Friday, 12 April 2013

Week I lost track: Lots of random things

So it has been a little while since I have graced my loving audience with some of my Australian preaching,  but it has been a quiet few weeks as not much major travelling has taken place. That being said there were lots of little things that took place so everybody get ready because it's time for another totally awesome, super fantastic blog!

Last time our paths crossed was about a month ago right after my trip to Sydney and since that week there have just been a smorgasbord of events and things that have transcribed. The first thing I would like to address would be the trials and tribulations of our Mixed Netball team.  For those of you who are unaware what netball is-I'm guessing all of you-watch this fantastic educational video!

All caught up? No? Well then go back and watch the video and don't keep reading til you do. If you did watch the video then chances are you have concluded that this is basically basketball except without dribbling, jumping, dunking, shooting from distance and of course there seems to be a backboard missing from the hoop. If you are now saying to yourself "This looks like a very confusing game and I would get frustrated playing it" then you are spot on. In the opening weeks of this sport the amount of times I had a whistle blown on me for who knows what is unfathomable. If I were to then tell you that our team was comprised of only 2 people who had legitimate netball playing experience and then a bunch of Aussie's and Americans who were as lost as a blind person in a new house, you would probably expect a pretty dismal season. Our team banded together though and put together a netball run for the ages making it all the way to the semi-finals, the first rookie team to do so in Bond history! We did lose in the semi-finals but bounced back for a dominant win in the third-place game and ended up winning the team spirit award (kind of a "Oh you gave it your best, but fell short" kind of award) and received a $50 voucher for sushi. All in all I am thoroughly going to miss the game of netball as I did grow to enjoy it and was always a good start to our more than memorable Tuesday nights.

The last bit of travel that the gang did as a foursome (Sara, Hayley, Audra and I) involved Easter weekend and more hours in a car than actually exploring and visiting places. Over the Easter weekend almost everybody went home and the campus was basically a ghost-town so we asked one of our friends to lend us her car for the weekend (a VW Bug) and for some mind boggling reason she obliged (Thanks Katie you da best). We elected to use our first day of travel to drive up to the Sunshine Coast which is supposed to be a nice quaint town with spectacular beaches. The ride was supposed to only take a mere two and a half hours, but what we had failed to think about was that most people would be travelling home for their Easter breaks. About four and a half hours later we arrived at the SC and immediately hit the beach as we really only would have about two hours to be there. The beach was all it was cracked up to be and then some. It was not all that packed, it had a lot of cool footpaths through the woods and went on for miles. After the beach we walked around the town for a bit, but there wasn't much else to do and alas it was back to the car. After another two and a half hours of driving (that's up to 7 for those of you keeping score at home) we got back to Bond.

Ohhhh pretty candles

 The next day we adventured to the hippie town of Nimbin (2.5 hrs away) which was realistically more or less a street as opposed to a town. We explored for a couple hours looking around at all the different shops as each was cool and unique in its own way. One of the coolest places we went to was a giant candle factory in which the factory made all sorts of different candles of all shapes and sizes. The best part about it was that it was using a machine that built back in the 1800's and was still working today. Once we finished at the candle factory it was another 2.5 hr drive home which brings our total up to 12 hours of driving in two days time.

The gang in front of one of the waterfalls

The next day was our adventure day as we went to Spring Brook National Park and went on a 4 kilometer (What I have dubbed Kangaroo Marks, Kangas for short as opposed to kilometers) hike. The walk was a lot of fun as it took us through all sorts of crazy trails and under copious amount of waterfalls.....and by copious I mean 3, but copious sounded way better. The walk took a total of two hours to complete and we rewarded ourselves at the end of it with some delicious fudge. The drive to the park was on the windiest road you have ever seen as it was up in the mountains and ultimately took an hour an half both ways. With this last and final road trip it brings our grand total of car driving time to exploring ratio to a whopping 15:6 and it was DEFINITELY worth it.

As good of a Fresh Prince as I could be
This past weekend was probably one of the more fun ones of the semester. On Thursday Jack came up from Newcastle so we could have roommate shenanigans not only in Sydney, but also on the Gold Coast. Thursday night consisted of an event called the Res Dinner which was basically a reflection on the past semester and it turned out to be one of the most fun nights of the year. The dinner had a theme of "What used to be cool" so I went as the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and there were people dressed as everything from the Rugrats to Tiger Woods. During the Res Dinner they gave out awards from the semester for all sorts of different things, all of which was voted upon by those who lived on campus. To say our netball team cleaned up in the awards department is an understatement. Members of the team took home 5 of the 8 possible awards and it should have been 6 of the 8, but one of our teammates won both the princess award and the gym buff award and was only awarded the gym buff award. Of the other awards taken home by members of our team were the most coveted male award, the going out award, the just another fantastic freshman award and I myself one the favorite study abroad student award.

 As the semester was coming to a close so the next day Sara, Hayley, Audra and I all wanted to host an "American Barbecue" for all of our Aussie friends as a thank you for them providing us with such an awesome semester. The only aspect of the barbecue that was American was the fact that it was created by Americans and we had burgers. Remember that sushi voucher we won from netball? I would hope so I mean, I just talked about it thee minutes ago. Well we used that to provide sushi for everybody and we also got so Aussie style sausages for people to eat. It was a bitter sweet event as it became clear after this that we were winding down the semester and it is almost time for our departure.

Since Jack was visiting he wanted to make a trip to Byron Bay before he went back to Sydney and that is what we spent Saturday into Sunday doing. If you remember my last trip to Byron it was the beginning of that lovely month of rain and while the town was awesome in the rain I could have only imagined how nice it would have been sans rain. Well guess what? I still have no idea what that's like as again it rained the whole time we were there. I wasn't surprised. Even with the rain though it was still a great time and it was nice to do some Gold Coast exploring with Jack.

Just some silly shenanigans 
Chances are this will be my last blog although I may to a general summary one once I get back to the States and can reflect on everything that I did over here. If not though I will leave everybody with this: This has been by far and away the greatest experience of my life and I hope that anyone who reads this that has the opportunity to study abroad will do so. I could not have done it without my parents so again, I thank them a million times over for giving me the opportunity to do this. I thank High Point for also providing me with the opportunity to do this as it was indeed an extraordinary experience. And lastly I thank my friends. The ones I came here with, Sarzburt and Storm (nicknames for Sara and Hayley), as I could not have had two better friends to accompany me on these travels (I can think of one that is missing, but she has already been here so she is excused) and I know without them being here this trip would not have been nearly as fun. Then of course to all of the new friends I met as well. Audra Brady joined our threesome right from the get go and fit in like a missing puzzle piece as she was great company to have on all of our adventurous endevours  Lastly, of course, I must thank ALL of my Australian friends that I met along the way over here. There are too many of you to mention, but you guys know who you are and this would not have been an enjoyable trip without all of you. I would like to particularly single out Ben, Ed and Charlie as I will miss all of our silly shenanigans most of all and hope that someday our paths will cross whether it be back over here or somewhere in the States.

I hope everyone enjoyed reading my blogs and if you didn't well then I don't know why you continued to do so. Either way feel free to keep checking back in after a couple weeks as I will probably throw up a overall reflection piece but until then I bid you adieu with some more pictures.

Really cool candle

Kind o da world

Those giants ones burn for something like 1,500 hours

Look a tree! With a hole!!

Wimpy Waterfall

The Netball Squad

Monday, 11 March 2013

Week Sydney!!

Big white thing in Sydney
Kidding it's obviously the foot bridge

Yea, yea, yea I know, I have been slacking on the post yet again, but would you believe me if I said I spent the last two weeks preparing this fantastic post? Ha me neither. Here it goes, fair warning; it’s going to be a long one and there is nothing you can do about it. Well you could not read it, but then you will never know what happens and be lost next time so you should just read it.

The past two weeks have been filled with nothing but excitement and of course, rain. Last weekend marked the last trip I would be taking on this glorious adventure and it was to the great land of Sydney. Sara, Hayley, Audra and I flew down two Thursdays ago on an airline called “Tiger Direct.” Now we elected to use this airline because it was the cheapest flight and no sooner did we learn that it was dubbed as one of the worst airlines in the world. So naturally, all the fun loving Aussie’s, messed with us before the flight telling us to make sure to pay attention to the safety procedure in the beginning and what not. One person even said “Oh, don’t worry; only 1 in every 10 of their flights don’t make it, you’ll be fine.”

We turned out not to be 1 in those 10 flights and safely arrived in Sydney. We spent our first night at the accommodations of one of Audra’s friends, Katie, who was attending the University of Sydney or Sydney University or something along those lines. She lived in a building off campus that was about 10-14 floors chalk full with study abroad students which I thought was pretty cool, but may hinder the ability to get to know the natives well.

We decided to go for a wander around the town and stumbled across this underground awesome market. It was basically like a black market where all they sold were cheap knockoffs and of course fruits and vegetables.  Upon further walking around we realized that we were in the heart of a small China town that was loaded with Chinese food places and hundreds of souvenir shops. Dinner was pretty mundane and normally I wouldn’t include information on a mundane dinner, but there was something incredibly mundane about this dinner. I elected to just get some fast food from KFC, nothing too exciting about that right? WRONG!! I don’t know how they do it, but Straya’s KENTUCKY Fried Chicken is BETTER than the US’ Kentucky Fried Chicken.  The chicken was delicious, the cheese was melted to perfection. I don’t know how else to describe it other than immaculate.

Later that night the Americans we were staying with took us to the casino that was nearby. I had never been to casino before and wasn’t quite sure where to start and didn’t really want to lose much money as I am already on low financial standards as is. I took out $20 and Hayley and I decided to test our luck on the blackjack table. Turns out I failed my test of luck on the first hand and ended up losing everything. Hayley on the other hand flourished and ended up walking away $35 in the black.

The next day we hit the harbor to be as touristy as humanly possible. Lucky for us we had brought the rain from the Gold Coast down to Sydney with us so thankfully, it rained the whole weekend. Naturally I went and equipped myself with the flyest poncho I could find and was ready to explore. 

How cool is that poncho?

Not so white tiles
We first checked out Opera House, which was not nearly as white as you would think. There is a reason for that though so everyone prepare for an awesome trivia fact. The tiles on the Opera House are actually self-cleaning and automatically clean every time it rains. You’re welcome to whoever visited after us because we brought that cleaning service from the Gold Coast. After the Opera House we wandered over toward the foot bridge, but elected not to walk it in the end because it was $200. After a little more perusing around Sara, Hayley and I decided to catch the ferry to a place called Cremone Point where our friend Scarlett lived and where we would be staying the rest of the weekend as the dorm was kind of small for 4 people.

The gang in front of the Opera House

Rock pool (triangle thing with water)
 The rest of the day was uneventful and so came the big day of the trip, Saturday, which was the day of the Mardi Gras parade. We spent the morning exploring a quaint town called Manly and guess what ?! It didn’t rain the whole time we were there, only while we were outside! We stopped for breakfast as soon as we got there and as right as we finished and walked outside it started torrentially down pouring. So we went for some cover and waited for Audra to meet up with us and of course it stopped raining while we were under cover as if Mother Nature was just toying with us. Then, sure enough, once Audra landed and we walked outside to explore; rain. I kid you not, this was how the rest of the day went and I have no idea how. Besides that aspect of it Manly was a pretty cool place with a nice walking path along the beach and water that eventually came out to a rock pool. Audra was the only one who tested it out, but she said the water wasn’t too bad, no worse than the rain. After a little more exploring we went back to Katie’s dorm to prepare for the nights festivities.

Us at the parade
While preparing for the nights festivities we had a guest appearance by the one and only Jack “Jaqueezy” Woods who was my roommate from HPU and also studying abroad in Australia. I met up with him and showed him around china town for a bit and then we were all off to the parade. For those of you who don’t know much about the Sydney Mardi Gras I’ll educate you a bit. It is not so much like the Norleans Mardi Gras, but in fact pretty much the complete opposite. It is the biggest gay, lesbian, transsexual, bi-sexual, whatever your preference is we accept it, parade in the world. It was actually a really cool site to see as there were people of the Army, Police Force, Firefighters and people of all ages who were all out supporting the same cause. Once the parade was finished we went out on the town and went to a few different bars/clubs to experience what the night life was like in Sydney.

Roommates reuinted
The next day was our flight home in which again, we hoped we weren’t going to be the 1 in 10 and thankfully we weren’t. Instead we were lucky enough to have a crying baby grace us with his presence for the whole entire flight until we landed in which it promptly stopped. Not only that, but when we left Sydney it was a bright and beautiful day outside and when we arrived in the Gold Cost….yea you already know the answer to that one.

The week after Sydney was a bit of a quiet one with nothing really substantial happening. The one cool thing I did was go to the Quicksilver Surf Competition (holla at cha boi Brendan Crawford, you’ll get my full scouting report shortly). It was cloudy so it wasn’t the best day to go, but the sun did manage to peek through the clouds a few times and overall it was a good time. We got to see the women’s semi-finals and also the finals. I may not know anything about surfing competitions, but I do know a good sports show when I see one and this final was intense. The two surfers, Sally Fitzsimmons and Taylor Wright battled back and forth with Sally holding the lead with an 8.33 and another 8.33 to back it up going into the final minute. This required Taylor to land a 9.2 in order to take the crown. When it comes to surf competitions the surfers alternate who has preference over wave choice meaning the surfer with the preference (that’s definitely not the right word for it) gets the first choice at the wave and the other must back down. Sally had the preference and with 30 seconds left and time running out for Taylor a decent wave came rolling through, but Sally chose to pass on it and Taylor jumped all over it. She rode it out all the way to the end with some magnificent combinations of turns and transfers in what looked like what could have been a winning run. Not to be out done Sally caught the next possible wave with 15 seconds left and rode it out all the way to the last second, but unfortunately dropped the ball….wave…..board? Either way she should have taken the wave Taylor got seeing as she had the preference (why can’t I remember what word they used????), but instead Taylor got it and took the first win of the season in dramatic fashion. Along with that, Taylor also took claim to the No. 1 world ranking.

That’s all for this week! I know it was a long one, but let’s be honest, we all enjoyed that one. If you didn’t that’s your own fault. Also on a good note it has been sunny the past few days with only minimal rain. Enjoy that snow northerners and some more pics below!

Wave rock at manly and an excellent xmas card

Opera House and Bridge

"Oh hey Chris can you hold our bags?"
Hayley and I at the parade

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Week 7..or 6...whatever week it is

It's been quiet times as of late here in paradise. Ha, paradise. I forgot it rains forever in paradise, but seriously. It has not stopped raining since that cyclone came through (If you don't know what I'm talking about, go back and read previous I know what you are thinking though, surely you must be exaggerating a bit Chris. I'm not. The sun came out for most of the day this past Saturday, but sure enough the rain came through without fail. Anyyyywho, enough complaining, I am after all in Australia. Like I said, not a lot has been going on around here as of late. We are about half-way through the semester and lots and lots of projects have been due, hence the lack of a blog update. Don't worry though, I am here to make every ones life a million times better with another classic Chris blog post.

Saturday was really the only day of any excitement. At night I attended an Australian Football game. Interestingly enough, I have never in my life been to a NFL game, and now I have managed to go to an AFL game before ever going to a NFL game. Doesn't make much sense to me, especially seeing as I want to be a sports broadcaster/journalist when I am older, but I digress. The game was pretty entertaining from an American perspective. I had to have the rules explained to me as the game went on, but I got a good grasp  after a while and it became quite enjoyable. The one aspect of the game that I really liked was the fact the play NEVER stopped except for halftime and the end of the game. Even when one of the players legs exploded from a tackle the play still continued while he was ushered off the field. It was the best way to experience AFL as it was a round robbin of sorts where 3 teams all played each other in shortened 40 minute games as opposed to the usual 80 minute games. I was told to root for the Gold Coast Suns who churned out a win in the first game, which ultimately,  proved to be the most exciting. The game was tied and it was coming down to the final seconds when one of the Hawthorne Hawks players tackled one of the GC Suns players as the clock expired. The only thing was, the Suns player didn't have the ball when he was tackled which constitutes in a free kick for the Suns from just outside the 50 meter arch. I know most people won't know what any of that means, but just go with it. Anyways, there are three posts set up at the ends of the field in which kicking the ball in-between the outer posts results in 1 point, while kicking it in-between the inner posts results in 6 points. With the game tied and no time left on the clock the Suns only need 1 point for the win and sure enough Freddy Fitzgerald (made that name up) came through in the clutch. The next 2 games proved to be blowouts for the Brisbane Somethings, but none the less it was still enjoyable.

Saturday during the day proved to be a very fun day as well as I participated in an event called the Bondi 500. Yea I did Saturday night before the day, I don't care, it's my blog and I do what I want. This event was basically a cross between the Amazing Race and a scavenger hunt all throughout the Gold Coast. In teams of 4 you were to go around the Gold Coast collecting all sorts of different things from road kill to suspenders all the while participating in different challenges. At the first station we had to paddle and inflatable boat across the pool. The second station consisted of hitting a golf ball a mere 50 yards which was quite easy and it allowed for me to show off my mean slice. The third station was at an aerobics gym where we actually had to learn poll dancing moves.  Believe it or not it is extremely difficult to do and is quite the workout. The next station was a rock climbing station in which we were informed a team had already finished the race and took the grand prize. Obviously this altered our strategy to trying to obtain as much scavenger hunt points as possible. This lead us to McDonalds, AKA Maccas, and trying to persuade the employees to sing the Australian National Anthem for us...we failed. So, instead we had a delicious lunch and moved on. The rest of the day resulted in many other scavenger hunt shenanigans and we returned to the University feeling pretty good about our chances of winning the scavenger hunt prize. We lost. By over 1,00 points. However, our team got the honorable mention for our spirit and efforts (the feel good award) and won free entry into the event next year. You're welcome to whoever takes my spot.

That pretty much sums up the last two weeks. Shout out to Charlie Ross (an Aussie mate who turned 20 on sunday), Happy Birthday bud. Tomorrow is a big day as it is off to Sydney for the Mardi Gras festivities which should be the grandest of times and will surely result in another excellent tale in Chris' Super Fantastic Blog so stay tuned!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Week 5: The Great Barrier Reef

It may please many of my readers to know that this was by far and away one of the most fun weekends of my entire life. Others will probably be jealous. Either way, you are gonna hear about it. On Friday morning at the lovely time of 4:30 in the morning Hayley, Sara, Audra (newest crew member, sorry Molly) and I arose and prepared to catch a cab to surfers paradise so we could catch our 6am bus to the Great Barrier Reef. We first had to ride on a bus that made every single bump feel like a speed bump up to Brisbane where we would meet up with our tour guide and our specific bus that would take us the to reef. Our tour guide was a man named Harry, AKA the Nemo Wrangler, AKA the greatest tour guide to walk this side of the pacific ocean. He was abundant with crazy information about every area we drove through on our trek up, but I won't bore you with the details mainly because I don't remember them. One thing in particular I do remember was driving through the town of Bundaberg. To say this was an eye opening experience would be an understatement. If you read my previous posts you would know that we had some major flooding two weeks ago, some of the worst the eastern half of the country has seen. If you didn't read the posts, go back and do it, this is like a book you can't just go out of order, it's not a pick your own ending book. Anywho, the town of Bundaberg was one of the towns that really received the brute of the flooding and rain and you could tell. At one point we drove over a bridge that was probably 20-25 feet off the ground to which the flooding had reached the bottom of. As we drove through the town, taking the detour routes as the main roads were closed, every house we drove by was completely empty with all the furniture on the front lawn either drying or just beyond repair. Well that is for the houses that weren't washed up into the middle of the street. It was truly a sad site to see and one can only hope that they will be able to rebound from this travesty in a strong way.

Enough of the sadness though, let's move onto the excitement. Along with us on our tour of the reef was an Irish couple who had been in Australia for a wedding. By the end of the weekend we had all been wishing they just left after the wedding though as the husband was an alcoholic who managed to smell up the hostel room after the first night and was really quite the smart ass towards Harry. There was also a young french couple, a Canadian woman and and Chilean. For those of you who are a little slow with the math (ABA right big guy?) that makes 10 people, 11 if you count Harry.

The first night Harry took us to a nice little park where we got to have some delicious pizza while watching the sunset. It was the french guys birthday as well so we had a nice cake which Harry got confused with and initially gave to me thinking it was my birthday. It wasn't. Seeing as we had an early morning the next day everybody went back to the hostel after this, hung out for a bit and went to bed relatively early. Except for Sir Irish. He managed to stumble into the room at who knows what time, drunk as a skunk, and somehow turned getting into his bunk into a life or death task as it took him upwards of 10-15 minutes to climb up to the top bunk. The next morning he promptly got up and moved his mattress onto the floor. Prior planning prevents piss poor performance right?

We woke up at 7 the next morning and got ready to go to the boat for the reef which departed promptly at 8. Where we were going at the reef was not like anywhere else at the Great Barrier Reef. As some of you may or may not know it is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World and on good merit as well as it stretches 1,600 miles. We were going to the southern most point of the reef to a small island called Lady Mustgrave. The coolest part about where we were going is that where we would be snorkeling/scubaing was completely enclosed. This meant 2 things in particular. The first was that there would be no swells and there would be no current. This was particularly good news for me as me and the water have never been on the best terms and the last time I tried snorkeling was a disaster because I could barely stay above the choppiness of the waves. The second good thing about the enclosure was that it meant no stingers (big scary stinging jelly fish). So with all of that info I was ready to hit the water and get my snorkel/scuba on alls I had to do was get there.

The boat ride was unfriendly to say the least. One thing I have learned in all of my years of boating is that the WORST place to be is inside. So sure enough we spend the first 40 minutes of the ride inside getting debriefed on how to scuba and sure enough my delicious breakfast did not agree with the idea of that. I'm not gonna spell it out. Once I got into the fresh air though the rest of the ride, although choppy, was smooth in another sense. Once we got the the reef it was as if we were in a who new area because the sky immediately cleared up and the sun shone bright, the rain and clouds weren't ideal on the boat ride. We started our time off with a nice snorkel so we could all get used to breathing with only our mouths and boy am I glad we did. It took a little while to get accustomed to doing so, but once I got the hang of it I got to enjoy fish of all different shapes, sizes and colors including the biggest starfish you have ever seen. It was blue.

Then came the time to really get under water and scuba. The scuba instructor could only take us out in groups of 3 so unfortunately the 4 of us couldn't all go out together and even more unfortunately I was stuck with Hayley as my scuba buddy (boom roasted). It took me a little while and a little reassuring from the instructor to get the hang of being entirely submerged while breathing though the mouth. Again, me and the water-not on great terms. Once I calmed myself down and realized that this was a once in a life time experience I just went for it and boy am I glad I did. Being able to see the reef up close and personal was just an indescribable experience. We got to stay under for about 30 minutes getting to see some of the most beautifully colored fish you have ever seen. All in all I can easily say that it was one of the greatest experiences I have ever had thus far in my life and I do owe it to my wonderful parents so shout out to them in the freezing cold, no power nor' eastern they are dealing with. Below I have included a few more pictures so enjoy and until next time, stay warm!

Monday, 11 February 2013

Week 4: The Forgotten Week

Many of you may have noticed that there was no week 4 blog, good job. Due to a week as exciting as any other week there was no blog. Also the disappointment of the 49ers losing due to terrible coaching decisions also plays into it as I was just too caught up and being disgruntled over the loss. Never fear though a new post is coming and it is bound to be a doozy so stay tuned.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Week 3: Time to Build an Arc

First off I'd like to apologize to all of my loyal readers for the delay in creating this most recent post, but I have a very good reason. Okay not really I just got a little lazy, but never fear it is back and better than ever. Eh also probably not true. Anyways onto the exciting times.

This past weekend was a good one as Saturday presented us with our first Australian holiday; Australia Day. It is the 4th of July of the Australians, but of course on a different day and not for American independence. A crew of about 16 of ventured to the lovely town of Byron Bay which was a very laid back town and was quite cool to walk around. I imagine if it were sunny it would have been a lot more enjoyable, but unfortunately it rained from the moment we arrived on Friday to the moment we left on Sunday. I'll divulge deeper into the rain a bit later though. We checked into our Hostel on Friday which was actually a pretty cool place. The room was much bigger than the Hostel in Brisbane and the Hostel itself was much more spacious as a whole. It was fully equipped with it's own private path to the beach which was convenient as walking the beach was the quickest route into town. The only issue with it came when walking back at night. Believe it or not it was actually quite hard to find the path at night. I know, Who'd a thunk it eh? I was walking back with some people on Friday night and managed to overshoot it by a significant margin and ended up maybe about half a mile away from the Hostel. "Chris you are in a foreign country you have GOT to be more careful!" Don't worry loving parents I will. Luckily a taxi cab driver drove by as we were walking back to the Hostel (in the rain) and gave us a lift, free of charge. Free of charge. As if something like that would ever happen in the states. Other than that Friday was pretty uneventful mainly consisting of wandering around the town which was pretty small, but full of lots of cool shops.

Then came Saturday, Australia Day. We started the day off with a big group breakfast and then proceeded go back to the Hostel to have a few drinks with the rest of the Australian community that was staying there. Later on in the day we went to one of the others Hostels where they were having a good ol' fashioned Aussie barbecue that only cost 10 dollars for all you can eat which was easily the cheapest meal I have had since getting here. My narrowed minded American mind was a little shocked when I went to get my food as there were no hotdogs and hamburgers. Instead they had sausages and beef patties. I know what you are saying, "Beef patties are hamburgers idiot!" They aren't. I don't like hamburgers, I like these beef patties. The other peculiar thing was that there was a serious lack and buns. Buns as in bread, not like....yea moving on. Instead, sausages were put on just a standard piece of white bread while beef patties (not burgers) were just eaten as is. Once the BBQ was over we went to one of the rooms and listened to the rest of the "Triple J Hot 100" countdown which was a top 100 countdown of all the songs over the last year that the ENTIRE country listens to. As the countdown started around noon you would be hard pressed to go anywhere and not hear it. What was the number 1 song you ask? Or don't ask? You probably don't care, but Imma tell you anyways. It was Thrift Shop by Macklemore. Yea, you read that right, Thrift Shop. The rest of the night was spent bouncing around on the town going to different clubs/bars and what not. One club in particular had a Ms. Australia and Mr. Australia competition which were both pretty humorous to watch. The weird thing was that there were more Americans than Aussies in both competitions and an American even won the Mr. Australia competition. I don't get it.

We left Sunday and returned to school just in time for the most ridiculous cyclone ever. The rain, having started on Thursday, continued through Sunday, and through Monday leaving a large majority of the northern part of the country under water. It was so bad that they even had to cancel classes both Monday and Tuesday, but ain't nobody complainin bout that. And when I say it rained, it RAINED. At one point it was at a point where the rain drops would hurt you if you got hit by them. Ha, if you got hit by them. The good thing about the rain here is that it doesn't cause a significant drop in temperature and that leads to football (gridiron as they call it) in the rain which was pretty enjoyable.

To give you an idea of the flooding, that green post is normally not in the man made lake.

I'm the scrawny one in the black shorts. That grass is never going to grow back.

As far as this coming week/weekend nothing too crazy is on the docket, but I'll have something for ya next week. Hopefully on time this time.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Week 2: Ey Currumbin

So my second full week has come to an end and we are getting into the full swing of things. Classes have started and they are so much different from class back home. There are 2 parts to the classes here the lecture and the tutorial. The lecture is well, a lecture. You will be a full class ranging from 20-30 people and the professor will teach for a solid 2 hours which for me is still mighty long as I never did do a block schedule. Then later in the week there is the tutorial which will contain between 7-12 people and is basically a recap of the lecture that took place earlier. It is a much more informal environment in the "tuts" where you essentially just talk with the teacher for an hour. All in all I like my classes and I don't think  any should be too strenuous, knock on wood.

The best thing about classes here are the ones that take place on Friday and that's because there are none. You would be hard pressed to find somebody who has a class on Friday which always means that fun and exciting things can take place. For instance this past Friday the school organized a pub crawl for us. It was pretty long as it started at 4:45 and went until about 1 am. We bounced around 5 different pubs/bars/night clubs and don't worry Mom and Dad all I drank was water, water, water and some more water. 

Saturday was a spent at the beach which was nice and relaxing as we took a bus down there around 11 and just spent the day there. On Sunday we went on an adventure to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary where lots of exciting things transcribed. We first saw a crocodile feeding show which was hardly a show and more or less some dude throwing giant pieces of pork towards a 20 foot croc. It was cool to see it be fed, but if I had some pork I probably could have recreated the "show."

Feeding time

From there it was time to frolic with the kangaroos. I don't know if other Americans had the perspective that I had and thought kangaroos were almost extinct and treated like gold over here, but they aren't. In fact they are the U.S. equivalent to deer. They destroy everything from fences to gardens, they love to see how quickly they can hop across the street in front of your car (they lose a lot) and then they make a great dinner time treat as well. I have to be honest as well, kangaroo is damn good. That being said they were all very calm and relaxed and the sanctuary. For 2 dollars you could get some kangaroo food to feed them and just hang out with them basically.

Sarz, Storm and I feeding the roos

 From there we wandered around a bit and eventually made our way to the koalas and they were awesome. Living what seemed to be the high life of just sitting in trees and sleeping the majority of the day only waking up to eat some food and take sweet pictures with me. All in all the sanctuary was a very neat place and a fantastic way to close out the week.

Next weekend is the grand holiday of Australia Day which is kind of like the 4th of July back home. Me, Sara, Hayley, maybe Audra (new american friend) and a bunch of Aussie friends are going to Byron Bay for the weekend because apparently it's the place to be so check in next week for more exciting tales. For now though, take a gander at some of these great photos taken by Sarzburt and Storm. My photos are on my phone and I don't have the attention span to deal with uploading them right now. Well that and the fact I'm not in any of my own pictures. Cheers!

Chillest kangaroo around

That's a baby croc, not a lizard....Meghan

From left: Storm, Ana, Pany, me, Sarz and Audra

Cha boi Lleyton-named after the tennis player

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Week One: Rules of Thumb

I have now been in the land down under for approximately one week and things are going just swimmingly. It is quite similar to the U.S. but at the same time quite different. After this first week there are specifically 3 things I have learned that one needs to be aware of at all times. First, the phrase "How ya going?" has absolutely nothing to do with where you are going or how you are going about getting there. So don't respond, the bathroom, why are you wondering? In fact it is the U.S. equivalent to the classic question "How are you doing?" Secondly, and this may actually be the most important, KEEP LEFT AT ALL COSTS. Whether you are running, skipping, jumping, rolling, diving or driving it is essential that you stay to the left. Otherwise there is a very good chance you will be giving a complete stranger a solid chest bump for no apparent reason and that's very hard to recover from or play off like it was on purpose. Lastly, thongs are flip flops not underwear. So if somebody ever tells you they are going to put their thongs on don't give them a weird look because they are a guy, and don't give them a weirder look because they are putting on more than one. Remember these three things at all times and you will be alright.

Sara, Hayley and I arrived last Sunday and spent our first day/night in a hostel in Surfers Paradise which is a pretty self explanatory name for a city. The hostel was surprisingly nice as it was equipped with a lobby and patio area where most of the hostel goers gathered at night just to hang around and meet some of the other travelers. The room itself was about the size of an airplane bathroom, but since we were only there one night it was no big deal.

We got to the Uni (University is a lot of syllables so they shorten it) on Monday and it is basically the High Point of Austraya-the "L" disappears when you arrive here. The campus was finished being built in 1987 so everything looks very new and it even has its very own man made lake. The dorm rooms are pretty straight forward except for the fact that there are cleaning ladies that come through and clean the rooms once a week. Yea, cleaning ladies, balls in your court High Point.

Now onto the beaches. The first thing you notice at the beach is the incredible cleanliness of them. It almost makes you wonder what is really going on with the beaches in the U.S. and definitely warrants a little skepticism towards them. That being said though, I would still much rather be swimming in the U.S. waters. Now I know what people are thinking, but the water there is cleaner, the water is warmer and surf rescue is an actual sport so your chances of drowning are virtually impossible. I'll have you know that there are much bigger worries about swimming in the water here, bigger being the key word. I was not in the water for more than 5 minutes before I was greeted by a jelly fish that, honest to God, had to be at least 3 feet in diameter. Oh and it will sting you if you get too close. Not to mention it was poisonous. Basically all the while you are in the water your head should be on a swivel looking out for these mammoth floating death traps and other creatures of the deep.

All in all the first week here has been a grand success as I have made a lot of Aussie friends. I'm sure as long as the sea creatures and other deadly creatures don't get me I will have a fantastic time here so feel free to check back week to week and read about my endeavors so long as they don't bore you.