So I finally figured out the name to that charming gigantic spider that so kindly welcomed me in my room the first day I moved into St. Mary’s. The breed of spider is called Huntsmen and I was very relieved to learn that they are not poisonous. In fact, despite the rumor that there are millions of poisonous spiders in Australia, which my be true, there is only one truly harmful spider in Victoria of which I need to look out for. Its called the Red-back spider and thankfully has an easily identifiable attribute- a red stripe down its back.
Here is Harry the Huntsman (I thought I would name him to make me feel less scared of him) before I asked the groundskeeper to squash him.
Ah Hollywood how you have deceived Americans! Those wild and rugged Aussie men with their wide-brimmed cowboy hats riding on horse back across a barren brown land filled with ‘roos. That is not the case, at least in the part of Australia I am in.
I was just asked, during a recent phone call, if I looked out my window could see any kangaroos. I think if there was a kangaroo outside my window there would be a four car collision at the big intersection in front of my building, that is how alien the situation would be to the locals. No, there are no kangaroos in Melbourne unless you count the ones in the zoo or the ones in the frozen meat section of the grocery stores.
The one thing that is true about Australians that we have been told is that they eat some interesting kinds of meat here. And kangaroo, at least in my book, would be one of them. And although that might seem really sad because you’re picturing an innocent little Kangaroo Jack slaughtered on a dinner plate in front of you that is not quite how the Australians see it.
I have been informed by fellow pupils who grew up on Australian farms that kangaroos are actually quite a pest in Australia. They are kind of like an enlarged version of what Peter Rabbit was to Mr. McGregor and his cherished garden. But since these are farms and therefore people’s livelihoods the farmers get much more peeved than Mr.McGregor. Namely, grabbing their shot guns and making sure the kangaroos will not be making another visit in their crop fields. But, in the Australian fashion, instead of letting these carcasses go to waste the meat is sold to be eaten. And if you don’t think too much about the cute looking animal you’ll realize that it actually tastes pretty darn good!
- At least this one is happily living at the Melbourne Zoo.
Last night (Wednesday) a group of us went to the Queen Victoria night market. I had never been to a night market before besides the one in Beijing. Needless to say this night market was widely different from the Beijing market (namely because they weren’t serving scorpions on skewers, monkey brain soup and various kinds of cooked bugs). But it was still a really great and fun experience and one that I got to share with my newly made friends from orientation. I was actually surprised at how big it was. There were around 200 vendors selling everything from sparkling confectionary and henna tattoos to Korean twist potato and kangaroo and lamb skewers. The lamb was out of this world- with a light seasoning the tender juicy meat just melted in my mouth. I could not stop thinking about it all day today. I am planning on going back next Wednesday and just ordering a whole bunch of lamb skewers for dinner. They also served all different kinds of drinks from fruity sangria to margaritas and beers. Although I am sure its one of the top touristy things to do, I would recommend a trip to the night market. It’s a treasure trove of goodies and nick-knacks. We even had chocolate covered honey dumplings last night! I had never even heard of honey dumplings until we stopped at the stand.
The night market isn’t all about the food though. There are vendors who sell lots of Australian souvenirs, clothes, jewelry and even electric adapters (As a side note, I definitely recommend buying the adapters at the market. I bought an adapter for 12 AUD and found the same one being sold in the market for 7AUD. They even sold ones that were only 3 AUD.). Although the day time market is much much bigger the night market offers a lot of the same things to sell. The only difference I saw was that the section for fresh fruits, veggies, eggs and other organic goods was understandably not included in the night market. The vibrance, energy, and sheer variety of food and goods made this little trip a wonderful experience.
I have been here for about a week now and I officially LOVE it here. Classes do not start until the 27th of February so until that time the university and it’s residential colleges have created different programs to help students meet eachother and see the city. The first of these programs was called Melbourne Welcome which was specifically for international students. Ialmost did not sign up for this program and now I am so happy I did! I met so many great people and the program its self was really amazing. Everything was very well planned and organized and all the costs were covered by the initial fee of the program. Most of all, I was really impressed by the student leaders. I am pretty sure this whole thing was created by them and if so I am even more impressed. Besides making the program a success I felt like all of the leaders, who are the same age as the rest of the students particiapting in the program, were the epitome of the kind of people who should run these kinds of programs. They were all very outgoing, helpful and friendly and I feel that it was because of this that rest of us had as much fun as we did.
Besides the program, I feel that I have been more or less intitiated into the Australian life style:
1. I have gotten my face roasted by the sun because I only had only put on SPF 15. I went out yesterday and got a huge bottle of Sports SPF 30. Now every morning when I wake up one of the first things I have to do is put on sun screen. I feel like I am in Africa all over again!!
2. Instead of being whistled at, a guy stuck his head out the window of his car and said “G’day” to me. They actually say “G’day” here!!!
3. I have learned the secret to the Australian lingo that seems to bewildering to Americans. Its actually quite simple- Australians seem keen on cutting words in half and adding “ie” at the end. Hence “barbie” for barbaque, “shorties” for shorts, “brekkie” for breakfast, etc. And I also learned not be offended when told not to wear a thong to the night clubs here- they were referring to flip flops.
4. I was enthusiastically welcomed to my new room by a HUGE hairy gray spider.