Monday, September 24, 2007

its been a while...but for good (kinda) reason

well, the past week and a half has probably been the most insane of my life. i have never expect the most insanely diverse amount of emotions as i have experienced in this time. i don't know if i will be able to talk about everything in one post but i will begin from the beginning of tasmania (mid-semester break).

so we headed out to tasmania for an early morning flight on the 15th and we were all pumped. although we were all pretty exhausted, it was a nice short plane ride to hobart with the IES crew. when we arrived at the airport in hobart, tasmania which is insanely small for being an international airport (1 terminal), we patiently awaited for our luggage on the one carousel meanwhile there we started to notice a little crowd forming around this guy. come to find out, he was an australian celebrity from one of the big aussie tv shows, "home and away". so we took some pictures at a distance but didn't formally introduce ourselves because lets be realistic, we had NO idea who he was. however, he was a very attractive guy.

so we head out of the airport and hop on our little mini coach bus on the way to the big city of hobart. the best way that i can explain the whole state island of tasmania is as a very hippy,organic, bogan sort of a place (bogan being the aussie word for a kinda hobo, mainly an american redneck). it was a pretty sweet place though all in all. so we head out on our coach bus with our first bus driver, matt, who will definitel come up some more later. he was very informed so he taught us alot about hobart and tasmania and you could definitely pick up the fact that he was from born and bred in tasmania. we headed to salamanca markets which is this big open air arts and craftsy sort of market which took place down by the river and pier and is only open on saturdays. for my gdub/DC friends, it is very much like eastern market but maybe not quite as big. it was a beautiful day so it was great getting to just walk around for a couple of hours and getting the feel of hobart. we then then found ourself with a little bit more time then needed to cover the market so we went and found this cute little park in hobart with a nice water fountain and chilled out 'til our 2.5hr bus ride to coles bay.

we spent a lot of time on the mini coach bus which became our main rest period. so we arrived at coles bay for the night which was a pretty cool location. it was the epitomy of a small town, i mean one store, one restaurant, one cafe type of small town but it was by a gorgeous bay and we were only there for the night. we were able to take in an amazing sunset (pictures will be up in a couple of weekends) then had a very nice dinner. dinner was good except that our waitress was absolutely awful. she was a mean old lady who seemed bitter at the world but thats beside the point. dinner was very good and then on our way out we hung out ran into some people who asked us if we were from perth (the 4th largest city in australia) and although we were excited that some australians thought we were aussies, we said no but then met three cool aussies from sydney. it was two girls and a guy and they were in their mid twenties celebrating their birthdays in tasmania. they gave us some cool headers about some of the things on our trip and we ended up going down to a bonfire on the beach with them. it wasn't sketch, trust me. but it was sketch because you just walk down to the beach and there was this bonfire burning with no one there. very strange. but i guess what the locals do is they start the bonfire and when the only pub closes everyone goes down to the beach. they also call it a "wee-fire" which is fun. it was really cool and the stars were once agan absolutely unbelievable. we left before all the townies came down which was fine with us because we were pretty exhausted from the day anyways.

the next day we set off on our mountain climb and descend to wineglass bay. boy, what a hike. but it was definitely worth it. wineglass bay is definitely named for the shape but the water was once again absolutely gorgeous and the beach was amazing too. we just hung out at the beach for an hour or so and had a nice picnic lunch. sweet day. but i won't lie the hike was pretty insane. not only were your going up FOREVER but then you descended down FOREVER to do it again on the way back. it however is great to see nature that has been uninterupted and unharmed by roads and modernization. some of god's natural beauty needs to stay the way that it is. oh, and it was also another beautiful day.

we then hopped back on the bus for another 2 hours to head to port arthur. i think this is where i'm going to stop for now but will be back sometime to finish it up. g'day!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

life is a highway...(or a great ocean road)

well. so i would have updated a long time ago but the only time that i had to sit own at my computer for an extended amount of time was given to my 2500 research paper that was due today. so yes, finally I am DONEZO and can unofficially begin my "holiday" (how the aussies refer to as mid-semester break or what we refer to as Spring break). you have NO idea how relieved i feel and how excited I am for the next two weeks. i will eventually get to that but first, i am going to walk you through the end of last week leading up to the amazing weekend.

so on thursday, i took my test for bio which went very very well and that was really exciting. it was only worth 10% of my grade, but it was good to do well on my first graded assignment of the semester (which is weird, seeing how it was the 7th week of class...and there is only 12 weeks). so that was pretty much thursday...the girls came over and we made a latenight run to safeway before tucking in and watching "must love dogs" which was ok. friday was typical...a trip to the market, girls came over again, watched another movie, should have written my paper...but then i packed for the weekend.

on saturday, 11 of the 13 IES kids (and 13 other kids) headed off with the International Students Outdoors Program (the same group that took us to Phillip Island) to the world reknown Great Ocean Road. i have been anticipating this trip since i read Bill Bryson's "In a Sunburned Country", and so i was unbelievably excited to finally get the chance to do it. so, our first stop was in the beach side town of Torquay (try to pronounce that one, you'll fail) for a surfing lesson. sooo pumped. surfing is definitely one of those things that i always wanted to do, and was definitely on my list of things to do while in australia (separated by oceans from my parents). it was unbelievable. we put on our full body wetsuits (the most flattering thing ever), got our boards had a lesson by our awesome instructor Rose and then started catching some waves. well, it wasn't exactly like that but you get the drift. a random fact is that although australia is the most deadliest continent/country/island on earth in terms of wildlife, they never have shark attacks. Or so they tell us...but yeah, so once i got over the fear of sharks and stingrays it was just me and the waves. our lesson was only 2 hours long but i could've stayed out there all day. it was such an awesome experience...i was even able to get up a couple of times which was...i don't even know how to explain it. but yes, i am in love with surfing and am thrilled that i am going to "surfer's paradise" for the second week of spring break because all i want to do is get on a board and get out there again.

then it was lunch time. we brought our lunches with us and we stopped at this really cool beach town, Lorne, and had a wonderfully nice picnic lunch with the IES family. we also walked on the beach (Lorne Beach) for a while after lunch, took in the gorgeous coast and the sand that is SOOOOOO soft and just basked in the beauty of australia. we then headed off to erksine falls which was pretty sweet waterfall in the rainforest. that is why everyone needs to come to australia because it's pretty much the most insanely beautiful country ever. not only one minute can you be taking in beautiful coastlines and the deep blue ocean, but then next minute you can be in a rain forest...and in a few hours you can be in the dessert. its a little insane. but the rainforest was pretty sweet. and the waterfall was gorgeous.

following erksine, we headed out to teddy's lookout. unbelievable. its really hard to explain the beauty that teddy's lookout was because even pictures can't do it justice. however, i do recommend that you check out my pictures to kind of get a feel of what i am talking about. but teddy's lookout from a hill on the great ocean road which you see the unbelievable coastline combined with this gorgeous green hills and valley. it was breathtaking and it is just one of things that you don't really believe your experiencing because its so unbelievable. its hard for me to imagine not being here right now because everyday my life changes just a little bit more and always for the better. so yes, teddy's lookout= God's glory.

it was then off to see more koalas. koalas are pretty cool but i am definitely koaled out but it was cool to see them in the "wild" and i saw one that was awake and also had a baby koala which was pretty sweet. i mean koala's sleep 20-24 hours a day so, you're extremely lucky to catch them awake.

we then headed to the hostel for the night...we had a "camp" shower session which consisted of the 6 of us girls (i love us, by the way) in our swimsuits showering. ahh, those are the moments you live for. we then went into town (Apollo Bay), got some dinner and ice cream and then hung out at the "happening" pub in town that really wasn't happening but it was nice nonetheless. i had fish and chips for dinner which was delicious, by the way. that night, the girls went for a nice midnight stroll on the beach which was an interesting turn of events. we obviously went the wrong way to start off, and ended up at the "southern drop off " point which lucky for us, we had cell phone lights guiding our way. but we eventually made it there and it was unreal. i have NEVER seen stars like this in my entire life...even in the middle of nowhere new york. never. i think it has to do with their thin o-zone layer here (which is also the reason why you burn and tan easier), and overall environmental consciousness. there isn't a lot of pollution in the country, even living in the city...but those stars were absolutely unbelievable. that is something that i can't really explain and can't just have to come to australia and see it for yourself. the stars reflected off the ocean which was...well, you kind of get the picture.

the next day, we headed off to the main attractions of the trip the twelve apostles. but before getting there, we took another stop over in another rain forest that was pretty cool. but yeah, it was pretty much just more trees. then we finally arrived at the twelve apostles (there are only 7 now--> erosion) and it was more beautiful then the postcards can even capture. the twelve apostles were initially twelve large monoliths off of the coast but over time, some have eroded and collapsed. the last one to collapse happened in 2005, so the base of it is still there crumbled in the ocean. but yes, it was beautiful. look at the pictures, please. oh, and it also made you think that god is just brilliant to create things with such beauty. we then proceeded onto Loch ard gorge which is another monolith type "structure" a little further down the great ocean road. the story to Loch Ard gorge is pretty sweet but pretty much all you want to know is that along with being the great ocean road, it is also shipwreck coast. so i think you kinda get the picture. but loch ard was really cool beause its almost like a little bridge off the coast and the arch looks very small from the side view but once you are parallel to realize how massive the arch part is. you really need to look at the pictures to understand what i am saying. but, the water is also absolutely stunning. the ocean here isn't really a crystal clear but its more of a deep turquoise/coral blue. its absolutely stunning. a really cool part of the gorge was that we could go down on to the beach by it, and we played in the sand. then, that was it.

i was a little dissapointed because we didn't get to go see the lighthouse and "london bridge"(another famous rock formation...also has a cool story) but i was still very pleased by the weekend. we stopped for lunch in apollo bay on a it was pretty lame before heading home. all in all it was a pretty unbelievable weekend and i could definitely see myself buying a beach house one day on the great ocean road.

well, this week has pretty much consisted of me writing my paper. but i have officially decided to take part in Uni games which i am pumped about. i realize that this is the ultimate once in a lifetime opportunity, and so i don't want to live this experience with any regrets. on a maybe sadder note, i think i'm going to not really row while i am here anymore. although i love the coaches and the team, its really not fitting into my schedule and because i am going to be gone for the next two weeks, then my mom, yvette and bishop are going to be who knows. maybe, maybe not...i think i've made my decision but i usually stay on the fence with these things. but yeah, this week was pretty uneventful.

however, saturday marks the turn in everything. off to TASMANIA!! i am sooooooooooooo pumped. i can't even begin to tell you. i would tell you all of the cool things that we are doing but i will leave it for the posts while i am there doing them. just know, i will be going to the cadbury factory which is both a good and bad thing. good because it will be unbelievable. bad because i need to not eat all week up until that point...just kidding. but not really. so yes, soo excited. but i wont spoil the surprise for all of the cool things that i will be doing.

so tomorrow will consist of going to my last two classes...wooohoo and then getting everything ready for tassy. oh and its been a while since i gave you a australian vocabulary here is something interesting...they don't call running sneakers here "sneakers" or "running sneakers" but they call them runners. pretty sweet, huh? and they call sunglasses "sunnies"...i am pretty fond of that one. and something really strange but awesome is that they don't have skunks in this country. i was in my chem class the other day and my professor was talking about how in north america they have an animal called a skunk which gives off an awful sulfur odor...and i was taken back that they don't have skunks or even know what they are.

well. thats enough for me right now. i'm blogged out but i will most likely be writing tomorrow at some point and hopefully at least once or twice while in tassy. until then...cheers!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

so many choices, so little time...

hmm. well. it has been an interesting week sofar to say the least. so on monday, i was pumped to finally go and play some bball. its definitely been a while but i was excited to throw on the jordans and shoot some ball with the aussie girls. so it wasn't exactly what i had expected because I was just expecting some good 'ol fashioned pick up but it was actually their practice. they were of course EXTREMELY nice and just threw me in there with everyone else. there were 8 other girls there and i guess there are 9 total, so i met the whole squad which was cool. after practice, we were stretching and such and having a "team" chat and what not and they asked me if i wanted to go with them to Uni games on the Gold Coast! YES, crazy i know. Now, i have heard of Uni games because a bunch of the rowers are going so i knew exactly what they were talking about but I wanted to be like, "i sucked today, why do you want me?" Uni games takes place the second week of mid-semester break and I am already going to be in brisbane so i am currently debating on what to do.

there are plus and minuses to both sides of the situation to whether I stay with Monica and Alycia in Brisbane for the week or whether I go to the Gold Coast from Tues-Friday and then hang out with Monica and Alycia on From Saturday-Monday. me and this conscience of mind have been doing a lot of battling lately because I don't want to be a lame friend and back out on Monica and alycia even though they have given me the ok to do so. but thats really not me. however, this is the opportunity of a lifetime and when will i ever be able to say again that I played basketball in the Australian University games! So, I think i have made my choice...but i'm still not quite sure. Until I actually pay that deposit, it won't be final but I will keep you updated. Or better yet, let me know what you think I should do! OH, but i think the most brilliant idea is for Monica and Alycia to come with ME to the Gold Coast because supposedly its cooler down there anyways and a bunch of our fellow IESers will be making their way there too throughout the course of the week. so maybe, i'll be able to have it both ways...which would be perfect.

so the week sofar besides that has been prettydull. i have a test tomorrow and a big paper next week so that has been consuming all of my time. no fun. it is crazy weird because i am pretty much in our equivalent of midterms and all of my gdub friends and most of you all for that point are JUST starting classes. CRAZY. I can't believe Tasmania is less then two weeks away as is middle of the semester. which isn't really the middle of the semester because after we get back, i will only have 1,2,3,FOUR weeks of class left. what a crazy wonderful life i lead.

the weirdest thing this week has been keeping track of everyone on facebook going back to school and especially gdub. i got used to this whole being abroad thing but then when everyone has been posting new pictures and all that stuff and going to class(gdub just had their first day!), has pretty much put this whole being abroad thing into perspective. and although i am sure that all of my friends wherever they maybe are going to have a most amazing time studying abroad; i couldn't not be happier with my decision to come to australia for numerous reasons but a big one being is that i am here for 5 months. i have already been here for 2 months, i don't know what i would do if i had to leave again in a month. so yea. i'm sure you're pretty sick of hearing me talk about how much i love it here...but i do.

well, i must be going now to study for the rest of the evening! yay me! but i'm just thinking two weeks from now...i'll be chillin' out in TASSY.

actually one more thing. this week is elections here on campus, so it has been really interesting to see how they do their student elections. its much different from Gdub (then again, every school is MUCH different from Gdub), but there student government is more associated with the actual government and world issues then i expected. they are not as concerned with the actual "student" problems rather they are concerned with protesting Wars and the education system in Australia as a whole (among other things). This will probably be the first and last time that i say that I prefer Gdub's crazy and insane Student association to another university's student government. I think that it is good that the aussies are very concerned with world politics and current world situations but I also believe that those issues are separate and should remain separate from "student" affairs and representation. Similarly to Gdub, they harass you and hand stuff out to you wherever you go. However, they do not have the same wonderful poster artwork on each and every building nor do they give out cool free stuff and food. a step down from elections gdub style.

thats it for now! until next time (tomorrow after my test). CHEERS!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

thank heaven for seven eleven

well, not really. but one thing that i don't think i ever told you is how many gosh darn seven elevens in melbourne. they're not on every street corner because there are more than that. heaps i tell you. heaps. on a smaller block, you'll probably have about three and lets not even get me started on the main streets downtown. i'm pretty sure that there are more seven elevens here then there are in the state of new york as a whole. in this one city. and i have no doubt that the number in australia far outnumbers the number in the states. but thats neither here or there. well, at least i know that as the weather continues to break that a slurpee will be easily accessible.

and yes, the weather is beginning to break which is wonderful. but i have referenced that previously. now, we are officially into spring and its wonderful! i don't think i've ever been this happy despite my upcoming tests and papers. so lets recap after my wonderous fall into the yarra on wednesday.

the rest of wednesday was good...pretty much just getting work done and going to classes. we stayed in pretty much all week long until saturday...but i will get there. oh, but tuesday night we had an IES dinner with Liz and Luke and it was awesome. we got to hear about all of the amazing things we are doing in Tasmania for the first week of mid-semester break which is rapidly approaching! two weeks I cant wait...we're doing things from biking down a mountain to white water rafting to cadbury chocolate factory. so it might just be one of the best weeks of my life and i cant wait.

thursday and friday were just basically more class and more work. friday night was actually a lot of fun though. love actually came on to one of our 5 australian tv stations so all of the girls came over and we had an official movie night full of desserts and wonderous laughs. we watched hairspray (illegally) afterwards and it was equally as great. so all in all, it was a fantastic friday ( I also was very very productive throughout the day).

saturday morning, leah, siobhan, anna and I went to the newman vs. st. mary's girls footy game to watch kristen and alycia play and that was a lot of fun. they both played really well and it was so exciting to see your own friends partake in a wonderous game of australian football. we later actually went to a pro footy game, which we only stayed til halftime but it was good because i finally got to go to MCG! so that was got me really excited for the soccer game in two weeks-> australia vs. argentina. the MCG seats about 100,000 people and the game is sold out and we have tickets!!! so its gonna be awesome and i cant wait!

saturday evening, siobhan, alycia and I went to see this aussie band play at a club in richmond. alycia had actually heard the band in the states so she turned us onto them and i was a little skeptical at first but it was awesome. definitely one of my new favorite bands...there called the Lucksmiths and supposedly they've actually been around since the early 90's. they're pretty world reknown too...they do world tours all the time and theyre actually going to the states in a couple of weeks! all my gdub friends, they're going to be in DC so look them up and go to the concert. if you like guster, you'll love them...they're pretty much the australian equivalent. one of the coolest things about the show is the lead singer/drummer. because he's the lead singer as well as drummer he drums standing up. so that was awesome since i've never seen someone play standing up before! sooo good.

today was another productive work day as well as i made it to the gym and then went to church. i absolutely love this church already and it was only my second week there! i'm kinda bummed though because i wont be able to go for the next two weeks (since i'll be gone on vaca), but today was their live album recording and it was unbelievable. just non-stop praise & worship for an hour and half which is honestly, just what i needed. absolutely perfect. i cant wait to get more involved in the next few weeks. they love god soo much and really really let loose and praise and worship god. they are also soooo nice. so yeah. another thing that has made me fall in love with this place.

so now im just hanging out and getting ready to get back to work. we dont have rowing this week (officially) because the coaches and a bunch of the girls are in new zealand for this big youth cup race. so thats pretty sweet for them. so, i shall get back to you later in the week...or perhaps tomorrow if something awesome happens...which is always likely. until then, Cheers!