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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Australia

Birds Abroad: She’s gone to a land down under

BREAKING NEWS: I’ve been living in Australia for over a month and haven’t been bitten, poisoned, disembowelled, strangled or digested by anything!

Yet.

Just kidding. Studying abroad in Brisbane, Australia, with a 10-day trip to Fiji beforehand, has been an absolute dream. As I’m sure you’ve heard, there are some furry, funky and frightening creatures you can encounter here in the land down under. First, you’ve got the cute ones you want to smuggle back to the U.S.: fuzzy kangaroos, sassy kookaburras, sleepy koalas, quokkas (look it up, you will die of cuteness overload) and the odd but endearing platypus. Then, you’ve got the critters that will make you want to hide in your room all day: enormous 16-foot saltwater crocodiles, spiders that eat birds for breakfast, sharks (which happen to live in the river flowing around Brisbane), dingos that’ll eat your baby, venomous snakes, stingrays, box jellyfish, etc., etc., etc. I could go on for pages and pages about everything here that could kill you if it got the chance.

And it doesn’t matter how innocent they appear to be—the dainty, blue-ringed octopus, a teeny little guy about the size of a golf ball who spends most of his time hanging out under pretty shells, will give you a painless sting that will paralyze you within 10 minutes, disable your respiratory system and ultimately kill you in under 20. Oh, and there’s no antivenom. Lovely little feller. 

Anyway—that wasn’t meant to scare you away! Australia is amazing! Along with the multitude of critters I’ve encountered here, the people I’ve come across on my travels so far are just as fascinating. Here’s the low-down on several different types of human beings you’ll find when you study abroad on the other side of the world: 

The Guy With the Crazy Backstory (Farfetchedis accountum)

You’ll find the wild Farfetchedis accountum interacting with people like a normal human being, minding his own business out in the open—exactly where you won’t expect him. He hides among common folk, unbeknownst to the rest of the population, until you both have a beer together and he starts telling you his bizarre life story. The particular specimen that I encountered, a 19-year-old blond, blue-eyed German fellow, claimed to have been found by his parents on the streets of Bangkok as an infant. His dream job is to write and publish erotic novels. In addition, thanks to a cousin in the music industry, this specimen claims he was in the recording studio when Kanye West and Justin Vernon (of the band Bon Iver) recorded the hit song “Monster.” So, it’s best to take Farfetchedis accountum’s  stories with a grain of salt. 

The Girl Who’s on a Mission to Find Herself (Soulsearcherus travellus)

Maybe she thought her life back home was too monotonous or maybe she’s read “Eat, Pray, Love” one too many times. Whatever the reason is, Soulsearcherus travellus doesn’t really know where she’s going. Most of this specimen’s journey depends on impulse, big dreams and a sizeable bank account. Part of you is extremely jealous of Soulsearcherus travellus, but then you remember how travelling requires lots of money and you’re kind of a poor college student. Maybe someday.

The Uni Student Who Dresses Up for Class Every day (Secretlyae modelus)… also known as everyone

Whether Secretlyae modelus is going to uni (university), work or is just out for a stroll, it’s nails done, hair done, everything did. Everyone looks fantastic, with the corridors serving as their catwalk. The most revolting specimen is the one who accidentally forgot to match their sunglasses to the rest of their outfit. Even those at the fitness center on campus look good in their flattering, brightly colored workout gear. You can always tell who’s a foreign student because they’ll be the ones dressed in athletic shorts and a T-shirt with a backpack instead of a nice large purse/shoulder bag. It’s just not fair. 

The Person Who Hates Your Home Country No Matter What You Say or Do (Ignorantus jackassus)

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It’s very rare that you will encounter this beast, but with any rabid animal, the trick is to ignore it, stay as far away from it as possible and don’t take anything that comes out of its mouth personally. It’s their loss. Also, DO NOT PROVOKE IT, and especially don’t bring up either world war, as you will look like the biggest moron on Earth, and it will probably start foaming at the mouth. 

The Professor Who Thinks You’re Fluent in Australian Slang (Whatthehellis thatwordus)

You enroll in a course about the marine environment of Australia (check). You think you’ll learn about coral, dolphins and sea turtles (accurate). It’ll be the coolest class ever (precisely). It’s the perfect time to take it, seeing that you’re probably going to be in Australia only once in your entire life (valid). You innocently sign up to go on a field trip with your class to an island to study marine life (wicked awesome). Then, you receive the packing list for that trip from a feral Whatthehellis thatworda and you have no clue what a tog, cozzie, arvo, singlet, dunny budgie or sanger is. Is she really asking you to wear a thong to the beach? Crikey, is this even the same language?! For an easy solution, ask your Australian roommates to decipher these words for you (and risk a bit of light-hearted mockery) or make UrbanDictionary.com your best friend.

As you can hopefully tell, not all Australian wildlife is out to get you (knock on wood). But just in case, I don’t plan on wrestling crocodiles anytime soon.

Has reading this column spiked an interest in arvos, cozzies and sassy kookaburras? Share your thoughts with Haley at henschel2@wisc.edu. Look for more columns from birds abroad throughout the semester!

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