Monday, July 7, 2014

Entry 3: New Zealand

19 April 2014

"On the way to the hostel in Fox Glacier, we were informed that there was no power in the town. So much for Good Friday celebrations! Or so we thought....We had lights and hot water because there was a generator, but they were shutting it off at 10 pm until 7:30 am the next day. Incidentally, we were leaving at 7:30 am, which meant scavenging for our stuff with our uncharged iPhones and iTouches the next morning. Adventure after adventure...In my experience, adventures always involve rain.

Since it was Good Friday on top of the lack of power for the next 5 days, hardly any restaurants were open, and the public kitchens at the hostel were asked to be used sparingly to conserve fuel. My dinner ended up being left over "chips" (fries) from lunch, which were cold and soft, and a small box of cherry tomatoes. I also purchased nuts, 4 apples, and some crackers for later, for emergencies, and for breakfast.

Later we heard there was a grocery shop down the road that was still selling alcohol. The partying was back on! I shared a bottle of Chardonny (it was the cheapest bottle at $ NZ 11.50) and some OJ to mix with it because we didn't expect it to be very good without something sweet to mix with it. Yesterday marked the first official time I participated in a drinking game. I had once before partaken in drinking games, but I substituted alcohol with water. I didn't want to subject myself to under aged drinking no matter how popular a past time that is with my age group. We played Kings with a German deck of cards Flo brought with him. It didn't include numbers 2 through 5, and U was the equivalent of a Jack, and O was the equivalent of a Queen. I had never seen cards like those before, and I regret forgetting to put my deck of cards on my list of items to pack. It's normally second nature for me to add them to my backpack when I travel. We also played a game called "Asaloogi (I think that's how you would spell it), but this game was where everyone had to go through numbers up to however many we decided to go through at the beginning, but every time we got all the way through a round, a number would have a rule added to it. For example, two numbers may have been swapped so when a person got to 3, they had to say 7, and when they got to 7 they said three, or a number was now a noise, and the rules go on!

My favorite moment was probably when I drew an Ace from the deck, which meant the person to the left of me chose two people while I closed my eyes. When I opened them, I had to make them do something together without the knowledge of who the two people were. Since, the majority of us where American, I took a chance and requested that person A and B stand up and sing the Star Spangled Banner! We got it on video! It was Ally and Taylor who later had to do something together again, which was kiss Lefty, our bus driver, on the check without him knowing what they were about to do.

This actually happened after lights out. It didn't stop people from continuing the games. Some others even joined in or watched. A girl (I later learned her name is Lauren) started to rub my hair (which at the time was still fuzzy short from my shave). I once again became subject to heavy petting, though few of them knew the story behind why my hair was that short. They complimented me on how soft my hair was.

I went to bed 20 past 10, blindly making my way back to the bedroom I shared with 5 other girls. Before I left, I finished my drink after being subject to someone else picking an Ace from the deck. I got chosen as subject A, with Millie as subject B. We had to mix our drinks and both down half. It wasn't as gross as I thought it would be, but the concoction was a mixture of beer and my Chardonny plus OJ. They cheered me on. I don't know if I enjoyed being subjected to that sort of behavior or not. I had mixed feelings. It's nice to bet the center of attention sometimes, but not for those reasons. I didn't have that much in the glass to drink or else I would have refused and walked away entirely. I can proudly stay that I still have not experienced a hangover! My streak has continued!"

The last part said,"Sorry for the bad writing. I am not adept at 'bus-writing.'"

I am Home!

It's official! I have been home for a week. You know what the first difference I noticed because of a mistake I made multiple times out of a habit I had picked up abroad? The toilets. Why does travel always end up with differences in toilets. I remember when I told my dad this he made an interesting observation: out of all his international travels, the one thing that was always different in every country was their plumbing!

You know how home doesn't  sound or smell like home anymore, and certain things become the norm like when I lived in the dorms, I would get used to hearing the train or the bell tower? Well, I got used to higher toilets, so about three times since I got home, when I tried sitting on the toilet I misgauged how far I had to plop my butt and ended up practically falling onto the seat. It always comes to the small stuff that you don't think about in daily life that happen to be the most noticed when you return to a life you haven't been a part of in some time.

The other things that happened was the shock of the heat. I thought I was prepared for it, yet no one can fully prepare for going from 55 F (13 C) with rain and wind to 94 F (34 C) with humidity. It was so uncomfortable on my final stretch from Dallas, Texas to Raleigh, North Carolina, because I started out with five layers of shirts and sweaters, plus a scarf and gloves, to two layers of shirts with the desire to shed my one layer but the knowledge that I would want it once I got on the final flight. Even though its there, and its an obvious statement, I feel like I am more aware of how somewhere in the world it's hot while in another it's cold.

That last flight I had an ironic interaction with a man named George. I ended up making the earlier flight, so I didn't know where I was sitting. It was supposed to get there 2 hours before my initial planned flight, but because the aircraft had mechanical errors, they had to find a new one, and I ended up only getting home 45 minutes before I was supposed to. I still savored that one hour of not traveling anymore. Long story short, it was a little fated, because I had a long and pleasant talk with a graduate in Chemical Engineering who now managed a polymer corporation's accounting. I got his card, and it really did feel like destiny. Connections and networking seem much more pleasant and potentially lucrative when they crop up in unplanned situations because everyone is more relaxed, since it isn't a business or interview setting. I also learned his son works for a nuclear company in Charlotte. And the small world gets even smaller!

Another small world coincidence that I did not get to confirm about my earlier flight was that I am pretty sure there was a student I recognized from NCSU on the flight with me. All I can recall is that he may have been the guy who filmed for special events like the sports events.

I am trying to be proactive about my health since I got home. And yesterday, I was lucky. It was a rare, beautiful day in tolerable heat here in Raleigh. My dad and I didn't take it for granted. We went for a 15 mile bike ride down the Raleigh Greenway! Though, when he told me we were biking to the Greenway too, I balked because I had assumed we were going to put the bikes in our car and drive over there. The Greenway isn't that far away from our home, but one of the ways to get there is Old Falls of the News, which is a very narrow road in some areas. Oh, but the breeze coming down that hill made me feel like I was a few speeds away from letting go of my bike and flying! It's such an intense rush to bike down those types of hills. I wasn't crazy; I used my brakes to steady my pace, especially since the cars drove pretty close to us.

The day before, I had been helping my sister move into a new apartment, so after that bike ride, my arms hurt from lifting heavy furniture, and my legs barely carried me up the stairs to my room after that bike ride. I think the worst, though, were my shoulders. The only comfortable position I could find was laying on my stomach while stroking the cat sitting beside me. My mom said my face looked so red. I didn't even dare look in the mirror. That night was bath night. I rarely take a bath, but I deserved a little extra TLC.

Today, even with all the exercise and activity I have been doing for the past few days, I felt like going out with my Mom for her nightly power walk. She couldn't walk as fast as I wanted to, so she gave her blessing to allow me to go ahead. I jogged when I could and walked when I couldn't.

I have so much more to tell you all. I have other separate posts I want to make, but those will be on past events. In the mean time and last but not least, I have been taking a sociology class, and the reading I had been doing while I was helping my sister this past weekend was about inequality and capitalism. I had to do an assignment where I spent some time trying out a game called "Spent" on the internet. It was based on testing if I could survive 30 days as one of the working poor by giving me real life situations and giving me the choice of where my money was going to go. It was a frightening experience, and after what happened at my sister's apartment when we discovered the washer wasn't working. I realized my sister now fits under the category of the working poor, because the only job she could find out of college was a paid internship. She can barely get by, and then this issue with the washer crops up. Ugh! I won't go into details, because that's her story to tell, and not mine. Today is such a difficult time to get a good, steady job. And my readings about the USA being very capitalistic doesn't improve my hopes for the future of the American economy.

Even though this summer class requires me to keep pace with the readings and assignments without the incentive of attending an actual class (it's a distance education class), I am learning a lot, and very intrigued by the readings. I just wish there weren't so many in such a small window of time.

Like I said, I have more stories I want to tell, but this post is long enough as is. Ta Ta For Now!

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Girl with the Pink Headband

At the baggage claim for the Sydney to Dallas flight, some girls behind me were saying they were just returning home from study abroad. One of them said Melbourne and study abroad in the same sentence, and my ears perked up. Not only was this girl from Indiana on the Clayton campus at Monash this whole time, but she had been in my Contemporary Australia class. I never ran into her until all semester, yet there she was right in ear shot of me. So weird, especially out of all the conversations I could have overheard while waiting to get my bags.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Traveling Home

This morning I got up at 5 am for my 6 am pick up. I probably could have gotten away with asking for the car to come a little later, but I didn't know if there were going to be any complications before my 9 am flight boarded to Sydney. I did have complications, but they were minor enough that a 6:30, maybe even 7 am ride may have been more suitable. I would have definitely benefited from some extra sleep since I stayed up a little later than I had planned to hang out with my Aussie friends for the last time.

I didn't realize at first how complicated it would be for me to "check out" of my room at Halls. I made the quick and grateful observation that I actually had to get my luggage out of the door of the suit, which requires a key card to access before I could return the keys. Normally, it wouldn't have been a problem for most people. They would have locked their door with the luggage in the hallway. Left to return the keys, and used their student ID card to get back into the stairway. Unfortunately, for me I lost my ID card on the way back from my first final exam and had been using a borrowed key fob from the Residential services ever since. That had to be returned with the keys. I did get clever, though. I didn't want to walk the long way around the building to get back to my luggage since the short cut also required key card access, so I took my water bottle and used it as a stopper for the door. I did this again after dragging my luggage to a place where I could see them outside, while remaining in the common area where it was warm.

I am glad I checked the parking lot early. I thought I heard a honk in the parking lot, so I thought after planning to stand out their at 5:45 am that I should check it out. Sure enough a white Lexis was swiveling round and round the Roberts Hall side of the parking lot. I was a little hesitant to check it out though, because for all I know, someone who wasn't supposed to be around Halls was creeping around after dark.

My driver was a nice man from Egypt. It didn't take much to get him talking. The first fourth of the journey we spent in silence while listening to the news go on about local, federal, and international political issues. I had control of the volume, channel, and heating from the back seat. There were even chocolates in the middle seat console! Thank you Dad for getting me business class! For it, I was riding to the airport in style! Anyway, the driver and I chatted about the differences in weather and personality of Melbourne vs Sydney, the World Cup, and Egyptian history. However, my side of the conversation consisted of little comments here and there, as he kept up a steady pace of words that I didn't always catch with his thick accent. He had an unusual habit of using filler words at the end of every sentence, but instead of "like" or "um" it was something to the affect of "as it goes." It was early, so to be honest, I cannot recall the exact words, but I do know that they were uncommon.

On the flight, there were no celebrities. At least, I didn't recognize anyone in business class. The woman sitting next to me didn't seem to want to chat, so I left her to her own devices. I love how hour flights never seem that long. Your up, your off, then you touch down again. The food was good; I took a picture of it. I don't normally take these many pictures along a journey. It's for my Dad's benefit, because I know how much he wanted me to document my once in a life time luxury ride home. I am currently sitting in my second Business Lounge, eating potato salad, strawberries, a brownie, a simple salad of cheese and lettuce with balsamic vinegar topping, and some sort of cold salad filled with chick peas, cauliflower, and raisins.

The first thing I saw when they announced we were landing soon was the ocean. They pilot headed toward the ocean before turning around to land. There was such a gorgeous lighting on the Harbor. I wish I had been allowed to have my electronics still on. And by the time I would have tried to turn my Itouch back on, I would have had to shut it off again. I will try my best to describe it instead, though give me some slack, since I am no poet. The distant ocean glowed orange while the closer waters shinned and reflected white by the sun. The ocean that wasn't blinded by light, was a green deep blue. As we turned back towards land, you could see patches of a lighter green in the water where it was closest to shore, or where the water was shallow  with patches of life and a coastal forest touching. The beaches looked perfect, though I probably wouldn't dare dip my toes in that water at this time of year. It's still quite chilly here, even though we are further North in Sydney than I was in Melbourne.

There you have it! That's it for now. I still have my longest flight ahead of me coming up in the next hour or so, and I will be utilizing the first half of the journey sleeping to try and adjust to the time difference, since at the moment it is creeping into night (I think it would be about 10 pm right now) back home. And the second half I will be reading for an assignment in my summer class. No rest for the weary. Only one day after my last final exam, my summer II course started, and the first big assignment is due Monday night at 11pm. If I don't do it on the way home at some point, it won't get done in time. The plan is to read and take notes on the plan, and sketch out what I need to write. It's only 400 words. Then, when I land, I will get back online as I wait for my flight from Dallas to Raleigh to cite the sources properly, and submit it, if it is complete at that time. Hopefully I will have enough battery life. I am charging it now to ensure that I have the most time my computer's battery will allow me on the flight.

I may write more about my journey when I return, but I doubt that will be until July 1. I will make sure to make notes of certain interesting observations that catch my eye in a notebook, though. Thee-thee thee-thee-that's all folks!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Last Visit to the City

Tomorrow is my last day in Melbourne, so on Friday I went with a friend to the city for a last minute souvenir shopping spree. There were a few things I knew I wanted to do, like go to T2 to buy some unique tea for my sister and mom, go to the Queen Victoria Market, and go shopping at Clear It.

Our trip started off slightly bumpy. Anna had planned to meet me at the bus stop on Normanby Rd to take the bus that goes to Oakleigh station at 9:30 am. I was there early, which was uncomfortable because I was really cold. The sun wasn't at its highest, and the wind was chilling even with gloves and a scarf. I realized, after checking my itouch for the time when it was getting close to 9:30 am, that there may be a bus stop further up the road closer to her hall. I was right. That whole time I was waiting for her at a bus stop, she was waiting for me a the other. I am glad I thought to walk down the road.

The bus and train were quick to arrive, but being that it was a Friday, we ended up having to stand for the entire journey there. Better off standing on the way there and not on the way back, though. We chatted about home and what we were thinking of getting for others on our outing, etc. I used a screen shot of the map of the city to find the T2 place that was on the way to a coffee shop she wanted to check out. I had been there once before, but it was brief. It was an olfactory factory. I had so much fun trying this smell and that. I had never realized how teas could smell syrupy, or flowery, or one that would smell like pungent perfume, while another gave me the sensation of floating on an aromatic cloud of bliss. I wish I had taken notes of each and every one I smelt and the observations I gave, because it was like wine tasting but for tea. I wanted to take some many home with me to brew. I decided on two.

We took our time heading out, yet when we finally were done, the receptionist was busy with other customers. It was bad timing. I could tell the receptionist preferred talking with us than the old couple, since we were interested in the tea, and they were only interested in the tea pots.

Our next stop was the coffee shop Anna had heard about. It was small, and intimate, and they had chairs hanging from the ceiling. We got our coffee to go after Anna decided she didn't want to purchase the coffee beans for her boyfriend's parents because they had weird things in them like lemonade flavor. That just sounds like too much acid in one cup to me.

We were both a little disappointed in the wears at the QV Market. Of course, much of the vendors were selling winter items, and we were heading back to the summer. The night market was much better, but that had ended months ago, when it was still warm enough to be comfortable at night. Many of the vendors were selling the same items as the others, we observed. We did end up finding a few places with items of interest. One particular vendor was selling an interesting thing--I cannot reveal it now because it is meant for a surprise to someone--and he was a very friendly and talkative fellow. He was surprised when we said we liked exploring Melbourne and thought it was an amazing place to visit because he thought that of the US. You always love and romanticize places you've never been, and not the one you are always in. He was the kind of guy who was perfect for the job of a salesman, but I would never want him as a waiter because he would end up overcoming his stay talking to the people at the table. Even as we walked a way, he had to get the last word in. He was a pleasant local, though.

We tried our best to stick around long enough to catch up with another friend, but she had slept in late, and was arriving just as we had the desire to leave. We stuck around long enough, though, to find the perfect local coffee vendor to purchase some coffee beans. We were lucky too, because soon after we got up to the counter, a line came out of no where. I guess we attracted customers (just kidding).

I regretted suggesting we walk down Victoria St from the market all the way to Brunswick St. We made it, though! And we realized that CleariT has great stuff, but only the top floor is priced for college students' pockets. There were dresses in the 100s on the main floor. The last time I was in there I didn't get to look that closely. We tried on a few things, then all of a sudden like a tone of bricks, exhaustion hit me in the head. I felt like I was going to collapse.

 You see, the night before I hadn't gone to bed. It had been an unusual Thursday. I woke up early, went for a run, spent my morning chatting with my Mom and grandparents on Skype over my breakfast at the local cafe. Only to have an epiphany that I should probably take the time to take photos of the hall for my sake and others who wanted me to share. I had wanted to take a nap right after I was done talking with my family, yet I wanted to use the good morning light while I still had it. Then, at noon, I laid down for an hour nap, and woke up right before midnight! I slept the entire day away! So, I got up and decided, I still needed to do some things so I may as well do them now. I went and did some laundry and got some needed nutrition in me. As I did so I ran into a big group that had obviously been drinking, since Cristian was teasing Jasymin. This lead to the guys throwing around her cereal box because it was funny how much it bothered her.

They invited me to watch the World cup match, USA vs Germany, and I consented. I planned to get a few hours of shut eye before 8:30 am when I needed to get ready. That never happened. Hence, the exhausting hostile take over of my body at 3 pm. We made it out okay, but Anna admitted to very little sleep for the same reason, she was watching the game (which we lost 0-1, but still made it to the next round on the default that Portugal won against Ghana - I honestly don't understand how the cumulative point system works in this kind of tournament, especially when Portugal won but didn't have enough points to move on while USA lost and got to move on). I have to admit, though, USA was on its A-game when it came to great defense.

The last bit of input on how Friday went is that for the first time ever, I was shocked by what the intercom system said at the train station. They announced that some trains would not be running on their normal course on account of a woman getting hit by a train! Anna and I were especially surprised that the announcement gave the reason for the delay. I know this is selfish, but I am glad it didn't affect us getting home. I was too exhausted to ponder over the tragedy of the situation.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Entry 2: New Zealand

It has almost been a month since I have written. I had planned to be consistent with a weekly blog, but the past month has been devoted to studying for final exams, so I have been too stressed and preoccupied to post anything. You all probably won't even see this, since you most likely have given up on me. I apologize.

I have a few things that happened right before my studies that I would like to cover including the intensity and endless hours I worked on a group project like I had never worked before, the Heritage Walk I experienced at the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne, a very insanely survival-of-the-fittest camping trip, and an dine-in I was invited to with some very famous Australian guest speakers.

I haven't been able to figure out where to start with those, so I am going to start off with another NZ Journal Entry first. It may be too long to get to anything else. I am really behind the times at this point. So, I am looking back more than I am thinking of the now. There isn't much to speak about on the last few weeks anyway, unless you want me to drawl on about my study habits. The one important present day event I will mention is there is an end-of-semester Super Secret Location Party going on tomorrow that I plan to participate in to relieve some of my stresses and get some much needed social time with friends who I may never see again :(.  A group called MOVE is hosting it somewhere downtown, but all they have been disclosing are hints to the location. I am not sure what I will wear, since it is extremely cold out at this point (and when I say extremely cold, I mean, night times are bitter sharp, while the days are like fall weather with the warmth of the sun keeping you going). They requested that we wear formal clothing, and I want to wear a dress, but unless I find a pair of leggings tomorrow on a quick shopping spree, I will be stuck with black pants, and a nice top (probably red), with a heavy coat on top.

I don't have enough energy to write about the other events I said I would cover. I am too exhausted after taking my other exam. I experienced a little bit of dramatic irony in my life when I say my Dad had posted me a message on facebook warning me not to do an all-nighter. Whoops! It wasn't an all-nighter, but it was damn near close. I have decided just to copy my Journal notes so here's Entry 2:

17 April 2014

"I had this impending doom feeling in the pit of my stomach while I waited for my next flight ever since I heard it was delayed 10 minutes. The reason for this concern was because I overheard another flight get cancelled entirely due to inclement weather. What if I got stuck in Auckland? It's not liked I expect Extreme Adventures to stay behind and wait for me.

It ended up being alright. I did miss a photo opportunity, though. I shouldn't have powered down my iTouch so early. It was more of a novelty photo, to say to all of my friends, 'Welcome to New Zealand!' in grand caps. The photo op amusingly was in the bridge between the terminal and the air plane. New Zealand was really milking the filming of "The Hobbit" being here, so they decorated the bridge to look like Hobbiton. That's as close as I will bet to Hobbiton on this trip. That's my one regret about this trip, that I don't control the itinerary, because that would have been on my list of stops.

After three sightings of the same girl, I decided it was either fated that I speak to her about the backpack she had on because I kept thinking of saying something only for her to be too far along in the terminal line for me to do anything, or she was going to the same trip as me. It turns out it was a little bit of both. The girl with the curly hair and the owl backpack from Fitzroy was from Peru, living and going to school in Vermont (she actually had been to North Carolina!) and going on exchange at Melbourne University. I was hopeful we would be going to the same hostel; she's going on the same trip as me but I guess there are two versions of the tour and her's was the reverse tour. What a coin toss! Too bad, she was nice.

It was a bumpy ride. It didn't help that I made a snap decision to take a complimentary 'cup' (not glass) of wine on the plane. I ended up having to gulp it down because of the shaking and bumping, which made the decent all the more dizzying. Ooops. I promise, I didn't get sick.

The next coincidence was Daniel from the UK. He had been sitting in front of me the entire trip to Christchurch, and here he was sitting in front of me in the shuttle bus. My fingers crossed again, and I asked myself, 'Was he going where I was?' Nope. I struck up a conversation with him (obviously, since I know his name). He studies politics and philosophy in Scotland and was saying that Scotland has finally made the decision to discuss breaking away from the UK soon.

The only reason I remembered Daniel from the flight in the first place is because of what happened on the plane. He sat down in my row, in the wrong seat. It didn't really matter, both people who were sitting in my  row were sitting alone, but if he hadn't have moved, I wouldn't have been able to amuse myself with being half in a conversation with two women in the early stages of grand motherhood. I asked for the time to the lady sitting next to me, but she didn't have a watch, so she asked the other woman. I hadn't really cared what time it was, I just wanted an excuse to start conversation. I ended up helping the other woman start some odd conversation about the new screening technology at the airport. The story was something about  a heat sensor, where she was amused by the screen picking up a large heat signal from her crotch. It was odd, and I think I had more fun listening into their conversation than being a part of it. Here were these two complete strangers, and their were discussing things of this nature for the whole hour, chatting like old friends, while I sat in my corner, watching the sky grow dark.

Three strikes and your out, right? There were three other parties on the shuttle bus: Daniel, two Asians and a girl in the back. The girl from the back, Heike, is guess where from? You guessed it! Germany! I swear, every travel trip I have ever been on, I have met at least one German. I had someone to practice on! She's studying Psychology at another university in Melbourne. I already feel close to her. She's bunking above me, and we spent the rest of the evening chatting lazily since we bother were tired from our travels. She was on the same flights as me, I just never ran into her until the shuttle bus.

Time for bed! Night!"

There you have it. Now just as I quoted myself, it's time for me to get so shut eye. Hopefully I will have more energy to catch up on the other more present events and things of importance that have happened since then end of May in the next few days. I have another exam, but I am not that concerned with it. I just need to reread and review a few articles. The professor was kind enough to tell us exactly which subjects to focus on for the exam and what type of questions they would be, so I am confident about it. Night!

Friday, May 30, 2014


Tonight I was planning on taking it easy after a long week by blogging about some of the important events that have been going on in the last two weeks. Instead, I sit hear late at night after an unplanned outing to a Brazilian party! I was searching for some people to sign my Australian flag as a memento of all the people I met at Richardson Hall, so I could take it with me, and I wound up finding a "Bon Voyage!" party for Clarie, our residential Frenchwoman. They had planned to go to the city, but they changed their minds, and decided to go to a Brazilian party that was a 20 minute walk from campus. I was reluctant to go, but it is so hard to say no to Brazilian enthusiasm, plus I haven't gone out in quite some time.

Brazilian parties are not like other parties. When you know someone, you don't just say hi and start talking. You spot each other from across the room, yell "HEY!" and run to give them a great big bear hug! And when you meet someone for the first time, you don't just start chatting. You start chatting but your faces have barely a hands width between each other! Or while conversing with people you already know, they frequently touch you on the back or shoulder. Its all hugging and touching, and yelling. Flamboyance is my best word to describe it. Its a pleasant difference between the unconscious bubble of space we give new people in America. We think this is respectful to give strangers space, but you feel like part of the family when you know no one this way. No one is a stranger, they are just someone new to include in the festivities.

Much of the party, I spent talking to a local Australian named Dan. He works as a musician; he plays guitar, and was a good looking guy. I probably spent at least an hour talking to him before his friends came over and I felt like a third wheel. It was nice, though to talk to someone local about music and other culture difference. I have had similar conversations before, but it is always nice to get a fresh perspective. Then, I began talking to a Brazilian. He was so tall. I couldn't get over the fact that while I was standing on a step, he was still taller than me. My neck was straining to look up. On top of this, it was sometimes difficult to chat with him because he was quite inebriated, so his breath smelt strongly of wine. I myself didn't drink anything. I knew I was going to a group meeting in the morning, plus I need to call my parents.

I think the most fun I had though, was talking to Miguel on the way their. He was so drunk that almost everything I said was funny. I told him that I thought he was so drunk that if I said "banana" to him, he would laugh. He asked me to try it.....He laughed.

He kept on thinking I was making fun of him, though. I did a little after he said that, but both times I was being quite serious. He was asking me if I knew how it seems like in every group of friends their is always one person that is like the mother figure. And I said yes, I understand what you mean (and to that friend who knows who she is, you are the reason I can say yes to this ;) ) He got really defensive, and said, "You're making fun of me, aren't you?" He did make the point that if someone else was as drunk as he was at that moment, he would be making fun of them. The next time that he had the same reaction was when I told him there was a phrase in America when you said someone was playing possum because possums in America played dead as a defense mechanism.

His laugh sounded like an animal hissing and then turned into a full blown hyena cackle. I had never heard him laugh like that. Oh, Miguel, you made the night some much more fun because of your "drunkenness."

I learned a new cultural phrase and a way of living today, too. I want to start using them! Here they are:

Brazilian Phrase: "Traveling through mayonnaise."
Translation: Day dreaming

French Saying: "You eat like a King for breakfast, a Prince for lunch, and a Prisoner for dinner."

Good night! I cannot write anymore. I already spent half an hour writing this, when I had planned to be back at 1 am, and ended up back at 2 am. Now, it's 2:30 am, and I know I have to get up. So, I am getting my tuckus to bed!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Entry 1: New Zealand

Not much has been going on in the past two weeks that is of significant consequence, since I have been staved of much social interaction of any kind besides that of dinner and study groups. I will comment that tomorrow will be a nice change of pace for at least a one day reprieve. I will be going on a Heritage Walk as one of the field trips offered in my Contemporary Australia class.

Also, I want to thank you for everyone who has sent me letters in the past two weeks. They have made me smile during my breaks throughout my stressed and wired life of studies.

Instead of talking about what is currently going on, I promised to start typing up my written journal for the week I was in New Zealand. The entries get less and less grammatically correct and descriptive as the trip progressed because I had very little time between events and bus rides (which was when I did have time) made it tough to write because the were bumpy. Anyway the following is entry 1:

17 April 2014

"As I looked through the haze, my first impression of New Zealand, from the air, was that it's a very hilly island. Not only is it hilly, though, but they're pointy, barren, grassy hills surrounded by slopping cliffs that fall straight into the ocean. I could see the tip of part of this grand island as if it was the end of the Earth!

My second impression of Auckland on this particularly spectacular day was how it wasn't rainy or miserable as I had expected from the weather forecast. Needless to say, I was only looking at the forecast for Christchurch on the South Island, not Auckland on the North Island where I am at this time. I actually started to sweat through my jacket and scarf when I trekked the 10 minute pathway from the International to the Domestic Terminals. I could have taken the free bus (which comes every 15 minutes), yet I had been cooped up in that corner of temporary property that was my seat for over 3 hours! I needed some fresh air, and it was pleasant to walk while listening to "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marely as I followed the equivalent of the yellow brick road. In this case it was a green painted line on the pavement, but it wouldn't damper my jolly mood of this country being my version of a land out of the fantasy novel I love to read.

The woman sitting next to me on the 3 hour plane ride, Jenny, was a Tazzie visiting her partner who lives here in New Zealand. She and her partner do the long distance relationship thing. That must be tough. I know I wouldn't have the patience to manage it. It's hard enough to keep up with my family while I am here, let alone consider having a boyfriend. That's why I made the decision to just relax, lay back and enjoy the ride. I don't want to break some poor bloaks heart with empty promises to keep in touch when I return to the States.

I have definitely found my voice when it comes to having more friends with guys since I have come to Australia. That was a weakness I am glad to be rid of .

On that note, I need to spend some of my lay over time doing some reading for my exam."

AND THERE YOU HAVE IT! My first entry. I will get the next one in as soon as I can.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Carnival Day

I just realized I had a draft here and all it said was the following: 27th: Gardening day, Dexter and the snail, carnival day, balloon hat

I promise I don't have such a terrible memory that I don't know what I was talking about, but I laugh at what key words I choose to remind myself what I was wanting to write about. I mean, I needed to write day twice as if they both such important moments they required me to call them separate days when it's obviously on the the very same day proved by me writing down the number 27 before it. Thought in restrospect I should start noting down the month two. I suppose I didn't expect myself to wait this long to write about it. It's not as import as some other things. One day, I may regret it, but on this day I don't.

I'm Back!

Guess who's back. Back again. Guess who's back. Guess who's back. Guess who's back. Guess who's back. Guess who's back. Na na neh eh ah eh ah eh ah eh ah.

Sorry my fellow followers and passer byers! Long time no blog. I know it's been some time since I have been hear, but I have good reason. I've been "There and Back again....a Hobbits tale." Yep! That's right! I went to New Zealand for our week off for Easter holiday!

I may not have been publishing my blogs online, but I have still devotedly written down every juicy detail from my Xtreme Adventures! With a great big X that you cross with your arms in front of your chest as I fail at being one of the cool kids. *Cough* "Nerd." I have been keeping a journal while away because I read the fine print that only a Borrower could read: wifi not included. 

And are you ready ladies and gentleman! Here are the highlights. I met a man with a beard and a walking stick. He gave me a really shiny ring. It had a dead language engraved on it only visible with firelight. I put it on. I disappeared forever. Somewhere in between it rained. The end.
Te he he. BIGGER **COUGH** "Cosplay Nerd!"

Okay, okay. I will stop teasing now. I won't be able to write out much though. I will have to leave some cliff hangers in there like all tv shows these days to leave you needing more. Mostly, though, it's because the end of my reign here at Monash is coming to a close and I have to pass the holy grail onto the next set of study abroad students. That and my life has gotten ten times more stressful as the workload piles on. I have been a busy bunny hopping around trying to put all of my ducks in a row.

I am having an allusion slash American slang, slash referencing night I guess. It's probably getting annoy. I am annoying myself. And rambling. This is what happens when I work on assignments all day with only coffee breaks and toilet breaks, and of course the occasional break to sob softly in a corner.

Cliff hanger! It's too late for me to start writing down anything about New Zealand because if I start getting into it, I won't stop. And unfortunately, I need to get up early the second day in a row to get an early start on assignments even though tomorrow ("today" it's almost 1 am here. I had to take a little social time this evening chatting with my mates.). Hint today is Sunday. Yes girls and boys, this gal is working weekends! I promise I will get it all down eventually. I cannot give a promise to the timetable of said blogging. I will try my best not to make y'all wait too looooooong.

Ciao! Hasta luego! Gute nacht!

Sunday, April 13, 2014


I got an internship! It's just some lab work 2 days a week, but it is so much more than what I had before.
I have an amazing supervisor. She's easy to talk to. She's a graduate student whose done her own traveling in China and some other places. Her research involves looking into making polymer films that can help separate out certain elements in water. It depends on the number of electrons the element has on whether it can pass through the film or not. I am there to help her make the films. I am simplifying it a bit, because I would prefer not to use this blog as a lab report; I already have one of those I have to finish, and I don't want to need to write another.

My first day on the job, I worked on getting some of the films that were already made out of their petri dishes, which is harder than it sounds, since you don't want to tear them in the process. Water can be used to help. I also, measured out some water to dilute and dissolve some sulfates into a solution, and then added that to a certain amount of the polymer. The solution mixture and the polymer were set aside at the end to stir for 24 hours. Not the most interesting thing for some people, but I was very excited. It's so much like cooking. There is a lot of waiting and patience involved, but I enjoy that not only are you learning something, but it is something where all you need are a set of instructions and measured out ingredients, and there you have it! Stir and serve. I also, did a little on seeing how their IR spectrometer worked. I have used IR specs before, but the ones undergraduates get to use in their labs versus the ones graduates get to use is incomparable. There is so much more possible in the computer programs they have because it is being used for research rather than just as a learning exercise.

On a side note:
I am learning German on my spare time. I am not devoting hours upon hours on it, yet I am using it as a means of entertainment when I am working on mindless tasks, or tasks that need less brain power. For example, on the days that I cook, I can listen to this Coffee Break German instead of listening to music.

Friday, April 4, 2014


This week I haven't done much. I have been sick. :(
I was hoping to sneak by without getting sick while I was abroad. I had gotten by over a month, successfully. Alas, I caught the Richardson plague.

Strangers on the Street

You know how I said last weekend, when we went out to see Marcel Lucont a policeman approached us about a spoon in Paula's back pocket? Well, that wasn't the first odd encounter with strangers on the street that weekend, and It wasn't the last either.

Earlier that day I had been Opt shopping in a Salvo in Oakleigh. Translation: I went thrift shopping in a Salvation Army store in Oakleigh, a suburb in Melbourne. While we stopped to check our phone to see if there was any other Opt shops we could check out, this guy comes up to me and my friend. He was officially the first Bogan I have met. He had a sort of rocker look to him like he had just stepped out of a time machine and forgot that it wasn't the 80s anymore, while still wearing headphones in his ears. Yet, he looked to old to pull off the look, especially with his beer belly and receding hairline. He asked us if we had any change because he was in some sort of trouble. Right away, my thought is, "Is this guy really haggling us for money?" And his reply to the look on our faces was, "I promise I am not going to hurt you." I thought Whoa Nelly! The best way to get someone to think you are not going to hurt is by saying, I am not going to hurt you. He ended up being harmless, but it was definitely an awkward moment where I said I didn't have change, while my friend gave him a dollar for his trouble. The best part of it was that the men who were came to our rescue in spite of not needing rescuing where these three guys who looked like they might be from a biker gang! It was the funniest thing in the world! And when they asked us where we were from because we MUST NOT be from around here, his reaction to me saying American was so cute. For men dressed as bikers, they would be the kind of men I could see letting a butterfly land on their finger.

The next run in with strangers was after Marcel Lucont's sketch. We were deciding on where we wanted to go for a drink, and a women dressed in a leopard print skirt, colorful pouffee shoulder padded jacket, and a unmemorable blouse (because everything else was so bright) over hears our conversation. She kindly directs us to where the best bars were, and even offered to lead us to the party she was headed to! That would never happen in America. Never.

Finally, the next night, I went to anther comedy sketch. I didn't like it. I wish I hadn't gone out that night, but that's okay. One bad experience out of many good ones culturally, is fine with me. Prior to the show, we ended up getting there early. So, some of the guys wanted a quick drink at the bar. Unfortunately, one out of the group is still under age. I felt bad leaving him outside, so I decided to pass up the drinks, and stayed on the streets with him. A couple out of no where asks us for help with his phone. He got an email that had a phone number, and he wanted to know if we had any paper to jot it down so he could dial in. Marijose came to the rescue, and showed him how to copy the number and paste it to dial in. They were definitely a little wasted. The women began to go on an animal rights rant about the horses that were leading the horse and carge rides parked behind us. She complained that they weren't given any water. She also, was complaining that people would say, "Well, they are getting paid!" when obviously the humans are the one getting paid, not them. I didn't disagree, but I also didn't know how to respond.

People are definitely more friendly here.

I feel a little like betraying my university by saying this, but I have never had such an instantaneous sense of community in any of the Halls I have lived in previously. Here I feel I could go to anyone in the hall for help or a ride or just to hang out. There are about 200 people living in Richardson, and I can probably call at least half of them by name, and maybe a few more just recognize them by their face.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Comedy Festival: Marcel Lucont

I got my first taste of blood on my spoon.....I have officially made my first ever kill in the game of Assassins! A sad feat to be proud of you say? I think NOT! I am a terrible liar and manipulator; I could never play poker or BS. Today, I hashed the perfect plan! A group, including my target, were going to the Comedy Festival tonight. I used this information against him (for a while his alias had been Elmo; I didn't make it up, Krshna did). I asked those in the group that were going, which ironically enough I got this information about who was going FROM my target, if they would participate in my plot and inform me where they were meeting and at what time. Then, at the right time, they would back away (the rule was anyone could be killed if there weren't in arms length of anyone else playing the game).

I even used his own joke against him! Phil, by the way is the name of my target. Phil from Cyprus (he was also in the Turkish military), likes that I don't like the nickname Han. And if you don't know Australians, they like names to be as short as possible. If you think it is impossible for them to shorten your name because it is one syllable, they will shorten to one letter just to prove you wrong! So, of course mine would be Han. Anyway, I don't prefer being called this because it can be mistakenly heard as Ham. He ergo wanted to nickname me Hammah! And he said he couldn't wait for me to say, "Stop! Hammah time!" Well guess, what? I "killed" him, which means I found the perfect moment to say, "Na na na na chi chi na na chi chi na na CAN'T TOUCH THIS!" It was the highlight of my day!

Moving on from my public internet gloating....I was reluctant to go, but I agreed to go see Marcel Lucont, the comedian with the group that night. I was not disappointed.

Before we got to the show, though, the most amazing thing happened at the bus station. After as certain hour of the day, there are more security guards around areas like the train station. One of the guards comes up to Paula, one of the members of our group, and asks her "Is that a spoon in your pocket? And if so, WHY do you have a spoon in your pocket?" We ended up having to explain to him that our Hall is playing a game of assassins where in order to "kill" someone you must tap him with a spoon! He had a grand chuckle over this. So did we.

The comedian's character (I won't say the comedian himself, because most comedians put on a facade when they perform to add to the humor; I know for a fact Marcel in particular emphasizes his French accent) is the most indifferent, pompous, self centered Frenchman. He read to us poetry, sang, and told stories about his childhood, and most of it somehow would end up in some sort of sexual reference. He has an espcially special place in his heart for talking about woman's breasts (note the sarcasm in that sentence). I wasn't expecting the room to be so small and easily interactive, but there were probably only 40 people in the room. It was a studio in the "Tuxedo Cat" called the Puffer Fish. Each of the rooms had random animal names. As a result of such an intimate setting, I actually ended up being a participant in his act. When he asked if there were any internationals, our entire row was the only row that raised our hands. And of course he asks, Where from? He ends up with a joke about Brazilian versus Californian waxes, because Paula is from Brazil, and leads on to joke about Phil because what do you expect a Cyprus wax to look like, a tree?

After the show, we walked around for a while, got a pitcher of Sangria and a pitcher of some sort of other Cocktail at an unusual Japanese themed bar, and walked around some more. It was a well worth the night out, full of kicks and giggles.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Weekend Plans

Last Friday, I meet with a Professor about taking up some hours each week to do some research on one of his projects. The only reason I knew to meet him in the first place was because of my fluke meeting with the Professor from Penn State at the Wine tour! The lesson here is be prepared to network with people ANYWHERE!

I haven't confirmed my standing yet, since I have also talked with my Professor whose project is more related to what I am interested. He hasn't been very prompt about replying back, though. I will give him the weekend, but come Monday, I will speak to him after class again.

Starting on Wednesday, the hall has been playing a game of assassins. It is pure chaos here! Friends become enemies, acquaintances become allies, and everyone is either hiding out in the shadows of the save zones or clinging to the buddy system. I signed up to play, but that was before I knew I had an exam AND a presentation on Thursday. It's only week 4! Well, I made sure to post that I wouldn't continue to play unless it was determined that the Study Lounge was a save zone, too.

Just a random note, the other night I went to the Nott, and Richardson students like to hang out in the Moose room to do some predrinking. Well, tonight there was some perfect comedic timing! A guy named Krshna, from Canada, was wearing his underwear on the outside of his pants because a new rule for the day was if you were wearing underwear visibly, you were safe from assassination. Well, these particular boxers (that said It's party time) were too large from him, but the elastic held them up. He swore another person could easily fit into them. Well.....someone took him up on the offer to try it out. Jack, a British man with no shame or modesty, got into Krshna's underpants while he was still wearing them. As they were standing there facing each other and began to pretend to get intimate with each other, one of the security guards for the building walks in on us. His face was priceless; all he did was shake his head, as if to ask what has happened to this generation?, and walks back out. Oh, and Jack couldn't help but take this moment to say, "It's pretty easy to get into Krshna's pants!"

The test and presentation went alright. I was glad my group volunteered to be the first to present because it was 2 hours of presentations and seeing that I was getting bored, I assume the Professors were, too. As for the exam, I don't think I have ever taken a Thermodynamics exam where I was able to complete it in the allotted time that they gave us. And I knew how to answer the last question, I just didn't have an opportunity to get to the exact answer, so I did the next best thing and explained stepwise what I was planning to do in order to reach the right answer.

This weekend is going to be quite busy for me. I hope in between all of the events I still have time to get stuff ready and lined up for next week, because I don't think my weeks are going to let up from now on. I plan to go Opt shopping tomorrow morning. That's what they call thrift stores here because opt stands for opportunity. I am looking for pieces of my costume I want to wear for the cosplay festival that is happening in a few weeks! I have never been to a cosplay festival but I have always had the desire to have the experience.

I have never been to a city where in under a few weeks  I have gone downtown to a variety of festivals! I have been there to White Night, Food and Wine Festival, two FREE concerts in one night, and now I am going to the Comedy Festival either tonight or tomorrow night, or both, depending on how I feel I have time for. Then of course there's Supanova, the cosplay fest I mentioned in the paragraph above! I am really getting my taste of every aspect of Australian culture, and I picked the perfect location to do it!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Wholefoods Free Food Mondays

Monday is normally Corinne's cooking night. She gave us advanced notice that she couldn't cook for us this Monday, so we could plan accordingly.

I had been meaning to try the Free Food Mondays at Wholefoods just to see what it was like.

The people were spicy and well seasoned, the food was bland.

I started a conversation with two guys ahead of me in line when one of them, Calin, I think it was (Calvin without the 'v,' he said), was giving an impression to his friend of a British accent from some movie I had never heard of. I ended up talking about all of the American stereo types and debunking almost everyone of them. I never thought about it this way until I spoke with them: as an American I am at a severe disadvantage culturally. American pop culture is world renowned, but Australian's pop culture is something I have to learn as I go.

It was good fun, but when we got our food and sat down to take our first bite, we discovered that though it was a simple spaghetti and tomato sauce dish it was the most bland spaghetti I have ever tasted. The only reason I knew I was even eating was because I felt the texture of the noodles in my mouth. I know it's free food, but how much does it cost to add a little salt, something to make it "tastable."

At least I enjoyed good company.

Food and Wine Festival

Wallaby tastes like meatloaf.

Be Brave and SHAVE!

I don't know what it is about Australia, but I have definitely gotten bolder since I have been here. I think it's because I realize that I have nothing to lose, especially since I have such a limited span of time to achieve what I want out of my experience abroad.

Last Thursday I voluntarily participated on shaving my head, not to the point of bald, but close enough for me. It's for a program called "The World's Greatest Shave;" they raise money for blood cancer research. Their motto is be brave and shave.

  There are some days I look in the mirror and ask myself, "What have I done?," yet the majority of the time I look in the mirror and feel pride for what I have achieved as a result of that hair cut. I raised money in person as well as online. My guess is it was over my goal of $1000, but I cannot honestly say whether this is correct because the only number I can see is the one that's online. I feel like such a rebel. One of the first observations I had when I came to Monash was the majority of women adorning pixie cuts were over the age of 40. I think I have only met one girl in the halls with a short hair cut, and another randomly in my class (and she realized she was in the wrong classroom soon after we began conversing). I am definitely the only woman on campus with an almost rocker hair style! I almost feel as though I should chuck my old wardrobe out the door, and start from scratch. Yesterday, I bought the cheapest leather jacket from a woman whose company is called "Recycle Queen" at the Monash Market. It was a good investment. Now all I need is some heavy black eye makeup. I am kidding.....or am I?

To my parents, I promise I won't come back Gothic. I am just enjoying teasing with the idea because I feel like a Bohemian now (we have been discussing Australian Bohemians in my Australian Idol unit).

So many people approached me since the "deed" was done with varying reactions of surprise and support. I especially enjoyed the comments and reactions of those who were their during my shave. A lot of them expected me to cry, I suppose. All I did was smile embarrassingly, since MRS made a big deal (they called it the grand finale) about it and so many were watching, while jamming out to the music they had playing. I think the worst part was when the razor's batteries died, causing a gap (an intermission so to speak) in the process.

I also liked how some people who'd met me already that weren't at the shave and the 30 second span that it took for them to realize it was me!

Check out the first half of my shave:

If anyone else want to support a great cause, please submit any small amount to the following:

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Beach

Last Sunday I was supposed to call my sister.....I ditched her for a last minute invite to the beach. I am a TERRIBLE sister. I am glad she puts up with me because it is wonderful having confrontations with her. We may have a short tiff, but we will both walk away, and return with nothing more to say about it, so we will just get on with our day as if it never happened. Anyway, props to you girl for being a GREAT BIG SIS!

So....the BEACH! How was it you ask? Well, let's first have a mini geography lesson of Victoria, Australia. It's a bay. There ya go. That sums it up pretty well. Almost all of the coast of Victoria is a bay. I have never swam much in bay beaches. And I became the stupid American that asked, "why aren't there any waves?"

The water was a lovely temperature of just-cold-enough while the sun remained constantly hot. It was perfect. And of course, even with the protection of sunscreen, I got burnt that day. It's pretty inevitable. I don't think I have gone a day without at least looking at my upper chest and seeing red. Sunscreen must be applied every 15 minutes after being in the water just to work effectively in Australia. I have to say, that day, a little burn was worth the day away from campus. I hope to head to the city again tomorrow (Saturday 14th) for the Food festival. We'll see.

Most of the day went by without me even realizing it. However, we did get to the beach later than expected because there weren't enough people with cars to carpool the entire group, so Tali, David and I stayed behind. That was okay with me, in earnest, since Tali had knocked on my door at 11:15am while I was still sleeping off staying up late the night before. I ended up only having 15 minutes to get ready, so a little wait didn't hurt. It gave Tali some time to share with me the pride and joy that is Rhonda and the BIG AD! If you are in America, you know there are those advertisements that everyone, I mean EVERY-SINGLE-PERSON-YOU-TALK-TO-ON-THE-STREET knows about! Well, it's not that different over here. And Tali was exposing me to the commercial culture of Australia. And most of the....were for beer.

Later that week we had another fruitful conversation about how Australia cops with drought, flooding and bush fires.

Back to what happened when we got to the beach. This was only the third time I had carpooled in someone's car here, and it wouldn't be the last. It was Alex's car with Dexter riding shot gun. They had actually gotten lost coming back for us, because what was supposed be a 30min wait for them turned into an hour. We jammed to some oldies tunes on the radio. Supposedly there aren't many radio station options that are good.

When we arrived, we dropped off our stuff at the beach. Soon after we headed to the town's main strip to get some grub. I had fish and chips. Someone observed that wasn't the best choice to be having for lunch at the beach when everything else was already so salty. I had no regrets. Those were really good fish and chips. Before we got lunch, though, Tali gave me a true Australian christening. She doused me with lots and lots of sea water. My hair felt like I had grew dreadlocks overnight. I got back at her later.

I got in the water after a few bits of food. Almost my entire time in the water we played a game of monkey in the middle with a Frisbee. I realize now, Tali was never monkey in the middle. It was such a rush to not think about anything but the present.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Other Night I had a Nightmare

So, not last night, but the night before I had a dream.

I had to write it down. I won't use this blog as a dream journal often, because for me to recall a dream is an infrequent occurrence.

The dream starts set on a plane whose captain has just announced that he is about to land. To land, though, the plane must go through a tunnel (much like some roller coaster ride). The captain's fair warning didn't give me enough time to put everything back in my backpack, under my seat in time, so I ended up having in hand my book, phone, and camera.

On the way down, the setting began to slowly change. We were now rolling in a hollow sphere with holes, like the Pirates of the Caribbean scene on the Island of carnivorous natives. I yelled to my Dad, who had been siting next to me on the plane. I told him, I was going to lose hold of my camera. Eventually, I did.

When we ended up at home, I got extremely enraged at losing all of the photographed memories from our trip. I began throwing a tantrum of F bombs, and tears flowed freely.

For some reason my teeth had caps and seals made from circuit boards and other covers that were pealing. I started obsessing over brushing my teeth to take my mind off all of the photos I had lost with my camera and to fix my teeth in the process.

It was a bad dream. If you want to try and interpret it, go ahead, but I have never had a fear of flying or been afraid of the dentist.

You know You are in Australia When...

Ladies and gentlemen! I will be making this post a continuously edited one in which I will attempt to add funny facts that I have learned and experienced overall. It will be henceforth called: You Know You Are In Australia When.....

...your professor talks about hurdles in all frankness.

...things are not just "required," they are "compulsory."

...someone offers you goon. (Goon of Fortune)

...if you need to ask any questions that means you have "quiries," not "inquires."

...jelly isn't jam, it's jello.

...this XXXX is NOT Quadruple X; it's Four X.

...all foreigners must be informed that there is such a thing as a drop bear, and you must be vigilant of the tree tops.

...talking politics means talking smack about Tony Abbot. have tried a dessert called Pavlova, made from whipped egg whites (tastes like really sweet marshmallow fluff).

...possums hang from the pipes on the ceiling, and trees are wrapped in metal sometimes to prevent them from climbing the protected trees. think someone is cooking a BBQ at 11pm and then you realize you are smelling a bushfire (for the first time for me was 19th March). know that it is okay to pick fun at the Tazzies by asking them to show you their scar where their second head was removed, and they retort with a reminder about their extra toes.

....if you don't think it's possible for you to have a nickname, you are proven wrong. If your last name is Campbell you are sure as hell going to be called tomato soup at some point. Your teacher gives you nicknames, and you call them by theirs.

...fruit punch is cordial and lemonade tastes like Sprite. know who Rhonda is.'s a BIG ad we're in.

...."how many do you do?" isn't an offensive or dirty question to ask.

...someone asks you what you have been up to this arvo. hold the door open for someone, and they say "Cheers," in response. discover there are five seasons, spring, summer, autumn, winter, and F*** it which can happen any time of the year it likes. side with your teachers over which footy team you like even if you don't like that team because if you don't, it will bite you in the arse.

...they ask you to repeat a word because that it amuses them how you pronounce a word with your American accent, or even better, they don't understand your thick American accent.

...if you remember some of the lyrics of the second verse of the national anthem, you're normal, if you remember all of the lyrics of the second verse of the national anthem, you're a show off, if you remember any of the lyrics to the third verse of the national anthem, you're lying.

...the grass is always greener in the 'Bush'.....or is it?

...."No actual MALTESERS where hurt during the making of this bunny." the local people's opinion the music on the radio is sh**. There is only one good radio station, and the rest are oldies or country. know what piss up at my place means.

...your favorite television show always airs at least a week after it airs everywhere else.

...see a cop car, flash your lights to warn drivers coming the other direction is common courtesy.

...when you have to wait for the water to get cold from the tap.

...Tim Minchin is everyone's hero and a LOT better than Weird Al. get a thong tan line and its no where near your rear end.

...their candy is better than American candy (which is sickeningly sweet).

....they talk about pies, but they mean meat pies, not dessert pies.

...a dollop of ice cream goes well on pancakes.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


I will never get used to the showers. There is only scalding and freezing. I cannot ever find the porridge that is just right. There signs everywhere in the bathrooms and showers reminding you to be conscious of your water use. Even if I didn't care and wanted to take a shower longer than four minutes, I wouldn't.

I have this routine where I turn on the hot, wet my hair and body quick then turn it off to cool down while I lather. Rinse and repeat. No pun intended. Well....maybe. The other option is to just grin and bare it and just taking really cold showers, even when all I want to do is wind down, not wake up.

I feel like I am playing a never ending game of chicken with the hot water heater. Who can last longer? The water heater will win every time....


26th: This day started out with an early morning and a slow, compulsory engineering orientation that lasted from 8 am to 3 pm! Not much of it was worth my time. Most of the compulsory tutorials I have attended were meant for the benefit of freshman engineers more that focusing towards the needs of study abroad students.

The day got much better from there! This was Toga Night!

Toga Night is the one annual, hall-run event that granted the permission to socially drink during the event. But first we had Souvlaki for dinner. I have never had traditional Greek food. I never realized that until tonight. It was a pretty decent meal. It was a wrap with onions, some sort of stuffing base, tomatoes, lettuce, etc. I didn't prefer the after taste, but I took two more from the veggie platter because there aren't many of use, and I would have it for leftovers. Me and leftovers from free food events have become good friends!

I got ready. Most people wore white sheets. I heard one year in the past that because most of the other halls have a similar event some of the local stores ran out of sheets from all the purchases. I personally didn't want to purchase anything I was going to only use once (unless it's food). I planned ahead and bought a purple sarong. 

The group I went with was almost every color of the rainbow, unlike the majority of everyone else. Yvonne wore green, Alice was in blue, Saffron had a black and white design, Tali adorned her white sheet with a red sash and Amy adorned hers with a leafy, golden necklace.

We were allowed three standard drinks, and we had to log them in for security reasons, since this was hall run. I was entirely sober, though I did try my dad's going away present an hour earlier, during dinner. It was a bottle of Rekorderlig and the flavor was strawberry lime. As soon as I opened it I knew I would like it. It smelt of strawberries! The only sad part is I will most likely not be purchasing that one again, since it is on the expensive side, which is saying something since all alcohol in Australia is pricy.

I let loose after the crowd started to flow, and when a group formed a circle, I even jumped in the middle a few times to get "Whoops" from the surrounding crowd. I even got a couple of the girls to do the 1900's tap and kick routine some!

The strobe lights created a great affect slowing everything down. And the music was a combination of raw, bar music and pop culture favorites with a twist. I found out a friend of mine, Ben, had never heard of "The Fresh Prince of Bel Aire" when the theme song came on. I remedied that a few days later by showing him a Youtube video of one of the episodes. 

I left early after my feet began to tire, and my mouth began to thirst for water. However, I knew it would do me no good if I tried going to bed while the party was still going on, so I chatted with Icha and Nad from the bowling night,  Gabriel and Clarissa (yes, Big sister! I have met the rarity that is a Clarissa!). We talked the maturity that occurs with just a few years, since Gabriel is probably the oldest of all of us (25), and he expressed that he would prefer going to eat and chatting over a few drinks than dancing around. I do agree with him for the most part, but Toga night was a much more positive experience than the Abroad Orientation Evening Event to Cheers.

Drop Bears and other Rumors

I had to have a post singularly on the topic of drop bears. See, Australians have this lovely myth that they like to tease foreigners, such as myself, with. They like to tell how in order to avoid getting attacked by drop bears you must cover yourself in toothpaste every night before bed, or there is on that is similar but with Vegemite.

There is a whole website on them.

It amuses them to speak these obvious falsehoods as if they are fact. It is a hoax. I promise. Drop bears are just a colloquial term for koalas, and the fear that surrounds some people who have never seen them that they drop from the trees and gouge people's eyes out.

Someone somewhere believes; that is a fact. 

I have also heard some interesting things about how America is believed to think Australian children ride kangaroos to school. And Americans don't see fresh vegetables at their groceries: everything is frozen or canned in "preservatives" isle.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Classes have Started

Well, yesterday (3rd of March) was my first day of class! I am slightly proud of myself for being able to pick up on navigating through campus. It has taken me less time to get the layout of the land at Clayton Campus than my own campus at home. Then, this campus is less spread out than NCSU because there are less roads than run through the buildings. I can reach the end of campus in maybe 15 minutes.

I am a little less proud of myself, though, when it comes to trying to meet people in class. It is not 100% my fault. Since, Richardson is such a tight knit community, every class that there is at least one of the residence I have already met in the first two weeks in all of my classes. You in particular is in all of my CHE classes, and she has introduced me to friends she has met from Korea and China. What I am getting at is I have barely talked to a single Australian in any of my classes. I have begun some conversations with the locals that were cut short by class commencing once or twice, but overall I have ended up hanging out with other exchange students. Don't get me wrong, I am very happy to meet people from China, Korea, and a back packer from Canada named Chantal. I just think of it as this: "Why would you go to Australia just for you NOT interact with the local Australians?"

I have time. Tomorrow is only Wednesday, I just need to let my exchange friends know that I want to talk with some other people to can expand my network, for not only the class studies but for future endeavors in my life.

As for my classes, so far they have been basic review, just as it would be in the USA. Nothing new: introductions, outlines of the syllabus (or unit guide), the works and of course a review of previous courses, just to refresh everyone's memories. I am a little worried that these classes are going to be exactly the same as the ones I took last semester, though, instead of continuations (or part II) of the classes I took before I got here. The reason for my concern is because the books are exactly the same ones I used last year. I am hopeful that I won't fall behind. We never completed the book, so maybe it's just us focusing on the second half, or the book is written and looks exactly the same by the design of the cover, but it isn't the same. I think the latter is the case, because I started reading the online book and I don't remember reading these problems (even if it is just review). I am confident that my NCSU contact who took the same classes in the same stretch of time during her CHE major wouldn't lead me astray about which classes she took for the equivalent of our CHE major, class requirements.

Once again, I have bad luck with which professor I can tell I will like and which one I like but won't prefer as much. My Transport Processes and Separations Professor is approachable and tries very had to keep everyone engaged. My Thermodynamics II Professor is soft spoken and has a thick Chinese accent and terrible handwriting (yet instead of typed slides he writes as he goes), and I am fully aware that I struggle with thermodynamics. I have to give him props; my Chinese Professor is conscious of his accent, so he stated a reminder that all lectures are recorded for online perusal outside of lectures.

My nanoscience elective class has got me frustrated and not the material! The Professor initially cancelled classes for this week because they were going to absent. Then, there was a correction because another Professor had volunteered to sub for them. He never showed. Gissele, Caio, and I waited half an hour out of an hour lecture for him to show.

Finally, I am frustrated by the new, sensitive fire alarm system! It has gone of FOUR TIMES this semester, two of which went off today. They had warned us that there was a new system in place, and to be conscious of it by not hanging anything from the pipes, or boiling/toasting anything in our rooms. It must be a trial and error thing, because they are so sensitive that one of the instances was the result of my RA taking a shower this morning. The bathroom door is right next to the sensor, and the door doesn't go all the way up to the wall (there is a gap at the top). The have now sealed it up, but there is a small possibility that my RA will have to pay a $2000 fine to the fire department for the trouble it costs them to come out to a false alarm for TAKING A SHOWER! That's ridiculous! Best case scenario, MRS pays for it. That alarm woke me up 5 minutes before my alarm and almost made me late for class. The other one today happened while I was finally sitting down to read for my Contemporary Australia class in my room (because the common room is too distracting). I was pissed! The other incidences were over a game of BS, ironically, and 1am on White Night. Some people today, though were already hanging outside of my room because a possum was hanging out the stairway door on the pipes on the ceiling in the evening (unusual to see them before dark) when the alarm went off. I blame him for it even if this incident was from the conjoining Hall, Roberts. All you could see was his tale hanging down like a cat's white booted patterned paw (except for the curl at the end), and his face winking down at us from between the pipes. I am pretty sure he regretted his hang out choice, not only because of the human disturbances, but the loud BEEP BEEP BEEP followed by the WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP of the fire alarm!

Bowling & Laser Tag


Today was host scheme night, which was something that MSA (Monash Student Association) hosted, but you had to buy tickets and the other option was BOWLING! I don't know how long it had been since I had went bowling!

We actually walked over to go to bowling, but I couldn't tell you where it was because I wasn't paying much attention to what direction we went. This night was free to Residence. We each received three free tickets to either play one game of bowling or one game of laser tag per ticket. And we got 5 coins to use on arcade games such as wack-a-mole earning us tickets to get junk or table hockey.

Since residence from all of the halls were invited, the line was out the door, and no one knew which line was for what. I was so excited and full of adrenaline. I had never played laser tag until today. I liked how all of the vests/laser guns had names. I picked Thor. I did a terrible job, but I didn't care. I had a lot of fun. My friend Talli got the highest score! She's a bit of a pro though.

We took a break after getting out of breath from all of our dodging and shooting. I ended up with a discounted ice cream on a stick. It was already melted. I regretted that move, but I was so thirsty I slurped it up in the wrapper.

Talli urged me into a round of table hockey with her. After, an initial reluctance, we ended up being well matched. It seemed that ever other shot was hit by the other. She one by one point. It was a good game. We shook hands.

Talli refused to play a round of bowling, but I spoke with Icha, Nad, and Muku. Icha and Nad are from Malaysia and Muku from South Africa. Muku didn't want to play, yet I know she left their having had fun, even if her score ended up being the lowest of the four.

I personally was scoring terribly at first. I didn't hit a single pin on the first round. Then, a trend began were about every three terrible hands I would get a STRIKE! Even though my overall score was bad, I don't think I have ever scored three strikes in one game before.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Scavenger Hunt

Sunday (Feb 23) was much more exciting than the White Night, though it was exhausting, especially when the night before it was difficult to go back to sleep after being woken up by the fire alarm.

We were going present our flashmob dance to a crowd of unsuspecting strangers in Federation Square! Plus, we split up into groups with a list of tasks we had to do and document doing. We ran out of time and didn't complete them all, but by the end everyone was too exhausted to complain about anything more than sore feet. Everyone was so exhausted, the stairway battles were even cancelled that night.

I don't have the pamphlet with all of the tasks, but I will list off as many as I can recall, especially the ones I participated in. Also, I haven't seen any of the photos or footage, yet, but I think they are in the process of editing it first. This is the list that I can remember off the top of my head: (if I don't list that we didn't do it, we did it)

Propose to a stranger, arm wrestle with a stranger, eat Crazy Wings (they are the hottest wings on the planet; grown men cried eating these), eat hamburger whole (bonus points for paying for it in 5 cent coins), hero pose with statues in the city, jump up so everyone's feet off the ground in front of Parliment, make fish face with fish in aquarium and get bonus points for getting strangers to do it too (didn't get to do this one), recreate a famous sports action in front of arena, catch the other groups off guard and Moose them so they have to lay down on the ground and call out like moose, find a misspelled word in the city, find a comic book shop, find a book written by Richardson's namesake, have someone in the group wear underwear on outside of their pants (Dylan), swap shorts with someone else (points for extreme size difference) (I did this with James; he proudly work my only stretchy, PINK shorts, while I wore a belt to hold up his), count the number of levels in Eureka tower, take photos of all stations on the city loop, sing on train or tram (points for getting strangers to participate), act out a superhero vs. villain scene with unsuspecting strangers, find night rider stop,  do the Hoky Poky in front at Flinder's Station, squish as many people into a phone booth (I sat on Jame's shoulders), poise as mannequins in the window of a shop, act out a natural disaster in public, collect coasters from at least 18 bars (We didn't make it to 18), spell RICHO with your bodies, etc.

In the middle of the scavenger hunt we had to meet up in Federation Square to dance in the flashmob to the song Keep on Moving by 5ive. It is now officially our theme song! Everyone danced the moves out during toga night when they played the song. And every time I hear it now, I want to break out and dance!

Our group got side tracked on our mission to complete it before our free dinner at 6. We all witnessed a it and run. And our very own Captain Underpants, Dylan, stayed behind to call the police and report he license plate number. It wasn't a major accident, but the reaction of the driver whose fault it was was what made us so willing to react negatively towards the situation. He/she bumped into another car, then sped off into the middle of a four way stop through a red light to get away. It wasn't priority, so Dylan never got a hold of personal to come to the scene but it was logged. Everything turned out alright; I just hope some form of justice or karma occurs for the sake of the drivers who got minor dents and scratches to their car.

White Night

Saturday (Feb 22) was White Night, but first I was going to the mall, Chadstone, fondly known as Chatty by the locals. I had to return my cheap, broken Kmart clock, which I was planning to set for Eastern time so I always knew what time it was back home. I met Yvonne, from New Mexico on this trip. She had just moved in and needed a few things. I discovered she is an Airforce brat, who flew from Japan because that's where her family is based at the moment. She is well traveled, and loves crazy socks. I knew we would become friends. Her, and Talli, Corinne, Marni and quite a few others also have are huge fans of Marvel, DC Comics and any other geeky fan based movies and books you can think of. I will never feel alone in the world of geek culture as a woman again. I know I have never been alone, but not many of my friends back home share my enthusiasm, and some of them are even crazier than me about certain cult following (and I mean that in a good way).

I have had conversations on Fringe, Game of Thrones (which I am practically being forced to catch up on since I had only seen the first episode), Thor, Spiderman, Sherlock (BBC), Dr. Who (which I don't personally follow but I am told I will), John Green vlogs, comic books (I am now borrowing Corinne's first Fringe comic), Almost Human, etc. The list is endless.

The first time I really bonded with Talli, who probably tops any of us on her fan Fiction collection, youtube video knowledge, etc (she is appropriately studying Literature) it was over remixes, dubstep, and mash up music. She has such an odd back story of a small town girl with parents who work on a pig farm (but they have moved jobs frequently in the farming business), so fiction became her escape from the confines of the town. Strangely enough her mother was born in France and raised in England. Anyway, I don't want to pray tell everything, because this is such a public blog, and I don't feel I should divulge too much without her permission. Let's just say, she and I have probably gotten to know each other the most out of everyone else I have spent time with thus far.

During shopping, I finally got a clock I was happy about. I didn't want a digital alarm clock, but I didn't want it not to be digital because I admit I don't read analog clocks that quickly. Then, Talli showed me to this retro shop called Typo, and they had one of those old closes that flips when it changes time. I will be bringing that one back with me!

That night we went to White Night. It was a dud for some and a blast for others, but everyone can agree that it was packed, not crowded, packed. I couldn't make a step in any direction with about rubbing shoulders with a stranger. Our group had to make a chain to stick together. And for us it was a dud. I feel if we had went in pairs of two or three it would have been more fun and longer lasting. If it weren't for heading back early karma wouldn't have bitten back either. The fire alarm went off at one in the morning, when most people were just drifting off. I got a few photos, but we walked a few feet down Swanston Street, headed towards one of the music events, gave up, and went back into Flinder's Station, and that was the end of White Night for me. Sad, huh. Don't feel too bad for me. Many other events are to come, and I am still high of spirits!

A Taste of Colombia

I had some errands I ran on Thrusday, the 20th, which made me late for the Monash Abroad Bushfoods event. I still got to have some food, but they were all out of kangaroo, so I still haven't tried it. This will be a short post, but I have to mention my Colombian food discussion with Miguel.

I have had many cultural discussions including how to ask for Beer in at least three other languages, but I have to say my favorite one at this point in my journey was the discussion on Colombian food. I meet a Colombian during the Bushfood event named Miguel. He was wearing the Flash T-shirt much like Sheldon sometimes wears on the Big Bang Theory. And I swear he looks like a shorter version of Sheldon himself. He is studying Physics for goodness sake! He has a tattoo on his arm of Euler's Identity (e^i*pi + 1 = 0), and during Toga night I soon discovered he had a more complex tattoo of many different equations all depicted in a photo of the sun rays onto a flower or something.

Anyway, the discussion revolved around a meal that is the epitome for his region of Paisa called bandeja paisa. He tried very hard to describe what was in it and how it tasted, but we ended up having to look it up on wikipedia. I thought it was just one dish, but it's a whole entire meal! Here are the main ingredients: read beans, pork belly, white rice, ground meat, chicharon, fried egg, plantains, chorizo, arepa, hogao sause, black pudding, avocado, and lemon. When I looked up how to make it, I discovered it probably takes four hours in total to whip up each individual part of the meal. I cannot even describe the joy I have had from then on asking others what traditional food their families make.

I also was excited when watching the band teach some partners how to dance an Aussie old hoedown sort of traditional step dance.

That night I had been invited to the Nott by a few groups of people; The Nott is the local bar hang out for past and present Richardson Hall residence. I went that night after so many people asked me to come (it was positive peer pressure, though, because I wanted to go to the local bar at least once, just so I could say I went) unlike tonight. I am not going tonight because tomorrow morning I am getting up to go to Healsville Sanctuary. I have already been to two animal sanctuaries, but I thought it was such a reasonable price, and it would be another way for me to hand out with and meet the other exchange students. I probably waited 30 minutes at the bar to order one single drink. Eventually, after sitting down on a chair (not the booths, they were sticky from spills). Krishna and Evan started bromancing. Seems that when guys drink they all turn gay no matter what sexual orientation they actually are. I have some good blackmail photos of them. They probably won't see the light of day on the web; I am not that evil, but I like sharing it with the other Richo residence. Talli, Matt and I left early because we would prefer hanging out where everyone can talk and hear each other rather than at a loud music bar with drunk college students. Matt doesn't drink anyway, and both Talli and I were sober. We did get a little lost (we knew we were on campus so we weren't really that lost) walking back, and strangely enough ended up in near the Engineering faculty building, which made it easy for me to lead the rest of the way.

Some girls walking ahead of us got stopped by campus security; they were looking for McDonald's. We pointed it out, but I will never know if they found their way. It was pretty obvious to campus security, who didn't even drive by us, that while the girls (who were walking in the middle of the road) were drunk, while we were minding our own business. I hope they got home safe.

Queen Victorian Night Market

With the combination of Richardson Hall events, Study Abroad Orientation Events, and Orientation Events, I have had my hands full for the past week and a half.

Wednesday night, on the 19th, we went to the Queen Victorian Night Market. I was supposed to go with the exchange students, but when I found out Richardson was going to, I thought, why not go with them instead. I had been hanging out with many of the exchange students already because the day before was the Monash Abroad Orientation, which was long, boring and a lot of information thrown at us. Ever since the day after my Dad left many days here have been cold and rainy. The skies decided to rain really hard on that day in particular. Richardson Hall canceled the outing to Queen Vic Market.

It turned out alright, though, because another hall was still going so us Richo residence that were willing to risk the skies opening up on us again, went out. I was extremely comfortable getting to and from the Market, since it was right next to the Radisson, which was where my Dad and I stayed before moving me into my room. We ate first. There was a who section of the market that was so smoky and hot because all they were doing was cooking food. I had the most deliciously odd fires of my life. They were made from chick peas. It was delicious. I sat down and saved a seat for Talli for what felt like 20 minutes while she went to take out some cash at an ATM. I felt so bad. I must have turned away 10 couples who asked me if the two seats next to me were vacant. She apologized for the wait. There had been a ridiculously long line for the ATM machine, and while I had gotten her number I had forgotten to text her mine. That got corrected quickly. While I had been waiting, I entertained myself at people watching. The two women next to me were chatting in a French accent, and this very kind old woman who was the one of the Market's janitorial staff received a kind tip from a woman who pretended she found some money on the ground and handed it to her. This old lady gave me the sweetest smile when she saw me see what happened. She looked like a lady who would have wonderful tales to tell.

Talli and I had gotten separated by Saffron from Australia and the two siblings, Allen and Franchesca from Mauritius. We soon ran into them again as we explored each "tent" to marvel at their wears. I was so tempted to purchase one of the cacti from this one shop. They had some that were in mini pots with magnets! They were so cute. I wish we had more time, because we didn't find the vintage clothing section until we only had 10 minutes before we had to meet up with the group to head back. I tried some almond flavored fudge, and because Talli owed me money for her dinner, she bought me my first macaroon. My words cannot describe the delectable delicacy that is a macaroon, especially my raspberry one.

I ended up getting some jewelry. I found a ring with a typewriter key for an "H," and two earrings: keys and toy robots. I am definitely going back!


So yesterday (Feb 17) was the start of Monash Abroad Orientation. We started at 8:30 and ended at 3. It was a long day of lectures. I guess I should start getting used that again. Eventually classes start, and my free time will slowly lessen until it disappears all together just like any other college year.

We were invited to evening events last night. Never again will i go clubbing like I did yesterday. It's not like I drank a lot; I only had one hard cider. The reason for my negative outlook is it's a waste of money and in the end my feet hurt, my throat was sore from yelling over the music as well as from the people around in the area who started smoking, my ears rang, and I felt more alone in that crowd of people (not all alone, though, I did enjoy hanging out with my new friends) than in my hanging out in my single bedroom. I ended up spending $30 plus the cost of using the train to get there: I spent $10 on two hard ciders when I meant to order one (it was so loud the bar tender didn't get my order right), $6 to get into the club Cheers, and $10 of a $60 split cab fair back to campus.

I had some fun, yes, but all in all, I prefer exploring shops and buildings or chatting in a group over dinner and a drink than going to a place like Cheers. And I did enjoy going to the first location because it was more of a social bar than a club where talking is impossible over the music, plus it was a rooftop bar, so there was a roofless area where you could enjoy the skyline overhead.

Some interesting notes on that night: One Girl in the club thought I was from Argentina! And the chivalrous Eddie from Canada walked me back to Richardson when I wasn't sure how to get from the Hall the other residences lived in to mine.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Great Ocean Drive

February 17th:

I have almost caught up. I skipped some of my  holiday trip, but I think the now is a little more important. Today was the last day that my Dad was going to have in Australia, so I took off socializing and making new friends to spend one last day trip with him. As much as I love him, I was glad for the day of reprieve to collect myself on Sunday, because I have a hard time traveling with him for long periods of time. We just don't always see eye to eye, especially when it comes to how structured scheduling (know what time things start, what time it is, and how long it takes to go somewhere), mapping, and planning is. I would much rather have an unstructured day of leisurely walking  and stop to smell the roses than one where all I feel like were are doing is running from place to place just so we can squeeze everything in. In the end, though, I understand the importance of time and why he does/did what he does/did. 

I had a great last day. There were no complaints; I posed for all his pictures. I wanted this day to be a good last day since I wouldn't be seeing him for quite some time. Thanks Dad! There were many ups and downs, but in the end we got to see and do everything on your list!