The Friday Funny Sign — A Special Place for the Intoxicated?

© Stephanie Glaser

Kurt and I spotted this during an Australian Rules Football game at Adelaide’s AMMI Stadium in Australia. I’m not sure if there’s any other connotation for “passing out” other than keeling over from too much drinking or perhaps “exhaustion.” I’m guessing “pass out” is another way to phrase “exit.” So Australians may not get a chuckle out of this photo.

However, I think it’s pretty funny to consider it as an area for people who are falling down drunk.  Really, it’s quite considerate of AMMI to provide a dark, somewhat private area for “resting” and a large garbage/rubbish container in case a person needs to “toss their cookies” (or “toss their biscuits” in Australian.)

The Travel Oops Interview: The Great Blurrier Reef

Suzanne and Jason Miller.

Murky, gray water and zero visibility are not the conditions the postcards and the documentaries promise when they feature the Great Barrier Reef. However, the photographers behind the incredible images were probably not shooting during a typhoon.

Interestingly, while the surface of the ocean may be swirling and raging during a typhoon, underneath the water, a certain calm is maintained. Not that the sand isn’t churned up in a messy way. Consequently, Suzanne Miller and her husband, Jason, missed out on the electric colors, crystal blue waters and endless schools of vivid fish while on a dive off the coast of Cairns, Australia, in April 2010. Despite the fact they dove during a tropical storm, the Millers rank this dive high on their list of accomplishments. The dive also happens to be a great Travel Oops.

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Dropping the “F-Bomb” in Class

Heads Up:  As you may have guessed from the title, this post contains a bit of profanity — and it’s the big one. I said it — a few times…in front of kids. These definitely were not the finest moments in my career as a teacher. I’m not really proud of what I did, but it definitely makes for a Travel Oops story. 

Here I am…calm and collected.

Many teachers, at one time or another, have considered the potentially heavy consequences of dropping the “F-bomb” in class. On the other hand, you also consider the liberation of uttering the ultimate.

Teachers on the ledge may have an interior monologue that goes something like this: “What will actually break me? How will the kids react? How many parents will call? Will I be fired?  Will my colleagues dismiss me or applaud my actions? Will it be as satisfying as I imagine?”

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The Friday Travel Ahh…

Uluru’s  watering hole. © Stephanie Glaser

As anyone who travels knows, there are missteps, mishaps and misadventures, but then there are those perfect moments when we say: “Yeah, this is why I travel.” A Travel Ahh…

The many sides of Uluru 

Most people will recognize the iconic scene of Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) from afar and its glowing aura that absorbs and reflects a sunset. However, when you visit Uluru, what is truly surprising are all the nooks and crannies and unexpected offerings of the monolith that you will see up close. When people say, “It’s just a big rock,” they, clearly, have no idea of its magnificence. There are so many wonderful stories about its creation and significance to the Pitjantjatjara. A magical, spiritual place, Uluru has many sides to its story.

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Avoid the Oops

Using Embarrassing, Inappropriate or Offensive Words 

“I am very pregnant; I do not like beans.”

It’s easy to say the wrong thing when you’re in another country and dealing with a language barrier. Suzanne Miller, director of Nursing for St. Luke’s Wood River Hospital in Ketchum Idaho, knows this well.

While in college, Miller studied in Guadalajara, Mexico, where she had a mix-up with the Spanish word “embarazada,” which of course, sounds like embarrassed. However, it doesn’t mean embarrassed — at all.

 “For two weeks, I didn’t eat my meals because they always included refried beans. Finally, my host mother asked me [in Spanish] “Do you not like my cooking?’ So then I said  [in Spanish], ‘I’m so, so embarazada, because I don’t like beans.’ My roommate, Jen, was fluent in Spanish and told me, ‘You just told Señora that you are very, very pregnant.’ Senora was stunned at first but Jen eventually cleared it up.” — Suzanne Miller.

To avoid issues with communication, many US travelers head to the UK, Australia and New Zealand because these countries share the same language as the US. Or do they? Can you say the wrong thing in your native tongue when you are traveling in an English-speaking country? Absolutely! Slang varies from dialect to dialect.

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Don’t Mess with Magpies

A magpie flies over its rightful turf — the Alberton Oval, home of the SANFL Australian Rules Football Team, the Port Adelaide Magpies.

Magpies, it seems, are iconic and demonic at the same time. In the past, they have been viewed in Chinese culture as birds who bring good luck and joy. In many Western cultures, the magpie has had more sinister qualities and has even symbolized evil like its cousin the raven.

This good vs. evil framework works well in sports. Magpies are often mascots for athletic teams (e.g. the Australian Rules Football teams, Victoria’s Collingwood Magpies and the South Australia National Football League’s Port Adelaide Magpies just to name a few.) Scavengers and survivors, magpies are quite intelligent and definitely deserve a certain amount of respect.

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Driving in the Insane Lane

© Stephanie Glaser

There’s a problem with stating that you need to learn how to drive on “the wrong side of the road” when you are a visitor in Australia, Great Britain, India, Indonesia and in many other nations. The main issue is that for the residents of these countries, it is the right side of the road — meaning correct — despite the fact it’s the left side of the road.

However, even if you state correctly that you are learning to drive on the left side of the road — it feels wrong. Very, very wrong.

My first attempt at driving on the left side of the road in Adelaide, Australia, was when my family needed groceries. We had no food except for Vegemite and crackers. That is a motivating factor in giving driving on the left side a go.

Backing out of a garage was bewildering. I had to have my husband Kurt do that since I kept looking the wrong way and moving the steering wheel in the wrong direction. The next confusion came when preparing to turn on to a main street. I moved my left hand to hit the turn signal. Wwwwipe…wipe…wipe (actually it was more like a sssscccrrrape since there was no rain to lube up the windshield wipers.) Turning on the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal would plague me up until about five months into our stay in Adelaide.

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Face-to-Face (Seriously) with a Koala

Arthur and I “nose” each other

Holding the soft, fuzzy animal that I had been somewhat obsessed with since childhood, I became overwhelmed — not by emotion as I thought might happen, but by an abhorrent stench. It was a combination of dried urine and eucalyptus oil. Was this really the case? How could my favorite animal, a cute and cuddly koala, smell so bad?

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Getting Schooled in Aussie Slang

Some of my crazy but lovable year 8’s
© Stephanie Glaser

Teaching eighth graders, who are pubescent pundits, is challenging no matter where you are. But when you are teaching in a new country and you don’t know their slang, it’s just plain brutal.

I discovered this the hard way when, as an exchange teacher, I bumbled my way through one year of instructing Year 8’s in Adelaide, Australia.

I already knew a few tidbits before I arrived. For example, never say, “I root for the team.” The connotation of that statement would be that I do way more than cheer for my team to keep their spirits up. I also knew not to freak out when kids would say that they wore their thongs to the beach; they meant flip flops not G-strings.

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The Friday Travel Ahh….

An icon sandwich

© Stephanie Glaser

As anyone who travels knows, there are missteps, mishaps and misadventures, but then there are those perfect moments when we say: “yeah, this is why I travel.” I’m choosing Fridays to be the Travel Ahh… day.

When you are in between the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, you feel like you’re in an icon sandwich, at least I did. The two are such famous images worldwide.  I took this photo as my family and I left the harbour on a ferry to Manly Beach. It was our goodbye to Sydney and to Australia, in a way, because the next day, we were leaving the country we had called home for one year. It was such a spectacular farewell. It was really more like a “see you later.”