What’s Australia like from the science to the country?
I enjoyed the ISSCR2018 Annual Meeting in Melbourne on stem cells and regenerative medicine a few weeks back(here is a post on the some of the notable science from Day 1), but I also got a chance to get to know Australia a bit too.
Below I have listed 7 observations about Australia interspersed with some fun pictures.
First, I had a very positive impression of Australia and its people. The country is interesting and gorgeous. The people are friendly and I enjoyed the culture, which although similar in some ways to U.S. definitely has its own distinct identity.
As a visitor it’s sort of the best of both worlds that way in that it’s welcoming/familiar, but also quite different in some ways. This is silly, but the “Rice Bubbles” in the store kind of exemplified this visually relative to our Rice Krispies.
Second, it was interesting how Australians immediately knew I was an American based on my accent, with only a few times them wondering if I was an American or Canadian. Even us Americans who think they have no accent, clearly do.
Third, Australia is huge. I knew that, but being there and traveling around some you can more fully appreciate it. Australia is about the same area as the U.S.
Fourth, the food is amazing. My favorite overall was the fish, which is maybe not surprising since I’m a pescatarian. The desserts were great too (see above). There was one notable exception on the food front. The pizza several times I had what was kind of blah. Maybe it was just a short string of bad luck, but I wonder if someone could make a fortune selling great pizza in Australia?
Fifth, the wildlife is truly unique and memorable, whether on land or in the water.
Sixth, the mass transit system there is a wonder. Like some other places, in big cities you get a card and put money on it. Everything in Australia mass transit-wise just felt smoother, things ran on time, and you pay according to distance by swiping on and off, which is just so logical. Very affordable too.
Seventh, Melbourne and Sydney are cool cities. There are tons of art and cultural things to do. One fun thing in Melbourne was the laneways with great street art such as the image at right. It was interesting to go from summer in the Northern Hemisphere to winter in Australia, where it was nice, sunny, and cool…lucked out on not much rain.
Finally back on the science side, of course there is a lot of great stem cell research in Australia as it’s one of the top places in the world in our field. Also, it is grappling with some of the same issues as other places like here in the U.S. including optimal oversight of the clinical side of the field and what to do about unproven stem cell clinics as you can see in my archive of posts here mentioning the country.