So, that’s a Thing...

Alexis Schwartz James Cook University, Australia


November 1, 2015

Hello all! If you’ve been keeping up with me you know that I’ve been away for a couple of weeks. My apologies it was my last few weeks here in Oz and it was pretty hectic. I had a lot of papers and whatnot to do and really couldn’t stray away from them. But! Alas I’m done with lectures now and only have my finals left. It feels so strange to say that when it’s only just November. It’s been a great semester. I’ve made a lot of friends and a lot of memories. I’ve done amazing with my classes so far and I’ve enjoyed my time here in AUS. However, I cannot wait for Christmas break to begin. I’m going to New Zealand! Then hopefully later on to Tasmania. I’m so excited because both places are apparently incredibly beautiful. And don’t worry; I’ll keep you updated through those ventures of course! This blog post though, I wanted to dedicate to things. I find myself saying ‘so that’s a thing’ quite often here and wanted to share some of those things with you.


Bugs here are…. terrifying. They’re weird, and loud, and big. They somehow always find their way to you whether you’re outside, in lecture, the dining hall, your room, and the bathroom, everywhere. Ants are a really big thing here. It’s like you can’t escape them. They’re not big or scary; they’re just annoying. Let me tell you a story though. I was walking up to my floor from the dining hall. I’m walking up the stairs and I almost tripped over my pants so I look down to make sure I don’t do it again (because how embarrassing, right?). So I reach the top of the first flight and I look up. I immediately, IMMEDIATELY, squealed and ran as fast as I could up the last flight of stairs. When I was at the top, I couldn’t move anymore. My heart was beating a million miles a sec and it felt like I had just ran 8 miles. And all I could do was stare at the wall in horror. There was a spider. Not just any spider, an Australian spider. It was the size of my entire hand, just lounging around on the wall IN my college. Absolutely terrifying. It was my first encounter with a spider here at uni and hopefully, my last. Life tip: if bugs aren’t your thing, neither is Australia.


I guess this technically should go under it’s not a thing. Halloween is not big in Australia. Which is very sad to me because it’s my favorite holiday. Who doesn’t love to dress up as their favorite characters and get free candy? Well, apparently Australians. Though it isn’t big, some people do get in the holiday spirit and dress up. Trick or treating is left for little kids and most houses don’t have candy for the few kids who do participate in it. I dressed up with a few of my floor mates and we had dinner in our costumes. There were five of us. In the entire college. FIVE. People stared and laughed at us but we had a good time. After dinner I went to a costume party with a friend. We had to go get ice and when we went into the servo the cashier and 4 other customers all stared at us as well. But they all laughed and smiled and it was good fun. It was however, a complete culture shock. On Halloween in the states I’m used to being surrounded by kids and adults that are dressed up. So being looked at strangely because I was dressed up was different. Regardless if it’s big or not though, you can always have good fun with celebrating it anyway.


Of course graduating is a thing, right? However, it’s different here. In the states we graduate with those we entered uni with that year, regardless of major. Here, you graduate with whom you completed your degree with. Because here undergrad and grad school aren’t separated and you just get your degree after x amount of years it takes to complete it, you graduate at different times than the people who started the same time as you in different majors. For example, my friend Sam and I are both technically third years. But since I’m studying psychology and she’s studying medicine, I’ll be graduating next year whereas she’ll be graduating in three years. It’s quite different. Alongside that as well, graduation doesn’t just happen at the end of the year. For Sam, her graduation will happen in March because that’s just when the ceremony is for them. Which is weird because that’s in the middle of the first semester here.


This is another one of those things that Australia does that the states really needs to adopt. In all honesty I don’t know if some universities in the states do this, but my uni at home doesn’t. Normally, we have what is called a ‘reading day’ before exams to give us a break and an extra day before exams. Here, we get an entire week. And it’s called swotvac. It’s really nice to know that I have an extra seven days to prepare myself for finals. It helps lessen the stress of everything.


This… It is a thing. In fact, Domino’s, McDonald’s, and other generic pizza places deliver to uni. However, if you’re like me, you live off the great Chinese places around your college. That is not a thing here. There’s no Chinese food like in the states here. I have yet to find a Chinese food restaurant in general around this way and was told by all the Australians that Chinese food doesn’t get delivered here. That, that’s weird. I’m still crying from this knowledge.

Daylight Savings.

Going to be very blunt, this is annoying. Firstly, not every state participates in daylight savings. This a major problem because unlike the states, where our country is separated into 50 states, Oz only has seven, eight if ACT is counted. In the states two or three states don’t participate, in Aus three states don’t either. That’s almost half for here. Thank about that: if twenty of our states did not participate. There would be chaos. It just so happens that the state I’m in, Queensland, doesn’t participate. However! New South Wales, the state underneath here, does. As does all of the southern half of Australia. So if you’re traveling, between the north and south you have to be extremely mindful of it. Which I will have to do at the end of the month and throughout my summer since I’ll be traveling through, in, and staying in the southern half of Oz. Secondly, it’s not even the same as the states! When the US pushing the clocks ahead, Australia pushes them back and vice versa. On top of that, the dates are also different! WHY!? How!? Maybe I just don’t get time and space but it is just so inconvenient. However, if this is the only issue I have with Australia, the inconvenience of the time difference constantly changing, I’m completely content with that.

I’m sure that there are plenty of other things that I’ve said this phrase to while here so far, but these are the major ones that I could think of off the top of my head. I’m sure I’ll make another list like this throughout the rest of my time here. Maybe they’ll be even weirder things. I’ll be waiting until then. Learning about the differences between the culture and country are just becoming increasingly more interesting. It’s nice to be able to embrace the changes and take them head on. I suggest seeking them out; sometimes they’re right under your nose and you never notice.