European seasons mean Christmas in the sand

It is hard to describe a 10-month adventure away from home. The beginning is written in notes and the end is something I do feel like looking at, though it rests somewhere very familiar- home.

I have done what people would expect; surfed, thrown prawns (not shrimp) on the “barbie” and seen the wonderful assortment of animals.

I have also pushed myself to try new things: Cricket, cliff jumping (no matter how afraid of heights I still am), and going out to all-night dance clubs. All of these things, and more, have constantly turned me around.

Let me describe this state of being “turned around.”

It is almost summer here, like it or not, and the temperatures have been around the mid-90s for the past three weeks. It has also reached 100 degrees more than once.

I have finished all of my classes. This week is the start of the holiday season. Thanksgiving is coming, there is not a chance of snow and I will not see a football game.

However, the few Americans left on campus are having a Thanksgiving dinner together. I just have to think twice each morning when I hear the birds singing outside my window to make sure they haven’t gone mad, too.

The news from the U.S. which reaches me is quite often only celebrity gossip. I do not remember when I found out Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize or when Iowa did not vote down gay marriage. But I definitely know the information was not from the TV, the paper or someone living in Iowa.

I do, however, know Britney Spears has lost her children and her mind. For some reason, the news I have received from the TV and papers means nothing about Iowa. I actually have no idea what I have missed at home.

A month ago, I ran into Ron Warnet, a chemistry professor from Simpson, at the local grocery store down here. I couldn’t figure out why someone from Simpson would be buying apples in Perth. Though we had never held a conversation before that moment, it felt great just talking to someone about home.

I leave for home in five days with a slight three-week detour to China. When I arrive home in mid-December to a car, Diet Dr. Pepper and tacos, I will no longer have to ride the bus, boil water for my instant coffee, or wish the kebab (much like a gyro) I’m eating was a taco.

Where I am now, I wonder if I’m going to feel turned around when I get home. I’m sure these thoughts will quickly turn into crumpled notes upon my return.

I do know I’ll have one thing understood when I get home, though: Santa wears “boardies” (board shorts) down here because it is hot for Christmas, and people (including Santa) go to the beach and sing songs which, ironically, are about snow.

Happy Holidays!