Aussie Quirks

Since arriving in Australia, I haven’t had much of a culture shock necessarily since it is an English-speaking, developed country. However, Australia does have its quirks – some commonly known to the rest of the world, others not so much!

One of my favorite things about Australia is the laid back surfer lifestyle. “Shirts and shoes required” is not a thing for most businesses here. Back home, I never questioned it because I’m always so cold… why wouldn’t you wear at least 3 layers of clothing with wool socks and a jacket? Now I understand – not everyone lives in the tundra we lovingly call Michigan.

Sitting in a coffee shop by the beach, people walk in with wet suits, swimmers, rarely wearing shoes, and carrying the occasional surfboard. It still surprises me a bit when someone walks in with wet suit half on, smelling like the ocean, and talking to the barista about the surf!

Though not the most difficult, the hardest thing for me since getting here are that there are a few Aussie-style words that completely confuse me. It leads to me giving people that “what are you talking about – oh no… my American is showing isn’t it” look.

Here are some of my favorite Aussie words and phrases that are a little different than how we say them in the US! See if you can figure them out 🙂

how you going?








Other words that just bring me joy but make total sense are: doggo (and anything else that is shortened and ends with -o), bloody, recon, washing, and of course, the classic: g’day mate.

Even “environment” is shortened!

When’s dinner?

They warned me. People have told me over and over that the eating schedule in Spain is very different from that of the United States. What did I do? I brushed off the comments and thought to myself, “Meh, I’ll be able to handle it. Nothing to sweat.” To some extent I was right, I can handle sometimes the late lunches and the extremely late dinners. But sometimes, my body refuses to obey. All I can think about is the mouth-watering gastronomy of this precious land and the inexplicable joy that I get at every meal.

This should not be a surprise because I am a man that likes to eat. When my stomach tugs at my mind for food, I have trouble concentrating on my schoolwork. Lunch and dinner being later than what I am used to really challenges me in this area. In the United States, I may eat lunch at 11:00 am, noon, or maybe even 1:00 pm. In Madrid, my classes run right through what I use to call “lunch time” and have me eating at 2:30 or 3:00 pm. When I am finally out of class, I speed-walk to the dining hall where they serve delicious, typical Spanish dishes or to Donner Kebab, a high-quality Turkish restaurant that is popular among the students.

“When’s dinner?” my stomach mumbles an hour after I eat my large lunch. Normally in the U.S.A, I may have dinner at 5:00 pm, 6:00 pm, or maybe 7:00 pm at the latest. Here, my host mom calls me from my room to eat dinner at 9:30 pm, 10:00 pm, or 10:30 pm. All the waiting makes the meal much more enjoyable. Marilé, my host mom, prepares a variety of Spanish dishes that I savor every time. Lentejas, morcia de Burgos, huevos fritos, sopa de calabaza do not name even half of the foods she serves.

Even though the lunches and dinner may be later than what I am used to, through this change, I have learned to savor every bite and leave each meal happy. Waiting tends to make each God-given plate special and more delicious than it already is.

Click on a photo to view in slide show format and each description!

Melbourne Cup

A couple of friends and I decided to spend the weekend hard at work…

on vacation…

in Melbourne!

How could we not go when there is an opportunity to go to the Melbourne Cup? For those of you who don’t know (I was one of those people if I’m being honest), the Melbourne Cup is the biggest horse race in Australia. It is known as “The race that stops the nation,” and after experiencing it firsthand, I can confirm that statement is true. Even back at uni, there were countless parties throughout the day – this race is truly the one that stops the nation! Anywhere you would go, people would be getting ready for the race.


The state of Victoria even declared Melbourne Cup day a national holiday! Even though I have never had much of an interest in horse races, there is no denying the excitement surrounding the Cup.


The amount of crazy outfits, excessive drinking, and loud cheering made the event one to remember! Thousands of people flooded the stadium, all placing bets and waiting for the main race of the day. Though it only lasted a few minutes, the race was spectacular – not one person lost focus on the horses, and when they passed by, the cheering couldn’t have been louder!

Though I didn’t place any bets (I have terrible luck), we met a group of people and cheered on their horses alongside them. The second the race ended, the shouts of joy and cries of disappointment surprised me from all of those who placed bets. It was a wild time to say the least!

Opera House Adventures

One of Sydney’s greatest treasures is it’s Opera House. Lucky for me it is just a hop, skip, and a ferry ride away from my beautiful campus.

A few weeks ago, my program,TEAN Australia, hosted an event for all study abroad students in NSW that was a tour of the Opera House. I was THRILLED to be able to go inside and check out this iconic building (without having to spend a small fortune going to an event). We got a quick background of the history of the building. The story behind it was actually extremely interesting for the world of architecture!


Sydney Opera House and the Bridge!

We got to see the inside of two theaters, one was set up for a play and the other was set up for the orchestra. They had a Harry Potter event in which they played the score of the film live while they projected the movie on the screen! How I missed this, I don’t quite know.

One of the sails of the Opera House
The tour group well on its way through the Opera House
Inside the sails

We also stopped by the Utzon Room (named after the architect Jørn Utzon), and at first, the room was not that impressive. Taking a closer look at it and hearing the story behind the design of the room, however, made it so much more exciting! Every detail was intentional. The floors were meant to wear, showing the history and memories made in that room. Even the light bulb filament was in the shape of the Opera House (I thought this was the coolest)!

Utzon’s original painting (representing a symphony of sorts) taking up one wall of the Utzon room
Me and my lovely tour guide
The filament is in the shape of the Opera House!

Just short time later, my good friend Rachel found an event that celebrated the 44th birthday of the Opera House  – a champagne tasting! That day also happened to be world champagne day AND it is her dad’s favorite type of champagne, so how could we resist?

Corinne, Rachel, Evelina, and I enjoying our #moetmoment
Many photoshoots were done with the balloons because who doesn’t love balloons??

We show up to a sea of people waiting to be counted and filed into the building. Rachel, Evelina, Corinne, and I were the youngest people there by far, but we didn’t care! Over the course of two hours, we had three different tastings accompanied by an assortment of yummy hors d’oeuvres. Definitely was the fanciest thing I’ve done since I arrived in Sydney!


This tasting was an attempt to break the world record for largest champagne tasting, and we CRUSHED it. #moetmoment

For When You’re in Chicago…

Since each of my previous blog posts  have enticed you so, I am sure you are curious on some must-see sights and things to do here in Chicago! Below, you will find pictures—taken by yours truly—accompanied by my experience at each location. These have to be a few of my most favorite places here in Chicago.

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, Lincoln Park. Lincoln Park, arguably the prettiest park of Chicago, has a lot to offer. On any given day you will see runners, bikers, and especially vendors out here! It is a great way to get into nature while still being in the city. Along the walking paths there is a restaurant called The Patio and plenty of art pieces to admire! My favorite part about Lincoln Park? Several paths lead you to the beach!

Broken English Taco Pub, Old Town. If you are looking for a super modern and fun place eat tacos, Broken English is the place for you. Just a hop and a skip from the Gold Coast, this restaurant has a super speedy service, lively Hispanic music, and great authentic Mexican-food. If you are looking for a good deal, until 7 pm, most nights you can grab $2 tacos!

Mural, Old Town. There are beautiful murals and graffiti all throughout Chicago. But I have to say, Old Town has some of the prettiest on the sides of their buildings. If you are ever free on a Sunday afternoon, visit Old Town for a quiet and beautiful walk through a small town in a big city.

Oops, did I make you hungry for some exploring?


Because Chicago has a lot to offer.


In Spanish class we learned that the way to say goodbye is “Adios!” At least in Chile, though, that’s not how you do it. Everyone says “Chao!” as goodbye, and it’s accompanied by a kiss on the cheek, maybe a hug, cuídate, nos vemos!

Despedirse is something you do every time you leave a social gathering. And it’s required for everyone there. You have to go around the room and say goodbye to all the people you’re with before it’s okay to leave.

At the beginning of my time in Chile, this was really uncomfortable for me, because I wasn’t sure how to insert myself in someone’s conversation to say goodbye. I always felt like I was interrupting something. Or that I was holding up my family from leaving. The truth is, though, that they’re never in a hurry, and the cultural value of acknowledging others trumps the extra inconvenience.

For me, this shift in cultural values requires extra effort, and to be honest I’m still not the best at the practice of despedirse, but that’s something I want to keep working on until I have to leave.

The end of my study abroad program is coming up just on the horizon. We have a month and a week before we all part ways. I’m anticipating that this goodbye will be very difficult.

In my time here I have made a lot of wonderful friends. Both my amigos gringos and amigos chilenos have made a remarkable impact on me. I have been greeted with such kindness, invited into a new family, and accepted for who I am. I can share my heart and soul with the people I have met here, and for that I am so grateful.

I’m not ready to say goodbye.

Here I am with some friends from my program on a trip to Mendoza, Argentina. I love that the other gringas are always up to travel and share cultural experiences!
My community of jóvenes from my church in Chile. Here we are at a weekend retreat. My host dad Séba is the one taking the selfie.
These are my host family’s relatives. From aunts and uncles to abuelos y nietos, everyone came together for fiestas patrias and they’ve done an incredible job of including me in their family.
Some of my chilean church friends and I at a despedida (farewell party) for Gabriel (not pictured) who’s leaving to learn English in the US for a couple months. This was the first of many goodbyes for me and it got me feeling super sentimental.