Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ni Hao!

Greetings from China! My access to the internet since I've gotten here has been appallingly limited, so do not expect frequent updates, though I will try my best.

I also do not foresee nearly as many pictures as my Australian posts, as the connection is much slower, and uploading pictures could take awhile. I'm just guessing at this point though, as the real reason for no pictures in this blog is that I have not loaded any of them onto my computer yet.

Aside from terrible internet, my university also has teeny tiny dorm rooms (I don't even have a desk in my room,) and rock hard beds. Food here is all covered in heavy sauce, oil or both, and water needs to be boiled before it is potable. Of course, all of these minor complaints are made up for by the beautiful campus, the ocean view from my room, the fantastic other participants in my program, and the exoticism of it all.

My Chinese is, as I thought it would be, completely inadequate for even daily funtioning. I needed help from one of the fluent participants to buy a hair dryer, and my ability to order meals is limited to "I want a chicken dish, not spicy." I am optimistic though that I will improve immeasurably. My Chinese class is very intense, and if nothing else completing three semesters worth of Chinese in one will certainly make for a big improvement in my skills.

Normally I would welcome comments, but I'm not sure I will be able to view them. Blogs seem to be censored here, and while I can post entries, I cannot even view my own blog (so far as I can tell right now anyway. The blogging website is in Chinese characters here, so I could be doing something wrong.) In short, email me!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Rapporteur's Report

This is my final blog about Canberra. I have a few final photos to share, along with further details of my internship.

Final thoughts about my internship:

I think I have neglected to write enough about my internship, especially considering it’s the whole reason I came to Australia, not to mention I’ve been working there full time since I got here.

I’ve been interning at the Australian Institute of International Affairs (a lot to say when I answer the telephone!) Most people immediately ask: What does the AIIA do?

Good question. The stated goal of the AIIA is to “increase awareness of international affairs in Australia.” They do all sorts of things to achieve this goal. They publish an academic journal (the Australian Journal of International Afffairs) and a book series chronicling Australia’s foreign policy over 5 year periods, organize conferences such as the National President’s Forum I attended in Brisbane, hold lectures and other events for their members, and lots more.

But what do I do? Like the Institute, all sorts of things! I open and sort the mail, answer the telephone, and other administrative (intern-y) tasks. I also get to do really important projects, like copy-editing and writing the abstracts and keywords for a special issue of the International Journal of Global Energy Issues, drafting the Strategy Day papers, etc.

My last project was planning a new publication for the AIIA – the Emerging Scholars series. The National Office hosts many interns who are writing papers for academic credit, like me. Now these papers will be published! This is one of my favorite projects, as I think it’s a great development, and I have control over every aspect of the series. Not to mention, there’s also a good chance that my paper will be published by the series (once it’s finished, of course.)

Here are Martha and I. We were dressed to go out for a function at the US Embassy. I am going to miss Martha; we had a lot of fun together. My last afternoon at work we used GoogleEarth to find maps of our hometowns. Charlotte is not in 3D yet, but Groningen, Holland was (it was lovely!) She also showed me where she lived during her gap year in London, and true to form, as we took a virtual stroll down the streets, we got lost!

I’m not sure how I let this happen, but I didn’t get a picture of myself with my host family until the night before I left. (Please pardon the fact that I am in my pajamas.) They were so wonderful, and I really hope (and believe) that the feeling was mutual. I look forward to going back to visit. Perhaps in the summer next time…

This blog post had a relatively large number of pictures that included me. The picture above explains why: this is what I looked like every day commuting to work, and it’s not a pretty picture. The brown boots with the black “tracky-daks” (track pants) are not as obvious in the picture as they are in real life, but trust me, it was not pretty. I was warm though, and that’s about all I cared about.

Next post: Sydney!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Australian Cuisine

In reality, Australian food is very similar to American food, albeit with a more British influence. Morning Tea and Afternoon Tea are official meals, which I love. I have fallen in love with scones with jam and cream. Scones here are a bit similar to a Southern biscuit, but without the heavy salt and grease.

Crumpets, another "tea" food, are also fabulous. They're like a cross between pancakes and English muffins - extremely good toasted with butter and peanut butter.

Bangers and mash, a very British dish, is also a popular Australian dinner. (It's sausages and mashed potatoes.) Even more Australian, I think, though is a lamb barbecue or roast. It would be roughly analogous to an American Sunday pot roast - a classic.

Below is one of my favorite Australian foods - the Lamington. It's sponge cake dipped in chocolate and coconut. It's so fantastic!

Sometime they have cream in the middle: yum-o! (As an Aussie would say.)

Those are meat pies. Pies in Australia, much like in the UK, are generally savory. The only sweet pie they really eat is apple pie.

The quintessential Australian product: Vegemite. It's concentrated yeast extract, and it tastes about how you might expect concentrated yeast extract to taste. I can't say that I enjoyed it very much, unfortunately. It's a bit of an acquired taste, I think. Australians enjoy Vegemite sandwiches, and it functions much like peanut butter in the US.

I am going to miss these. Tim Tams are fantastic - they're a bit like chocolate covered oreos, so as you can imagine, they're wickedly delicious.

I know this isn't Australian, but I had to post proof of Krispy Kreme's transpacific move. As far as I knew, Krispy Kreme was just now making it in to the northern part of the US, so I was floored when I heard they have it here. It's extremely popular, needless to say.

The only food I have heard of that is not available in Australia is the graham cracker, which means they don't make s'mores! It's a tragedy, really. Roasting marshmallows just isn't the same.

Many foods are the same but are called different things. For example, raisins are called sultanas and bell peppers are called capiscums. Lots of brand names are different as well - Rice Krispies become Rice Bubbles, etc. And people might look at you funny if you ask for a Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich, as Jelly is Jello here. (You'd have to ask for Peanut Butter & Jam.)