Almost 3 Weeks in Brisbane…

…and everything is going well. So well that I did not really had time (or took time, sorry) to write another blog post.

After a bad start with a homestay family too far from QUT which was also a bit too crowded and hectic, I managed to find another homestay as of my 2nd weekend here. From then on everything is going great! This homestay family is really friendly and includes me in all kind of ‘normal’ family and social activities. Something that I clearly need. At the same time I do enough on my own, for instance yesterday. Together with 4 colleagues and the girlfriend of one of them we went to D’Aguilar National Park. Only a short drive (30 min.) from the Brisbane city center. There we drove to several lookout points. Then, we made a 4.5 km walk through (rain)forest to a (modest) waterfall. That was halfway the walk after which we turned round to get back to the car (and motorbike). It was then already past 3 PM and nobody had any lunch so we were happy to find a place with gas barbeques. Even though it was raining a bit and the barbeque was not covered, we had a great meal. Everybody brought some meat, bread and juice, even pepper and salt. It was delicious (but maybe because we were really hungry). All in all it was a great day, with nice colleagues from QUT. You can see a selection of pictures here and others on Facebook. The next trip is in the planning and should take place 2 weekends from now. I’m curious what we will see and do then ๐Ÿ™‚

Besides the fun and weekend stuff I’m of course also working. It is interesting to see that the (work) culture in Australia has its commonalities and differences with the one I’m used to in Eindhoven. Although I’m not sure how much is due to cultural differences or just group dynamics. Furthermore, since the collaboration between the two groups is rather tight, there are not really that many differences in approach and work ethics. It’s just other people working on different topics.

This Thursday is my ‘halfway’ point by the way, after that the countdown towards my trip back home can really start. Although I really like being here and I’m glad that I was given this opportunity, I do look forward to go home. I have a lot of respect for those that leave their home and family behind and go pursue a study, and/or PhD in another country. I would not be able to do that for several years.
It will also be interesting to celebrate my birthday here, it will be one I will not quickly forget…

By the way,ย  I am quickly adapting to the Australian habit of eating a ‘proper’ meal both at lunch time and for dinner. Where in the first week I sometimes had a banana for dinner because I was still full from lunch, last week I sometimes felt hungry, only an hour after having lunch. At the same time I’m not gaining any weight as far as I can notice, even though gaining a couple of kilos could not hurt. I will have a hard time getting used to sandwiches for lunch… Now I really understand the complaints of the foreigners visiting our group, we do not lunch with real food indeed… Poor us ๐Ÿ˜›

A Sunday in Brisbane’s City Center

Today I decided, despite the forecast for bad weather, to go to the city center and see what’s happening.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised. I left the bus at the south bank and walked to the ‘South Bank Parklands’. I knew that Brisbane has many parks but this is a really nice one! I went to the information center to pick up a map of the city center, and some other leaflets of things to do and see while I’m here. Then I continued through the park. I saw some Chinese influences (a building and a fountain with statue). They also made a ‘man made beach’ where it was really quiet today (the three life guards were really bored) but I it looked really nice. Although real beaches are always better of course. There were also fountains, food stalls (cafe’s they call them here) and even a small market where you could by art, food and more.

Although I noticed that Australia/Brisbane is really well taken care of, some things still surprise me. First of all the kindness and friendliness of the people. When they noticed that I’m walking behind them, they make room for me to overtake. When they enter the bus they greet the driver and on exiting they say thanks. They even notice it when in a shop I move out of the way for them, and say that it was not a problem. In the Netherlands I would have already heard a sigh or have felt a push…
Another thing are the facilities in the parks, and around the city. There are drink fountains almost everywhere in the parks. At some places there are even exercise machines, simple versions of the ones you find a gym. And, this was most surprising to me, there are even electric barbeques! You can just bring your own food, gather some friends and have a great time. Wow, that is how life should be, right? ๐Ÿ™‚ Also, the public rest rooms are (rather) clean, and I saw one that even had showers, again for free! And, last but not least, there is the ‘city cycle’ plan that, for a small subscription fee, allows you to rent cycles, for free under 30 minutes, or for a couple of dollars per additional 30 min. That is a great idea and is especially useful if you have to choose between a 20 min. bus ride or a 20 min cycle… I might consider that when I arrive at my next address which is a 30 minute walk but a much shorter bike ride.

So, after my visit to the park I walked across the Brisbane River and across the footbridge. I then continued past the Brisbane River towards New Farm, the part of town where I might stay next. It is a nice 30 min. walk, 30 min. by bus or about 15 min. using the City Bike scheme I guess. I walked around the area, which looked really nice, and rested on a bench looking towards the city center. I was back to the South Bank about 3 hours later. In the mean time I went past (the first time) and through (on the way back) the botanical gardens. This is also a great park and really close to where I work and where part of QUT university is located. Could be worse for those students…

I then went to the Queensland museum. You can see most things for free and I spent my time there until a bit before 5 o’clock learning about the nature and history of Australia. I was hungry by then so I bought fish and chips (without mayonnaise the chips were really dry). After sitting on a bench for a while, looking out on the Brisbane river, I went back to catch a bus home where I arrived just before 7.

So, all in all not a bad Sunday and I now have a good impression of Brisbane. I also have some more ideas on how to spend future Sundays (or Saturdays) so enough to do and see.
But now, time for a movie (or TV show) and an early bed time to sleep off the last remainders of the jet lag and start the week fresh tomorrow.

You can see the photo’s I made today in my Picasa Web Album, starting here.

The first weekend in Brisbane

So, the weekend is half way through, time for an update ๐Ÿ™‚

The second Australian day (Friday) went ok again. I still have to get used to the food though, well, more to the fact that they eat a hot meal for lunch and for diner. I’m used to just a couple of sandwiches for lunch and a warm dinner. Although I like it a lot to go and get food during lunch and having soooo much to choose from. My stomach is not used to this. So, I hardly eat anything in the evening and breakfast is also reduced. Still, I don’t feel hungry or anything. But, maybe my stomach is also suffering from a jetlag ๐Ÿ˜‰
I do have some troubles finding my sleeping rhythm. Last night I fell asleep at 2:30 in the morning and woke up around 8 or 8:30. To make sure I get into rhythm I bought some sleeping pills as backup, in case tonight will be the same.

Today my homestay family took me to Coolum beach. I must say, beaches here are a bit different. (Photo 1, Photo 2) The waves are higher (today there were medium waves), the sand is more fine and less dirty and they have rocks on the beach.
Also, it’s now winter here so it was ‘only’ ~18 degrees and raining in the afternoon. Still, I found it really comfortable and didn’t feel cold at all. The locals however were rather chilly ๐Ÿ˜€ While I would say that this would be not a bad (early or late) summers day for the Netherlands.

The plans for the remainder of my stay have changed a bit. First I planned to stay with 3 homestay families, about 2 weeks at each. But while booking I underestimated the travel distance. Therefore, I’m looking, and have possibly already found, another place closer by QUT Garden Point (where I work). I might stay there as of next week Sunday , so only one more week of commuting about 45 minutes, single trip. The place that I hope to stay at will be perfect, it is almost a small ‘homestay hotel’. The couple that runs it has about 6-8 people staying there. They do all kinds of fun things together like having dinner each evening and watching tv or playing games. I think that also better suits my purpose. I want a place to sleep and relax during the week and some people to do things with during the weekend. I’ll keep you posted, I am taking a look at the place Tuesday evening.

For tomorrow I plan to go to the city center and just explore. So far I only know the part from the QUT office to and from the bus station (the part I walked through on Thursday, going 1 or 2 blocks around the QUT building, I forgot :P). I’m going to walk by the Brisbane river and go to the part where my possible next homestay is. Since it is a long weekend (Queen’s Jubelee is celebrated this Monday) there is a lot to do so time will fly by I think. However, since I’m here to work, my weekend will end after tomorrow. I will go to work on Monday, in a quite and empty office. Luckily Hajo, see previous post, also comes to work (since we’re Dutch and only here for a short time, we decided to celebrate the English Queen’s jubelee by working :P).

That is the update so far. Have a nice weekend and I will keep you posted!

Arrived in Brisbane

So, there I am, Brisbane! The first day has already passed and I’m settling in quite quickly I must say.

The first night went ok, two blocks of sleep of about 6 hours in total, so nothing to complain about. I’m not feeling any jetlag (yet) but they say it might come tomorrow. We’ll see.

At QUT everything went okay. I got introduced to everyone, including Hajo who had made the exact same trip just a day earlier ๐Ÿ™‚ But also to new people with whom I will certainly collaborate and exchange knowledge.

Most people I’ve met so far are really nice and mainly easy going. The cashier in the supermarket actually asked how my day was. I never experienced that in the Netherlands…
The host family is also really nice (a bit energetic at times, but that is okay, since I’m becoming as easy going as most Australians are).

I don’t have much more to add really. Other than that I’m curious what we’ll do in the weekend (they’ll take me to the beach they said so that should be a fun day!).
I’m also really looking forward to work with the people at QUT of course, a lot to learn and share.

So, from Brisbane, good night (and I hope you had a nice lunch back there in Europe :D)

Visiting Singapore…Airport

So, here I am, Singapore. Airport that is…

After 12 hours of sitting in an airplane I am not that tired, yet.

Since I’m only staying here for 4 hours between arrival and departure I can not really go ‘site seeing’ other than the airport shops…
But, I hope that I can do this on the flight back when I have 8 hours at Singapore Airport, although it is from 16:00hours till midnight… Not the best time for a bus tour… But, no worries for later ๐Ÿ™‚

Most pictures I take during my entire trip can be seen here:
Again the “this might not be new or interesting for travelers but it is for friends and family (and me)” warning holds.

There is not much more to report really, I’m just waiting for an hour or 2 more for my connecting flight.

So, next update will come from Brisbane!!!