Well…it has been quite a wonderful semester abroad in Australia! I don’t believe it could have been any better, perhaps aside from my lack of travelling. By that, I mean that I haven’t really experienced Australia the way that a tourist would. You know what I mean? Sydney Opera House, Ayers Rock, Great Barrier Reef, Fraser Island, Moreton Island, Outback etc. ‘Good thing I have another semester to spare or…’ is what I’ve been thinking these past few weeks. Most of my time here has been spent orienting within Brisbane; getting used to the environment, navigation, people, shopping, school, and establishing myself by finding work within the city. So rather than dwelling and sulking on what I have not had a chance to experience this semester, these coming weeks shall be about what I have gotten a chance to experience, where I will be going and what I shall be participating in next. Please enjoy as I try my best to keep you along for the ride through these journals. This is a bit of a first for me so feel free to shoot me messages with topics you would like to hear about or questions on details of my documented journeys!
Location of Residency & Work
I live in what has been called the “heart of Brisbane”… South Bank. It is an affluent area gauged in accommodating the tourism it receives throughout the year. Towards the city, there are outdoor markets during the weekends with a variety of items being sold ranging from hats to ukuleles to chilli sauces to temporary tattoos. Passing that area, you then see “the lagoon” which is a manmade beach. From what I’ve noticed, it is a giant chlorinated pool with sand at half its perimeter with clear intent to simulate a beach for the local Brisbane residents who are aware that swimming in the Brisbane river is ill-advised and to, of course, attract more tourism. Further towards the city still, there is a small open Convention Center where events are held that bring the community together such as the celebration of Buddha’s birthday or viewing the State of Origin rugby games, which feels almost equivalent to the Super Bowl, on a large screen. Passing the Convention Center, you reach a small rainforest area in the Parklands where one can take a brisk walk through vegetation while listening to the creek and observing the wildlife that cohabitate. On one side of the rainforest, you have the Big Wheel of Brisbane which offers an amazing view over the city and its surrounding areas.
Back in April, I was hired as a cleaner at a restaurant that is quite well-known throughout the city, The Pancake Manor. The appeal of this place begins with not only its attractive architecture but its history. It used to be St. Luke’s Anglican Church built in 1904 and, up until the 1970’s, served myriad purposes: housing the congregation until 1910, serving as headquarters for the Church of England Mission until the 1950’s, housed the Newspaper Boys Club, overseas girls club, and ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corp.) Club. If you are aware of the Australian minimum wage, you can imagine the pay is quite great with some of the employees earning $45,000+ per year!
A month after my hire I was promoted to cook which was my first introduction to working in a proper kitchen environment. Since then I have been partaking in creating some very interesting meals. The most relevant ones would be the ones that give the name justice I guess, pancakes! I get to make and top pancakes with a variety of sweets like ice cream, icing sugar, cinnamon, apples, apricots, oranges, lemons, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, bananas, walnuts, macadamia nuts, sprinkles, chocolate sauce, raspberry sauce, butterscotch sauce, strawberry coolis, chocolate fudge, and caramel fudge! Not all combined together of course. There are specific ingredients for specific orders unless customized by the customer. Aside from all that fun, The Pancake Manor also serves steaks, burgers, and crepes for the good people of Brisbane.
Hands down, my employment at this establishment has not only been at the forefront of my survival here in Australia, it has also been a part of my cultural immersion as well. Through various instances of small talk and occasional after-work hangout time I have been able to hear and discuss topics ranging from history to politics to racism to general opinion on miscellaneous matters. To say the least, it has been quite intriguing and informative having opportunity to bond with co-workers with histories not only Australian but also New Zealander, English, and Mexican. So in a nutshell, my employment here is a major highlight of my experience abroad.