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Reisverslag Week 6 and miscellaneous
30 maart 2017
Week 6 and miscellaneous
So the unthinkable happened today.. I have an afternoon ʼfreeʼ during the workweek! Made possible by the effects of ex-cyclone Debbie, which entails heavy rain, storms, strong winds, and flash floods.
I had already arrived on campus with the bus during some light rainfall and I was working away in the lab, when my supervisor walked in soaked to the bone and proclaiming that I got extra points for being there. I had no idea what he was talking about, but it slowly became apparent to me. Not long after my housemate calls me and informs me that there had been official warnings from the government, schools closed, campus was closing, and public transport was free so that everyone could get home safe. At this point Iʼve already started working on my samples and thereʼs no way I can leave them now, so Iʼm stuck on campus until lunchtime. In the meantime, the couple of people that arrived in the office, decided to go home. So now itʼs me in the lab and my supervisor working die-hard on his computer in an empty office. Around 12ish I finish my samples and decide to go home, because I am dependent on the bus (my supervisor can just hop on his bike) and the weather is supposed to worsen during the afternoon. So now Iʼm inside waiting for the worst to come. When a whole city like this is in a state of panic, I do wonder what the weather can become…
During this week, I have done almost exclusively lab-work. 48 samples per day, which doesnʼt sound like much, but it keeps me really busy for 8 hours straight, if not more.. The method we settled on for now is starting the extraction in the afternoon, letting the samples chill in a warm water bath overnight and then finish the extraction in the morning. I started this streak of 48 extractions on Monday afternoon and had to terminate the streak today due to the weather. It should be possible to do these extraction cycles within a day –no problem- , but unfortunately, I donʼt have a clear list of samples I have to do. Therefore, everyday around lunch, I quickly try to figure out which samples I can do next, find them, and start their extraction in time, so I can leave on time, as these precious samples need to be inverted after 1h in the warm water bath. I sometimes see them as spoiled little things that need a last check up before I leave them in the spa overnight. ;) During the morning extraction process, I also run gels of the samples finished the day before, as to check if I managed to extract DNA (without contaminations) and how much. The samples that didnʼt work, I try again that afternoon together with other samples. Itʼs a work in progress, but at least I have the feeling I know how to select my next samples and Iʼm getting quite handy with the extractions.
Now, Iʼd like to share some things Iʼve been wanting to write down for a while. I havenʼt done so because I donʼt want to make the blogs too long.
Biking here has been good for me (not considering the three crazy drivers that almost ran me over in their haste). The first week I thought I was going to die, but Iʼve gotten used to the hills and donʼt need to get of my bike for them anymore. I try to bike to campus every day, if the weather permits. It has rained a lot the last 2 weeks. Rain is different here than in the Netherlands, where it can drizzle the whole day. Here, it rains really hard for a while and then it stops. This makes it easy to stay dry, as you just need to find shelter for a while. When itʼs raining the temperature is really nice, but after the rain it is very, very uncomfortable. It gets extremely humid, so just after a couple of steps and you are sweating like crazy. Iʼm getting used to the temperature and humidity though, which could be facilitated by the fact that summer here is ending. So, as you in Europe start to prepare for summer with daylight savings time, we prepare for winter without daylight savings time! Queensland is one of the states that does not participate in daylight saving. Iʼm just happy no-one will be stealing an hour of my sleep somewhere along the way. Iʼve gotten really used to getting up at 6.30 already; a hellish time for me in Europe, but possibly on the late side here; and therefore being in bed by 10pm.
Australia in my eyes is a mix of Europe and the US. One of the two major things that reminds me of the US is how wide spread everything is and how you need a car to get anywhere outside the city (I donʼt have a car, so when I decide to take my adventures outside the city, Iʼll need to figure something out). The other thing is the complete absurdity of some rules and regulations and fear of being sued. The amount of paperwork Iʼve had to fill out and inductions Iʼve had to go through for this reason is ridiculous. In the Netherlands there is something called common sense and own responsibility. Here, the highest ranking body is responsible unless proven otherwise. This means that if anything happens to you while youʼre working in a UQ (University of Queensland) building, itʼs not your health insurance that pays for the bills, but the University. And before you even get transported to the hospital (if necessary) you need to fill out an incident report, because otherwise no insurance will pay. Your health insurance will say the University has to pay, because it happened at work and the University will say they have no record of the incident happening… This also means, that if anything really major happens and you are in no state to fill out the form (say youʼre unconscious), you have to hope someone else does it for you, because you need it for the insurance to pay and for you to not go bankrupt. You might think that all the rules, regulations, and inductions are for your safety, but they are there to cover the Universities ass (just to be clear, everybody and everything is covering their ass, not just the University). They try to cover their ass to the finest detail, which means that you have the feeling you get treated as the biggest moron on the planet during trainings and inductions. *end of rant*
Some things that amaze me about the ozzies:
If you donʼt have a well-paid fulltime job, a car, your own place (possibly with roommates), and a pet by 22, you have failed. This is what I feel like here. It is such a different mentality. I had been warned by the work, drink, work, drink lifestyle, but I still didnʼt imagine it like this. To be honest, I am actually far removed from this lifestyle and mentality, as I am surrounded by academics and researchers. So, I havenʼt experienced the full on drinking that people do here, but the drinking culture is very apparent here from the shops, commercials, and bars. There is a bar near where I live that always has customers, especially after 5pm, and that has a constant and steady odour of old, dried up beer around it. The beer Iʼve had up to now has been really good, although Iʼm still trying to figure out what it all is, as I cannot find any beer that sounds or looks familiar to me; almost all of it is made in Australia. They are very keen on produce and items being made in Australia (good for them). Thankfully, I have been able to find every product I have looked for – even Becherovka!
For a big city like Brisbane, I was very surprised by the amount of ʼnatureʼ here. There is a lot of green in the city and suburbs. Iʼve told you about the semi-rainforest on Southbank across from the city centre, where thereʼs also an herb garden from where you can get some produce. In my suburb (Toowong), thereʼs a big ass tree on the road, next to the pavement, where they have put asphalt around. Back home, Iʼm sure they would have cut down the tree.
On a side note, I was confused and semi-amused by the enormity of the drains on the side of the road. Well, it has become apparent to me that in some places they are not big enough. If it rains hard and long enough, the streets turn into rivers – no joke! Which reminds me, this morning there was a big stream of water going down Holland street (side street of where I live XD), which could have alarmed me about the weather to come. Actually, while Iʼve been writing the weather has been relatively ok.
Iʼd like to conclude with a listing of all the animals Iʼve seen in the city (no koalaʼs or kangaroos yet, I need to go to a zoo or sanctuary for those, which is a little challenging without a car). There are a shit ton of birds in the city. The first weeks I would wake up and wonder where the sheep were; only to realize that the sound I heard were crows. Iʼve seen beautiful cockatoes, although the sound they make is not as beautiful. During the afternoon when it start getting dark (~6pm), it is not uncommon to be temporarily deaf around the space of one tree. Lorakeets congregate into a single tree and try to make as much noise as they can. I do wonder why they do that; I should ask Jessie (my housemate) as she is a bird expert. Iʼve also seen (ring tailed) opossums on several occasions around the neighbourhood. They kind of look like rats, but with a funny walk. Their walk resembles that of a cat with a balloon between its hind legs (youtube it XD). They are also extremely blind and have no idea you are standing there laughing at them except for the occasional snicker that you let out. Another awesome thing that Iʼve seen in the neighbourhood several times, is flying foxes. Iʼve only seen them in flight, but I can only imagine how big they are up close. 9/10 times Iʼve seen something big flying in the air, itʼs been the flying foxes. To conclude, because this blog has become too long anyway, here the equivalent of the city pigeon is the black-headed ibis.
30 maart 2017 10:48 | Door: Linda
Weer een prachtig stuk leesvoer! Erg leuk!
Dikke knuffel lieverd xx
2 april 2017 18:29 | Door: Kathryn Pound
Hi Dasha, my name is Kathy and a very good friend of your Mother. I am really enjoying your blog and love hearing about life in Australia and its challenges! I grew up in Melbourne, but have visited QLD many times, and can picture many of the places you mention. Your work at the UQ is also very interesting and great to read about. Keep up the great work!