As another week winds down, I find that I am running out of things to do around Newcastle. It’s not too big of a city (only about 200,000 I think), so obviously it’s hard to find as many things to do as there were in London. However, I am going to try to start traveling more now to see more of the country and to keep busier. Heading to the Blue Mountains next weekend, New Zealand the week after that, then Melbourne a few weeks after that. Other places I want to see are Brisbane, Cairns (Great Barrier Reef), and others. Hopefully I’ll have enough time to see it all.
My dorm had tryouts for the touch footy (touch rugby) team the other day. I went just wanting to learn the game, and I really enjoyed it. It’s a pretty simple game, so it’s not tough to learn. After thinking about all the rules in American football, I can understand why people think it’s confusing. Touch footy is a lot of straightfoward running, then when touch you, you have to put the ball down between your legs and another person on your team takes it. You get 6 downs to score. You can’t throw it forward, so it’s hard to get past their line of defense. It’s hard to break through their line without getting touched, so it’s somewhat different to our football. I would say it’s less exciting, but it’s still fun to play. Obviously, being a first time player meant I wasn’t exactly sure of the strategy and wasn’t good by any means. I didn’t make the team, but it was expected. I had a good time learning it.
I also went to the badminton tryouts. I had just played badminton in p.e. class, so I’m not really skilled in this either. Everyone made the team, but I will be gone during the competition next weekend.
I found that our community room tv has ESPN, so a few of us have been going in every morning to watch the NCAA basketball games live. To say I haven’t kept up with college basketball this year is an understatement, but it’s good to see the final games. It makes me feel more at home, since it’s something I watch every year. Just something about normal things like that are soothing. Just the normal things like the familiar commentators (even just understanding the lingo and expressions), the familiar rules, and seeing familiar places. Watching rugby on tv with a bunch of Australians just won’t give that same feeling. Not many things will give that feeling in a foreign country, so it’s nice to have it. It makes it even better when it’s just American guys watching the games. When someone else walks through, they have no interest in the game and probably can’t understand why we’re so into it. It definitely gives a common connection between people, even between people who might not know each other at all beforehand.
Maybe I have talked about this before (sometimes I forget what I wrote about 10 minutes after I leave the computer), but I think sport in culture is pretty interesting. Just the different popularities of sports across different nations. I think the US is pretty unique in the amount of sports that are very popular (or maybe it’s just because we have so many people in the country). If I were to rate them in terms of popularity, I would probably say football, baseball, and basketball are the most popular, in that order. However, I don’t think football would be that far ahead of baseball. And basketball has a huge following too. A lot of countries will focus on just one sports. A lot of European countries favor soccer by a good margin, such as Spain, England, and France. Canada easily favors hockey. Australians love rugby much more than soccer (I think). Japan loves baseball. Korea loves soccer and baseball. I find it very interesting that millions of people watch American football in the US, but if you ask people in Spain to explain how it is played, probably only a fraction of a percent might know. A good portion of the 20 million people watch rugby here in Australia, but there aren’t that many Americans (proportionally) that would be able to explain the game correctly. Because of this, sports are a big part of each culture in my opinion.
A Swedish girl had a 23rd birthday last night, so 15 of us went out to eat at an Indian restaurant with her. It was a great group of people we had, and we ended up staying at the restaurant for a good 2 hours before finishing up. It was pretty much a mix of Australians, Americans, Canadians, and the Swedish girl. We then went back to a dorm room and played a game called Jungle Speed. I had never heard of it before, but I guess it is a French game. It involves cards and a wooden totem in the middle, and it involves quick reflexes to grab the totem when your card matches another. Sometimes the totem is flying all over the place with people trying to grab it. It’s a good time after you learn the rules. As I learned, it takes a lot of practice to be good at the game.
I realized I haven’t posted many pictures on here yet, so I’ll do that here. I still haven’t taken many pictures of my room, but I’ll do that and get them on here. Talk to you later!