One thing I love about being an au-pair is the opportunity to share life with locals. I always learn something no matter what country I'm in, but I definitely think that I have benefitted most from time spent with local families. I have been learning so much from the family I am currently living with here in Australia - lessons in a variety of topics, such as Australian politics, the effects of social media, what it takes to run a business, the best spots to visit in Queensland, why the Chanel brand is so expensive, and the importance of prioritizing life experiences over material things. Here are a few things that I have found interesting from conversations I've had recently:
I'm absolutely terrified of sharks - along with eye surgery, I think it ties for #1 on the list of my worst fears (although maybe irrational, as I have never seen a shark and don't have any vision problems). Anyways, I have worried about sharks since before arriving here, but I have been informed that the beaches in Gold Coast are netted, meaning that they are safe from sharks! So, maybe I will try out surfing while I'm here ;) However, the canals that run through the city are not protected, and are infested with aggressive bull sharks, which breed there. Many homes are right on the water and have boats, but I have been warned to NEVER swim in the canals, because these sharks are extremely dangerous.
I’ve learned that Australia has been experiencing a severe drought that is greatly affecting farmers and in turn other parts of the country. This drought has been caused by El Niño Southern Oscillation, which is an irregular climate change caused by variations of sea surface temperatures over the eastern Pacific Ocean. The warming phase is called El Niño, and the cooling phase is known as La Niña. Australia has been experiencing an extreme El Niño weather event. One effect of the drought is that beef production has gone way down, as farmers had to kill their cattle and herd sizes got smaller. This has caused beef prices to go way up, and small businesses like the local butchers are struggling to get by.
I love the Australian accent, although it’s sometimes difficult for me to understand people with how much slang they use. I’ve picked up on a few words so far:
Mate - Friend
Banger - Sausage
Swimmers - Swimsuit
Cheeky - Saucy, Smart- Alecky
Lolly - Candy
Heaps - A Lot
Maccas - McDonalds
How ya going? - How are you?
Jelly - Jell-O
Bloke - Guy
Nappy - Diaper
Pram - Stroller
Rubbish - Garbage
Thongs - Flip Flops
Chips - French Fries
Bin - Garbage Can
Trolley - Shopping Cart
Uni - University
Petrol - Gasoline
Anyways, I am continuing to learn more and to explore more of the Queensland region. I've recently visited Tamborine Mountain, Beechmont, and Springbrook National Park in Gold Coast, and also South Bank in Brisbane. (Click the links for photos)
I've been in Australia for a week now, and although I am absolutely loving the incredible weather and beautiful beaches here, my favorite thing so far about this country is the people!
It's definitely the friendliest place I've ever traveled to, which is great being a solo traveler. It's pretty easy to strike up conversation with an Aussie while waiting for the bus or while in line at a store; they all seem to enjoy chatting with just about anyone. Plus, I love talking to the people here even if just to hear their accent, which I am in love with. The only difficulty I have is understanding all of the local lingo - they use so much slang! Hopefully I will catch on by the end of my two months here.
I also really like the laid-back style that the Aussies have. The Gold Coast has a super chill vibe. Everyone here dresses really casual - often times in beachwear, as the city where I live is literally on the coast and is primarily beaches.
The last thing that I love about Australians is their straightforward way of speaking. They never seem to beat-around-the-bush to tell you something or sugar-coat it, like is common in the States. This bluntness is growing on me now and I appreciate the honesty.
...And so far there are two things that I don't love about Australia:
1. The cost-of-living is extremely high - everything from food, clothes,
and transportation is ridiculously expensive.
2. It's a very spread-out country, which makes traveling to other cities, or even just
around within Gold Coast, much more difficult than it is in Europe. I can often spend
an hour in travel time (catching several buses and the tram) just to get to the
other side of the city I live in.
Anyways, I am enjoying my time here. The family that I'm staying with is really chill - I like talking to both of the parents; they have lots of interesting stories to tell, and I'm learning more about Australia from them. The kids are great too - one boy and two little girls, all three super fun with distinct personalities! I'm starting to make friends here and have found some good spots to hangout when I have time-off. I'm also hoping to check out a nearby church that I found soon! I'm excited to see what the next two months have in store!
Today, I visited yet another suburb in Gold Coast called Main Beach. Some locals I met on the tram had recommended I go here, and I enjoyed the tranquil beach with much less people than Surfer's. Really, I think all of the beaches here boast breath-taking beauty, but it's nice to see there is a variety in the atmospheres at each place. I think Surfer's Paradise will be a good place to visit when I'm in the mood for socializing and meeting people, whereas Main Beach is a better location to relax.
This morning I made my way (by two buses and the tram...figuring out the transportation system here!) to Broadbeach, a suburb in Gold Coast. I started off the day with some Christmas shopping at the Pacific Fair shopping center (which had a nice selection of stores, but I am quickly realizing that everything in Australia is super-expensive.) Afterwards, I walked over to the beach to enjoy the sun and cool off in the turquoise water, and then got lunch at a cute Fish-and-Chips shop nearby. I was craving a cold beverage, so I asked for a recommendation and tried "Vonu," a beer from Fiji...I usually don't like beer at all, but this was excellent! I will look for it again while I'm here :)
So, I have arrived to Gold Coast, Australia, where I will be living for the next two months. It is beautiful here - hot outside with bright sunshine and clear blue skies :) Today I visited Surfer's Paradise, a suburb not too far from where I'm living. There was a nice sandy beach, a good shopping strip, and yummy sushi! The people seem really friendly here, and the Australian accent is adorable.
See more from Gold Coast here!
I am so thankful to have been able to spend my last weekend here with my Italian family in the Dolomite Mountains. We arrived to their mountain home in San Vito di Cadore on Saturday, and stayed until Tuesday afternoon. I fell in love with the natural beauty of the mountains, the darling little villages scattered throughout the valleys, and the delicious traditional food and wine. It is pretty crazy that I began this week in the mountains in Italy, and I will end it on the beach in Australia...time is flying by so quickly! See more photos from the Dolomite Mountains here.
I believe in God's grace through Jesus. I love to learn, in a variety of contexts - reading God's Word, interacting with people from diverse backgrounds around the world, and as a student of Linguistics and Foreign Languages at Western Washington University. Pages of My Passport is dedicated to sharing this journey of learning through written and visual content.