Cultural Adjustment, Language Learning, Living Abroad, Student Life Abroad, University Abroad

The Down Under-Adjustments, Food, School

March 30, 2017



Ringtail possum posing for my camera.



Eating the food scraps provided by my host family.


Luna Park under the Harbor Bridge.


G’Day Mate!

Being Fascinated By the Smallest Things:

I am in the second month of my adventure in Sydney, Australia, as funded by the Gilman Scholarship.

Most of Australia, if not all, have taxed items at 10%, so since it’s the same for most stores in the continent, the tax is already included in the price; the price you see in the store is the price you’re going to pay.

So, a t-shirt that says it is $10.85, IS a t-shirt that is $10.85. There isn’t an extra add-on 10%, making it easier to know exactly what you’re going to pay and have exact change out before you get rung up.

Another thing I am fascinated by is the kettle, since Australia is more of a tea country, the most basic appliance in the Australia home is a kettle. With a press of a button, you get boiling water in under a minute, give or take.


The first time my host family asked me to make tea, I had put the cup in the microwave before they stopped me and laughed.

They then showed me their kettle, turned it on, and I was amazed that I had hot tea in under a minute without icky microwave heat. I explained to them that most Americans, at least from my knowledge, don’t have kettles, but make hot drinks in the microwave. We also would boil water on the stove if we didn’t have a microwave.

They laughed and said Americans must live in the dark ages, since kettles are essential for not only making tea, but boiling water and refrigerating it to have clean tap water.

I explained that since Americans drink more coffee than tea, either they don’t have kettles because they don’t drink tea or the kettles aren’t as fast in the west as they are in the down under—due to Australia’s high voltage plugs.

[America’s voltage is around 100-120 v, 60 hz, while Australian voltage is 220-240, 50 hz. I had to buy a step-down converter for my appliances because of their high voltage. If I took their appliance back to the States, it would be slower to work.]

Personally, I’m a tea person, never liked coffee and never will, but even though the kettles back home might take a little extra time to warm up, I am definitely going to buy a kettle when I get home. But, for right now, I am having a lot more tea than I did back home.




I love them in the States, but so far, the two different places I have had a burger had really bad fat in the meat and I hate the fat in hamburgers. I couldn’t finish either one.

Now, I am afraid to try another one, even if it’s in a high-end restaurant, so I am eating more chicken, which I guess isn’t a bad thing.

-Fast Food:

I try not to eat a lot of it, but when I’m hungry and there isn’t a healthier option, I get stuck with fast food. BUT, their chicken and fries at Hungry Jacks [Burger King for Americans] and Oporto [Portuguese-themed fast food] taste less greasy than American fast food.

They do also have KFC, McDonalds, and Subway, but other than that, their fast food is primarily Australian. So, no Panda Express for me.


They’re nice and plain enough in the U.S., but here, regular dark purple raisins are wayyyyyy to bitter.

Instead, people eat sultanas, which are golden raisins. So, instead of buying Raisin Bran, I am buying Sultana Bran and when I bought raisins and put it in my cereal, I was shocked by the different taste it had than in America.

-Kangaroo Meat:


It exists. But I haven’t tried it because they are such a bizarre animal to begin with and only live in Australia, that I don’t want to eat them. I rather eat cows that are available in most countries, than an animal that is unique to one.



I tried it. Yes, it’s true what they say, it’s VERY salty. If you didn’t grow up on it, it’s hard to think that’s what kids eat for breakfast. Safe to say, I didn’t like it.


Taste like chicken. Some things are the same for every country.


It depends what you get. If you get some ice cream, the chocolate taste about the same as it does in the U.S., depending on what brand and quality. Now, their candy is a bit different. Their M’n’M’s have less milk in them and taste a little more like U.S. dark chocolate. The Kit Kat bars taste really different than the U.S. since Hershey’s doesn’t make them, but rather Nestlé; the Kit Kat’s also have less milk and taste more like dark chocolate.


My American accent is very strong, so it becomes obvious when I speak that I am Exchange student; some people have actually guess I was from Canada.

I do have a hard time hearing accents on television/movies, which prompts me to add subtitles, but I can understand a lot of people here, mostly because they tend to speak with a posh accent—which can be mistaken for a British accent.

It’s only if you get more into the country and away from the city, do you hear more of the thick Australian accent, with lazy vowels and lots of lingo. 

Sometimes, I do have to ask others to repeat themselves when they talk softly—more often than when I’m in the U.S., because of the low volume accent can make the words sound distorted to me.

University of Technology Sydney


The first thing you noticed at UTS is the language. Instead of ‘class start date’, it’s ‘commences’. Instead of ‘assignment’ and ‘syllabus’, it’s ‘assessments’ and ‘subject outline’. Even though I speak English and the country speaks English, there is still differences in the way Australia uses language. Even some of the spelling is different, such as ‘enrolment’ instead of ‘enrollment’.

UTS breaks up classes into different segments; instead of signing up for a class that meets on Monday/Wednesday from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm, UTS has a lecture class on one day, a tutorial class on another day AND time, and a workshop portion on a third day and time. ALL for one subject.

It’s a tad confusing and makes it a bit hard to come up with a schedule fast. I kept going back and forth a lot to see what combination of classes would work best for my schedule, because although I am taking three subjects, I have EIGHT different classes to attend to. Even some of the counselors say SFSU’s method of Monday/Wednesday from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm sounds easier than UTS’s.








Australia and New Zealand Army Corps [ANZAC] War Memorial. Australia places more emphasizes on WWI rather than WWII.


ANZAC War Memorial



ANZAC War Memorial



ANZAC War Memorial. The red poppies you see on the floor were the first plants to pop up on the battle grounds after the First World War. Soldiers gave the poppies meaning, expressing that they represented a dead soldier and blood that they lost. Commonwealth countries wear a red poppy on Remembrance Day, and although it has been adopted by the U.S., you see more usage of it in other countries rather than the States.

It’s only the first week, a pretty easy workload, but I can already feel the pressure from all the due dates I have noted on my calendar when each ‘assessment’ will be due.

I am told that it is hard for students at UTS to receive a near perfect grade and that most receive what is equivalent to B’s and C’s. Not wanting to damage my GPA, I will have to work harder to make sure I receive those high marks.


Until then,

CheersP1150885 (2)




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