Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I did it (twice)

I am no longer a virgin Aussie lecturer. Today, in fact, I did it twice--once at 10 am in front of 250 students, and the second time at noon in front of another 90. And, surprise, surprise…it felt just like giving a lecture back in the States. The students laughed when I made stupid jokes, looked bored when I expected them to be, asked questions and responded to mine, and even started packing up their belongings at the same precise moment (just before the last three words of my lecture). Interestingly, the first student to introduce himself to me was an American undergrad from my old alma mater, USC (the one in Los Angeles), who is doing an honors thesis with a prof I knew well back in my grad school days. By the way, that class with 90+ students is titled Behavioural Neuroscience (like that spelling, my American readers?!). When I asked how many students were taking it because they were interested in neuroscience, nearly everyone raised their hands. Incredible!

At home we are now the proud owners of a Toyota Yaris. Thanks to a comment to this blog by Eric H., I thought we should give Toyota a try before I bought a Honda. And I liked what I saw! Our little car is a brilliant cherry red. Other “middle-aged” men buy a fancy sports car during their mid-life crises, but I decided to go with a nice starter car usually marketed to university students. A couple of cool things about buying a car in Australia--the financing included the option of buying comprehensive insurance from two different independent vendors. The insurance itself was about half the price of what I paid in the U.S. for the same thing, and includes a $400 deductible. In addition, the dealership took care of the registration with the state government (something that doesn’t happen in Georgia, for example). There was no pressure to buy an extended warranty or add options that I wasn’t interested in. And, I got a loan with no problem--me, with absolutely no credit history in Australia.

A few other observations about our new life here: (1) The major television networks spend most of their prime time hours broadcasting U.S. television shows, particularly those involving crime, such as “NCIS,” all three “CIS” shows, “SUV”, “Numbers,” etc. It’s no wonder that many Australians are scared of visiting the U.S., thinking they will be violently attacked as soon as they leave the airport. (2) Batteries are expensive. I bought two packs of two “D” batteries for Will’s music machine, and they were nearly $10 each. (3) The newspapers and television news are terribly sensationalist and biased, except for the ABC (the BBC of Australia), even compared with U.S. media. It doesn’t help that several major news outlets are part of Murdoch’s empire. (4) Some Australians really do say, “G’day, Mate!” It’s happened to me about every other day, and I nearly cracked up each time. (5) Most of the wines we have bought, including the mid-priced ones, have screw-tops instead of corks. And they’re good! (6) Both the private and public school kids wear uniforms, and some look like they’re from a 19th Century costume drama. One high school girl I saw the other day looked like an extra from “A Room With a View.” (7) Paper towels are about half the width of the ones in the U.S. (8) Three-wheeled “prams” (strollers) are all the rage here. We got one ourselves last weekend. (9) The weather forecast is usually focused on the next 24 hours, and maybe not even tomorrow. It’s rare to see anyone talk about the next 5-7 days. Thus, I was surprised to see that it was raining this morning because I hadn’t checked the weather yesterday. (10) And even though I lectured for about 3 hours today in front of a total of 340 students, not one mobile phone went off the entire time. How cool is that?


Mummy B said...

1) One of the reasons we don't watch commercial T.V anymore...not because I dislike American t.v but because we seem to get a particular genre on the brain and then ALL the network's run with it....I'm not big on crime t.v shows, nor a lot of reality t.v!

2) You mean batteries aren't this expensive everywhere?? you learn something new everyday! ripped off!

3) Totally agree!

4) Yep...we're not the most "Aussie" of Australian's (i.e...we're not yobbo's nor bogan's (hehehee...just testing your Aussie vocabulary))...yet once you mentioned it I realised that both my 6 year old and 3 year old say G'day!!! I feel so...stereotypical :-O

5) mmmm....wine

6)& 7) It's interesting the things you notice as different that I don't even think about! It's refreshing seeing Australia through a non-Australian's eyes :)

8) Proud owner of three wheeler here too ;)

9) Interesting point! I think the only time I look a few days ahead for the weather forecast is if A. The weather is stinking hot and I want to know if there is an end in sight....B. If the weather has actually been cold and out of interest I want to know just how cold its going to get (below 0 is exciting stuff here, it happens so rarely!) C. I have something planned for the weekend (birthday party or the like).....other then that...you are so right...pfft weather...whatever happens, happens!

Great to hear your first two lectures went well :) Congrats on the new car!

Tors said...

Hey Prof, glad to hear your first two lectures went well. Have you noticed any major differences between higher ed here and in the States, so far?

Yarises (or would that be Yari?) are really cool!

Australian TV networks run American TV shows because it's cheap filler. Cheaper than making it locally. Sad but true.

Ohhh you've joined the Evil Jogger Pram Mafia!! I hate, hate, hate those 3-wheel things with a passion. 'Course, I'm the worst of all with my tandem double stroller...hehehe... *g*

Mooselet said...

1) I tend not to watch the networks - I'd rather watch Discovery or something else (yes I have Foxtel) interesting.

2) I hadn't really thought about how expensive they are, but you're right.

3) Even the ABC is pretty biased, but they're subtle about it.

4) Wait til someone says "Crikey". Doesn't happen often, but I have to try hard not to laugh when it does.

5)It's ridiculous, and in a good way, how many good wines there are here. Best kept secret ever.

6) The sillier, or fancier, or more hideous colour of the uniform, the more expensive the school (generally). It's as if they spent all their money on the grounds and teachers and everything else and then hired a 90 year old woman to design the uniforms.

7) Handee has a jumbo roll that is the same as the US. Woolies also has come out with their own Select brand that are a bigger size.

8) I had a 3 wheeler, but had to go with the stretch limo double version when Clive came along.

9) I think that may be due to the lack of satellite coverage over Australia. I also love how sports come before weather on the news. Try this site if you want weather and radar: http://www.bom.gov.au/weather/qld/

10) I'm glad to hear your lecture went so well. Are you sure the mobiles just didn't have that high pitched ring tone that us old folks can't hear? :-)

The Prof said...

It's great to wake up and find that you Aussie residents have already posted comments! :-)

1) I am bit disappointed at how hard it is to find Australian-produced TV shows. I started watching the *new* "Neighbours" last night in attempt to support the locals. I am not sure that I will stick with it, however. And, we are trying to see how long we can go without Foxtel, Mooselet. Maybe I'll actually start to read more in order to avoid those crime shows!

2) I'll double-check on those battery prices. Maybe it was just bad at the shop I went to.

3) The ABC may be biased, but at least you don't have screaming sensationalism there. Yesterday's Courier-Mail, for example, had a ridiculous story starting off with, "BREAKFAST television sank to a new low this morning, with Sunrise host David Koch joking about making handbags out of foreskins." But, don't get me wrong, I do enjoy the sensationalism--and the Sunday Mail!

4) Crikey!

5) I just discovered a website that has user-rated Australian wines. I will add a post later.

6) I really like the hats of the Brisbane Boys College...

7) Great tip about the paper towels, Mooselet, although our holder will probably not accommodate a "jumbo!"

8) Three-wheelers rock, mummy b! They're kind of like the SUVs of prams, Tors, aren't they?!

9) I am a weather forecasting nut, and will probably miss the Weather Channel in the U.S. the most.

10) Speaking of high pitches, check out my latest post about laughing rats...

Brett said...

Weather reports in Perth leave a lot to be desired. First of all, they get about a 30 second spot on the nightly news, typically delivered by a model, who thinks that meteorology is the study of taxi rates. The temperature prediction is typically between 17 and 22 C (this winter) and the actual temperature is typically between 17 and 22 C (though uncorrelated with the prediction). The rest of the "forecast" consists of vague predictions of some possible precipitation activity interspersed with fine weather. And there you have it. Maybe Americans are too obsessed with the weather (thank you Weather Channel).