Yay! I finally escaped the world of Beverly Hills customer service, and found a job with “IFSA-Butler Australia” as a Student Services Coordinator. IFSA-Butler happens to be the same organisation I studied abroad with in 2001! I look after American students coming here to study at University of New South Wales and University of Wollongong (I pronounced it wrong for several weeks before a few Australians told me it’s WOOL-on-gong, not WALL-on-gong).
One of the best parts of my job is at the start of each semester I’ll meet the students in Brisbane, where we take them for a 3-day Orientation on the Sunshine Coast, complete with surf lessons, a trip to Fraser Island, camel rides on the beach, and of course, lots of PowerPoint Presentations. I’ve already gotten my first-aid certification, so I can treat all the jellyfish stings and drop bear bites… those are particularly deadly!
So we’re wandering around the Sydney CBD, just sightseeing. As we’re walking through the Pitt Street Mall, we’re thrown off guard by some guys in the middle of the street holding up a sign for “free hugs.” Naturally, we were cautious and avoided them, as did almost everyone else. I noticed people with cameras filming them, but Erin thought they were probably just working on a school project or something. But at last, we ignored them and went on our way. Little did we know, we missed a rare chance to become a part of internet history. We later discovered this video on youtube, with over 7 million views:
The video is a music video for Australian band “Sick Puppies”, which helped to publicise the now worldwide Free Hugs Campaign. At least it’s nice to know that we witnessed a part of Australian history.
It was our first day in Australia… and when we turn on the TV we were struck with shock. Steve Irwin, the Crocidile Hunter, the big Australian icon who is even more famous in the U.S. than he is in Australia, is dead. He was stabbed through the heart by a sting ray’s barb. It was a sad day indeed. It was already so surreal that we were moving to another country, or in fact had already moved to another country, in the opposite hemisphere (both longitudinally and latitudinally). The news of Steve Irwin’s death was even more surreal. So I would like to take a moment to salute our fallen hero.
As most of you already know, Australia is swarming with some of the world’s most deadly creatures. Here’s a sample:
The extremely painful, venomous, and lethal box jellyfish
The smallest, stealthiest, and deadliest box jellyfish, the irukandji
The stealthy but gigantic salt water crocodiles, with their aptly-named “death rolls”
Numerous venemous snakes including the also aptly-named death adder
The blue-ringed octopus, currently the most toxic known sea creature, which stops your breathing by paralysing your chest muscles
The cone snail, which also paralyses you and kills you
The stonefish, which looks just like a rock, with the one exception that if you step on it, it kills you
The notorious funnel-web spider, which has large fangs with lethal venom, that can kill you
And the worst of them all, the larger and fangier cousin of the koala, the deadly drop bear. This oversized carnivorous marsupial drops from trees onto unsuspecting tourists and… you guessed it… kills you!
Of course, now we have to add one more animal to the list… the fearsome stingray, which, as we all now know, can also kill you.
As most of you already know, Erin and I are now living in Sydney Australia. We arrived early Monday morning (me for the first time) and have been trying to get settled in. Sydney is a beautiful city, the streets are clean, public transportation is great, the air is clear and crisp, and the weather has been perfect. Restaurants of every kind of food imaginable, everywhere. It’s a great place to walk around and we’ve been doing lots of it. We’re living in a suburb called “Edgecliff” (at least for the first 8 weeks).
My computer things (along with the rest of our belongings) are on a boat somewhere in the middle of the Pacific ocean and won’t arrive in Sydney for another eight weeks! We’ll be posting pictures on our photo gallery (linked on the right), but for the first few weeks don’t hold your breath. All of our planning has paid off, since everything has gone fairly smoothy. =)
Well, the mob found our hideout… as you can see, they ransacked the place! They also managed to disable my vehicle by destroying the battery, and then booby-trapping Jeff’s convertible top so it would break when he tried to show it to a potential buyer. They also tried to flush us out of hiding by attempting to flood our apartment using a nasty garbage-disposal clog. Then they hijacked the plumber’s van, came into our apartment posing as the plumber… and while “repairing” the sink, booby-trapped our faucet so that when we attempted to use it, it would fly up into our faces and flood water everywhere! If we can just make it through the last couple of days without running into them, we’ll be safely out of the country…
Seriously, everything breaks when you least need it to, huh? :)
Everyone, sing along!
On the 118th day before Christmas, my true love gave to me:
118 cubic feet of household goods… 117 feet of bubblewrap… 116 pages of crumpled TIME magazine… 115 paper towels… 114… (Hmm, what’s the next one? Something about dancing monkeys?)… 32 cardboard boxes… 25 bags of garbage… 8 helpful friends…
…FIVE… ROLLS of DUCT TAPE!!
…FOUR tanks of gas… THREE borrowed cars… TWO trips to the warehouse…
…And ONE Christmas-Day delivery of our stuff! (Hopefully, anyway…)
Whew! So yes, our entire life is packaged up, shrink-wrapped to a crate and on the next slow boat to Sydney (via a slow boat to China, since it’s “on the way”). Hopefully we’ll have the stuff in 10 weeks… or at the very least… by Christmas!