Saturday, June 19, 2010

Back to reality

Well, I have been home for about a week now. It's strange to be home, and Amazing as well. I love the familiar faces and places! I miss Australia, but am glad to be in the place that I call my true home. I arrived into MSP after about 30 hours of travelling. It was a rough trip, but I made it back in one piece!! I officially hate travelling and planes! Ah! The 14 hour plane ride from Sydney to LA wasn't as bad as it could have been. We had all the entertainment we could ever need on our own personal screens in front of us. I watched 5 movies!! It was great. And it made the trip faster. I was just anxious to see my family. When I finally did, I was so excited and happy! Minutes after I arrived, it felt like I never left. It was a great night.

I had one day of relaxation and adjustment, then I was back to work nannying on Monday. It was a huge reality check. I missed my kids a lot! But I have to say, I can't wait for summer to be over so I can officially move into my new apartment and get back into the swing of things at Eau Claire. I'm so excited for the new year and being back at my home university! I'll be a Senior so it will be a big year for me, graduating in the Spring if all goes as planned.

As much as I'm excited to start the new semester, nothing will ever top the semester I had abroad! :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Final thoughts...

Tomorrow is my last day in Australia. I cannot believe how fast it has gone by.. although I knew that it was going to fly by before my eyes. My study abroad experience was all that I could have ever hoped for! I feel like I have grown in many different ways. I came here very sheltered, and oblivious to other cultures and the world in general. Being here in a very multicultural society (its not just Aussies here) has made me a much more cultured and accepting person. I have also become much more independent!

I'm so grateful to have had this opportunity to live in another country for a semester, and it makes me appreciate home in a new way as well. And I'm forever grateful for the home I'm able to go back to, as I end my adventure. My family is such a high priority to me now, and I will never take them for granted. Not everyone has a family as great as mine, and I'm so lucky!

I am going to miss a lot of things about this place, and it's impossible to name all of them. I am going to miss my flatmate Ashleigh a lot! We have bonded to become good friends and I will miss seeing her every day. I'll miss being able to see the ocean whenever I want to.

This has been my life for the past 4 months, and it will feel strange to leave it all behind, but it's time to move on with the next chapter of my life. I will start my senior year of college in the fall, graduate next spring, and hopefully be starting my professional career soon after. This was a great phase of my life that I'll be able to remember forever!

I will write again about adapting back to life in the states, it will surely be interesting.. Pray for me on my long journey home!


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New Zealand is Sweet As!

Hello all!!

I have returned from the gorgeous untouched country of New Zealand! Seven friends and I took a 10 day bus trip around the south island. It was a very adventurous, fun-filled week and I still can't believe I got to go there! The differences between NZ and Aus are very slight but I could tell. The accents are different in a certain way... whenever there is a short E in a word they will make it long. For example, if they said "we have seven beds ready for you" it would sound like "we have seeeveeen beeeeds reeeady for you" And they say things like oh and no like oi and noi. It's kind of funny and I like imitating them! Australia is pretty environmentally "green" but NZ was the "greenest" country I've ever been to. Everywhere you go there are signs reminding you what to do to help the environment. It's great!

For our bus tour we stayed in a total of 5 hostels. We stayed in Christchurch our first 2 nights. There, we did a big pubcrawl our first night. That was interesting and a very good time! The next day we had the full day to explore the city. Let me tell you, if I ever moved here this is where I would live. I want to raise my family here! Haha. No really, everything is so clean and beautiful. Everyone is so nice. It is a pretty big city that feels quaint. It seemed like that in a lot of the places we went in NZ.

Main square in CC

Luckily it was a gorgeous day in CC when we explored that day. We went up in a gondola to the top of a mountain that overlooked the city, the mountains and the Pacific Ocean. I got some great pictures! We also walked around town and went to the weekend markets where vendors were selling some pretty unique items. That night we went to a bar called the Stock Xchange. It was a really unique bar, seeing that all the drink prices would change every 3 minutes and once every hour the market would "crash" and everything would be dirt cheap! Great idea for a business I'd say..

The next morning we headed on our way via the Tranz Scenic alpine train. It is one of the top 5 most scenic train rides in the world! It was gorgeous I never wanted to get off the train! We arrived in Greymouth where we boarded our first Coach bus that took us to Franz Josef. This small town (and I mean small. It consisted of 2 parallel roads basically) is home to a Glacier--Franz Josef glacier. Our hostel was so cute--it even had its own cat!--but it definitely did not have enough heat for a hostel located next to a glacier...BRR!

We got to do a glacier hike the next day! We had to get all suited up with gear provided by the company we went through. We even got big boots that had attachable "cramp ons" aka ice spikes for your shoes so we wouldn't slip everywhere. I felt like Yukon Cornelius in Rudolph!! It was a vigorous hike up to the glacier but it was all worth it with the amazing things we got to see! We got to slip through some tight crevaces and down a glacial cave, very cool!

That night we went to the Glacial hot pools that came with our hike package. Those felt very nice after a long day on the glacier :)

The next day we headed out again on our way to Queenstown! This was my favorite place of the whole trip. It felt like Aspen, with it's cozy hometown feel to it, and of course being able to see mountains in the background everywhere you go! This was where I was planning on skydiving, so I had to hope for perfect weather conditions! Unfortunately we weren't able to go because of the low clouds :( I was pretty bummed. But the day got better. A few of us went up another Gondola to see Queenstown from atop the mountain. Gorgeous views, yet again. Later, I went with all my friends who were brave enough to bungy jump the third highest bungy in the world. I was too chicken, but I had a BLAST watching them jump!!

We left Queenstown and spent a full day on a bus with a VERY obnoxious tour guide, Brian. He never stopped talking the whole day, and finally dropped us off at Milford Sound where we got to cruise around and have coffee. It was another great day--would've been nice to have for skydiving but oh well-- and I loved seeing the breathtaking sights of Milford.

That night our only option was to stay in Te Anau.. basically the only town for miles that is anywhere close to Milford Sound. We made do with what we had, board games and movies were our entertainment. (finally saw Avatar and it was AMAZING) The next morning we caught a bus to Dunedin, the only city in NZ with a University. So it is mainly a student town. My friend Nick's friend Dustin is studying there right now so we hung out with him a lot while we were there. We went to the Cadbury chocolate factory, that was sweeeeet!

The next morning we were supposed to catch our final bus back to Christchurch, but since it had been raining for like a week, all the roads were flooded and there was no way we were going anywhere on a bus that day. We were in a bit of a predicament, because we NEEDed to get back to CC in order to catch our 7AM flight the next day. Our only option was to fly to CC... That began our 24 hours of misery. It pretty much consisted of sitting in airports, sleeping, and flying.

It was great to finally arrive in Perth again! And being "home" feels good. But I only call this place home for 10 more days. Then I am states bound! I am so grateful for all the travelling I have gotten to do on my Study abroad :) It made the value of my experience so much greater. Not only did I get to study in another country, but I got to visit and appreciate a lot of other places too!

(It takes forever to upload pictures onto my posts so see my Facebook for all my pics!)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Jumpahs, thongs, lollies, and Maccas!

Hey there, I know I haven't written in a while! Sorry, just not too much to talk about that I haven't already mentioned. Nonetheless it's been a busy couple weeks! What with assignments due left and right, group meetings, and some relaxation on my downtime. It's been getting colder and colder lately! The other night I actually saw my breath outside! NOT OKAY! Haha. I had no idea it was going to actually get cold, I thought that was just a myth.... oops! So.. here I am without any decently warm clothes to wear. I brought heaps of tank tops and tshirts though. My bad.

I am getting ready to leave for New Zealand in 2 days! I just have to turn in 2 last assignments and then I'm home free! It'll be a great vacation after these last 6 weeks of school. After I get home, I have 2 finals spread out over the course of 5 days, then 5 more days to say goodbye to this wonderful place, then I'm on my way home!

For the rest of this post, I'm going to list all of the new words I have been learning over the course of my study abroad. It's crazy how many times I have to explain a word I say to my flatmate Ashleigh, and vice versa! We have to translate to each other.. and here I thought I was coming to an english speaking country ;-)

Trolley=Shopping cart
Tomato Sauce=Ketchup
2 Minute Noodles=Ramen
Thongs=Flip flops
Touch Wood=Knock on wood
Doona=Bed Comforter
How are you going?=How are you doing...(I get asked this any time I walk into a store)
Predrink= Pregame
Hair Lacky=Hair tie
Rubbish bin=Garbage can
Mobile=Cell phone
Capsicum=Bell Pepper
Rock Up=Show up "I hope my group members rock up"
Good on ya=Good for you, good job
Boot=Trunk (of car)
Heaps=Lots of/Tons
Skull=Chug a drink
No Worries=You're welcome/no problem
Reckon=to think, believe
Middy=Small glass of beer

Hope you learned something new!! :) I will definitely keep using some of these words when I come home!

Me in front of the Perth skyline

My favorite thing

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Missin' home

Lately I have been longing for the familiarities of home, I think all of us have! I'm not sure why, but it's just sinking in lately.

It could be that school is wrapping up in Eau Claire right about now, and I still have about 5 weeks to go. I cannot concentrate on school anymore!!! It's difficult. I feel like I will be leaving here with a much more relaxed outlook on school-not sure if that's a good thing. But I am positive that I will go home STILL not being used to the Australian school system. It's something I could never get used to, but great to see how they do it here!

I still can't believe I am studying abroad. Almost three years ago I went to Eau Claire for freshman orientation. I NEVER would have guessed that I would spend a semester in a whole different country halfway around the world. It's something that never crossed my mind, never thought I'd be one of those lucky people. My freshman advisor actually told me that I "probably wouldn't" study abroad... maybe I was out to prove him wrong! Anywho, it's changed me as a person no doubt. I feel like I can do anything now... well not anyyything. But I feel more confident and independent, which I wasn't really before. I feel more cultured, hanging out with people from ALL over the world. It might be weird being back in Eau Claire where obviously the majority is Wisconsinites.

Right now there isn't much exciting going on, since school is my top priority right now. I finally had the chance to visit Kings Park on Saturday. It is the biggest inner city park in the world, bigger than Central Park in NYC! It was soo gorgeous there! They have so many things to see: war memorials, views of the Perth skyline, botanical gardens, bridges, fountains, and a multitude of weddings!! I can't wait to go back and bring a book and just lay in the grass for hours! Even though it was kind of a trek to get there, it was so great!

Only 23 days until I leave for New Zealand! That will be the perfect way to bookend my amazing adventure! I can't wait.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I reckon it's time for a new post...

Hey there! So I have not written since I got back from Cairns!! Yikes. It hasn't been that interesting though. Since I got back it's been mostly all about school. It's actually been getting more intense for me lately, which I like! More work to do means staying busy! I have been working on a group project in photography. We had to do a studio shoot and show that we could direct it creatively. My group decided to do portraiture by using colors to express emotion. After two hours in the studio one day, we got some great shots!! I think we will have a good presentation, which we give this Friday.

It seems like all my classes are based on group work... probably because here, they really want it to seem like you are actually out in the real world working with a team at a real job. This aspect is nice in the long run, but sometimes not so great if you don't have good group members. Luckily, I've had some great dedicated group members so far. In my marketing communications class, we got back our first big report that 4 of us worked on together. We got the highest grade in the class!! I was so happy/surprised. We have another report coming up that is due in a few weeks, hopefully we can ace that one as well!

Finally, in my marketing management class, we have been working on our semester-long group project. We have to create a marketing plan for a waste management plant that is nearby Murdoch. It is due in less than two weeks and we still have a lot of work to do!! But, I work best under pressure so hopefully that is a good thing.

In other news, I got another care package from my family! That is the third one! They send the best care packages... exactly what I need, plus a few surprises! They sent me my fave, Kraft Mac n cheese! I made it one night and my flatmate Ashleigh freaked out at how orange the "cheese" is. I laughed so hard! She tried it and said it tasted like plastic. I don't care, it's my favorite!

Today was an exciting day, we booked our trip to New Zealand!!! I am so excited that I get to go there! I've heard so many great things about it from people who have already had the chance to go. They said it's the most beautiful place in the world. We leave on May 20th, and embark on a 9-day tour around the south island. It was surprisingly cheap for what we're getting, and it sounds like we get to do A LOT of stuff! I cannot wait. Other than that, not too much new!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Living it up in Cairns!

This past week has been just amazing!!! I saw and did so many amazing things. It was a great experience for me because I did a lot of things that I wouldn't normally do, and I'm glad I did it all!!

We took off from Perth late Friday night and landed in Cairns at 4:15AM saturday morning. From there, we stored all of our luggage at our hostel-since check in wasn't until 2PM- and were on a bus to go white water rafting by 6:30AM. It was the perfect start to our adventure filled week! White water rafting was a thrilling and exciting experience! I had never gone before, and these were going to be 4-5 grade rapids! The highest are grade 6. We had a raft of 7 plus a tour guide. It was SO much fun!! We had to learn the basics of rafting such as leaning left or right, the 'get down' position, the 'hold on' position, etc. We even flipped one time, which was pretty shocking for me, I didn't like this as much as everyone else seemed to! But other than that, white water rafting was a great time, and I'm so glad I did it!!

Our rafting group!!

We went back to the hotel after our extremely long day! We all pretended like we were up for going out, but in the end we ended up in bed around 10PM. I slept great that night. The next morning we were up early again to catch our boat to the Great Barrier Reef. I was sad I couldn't go to Easter church like I had planned, though... It took about 2.5 hours to get out to the actual reef where we would be snorkeling. I didn't realize how sea sick I was going to get, so the ride there was pretty torturous. Once we got out to the reef, we had to put on sting proof wet suits to protect us from the jelly fish. The snorkeling was the best I've ever done, and I've done it quite a bit! I even got to pet a wild sea turtle's shell as it was coming up for air!! It was amazing. We went to another spot for snorkeling as well, then headed back to Cairns. We ate dinner at the famous Woolshed bar and grill and had a pretty low key night. Once again, we were all wiped from the day's activities.

Me in my sting proof wet suit!

The next day, a few of our group members decided to go sky diving... which they said was the best thing they've ever done. I kinda wish I had gone.. maybe I can go in New Zealand.. that is if I get to go. The rest of us explored the city and went souvenir shopping that day. Out of the blue, I decided that I wanted to get my nose pierced! I got it done at the shop that was right next to our hostel, Gilligans. It hurt, but only for 10 seconds while it was being pierced. Since then, it hasn't hurt at all!! I love it!

Nose ring!

The next day we went on another day long tour, this time to the rainforest! We boarded a bus with about 20 people and had a crazy tour guide who knew a lot about everything we saw! Even though it was absolutely pouring that day, it was still great! We saw a lot of waterfalls and powerful rapids! We stopped at a chocolate and cheese factory and saw some farm animals. It was a jam packed day, and it was worth it for only $45! That night, we went out to a Mexican restaurant with the group and some new friends. It was so good! At Gilligan's that night, there was a jello wrestling competition that some of the girls did! It was so funny to watch. I also had to register for my fall classes at 1 AM that night, so that was interesting!

At boulder ridge rapids

Wednesday was amazing!! We were supposed to do a day trip up north to Cape Tribulation, but 5 of us were too tired to go and we didn't want to spend the money. Instead, the 5 of us went and rented mopeds for the day! I was the only one who had never done it alone, so I had to have a mini lesson. Turns out I was a natural! Even on driving on the left hand side of the road, which is what I was most worried about! We drove around the city and then into the rainforest where we stopped at Crystal Cascades-some rapids. Once we got back I had to get ready, because I was meeting up with Stef and her family! They happened to be visiting Cairns the same time that I was! Ashlee was also there with her mom, so it was a great reunion!! We all went out to dinner together, it was great to catch up!

On my moped!

Stef and I on her hotel balcony!

The next day a few people went bungy jumping, but I'm too much of a wuss for that! We all ended up doing some shopping at the mall in Cairns. We didn't do much else during the day. That night I met up with Stef again at her hotel. We ate at Macca's )McDonalds) and went shopping at the night markets. Such great deals! There was a man there that had snakes and he was letting people hold them. I held one!!! It was so cool/freaky. I'm glad I did it. After the markets, we went back to Stef's hotel and tried to swim in the hot tub, but it had been switched off for the night, so it was basically bath tub temperature. Stef and her dad walked me back to Gilligans, but then I went out to meet up with friends who were at the Woolshed bar. It was a great last night in Cairns.

Holding a snake, AH!!

Our last day, we had to check out at 10AM. Then we went to the public pool that is right on the ocean. It was free and so beautiful out! This was the one day I got some sun, actually burnt! We got a taxi to the airport around 4:30 and got back to Perth at 9PM.

The public pool in Cairns

I've been back for a day now, and it's really hard getting back into the swing of things! I have so many deadlines looming! I can't imagine going to school here full time. It's too hard to stay motivated when there are so many awesome things to see and do! I'll do my best though!

Friday, April 2, 2010

GAGA Oh la la

Oh my goodness. Last night I had the privilege of seeing THEE Lady Gaga live in concert. Now, originally I wasn't going to go, but thank god I did!! It was one of the best things I have ever seen... I have not been to many concerts, but even if I have--this one would probably top them all. Lady Gaga is known for her outrageous and extremely "out there" performances. It was incredible. Just when I thought her dance moves and outfits couldn't get any stranger, she comes on with something even more crazy!! It was one of the best nights in Perth I've had so far... and one of the best nights ever!

Anywhooo, I'm spending my Friday packing for Cairns! Once again, in Cairns I'll be exploring the city, going snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, white water rafting, touring the rainforest.. etc! I hope to do all these things and more! I really want to get out of my comfort zone and do things that I wouldn't normally do.. who knows what that will be! We are leaving for the airport around 8 and our flight is at 10. We arrive into Cairns at 4:15 AM.. good thing our hostel has 24 hour check in! Then we are hoping to start off the trip right by going on a day tour of boating and snorkeling! Next time I update, I will tell all about my trip!!

Here's a picture I took of Gaga!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

"Just relax and think happy thoughts"

"Just relax and think happy thoughts." Those were the words of wisdom that my surf instructor gave me, when I was struggling to get up on my board. I love that Aussie outlook on life. All I'd have to do was just relax, and I'd be able to surf. Haha.

We had surfing lessons at Trigg Beach at 8:45 on Saturday morning. I was so excited to see if I would be able to do it! We paid and got our wetsuits on.. and we started by taking our boards to the beach. First we had to lay our boards down and pretend we were in the water. You had to lay toward the back of the "deck" with your feet hanging off the end. Then you have to start paddling as the wave gets closer to you. This helps you catch the wave. Once you've caught it, you slowly pull up your back foot so you can plant it as you stand up with the other foot. Kind of confusing, but pretty simple actually.

It was so cool to try it in the water!! At first we just practiced catching waves and riding on the board without standing up. The waves were so powerful that day! The instructors said that we took lessons on one of the roughest days! When I tried standing up, I couldn't even push myself up! Apparently I was doing it wrong, the instructor said I was first getting on my knees and then trying to get up. I was able to get to my feet after a while, but couldn't balance enough to stay on long enough. The longest I was up was about 2 seconds! It was still one of the best things I've done so far on my trip!! I am pretty sore today, and I have multiple bruises, but it was all worth it. I can't wait to go back again!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I say toMAYto, you say toMAHto

Hello! It's true, my flatmate Ashleigh and I always get into disagreements over who pronounces things wrong! In the end, it's me who is usually wrong because she says, "you're in Australia so you're the one who's wrong." Haha, she's right. I can't push what I think is "right" on her. I just think it's fun to discuss the differences in pronounciation and language! It never gets old!

So since I have been back from the Northwest trip, things have been pretty normal. Just trying to get caught up in school and get back into work mode! It's so so hard to be a student here. I could never do it full time. The combination of the climate being so nice, only being in class 8 hours a week, and the learning/teaching style SO different from home--- really makes me miss UW Eau Claire. Don't get me wrong, I LOVEEEE it here. It's just that I have gotten so used to the way I do things at home, that it makes for an interesting adjustment. Even though I feel that sometimes I am not benefiting at all from the way they do school here, I think I am learning a lot about myself and how to adjust to change.. Since I'm forced to do stuff Murdoch Uni's way, I am learning to adjust! So that's the bright side of it! But I think one semester here is perfect, and going back to UWEC in September will be an eye-opening, yet comforting experience!

Another thing that is different here is coffee. Before my sophomore year, and before I got a job at The Coffee Grounds in Eau Claire, I was not keen on coffee or coffee flavored things at all! But after working there for a year and a half, I loooove it. I splurged the other day, and went to the cafe on campus for the first time. I just couldn't stand any more of walking past and smelling the coffee. The menu is sooo confusing. There is no plain coffee, black. They don't use coffee pots... I didn't know until now that those are typically American.. Their "coffee" is strictly espresso! I guess they like their drinks strong! So the menu read things like "flat white, short black" no idea what those meant. So I just got a mocha (pronounced Mucka, I got laughed at for calling it a Mooohhhcha) and it was delicious!!

So, I am very excited today because I just booked my plane ticket to Cairns! I leave on Friday April 2nd and I will be there for a week until April 9th! We have ANOTHER study break.... even though we just had one three weeks ago. But good for us, because we get to go on another amazing trip!! Much thanks and appreciation goes out to my parents, without them none of my adventures would be possible.. Love them. But I think all of these things will turn out to be worth it 20 years down the road when I can look back on my 20s and remember all the things I did and experienced! In Cairns I plan to go snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, go white water rafting, go on a tour of the rainforest, hopefully see some Crocs! etc etc. I want to see everything...! Meanwhile, I am probably booking my trip to New Zealand on the 3rd study break within the next day as well. We just need to figure out the dates, because we need to get back in time for finals!!! This trip would be a 9-day tour around the south island! So amazing, and I'm so lucky I am able to do all of these things! I'm so grateful!

Well, enough about that.. I actually have a school-life right now, and should get back to writing my executive briefing for my marketing class that is due on Thursday! Cheers!!! xoxox

PS. I had to buy a new camera, because the one I've had for about 3 years died for good! RIP. My new one is amazing, and I will be watching over it as if it were my own child! Here is a picture of the sky outside my balcony after the biggest rain storm Perth has seen in years---(no editing done to the pic)!

Monday, March 15, 2010

I survived the Australian Outback!

Sooooo everyone, I did it. I survived 10 days of travelling by bus 3600 kilometers, living out of a tent, and dealing with temperatures that got up to 120 degrees. It was one of the best experiences of my life. For this post, I am going to tell you exactly what we did, day by day. I'll try to keep it brief and just tell you the exciting stuff! Also, I'll put one picture up from each day.

Day One

We're off at around 8 AM travelling north up the coast of Australia. There was about 45 international students divided into 3 buses. This day mostly consisted of driving because we wanted to get as far north as possible. After a total of about 6 hours of driving (with a few stops in between for snacks and misc. stuff) we made it to our destination for the night. It was a quaint little farm area where people usually stay when they need a place to stay for one night. We set up our tents on the plush grass (this took us a while, but don't worry by the end of the trip we were pros at it). We had dinner and basically went to sleep. This was probably the worst night of sleep I ever had. You would never have known, but every night in this particular area there was a wind storm. The whole night I felt like the tent was going to blow away with us in it. It was insane. It made packing up and taking the tent down the next morning very interesting.

Day Two

We packed up as easily as we could with all the wind and boarded the bus for another day of driving. We were all really crabby from a horrible night's sleep so we all slept on the bus. We stopped about half way through the day for lunch and a swim in Kalbarri. This is a vacation destination for some people, it is right on the coast and is good for boating and fishing. We finally made it to our next camping site, Hamelin Pool. This place is known for the oldest living organisms known to Australia, called Stromatolites. We only had to walk about half a mile to get to the shore to see them! This place was when we had our first taste of how bad the flies were. Thank god I had my fly net!! We had dinner and got to bed pretty early because we had to be up at 5 AM the next day!

Day Three

Like I said, this morning we were up at 5 (even though it did NOT feel like morning). We boarded the buses to Monkey Mia, a resort/beach that is known for wild dolphins coming into shore. It was about an hour and a half ride there so that's why we were up so early. They feed the dolphins at about 7:45. It was so amazing to see the dolphins come in so close to shore! A lady first explained to us the many facts about the wild dolphins, and that they have been coming into Monkey Mia every day for the past 30 years! They know them all by name (based on their fins) and they are almost like trained dolphins. Then the feeding started, and they picked people at random to feed one fish eash to a dolphin. I got picked!!!--Probably because I looked like I so BADLY wanted to get picked! It was awesome! The rest of the morning was spent playing beach volleyball and wading in the ocean. We left Monkey Mia around 11 to eat lunch in Denham. This is just another little town on the coast. We got to do some more swimming here as well. We left Denham and stopped at 2 more places on our way back to our campsite: Shark Bay where we saw hundreds of tiger sharks swimming in groups along the coast, and Shell Beach where the entire beach "sand" is actually tiny shells. It is illegal to take any, but I took one..! On our way home, my bus broke down. We had to split up onto the other buses, it was so crowded and uncomfortable! That night was spent singing Karoke with other campers in the campsite! It was so much fun! And then later that night we went back out to the ocean to just lay out and look at the stars and talk.

Day Four

We were up at 6 the next day to get back on the road. We had a lot of driving to do this day. After we had stopped to eat lunch we were on our way again and my bus broke down AGAIN. We still had about 2.5 hours left until we made it to Coral Bay. So we had to cram into the other buses again for MUCH longer this time. It was so so hot and sweaty, I just wanted to get to our next place. We finally made it and went swimming in the ocean right away. It made my horrible day turn around right away. That night I was on kitchen duty with 4 other girls, we made Beef Stroganoff with pasta. Everyone said it was delicious!

Day Five

We got to sleep in this day---til 7:30! Haha. I had breakfast duty, then we all went down to the excursion center where we could decide if we wanted to go snorkeling or not. It was $45, so I decided I would save my money and not go, since I've done it so many times before. I spent the day in the water, it was unbelievable there. The best ocean water you could ever swim in. It was warm and clear and sandy. Just lovely! I think everyone wanted to stay another day. Around late afternoon we all went back to the campsite to shower. We then went to happy hour that the resort bar offers on Tuesday nights. It was a great time being there with everyone! We went back for dinner, and spent the rest of the night hanging out and going down to the beach. It was a great night.

Day Six

On this day we set off for Karijini National Park. Our tour guide Barry warned us over and over agian that this place was going to be "hell" for us who couldn't stand the heat, bugs, snakes, or no running water. I was kind of freaked out at first, but now I know that he was just trying to get us to prepare for the worst. It was not that bad. We drove for about 6 or 7 hours with some stops in between. We made it to our campsite in Karijini at around 5 o'clock. My first impression was that it was not as bad as I pictured it to be. I thought it was going to be much more of a desert area with no trees. But it was much different. The bathrooms were exactly what I thought. Pretty much a room with a hole in the ground. We were warned to check under the lid of the toilet seat before we sat down to see if there were any poisonous red back spiders under there.... I peed in the dirt the whole time we were there. That night we played Mafia with most of the group, that was really fun! And we had a wonderful dinner of Steak and Potatoes.

Day Seven

This morning we were up early to start off on our day long hike. We got all our gear, fly nets, swim suits, towels, and definitely hiking shoes. First we hiked down a majorly steep cliff to get to the bottom of the gorge. Then we had to walk a bit ways more to get to the fresh water circular pool. We got to swim here and jump off the cliffs on the side! We did more walking until we got to another swimming area called Fortescue Falls. This was my favorite place because we could sit on the rocks right under the falls. It was amazing, I could have sat there all day! We kept on going to yet another gorge called Fern Pool. This was like the first two combined, with a big swimming area and some more falls. This was probably the best day of the whole trip for me! I loved being out there in the wilderness and seeing the natural beauty of the outback. Those gorges are some of the best kept secrets about Australia! We headed back late afternoon to hang around before dinner time. I was wiped from our adventures so I went to bed fairly early!

Day Eight

This morning we went back down to Fortescue Falls for some more swimming and just laying out on the rocks. I didn't swim but it was nice to take it all in again before we had to leave. We got to fill our water bottles with the fresh water from the falls, because it is pure spring water! It was some of the best water I had all week... and I had a LOT. We took down the tents and headed on our way again. This time we were on our way to Newman, a mining town, where they mine iron ore in the middle of nowhere. The only reason we stopped here was because it was the only town we could stay in overnight. Otherwise we would have had to drive all night. Our tour guides told us to watch out for the single miners, cause they have no lives and like to prey on young girls. I made sure to stick with the boys that night. It was so nice to shower off 3 days worth of red outback dust! I felt so fresh and clean! That night, we went into town where there was a pub. It was kind of lame, but we made it fun!

Day Nine

This was another day of driving.. making our way south where we would eventually make it back to Perth. We stopped in another middle of nowhere town called Meekatharra to have lunch. We were on our way again and finally made it to a sheep farm! It was 156,000 acres! It was a really sketchy farm, and looked like it was a set of a horror film. We took the buses far into the farm to a hill where we could over look the sunset. It wasn't a very great sunset, but it was still beautiful! That night we had another great dinner of chicken curry and all went to bed early because we had to get up at 5!

Day Ten

Rise and Shine! Not. It was still dark out when we got up, but after breakfast and packing up we got to see the sunrise! It was gorgeous! We drove for the entire day so that we could make it back to campus relatively early in the afternoon. It was so exciting to be back! I missed civilization and not having to wear my fly net all the time! I missed my bed, and making my own food, and taking hot showers every day! Yay!!

This trip was a once in a lifetime experience. I was obviously not able to convey exactly everything that happened on this trip in this post, but I had an incredible time no doubt. I was a little skeptical to do this trip at first, but I have no regrets! I am so glad I did it and pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I got to see so many amazing things and I will remember it forever!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

HEAPS o fun

Hello loves! So this past week has FLOWN by! Why is time going by so fast!? I don't want it to! Let's see, this weekend was pretty fun. And on Saturday we went into Fremantle to the markets. There were so many little shops and booths that sold little trinkets and souvenir items. I wanted to buy everything, but I didn't. They also had fresh fruit and veggies, I bought some white nectarines, YUM! I love the little shops and vibrant colors of the city. I have to do a portfolio project for my photography class that I am taking. We had to decide what our main theme was going to be and write a concept outline about it. I am really bad at coming up with creative ideas/themes so I made sure to keep an eye out for things that inspire me. While in town that day at the market, I noticed all the colorful buildings and people and decided my portfolio will be called "Colors of the City." I will go out and take pictures of colorful things that are unique to Perth and Fremantle. I am so excited to start! Here is a picture of what inspired me to do colors of the city:

So today has been a very busy day! I skyped with my family this morning, and also my roommates from back home. It's funny when I hear them say that it's been so nice out lately, being about 35 degrees! Haha. Oh I miss the midwest... kind of! Then I had to go to class from 1:30-5:30. It was a two hour lecture, then an hour break, and an hour tutorial. Finally I got to leave and come home to make dinner (amazing chicken/broccoli stir fry). Since then I've been running around trying to pack for my 10 day trip I leave for tomorrow morning!! I really didn't think it would be hard to pack, since we will be wearing grubby clothes most of the trip. But I keep second guessing myself and adding more. All I can take is a duffle bag, a backpack, sleeping bag, and pillow. I can't wait for this experience! I will make sure to write in my journal every day so that I can blog about my experiences once I get back! The next time I can write in this will be no sooner than March 14th. Wish me luck in the OUTBACK!!! See you in 10 days, Love you all!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Good on you

Hey there! I need to write in this more often... Anyways, the title of my post is something that is often said here. It means good job or good for you. I like hearing it, it reinforces the fact that I am in a whole different culture with unique phrases. Just the other day I was reading in my room and I stepped outside onto the balcony of my apartment and just looked around.. I am in Australia. No I'm not stupid, I did realize that before. But it just kind of hit me.. that I get to LIVE here for a semester. It's amazing. Sometimes it doesn't really feel like I'm on the other side of the world than all the people I love.

The past couple days have been HOT HOT HOT. About 100 degrees. I may sound like I'm complaining, but I'm not. I've always said that I would rather have it scorching rather than freezing. But it is just unbearable! It's like suffocating. This is actually the end of Australia's summer though, so soon it should get back to normal 80 degree temps! I am leaving for a ten day trip in the Outback a week from tomorrow (Friday). I really really hope the temperature goes down for our trip. I know that at night it cools down, but the day time will be very hot. This trip is called the Northwest trip and it's offered for international students only. We will start off going northeast up through the outback, and then move westward and travel south down the coast for the rest of the trip. It's going to be a great experience for me... I hope that I can handle the bugs and the SPIDERS. AHHHH! I have to make sure to buy a fly net before I leave! I don't care how ridiculous I look, I'm wearing it.

As for school, I can't seem to get into this kind of schedule. It's different for me, the planner and organizer. At home, my planner never leaves my side. I look at it or make notes in it all day long. Here, I hardly ever use it... My class contact time is cut in half, only 8 hours a week. Whereas last semester I had classes every day totaling 16 hours. It's so different! Maybe it seems so lax because I'm not doing extracurriculars or working. Back at home I had a job and was doing AMA stuff all the time. I miss that.. it made me keep focused! Don't get me wrong, not having any major responsibilities outside of classes is nice. I'm learning to just go with the flow and relax a little--pretty much how every Australian person is! I'm going to hope that it will make a positive difference on my personality when I get back. Maybe I won't be so uptight about scheduling and deadlines. Who knows!

I am going to try to update this more often, so stay tuned!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Back to School

So school has officially begun here at Murdoch Uni. That's what they call school, Uni (You-knee). I will come back from class and my flatmate Ashleigh will be like "how was Uni for you today?" It's interesting. My first class was on Monday at 1:30. It was integrated marketing communications. There was about 30 people in the class with me. The professor is one of the authors of our textbook, so he is pretty legit. Since that class is a third year level class, he didn't waste any time doing introductions or talking about what we would be learning about. Instead he started lecturing right away and didn't stop for an hour. Pretty intense. Especially since it was the first day of the class and the whole year. But I was glad to find out that I knew what he was talking about. It was a basic overview of what I've learned about in my past marketing classes. We will be delving more into the communications side of marketing, learning how to reach the consumer and deliver them a product that fits their needs, etc. Something that I found so interesting and funny was that they still use projectors. I haven't seen one of those since middle school! My professor actually whipped out projector sheets with the information on them. Talk about stone age! Haha. Unlike the US, each class has one lecture hour per week and then another scheduled time for a tutorial. Tutorials are more informal gatherings of a portion of the class to get together and rediscuss what was talked about in lecture that week. At our tutorial for this class we got into groups. Within these groups we will have to create a report about persuasion and the elaboration likelihood theory. Interesting! haha.

I didn't have class on Tuesday, so this was a nice break early in the week. My friend Nick and I went to the grocery store.

Wednesday I had my first photography lecture. This is a first year class, so most of the period was spent welcoming us to the class and going over what we will be doing for the semester. We have to do a project at the end kind of like a portfolio. I hope I can tune into my creative side enough to do well with this project. I'm usually not the creative type, more of the analyst/numbers type, but photography really interests me so hopefully I can do well!

Finally this afternoon I had my second marketing class, marketing management. It was a two hour long lecture with a lady who is from New Zealand. Let me tell you, her accent is so hard to listen to!! Whenever she says a word with a short e, like textbook, rest, guess, it sounds like teextbook, reest, gueeess. So annoying! It's very distracting. This class seems like it will be interesting as well. The class is divided up into percentages. There are about 3 assignments, a presentation and a final test. One of the assignments is a huge project, a marketing plan. We have to develop a plan for a waste management and sustainability organization in Southern WA (western australia). This is 40% of our grade! And it's done in a group. We then have to present the plan to the actual organization for 10% of our grade. I am not nervous about being able to come up with something, I am just nervous to do this kind of work in a group.

Sometimes during classes I feel like I am not picking up on some things. Especially humor. A professor will say something and people will laugh but I don't get it. That's how I've felt a lot of the time here, like I'm on the outside of some big inside joke. Hopefully I'll be able to pick up on things as the semester goes on.. I don't want to feel like an outsider. All in all, classes are in full swing and I think it will be a great learning experience for me.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

97 degrees.

Ello loves,

Sooo here I am, been here for a week and I am LOVING it! At first I had some culture shock... maybe it wasn't culture shock. But it was at least homesickness. Now I can say that I am adapting quite well to living here. I love learning new things about Australian life. For instance, the BBQ is a very popular thing. I'm not talking "let's throw some shrimp on the barbie" because no one says that. They just really like to BBQ and give it to people. I've experienced about 3 so far, and we have a Welcome BBQ tonight as well. Another thing I've noticed is that it takes a while to get to places that you want to go. If you don't have a car, you have to rely fully on transportation services. We all got bus passes, called Smartriders that let us ride for cheap since we are students. I feel like I will be riding the bus and the train a lot while I am here. It's very different from Wisconsin where on the weekends people walk at most like 10 blocks to get to the bars. Never will I ever take for granted my walking distance to the bars in Eau Claire. Here it's about a bus and train ride away to get to the best clubs. Takes about 30 minutes at best. But I would say it's worth it.

We went out to Northbridge the other night, which is part of downtown Perth with all the best nightclubs. There are SO SO many! And it's so intense to get into them. Us international students have to show our passports when we go out, and the bouncers have to scan them. At one, I got wanded (very weird!) and they had me stand and take my picture. Then they compared the picture to the picture on my passport. They are very strict here! But since the drinking age is 18 I feel like they would have less people using fake ids to get into clubs.. who knows.

The things I miss most about America... CHEAP STUFF! I will never take for granted our cheap prices ever again. I know that I always think stuff is expensive back in the states, but once I got here.. it's a whole different story. The gym membership is $170 for one semester!! I complained about this to my flatmate and she was like "are you kidding, that's cheap!" No way is that cheap. You can get a membership at Eau Claire for $70 a year. She was shocked when I told her that. Also, cover charges to get into clubs are expensive, when most Aussies don't even bat an eyelash at them. They need to go to America to see what they are missing.

So far, the living's been easyyyy. Pool or beach every day, out every night. I know I've said I could get used to a life like this, but doing nothing all day and partying every night has it's downsides. School starts tomorrow and I'm hoping for a wake up call. I'm actually excited to get back into a normal semester routine. It seems like ages ago when I was in school.. last semester seems like forever ago! I have one lecture and one workshop tomorrow totaling 3 hours. Then I have a break, no classes on Tuesday! We'll see how it goes. So far I've been adjusting to life in Australia, but now comes the time when I adjust to learning in Australia. Here goes nothing!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Getting settled in my new home

Hello again! So the past couple days have gone by SO fast. I'm sure that's exactly how the semester will be too. I need to make the most of it while I can! After that crazy day that I posted about last time, I was intent on relaxing on Sunday. We met up with a bunch of people who also live in the student village and a big group of us decided to go to Cottesloe beach. We had to take a bus and then a train to get there but it was well worth it! We set up camp on the beach and just relaxed. This was a much needed break from the constant travelling and time adjusting that we had been used to. It was finally beginning because we were actually in the place we had been intending to go. The Cottesloe beach was very pretty! This was the first time I had been in the Indian Ocean so that was cool. I had my first basket of authentic Fish n Chips here, they were SO SO good. I'll definitely be getting more of those in the near future. Later that night we hung out with the same group of people in one of their flats. It was great to be able to start meeting people outside of the Eau Claire group.

The next morning was Monday, first day of orientation week. And by orientation I mean about one hour at the most per day. So it's not really considered orientation week in my book, but just a week to relax and do whatever I want every day! I could get used to this... But I am acutally getting excited for classes to start, on Monday. Anyways, Monday we had an hour of international student orientation just to get us prepared for what we will experience as a student at Murdoch. It was pretty interesting, and I think I will have a great time here! One thing that is very different is my class schedule. I have 3 classes and each of them have one lecture and one workshop each week. So that is 6 times I have to report to class in a week of classes. I don't even have classes on tuesdays. In Australia it's much more of an independent learning environment. They expect you to come to class, but also do much more reading and learning on your own when you are not in class. I hope I can adjust to this change quickly. I'm so used to constant little assignments, but here there is like one or two assignments per semester and then a final test. So different!

That same night, my roommate who has now moved out made us all Chicken curry for her going away dinner! I am a very picky eater and don't usually try things that are out of my comfort zone. I didn't want to be rude so I ate it and I loved it! It was very spicy, which I liked! We didn't do much that night either except chill and play soccer on the lawn outside the flats.

On tuesday we went into downtown Perth by way of bus and train. It was such a great sight to see! I love the city it's so gorgeous and thriving! We basically went into town to buy cell phones but ended up staying to shop and look around some more. Yesterday it was a bit cloudy out, which is out of the ordinary for Perth. We were all a bit lazy and stayed inside for most of the day doing laundry, journaling/facebooking. But we made up for it and went out on the town to Fremantle. It was a simple ten minute bus ride to the town where there is great night life! The bars and clubs are only open until 12 on weekdays, but it was still a great time! I'm hoping for some memorable times this weekend as well, because all the students are back in town for the beginning of school. So it should be a great weekend!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

No worries

Hello again all! Since I last posted I met my other guy roommate. Turns out that there is only one boy, and one of the girls moved out yesterday. So there is 3 of us in this lovely apartment. Yesterday was a craaaaazy day. I met up with my group to walk to the nearby Kmart to get supplies for our rooms. I ended up buying a lot of stuff (the cheapest I could find of it) because I'm going to need it all for the next 4 months. I bought a pillow, which I will never take for granted ever again. I also bought towels, a blanket, all my shower essentials, kitchen supplies, and alarm clock, a hair dryer, etc. Upon leaving the store we faced the dilemma with how to get home with all of our stuff. All of my things filled my cart (called a Trolley here) and none of us have a car. In Australia you are allowed to take carts with you back to where you live if you don't have other transportation. So imagine all of us trucking down a pretty busy street with full shopping carts. We looked homeless. So we pushed them alllll the way back to Murdoch village, about a mile and a half. It was a feat let me tell you. Now that I had all this stuff to furnish my room and apartment, I was going to need some groceries. Well, we had to walk all the way back and do it all over again. So crazy, and tiring. I bought a LOT of food that will hopefully last me a loong time so I don't have to go back to the grocery store for a while!

So that was the crazy madness of yesterday. But it didn't end there. Once we got back from the grocery store it was about 7ish. I was hoping to take the time to put all my groceries away, but I came back to the apartment to find my roommates and a lot of their friends watching a movie with the lights off. I felt bad but I needed to put my groceries away so I turned on a light. At this point I felt like they hated me because they hadn't talked to me that much yet. I felt like I was kind of getting in their way, or that they didn't need any new friends so they would rather not talk to me... I was pretty upset about it and vented to my friends. They told me to stick it out and wait because it will get better. Last night there was a get together/party out on the terrace by our apartment buildings, and my roommates came down with me to that. We started talking and getting to know each other better. Their names are Ashleigh and Cameron. I think we will get along really well. And we are going to have 2 other people join us because we have 2 empty rooms! Today we are going to hopefully just relax after the crazy day we had yesterday!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Finally Down Under!

Wow, let me just say Wheeeewwwww. I apologize for not writing sooner, but as you may or may not know it is very difficult to get internet for long periods of time in other countries without paying an arm and a leg. And why would I want to spend all my time online when I could be exploring these amazing places?! I finally have the time to sit down and actually write down my experiences so far as a traveler. As for this post, I am going to go day by day through the past 10 days I have had of travelling. Hopefully it won’t be boring, but I think it’s pretty exciting stuff!

As I write this I am sitting in my very own room in my apartment in the Murdoch University student village. When we arrived last night, all 11 of us checked in and received our room assignments. It was a HUGE reality check when I was taken to an apartment that has obviously been lived in for a while. Imagine clothes, food, and just general stuff everywhere in the common area and kitchen. My room was obviously empty and clean, and did not smell like garbage as did the common area. The hardest thing was separating from the friends and fellow students I have been with constantly over the past 10 days. I have not had 10 minutes of alone time this whole trip, so I definitely got some separation anxiety. We all went our separate ways to meet our roommates and unpack the suitcases we’ve been living out of for 10 days. It was fun to take out pictures of family and friends that I had packed and put them up on my corkboard on my desk, and put my bed sheets on my bed. Anything that reminded me of home made me happy and homesick at the same time. I am just so glad I have these things to keep me sane. I organized my room for about an hour, but it was getting to be 12:30 AM—which was actually 3:30 AM Sydney time, so I was pretty tired. Meanwhile, my roommates have still not returned home. Probably still out partying. At about 2 AM I heard people outside and come in. I thought maybe I should go out and introduce myself so I didn’t scare them in the morning with my presence. I did and the two girls who were there were really nice! They were very excited to have another roommate. We didn’t talk for long because it was so late, but I am assuming they are from Australia or surrounding countries because of their accents. They said that we have 2 other guy roommates who weren’t back yet. I will probably meet them today. I think the messiness of the apartment is something I’m just going to have to get used to. At least I can keep my room the way I like it.

Anyways, I want to write about Fiji and the experiences I had there! First off, I hate airports. We had to take a plane to Chicago, then to Los Angeles, and finally to Fiji. That was the longest day ever. The flight to Fiji was an overnight flight so I should have been able to fall right to sleep, but I didn’t. It was just too uncomfortable and I couldn’t get situated. It also didn’t help that it was constant turbulence the whole way which really freaked me out. We finally landed in Nadi, Fiji at 4:45 AM their time (about 9:45 AM Midwest time, but we were 19 hours ahead). We took taxis to Nadi Bay Resort Hotel. They checked us in and took us to our room. It was a dorm style room/apartment that had one main lounge area and we took up 3 rooms that had 4 beds in them each. We were wide awake at this point because it felt like 10 AM to us. So we were down at the pool by like 8 AM, where the sun was already VERY intense. This day we spent just lounging around the hotel area, grabbed some lunch at a place down the road. I noticed Fiji can be very Americanized in some places. This can be a good thing at times, but I also liked to experience the authentic Fiji. That night the resort was very nice to throw us a welcome dinner! They also had a Kava ceremony for us. Kava is a Fijian traditional drink that mostly men drink to bond over. It pretty much tasted like dirt mixed with some water, and looked like that too. It is supposedly a narcotic that makes you dizzy and your tongue numb, but it is not considered alcohol.

The next day we took a bus to a VERY nice resort on the coast of Nadi. This is the kind of place I would expect to go if my parents were paying, but we didn’t have such luxury, haha. Very beautiful pools and facilities. We camped out on the beach and tried to work on our tans. Unfortunately for me, I did not put on enough sunscreen that is required for fair skin like mine. I ended up burning pretty badly. YUCK! Anyways, I was pretty red by that night when we went out to a restaurant called Sitar where it was ladies night. We got free drinks with our dinner and after dinner we went outside where they had a live band. We stayed here for a while. Since it was ladies night, they were going to pick a winner for best dressed lady. A girl in my group, Molly won! She won a beautiful necklace and a free bottle of champagne (which we made her share with us). After that we walked to a disco/club down the road from the restaurant. It was a really nice place, but there weren’t that many people yet since it was only like 10 PM. The bartender said people don’t really show up until midnight or later. Oh well, we had a blast taking up the entire dance floor and dancing to our favorite songs. We ended up heading back at 11:30. Pretty lame, but we were wiped!

Saturday we had planned a day trip to a tiny Fiji island called the Beachcomber. We caught a bus to Port Denaru at 7:30 AM. The catamaran took us to the island, it took about 30 minutes. The first sight of the island was amazing. I couldn’t believe a place like that actually existed. The first thing we did was walk around the island, which took about 15 minutes. It was amazing. The water so blue, and the trees so tropical. I was still in a lot of pain from the day before so I knew it was best to get zero sun. I rented an umbrella for the day, which was SO worth it. The sun was so intense, and there were never any clouds! This island also is a resort where you can stay for cheap. We had originally planned on staying here when we were in Fiji, but I’m very glad we didn’t. As beautiful and scenic as it was, I could not stay secluded on such a tiny island for 4 days. I like being able to go other places and see different things, where this island took about 20 minutes to explore. Plus the sand was the kind that stuck your body indefinitely if it touched your skin. Very annoying. After the boat ride back, we decided to eat dinner at the Hard Rock Café Fiji. It was awesome to eat a cheeseburger and French fries. Just like home. We were so tired from our day out that we did not do anything this night. We pretty much got back and went to bed.

Sunday was our last full day that we again just spent lounging around the hotel. It was relaxing and didn’t cost any money so that was a plus. I also had to spend a while repacking my suitcases. It’s no fun living out of suitcases and having to take everything out when you need something at the way bottom. This night we went out for our final dinner at another restaurant down the road. There are so many to choose from! I ordered BBQ chicken and ended up with half a chicken on my plate! So delicious and cost about $10 USD. This was around the time when I started to notice my forehead and eyelids starting to swell. I did not know what was wrong with me, but I looked like Quasimodo from hunchback of notre dame! Gross. I was freaked out about what my face was doing, but I assumed it was from the sunburn. I woke up the next morning to get ready for the airport and my face was even worse! I looked like I got punched in the face, minus the bruise. I was really upset because everyone was like “oh my god what happened to your face.” I just wanted my face to go back to normal! I was pretty depressed until we got to the airport and on our flight. By the time the flight to Sydney was halfway through I decided it wasn’t going to ruin my time. I decided I looked like an Avatar by the way the ridge in my nose was swelling! Honestly, look at a picture of an Avatar and that’s what my face looked like. My group was supportive and tried to make me laugh about it. That made me feel way better, and with sunglasses on, you couldn’t tell as much.

We were finally in Australia!! I was very happy about this. Finally I get to see the country I will be living in for 4.5 months! We caught a shuttle bus to our hostel, the Wake Up Sydney Central. It is a very modern hostel, perfect for our age group. Once we were settled into our rooms we got right on the internet. We all feel so deprived without it! I cherish every minute I get! Some of us wanted to start exploring right away so we asked how to get to the Opera House and Harbour bridge. It turns out that it was only like 10 blocks from our hostel. We decided to walk to it. We found Circular Quay, which is the bay where the bridge and opera house are. They were beautiful, and no pictures I took can capture the beauty of it! Everyone should see it sometime! That night we all went out to the bar in the basement of our hostel called Sidebar. Apparently it is a pretty popular bar in Sydney, and people from other hostels come there to party. After about an hour down there I was feeling so tired. I thought it would be best to just go to bed. I’m very glad I did because I slept SO soundly and I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to go.

On this day, Tuesday, we all walked to Circular Quay again and got closer to the Opera House. We took pictures here. Then our group split up and 5 of us took a ferry to Manly, which is kind of like a suburb of Sydney with a great beach and cute little shops on a boardwalk. The ferry was awesome and we got to see the bridge and opera house from a new angle! We spent about 4 hours in Manly, shopping and exploring. We took the ferry back and went home to the Wake Up. Today my Avatar face was finally going away! I was so happy to start looking like myself again! My friend Allison and I had met a guy near the Opera house selling extreme boat rides around the harbor. He asked us if wanted to meet up that night and go out. Allison and I ended up going out with him and his Australian friends. It was really fun and they were all so funny and nice!

On Wednesday we walked to Darling harbor where the Sydney Aquarium and Wildlife World are. It was really neat to see all the tropical fish and SHARKS! At Wildlife World I finally got to see kangaroos! And Koala bears  When we got home from that we started getting ready for the night. We ate at the little café connected to our hostel. Such good food! We then took the train (subway) to Circular Quay where there was an ice bar called Minus 5. This is a bar that is made totally of ice! We had to put on huge winter coats and boots before we went in. It was very interesting! Very fun! Then we all took the train back to our area. Allison and I went to Sidebar for a while. I left after a guy spilled beer all down my back. I was done for the night after that!

Finally, Thursday was our last full day in Sydney. We spent this day at Bondi Beach. It is one of Sydney’s most famous beaches. We had to take a train and then a bus to get there but it was worth it. We got settled on the beach and we decided to wade in the water. Almost as soon as I stepped in, I was stung by a jellyfish! The tide went out and I looked down and it was wrapped around my leg. I had to take it off with my hands. It didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would… I was able to run up to the lifeguard stand and ask them what to do. They gave me some ice in a bag and told me the pain would go away in an hour or so, which it did. It felt sort of like a long cut on my leg and someone put rubbing alcohol on the open wound. It stung for a while, but then it went away without a trace left on my skin. We ended up leaving Bondi early because some guys had sold us tickets to a party cruise that was happening that night. We had to be at Darling Harbour by 6:30. So we had to get back home so we could get ready and leave. The party cruise was SO much fun. The perfect way to end the Sydney trip. After the boat we got a bus to The Gaff, a night club downtown. Then about half of us went to a gay club! This was very interesting. We didn’t stay too long, but it was so fun. Two guys were like “oh my god I love your dress!” HAHA!

The next morning was a mad rush to get repacked and checked out by 10 AM. It was so crowded with all the people who needed to check out! We finally did and got a taxi bus to the airport. Even though we didn’t have a flight until 5:50, we needed to go because we didn’t want to lug our suitcases with us around Sydney all day. The time at the airport was well spent because I was able to get internet on my laptop and upload my pictures and skype with my parents. It was great! We caught our flight, and after 4 hours we landed in Perth. Our Murdoch shuttle guy was waiting for us with a sign! And this is where my story ends! Now I am still in my room alone and I am going to get ready and meet up with the others to go buy essentials we need for our apartments. I have to buy so much stuff! And it sucks because I already have all this stuff at home, I was just not able to bring it because of limited space. We also want to buy cell phones today so we can keep in touch with each other while we’re here! Well I will write again when I have more news to tell!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Three days!

Three days from now I'll be at the airport getting (hopefully stress free) through security and making my way through the airport ALONE! I know I'll have my 10 other classmates, but it's the first time I'll ever be travelling that independently.. The only time I've travelled alone was in 8th grade and we went to Washinton DC. But we had a lot of teacher chaperones so that was different. Haha. It makes me kind of nervous, but once I get through the airport I think I'll relax and be able to enjoy the adventure. It's just the saying goodbye to my family part that I'm freaking out about.

I am pretty much all packed. I'm so glad I started early because every day I think of something else I want to take, so then I have to find a way to stuff it. It's bad how much I'm bringing... I don't know how I'm going to repack it all on top of all the things I want to bring back. I'll probably end up leaving some things behind so I can make room for new things. Especially since we're going on an outback trip for 10 days and everything you bring gets permanently stained red from the outback dust. So I'll probably leave old tennis shoes, old sweatshirts and tshirts. Hopefully that will give me room! From now til I leave I have some last minute errands to run, see Avatar with my dad and sister because everyone says it's amazing, and spend time with my family. The next time I post I will be on the other side of the world!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Waiting patiently?

Hello again! As for the countdown to Australia goes, it's down to 24 days. YAYY! It's been almost 2 weeks since I last posted. Just goes to show how faaast time goes. I need to cherish it here before I leave, let alone while I am gone. I don't want to take a single second for granted.

As I get closer and closer to departure, I am getting everything taken care of... with the help of my dad of course. He's helping me with my whole banking situation (ie. notifying my bank and the credit card company that I will be overseas for about 5 months). Also, whether I actually need to or not, I've done a lot of shopping. It's a guilty pleasure. I pass by all of the winter clothes and head for the sale racks full of skirts, dresses, tank tops, oh my! But I must remember... I am STUDYING abroad. Hopefully I'll get a nice wake up call when I start my classes. Or I might not, haha. It's all about the experience, everything included. And I cannot wait. Bring it onnnn!