald Trump!”.  At a fourth, the culinary certificate students made their own lunch for us from scratch, with kangaroo sausage, beef stew, biscuits (I didn’t try a biscuit there I didn’t like).  Yes, I ate kangaroo.  And I couldn’t stuff it down, I felt like I was eating spiders or scorpions.  They gave us kangaroo keychains and I won a beer cozy at one (keep in mind youn can drink at age 18 here).  And mostly, they just stared as we walked by with weird accents.  Someone I would meet later in the trip would tell me that Australians just have a thing for New York accents (use this to your advantage, ladies!)  Everyone at the schools was just so hospitable.

Here we all are at Mountain Creek State High School.. with whatever their mascot is.

Next week, you can look forward to me finding Steve Irwin’s house, getting nasty wings, watching rugby for the first time and developing a love with it, “All Star” by Smash Mouth, and me wasting a whole ton of Himalayan pink salt.

Cheers!!

 

 

 

 

 

Monday
10/09/17

New plans already?

Posted by bostonki on October 9, 2017 in travel

Hi guys!  Sorry about the two-week wait for a new blog post.

Life has been absolutely nuts between classes, lab time, work, club and volunteer commitments, and trying to have a basic Fall experience (apple picking, festivals, Halloween movies, Haunted Hayrides and Haunted Houses.. I need a vacation exclusively for fall activities!).  But what I want to talk about this week isn’t Australia, but some newer, just-as-exciting plans I have in the works for next fall.

I have been back from Planet Irwin for three months and I’m already itching for another adventure.  I’m planning a hopeful one-day trip to New York around finals week because the City at Christmas has been on my bucket list forever, and Mike and I are thinking about going to Boston next summer (har har).  Those are just placations.  I wanted another international experience, which I briefly considered, until I remembered about something I was really enthusiastic about in high school.

The Disney College Program (got any connections THERE, Mr. Mike??).  I’ve decided at this point I’m really tired of being a student and could use a break, especially since I plan on starting graduate school right after graduation.  Also, DISNEY.  So, I am going to apply when applications come out at the end of January.  But..  Disney World or Disneyland?

My family and I have been there eight times, if I’m counting correctly.  I’m a part of the World’s fandom and know the place like the back of my hand.  A lot of cool stuff will be open by next fall, including Toy Story Land.  And a lot has opened since my last visit in May of 2016, like Pandora land, the new Soarin (which debuted less than two weeks after we left, grr), etc.  As an added bonus, Harry Potter land is a twenty minute drive down the road and I still haven’t seen their expanded section, or had a butterbeer since June 2012.

I’ve never been to Disneyland.  My parents are under the impression that it sucks and all that, but it doesn’t sound bad at all.  I’ve heard Disneyland Park is very intimate, plus there are spaces like New Orleans Square that the Magic Kingdom doesn’t have.  Plus, there’s Cars Land at Disney’s California Adventure.  It’s much smaller geographically but this is where it all began!  I hope it has the same Disney maagic vibe that I got growing up on Disney World.  The added bonus here is Southern California.  A couple of layovers in LAX in my lifetime does not equate to being in the city.  Though one of my favorite cities, San Francisco, is a six hour drive north, there’s plenty of bucket list items in South Cali.  The Hollywood Sign hike, Stars, Chinese Theatre, Sunset Boulevard, beaches (if I’m feeling it), the San Diego Zoo, free TV tapings (helloooo, Ellen!), and the list goes on.  Go to UCLA for a cheesy sweatshirt (like I want to do at Harvard).

No matter which location I decide to go, I’d definitely take my car.  When I told my parents initially under the assumption I was going to Florida, my dad perked up and seemed excited about taking my car?  But to Cali?  That’s a no-go.  Well why not?  I could make a whole map of places to stop and see.  You take your time.  My Google Map search automatically took me through Chicago, Denver, and Vegas.  At that point, the Grand Canyon is just a short jaunt away.

Terrifying, yes.

But the question remains, Florida or Cali?  I might already know which one I’m leaning towards.