Friday, October 26, 2007

6 days till classes, 46 days til home

Hi everyone,

Good news! I finished the majority of my work for the semester. I had three 2000 word papers due within seven days of each other and a presentation. I have one more written assignment due next week, but that shouldn't be terribly hard considering the presentation has most of our material. I have two finals (for the same class but with different's an awful class) and an in-class exam and a take-home exam. We'll see how studying goes with those...

The weather is great, and the beaches are finally hoppin. I've found it harder and harder to go to class living right next to the beach, however I only have six days of class left, so I can't really justify skipping anymore. The other day the university held the biggest Sydney party for university-age people called Oktoberfest. Unfortunately I didn't have any German gear, but it was good anyway. I went with some kids from my team, and if it weren't for the two tallest guys around, Frank who's 6'7 and Waz who's 6'4 with a cool hat, I would have spent my entire night looking for my friends. It was held in the uni bar, and there were like four different tents of different music and food and drinks. It was ridiculously loud so most of the night was spent texting people to tell them where you were trying to dance among the hundreds of sweaty, beer-laden students. I had a few friends crash at my place, and one of them had his car on campus. I took the liberty of driving home, which I did extremely well. Not only did I drive on the left side of the road, the stick shift was also on the left, yet the gears were in the same place so it was all backwards and crazy. But we made it home.

I've been watching the Red Sox (cross fingers for tonight's game) at a sports bar down the street. The staff has come to know me, and everytime they see me there they ask how the Red Sox are doing. It's stressful, and kind of a bummer to watch alone since there's no one to high five. My roommates are Yankees fans and one of them is also a Rockies fan and I get extremely annoyed when she talks trash, but I can't do it back...yet. Two more games...come onnnnn Sox!

Today my friends and I barbecued on the beach and tye-dyed T-shirts. I invited my ultimate coach and we threw around for more than an hour. My friends were amazed at how long we could throw and not get bored. One of my roommates said I was really good. Yeah, I'm a pro at playing catch. My friend Kendra has been wanting to take me on a surf lesson for ages so I'm going to head over to Bondi, a great surfing beach apparently, on Tuesday and rent a board and a wetsuit. I have a fair amount of upper body strength so we'll see how it goes.

Next week I'm taking an exam for an editing internship I've applied for for next summer. Let's hope for the best!! I'm also looking into a tour of Tasmania in early November before exams...during study week. Haha. It's a three-day outdoorsy tour, which should be really cool. We need to get on the booking though.

Nothing much else is going on. It's been a quiet few weeks with all my work, but I can't believe I'll be home in 46 days! I have my course registration for next spring coming up, and I've also found housing for senior year, which is a bit stressful to do abroad. Wow, senior housing. It flies by.


To add to your Australian dictionary:

sunnies: sunglasses
stubby: beer bottle
good on ya: good job
singlet: tank top
bottleshop: liquor store

Funny tidbit:
A friend ordered mayonaise "on the side." The waitress gave her a funny look and came back with mayonaise smeared around the edge of the burger.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Australia's Boston: Melbourne


What a surprise...another e-mail from Down Under so quickly! I will admit that while I love informing the masses about my Aussie travels, this e-mail won't get sent unless I do it right now, as the next two weeks are going to be utterly brutal. To my surprise, I actually have papers and work to do. It's like I'm down here for school or something... I have three large papers (2000 words and up) and a big presentation due this week and next, and the following week I have to hand in the written presentation, and I'm also in the midst of applying for to two big internships for next summer, with deadlines quickly approaching. The stress levels are reaching high altitudes right now, and those of you who know what kind of student I am, I tend to stress out. Although, I will admit, I've become somewhat lax when it comes to classes and reading as of recent. It's Australia's fault.

Anyway, I just got back from Melbourne, Victoria this morning. I was visiting my friend Jackie who's studying there. It was quite a journey getting there last Thursday, as I was still relatively sick and had little to no strength. But I pressed on. I flew into Avalon which is about an hour outside of the city. It was cheaper to fly there, but it turns out the $50 I saved on a flight I spent in commute to and from the airport. You live. You learn. I got in Thursday night and Jackie and I met up with some of her friends and walked around Lygon Street, which for those of you Syracuse folk, it's similar to Marshall Street but a bit bigger. Jackie lives on campus in a college called Trinity. Melbourne University is different than UNSW in the sense that a college isn't a dorm, but a little community. All in all there are about 12 colleges which house MU students. Jackie is in the most expensive and most prestigious, but unfortunately her experience has been sub par. When she visited me in Sydney I cooked her a homecooked meal since she said her college's food was horrible. She was right. It made Crane Lake Camp food seem like Camp JORI food. Not only that, you have to pay for lunch on the weekdays and you can only eat at certain times. We had some sketchy hamburgers and I stayed away from the meat which was either lamb or pork- no one really knew. I also stayed away from the eggs which looked like Fisher Price's kitchen set for a three year old.

On Friday we headed into the city and found as much free stuff as we could. We checked out the National Gallery of Victoria, which was pretty cool. Though I think the Museum of Modern Art in Brisbane was cooler. We saw some sculptures and there was a clothing display, which we thought would be really neat, but it was disappointing. We checked out this alley way which is basically a designated area for graffiti. It was really cool and a bit overwhelming. Some of the stuff Jackie wanted to show me had already been painted over. It was funny there was all this graffiti since in Brisbane, Adam and I talked about graffiti as art and checked out a book about "Banksy." He has some very cool work. Adam also sent me an e-mail of things to do in Melbourne, one of which was to find Chloe. We checked out this bar called Young and Jackson's, where Chloe is. She's more than one hundred years old!! Unfortunately, you'll have to meet Chloe yourself, as I can't tell you who she actually is.

When Jackie had class I stayed in the city and wandered around. I was trying to find some cool little alley ways to get lost in and find small shops, but I failed. I did, however, find the Immigration Museum, which was free with a student ID. I wasn't there for too long, but I learned a bit about immigration to Australia. I liked the kids' section the most since you could lay down in the bunk beds in the sea vessel model. Some little kid stared me down for awhile. I told him we could share. I met up with Jackie at the Victoria Markets. Unfortunately they were almost ready to close so we didn't get to see too much, but we did taste a bunch of cheese and finally settled on aged Gouda and ate almost the whole chunk with some water crackers. It was delicious. It was even more delicious since we didn't have a knife and the only thing we could find was a spork. That was my idea.

Once the markets closed we headed back to Trinity, which I should mention, looks like Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Plus, Monday through Thursday the residents have to wear formal robes to dinner, which look exactly like Harry Potter robes, and there's even a head table. It's crazy! We had that sketchy barbecue for dinner and then we downloaded some movies to watch. Jackie is part of this campus network in which you can share movies and music, so the possibilities were almost endless. Pan's Labyrinth didn't have subtitles; I could understand the Spanish, but not quickly enough to translate to Jackie. We ended up watching Pulp Fiction, as I had to educate her about the origins of Fox Force 7. While I may have changed a bit down under, I still fell asleep in the middle of the movie. But to be fair, so did Jackie.

On Saturday we hoped to rent a car and drive along the Great Ocean Road to see the 12 Apostles, well 8 now. But the car rental place had a minimum of three days and we didn't want to pay $150 for only seeing the road one day. I hope I can get down there to see the Apostles before more of them fall. We also tried getting a tour of the Carlton Draught Brewery, but for some odd reason it's not open on the weekends. Do they expect working people to leave their jobs to drink beer all day? Frustrating. Instead, we checked out the Eureka Tower. We paid some money to see the 360 degree observation tower, which overlooked all of Melbourne. And then we went to The Edge. Being afraid of heights, I expected to collaspe to my knees and crawl out, but I did surprisginly well. We got into this box which extended out from the building and then after some corny soundtrack of glass breaking, the floor came away and the floor was all glass. It was scary enough that I didn't let go of the bar, but not terrifying. For ten bucks it was cool.

After that we headed to the Victoria ANZAC (Australia, New Zealand Army Core memorial) Memorial. (See pictures) It was a nice building and we took part in a memorial service. It had some cool history and from the balcony there was a great view of the city.

We did a bit of shopping before heading back for another mysterious dinner. Instead of partying all night (since I don't do that) we started to watch Children of Men (amazing) until it got cut off since the person we were downloading it from didn't download the whole thing. So we resorted to Office Space. I left early this morning, and luckily my cold is better enough that I didn't cry landing due to severe eye pains like I did on the way there.

And now I am done procrastinating and ready to start my massive amounts of work. You won't hear from me until it's done. So about two weeks. But after that it's almost smooth sailing. I'll be home in just less than eight weeks. Wow.

Until next time, here's to you, you're true blue,

Uni games is by far, the best thing since sliced bread

Hello all!

I have not fallen off the face of Australia. I just got back from what maybe the best 10 days EVER. I don't even really know where to begin, so Ireckon I should start at the very beginning, a very good place tostart...(continue singing if you so desire)

Uni games this year was at the Gold Coast in Surfer's Paradise, which isabout an hour south of Brisbane in the state of Queensland. Uni games is anationwide university sports competition with sports ranging from soccer to rugby to ultimate to badminton. I drove up with some of my teammates. Sincethe day we left fell on Yom Kippur I fasted the drive up to Coff's Harbour and listened to Yom Kippur prayers on my iPod, which miraculously my friendhappened to have. It was pretty terrible since we kept stopping for snacks,but I made it up to Coff's where I broke fast with a candy bar and then wegot some dinner at a pub. I had chicken stirfry, but unfortunately could hardly eat it since fasting had shrunk my stomach.

We stayed at a trailer park in a mini caravan. It wasn't much better thancamping other than the fact that it was raining, so we stayed dry. I smelleda bit dodgy though considering it wasn't the cleanest of places. We did afood shop together and that was entertaining. I rode on the back of atrolley (shopping cart) up and down aisles and then we sat on the minimerry-go-round and my buddy Mrinal may or may not have broken the seat. Needless to say, we hurried out of the supermarket very quickly.

Upon leaving Coff's, we passed a giant banana, which read "Big Banana" on it. Clearly, I took a picture. I took a picture of everything. We tossed a disc around this farm and poor Famous Damous had to get the Frisbee from some cows- he looked petrified. And then we got in trouble since we were on private property. We drove some more and missed the exit to Byron Bay, but we did make a pit stop upon entering Queensland and threw on the beach. Then we drove to Surfer's Paradise, where we were staying in apartment. The apartments were incredible. They overlooked the beach and all you had to do was walk out the front door and cross the street to get to the water. I went for a swim once and it was great. I was mentally exhausted from the waves though. It's pretty tiring.

We were at the fields from like 8-5 and then weall wanted dinner so we didn't beach much. The one sunny part of the day wehad off from games I slept and by the time I wanted to go to the beach, itwas time to cleat up for the quarter finals.We played a total of 12 games. The ladies had one sub, and since myhamstring is injured, we really had no subs. I played the first five gameshard and then the trainer (we became the best of friends) told me if I wantto play in the semi finals, I needed to rest and then he'd tape me. So Iwent in for a few points here and there when the girls needed subs. It wasreally more mentally challenging than physically challenging since my mindwanted to play despite my injury. My coach and teammates yelled at me fromthe sidelines not to run- to save myself for the big games, but it was hard.

During one game, my girl was cutting in the endzone for a score. I decided Iwanted to get a lay out D on her. It was pretty sweet; I'll give myselfthat. I sprinted as much as I could on a bum leg and made a beautiful lay. Iwish someone had taken a picture. My friend Abra was sitting on the sidelinethere and said I was about three feet in the air and was angled upward(something only really good guys do and girls almost never) and d'd the discright as she was closing her hands. I was pretty stoked- as it was right onthe endzone line. And then my coach called a time out and told me to call aninjury and sit on the side. But I got primetime player of the day for it.We won the quarter finals pretty easily, but unfortunately something wentamiss for the semi finals, which were on Friday.

We played University ofQueensland, and we really should have won. I think we had a tough timepulling ourselves together and playing with flow. I think individually,everyone played well, but as a team we had a missing link. The score waspretty close though- 12-9 was the final. It really hurt. Abra and I had agood cry together afterwards. Me because I was the last person with the discand turned it to give UQ final possession and Abra because it was last unigames and he had turned it several times on the endzone line. It hurt a lot,but we got amped up to play for 3/4 place. We played a Victorian team, andour coach got us sooo pumped up. He got into the middle of our huddle andstarted shaking a can of Victorian Bitter (pretty cheap beer). I thought hewas going to shot gun it, but no. He open it up and sprayed it on all of us,saying that the team we were about to play is as crappy as this beer.Needless to say, I've never been more pumped for a game or a race oranything before. We crushed Monash 15-6 or something. Bronze felt good, butit stung a bit knowing we should have been in the finals.

The party scene at Surfer's is pretty crazy. It's kind of like a toned downLas Vegas, but only toned down in the sense that there isn't thisridiculously gaudy architecture. Everynight uni games had a different venuefor the party. Most of them were good except the last one, which apparentlya Frisbee kid had all the ultimate people go there, which was cool but itwas really sketchy. If you weren't ultimate, you were either white trash,goth or thug. Each night was also a theme. The one night I decided to dressup (all white), I was given my primetime player of the day award, which wasmy team got to dress me up in anything except white. I was in the mostridiculous getup EVER. It was pretty classic though. A few random peopleasked for a picture with me. It was a good time. The last night we wore ourmedals, which felt really great. A very proud moment.

Along with the partyscene comes with various ultimate shenanigans. For example, Kangaroo (thoughit has become 'Kenga') Court puts trials on for those who have donesomething stupid/gullible/ridiculous, but also good. Our captain, Waz, wasthe judge, but everyone got a say in the punishment and the person on trialwas allowed a defense. One night, the first night, actually I was courtedfor setting of Waz's car alarm. My punishment was I had to try to set off analarm and make a big scene. I couldn't believe that I couldn't find ONE carthat had an alarm. That was disappointing. That's the gist of Kenga Court.

We also have all sorts of buddy challenges and rookie challenges. One of myteammate's rookie challenge since he's the UNSW ultimate president (he'slike 30 something), was to give a speech during the awards ceremony, writtenby Abra and Waz, who are two characters on the team. Charlie passed withflying colors. It was quite a laugh.

Once the tournament was over, my team headed back to Sydney, but I took atrain about an hour north to Brisbane, where Pam's friend Adam lives. Myfriend from Syracuse is also studying up there so I stayed at her apartment.I got up there and it got really really hot; it's a good thing it wasn'tthat hot during the tournament. We would have died.

I went to Adam'ssister's house to meet a fairly large number of family members. I met asister, a brother, two in-laws, his parents, a cousin and three of hisnieces and nephews. We watched the AFL Grand Final (Australian RulesFootball Super Bowl), and Geelong (out of Victoria) wont by like 160 points,so it wasn't terribly exciting. His nieces and nephews are adorable, andtook a liking to me because I read them books. From there we got dinner inthe Valley (and it's not anywhere near California's Valley...just theopposite). We had Chinese food and then rushed to this play called The Club,which coincidentally was about the AFL and the players beginning to be likeAmerican and play for money, not the love of the game. It was really funnyand it's worth renting the movie.

On Sunday we walked all around Brisbane. We went to the markets, which wehave in Sydney as well. It's basically just small, overly priced stuff, butwe did get three packages of strawberries for six bucks and then ate themthroughout the day. We took the City Cat, which is a water taxi, up and downthe Brisbane River and stopped at a pub for lunch and to people watch. Itried chips (French fries) with gravy...quite good actually. After that wewent to South Bank to a modern art gallery. Normally I'm not an art person,but there was some really cool stuff and Adam and I had some pretty in-depthconversations about the pieces. After that we walked around a bit throughthis archway of flowers. Pam- I've been told to pass along a message:"Aren't these beautiful?"

Once we parted ways, I met up with Sarah and a fewof her teammates (who beat us in the semis) for some delicious Subway andthen to a pub to watch part of the National Rugby League final. At least Ithink it was could have been union. Whichever the world cup isNOT. We got bored of that pretty quickly and headed back to Sarah's to watchTop Gun. I must say I've seen the movie a billion times but never all theway through due to conversations, boredom and getting distracted.

Yesterday Sarah joined me and Adam to the Australia Zoo (Steve Irwin's zoo).The stupid bus driver wouldn't wait for us as we were getting out tickets sowe hung out at a pub/casino until the train came. It was a long commute andit was so hot out. The zoo was pretty cool. It was mostly geared towardyounger kids, but it was Steve Irwin's zoo! We saw a fair amount ofcrocodiles. We fed some kangaroos who were pretty inactive. We also fed anelephant..kind of nasty and drooly. There were some nice memorials aroundthe zoo, and some great pictures of Steve and his family. Apparently hisdaughter, Bindi, was walking around somewhere. I bought a sweet wristbandbracelet that says "Crikey." That was kind of a necessity.

The way back fromthe zoo took forever. We hurried into the city to try to find thislecture/slideshow about this guy who climbed Everest and the like. We werejust on time and after banging on the front of the closed mountaineerbuilding, we found a back entrance. It was really cool and interesting. Whypeople risk their lives and die for climbing a sheet of ice is beyond me.Throughout the show though, my cold developed more and more so flying homethis morning was brutal.

Currently I'm drinking lots of tea since I'm leaving for Melbourne onThursday to visit a friend from home who's studying there. It was a reallycrazy and amazing week. I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but that's boundto happen with 10 days of ultimate-related activities. After playing unigames, any other ultimate won't be nearly as fun. I've improved a fair bitthough, so that's good.

I'll be home in just a bit more than two months. I can't believe it'sOctober already. Absolutely ridiculous!! If you've gotten this far in thee-mail, pat yourselves on the back. I just wrote for quite awhile.


to add to your dictionary:

get amongst it- get with it/go with the flow
have a go- have a turn
brekkie- breakfast
French fries- McDonald's fries (all others are chips)
Maccas- McDonald's
deks- pants/underweardekking- pantsing someone
hectic- crazy (not busy crazy, just crazy)