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Local George Mason student visits Australia to study sports

After a 15-hour flight and plenty of anticipation, Katie Stevens stepped off the airplane ready to immerse herself in the culture of Australia.

The George Mason student and South Boston native spent 20 days in Australia at the beginning of July as part of a study abroad program at her school. 

As a kinesiology major (the study of human movement), her assignment was to study the differences in sports culture in Australia and America. 

Stevens wrote a 30-page journal along with a six-page paper on her findings during the trip as part of her assignment. 

While in Australia, she visited four popular cities on its east coast: Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns and Surfers Paradise.   

She had an opportunity to see many kinds of interesting things in Australia, the most interesting being the kangaroos standing on the side of the road like deer in the United States and koaloa bears sitting in trees. 

The down under traveler also had a chance to visit the MGC where the Melbourne Olympics was held in 1956 and ANZ Stadium where the 2000 Sydney Olympics were held. 

The main stadium and centre court of Melbourne Park, where the Australian Open is played in January, is the Rod Laver Arena named in his honor. She went there as well was many other various sports facilities.

 She went snorkeling and scuba diving around the great barrier reef and had a chance to learn how to surf while visiting Surfer’s Paradise, the surfing capital of the world. 

Stevens also paid a visit to the Aborigines of Kuranda, a village in the rainforest which has the distinction of being the oldest rainforest in the world.

She said she broadened her tastes by sampling kangaroo meat and chicken schnitzel, a popular dish in Australia.  

She compared the kangaroo meat to deer meat with a little saltier taste. Stevens described chicken schnitzel as a thin chicken patty.

 Also while in Australia, Stevens had a chance to experience many different living situations, the most interesting being a hostel.

She stayed in a hostel while visiting the city of Cairns and described the experience as being cramped, having very little space with six people to a room sleeping on three bunk beds. 

“It was a different type of experience,” Stevens said.

 During her visit, Australia was in the middle of its winter season, but ironically temperature lows were around 50 degrees and in Cairns temperatures reached the 80s.

She noticed many differences between America and Australia.

 For example, in Australia it is considered an insult to tip someone for their services. 

She also noticed prices are much more expensive in Australia with a McDonald’s burger pricing around $8 and a six-inch sub from Subway costing $9. Portions of food are smaller too.   

Stevens said she was shocked no malls can be found in Australia, and they have such a small population. 

Australia is about the size of the United States, with a population equal to that of the state of Florida.

Stevens described her trip to Australia as “fun and educational.”

She learned how to play rugby and cricket and discovered many differences in the sports culture between the United States and Australia.

She brought back many souvenirs to the United States to document her travels, the most interesting being boomerangs and the most popular cookie in Australia, Tim Tams. 

Stevens said the Tim Tams cookie resembles a wafer that comes in 10 different flavors and is the equivalent of an Oreo in the United States.

“Yes I would love to go back. I would like to go to some of the same places, and I would also like to visit the West Coast and the Outback,” Stevens said when asked if she would visit Australia again.

 Stevens said it was her first trip abroad, but she promises it will not be her last. 

 She hopes one day to visit Egypt, France, and Greece. She said she wants to visit Egypt because it has many landmarks, and France to experience the cuisine and see the Eiffel tower.

“I’d like to travel more, I’d get up and go in a heartbeat,” Stevens said, adding, “it’s very important to travel.

“You should travel to expand your knowledge and see how other people live. You get to experience cultures other than your own. You get to step out of your comfort zone,” Stevens concluded.