Exchange diaries: In love with Australia

I didn’t have a date, but Valentine’s Day last year was one of the most memorable days of my life.

It’s when I found out about my semester-long dalliance with Australian National University (ANU).

I’ve always been in love with Australia from afar. The sunny skies, the magical beaches and the charming accent always seemed whimsical. Now, there’s no more dreaming of that long awaited day.

After a grueling 30-hour flight on Feb. 3, I finally made it. I currently live in a mixed residence with first-years and other exchange students, and the experience is drastically different than my year-long stay at Victoria Hall in first year.

Because the legal drinking age here is 18, almost all of the students living here are legal. It isn’t unusual to see residents walking around drinking in res. There’s also a bar downstairs that sells cheap drinks.

Can you imagine the Lazy Scholar selling $2.50 beers? This was one of the biggest culture shocks of all, especially because the dons are allowed to drink with us. But other than that, ANU is pretty comparable to Queen’s.

ANU is located in Canberra, the capital city of Australia, and resembles Ottawa in its heavy concentration of government buildings.

The university is very tight-knit and community-based, much like Queen’s. Many of the city’s residents are students, so you’re bound to run into someone when you’re out clubbing or eating.

While many Australians say living in Canberra isn’t exactly desirable (it’s not that close to the ocean), I’ve been having a blast meeting so many new people from all over the world.

Canberra is centrally located in between Melbourne and Sydney, so it’s super easy to grab a $25 Greyhound bus to either for the weekend.

While the price of a brunch is comparable to the bus ticket, the delicious smashed avocado toast and eggs benny are worth it.

So far, I’ve only been able to make it out to Sydney, but I plan on heading down to Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road within the next few weeks. I also have yet to try Vegemite or see a kangaroo.

Until then, I’ll be snacking on Tim Tams (the most amazing Australian chocolate wafers) and drinking Goon (bagged wine — it’s a thing).

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