Hello from Aussie-land

After approximately two weeks of residency some odd 9,476 miles away from home— I have officially settled in. After some deliberate consideration and overcoming some apprehensions, I have decided to start a blog. Despite previous conceptions and reservations I have held over virtual presence, I have concluded that the best way to encapsulate, reflect, and savour my experiences is through a cyber dialogue between myself and my readers: as scarce as they may be.

In essence, this blog is meant to not only convey my experience, but also to help foster my skills as a science communicator. It is my hope to one day be a renowned scientist, and to also possess the capacity to make science dynamic in the lives of others. To accomplish said goal, open lines of communication and genuine sentiment on poignant issues is vital. In this pursuit, I want to catalyze conversation amongst others, present novel appraisals to complex matters, and perhaps inspire a few people here and there. That’s the plan.

Noteworthy Commentary of my Journey thus far

For those of you who don’t know, I am currently living in Brisbane (pronounced briz-bin), Australia. I am here undertaking my PhD candidature at The University of Queensland. The University itself has such a prestigious eminence and presence; it puts many higher learning institutions to shame. I’m particularly fond of the lakes, the jacaranda trees, the bars on campus, and the lively social atmosphere. I am absolutely enthralled with my new scholastic work environment and dynamic, but I’ll touch on my dissertation project toward the end of this blog post. Currently I am residing in a quaint little house, bordering the city and adjacent to the river. The house’s constituents are diverse, consisting of: three Aussie’s, one French, one Vietnamese, and of course, yours truly. It is a cozy little abode, complete with a back balcony, a mini home theatre, full brewing station, two chickens (and their fresh eggs), a few pet mice, a cat, and a personal garden full of delectable spices— a utopia to say the least.

My radius of travel has been limited thus far as an expected extraneous consequence of settling in. However in the near future I intend to travel to the nearby beaches and experience some of the diverse ecology that surrounds the city.

This is not to say that my time has been squandered solely settling in. On the contrary, my adventures up to date have been fulfilling. I have experienced citywide fireworks over the river, my first live footy game (footy is rugby), one massive farmers market, learning how to brew beer, and too many barbeques to count. As the days march on I will do my utmost to take advantage of my sparse— yet auspicious— time in this majestic country.

Let’s Quickly Clear Up a Few Misguided Conceptions

 Vegemite is terrible. There is no real way around that one. Mortal encounters with deadly creatures are non- existent. Come on now, this place is home to a civilized populace. We do not have to battle our way past snakes and sharks to get to work. Yes, every one here is as kind and as easy going as you think. The accent is by no means difficult to understand. The vernacular on the other hand, is often hard to grasp. Aussies have a habit of shortening just about every word in the English language (this includes names, no one goes by there given name). In terms of cost of living, yes, it may be slightly higher here. However, that cost of living is almost negligible if one is to account for the purchasing power of the dollar and the minimum wage: which is about $10.00 higher here. To be honest, it is relatively similar to the states despite a few certain legislations, private sector, and social institutions that make significantly more sense here (i.e. public transport, gun- control, and banking). Neglecting a few of the blaring issues we as Americans perpetually address like healthcare and bipartisan political squabbling— life here is congruent to our own.

What You Can Expect From Me

As aforementioned, I am pursuing my PhD here at the University of Queensland. Over the next three years I’m sure I will frequently discuss the outcomes and merit of my project. To give a brief synopsis, my lab, the Triple P Innovation Precinct, is a sub- division of a bigger psychological conglomerate on campus. We attempt to innovate the manner in which we approach science, science- communication, entrepreneurship, metrics, and impact on society. My particular project involves collaborating with scholars at UQ as well as more global organizations such as: The World Bank and Capturing Coral Reef and Related Ecosystem services. As an interdisciplinary unit we will attempt to coordinate an approach to reduce the prevalence of unsafe fishing practices in Sulawesi, Indonesia. I am charged with developing the psychosocial behavioural intervention to reduce the frequency of said, unfavourable actions. With all hope, this intervention package will be elegant and malleable enough to apply to any undesirable behaviour across the globe. I will be sure to post updates regarding my progress, trials, successes, and all of the exemplar accomplishments of my lab.

Also to be expected are reflections on science based issues, commentary on many relevant world incidents, anything academically tantalizing I come across, reflections on what it means to be a young and infinite scholar, and comparisons of life here to life in the states. It is my aspiration to provide the most comprehensive depiction of my entire experience, such that readers may feel the vibrancy of Aussie life.

Why I Have Chosen to Blog

I slightly alluded to this point earlier, but I was not one to jump head first into blogging. It has been much more of a tentative acclimation at best. For me, blogging often accrues the negative stigma of ranting and aimless, credulous rambling. This is not my intent, nor will it ever be. I hope to convey powerful messages across a myriad of different topics. As stated, I hope to provide insight, inspiration, and stimulus for further thought amongst readers. This is an invaluable way to reflect and communicate; hence it should be utilized for good.

For those who enjoyed the post, please keep an eye out for future post, which I will share through social media— either on my FaceBook page or new professional Twitter: @ErikSimmons6. Also feel free to comment and share! I look forward to the journey of engagement and blogging.

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