PERTH: Magpies, koalas and my first few weeks abroad

Hey guys! I’m Taylor, a senior psych major at SEU and I’ll be posting about my study abroad adventures down under this fall.

I’ve been in Australia for almost seven weeks now, and it still doesn’t feel real. I keep waking up expecting to be in my apartment in Austin– only to be pleasantly surprised to hear magpies outside my window.

Actually, that is a lie.

Australian Magpies are terrible little birds that sound like shrieking babies and terrified me the first few mornings I was here. Luckily, magpies have been my only unpleasant experience with Australian wildlife despite the whole “everything in Australian is trying to kill you” saying. I have been warned about spiders and snakes, but I refuse to acknowledge that they’re real until I see them. Denial is key. 

I should probably back up a little and explain where exactly “here” is. I’m studying abroad this semester at the University of Notre Dame in Fremantle, Western Australia. Fremantle, or Freo, is an insanely cute suburb of Perth, the capitol of Western Australia. It’s a town with a lot of history so the majority of buildings have been restored from their original structures. My residential hall is actually a 100-year-old restored bar! I’m also a 5-minute walk from the Indian Ocean which is gorgeous. Unfortunately, it’s too cold to really enjoy the beach most days because it’s the end of winter here. 

What’s happened so far?

There is no way I can give a summary of everything that’s happened in the last six weeks so instead here’s a quick list of the best or weirdest moments and things I’ve learned about Oz since leaving home:

Koalas and kangaroos: I got to pet them and take a lot of awful animal selfies. This gets first place on the list because it was the best day ever. 

Australian winter, at least here in Western Australia, is a lot like Texas winter minus the ice and Aussies are a lot worse at dealing with cool weather than Texans. Think giant coats and boots in 65 degree weather.

I got Australian first aid certified! Half of the course was about how to treat injuries from animals. *shudders*

Everyone thinks Texas is basically like a John Wayne movie and they’re really disappointed by my lack of accent. I’ve had to pull out my driver’s license twice to prove that I’m a Texan. 

The fact that everyone is technically speaking English does not make it easier to understand what everyone is talking about. Dinky-di Aussie? Arvo? Thank goodness for Google. 

Everything is so laid back here from work, school, etc. The pace is so much slower than at home which is odd because we’re not really fast-paced in Texas either. It makes me feel like I’m on a really nice vacation where I occasionally write papers.

Full disclosure: I don’t have a huge bucket list of things I want to do while I’m here. I’m not really a planner when it comes to adventures. I love getting lost and just exploring so we’ll see how that works out. I do know for sure that I want to go explore the East coast. Freo is on the opposite side of the continent from Brisbane, Sydney, and all of the other towns you think of when you think Australia. Hopefully, I can save enough money to go either during our mid-semester break or stay a week later at the end of the semester. I’m working as an RA in my residence hall so I should be able to swing it if I stop shopping and baking. We’ll see.