Well I have gotten settled in the past several days and have found my way around campus and the city. The city of Newcastle is about a 10 minute train ride, and I have been there 3 or 4 times. So far 2 roommates have moved in, one guy from Mexico and another guy from Canada. I learned that two girls moving in tomorrow are from Australia, and I’m not sure who the 5th roommate will be.
The city of Newcastle is really nice. It has many beaches along the eastern coast. I have been to 3 of the beaches so far, and I think there is probably 7 or 8 different ones. Newcastle is known for surfing, and I quickly found out why. The waves are brutal. A funny thing I heard as I was walking along one of the beaches: the lifeguards gave an announcement that the waters weren’t good for swimming right now (I think because of the waves), and they said that swimmers should go to Shark Alley. I laughed because I think I would rather be in bad waters than Shark Alley.
I didn’t really know where anything was, so I just got off the train and started walking. Australians really are friendly people. I had heard that they are nice, so that is the reason why I didn’t look up many directions on how to get to Newcastle when I first came. I just relied on the directions of others. Everyone is always happy to help and very friendly. So I got off the train and asked which way to the beaches. I walked along the beaches, then stopped and got coffee and a muffin, and kept walking around the city. I found that Darby Street is the main shopping street here. Many restaurants and shops. Like the English, Australians seems to love all types of Asian foods. Indian, Thai, Chinese, everything. But that’s good for me, too.
I find that Australians are very easy to talk to also. The first night I was here, I went out with a big group and probably met 25 people. Everyone was happy to talk a little. I was also invited to go to the beach with a group yesterday. A few of the guys wanted to surf and the rest of us just swam for a little bit.
Another thing about Australia is the animals. The campus here is pretty much in a forest, so the types of animals are vast. After reading and hearing all about the different animals, I am very hesitant when walking around. Lizards are all over campus. When walking along sidewalks, I hear a lizard scamper in the bushes probably every 30 seconds or so. Yesterday I almost stepped on one and first thought it was a snake, but I then realized it was a lizard. Still scared me though. I have also heard that there is a type of bird that will try to swoop down and hit you. My roommate said he’s been hit by one before. So now of course I look at every bird like it is about to mug me. This isn’t even to mention that my roommate also there is a snake that lives behind one of the buildings close to me. It just happens to be the second most poisonous snake in the world, but it doesn’t harm anyone so no one worries about it.
Tomorrow some orientation events start, and I am also going to go check out the club baseball team here. Since I haven’t really played for 4 years, I’m looking forward to seeing how much I have lost in baseball. If everything goes good, I may join the team. I think they train 2 times a week and then have games on weekends.
People on campus seem to get very involved here. The whole week there are social events, and it sounds like there are social events pretty much ever week the whole year, whether it’s sports, going to the bar, or a barbie. There are rivalries between the dorms, not as much with the International House, but with two others. It sounds like they hate each other, which seems strange to me since people move in and out every year. I guess it’s like any sports team. Cubs and White Sox players come and go, but there will always be hatred between them.
One thing I don’t like about this campus is the transportation to and from other places. The campus is pretty much by itself with not many stores or anything. So to get to a grocery store, any shopping place, the beach, bars, we have to take either the bus or train. And it’s not really cheap either. AU$3.20 each way adds up. And they don’t really come that often, probably every 30 or 45 minutes. So it’s not really convenient or cheap.
Well these are my thoughts for now. G’day, mate.