Day 2: Tourist to Townie

25 May

I have several goals while here in Sydney. The main goal? Master the Australian accent. All other goals are secondary (sorry mom and dad). However, one of the more important secondary goals is to become intertwined in the Australian culture. Seven weeks probably isn’t enough time to become completely immersed (check out my vocabulary) but it allows me to be more than just a tourist. Today, I had my first culture “mishaps”.  There’s only one way to learn and that is by making mistakes and making mistakes I definitely did.

My first misstep came while we were touring Australian Catholic University (ACU). This is where we will be attending class over the next seven weeks. We were in the library and I was looking for a bathroom. I found a friendly looking student and simply asked, “Where is the bathroom?” This student looked at me like I had four heads. I quickly realized that they don’t have “bathrooms”. Aussies refer to bathrooms as “loos” or “ladies and gents”. I had just learned this in our meeting but could not recall it immediately. Instead, I compounded my mistake by saying, “I mean restrooms, uhhhh I mean toilets, uhhhhh I mean loos”. Finally, she realized what I needed and directed me in the right way.

After our brief tour of ACU and our orientation meeting, we headed on a charter tour of the Sydney. At lunch, I had another opportunity to do as the Aussies do. We stopped and ate at the famous Harry’s Café de Wheels. Harry’s serves world famous meatpies. Meat. Pie. Can’t possibly go wrong with this combination. I chose the Chicken Meatpie which consisted of a pie crust, chicken, mushrooms, cheese, mashed potatoes, peas, heaven, love and gold (okay, I can’t confirm those last three ingredients but I’m pretty sure they were in there somewhere). It was delicious. I understand why they are world famous. After leaving Harry’s, we went through the rest of Sydney, which included some spectacular views. Sydney is incredibly large and spans an amazing amount of land. I’m not even sure if seven weeks is enough time to enjoy everything.

After heading back to our apartment, I decided I wanted to make use of our complex’s gym. Meet mistake #2: Walked into the gym over to the weight rack and picked up the 30 lb. dumbbells. Either I needed a Snickers (Betty White Commercial) or had become extremely weak in five days. OR I completely forgot that Aussies use the metric system which means that 30 KILOGRAM dumbbell equaled XXX lbs. However, I wasn’t done with the culture mishaps.

After working out one of my roommates, Jeramey, and two others decided to go to the Jazz Festival at Darling Harbor. Showered, got ready (obviously I looked good), and were ready to go. Went downstairs, headed out of our complex and it was pouring. We decided against the Jazz festival and instead went to grab a bite to eat. We went into waterloo and picked out a neat little Pizza place called Wood & Stone. The Pizza was delicious. Jeramey and I split a pizza and practically inhaled it. After finishing we were looking around and both noticed the same thing. Every single person was using a fork and knife – even the boy sitting at the table next to us who couldn’t have been older than five. Think we looked like tourists? We were ready to pay and leave. We were waiting and waiting and waiting for our check. In this time, Jeramey made awkward eye contact with our waiter and our waiter didn’t even budge in the war of patience. Finally, I asked for the check and we paid. After paying we went ahead and asked our waiter who was very friendly (friendly and Australian are synonymous). He said most places make you ask for the check in Australian (cue the more you know). However, we did make one step in the right direction. We didn’t tip. Tipping is not expected in Australia because most of the servers make around $15 an hour!

It may take time but I will eventually learn these cultural differences and become an Aussie or maybe just a poser. But either way, I will have fun doing it.

Cheers!

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