Reverse Culture Shock

This is what happens when you spend a few consecutive months outside of the United States. I had finally gotten used to buying my food by the kilogram, and my petrol by the liter, and then it was time to come home. A little adjustment was necessary.

1. The joys of public transportation
In Oz, Brisbane has this great transportation system, Brisbane Translink. It’s a network of buses, trains, and ferries to get you where you need to go. I was able to get from the airport to Cleveland, where I got on the ferry that took me to Straddie and the humpback whales. At the end of the whale project, I used the trains to go to the Gold Coast and then up to the Sunshine Coast.  All this without the use of a car. Bliss.

2. Driving on the right side of the road
When transiting to driving on the left side of the road, Australia and New Zealand are kind enough to remind their tourist drivers to ‘keep left,’ which is usually accompanied with a sign indicating direction. So where are the ‘keep right’ signs in America?

3. The metric system
I believe I touched on this a few months ago, but here it is again. Trying to do math conversions in your head from the English system to the metric system is so much fun. That’s what smartphones are for, right? In OZ and NZ, food is sold by the kilogram, petrol is sold by the liter, and distance is done by the kilometer. So when the speed limit indicates ‘100’ I got real excited…for a brief moment.

4. Switching time zones…and seasons
Dear jet lag, you suck. Changing time zones can take some getting used to. Try a 17 hour time difference and a season change on top of that. Your body starts wondering what you’re smoking. Also, allergies in an Ohio fall are a bad, bad thing.

5. Missing all the ‘cool’ accents
When I was on the road, I met people from all over: Germany, Ireland, Oz, Spain, England, New Zealand, Denmark, the Netherlands, Israel, South Africa, Canada, and the US. I love hearing accents from people all over the world. Conversation is so much fun. Words and phrases take on all new meanings when spoken in different accents. However, I seem to have retained my American accent. Drat.

I can’t wait to get on the road again.


What to do near Brisbane?

Brisbane is a great base to stage many activities along the eastern coast of Australia. For my last week, I decided to check out the Gold Coast and then the Sunshine Coast before leaving for Ohio. Brisbane Translink is a network of  public transportation consisting of trains, buses, and ferries. I was able to use this system to get from the Brisbane Airport to Straddie and to locations along the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast. The trick is to avoid rush hour because then the trains are packed and it’s quite hard to find a seat.

I am staying in Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast, which is less touristy than Surfer’s Paradise and much, much safer. I am also couchsurfing, which so far has been a great experience. Meeting locals and getting the inside advice is much preferable to staying in a hostel. Burleigh has some great beaches, but swimming is quite difficult due to strong rip currents. The warning signs actually recommended not going in deeper than your waist. And to think I used to be a good swimmer…but that was in a swimming pool. Burleigh also has a National Park within walking distance to my couchsurfing host that has some whale watching platforms and good views of the beaches.

View from Burleigh Beach towards Surfer’s Paradise   

View from Burleigh Head National Park

Tomorrow I am headed to the Sunshine Coast for another couchsurf, that is near the beach as well. And then it’s back to Ohio for a break of 2 months.