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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!!

 

 

 

 

 

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