Sunday, February 27, 2011

Beach and relaxing weekend

Today is the last day of February…this month has gone by so quickly and it’s still weird how I have only just started classes. This weekend was good. Saturday morning I went to the beach. I met some people at the Parklands apartments up the hill from where I live (literally all the way up the hill). It seemed like a long way as I walked there but then as we walked down, it seemed like I lived much closer to them.
            We left for the beach about 15 minutes after I got there and then tracked down my friend Jenny that I invited along as well. I had to use my friend’s phone to get a hold of her because I still don’t have a phone here, but I’m hoping my SIM card will arrive today because it has been in the mail supposedly for the past week.
            We took the train to Chatswood, then switched to another train to Wynyard and walked to the ferry to go to Manly beach. We got a day pass for the train, bus and ferry which was awesome!!
            The ferry ride was so cool! Unfortunately all the outdoor seats were taken by the time we got on the ferry so we sat inside, but it was still pretty neat. Overall it took us around an hour and a half to get to the beach, but it was worth it. I grabbed some lunch from Subway and ate on the beach and then sunscreened up. It was a beautiful day outside. I enjoyed the wonderful sun for a bit and then headed into the water with Jenny and Sam. Molly and Cindy watched our stuff while we were in the water. We caught many waves and I went under a few times, but it was tons of fun and the water felt great on a 25 degree Celsius day. After playing in the waves for a while, we headed back to our towels, giving the other girls a chance to go in the water and giving us a chance to dry off.
            Once we were pretty much dry, Jenny and I walked around the little market right near by and went in some shops. I got a couple postcards and a deck of cards to add to my collection. For those of you who don’t know, I collect decks of cards from everywhere I go and I can guarantee that this won’t be the only deck of cards that I will bring home from my trip here. Apparently the market runs almost every weekend at Manly Beach and they had some nice stuff there, so maybe next time I’ll buy something from the market.

            We stayed at the beach until shortly after 4 and then headed back to the ferry and then the train. We had to switch trains 3 times, but made it back. I dropped off my stuff at my room when I returned and went right to dinner even though I was a bit sandy from the beach, but it was almost 6:30 and dinner ends at 7. Finally tonight was a great dinner, some pasta, a salad and carrot cake for dessert. Now they just need to have some chocolate cake for dessert one night.     
            As far as Sunday goes, I didn’t do a whole lot. It was drizzling off and on here but it was still a great temperature outside and I just love the smell after it rains, the air just feels so fresh.
I went to the library for a bit in the morning and figured out how to print there, although it costs 11 cents a page so I probably won’t be printing there much. I can print at my college for just the cost of a pack of paper, but the other day, 2 of the printers were low on ink which is why I went to the library. Sunday was my day of reading and relaxing mostly. I did get a lot done in terms of what homework I have so far. Most of my assignments though aren’t due until the end of next week or the week after even, because here they don’t do weekly assignments or day to day assignments, so it seems like less work, but I think they expect more from you on the quality of the assignments and hoping you take the time to read the material and everything thoroughly.
            Sunday evening we had our first general meeting for the college and basically we were introduced to the different committees that they have here. In the beginning of the semester there is a fee that each student has to pay and the money goes to these committees so they really want you to get involved and get your money’s worth by participating in programs and stuff. This semester at some point there is a ball that the college plans and they needed people to help with that and that sounded the most interesting to me. There is also a sports committee, food committee, entertainment committee, etc. It was a good meeting though and I look forward to the other ones to come and the events for the semester.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day 4: February 24, 2011

So this morning I had my lovely 8am education class that I’m taking for no reason at all, other than a random free elective that fit into my schedule and I’m hoping does not take up too much of my time since all my time should be going to my math classes…
            Finding the building that the class was in this morning was the easy part, then I had to find the lecture room T4 (theater 4). Now I wasn’t sure whether T4 would be on the first floor, second floor, third floor, maybe there was a fourth floor? In this building they are also doing a major construction project (just like the rest of campus it seems) and replacing the roof or something, so there is this big open space with tons of construction workers and equipment in the building. I wonder what that space was originally used for before the construction started, maybe a lounge type area? So I found T1 on the first floor and then I decided to go up the stairs where there were signs saying “workers overhead,” for some reason, that made me feel like the stairs weren’t really the safest to go up, but I had to find my classroom. When I got to the second floor there was a sign that said “T2 to T8 on level 3.” Cool so now I knew where I was going, but still question how they lay out these buildings, with T1 being on the first floor and the rest of the lecture rooms on the third. I got into the room and class was about to start so I had to be that person who makes people move to get a seat that is open in the middle of the row, but it was alright. Space is really cramped in these specific lecture halls. I didn’t even realize there was a tiny desk you could pull up to place your stuff on at first. The other thing was the air conditioning was blasting in this room. Being that it was 7:45am when I left my room and the mornings are usually cool here, I was wearing jeans and a light sweater and I was so glad, because otherwise I would have been freezing in there. We also had the door open to the lecture most of the time and a great view of the construction, so that was a bit distracting, but mostly we went over the assignments for the semester anyway, the usual introduction class. 
Overall the class actually does seem a bit interesting and it’s mostly Aussie Freshmen or 1st year students who are going on to being a teacher in elementary school. My teacher is really enthusiastic about science though, so that should definitely help make the class interesting. I haven’t done any biology since Freshmen year in high school…7 years ago, so these next 3 weeks while we focus on bio should definitely be interesting. I’m excited for my first assignment for the class which is to get 10 people (5 males and 5 females) to draw a scientist for me and then I get to compare the drawings and talk about where these visions of a scientist come from in a short paper of 800 words.
After class I went to buy my one and only book for this semester and it is just a small notebook of copied stories. My other books are all available online and I was able to print them. It’s nice not having to spend $500 on books for once.
Then I had my 2 math classes, back to back and found out that my math classes will be canceled on Monday due to a strike that will be happening. Then it was finally time for some lunch and time to relax and plan out assignments for the semester.
Before I knew it, it was time for dinner already and after dinner I got some people to draw a scientist for me. Then I hung out, played some pool (I enjoy the game even though I’m not that good) and had some Australian candy called Smarties, completely different from the Smarties sweet tarts in America, these are more like flatter m & m’s. Then I watched a movie with a couple people and finally it was time for bed.  

Monday, February 21, 2011


These are some photos of O-Week I took today:
 2 guys dressed in camel suits I think and I believe they were on stilts. Yesterday there was a guy and a girl dressed as a tree and a bush, unfortunately I didn't have my camera when I got a chance to hug the bush.
 The nice central courtyard on campus. Many trees. Yesterday the guy dressed as a tree told me if I'm ever stressed, I should hug one of those trees because that is what they are there for.

Random picture of my notebook and I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but their desks are weird and totally not straight which bothers me. I felt like my notebook was going to slide right off my desk the entire lecture.

Some pictures from the Pylon lookout of the Harbour Bridge that I went to last week:

Day 2: Feb 22, 2011

Today I had lecture 2 for my wave class and then contemporary Australian arts. I actually started class today at 10am, but realized that I wouldn’t have that class, because it was just the tutorial for my arts class and since I hadn’t had the lecture for it yet, I didn’t have the tutorial. I wanted to find the building it was in anyway because when looking at the map of campus, I noticed the building was far off in the corner, kind of isolated from campus. I looked at a map and started walking through some parking lots but then thought that I must be going the wrong way. So I walked back to the map and decided to try another way. Well I started walking and there was all this construction work being done towards this end of campus (actually there seems to be construction on every side of campus but this side in particular). I crossed a street because I thought I saw the building I was looking for, but that one wasn’t it and I was pretty sure at that point, I was off campus, but I knew how to get back so I wasn’t worried. Finally I noticed another building across 2 streets in front of me, so I headed that direction and eventually saw the sign for Y3A, the building I was looking for. It took me 20 minutes, but I had allowed plenty of time to get there on time even if we had met today for class.
            I waited around for a bit to see if anyone else would show up and no one did, so after 15 minutes, I headed back to campus, a different way. Turns out, the first way I was walking would have actually gotten me to the building. I just didn’t realize you had to walk through so many parking lots. It’s so strange though.
            I spent my time before my next class just sitting in the library and reading, then I had my second lecture for waves. My teacher was 10 minutes late to the class and this is my second teacher for Waves. She has a Ukrainian accent and speaks softly so you have to sit up front and listen closely. Of course, for this class, everyone sits right up front as there are only 5 of us.
            After class, one guy in my class showed me where to find the notes online for the class which was useful as I was searching for an hour or so to master their website and didn’t find anything. Then I headed back to get some lunch and go online for a bit before heading back over to campus for my contemporary arts lecture.
            Contemporary Australian Arts reminds me of high school classes, so I’m actually really excited about that. Our grade is based on 20% participation (yes Dad I will participate since this class has it as part of the grade), 20% 15 min presentation that you make to your tutorial class on a contemporary artist (a bit nervous about that as we are not allowed to read anything from slides, just talk about our opinion, but should be alright), 20% short essay about an exhibit not discussed in class (I will be taking trips into Sydney with a couple people to see exhibits) and 40% essay about a theme in contemporary Australian art. No final for the class, basically the last essay is the final and although I haven’t written an essay in 2 years, I don’t think it will be too bad, especially since we have already been given the prompts so we already know what to expect. The one thing I do have to figure out is how to submit it and how they reference here, but that shouldn’t be too bad. It’s also nice that I know 2 people in the class. Another interesting aspect about this class is that my teacher hardly ever lectures. We have 1 lecture a week and every week has been outlined for us already and there are 13 weeks, 3 of which my teacher actually lectures during and the rest are guest speakers. It will be interesting to hear from all the different artists coming in, I just find it funny that my teacher only lectures 3 times during the course of the semester.
            After that I was done for the day and I went for a quick look around at O-week tables and then headed back to my room for the afternoon and evening, just working on getting class stuff together and figuring out what to do with my weekend coming up.  

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day 1 of classes

Today was the first day of classes. I only had 2, both of my math classes today. Class number 1 was my algebra type class or I guess what the main topic is, is group theory and I’m not exactly sure what that means yet, but I guess I find out on Wednesday at lecture 2. Anyway we talked about shuffling decks of cards and the 2 way that most people chose to shuffle them, either splitting the deck approximately in half and moving the top half to the bottom or the riffle shuffle. I was very interested in this conversation as I love playing card games and collecting decks of cards.
My next class was my second math class which is all about waves. It should be an interesting class. The handy thing was it happened to be right after my first class and in the same room, so on Mondays I’m just in one classroom for 2 hours and then I’m done for the day. This class only had 4 people in it including me although I guess 5 are signed up! I guess the good thing is that the teacher really does get to know you and help you if you need it or at least I’m hoping that is the case.
In this class we talked about the different types of waves, whether they are light waves, water waves or sound waves and what they all have in common, being the disturbance or in the case of a water wave, the peak of the wave. We then went on to talk about different types of wave equations we will be using and now I’m supposed to remember my differential equations that I haven’t done much with in the past year and a half, so this class will be interesting.
What I learned today was that the way Australia teaches math classes is quite different than in America. So I have 4 lectures a week per math class, so 4 hours of math and when you consider a university in America, that is about the same amount of time in class because normally I’d have 3 lectures and then a recitation. These classes don’t have recitations or tutorials as the Aussies call it, so you have 4 lectures and you have 2 teachers. Each teacher, teaches 2 lectures each week. It’s a bit confusing and weird as my teacher today says “you’ll learn what group theory is in the second half of this class with the other teacher.” From that I almost feel like each math class has 2 things going on at once and one week I may have an assignment for 1 of the teachers and the next may be the other. It will definitely take some getting used to. Also my math classes aren’t at the same time nor the same location each lecture. I have this feeling that I will be carrying around my timetable (schedule) with me everywhere for weeks or the entire semester.
In the afternoon, I was browsing the university’s website trying to figure out where to find the online materials. Well I managed to find the algebra class’ materials and discovered that my final exam for that class will be 60% of my grade. The wave class is the same. The only difference in grading is that the wave class will have 5 assignments and a test in addition to that 60% and the algebra class has 8 assignments and 2 projects in addition to the final. I can already tell I will definitely have to study each night for these classes to make sure I fully understand the material. The nice thing about having the materials online is that I only had to pay for paper to print it out. I have already printed the first 3 of 12 chapters for my algebra class and plan to start reading the material tonight or tomorrow. Apparently the wave material is online, but I haven’t found it yet so I might have to ask the teacher about that.
As far as the rest of my afternoon, I checked out O-Week on campus which is orientation week for the university and that just means there are tons of tents up in the central courtyard, some free stuff and lots of information about clubs and things on campus. Then I headed to the mall to get some more school supplies and explore because I still haven’t been in every store yet of the huge mall.  

Friday, February 18, 2011

Orientation week and Sydney

I know I haven’t written in the last week, but it has just been orientation week, so Monday and Wednesday consisted of presentations introducing certain campus clubs and other information, so they weren’t that interesting, just kept me busy. Tuesday I went on a scavenger hunt through Sydney with the college I’m living in, Dunmore Lang. That was a lot of fun. We went through the city, stopping at different points to do a task from one of the orientation leaders, some were embarrassing and some were fun. One task was singing on the steps of the opera house to everyone touring around, which was embarrassing since the only 2 songs we knew as a group were twinkle, twinkle little star and itsy bitsy spider. My favorite activity was asking people to give us a piggy back ride across the street, although I wasn’t as successful as others, it was fun. We got 2 points for each piggy back ride we got across the street and my group managed to get 62 points in 15 minutes which was the highest score at that point. I still don’t know who won the scavenger hunt, but I’m really hoping they tell us this weekend. I don’t know if we win anything for it, but I’d like to know how other groups did in comparison. So that was my Tuesday.
Wednesday, like I said was presentations and we finally got our class schedules which they call “timetables.” Their system of signing up for classes is a bit confusing though. I looked at my schedule and what I was signed up for and it was everything I wanted. I then when I went to check out the details more online and first realized that the school still has my birthday wrong, because they flipped the day and month since America writes dates as month-day-year rather than day-month-year, so I have yet to fix my birthday but next week I will. Then I checked my classes and saw that I was only half signed up for one of my math classes, meaning I was signed up for 2 of the 4 lectures. I needed to be in all of them, so it was my job to register for the other 2 and then I realized that one lecture conflicted with my astronomy class. Well I was just taking the astronomy for fun, so I needed to now drop the astronomy class and choose a different class that didn’t conflict with my math class. After searching through different subjects I finally chose an education class called Science: today and tomorrow. It seems interesting and I have never taken an education class, but if I do decide to go on to grad school and get a master’s, it’d be in education in order to teach, so I thought why not. Of course this class is at 8am on a Thursday, but I’m a morning person and considering my other days don’t start until 10 or 11, I think waking up early 1 day each week is not too bad.
It’s annoying that we didn’t get our schedules sooner, because it left everyone with 2 days to get things fixed before classes start on Monday and some people need to completely change their schedule and get signatures and everything to get into certain classes. Also you can go into their system to change your class time at any point in the semester, so say you want a different “tutorial” time (I think tutorial is like a recitation in the states), as long as there is a seat open in the class, you can drop your current tutorial and add the other.
So onto Thursday…I figured out how to do my laundry which was pretty simple and had that done early in the morning. Most of the day, I spent in my room, relaxing, reviewing my schedule and checking off things I needed to get done.
In the afternoon, I went to a presentation on getting a job. It was fairly short and mostly found out about a bunch of websites to check out. I’m hoping to find a job on campus since that would be most convenient. Then I turned in my schedule changes, so hopefully I won’t have to do much more with that. Nothing too exciting the rest of the day until I went downtown around dinner time for the Harbour cruise.
I took the train down and found some other people also going on the cruise whom I had met at surf camp last weekend. We found the Man O’War steps next to the Opera house where the boat was picking us up. Eventually others arrived and then around 7:15, probably around 300 people headed onto this small boat and crowded together. I think it felt crowded though, because most people wanted to stay outside of the rooms since the breeze felt nice. It was the perfect night for a cruise on the harbour. The sun set as we were on the boat and then the city lit up. It was hard to capture the lights on camera especially on a moving boat, but it was a wonderful experience and I met a couple of people too.  I especially loved seeing the moon as we cruised along. 
Friday I went on the Sydney Harbour Bridge tour. We headed down to the city and you’d think that looking at the bridge and Opera House would eventually get old, but right now, they are still just as interesting. We went up to the lookout pylon, which had a little museum about some of the bridge history. The Sydney Harbour Bridge opened on March 19, 1932 and it took almost a full 8 years to build. It supplied many jobs for people during the great depression. It cost 10,057,170 pounds, 7 shillings and 9 pence. The bridge climb started on October 1, 1998 and since then over 1,000,000 people have climbed the bridge. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is the third largest bridge in the world but is considered to be the greatest because of the combination of span, width and load bearing capacity. Those were just a few interesting facts on the bridge that I learned.
From the top of the pylon, there was a 360 degree view of Sydney as you walked around and we also could see the people climbing the bridge. I really wanted to be where the other people were as they climbed to the top of the bridge. I plan to do that while I’m here and I think it may be my birthday present to myself or something, since it is pricy, but I think it’s worth it. You can also choose to climb during the day, twilight or night. Prices vary a bit, but it’d be cool to climb the bridge during twilight to be on the bridge towards the end of the day and then after the sun sets. They also have a wedding climb. I think it’d be really cool to be married at the top of the Harbour bridge.
After looking around at Sydney for a while, we headed down and went to the Australian Hotel and restaurant for lunch. They had a lot of gourmet pizzas to choose from and I split a pizza with my friend Tina. Some people had BBQ Kangaroo pizza, which I heard was good. I was pretty boring, choosing the cheese, basil and tomato pizza.
After lunch we walked to the Opera house and by the time we got there, it was already almost 3pm, so we didn’t have time to walk through the botanical gardens since we had to be back by 5pm and it would take us some time to walk to the train station. By this time the sun had finally come out. The morning was very cloudy and it seemed like it was going to rain, but it didn’t and by the afternoon, we were all sweating and the sun was out. It seemed like a pretty typical day in Sydney. The weather is so deceiving in the morning.
Once I got back to Macquarie, I went to the mall, where I seem to spend a lot of time since it’s so big. Then I had some dinner at my college and relaxed for the rest of the evening. Hopefully I will get a chance to go to the beach this weekend with some people.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Australia Surf Camp Feb 12-13

This weekend I was at surf camp. We arrived late on Friday night and I was dead tired because I am still jet lagged. After waking up at 6:45am (which may seem really early, but when you are jet lagged and waking up at 5am is no problem, 6:45, seems late lol), we had breakfast or brekky as the Aussies call it and then we got into wetsuits and headed down to the 7 mile beach. It’s a really nice and pretty beach. We had to carry our surf boards down, which got heavy after a while of walking. We partnered up so that it’d be easier, but it was still like weight lifting.
            During our first lesson, we drew surf boards in the sand and practiced getting on them to make sure we had the positioning correct. Then we went out in the water and tried it. That part went fairly well for me when I did catch a wave. Then we went back to the sand to learn how to position our feet on the board to get closer to standing up. This was tricky when we actually had to do it in the water. I did well the first time and a couple other times, but slipped off a lot.
            At 11:30 we had lunch and looked at our photos and videos from the morning and then we had a bit of down time before heading out for lesson 2. The afternoon hit and I was already ready for a nap, but we headed back out to catch some waves. First we did some stretching as a group and then we learned how to stand up on the boards with our drawn surf boards on the sand. When we got into the water, the waves were higher and it was high tide. I had trouble getting my timing for waves right. After catching a few waves, I finally did get to the point of taking my hands off the board for a split second which was definitely my goal for the day. After a while I just didn’t have any energy left to try anymore though.

        After surfing and taking nice hot showers, me, Tina and Sarah went to the Pub up the road with just about everyone else. As we were walking uphill, we were all starting to feel just how much of a workout we got from surfing and were very sore. The walk was worth it though because the view was beautiful! We hung out there until it was time for dinner. Dinner is still the hardest meal to have an appetite for with the time change, so I am only able to usually take a few bites just because I know I have to eat. After dinner, some people went back to the Pub but I was too tired and ended going to bed early with Tina.
            Sunday was pretty much the same routine, but I was much more successful. I got a bigger board that I was able to balance on better and finally figured out how to position my feet. The hardest part of this day was waking up so sore that just lifting my arms and walking were hard. The current was also pretty strong and the waves were pretty big. After catching a few waves, I had to sit down for a bit and then I went back until it was time to go. I had a lot of fun as I was finally catching waves and standing. I was so excited!!
            For our last lesson, we just hung out at the camp and learned about safety information when finding a place to surf and also other places to surf around Australia if we plan to continue. I don’t know if I will surf again but I was glad to have this opportunity to surf. It was definitely a great beach to learn on and the instructors were very helpful. I’d definitely recommend Australia Surf Camp!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Exploring the campus day 2

Well this morning I got up around 4:30am my time, because I went to bed at 7pm last night. I wanted to watch some of my tv shows online, but discovered that I can’t because I’m in Australia and apparently my shows can’t come through to Australia, they appear to be blocked, even on youtube, yet I can listen to music videos on youtube just fine, just can’t watch my shows even in parts. So instead I read through a giant packet about my college I’m staying at and their rules. They have some interesting rules such as only doing laundry between the hours of 7am and 11pm, can’t wear pajamas to the dining hall and no hanging out on balconies or in the courtyard after 10:30pm, just to keep it more quiet at night for sleeping.
I had breakfast at the dining hall this morning and then a little later I went over to check out the campus. It is a beautiful campus, lots of trees and scenery, and many places to hang out with people with the multiple courtyards and seating areas. I walked around, found the gym, which of course is completely the opposite end of campus and uphill walking just like at UB. This gym has an indoor pool and outdoor pool. I get a membership to the gym by living in the dorm which is nice.   
I got back to my room just before it decided to rain for about 20 minutes. It was still sunny though and even more sunny after the rain stopped. It’s nice to get some fresh air and sun after being inside at home for so long.

In the early afternoon, I headed to the mall again to explore more. Then I came back to my room and I was ready for a nap, but stayed awake to adjust my sleep schedule. I got my shows to work thanks to Brian’s friend, Kyle J. So happy that I can watch them now!! 
(pictures on facebook)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

4 hours on a plane, then 14 hours on a plane....but arrived safe and sound

So my plane left late from Chicago because of the snow and de icing and they needed some part for the plane too, but I made it to San Francisco, which was beautifully lit up since it was shortly after 8pm their time when we landed. Then I had 2 hours to kill before getting on my next flight to Sydney. I met a couple of people from my first flight also going to Sydney, although not to the same university as me, but it was nice to chat with them for a bit and not be alone while waiting for the flight.
We left on time from San Francisco and I was so tired, I was practically asleep before the plane took off. I slept off and on for at least 10 hours of the flight wrapped up in 2 blankets, one over my head and the other on my legs and feet since the blowing air was cold, but it also blocked the little bit of light, so I was like in my own cocoon and hibernating for most of the flight. The last 3 hours went by sooo slowly and I was getting antsy because I had been sitting for so many hours. I couldn’t wait to get off the plane.
 I made it through customs and then found “the meeting point”, it’s literally called that, in the airport where I checked in to get my ride to my dorm. I had to wait a while and then got a ride with a different person than I was supposed to. He had to drop off a few other people before me, which was fine because I got to look around at Sydney, Australia. I couldn’t believe I was here. I was definitely very nervous and a bit scared, but something about Sydney seems a bit comforting, because it’s a city and fairly modern, so some things will be like home.
I’m staying at a dorm that is right across from the campus basically. I have my own room and a bathroom I will be sharing with one other person that hasn’t moved in yet. I got a quick tour of the dorm area and dining hall and then settled in my room. I got my internet all set up right away so I spent a bit of time on the computer and talking to a few people and then I went down the street to the huge shopping center.
There are soooo many stores in the mall, I couldn’t believe it. For the most part, I was walking through the mall to see all the stores and looking for a couple items that I needed. There are ramps and stairs and the mall is basically shaped like an oval. There is an ice skating rink inside the mall!!! Then there is also a movie theater and a Target and Mrs. Field’s cookies, 2 big grocery stores and a fresh fruit place. Yes this place is HUGE and I definitely got lost trying to find where I had entered the mall. I probably walked around in circles trying to find it before finding a directory and realizing that I had entered on the 4th floor of the mall. That was my adventure for day 1, before I headed to bed early due to jet lag.

Friday, February 4, 2011

3 days until I leave

I can't believe how fast this last week has gone and I leave in just 3 days!! I started packing this morning and my cat Skittles, hopped into my suitcase. I wish I could take her with me. I'm getting excited and can't wait to use this blog for my adventures to share with you.