Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Last day

Well it's finally down to my last day in Australia. Nichole and I have been staying at Charlie's house in Sydney this past week and a bunch of us went out last night. We didn't get back until two this morning, so hopefully I'll do a lot of sleeping on the plane. The place we went to was over the Harbor Bridge, so now I've officially driven over it, taken a train, bus and walked it!

Yesterday, I spent quite awhile doing laundry and trying to get my bags down to 23 kilos. It's not happening. There's no way I can get lower than 25. Our plan is to pick a line with a male attendant and do some sweet-talking at the airport. Just kidding...

The past week has been bittersweet, but I'm pretty excited to get back and see everyone. I'll start where I left off...

Last Thursday, I went to see Transformers. To know nothing about the plot beforehand, I was pretty satisfied. Saturday, I left Bathurst with a few dormies. It was nice to leave the dorm, but a little sad leaving everyone.
Monday, I went to see a frisbee tournament in Sydney because the CSU team was playing and that night, Pete and I went to dinner (I finally got the baked potato I've been craving!) and walked around Darling Harbor...BEAUTIFUL. One of those "I could live here" moments. The Opera House was lit up and there were all these lights bouncing off the water and fountains everywhere. We also saw two street performers that day: one was juggling fire and one was playing the flute. On the way back, we got a little lost and everyone kept telling us to go a different way...even the cabbies. We eventually found our way back.

The next morning, we went to another frisbee game and then to the airport to see him off. Wednesday, my classmate from Media Ethics, Adam, gave me a tour around Sydney. We went to Bondi Beach where they film Bondi Rescue and then to a cliff lookout where a guy was about to play his guitar. Next, it was off to Westfield shopping center at Bondi Junction, a ginormous 4-level mall. While we were eating lunch, the guy sitting across from us kept telling us how bad milk is for you. I need a little more convincing.

After that, we took the ferry to Manly and back and were going to go up to the Sydney Tower, but it was closed because it was too windy. In fact, some flights were delayed yesterday because of the wind, so I'm hoping it doesn't pick up today. Along the way, we saw a tap dancer and a guy painting on the street. I wonder how much money these people make.

That night, Charlie, Nichole, Mary and I went to this place called Crows Nest to watch the State of Origin game. Apparently, it's always between New South Wales and Queensland; I thought it included all six states. New South Wales won this time! That was also the fourth of July, so Nichole and I had a "woo hoo, it's the fourth of July" moment. I'm sad I missed fireworks.

So now I'm sitting here while Nichole is braiding my hair, almost ready to leave for the airport. I think I'm finally ready to be back. On Monday night, while Pete and I were right in front of the opera house, I thought I was going to cry. I really want to come back here soon...But of course, there's no place like home either. (Where are the ruby slippers?)

I have spread the word about Facebook, though, so I hope it'll be easy to stay in contact with everyone. Everyone has told me to keep in touch and to come back to Australia and that's what I plan to do. Some said they would come visit, haha. Oh and I finally finished my DVD of Australia pictures and it's quite long. It takes up the entire DVD and that was only a tenth of my pictures.

I'll write when I get back, but for now I have to pack up my computer and go. Cheers!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


So before I get to my fabulous weekend, let me start with this past Thursday. That day, I went to lunch with the ladies as a "this is so sad that we're all leaving soon" outing. We went to Elie's and I had some scrumptious pancakes with strawberries. I really wanted french toast, but it was $4 more. (It's because it's French). We caught up with each other, took pictures and I had them all sign my journal. My grandmother gave me a journal before I left for Australia and I started having people sign it before I leave. Afterwards, I went to Go-Lo (like a Dollar General) with Charlie and Astrid and they had Tiffany cookies! They looked kind of gross, though, so I didn't buy them.

Thursday night, I went to my last Bible study. They threw a mini party for me and Pete since we'll be going back home and Mark had the idea of asking us 10 questions about America. I'll miss the group.

Friday was Final Fling and the Uni Bar was PACKED. Beforehand, I went to Astrid's dorm for the "pre-party" and a girl from her dorm curled my hair before heading out. I can't use my hair utensils here, so it was nice to have it look good for more than 10 minutes.

While we were waiting in line for about half an hour, we ran into Nichole and Pete, but didn't quite make the 10:00 cut-off for getting in free, so we had to pay $6. That's a lunch!

I ran into one guy from my Aboriginal studies class who calls me America and said we need to have a going-away party, but it's not going to work out since I leave Bathurst Saturday. I have gotten several MSN screen names, though, so hopefully I'll be able to stay in touch with everyone.

Friday was the last time I was going to see Astrid before we leave, so I looked for her for about an hour before I left, but it was hard to even move around. She called me back the next morning, so at least I got to talk to her.

In the morning, Pete and I headed to Lithgow on the bus to wait on the connecting train to Sydney and passed some snow patches on the way. When we got to Lithgow, there were some people giving out free sausages, coffee and tea. Once in Sydney, we caught a flight to Melbourne, which is in Victoria, the state below New South Wales. It would've been about a 10 hour drive. (At the Sydney airport, there was a billboard for an Internet site that had a picture of George Bush on a computer and said "so easy anyone can do it" or something like that). Once there, we got a rental car and the lady handed us a big directory for getting to Peterborough. It's rather fun to get in a car and have no idea where you're going, trying to figure it out with a thick book of maps. It took us about 4 1/2 hours to get to Peterborough following the Great Ocean Road. It was dark by then so the road wasn't so great, but it was still fun. We dodged a bunch of rabbits and saw a couple of kangaroos on the side of the road on the way, and later had to let some sheep cross the road.

Around 11 or so, we finally got to Peterborough and were pretty tired since we'd been traveling since 10 in the morning. Well this place was about the size of Mayberry and the sign for "town center" led to an old playground and a dead end. Then the guy from the hostel we had booked messaged Pete and said he hoped we realized his hostel was in Peterborough, South Australia...Nope, sure didn't. We ended up driving up to a little motel - pretty much the only thing open - and booked for the night. There was some bad country-sounding live music and people dancing around in the side room. It was just like a scene from a movie - little town at night, confusing directions and a last-resort motel with shady townies. The reception people were nice, though, and the guy at the desk gave us a little carton of milk. That made no sense to me until later...

The next day, we got back on the Great Ocean Road and I must say, it's much better during the day. It was beautiful. We stopped for breakfast in Port Campbell, which is pretty nice if I say so myself. The restaurant was expensive, though. I paid $4 for toast! Two pieces of toast with little butter and honey packets. (Oh yeah, you're usually charged extra for sauce over here, like barbecue and ketchup...or "tomato sauce"). Our first stop was The Arch. There used to be a land bridge between The Arch and the coastline, but it fell in the water. It was appropriately named the London Bridge.

Next...THE TWELVE APOSTLES!!!!!!!!! That was definitely the best part because I've wanted to see them for so long. When we were walking toward the cliff, they came into view all of a sudden and I gasped and yelled, "LOOK LOOK LOOK!" My camera clicked away. I want to try to frame one of the pictures.

After that, we stopped at the Otway Lighthouse. The road to get there was quite long and there were a bunch of cows around. I'm glad we got to see a lighthouse, though, because there are a lot here and I've wanted to see one.

I stopped a couple more times to finally get a picture of a kangaroo sign and the Great Ocean Road sign, then we headed back up to Melbourne.

When we turned in the rental car, we realized the hostel was about half an hour away and had to get Skybus tickets, which weren't cheap. Then once the bus dropped us off, we walked pretty far to get to the hostel. A little while later, we went out to find dinner and stopped at Chinatown. There's definitely not a shortage of Asian food, tell you what. Most restaurants had someone standing out front to beckon people in. I felt important being beckoned. It was like a car lot. After some scrumptious sweet and sour chicken with cashew nuts, we went back to the hostel and played Uno (hahaha). I won of course ;)

The next day...let's see, we're on Monday now...we took a lot of pictures around Melbourne. It's the shopping capital and home of the largest AFL (football) stadium. Everyone was dressed nice and on lunch breaks. There were a bunch of younger kids in school uniforms walking around, too. I think I like Melbourne just as much as Sydney. There's so much more to see than in Bathurst! Although someone was shot in Melbourne last week...It was really big news because no one is ever shot here. At home, there's always a murder on the news, but here, you rarely hear about it.

One of the most impressive buildings in the city was the Victoria State Library. That sucker was humongous. It has an art gallery on one of the floors and a huge dome in the middle. There was even a room set aside to play chess, which we did. I'm really bad at foreseeing chess moves.

Oh, and we saw a Target! We didn't go in, but I took a picture.

Then we looked at motorcycles and the lady in one of the shops didn't like me. I think she thought I dropped a helmet, but it was just my water bottle. She didn't look like the motorcycle type...The hostess for a haunted house maybe. I'm serious by the way; I'm not just being mean...She was wearing one of those pointy drapey black dress things and had long, wavy gray hair.

Anyway, we had called for a shuttle to pick us up at 3:00 earlier that morning so we could get to the airport in time, but the shuttle was late. We finally made it back to the Melbourne airport and made the last call for our flight. I didn't get stopped that time though. I keep getting checked for bombs for some reason. This time, Pete was in front of me and he got stopped instead of me. These things always happen when you're in a hurry.

Back in Sydney, we had to take a train from the airport to the train station and then found out we had no way back to Bathurst. We meant to get back Monday night because I had an exam today and wanted to have Tuesday to study. The buses or trains didn't leave at the right time or no one could pick us up, so we ended up getting to Lithgow and finding another motel. The lady on the phone told Pete it was a 15-minute walk, but it definitely wasn't. It was raining and dark and took forever to get there with our luggage. It was pretty nice, though, and again we got a milk carton. I found out it's to put in your tea!

It ended up being worth it to stay in Lithgow and the next morning, we headed back to Bathurst. Yay public transportation. I must have a gazillion train, bus and plane tickets now...Because I keep them all of course.

So that's the sum of my fabulous weekend and I wouldn't change anything. Even the Peterborough hostel misunderstanding or the bitter motorcycle lady. Everything worked out and made for quite a trip.

This morning, I finished my last exam for Criminal Law and Process. I was kind of stressed because there was so much information and so many cases to know. I made 11 pages of notes to study and the exam didn't even ask about a couple of the major points. *Sigh* Is this professor humor? I studied before Melbourne, on the train and the day we got back, but probably needed to study about half that much. The exam was five essays to complete in three hours and since my last one was four essays and took the entire time, I was afraid I would run out of time and wrote fast, but ended up finishing an hour early. That's always a perk. Keep your fingers crossed.

I've also been trying to sell my textbooks. I posted them on the school forums and on Ebay, but apparently I'm banned from Ebay now. I don't know what happened, but they said there was inconsistency in my account or something. They made it sound so harsh...Like "you're never welcome here again, so there." Geez, there must be support groups for this kind of thing. I have found someone to buy one of my books, though.

So now I'm down to three days until I leave Bathurst for Sydney. I'll probably write before I leave. Nichole and I will be staying with Charlie and we're planning to go to CSU's frisbee tournament while we're there. Pete is trying to get me to play, but I don't think so. I told him we would make signs and bring noise makers.

Last but not least, Transformers comes out here tomorrow. I can't believe something is out here first!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

17 days

I counted today and I only have 17 more days in Australia. *Tear* I'm ready to be back, but I know once I get home, I'll want to be here again. It's like the straight/curly thing. If you have straight hair, you want curly hair; if you have curly hair, you want it straight. I think Ashley is the only one to ever tell me she likes her hair curly.

So this past week has been interesting. I was pretty frustrated with dorm life a few days ago, but it's all good now. I think living with two hallways of people was getting to me. One night, I was trying to go to sleep, but the State of Origin game had just ended (apparently it's the best out of 3...Queensland won again) and everyone came banging on our door to rub it in Erin's face since she was for New South Wales. She was working on an assignment and didn't want to be bothered, so they kept banging and I tried to fall asleep to my iPOD. The next morning, I was still trying to sleep and Erin left the door open when she went out, so all the noise in the hallway got me up. Plus, one dormie wouldn't leave me alone and I really just wanted to lock myself in my room and yell, "Leave me alone!" Then everyone kept asking to borrow my milk and I had just bought it. It's not cheap and I had to buy more yesterday because mine only lasted 3 bowls of cereal. This time, I bought 3 liters. But after the milk, the same people decided to ask to use my Internet over and over. And for some reason, finding ants all over your cupboard doesn't help a bad mood. I hate when people don't wash their dishes and leave messes all over the place. And I was just about to scream when every time I walked into the bathroom, I was convinced more and more that the guys on our hall have no aim. I know the things that bother me are tiny, but they add up and I'm definitely one who likes my space. Does it really not occur to people that they should be considerate of everyone else when living in a dorm?
But anyway, I'm over it now. I'll have my own room back soon enough.

Last Tuesday, I went to the Panthers club with one of my media ethics classmates, Adam, and his friend. It's a big restaurant thing with a game room and a big open area where they have trivia every Tuesday night. We had dinner (free because they had vouchers from winning trivia!) and then engaged in some trivia-playing. One round had to do with logos and the first one on the sheet was for Hushpuppies. I told them that's what I thought it was, but then changed my mind and said maybe it was Bassett furniture. I was right the first time. After that, we had a paper airplane contest and mine went the farthest! I don't remember how that started...Then, onto a game of air hockey. Yours truly was the reigning champ, but keep it on the DL.

Later that night, I went to Fret Fetish at the Uni Bar because a girl in my dorm, Haley, and a guy from my Aboriginal studies class, T.J., are in bands that were performing. I really enjoyed it, but I must say T.J.'s band was better. Shh, don't tell.

On Wednesday, Fiona (the international student advisor) invited all the students in for tea. We talked about our travels, going home and how fast it's gone by. She gave us packets with suggestions for things to do before we go back. One was to get a reference from a professor, so I asked my Aboriginal studies professor for one and he said he'd be happy to write me one. It would probably be better if I had a lecturer from communications or criminal justice, but I didn't get to know them as well.
Friday, Pete and I headed to Katoomba and met Kat for her birthday. Big 1-8, legal age here. It was good to get to see her before I go back, but it was sad, too, because I had to say my first goodbye. We went to the RSL with her friends, mom and sister and it was a lot of fun. I ordered some Chinese at the restaurant in the RSL and the guy gave me one of those buzzer things. I had to go to the ATM and as soon as I sat down to wait for my food, it buzzed. I got up, assuming my food was ready and the guy told me, "You pay before we cook." Ha ha ha, can't blame him I guess. After we ate, we played pool and hung out. Then I had to say bye because Pete and I were going to get up early to see the mountains. (By the way, RSL stands for Returned and Services League of Australia and was started for those who have served in defense forces. You have to be a member to get in, or let someone sign you in if you're visiting).

It was raining when we left and in the morning, it looked pretty miserable. Foggy, rainy and extremely cold. I went to take a shower and the bathroom floor was like ice. The water took absolutely forever to warm up and I've never shimmied into my clothes so fast in my life. We braved the cold anyway and had breakfast (brekkie) in a cute little cafe. I saw two people walk by in kilts while drinking my hot chocolate.

We were going to take a bus to see the Three Sisters, but weren't exactly having luck catching one. By this time, I couldn't feel my toes, so we went back to the hostel so I could double up on socks. We went into a few shops, I tried on some silly hats and then finally caught a trolley to Echo Point, which is where you're supposed to be able to see the Three Sisters. It was SO foggy that we couldn't even see the mountains...And they were RIGHT THERE. It was really windy and my umbrella kept flipping inside out. I was sad because even though I've seen the mountains, Pete hasn't and that was half the point of going to Katoomba. This is what it looked like the first time I went to Echo Point and then this past weekend.

But we went into the gift shop where he found a lot of souvenirs and we got to hug a giant stuffed koala, so it was worth it. Next, we hopped back on the trolley to go to Scenic World. That's where Shy, Nichole, Astrid, Megan and I went back in March. It was quite different this time. I think the guy driving the trolley felt bad that the weather was so horrible because he didn't charge us fare. It was still fun, though...quite the experience. At one point, Pete put 20 cents into this old candy machine - the kind with the metal claw - and I've never seen someone so happy to get a piece of candy out of a machine in my life. I took a picture, but it doesn't do the overjoyment justice.

By this time, our train still wasn't coming for another 3 hours so we went back to the hostel and hung out in the living room type thing. I put my socks over the fireplace and some random guy came in, saw them and made a weird face. Alright. Like no one has ever done that before.

Meanwhile, it's been flooding in some parts of the state. There's a huge ship that's been stranded on a beach in Newcastle, about 5 hours from here, and some parts are under several feet of water. The news said that the wind is supposed to get up to 110 mph in Sydney tonight. The pictures are from a slideshow Erin sent me.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Back to the future

This past week, with the exception of Tuesday, has been pretty swell. Hm, well I guess I have to start a tad bit before this past week...How about Thursday the 31st? That Thursday was 80s prom night at the Uni Bar. Partly due to the lack of poofy sleeved dresses around Bathurst by that time, most people didn't dress very promish, but still put an effort into looking 80s-ish. I didn't realize I'd have to dress up so much here. After finding some leggings, bangles, colored socks, ugly geometric earrings and fishnet tights that I cut holes in to make arm things, I was pretty satisfied with my last minute costume.

The night was a lot of fun, although there was a lot of non-80s music played which irked me...I mean, it's not like there's a limited selection. We did get to see the Greased Lightning scene on the projection screens, though. And I didn't know people still owned krimping appliances. One of the best parts was getting ready with the dorm because we don't do a lot of stuff together as a dorm.
Most of my classes finished this past week as well. I only have one more on Tuesday and then nothing until exams. (Monday is a holiday, the queen's birthday...By the way, Father's Day is celebrated on a different day here. Mother's Day is the same, but instead of Father's Day being June 17, it's September 2 here). I've heard from several people what a good school this is for journalists, too. A lot of the newscasters and journalists in the area went to CSU (my uni) and the overall coursework is pretty challenging, so that makes me feel pretty good about being here. It may not be on the coast like I wanted at first, but I suppose that's not the most important thing...
On Sunday, I walked downtown to Machattie Park on George Street, one of the oldest streets in Bathurst. It was nice to have me time and get a chance to read. I even made friends with a particular duck! What can I say?...I just have that magnetic personality.

Tuesday, though, I had a horrible day. I couldn't sleep the night before because I had a cold, so I woke up with a massive headache and had to go to class. I could live with that, but then I ran into drama that I didn't want to deal with and later found out my great-grandmother (Nanny) died. What a crappy day. I was glad I got to talk to the parental unit :) but I wish it hadn't been so depressing. Mom and Dad were telling me about Nanny and then Emily chimed in with, "I got me some new fwip-fwops." Gotta love comic relief.
I also realized at some point during the week that I'm missing a Victoria's Secret sale. (I like the lotion and no, I'm not kidding). I don't have money for it anyway so I guess it doesn't matter.
On Wednesday, though, I got to play badminton! One of the guys from Aboriginal studies told me several people get together to play, so I joined and didn't do too bad if I do say so myself.
On the subject of games (this is one of those times I like smooth transitions)...I was watching some of the guys in my dorm play a soccer video game the other day and it was funny watching a game with Australian-accented announcers. I never thought about that kind of thing.
Today, I walked around Mount Panorama again, this time with Pete. Nicola, one of the ladies from Bible study, has run the entire thing before and I honestly don't think I could do it. Hopefully if I was being chased, I would find the motivation.

I looked for the barrier that Megan and I wrote our names on back in March and it had been painted over :( I should have made a note not to paint over it until July when I'm gone.

It was fun, though. We took lunch and ate at the picnic tables at the top of the track. Then I went to church and we talked about self-esteem and how it should come from being loved unconditionally. The pastor was saying we are valuable not because of our education or money or how much family we have around, but because we are children of God and are precious and valuable in His eyes. The world may tell us lies about ourselves, but we are so important to God that He knows how many hairs are on our heads. (...Hey, I guess that wouldn't be too hard to figure out if someone is going bald. I just thought about that. I guess that makes His job easier, ha ha ha).
Anyway, we also sang several songs, a couple of which I haven't heard enough to know the tune by heart. You know when you're in church, reading the words off the screen and you either sing too soon or start singing the wrong verse because the projector person hasn't changed the screen yet, and you look around to see if anyone caught it? If you're lucky, the only ones around will be the kind of people who close their eyes and sway while they sing so they haven't caught you. If you're not lucky, the song leaders see you and smile, probably because they're thinking, "Aww, this person must be new." That's the only plus to hymnals for me. If I typed the verses for the screen, I would add "pause for two seconds" or "don't sing this yet even though it's on the screen...wait until the last stanza."

This coming weekend, I'll be heading back to the Blue Mountains to visit Kat for her birthday. I'm going to make her some haystack cookies because they're American. The weekend after that, I get to go to Melbourne!!!!! The most exciting part will be seeing the Twelve Apostles. Can't wait!
P.S. I updated the lingo.