Friday, December 5, 2008

when it's over...

as i warned you would happen at the beginning of this blogging adventure, i have been horrible at keeping this thing updated. i've been trying to write this post for the past three weeks. i feel like after such a huge experience i should have something profound or at least extremely interesting to say but alas, it didn't happen.

after i finished my finals, i had to come to terms with the packing monster, which was difficult to say the least. saying goodbye to people was also really hard. i'd been functioning by simply not thinking about people leaving but steve threw a monkey wrench in this plan when he decided the first friday of finals that he was going to be leaving (with kim) on sunday morning, which didn't leave a whole lot of processing time. the rest of the week was spend going out and saying goodbye to people. amy and i also managed to not only steal iain's shoes but in an attempt to throw them out the window to make it easier for us to hide them (logic may not be our strongest point) we got them stuck on the overhang the floor below and ended up needing iain's help to get them... oops O:-). my last full day at campus east i dyed my hair red, had a bbq on the beach, mostly finished packing, stayed up talking to mark for hours, and watched the sunrise on the beach (with my camera, finally!).

the next day i went to dark circus which was a burlesque circus-y thing. there was your standard circus stuff including trapeze, a magician, jugglers, etc along with some darker stuff like sword swallowing, razor eating, and piercing suspension. it was then followed by an awesome dance party. i was with pip, jackson, isaac, selwyn, corie, and corie's friend so i knew a fair few people and also knew a lot of people from pip's sydney juggling club. some people are just funny to watch when they are let loose w/ alcohol, red bull, and an open dance floor. afterwards we had a big sleepover at pip's where i was woken every couple of hours to say yet another emotional goodbye. you'd think by that point i'd be used to it, but no.

i spent a couple of days bumming around w/ pip and watching a lot of movies (and by watching i mean sleeping through... it had been a long week) before leaving for melbourne w/ julz to meet up w/ edwin, andrew, and andrea. it basically turned into 2 separate trips w/ julie and me doing one thing, the other 3 doing their own thing then meeting up at the end of the day to just chill. we did the great ocean road in a day which was quite the adventure and A LOT of time in a bus. but it was well worth it... i got some truly fantastic pictures, and some excellently awful ones as well :-). I also saw a wild kangaroo, a few wild koalas, and got to feed some really brightly colored birds. we also saw the 12 apostles, which are these really cool rock formations, and the site of a shipwreck. the next day we went and did some shopping during the day and managed to get ourselves $30 tickets for front row wicked seats from a raffle, which was absolutely amazing! the next day we did some wandering in rainy melbourne and kept striking out - everything we wanted to do either was lame or closed due to lack of planning. but that night we went to dracula's... a dinner theater thing that was clearly slightly vampire themed. it's hard to explain but absolutely fantastic. it was made even better by the fact that we got half-priced tickets and a free cocktail each. the last day in melbourne involved more shopping and then and early night back at the hostel since the movie we were going to watch was an outdoor thing and got rained out and there was nothing playing in the regular movie theater we all wanted to see.

back in sydney w/ pip we went to visit her horse roo. i tried to ride him bareback which ended quite amusingly. i was having issues getting onto his back b/c i'm short and pip failed to compensate adequately for this so my first attempt resulted in me sliding off the horse and landing in an awkward position that left quite a large bruise on my butt. we also had an all together fascinating dinner w/ her mom and dad. that is really all there is to say on that topic. i spent the next couple of days catching up on sleep and watching more movies w/ pip since she had a first aid class. on the wednesday we got most of our packing done and went to juggling one last time. thursday we dropped my very large box off at the post office (which was a nightmare... it was 1 kg too heavy to be shipped so i had to take stuff out) and headed to canberra. we also brought a VERY large apple pie with us in order to celebrate thanksgiving.

we finally made it to amy's house mid-afternoon and the pie was a hit. it barely survived to the end of dessert. we spent a lot of time just hanging out and doing the things that pip, amy and i do when together. when we went out, one of the pubs refused to accept my license as id b/c it's an international id. it's really quite annoying. i was not happy but we ended up someplace really cool so it's all good. come saturday it was time to head back to pip's house and finish packing for our separate adventures. i could tell that amy's gonna miss me b/c i got 3 free hugs... usually 1 is her limit.

sunday pip dropped me off at a hostel in kings cross sydney 'cause she had to leave a few days earlier than anticipated to go to this festival thing she's volunteering at for the month of december. i met up w/ mark (a couple hours later than expected due to him waking up way late). we went to see santa vs. the snowman in imax 3d which was dorky but fantastic. then we just wandered around the harbor and chilled in hyde park.

monday was technically the end of my australian adventure culminating in approx 28 hours of travel to get from the hostel to my house in nj. i am so done w/ flying for now, it's not even funny. each of the flights had a fair amount of turbulence which didn't help my stomach any. during the flight from australia to lax, the movie system kept failing over and over again resulting in hours of boredom since i had trouble sleeping. for all 3 flights i fell asleep almost as soon as we took off but i woke up about an hour later and had problems getting back to sleep. before i even got to the airport i started missing oz and all the people from uow like none other. so far, most of them have been pretty good at keeping in touch w/ me so hopefully that will keep up.

i spent less than a day back home before leaving to visit melissa for a couple nights at njit. nothing exciting to report on that one and then she put me on the train to spend a few days at au. it's really weird being back here as a guest in a place where i used to live. they also remodeled centennial over the summer so in some ways it looks exactly the same and in some it's completely different. it's also weird being back w/ these people especially since they are all stressing about their finals which start on monday and i don't really have anything to do. tonight i'm going to a group sleepover at dania's like we used to do in the old days... good times.

interesting oz fact: small children leave santa beer on christmas eve.

and with that, i do believe i officially conclude my travel blog. thanks for reading and i hope you enjoyed my adventures even a fraction as much as i did. however, there will be a summary post sometime in the near future with the links to the rest of my pictures.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

things you want to know

so i'm thinking that at this point there are 3 things you want to know about... the election, my pictures, and my travel plans

the election fell on a day that we had final exams so pretty much everyone was studying or actually taking an exam. i had an exam in the morning so i came back around 1pm Wed my time, 9pm Tues EST. The tv room was packed, though mostly w/ americans as far as i could tell. australians were asking about how the election was going and what the electoral college is, etc etc. considering i finished my exam that day i was pretty much dead so i didn't have the energy to deal w/ commercials but i came back upstairs and followed the vote on the internet while i was helping other people study for their exams. i basically stopped paying attention right after the west coast polls closed since it was pretty officially a done deal at that point. at least 4 of my friends came in to find me to tell me that obama won (they were all obama supporters as well). also in the past few days at least 3 of them have asked if i think he will get assassinated... oh well. it did, however, provide a brief respite on the constant american jokes. the world seems to be proud of us for electing a black man but they're all waiting to see if this actually changes anything. the aussies don't seem to be holding their breath since they saw their new prime minister do nothing but raise the alcohol tax and talk about censoring the internet. oh well...

my pictures:
to australia!
whales and wine day 1
whales and wine day 2
where i live
i'm too sexy... (hollywood ball)
julie's birthday bowling
send morgan to costa rica!
campus east harbour cruise
taco and tequila tuesday
within 4our walls
jackie's b-day party
juggling club party
spring break 08 part oz
i'm the classy version and she's the slutty/scary version (final fling)
zartacla pot roolf

travel plans:
leave campus east nov. 14 to go to sydney
leave sydney to go to melbourne nov. 17
leave melbourne to go back to sydney nov. 22
leave sydney to go to canberra nov. 27
leave canberra to go to sydney nov. 29
leaeve sydney to go home dec. 1
arrive in newark at 11:35 pm dec. 1.

interesting oz fact: rent is listed weekly instead of monthly.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

speaking of segues...

sorry kate... i know i gave you a hard time when you used it but i suppose it is a good one...

so i am now sitting in my room, the place i've lived for over 3 months that has my pictures on the walls, my stuff in the cupboard, my name on the door, and it's reached that point where i have to start thinking about packing up to go home. classes are officially over and reading week starts on monday to give everyone the chance to make up on the 13 weeks of work they have been ignoring. i have finished w/ aboriginal studies, have a final to sit for psych on the 5th and a take home exam for sociology due the 10th and then my semester is over. what the hell... i got off the plane last week at the earliest. i suppose i should update people on stuff that has happened since my last update:

for the rest of spring break i hung out at campus and went to a couple of fabulous parties at pubs. i'm not really sure what we did during the days but the time passed quick enough. one day pip and i went back to being 14 and looked at love quizzes/love calculators online which was absolutely hilarious. amy and i decided that iain needed a welcome back demonstration of our love so we decided to put balloons on his door but we only had water balloons and long thin balloons... this were quickly combined into a fairly phallic shape and left w/ a sign referring to how much we missed his 'uber massive schlong' (quite the random inside joke that i came into afterwards), which would have been hilarious if his parents didn't bring him back from break and see said balloons and sign. i also cut a significant amount of my hair off. either the week immediately before or after spring break i joined juggling club and met some of the most incredible people ever. i can now juggle 3 balls (kind of) as well as spin poi a little... even when they are on fire (yes, they are designed for that)!

there isn't much particularly blog worthy that's happened between then and now. last night we had the 'final fling' with the theme of "f" so there were a lot of really random and fantastic costumes as well as free drinks. i went as fancy in fuchsia... i.e. a good excuse to dress up pretty. i actually survived wearing high heels again, although barely. after waking up not feeling so great this morning, i headed to the beach for a surf lesson. how fucking awesome is that? i wasn't very successful, only getting up on my knees and not staying there for very long but it was a lot of fun... even if i was absolutely wrecked when i got home.

that brings you up to date on my life. i'm not sure what i have planned for the rest of the session (besides some school work) but i'll update everyone when i figure it out. there will also be another post very soon with access to my photo albums b/c i have been taking a ton of them this session just to keep you all posted on my life b/c some of this stuff you wouldn't believe if you didn't see it for yourself.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

where does the time go?

So we are now an hour and a half into October and I really have no idea where the time went. I suppose it was eaten by the large number of papers I have had but still... it’s somewhat ridiculous. I also think that only having a 3 day week contributes greatly. Before you get over the Mondays it is Wednesday and then it’s the weekend… and we all know that weekends fly by like nobody’s business.

On a completely random note, I have become absolutely obsessed w/ On A Sensual Note’s album and have been listening to it incessantly recently.

Classes are trudging on. I only have one or two assessments left for each subject which is absolutely nuts. We are currently in the middle of our mid-session break which is really more like 3/4 of the way through the session break since we have finished 10 of the 13 weeks after which we have 1 week of study break and 2 of finals and then the session is over and it is time to go home... or travel. I still haven’t worked out my plans but will b doing that very soon. I do know that my visa expires on December 10th so I will be home by then.

A couple of weeks back we had harbour cruise... which is affectionately known as the “booze cruise” due to the fact that we spend four hours out on the harbour w/ an open bar. It is apparently very difficult to judge how drunk you are when you already can’t stand due to the fact that you are on a boat.

For part 1 of midsession break I went to Brisbane with Pam this past Thursday thru Tuesday. It was a lot of fun. I got to see UQ and Kate which was really nice... even if it did leave me feeling pretty homesick. We started at a hostel that was absolutely sketch-tastic and far away from everything so we moved to a different one where we were sharing a room w/ a total of 13 people. We went to Mt. Coot-tha, the botanical gardens, and surfer’s paradise and I managed not to get sunburned at all… which is no minor feat when you consider the fact that I fell asleep on the beach for 2 hours. The trip was a lot of fun but not particularly blog worthy. However, when I got back, the shrieks that accompanied the realisation of my return may have left me partially deaf... it’s absolutely delightful to be loved :-D.

On that note... before I left people told me about reverse culture shock and I thought that was absolute nonsense but I’m starting to see how it could happen. I’ve gotten so used to being American being cause for insults and seeing my country through the rest of the world’s eyes. Let me tell you... it’s not a pretty picture. I’ve been working so hard on getting the Aussie into my language that I’m pretty sure it will be hard to shake when I get back. Then there are the people I’ve met here. Missing everyone back home isn’t so bad because I know I will see you all again sooner or later but I have no idea when I’m going to see these people again... or if I’ll see them… which is kind of stressing relationships. It almost feels like I’m wasting my time by fully throwing myself into spending time with these people but oh well… I’m doing it anyway and having an awesome time.

I think that is overall a good update on my life. I would like to point out that my inbox has been sadly empty in terms of updates from AU! Keep me updated people! I suppose that is all for now...

Interesting Oz Fact: Poisonous things kind of just show up around us like the spider that appeared in Amy’s room and the bird that is nesting in the field. As Kate said... be careful. Everything in Australia can kill you.

Friday, August 29, 2008

... and then I found $5.

So I apologise it has been a while since I updated. I've been having so much fun doing things to write about, the actual writing seemed a little silly.

A couple of weeks ago I went to Sydney for a day. We, of course, took pictures around the harbour of the bridge and the opera house and this random carnival we saw when we were on the ferry on our way to see the aquarium. It was a really nice aquarium but generally pretty similar to the one in Baltimore. But there was a platypus! You really don't realize how fast those things are until you are trying to take a picture of them... bloody oath! I always forget until I'm in an aquarium how much the thick glass in combination w/ the water really screws with my head but I survived.

After the aquarium we went to see The Dark Knight in the IMAX theatre... OMG was that an intense experience. I was apparently very amusing to my friends sitting on either side of me. They all highly recomend that you watch an intense movie with me, purely for the comedy of me freaking out.

During the weeks I have been doing a lot of paper writing/procrastinating the paper writing so not too much stuff that you would find interesting if you weren't there has happened. My friends have figured out my s.o.p. for telling a story so they have a go at me for it every chance they get but oh well.

The next interesting thing that has happened was the ball... although there is a very good chance that it is only an interesting story if you were there. I had a great time with a bunch of my friends and finally got the chance to wear the dress that I got for the Founder's Day ball and never got a chance to wear in February.

There are pictures up of all of these things on Facebook as well as a random adventure or two.

Right now I'm working on writing a paper and figuring out my spring break so I'll keep you guys posted when anything interesting happens!

Interesting Oz Fact: Television is half a season behind here because they want the seasons to add up even though that means all the holidays are at the wrong time.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I am a visitor here...

So this has been kind of a rough weekend. All week I've been working on my psychology paper in fits and starts. It needs to be between 1500 and 2000 words and thus far I only have 263 and the research is just not coming together. I put that on hold today to work on my 30-50 minute presentation I have to give on Tuesday afternoon but I have a 3 hour break tomorrow that will hopefully lead to productivity. If it doesn't... well then tomorrow night will not be kicks and giggles.

Every time I start to feel settled, I get some sort of slap in the face, reminding me that I'm new here and only temporarily at that. I'm also hoping that what we were told about Aussies teasing b/c they love is true b/c otherwise I'd really start feeling bad about myself, given a lot of the things they say to me. I'm generally doing pretty well with the whole culture shock thing but the food is giving me problems. I'd really like something to be familiar that I actually like and are actual sustenance - not just m&ms.

Also, the fact that life is going on normally at home feels weird. Band camp has started for another year already - the first year I won't be there for championships since 2002 - and people are going back to AU and everyone else is starting on their adventures for the semester. People! Email me! I'd love to hear what's going on in your lives! And I swear I'll respond! On that note, it is sleeping time b/c I have class in 9 hours.

Interesting Oz Fact: No one seems to know what a heating pad is.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Walking on the Ceiling

This post is actually not going to go on like a novel, for once.

Classes are seriously under way and I am currently taking a break from a 10 minute presentation I have on Monday. When giving length limits on papers and such, they generally tell you how many words it needs to be instead of a page limit so the formatting directions dictate the smallest accepted margins instead of largest which really sucks b/c they insist on a 4 cm margin which is almost more than an inch and a half. That's such a waste of paper. They also frown on double siding you work, which I think is odd given the measures they have gone to for helping the environment such as toilets w/ the option of half or whole flush as well as switches for the power outlets.

I have taken all of my pictures out of the little book I brought them in and hung them up on my wall. Once again, I didn't notice how crappy my walls looked empty until they suddenly looked better. One of the Aussies gave me some of this stuff they call blu-tac (because it's blue. They also have u-tac or yellow-tac, which is called such b/c it is yellow - they are creative when it comes to naming things here). This stuff actually works a lot better than thumb-tac back home. There is even a picture of a "Mike Mayer Show" dry erase board advertisement.

I seem to finally be kicking this cold which has been giving me hell for the past month and then some. I love anti-biotics.

The American boys I live w/ are continuing to make drama b/c they won't just keep the bathroom clean and they keep mooching shampoo, conditioner, and body wash w/o asking. Ness is on the war path... which is absolutely hilarious.

I have re-discovered the beauty of going out sober, although it can be frustrating when all of your friends are getting drunk off their asses. It's certainly a hell of a lot cheaper w/ few side effects - all though I definitely woke up feeling just as crappy this morning - very unfortunate.

That is my life at this point. I hope you appreciated the abbreviated version.