Stephen in Australia

Stephen is a junior majoring in finance and political science. In Australia, he will be studying at Curtin University of Technology in Perth, where he will work on an international community service project in addition to taking courses.

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G’Day Mate!

(I figured I had to start at least one of the blogs with the “traditional” Australian greeting)

margaret%20river%20023.jpgAnyway, this last weekend all 11 of us SMU students had to participate in a mandatory weekend in the Margret River area. At the end of the weekend, my friends and I concluded that this was by far the best “mandatory” thing we have ever been assigned.

After driving four hours south of Perth, we arrived in Margret River, which is a region famous for its wines. The weekend served as an introductory lesson to the world of wine tasting in preparation for our forthcoming study tour to China, where we will be studying the wine market.

We spent part of Friday evening in a laboratory at the local college, which specializes in viticulture (yes, one can major in wine making). In the lab we began to learn about the differences between riesling, semillon, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, shiraz and cabernet merlot, among others.

I soon found myself realizing that wine connoisseurs speak a whole different language. I was struggling to retain the meaning of descriptive words and phrases such as, “This has more legs,” or “Here you notice the buttery feel that is rather dry with a rich American oak flavour with tannins that grip to your gums.”

margaret%20river%20001.jpgI concentrated on trying to learn the vocabulary as I tried to train my tastebuds to recognize the peppery spices in the shiraz as well as the blackberry or blueberry qualities of the cabernet merlot (I later found that wines do not actually contain any berries or spices. I was a little disappointed).

Well, after a truly scintillating introduction to wine tasting, the following day we were up early to volunteer in the community. We started at a park, where half of us painted an ancient train named Kate, while the other half spread mulch.

margaret%20river%20010.jpgThe second part of our day was rather exciting as we helped the local fire station prepare for a potential disaster situation.

They made up seven SMU students with fake burns, charred clothing, charcoal all over our bodies, and blue make-up around the faces if the “victim” was having trouble breathing. The fire station was filled with smoke, and we were given roles to play.

margaret%20river%20013.jpgStewart was the only person who actually “died,” and they even put him in a body bag! Jonathan had a broken leg and didn’t speak any English. By the end of the day, I was ready to nominate him for an Academy Award. His acting was truly brilliant.

margaret-river-017a-sm.jpgOthers suffered from burns, asthma, and smoke inhalation. The production was quite large, and they even loaded us onto stretchers and into ambulances before taking us to the hospital!

margaret%20river%20006.jpgWe had no idea we were going to be so involved. Later that night we laughed numerous times as we recounted the events of the day.

On Sunday we visited four wineries including the best winery in Australia, according to some award it had won. Through these excursions I was finally able to begin to memorize the disparities between wines, and I even began to taste their different characteristics. That being said, I don’t foresee myself becoming a wine connoisseur in the near future. After an amazing lunch at our last winery, we all slept very soundly on our way back to Perth.

I hope you have an amazing rest of your day – and feel free to leave comments on the blog as I am happy to answer any questions that you have.

Cheers!

Stephen
John 15:5

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