Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One Year Ago...

The time has come! My exams are finished, my last assignment turned in, and the last days of my first year in Australia are in full swing. Stress free and in company of old and new friends; it's the perfect end to a near perfect year- but I'm skipping ahead a bit- let's rewind a few weeks...

To say this last semester has been a struggle would be an understatement. Classes and coursework continually challenged me and final exams were no exception. After 2 weeks of migraine filled studying and late nights of cramming, I completed my final exam on the 28th.Naturally drinks and celebrations were necessary (as I said- we will celebrate nearly anything) and went out to a backpackers bar in the city stuffed full of other uni students celebrating the end of a stressful year.

My friend from back home in the states, Nick, has been studying this past semester in Fiji. His semester ended on the 25th and decided before he made his trek home, he would swing by Sydney and wait to fly home with me. I went to pick him up at the airport last Friday and enjoyed a full hour of watching emotional airport arrivals at the international terminal. At one point tears were rolling down my face as a father ran to greet his 3 young sons- the pure love and emotion was undeniable. Naturally, Nick and I made quite a scene as I yelled and ran to meet him at the gate.

Our week has been filled with many typical Sydney tourist sights and late nights of getting caught up on the past year of our lives. Between showing him my favorite restaurants (pancakes on the rocks and max brenner, of course!) and getting lost in the city due to my awful sense of direction, we have covered nearly every part of the city. We spent a rather full day wandering around Darling Harbor, Circular Quay, the Opera House, and the Royal Botanical Gardens. We topped off the late arvo by taking a ferry to Manly and having a drink while enjoying the sights of the locals ( I think it was just me who enjoyed the surfers...)

The Botanical Gardens

Nick eating at the infamous Max Brenner

As promised- and I would never break a promise to my loyal blog followers, Nick and I successfully went skydiving. After getting up at 4 am, making an hour trek into the city, and another 2 hour trek to North Wollongong, we arrived at the skydive station, put on the most attractive skydiving suits I have ever seen, got fitted for harnesses and then......waited for an hour for our instructors to come back from their previous jump. We then received instructions which I incoherently listened to as I was so nervous and then jumped in a van to make the 15 minute drive to the airport. Literally the longest 15 minutes of my life. We then crammed 16 people into a plane the size of my bedroom and soared up to 14,000 feet over the ocean. The plane door opens, and next thing I know, I am being shoved out of the airplane, in a pure freefall. I honestly cannot describe the feeling or the thoughts that were going through my head- it's only something you can experience to know how it feels. After the free fall, the parachute is  let loss and for about a minute I was floating above the most amazing views I have ever seen. The crashing ocean, the skyline, and city skyscrapers all mashed into a panoramic view. The adrenaline, amazement, and delayed nerves all came rushing to me and I was in total awe of what I had just done. If it wasn't so expensive to skydive, I would hop in the plane tomorrow and do it again. Best experience yet.

North Wollongong

As I prepare to go home for the holidays- it is a bittersweet time. I am more than excited to see my loved ones, and I know that I will be back to Sydney in a short two months, but I know that when I get back, Marianne, my Norwegian flatmate, will have returned to Norway permanently. The bond I have formed with my flatmates during this past year is indescribable and she will truly be missed by all the girls in the house. But, the silver lining- I now have a legitimate excuse to visit Norway- and it will happen in the near future!

Well, this is my last blog post of 2011 and of my first year in Sydney. It has been a great year filled with amazing experiences and wonderful people. Can't wait to see what 2012 brings!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

21 Celebrations

It has reached the month of November- I would normally be snuggling under a blanket, drinking a cup of steaming coffee, pulling out the winter gear, and adding an extra 20 minutes to my morning routine to scrape off my car. But in Sydney it's all about shorts and tank tops, tanning, and having my fan on full blast 24/7. To say I miss air conditioning is an understatement- my room is literally the temperature of an inferno. I suppose I shouldn't whinge too much since I will be back to the cold in the near future...

My regular classes are finished and study mode has commenced. Once again, I'm the last to finish exams, but I can't complain as a celebratory party is in the works straight after I finish. Can't believe my first year is about to be finished- only 2 more to go! I unfortunately took a peek at what my schedule has in store for next year-first year is going to seem like a breeze- lots of required classes and straight into the research aspect of sociology.

My weekends have been filled with 21st birthday celebrations. To say people go all out for this milestone is an understatement. The all important 21st is a huge occasion not to be left un-celebrated. I find it a bit strange as turning 21 in the states entitles you to legally drink, and is much cause for celebration, but here that right is given when you turn 18- so turning 21 does not really change a lot of things. I suppose partying is the aussie way- so any cause to celebrate is necessary.

I'll spare you the details on many of the parties, but the one "classy" party I attended was for my roomie Cleo. Her parents flew in for the occasion and provided a massive spread of food at Blackbird Cafe- a gorgeous restaurant overlooking Darling Harbor. I've mentioned blackbird before because it provides a perfect atmosphere and amazing food. Once again, we were there on a Saturday night and got to see the free Sydney fireworks display.

The countdown is on until my friend Nick arrives in Sydney from Fiji- a little under two weeks! Hopefully I will be a pro tourguide and show him the best of the city. I am especially excited for our extreme adventure- skydiving! Yes, you read right- on November 30th we will be jumping out of a plane at 14,000 feet. I'm absolutely excited now, but as the date approaches, I'm sure I will be terrified! I promise to provide a blog about his visit and of course our extreme adventure!

In honor of all the 21st celebrations happening and the closing of a wonderful year in my life, I thought I would  list 21 things that I have learned/discovered this year...

1. Winter is Sydney is actually winter- not even a true Iowan could survive it without heat!
2. Australian accents do no rub off on me- sadly my accent has rubbed off on my aussie mates...
3. Avocado is not just for guacamole- it goes with nearly everything- absolutely love it now!
4. Sweatpants are acceptable at American universities- and not acceptable under any condition here
5. An umbrella should be in your bag at all times
6. Celsius is my mortal enemy- I don't think I will ever understand it
7. I can cook more than packet pasta
8. It is cheaper to buy shoes online from the US and have them shipped here than to buy a pair of shoes in oz
9. When paying for the bus, always have exact change- drivers are not too fond of 20 dollar notes
10. Simply telling someone you're American skews their view of you, however...
11. Being American gets you free drinks (if you're female that is)
12. Travelling opens your mind- and makes you want to see every corner of the world (Greece July 2012!)
13. Leaving those you love makes you love them even more
14. Skype makes everyone look unattractive- especially since all my Skype sessions occurred right after I had rolled out of bed
15. Napping is just not for old people- the younger generation needs a rest too
16. Flying domestic in Australia is the best- all the liquids you want in your carry on and not taking off my shoes- yes please!
17. Though pay in Australia is high, the cost of living is higher-hello employment!
18. Remember Old Navy flip flops and how perfect they were? Haviana flip flops- or thongs- are 10 times better
19. Living with 4 other girls is not a disaster when you have your own bathroom
20. When in doubt of correct aussie spelling- just add an unnecessary 'u' after any 'o'
21. The future always looks bright when you're in a place you love

Thursday, October 20, 2011

T- minus 45 days

I know I say this nearly every post- but time really does fly! It's the 20th of October- nearly the 21st in a few minutes and I will be flying back to Iowa in 45 days. Assessments turned in, exams completed, and a fresh Sydney tan to complete the year. But let's not skip ahead too fast- here's a few more tidbits on the happenings of October...

We have been a bit of a social house these past few weeks- for a while it was as if we had disappeared off the map.  A mate of all the girls in the house was celebrating her birthday and splurged for a pent house suite apartment for the night. Located on the 73rd floor, ceiling to floor windows offered the most magnificent views of Sydney. The harbor bridge, lights of George Street, and the ocean were included in the panoramic view. The apartment itself was gorgeous, but the views it offered were priceless. Unfortunately we couldn't spend the whole time there, so we naturally went out and had a good time like all uni students know how to do.

The following day a mate and I went on a Catamaran and cruised around Darling harbor for 5 hours. The day was absolutely gorgeous and once again, I got a second chance to take in the views of the ocean and the city. I had never experienced a boat cruise before, but it's definitely something I am keen to do again. Good people, drinks, and music were the perfect combination for the day.

The noodle market is next on our list of excursions. A two week event held in Hyde Park; the noodle market is rows and rows of Thai, Chinese, dumplings, gelato, and many other scrumptious bites. I would compare it to a marathon of eating- start slow and keep going steady. Everything smelled so good and I wanted to have a bite of everything. Going in a group was great because everyone tried everyone else's food so you had a taste of everything. The pad thai, chicken dumplings, and passion fruit chili ice cream were my favorites of the night. So many unique flavors- there was something for everyone! We decided we needed to hit food festivals more often. There's live music, a great atmosphere, and ridiculously cheap food. Everything a poor uni student dreams of!

On a more serious note, these past few weeks have had me really thinking about my journey to Australia and my experiences while here. To say it was a rough road getting to where I am today would be an understatement. I am not for sure if those experiences made me a stronger person, but I am sure that my time here has changed me into someone I want to be. Feeling at peace, at home (sorry mum) is the best gift I could give myself. Moving here gave me that feeling- something I never want to lose. My point in all the emotional rambling is I needed inspiration to kick start my motivation and drive to do something with my life. That inspiration came from a variety of sources but to all who read this (which may only be 2...) be inspired. I want everyone to have the feeling I had when I first moved here and still possess. You all supported me through my worst and best. Passing on the love and inspiration is only a small thank you, but know I want you all to be inspired to do whatever makes you happy, feel whole.

I feel like I should end this on a comical note, but nothing is coming to me. You'll hear back from me soon with more ramblings!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

So long September

Hello All! As I woke up this morning and looked at my calendar, I realized time has flown by and we are nearing the end of September. Which means...1. I'm on mid semester break 2. About 6 weeks of uni left 3. two months until I'm back for the holidays. Thought my loyal blog followers deserved an update- not sure how exciting it will be, but I'll do my best to liven it up!

Uni life...

We'll start with the boring basics. Still trudging along with uni. Since most of my classes are interrelated and in the same faculty, the majority of assessment and paper due dates are within a few days of each either. My first batch of papers was accompanied with many study breaks. Luckily I received a package in the mail with Twizzlers and a season of Entourage to assist my procrastination (Thanks mom and dad!) And right before break I had a second batch of assessments-the dreaded mid-term. But I made it through and am now relaxing in the gorgeous Sydney spring weather.

Another Iowan

Before coming to Macquarie, I met someone through my dad's church that had attended Macquarie for a semester abroad. I found out a few weeks ago that she had decided to move to Sydney and work here for a bit. Of course, we had to meet up as it's not everyday two people from small town Iowa are in Sydney at the same time. After a nice dinner (cookies and cream pancakes- amazing!) I took Kristine back through the uni campus and we came to the conclusion that not much has changed. It was fun hearing about her adventures while on exchange and comparing our experiences.

Conception Day

No worries- it is definitely not what it sounds like! Conception Day is an annual music festival on campus celebrating the founding of our university. It is a legendary day and I have been hearing about it since the day I moved to Sydney. To give you the PG  blog version- the day is started with breakfast made by the village and beverages...and is then continued by party hopping from house to house in the village, all the while still enjoying some adult beverages. Later in the afternoon, everyone trudges to the uni and enjoys some free music by bands that I had never heard of. After the festival, the parties go late into the night. Needless to say, it's a full day event followed by some much needed recovery the following day. Luckily, I have two appropriate pictures to share with you all!

And yes- Conception Day did live up to its status of legendary. A day filled with good friends, good music, and some memories...

Gold Coast 

As it is customary during breaks, a holiday is necessary. Since Bali took a large chunk of change, we decided a short trip to the Gold Coast would be appropriate. Jeannie, Ally, and I headed up to Goldie for a short trip. I had heard so much about the Coast but didn't really know what to expect. After being there for a short 3 days, I absolutely love it. The perfect location and atmosphere; it's typical Australia. We filled our days with shopping and lounging on the beach and made sure to experience the nightlife. Good food, great atmosphere, and even better friends; it was a great trip that I soon won't forget.

The "rapist van" we drove around in

Getting ready to go out

The gorgeous coast

So now I'm back in Sydney with another week of uni holidays left. I should fill my ample free time with getting a head start on assignments, but the pool and all my fall premiere tv shows are calling my name.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Back to School! Back to School!

Unfortunately the time has come for uni to begin again. Something about second semester makes it very difficult to get back into the swing of things. After being alone in the house for the majority of the last few weeks of break, my flatmates returned and we spent ample time catching up with each other and replaying our holiday adventures. After hearing about their treks in Greece, Spain, and New Zealand, I now have many places added to my list of travel plans. After many celebrations of being reunited and relishing every last minute of break- my alarm woke me up bright and early Monday morning (ok 10 am...) and I made the dreaded walk back to the lecture hall; notebook and pen in hand.

I am surprisingly excited about most of this semester's classes. I am taking Human Evolution and diversity, intro to anthropology, sociology of everyday life, and economy and society. Unfortunately economy and society is a required for my major- after attending the first lecture I decided I was really taking econ 101- we'll see how well that class goes. I suppose you have to have one dreaded class each semester.

Naturally, it couldn't be back to school week without a back to school party hosted by our friendly neighborhood uni bar. Adorned in back to school costumes we brought in the new semester with a bang. Unfortunately, no pictures were taken to document this momentous event- but I can assure all of you, we celebrated safely and responsibly...

As I mentioned in previous posts, I am officially an employed uni student (finally!) I started work at our second hand text book store on campus last week and thoroughly enjoyed my experience. I discovered our official looking staff uniforms inspire students to ask me many questions about the university, campus, and other administrative details- sadly the biggest help I could be was to give them poor directions to various buildings on campus. I can't complain about the job, as it buys my groceries and pays my bills!

Now that I am an employed student, I thought I deserved a night out in the city to de-stress and forget about work- first weeks are always difficult right?? Actually, we just wanted a girl's night out to have some fun and get out of the village. And we discovered a secret bar! Called Grandma's Bar, it's a hidden place stowed away in the basement of a guitar store. After a difficult half an hour walking around in heels trying to find the place, we finally spotted it and entered into a world of rocking chairs, faded wallpaper, and knitted scarves. Cocktails are served in mugs, rocking chairs replace bar stools, and knitting supplies are set around tables where patrons are welcome to have a go at knitting. Of course, we fell in love with the place and spent way too much money on drinks- but we felt we deserved it!

Enough of my ramblings- I need to attempt to do my readings for class....  Stay tuned for more updates. I will try to liven up my life to create some blog worthy details!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Family Time!

A day after I got back from holidays, my cousin Tawnya who lives in Melbourne, my aunt and uncle, and two of their friends came to Sydney for a few days. They had been visiting Tawnya in Melbourne and couldn't pass up the opportunity to see me (or the city...) Fortunately the weather was amazing while they were here as it can be a bit difficult during winter. After meeting them at Darling Harbour, we took the ferry out to Manly to look around the shops and have lunch. Tawnya and I took them to the restaurant we ate at when I first arrived- the place with the infamous nachos! After taking the ferry back to the harbour, we walked to the Opera House where they went to the Opera Bar and I headed back home.

On the second day, we went to Bondi and trekked from Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach- possibly the best views of Sydney. Again, the weather was absolutely gorgeous along with the views the walk offered. This was my first time in Bondi and after visiting, I decided I wanted to live there after I'm done with uni (yes this does mean I'm considering staying) Bondi has a very laid back feel- definitely beach culture. As we walked from Bondi to Coogee, I could just imagine myself running the same trail every morning.

After seeing the group off that afternoon, I had a few days to relax and then it was off to Melbourne to spend a few days with Tawnya and Aunt Jill. When booking flights, I thought it would be a great idea to book a 7 am flight- never doing that again. After arriving, Jill and I went to the Vic market to look around and do some shopping- well she did some shopping- I was too tired to look. By 3 in the afternoon, I was dead tired, so we went back to Tawnya's apartment and waited for her to come home from work. The next day, Jill and I headed to South Melbourne. We first walked along the pier at St. Kilda and had brekkie at a cute restaurant at the end of the pier. Unfortunately the birds got to us, so we quickly left after we were done eating.

St. Kilda Pier

We headed off to South Melbourne- my main goal of the day was to introduce Aunt Jill to Max Brenner- the best chocolate restaurant. She thoroughly enjoyed it and I of course did too. After looking around and doing some shopping, we called it a day and went back to St. Kilda. We were very proud of ourselves for navigating Melbourne's tram system and not getting lost all day (thanks to Tawnya's two pages of directions!) That night we went back to the pier to see the penguins come in from feeding. Unfortunately we had just missed them, but it was still fun to see the pier at night.

Saturday was spent going into the city- or "into town" as Aunt Jill referred to it- to see the laneways. Off the main streets are alley ways packed with shops and restaurants. One particular laneway boasted graffit covering every inch (or cenimeter...) of the walls. Walls are constantly being repainted. In fact, while we were there, an artist was spray paining one of the sections.

Sunday was spent going to the South Melbourne market then lounging around all day- something Tawnya needed after being a tour guide for the past two weeks! Melbourne is a really great city, and it was amazing to finally see another part of Australia. Although, I have to say I prefer Sydney to Melbourne. I think if I lived in Melbourne, I would gain about 20 kilos- the food there is so good! Especially the sweets- cupcakes and macaroons.

I have about 2 weeks left of break, then uni starts back up. Stay tuned for second semester!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Holiday in Bali!

Hello all! I've been waiting to write this blog as I knew I would have so much to tell you all! First, I have officially completed half a year of university! After finishing up classes, I had three weeks off to "study" for my exams. Unfortunately I was the last person in the house to finish my exams so this made focusing a bit difficult. I finished up on the 21st of June and at 5 am the next morning, Ally and I were jetting off to Bali for a two week holiday. Being an international uni student, it is nearly a requirement that you travel as everyone goes home for the month break or travels to different places. We thought Bali would be the perfect place to get away from the cold and just relax after the first semester of uni.

After a long flight- our flight path was a bit strange as the airline sent us to Singapore first then back to Indonesia-we made it off the plane and to our luggage. These two men who looked like airport officials immediately came up to us, led us to our luggage, and helped us through customs and security. We thought this was nice but didn't think much of it as they looked like officials. As soon as we got out of the airport, they demanded we gave them money or they would keep our luggage. Apparently they prey on naive looking tourists (us) to get some money. We only had large sums of aussie dollars and were forced to give them $20 Aussie dollars which is equal to around 200,000 rupiah- an amount that could probably buy 6 large meals. We immediately decided we were going to be hassled a lot and had to be a bit more cautious.

Our first week was spent in Legian- Near Kuta, the heart of Bali . Our hotel was amazing and we received a free room upgrade since we checked in very late- still doesn't make sense but we didn't complain! Our room had a private balcony that overlooked a river and offered beautiful views in the morning- if we made it up in time to see.

Ally and I wanted to make sure we spent plenty of time relaxing by the pool and beach- we had just completed a stressful semester of uni! But we managed to drag ourselves away from the water and do a lot of touristy stuff around Bali. Our first adventure was driving up to Ubud, having breakfast on a volcano, and then taking a  2 1/2 hour bike tour around the town. We stopped at a family compound and toured that, drove through a rice paddy- where I fell in- and saw the back roads of the city. Our tour guide had so much information about the culture of Bali and we really enjoyed this.

Breakfast on the volcano

A rice paddy

Our next activity was visiting an interactive zoo. We were most excited about this, but after going out the night before and getting stuck in a 3 hour traffic jam, the trip quickly turned sour. After taking a ride through the "safari" to see different animals, we spent an hour in line waiting to hold a baby orangutan- definitely worth the wait. I then convinced Ally to hold a python- she is deathly afraid of snakes. Last, we fed and petted a mother elephant and her baby.

Our next adventure was to Uluwatu to see the famous temple and see the sunset. We were warned there were many monkeys wandering around that liked to take loose items from tourists- and they would also jump on you. The views were absolutely gorgeous as the sun set over the ocean. The temple provided the perfect spot to see it. Unfortunately the monkeys really got to us and we left shortly after sunset.

Our last adventure of the trip was whitewater rafting on the Ayung river- filled with class 3+ rapids- we wanted the adventure! This was probably my favorite activity we did in Bali. For 3 hours we fought our way through the river- encountering minor problems...Ally and I were placed with a couple from Australia. The man was a bit on the bigger side and at one point, got flipped over on his back on top of Ally and me when we hit a rock. We later compared him to a turtle stuck on his back who couldn't get flipped back around. Our tour guide had a good laugh over the whole scene.

Our trip to Bali was two weeks and we wanted to stay two different places to see more of the country. Our second week was spent in Nusa Dua. Nusa Dua is known for its resorts and beaches as it is far away from the hustle of Kuta. It was nice to see a different part of the country and get away from the city, but we quickly realized it was a bit inconvenient when we wanted to go out at night- our cab rides were a bit pricey! While in Nusa Dua we took the water and went jet skiing and snorkeling. Our jet ski instructors really hated us by the end as Ally and I just wanted to race instead of listening to their instructions. We also visited Dreamland beach- a surfers paradise. My plan was to try and surf, but the tide was extremely high and the surf was really rough, so I guess I will have to save that for sometime else. We enjoyed laying out and adding to our tans.

View from our resort in Nusa Dua

After spending a week in luxury, it was time to head back home. We really enjoyed our time in Bali, but we were ready to get back to our own beds, normal food, and drinkable tap water.

A few things we noticed about Bali:
1. The swastika is everywhere. We learned on our bike tour in has to do with their Hindu religion
2. Spirituality is very prevalent in Bali. Religion is highly respected and nearly every aspect of their lives revolves around religion
3. Only Australians go to Bali- I was a bit of celebrity being from the states
4. Vendors will do about anything to sell you their products. After the first day I was tired of having to yell "no thank you!" as I walked down the street
5. Many Asians asked to take pictures with Ally and I. A couple times we caught them snapping pictures of us without asking
6. Balinese food is very bland- it mostly consists of fried rice. That got old quickly
7. Bintang is literally the only beer sold in Bali- once again, that got old quickly

After returning from paradise back to reality, I was offered a job at the campus store- and of course I quickly accepted! I will start the first week in August as a sales representative at the store. The made me and my depleted bank account very happy.

This post is getting a bit long so I will wrap it up. Coming very soon- my aunt and uncle's visit to Sydney and my visit to Melbourne to see my aunt and cousin!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Nearing the end of semester

Yes, I have been slacking on my blogging- but for a very good reason. Seems as if the second half of semester is much busier than the first. Papers and exams have taken over my life! But I have managed to fit in a few exciting events:

Familiar Faces
When I first found out I was moving to Sydney, suddenly a lot of connections from Iowa started popping up. A member of the church congregation has a daughter that moved to Sydney last October. Sarah and her boyfriend and I finally met up during the last part of my break to meet each other. Its always nice to see someone from back home- even if its thousands of miles away! The company was great and we had a great time comparing Australia to the States. We ate at a restaurant called Pancakes on the Rocks. Hands down the best crepes and pancakes I have ever had. Chocolate pancakes with strawberries and creme topped my meal off for dessert- definitely a recommendation for anyone who comes to visit! My flatmate Ally joined us for our lunch (I needed her excellent navigational skills!) It was a gorgeous day and we walked around the harbor afterwards

My new best friend

The aboriginal's performing

Tawnya visits Sydney

My cousin Tawnya trekked back to Sydney with a few of her friends from Minnesota. I stayed with them on their first day in Sydney. Unfortunately, mother nature did not cooperate and it was rainy and cold for the majority of the day. But we didn't let that stop us and decided to go to Paddington Market- another must do in Sydney. The market is full of lots of vendors that sell everything from jewelry and clothes to handmade dishes and chocolate (so good!) I decided I'm definitely going back before I leave for some Christmas gifts! After that we went back to their motel and rested a bit before we went out for the night. We went to the Rocks- the oldest area in Sydney- but known for its bars. I decided Tawnya and her friends can still party like they are in college!

The Weather...

Sadly the warm weather is long gone and the cold has arrived. Sydney is lucky enough to be having an early winter- I think I brought Iowa's weather with me! When I first arrived I told everyone, "I've survived many Iowa winters, I can get through a little cold in Sydney." I was completely wrong- the cold here is much different and the houses we live in have zero insulation or heat. So I have pulled out my blankets and boots and scarves. It's going to be a long winter- but luckily I will be in Bali for part of it! We officially booked our trip and I cannot wait to get finals over with and get on the plane (we leave the morning after I finish my tests- don't know if that was a good idea??) When I return to Sydney, I'll get to see more familiar faces when Tawnya visits again with my Aunt and Uncle. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Holiday Break

Hello All! It's been a while since I have updated my blog- but I don't know if anything blog worthy has happened in a while! (Or things that I would want my family to read...) I survived midterms and my first two papers. The grading scale is much different from the states as it goes: High Distinction (HD) Distinction (D) Credit (C) Pass (P) and Fail (F) I never thought I would be so excited to see a D+ marking on my paper!

Holiday break started this past Monday. I've learned it is very necessary to go somewhere over breaks as all is very quiet in the village. Although I have 4 papers to write, I can't seem to get the motivation to begin writing them. The weather has been gorgeous and it seems like a crime to hole up in my room when I could be outdoors enjoying what's left of the nice Fall weather.

I have some exciting travel plans coming up. During my semester break in July, my flatmate and I are planning on going to Bali for a few weeks for some sun and relaxation. I'm very excited to travel to another new country and experience their culture! In September, a friend of mine will be studying abroad in Fiji so my plan is to go visit him during our mid semester break.

Between my studying and nights of going out, I have been on the job hunt. I've learned that it is not easy competing with the many other uni students looking for jobs. Keep your fingers crossed that something works out soon!

Our latest theme at the college bar was superhero night- never before have I seen so much spandex. From Avatar to a Transformer- every superhero was there. I borrowed a costume from my flatmate and went as superman- I even had a cape! Here are a few photos from the night:

Last weekend I attended my first ever music festival. And I discovered festivals are not my thing. Lots of crowds and standing around in tight spaces (I sound like my mother...) It was a good experience but I'll save my money for something else!

Ally, Sharan, and I at the music festival

Next week Tawnya, my cousin is coming to Sydney again with some of her friends. I'm excited to see her do some typical Sydney tourism things.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Destination: Procrastination

You all should be very happy that Uni is in full swing and I am finding any way to procrastinate. I have even washed my sheets and semi- picked up my room. As promised- I have long delayed pictures of my fabulous apartment. I really enjoy living here (except there's no air conditioning) and have come to call it my home.

Possibly my most prized accomplishment- a full cupboard

The seldom used eating area

The kitchen

Our living room/common area

My messy bedroom

Again...But notice the decorated bulletin board!

That is my apartment in a nutshell- I believe it's the nicest college accommodation I have ever seen- no shared bedrooms or bathrooms!

I have a few updates and stories to share with you- I realized my blog may become a bit boring as I am trying to be a good student and focus on my studies!  I finally made it to the dentist and got my retainer glued back in. I had about a 15 minute walk to the dentist from my apartment and as I was stopped at a very busy intersection waiting to cross the street, a middle aged Indian man starts to make polite conversation. I responded with quick answers but was very distracted because I was running late to my appointment. The next thing I know, he has asked me out for the weekend and I am left speechless- instead of responding I pretend to take a phone call and have a one sided conversation with myself the rest of the way to the dentist. That should teach me never to talk to strangers!

My first package from the states arrived today and I could not be more excited- it felt like Christmas morning when I opened the box! I finally received clothes that I ordered a month before I left the states (although it is now turning too cold for most of them- guess I need to do some more online shopping!) I also received some necessities- band aids (for my now infected feet) bobby pins (they are ridiculously expensive here!) and reusable shopping bags. And to my surprise I received some extra goodies- Twizzlers and a book I've been waiting to read. The other day in the mail I also received some recipes from home- although I have yet to cook them!

Yesterday was Toga Night at Ubar and I am glad I experienced the stereotypical college toga party (although we were legally drinking.) It was a very fun night, and I discovered making a toga is a lot harder than it seems.

Before toga party (the middle one is my flatmate Ally)

All in all, I have really started to feel finally settled and in my element. I have become very close to the girls in my apartment and am truly grateful to them for showing me the ropes. I am beginning to learn the very fine tuned balance of uni, study, and social-although I think social will always outweigh the others!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Just an Update

Hello All, as I promised, I am going to do a better job of keeping you informed. And I realized- updating my blog is just another way of procrastinating from all those pesky readings and assessments I need to do. Oh don't you miss the college life? I'm going to back track a bit to the first week I got here. I finally found my camera amongst the clutter that has covered my room and discovered that I actually have some photos to share!

What the weather was like 2 days before I left...

The weather 2 days after I arrived at Manly Beach

As you can see- I'm not missing the Iowa weather, but sadly, it is turning a bit cold here and I am in need of the cold weather items I left at home! I also have a few pictures of the Harbor Bridge and my cousin Tawnya and I in front of the beautiful scenery...

And lastly, I had to get a picture with the name of my school (Does this count as the annual first day of school picture mom??)

It has been quite an eventful week as I have experienced a lot of unexpected problems. My computer crashed and I luckily had internet on my phone so I could find a tech expert nearby to come and fix it. It ended up being quite easy, but my bank account is a little lighter because of it! A few days later I was eating a carrot and ended up breaking off my permanent retainer. I still have yet to fix this problem, but I have found a dentist near by! 

This past weekend my flat mates and I went into the city to attend a going away party for a friend. The restaurant, Black Bird Cafe is set right on Darling Harbor and had amazing views of the city. The food was delicious- entrĂ©es, cocktails, and dessert (needless to say I hit the gym the next day.) Sydney was also celebrating Marti Gras that day and because of the celebration, a huge fireworks display was shot off right in front of the restaurant we were at. The fireworks were amazing, and I was told that the display was nothing compared to what Sydney does for New Years. Afterwards we went to the casino for a bit (no worries- I did not gamble.) I just wanted to go because I was finally legal! Although I find when asked for an I.D. to get into a bar or casino, the bouncers look very confused with my Iowa license- I don't think they believe it's a real I.D. 

I had to learn my lesson the hard way about wearing heels in the city. Our trek involved lots of walking, and the next morning, I woke up with what looked like battle wounds all over my feet. I won't go into detail- but it's very disgusting and I'm definitely going to think twice about my choice of shoes next time! 

Tonight, we went to a chocolate restaurant called Max Brenner. Everyone in my apartment is addicted, and when one person craves it, suddenly everyone else does! Words cannot describe how good the chocolate is. I had a chocolate lava cake with molten chocolate in the middle- the best dessert I have ever had! Once again, I'm going to have to hit the gym. 

I have finally begun to test my cooking skills. After a full trip to the grocery store, my cupboards are stocked with cooking essentials and I have meat in the freezer ( I was basically a vegetarian for the first few weeks) I am not much of a chef, but have been craving a lot of meals from home. So far I have mastered sausage and am working my way up to Parmesan chicken. I have yet to burn the apartment down with our gas stove- although I have come close a few times! 

A few randoms for you:

I experienced the pain of paying for laundry last week- not something I'm looking forward to doing again in the very near future.

Ubar (the bar on campus) is notorious for its themed parties. Last week was pajama themed, this week it's toga party. I am very excited as I feel like it's every college students goal to go to a toga party

I started my small group tutorials last week and have almost all Australians in them- I find it makes discussions very interesting and I have already learned so much about their way of life and how they were raised

I have a bad habit of getting coffee every morning. Not only are the sizes much smaller than in the states, but the prices are much higher. I made myself feel better by getting a punch card...Only 9 more coffees to go to receive a free one!

Well I supposed I should hit the books and do at least one productive thing today. Stay tuned for more updates!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

So...I actually have to study?

It's been awhile since my first post and I've been getting some nagging from home, so I'm here to fill you in on my classe and what I've been up to the last few weeks.

I had enrolment, registration, and orientation this past week. I was told before coming this process would be very easy and I would have lots of help-whoever told me that was completely wrong! After being shuffled from building to building and standing in infinite lines, I finally filled out my proposed classes form and learned how to fill out a timetable. I just needed to get my advisor's signature and I would be good to go. Unfortunately since my major of sociology is apparently very rare, my academic advisor decided to take the day off. After walking across campus multiple times and getting lost, I convinced a professor to sign off on my sheet. By the time I got this done, most of the times I wanted for classes were completely full so I had to do a bit of revising- and I still have not completely figured out my class schedule. International orientation was up next-it was interesting to say the least. I have never seen so many Asians in my life. Most of them just spoke their native languages to one another and ignored anyone else- but I got a free meal out of the day!

I am taking four classes this semester- 12 credit points. For each class I have one or two large lectures and a small group tutorial. The classes I am taking are: Intro to Social Science, Drugs Across Cultures, Intro to Linguistics, and Australia and Global Societies: An intro to sociology. My schedule ended up working out well. I have classes on Monday through Wednesday and Friday. Wednesday is Ranch Night ( college bar near by) so it works out well not having class on Thursday! (Sorry parents...)

I am still learning the Australian way and slowly but surely feeling more settled. To say I haven't missed everyone from home would be a lie, but I'm having a great time here and am so happy I decided to come. I received a letter from home at the beginning of this week and it reminded me of how much support I have back home.

I'm quickly learning that a job is highly necessary. I've completed my resume and have some connections through my flatmates at some local stores, so fingers crossed something works out! I joined the gym this week and realized I now have no excuse to be lazy! I paid enough for the membership so I might as well get something out of it!

Some Randoms:
- Australia has assigned seating at the movie theatre. When you receive your ticket, it gives you a seat...the people I went with thought it was strange that America didn't have this!

- Realized I need to change my spelling of some words- apparently most professors don't like seeing American spelling in papers

- My flatmates think its strange I eat sandwiches with peanut butter and jam on it- I told them it's the American way!

I'm going to try and do a better job of keeping you all informed- I've had a lot of nagging and hints dropped from Mom about updating my blog. I'll try and get some pictures up soon of my apartment and campus etc.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I finally have my Internet connected, so I can update all of you on my first 3 days in Australia. I happened to arrive on the hottest day Sydney has had since 2004. 108 degrees. When I left home it was about 5 degrees and covered in snow- so it was quite a shock when I stepped off the plane in jeans and a sweatshirt! After getting through security I went to get my bags- all 4 of them. It was quite a workout getting all of my suitcases off the luggage carousel. When I walked out of international arrivals, Tawnya was there to greet me- and take a picture of all my bags. After a quick change into cooler clothes, we got a taxi and found our way to check into my apartment. We found the apartment, showered, and then headed off to get some things for my room. Hopefully I can remember what all we did the rest of the weekend- Tawnya kept me very busy!

The rest of Saturday was spent walking (a lot) and seeing the sights of Sydney. The Opera House and Harbor Bridge looked amazing lit up during the night. We found a restaurant and had some wine and pizza- Yes I can finally legally drink! But after about half a glass I was exhausted and nearly fell asleep at the dinner table.

On Sunday we headed back into the city to go para sailing. A train and ferry ride later, we found out we needed a reservation. So we decided to make the best of the day and go to beach near Manly. After soaking up some sun and getting into the refreshing water, we ate lunch and had drinks at the Manly Wharf Hotel. For dinner we met up with some of Tawnya's friends. I had a great time hearing about all of her world travels! Unfortunately my jet lag caught up with me again and I barely made it through dinner.

Monday we headed back to Manly to go para sailing. Tawnya and I have had this plan since we went to Mexico in 2006- para sailing over Sydney was much better than para sailing anywhere in the Midwest! We forgot to tell them that we didn't want to get wet, so we got soaked and nearly fell out of our harnesses when we hit heads. That night Tawnya flew back to Melbourne and I was left to go grocery shopping and find my way back to my apartment (quite a feat with my directional sense) Grocery shopping was quite an adventure as I didn't know where anything was or what type of foods they had. No worries- I found what I needed and took the right bus back to my apartment.

Things I've learned since arriving:

-Public transportation is an essential- I really need to figure out all the different stops!
-Sydney has 4 seasons in one day. The weather changes very quickly here so I now always carry an umbrella
-Ketchup is called tomato sauce- and tomato is not pronounced how we say it
-At crosswalks, I now need to really look in both directions because I always forget which way the cars are going to be coming
-Grape jam or jelly does not exist

Up next- Orientation week and classes!