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!