I went out for a run this afternoon after a productive morning of reading (Im actually excited about the immense amounts of reading I have to do this weekend). It was such a nice day out. The weather- a cool breeze accompanied by clear skies and a shining sun. Good weather is always a great motivator for a nice run; now second to the mere thought/reality that I am running in Australia of course ..... [ I'm running upside down !!! ]
I sometimes have these random bursts of excitement for no apparent reason- which give me boosts and I begin to sprint through the streets creating new paths trying to get myself lost in the great city of Melbourne; Making sure to read every street sign- great way to become familiar with the city. Those boosts always feel amazing, and I had one during my run today. The best part was arriving back at my apartment building out of breath, panting, chest burning, it hurt but I couldn't help but smile to myself. Because though there may be thoughts at the back of my head that could make me worry, that could prevent me from getting up the next morning - unexpected bad news or stress related to home that may haunt me every so often- everything at that one moment felt so perfect. [ And it just reminded me how amazing I feel just being here. Not just running in Melbourne but studying, laughing and waking up here ] I smiled/ laughed because life is great.
During my run my mind also began to flirt with fantasies of future traveling. Intern abroad? Teaching abroad? Grad school abroad? Where will I go. Its too early for such thoughts but its always fun to allow myself to have them. Right now its all about Melbourne, Australia [Sydney, Gold Coast, and New Zealand for Spring Break ? Definitely Fiji post semester] And its just the beginning. Anyway I am sounding way too corny for myself and there is a student being saran wrapped outside my balcony ... so I have to go.
I have so much to say about my classes that are nearly the size of Skidmore's entire student body so I promise net post will come shortly.
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
This past Sunday some friends and I went to a Footy Match. No not rugby, Footy. Footy = Australian Football. I don't know if this sport is new to any of you but of course it was for me. The Melbourne Demons were playing against the Sydney Swans- yes Swans. Even if I was not living in Melbourne, there is no way I would yell for a team named the Swans =) [ Note: Australians don't "Root" for teams. "Root" actually means to perform a sexual act, or something along those lines ]
I really am not a big fan of attending sports events, not a fan of sports at all. I actually don't quite understand sports culture.... but I digress. The stadium- Melbourne Cricket Garden (MCG)- is a short trip from home. We walked part of the way. [Though it is the peak of winter, it feels like a New York Fall- i.e I wore a sweater out today and was fine] It was a nice walk downtown pass countless shopping areas and a Hungry Jacks on every corner. [Hungry Jacks is the Australian Burger King; All the same, even the logo, just different name. I actually wonder why "Burger King" didn't cut it as a fast food franchise name in Australia ..... hmf] We then took a tram the rest of the way. [Speaking of trams- we were clueless- or maybe its just me. We still don't get the tram system. Trams are like trolleys- like those in San Fran ? Here, you purchase a ticket and then get it validated on the tram. I don't know how to do the validating part. But we just sat at the back without tickets. Lucky us there were no policeman randomly patrolling the trolleys for tickets. The Australian government loves giving large fines for just about everything.
Though I am not one for sports events I did get excited once arriving at the stadium. Can you tell I have never been to a major sports event ? Just seeing the hyped locals- decked out in their teams colors was enough (Mel: Blue/Red; Syd: Red/ White). The tickets were really cheap, especially with the student discount, and for great seats- Gen.Adm. really close to the field. While looking for our seats I was distracted at the sight of the field. The sun was shining perfectly on the field, as if its purpose that day was to keep just the Footy players warm. The game had already started once we sat. By then I was thinking what a mistake it was for me to attend the game without doing any research on the sport. I had to quickly try and catch on to the rules as I watched- its much more difficult to cheer for your team when you can't even understand what just happened. I shortly put two and two together- Easy.....Just yell really loud when Melbourne gets the funny looking ball past the goal and/or when they knock someone on the opposing team down to the ground- which can get quite ugly.
Footy doesn't look much like American football. The large and aggressive men sport small shorts which show off their massive thighs and by half time, some of the players were also sporting bloody noses that matched the red on their uniforms perfectly. Pretty standard. The ball looks like a rugby ball. The players run with the ball, kick it to pass, and dribble every so often, all with the intent of getting it to the goal of course.
And in the end Melbourne won !!!!!! By a lot. Apparently it was a big deal for them because they had not won a game against Sydney in a long time. All in all it is was a great experience- this "not a big fan of sports" young lady was pleased once leaving the game. I mean, there is no way I could come to Australia and not see a Footy game. And just between me and you, later that night when seeing the replays on the news I could not help but think "oooh oooh I was there for that !!!"- Maybe it took for me to watch footy in Australia for me to understand a bit of "sports culture". Maybe Cricket next ?
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
I live in the RMIT Village, a building which houses local students- not just Uni Melb students. The building is gorgeous. It use to be the largest hotel in Melbourne. Shaped like a rectangle with a courtyard in the center- sitting areas, a pool, and a fountain, the building is equipped with ballrooms that are used for parties, a gym that is currently being renovated =( a game room, a cafe, and a fully licensed bar.
The rooms are set up like any other dorm room, split down the middle only they are literally split down the middle. There is a wall that divides the room in two. At the far end of the room a small part of the screen can be opened if one decides to open both doors to the balcony or share a bed time chat with their roommie. There is also a kitchen- each student is given all kitchen appliances including a kettle, pots and pans. Each room also has a bathroom- they also give us towels... and bedsheets ! oH and each room has two LCD televisions. Everything a room could possibly need they give us...except free internet. My roommate is an exchange student from Singapore who is completing her last year. She does not talk much. Just goes to church -_- and goes to bed early.
This week is O-Week at the village. So everyday this week the village hosts an event intended for everyone to meet each other. The events have included a BBQ, a marti gras themed party and a group pub crawl and a pool tournament. The events are really effective- I feel I have met a really good number of students who live in the building. The Australearn group has stuck really close - they're great. Not many of us are rooming with locals except Amber Butcher who's roommate lives near the city of Melbourne- she's heaps of fun. This week has been so much fun. It is so weird thinking classes begin on Monday. I am all registered- 4 subjects [ They are called subjects not classes] two subjects on Psych, one on Indigenous studies, and a subject in African dancing/ drumming. You would think all the fun stops once the semester begins but oh no... the Aussis sure do know know how to have a good time- weekends, weekdays, classes or not. Don't worry i already have my study schedule in place !
Saturday, July 17, 2010
So I have been in Australia for a week.I left the U.S on Saturday afternoon and arrived Monday afternoon- local time in Cairns.We were flying for a total of about 24 hours.I expected myself to freak out but it was not that bad at all.I actually enjoyed the flights.
In Cairns we had an itinerary set.Everyone was excited to meet the other students who were attending the same university as them.So "whats your name?","Where are you from?" and "Where are you going?" was asked countless times with students forgetting each other's names soon after.
On Tuesday we sailed two hours off the coast to the Great Barrier Reef.I am an awful swimmer so this was terrifying.But I promised myself I would not be too scared to do anything while here.So when it came time to snorkel I didn't think too much, just suited up and jumped in the water.I have never in my life seen anything so beautiful.As soon as I looked under the water my breath was literally taken away.Just the colors alone were amazing.The greens, blues, browns, pinks, reds, and yellows.The fish ! all colors and sizes- there were heaps of them.I enjoyed just staying still and watching the coral move in the water or waiting for the fish to swim close enough for me to graze my hand along their side.The second location we sailed to was by an island covered with birds.We couldn't pass a certain point on the island or else we'd be fined $7500.Here the water was shallow so the coral was really close.I actually scraped my knee against one.I still have a bruise from it.
On Wednesday we went to the Kuranda rainforest and planted some trees at a nursery.That was pleasant.The rainforest is beautiful- exotic plants, strange looking insects and amazing animals.I actually ate an ant, right off the ground. It is bright green and when you bite the end of it it sends a shock to the tongue.Like a lime just way more intense and without the lime flavor.I wished we spent more time planting trees.There were so many of us it did not take long before we were done.
Back to the rain forest on Thursday- To the Kuranda rain forestation park.Here we took a duk tour through the rainforest and were pointed out the poisonous and the yummy plants that grow in the rainforest.We also were given lessons by Aboriginals on how to through a returning boomerang.I was not very good.We listened to them play their tribal instruments that are made to imitate the animals in Australia and watched a performance.It was all so much fun.At one point they pulled some of us to do the dance on stage.
Friday was our free day of Advanture.Most of us booked activities prior to arriving.I chose the ATV tour in the rainforest. I have never been on an ATV but I wasn't going to let that stop me. I was going full speed this way and that, standing on my ATV- really living the moment.If I would have fell off and hurt myself I would have deserved it.At one point 5 of us were broken up from the group and were lost for about 30 minutes.I was somewhat glad this happened.This gave us the opportunity to go which ever way we wanted at whatever speed we wanted.It was amazing.Eventually we were found.And made our way back for lunch.
And by Saturday morning we were preparing for our flight to Melbourne.I was sad to leave Cairns because I had such an amazing time there.... I mean soon I will be starting class and writing papers.But I was/am so excited to get to know Melbourne.To know the city like the back of my hand.I can't wait to meet locals and know where the great pubs and coffee shops are.And where to get the best deals at the market.I have been told by many that Melbourne is a very cafe artsy like place.So I can't wait to fully experience that part of it. There is also a zoo near the campus, which I am so visiting.I just want to live the next five months just like any other Australian student would.I want to do well in my classes, meet tons of people, have tons of fun, and also work... because things are not cheap here.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
In just a few hours I will be on my flight to Australia. First stop is Cairns- this is where the pre-orientation will take place. We pretty much have a week to just explore all that we can before flying to Melbourne (University of Melbourne) where we will begin our semester- I keep forgetting that I will be starting school/writing papers in about two weeks or so.
I am more excited than I can put in words. I think I'm also nervous- I say "I think" because I may just be misinterpreting some of the excitement as butterflies in my stomach -Did I mention this will be my first flight ever?- So part of me feels as if I am supposed to be nervous. I know one thing I am not feeling- scared. Surprisingly enough I don't have an inch of fear of me. I'm soo ready to take it all in ! AUSTRALIA HERE I COME !
[I promise to update/ announce I arrived everywhere safe]
Thursday, July 8, 2010
I have been given all kinds of traveling advice- as far as flying with nerves goes. But no one, no one, gave me any kind of advice about packing. And now I wish I was given all packing advice and was left to find ways to calm my nerves during the flight on my own. I am learning how stressful packing is.
I am aloud to bring two large suitcases- which I have and of which are nearly completely full. I also have everything in space bags...yes, completely full even with space bags. Last night I went to bed thinking "YES packing is almost over". But I woke this morning even more stressed than when I went to bed last night. I'm looking at the large suitcases thinking how I really don't want to bring them both. One of them is soo heavy and I'm trying to weigh it but my friends scale keeps giving me different numbers- I am sure I don't weigh 95 lbs nor do I weigh 111 lbs, nor 62 lbs. That alone- not being able to weigh my bag, adds enough stress. They have to be less than 50 lbs. Jarvis told me if I can lift the bag with one arm then it is more than 50 lbs- [ahem, I think I can lift 50 lbs with one hand- easy]... but I tried to lift it and struggled. :-S
So now I am nearly in tears debating whether or not I should unseal everything and start from scratch. Maybe make two piles- 2 suitcase- one for abroad and one that I can leave with stuff in NYC- Maybe even bring everything to NYC and unpack repack there. Unpacking and repacking ugh the thought sounds awful- I also hate the thought of leaving things in the care of my mother. It's that or just continue stuffing and maybe pay the extra few bucks for the extra weight. AAHHHH I just don't know.
I know I'm all stressed out now but I get comfort out of telling myself- "FIGURE IT OUT ALTA, YOU HAVE NO CHOICE" and knowing stress or no stress it will all get done. I know I'm going to look back at this and just laugh- laugh at how nervous and stressed I am, at how I am tearing at 7am because of packing and how inexperienced in packing/ traveling I am.