Thursday, 12 September 2013

Halfway there

After my midterm exam in my Intro to Asia Class tomorrow, I will officially be halfway through my semester abroad.
What better way to celebrate this milestone than by going to the beach three of the last four days?
Top 2 beaches I've been to so far on the Gold Coast, Burleigh Heads (about an hr bus ride but probably a 25 minute car trip campus) was quiet and peaceful with a really cool town. The town center even had a bowling club...that's right, cricket!
From Burleigh beach you could see Surfer's Paradise, the closest city to campus, and it looked like Oz in the Wizard of Oz. Too bad it wasn't green.
The weather is starting to get hot enough that at the beach, its hard to not be in the crystal clear and warm water, and during the night it's warm enough to walk around sans sweatshirt. Summer all year round for me, and I agree with it.
Today I went stand up paddle boarding, or as the Healys often refer to it, SUPing, at a beach called Currumbin. We paddled up and down an isolated bay, then rode the current back. It was relaxing, yet quite the workout. There were lots of paths from the bay to the open ocean and I really hope to go back so I can explore them. A couple of my friends jumped off this bridge, but I abstained. You're welcome dad.

Apparently there's a rock pool with a water fall and quarry around there too, but in order to make the bus back in time to study for my test tonight (which I'm clearly doing right now) I skipped out on that trip.
All in all, the first half of this experience has been indescribably wonderful. I couldn't be more glad for this opportunity, which I thought about for awhile today as I was paddling through those unbelievably clear waters surrounded by cool wildlife, especially pelicans.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Street cred

10 things I have learned about getting used to life in Australia.
1. All money is both brightly colored and tear/water proof. It's indestructible! $1 and $2 coins are also forms of currency.

2. Not only do people drive on the left side of the road, but they also keep to the left side of the sidewalk/hallway/staircase. Can't explain how many awkward encounters I've had with other pedestrians.
3. Toilet water does indeed spin the other way. Bathroom doors also have instructions on how to use toilets like this one...
4. Music videos play anywhere and everywhere. Australians love to see the music they're listening to I guess! On a screen at a club, at a kebab kiosk on the side of the road, in stores, on planes, even at the gym. Here's a Missy Elliot video from probably 2005 playing in a clothing store.

5. You get picked out in class as "that American" when you raise your hand after the teacher asks who completed the reading assignment for class that day.
6. Most public bathrooms do not provide soap to wash your hands with, hand sanitizer is necessary!
7. Public outdoor grills are everywhere for general use in outdoor spaces.
8. An Australian accent may not be the best voice to listen to when taking a relaxing yoga class.
9. The cheapest, most prevalent form of alcohol is boxed wine, which is called Goon. It comes in silvery bags, a goon sack. One is pictured here, in the background.

10 It is not uncommon to walk through the campus bar between 10 and 11 am and see people sharing pitchers of beer and playing pool. 10AM!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

42 Wallaby Way

I was pretty disappointed when I found that 42 Wallaby Way, the legendary address of P. Sherman who is the dentist in Finding Nemo, was not a real place.
However, Sydney was so fantastic that I quickly got over it.
I experienced my first true "hostel" experience, as the one that I stayed in was one step up from the streets, with a broken elevator (my room was on the 11th floor), ants in the sink and worse shower pressure than at Charina Rd. This really didn't matter, as I probably spent about 8 hours a day there, which were all while I was sleeping.

Day 1, Thursday we arrived late and got ready quickly before heading to Ivy, a club with three floors and a rooftop pool. I danced my face off and managed to avoid the pool, though my friend did unfortunately slip off of the step she was standing on and fall in. Highlight of the night was probably seeing a girl from Skidmore walking down the street at night. Such a small world and it gets even smaller.

When I finally got to the Harbor area on Friday, I couldn't believe how beautiful it was. I got goosebumps when I saw the opera house! It's a really neat place with musicians playing along the street. There was even a token aboriginal man wearing body paint playing a digerido with a techno beat in the background. I sat in a botanical garden with an incredible view of the beach, then my friends and I got drinks at the Opera House Bar, where we sat right on the harbor taking in how amazing it was.
It sounds weird but being there is what really made me feel like I was in Australia. I found myself thinking about how lucky I am to have this opportunity to study abroad in such as wonderful place.

Thanks mom and dad!

I went to an AFL game on Friday night at Sydney Olympic stadium.
The AFL atmosphere was really cool and the fans got super excited but I found the game almost boring. It's really fast paced which is fun to watch but there is little action. Even still, I really enjoyed it.
The olympic park was awesome too.

My friends and I got tricked into thinking that we were actually going to the real Sydney Zoo, but we ended up only getting tickets to a small walkthrough wildlife park. It was pretty standard except for a cool looking koala who was passed out in a tree.

For our last night out, my friends and I went back to the Opera House Bar and had dinner by the Harbor. Seeing the opera house lit up and the bridge across the harbor was amazing. We sat on the steps and even walked up to touch the opera house.
We then went to Kings Cross, a different part of the city, and found a cool club with a zebra striped piano on the dancefloor. I lost my voice from screaming to Wake Me Up by Avicii, which has become a token song of Australia, since they play it literally everywhere.
I also realized how lucky I am to have such awesome friends here too, as we spent our time on the dancefloor in a circle just dancing with each other.

For the last day we climbed one of the bridge pylons and looked out over the harbor. The view was indescribable. And an awesome way to end such a fantastic weekend. Even though I realized that I think I'm afraid of heights. I had huge butterflies the whole time I was climbing the stairs.

This week I turned in my first two assignments, officially signalling that I am halfway through my semester here. Definitely not ready to leave, but looking forward to going to Bali in a few weeks for spring break, then Melbourne and hopefully New Zealand.

Penthouse pool at Ivy

Some cool street art

The opera house was really heavy...

Taking a snooze in a tree

Sydney Olympic park. This is where the Olympic torch was held

Navigating the zebra striped piano

An awesome view of the bridge from the garden