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!