“The Aussie Road is now completely flooded…and getting deeper” These were the words that welcomed me to Australia via the the radio taking me from the airport to the Sunshine Coast. After some twenty hours in the air and an additional 5 or so spent in airports, it wasn’t exactly the type of news i wanted to hear. Somewhat bizarrely, it was kind of comforting to hear however. The category 5 cyclone, Marcia, was here to welcome me to my new home for the next few months, and believe it or not, it was exhilarating. Let me explain why, for starters, i was just stoked to be outside of an airport. I left my house at 11 a.m. (EST) on Thursday February 19th and arrived in Brisbane on Saturday February 21 at 7 a.m. (GMT +10). I had lost an entire day crossing the international date line. So the rainy exterior of the Australian landscape was a happy escape from the inside of a fuselage of an airplane. The second reason i was excited to be inching towards a category five cyclone was because it was, simply, something I’ve never experienced before. From the moment I landed in Australia, it was already showing me things that i have never encountered before. Plus if i can survive a cyclone, i think i can survive just about anything Australia was prepared to throw at me. Granted, by the time i arrived the cyclone had made landfall, and had begun to drop in severity, but, minor details.
By nightfall, i was settled in to my apartment and meeting my new roommates. We discussed some cultural differences between the states and Australia. One of the biggest things that caught my eyes was the cigarette packages. Graphic images of diseases caused by smoking covered the cartons of cigarettes. I was pretty shocked to be honest, but the first thing i thought was, “I don’t really want to smoke a cigarette.” (Not that i smoke to begin with). And then it made me wonder if this type of branding would ever make it into America. Regardless, we exchanged questions about the United States and Australia, and it wasn’t long before a spoonful of Vegemite was being handed to me to try. What i know now is no one eats Vegemite on a spoon. I can’t say i was a fan. Although, it made the cheap bagged wine that all college kids can afford taste a little bit better. ‘Goon’ they call it, very similar to Franzia back in the states. Overall, i would say that it was a successful first day in ‘Straya, even though i had yet to see a kangaroo. To be honest i was just happy to be out of the snow covered northeast, and i knew, with temperatures in the high 70s – mid 80s, it was going to be a great semester.