Friday, March 25, 2011

Update: Week 5

As far as blog updates go, I know I have been horrible. Well the day after going to Sydney Wildlife Park I was sick and had the cold the entire week, plus last weekend it was pretty much non stop rain here, so it was a perfect inside weekend anyway and I was able to catch up on reading some stuff for class and do assignments. There were parts of Australia that flooded but South of Sydney. Sydney needed the rain as the only rain I saw here until that day would be sprinkles of rain for 5 minutes or so and then the sun would return. It was crazy to watch the non stop pouring down rain from my room.
By Tuesday the rain seemed to have disappeared and the sun was finally back out, definitely making my day better. A day with the sun out is just always better in my opinion. Tuesday I worked on planning out my trip to Cairns to go to the Great Barrier Reef. The package isn’t too expensive to spend 2 nights there and go snorkeling, however the plane flights make it so much more and keep going up each day. I still am not sure which days I will be going up there, just know I will be going sometime in the first week of break, as we have 2.5 weeks off. Aside from that trip, I will be staying in friend’s apartments over the break as it is cheaper than paying extra to stay at my college. This means that I have to fully move out of my room and move back in after 2 weeks (I paid for the last few nights of the break). At my college, they rent out the rooms to people over the break and throughout the year to people who come for conferences and since I am in the New Wing with a bathroom that I only share with one other person, these are the preferred rooms, rather than having a community bathroom of course. It is strange though that everyone has to move out over the break, even the Aussies, but our break is long. I am glad I packed light so all my stuff will easily fit into my 2 suitcases.
Wednesday I didn’t do much. The weather was beautiful though and so after dinner I went for a walk to my favorite spot on campus, which is a big open field and after all the rain we had, there was a fountain and a nice little waterfall. I went there about an hour before the sun set and the way the sun hit the field was beautiful. I’m participating in a research project here called Outdoor Learning Places. My job is to pick a place on campus and take a few photos and write a short narrative to answer the question “How do you use the outdoor places on campus in ways that contribute to your learning?” I got so excited about this when I heard about it, because I love sitting outside in the sun and working on stuff or even just writing in my journal. This field is what I am going to pick for that project of course. I plan to write the narrative over break one day. Then they will exhibit the photos and narratives next semester, so unfortunately I will not be able to see the exhibit, but it’s cool to be able to participate in.

Thursday I had my million classes as usual, but it was definitely a great day. I’d have to say the highlight was my science education class, the second hour of lecture, as we had a guest speaker come in and talk about weather. I love learning about the weather. For those of you who don’t know, I did think about becoming a meteorologist for some time especially during my freshmen year in college and I’m now considering it again for grad school possibly, especially after listening to this lecture. The name of our guest lecturer was Magdalena Roze from The Weather Channel, which is definitely my favorite channel after Disney Channel lol. She started as a journalist before getting a degree in meteorology and definitely inspired me. Then at the end of class I even got a free Weather channel umbrella and a pen/thermometer. Everyone loves free stuff!!
Later that day I had my tutorial for that class and we had to make a pamphlet for a natural disaster. I wanted to do volcanoes, just because they are so cool, especially after seeing them in Hawaii and then Costa Rica. Somehow I ended up sitting at the table with all the guys in my class (which is only 4) and as usual we got distracted talking to our tutor (aka teacher). We had macbook pro computers to use and I am apparently clueless when it comes to macs as I could not seem to do anything right even with the settings on windows. I struggled with scrolling and copying photos and using the mousepad, but eventually I got the hang of it enough to throw together a quick pamphlet on volcanoes and yes I’m the only one who put this pamphlet together and yet all the guys put their name on it too…At least they did all thank me for putting something together for them. What was also funny was that one guy always asks me what happened in class today, as he never goes to lectures because they aren’t mandatory or anything. I pulled up a picture of our guest speaker and told him about the free stuff we got too…yep he missed out.
Then comes Friday and the amount of work that I have to do in the next 2 weeks finally hit me. Overall though, it’s a short list, it will just take some time to get through. Plus I am also trying to figure out my plans for the first week of my break as days for things keep changing. Eventually it will all come together, hopefully by mid week this coming week when I finally do book my flights.
After dinner on Friday, I went to Zumba with a couple people, which was good. I hadn’t been to the gym lately because I was getting over a cold, but it was so nice to go back as I have missed it. Hopefully this week I’ll have some time to go swimming again too.   

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sydney Wildlife World!!!

Saturday I went with a few people to Sydney Wildlife World on Darling Harbor. We took the train down shortly after 10am and got there around 11:15. There were lots of characters built out of legos throughout the wildlife world. I was super excited to see some wildlife and animals since I have been here a month and haven’t seen much other than lots of birds and bunnies that are around campus.
            First we walked through all the creepy crawlers section of spiders, ants and other insects. Then the many snakes and poisonous snakes found in Sydney. It is just so comforting to know that some of the most poisonous snakes are found here…
            Then we came to my favorite part of the day, KOALAS!!!! OMG they were sooo cute and adorable. At first I thought they were statues on the trees, because they were just sleeping there. Koalas sleep about 20 hrs each day. They have no reason to move and being in the trees all the time, they don’t have to worry about predators that much. There were 5 of us and we paid for a $20 package that allowed us to go in with the koalas and pet them and get some pictures taken. It was so much fun to pet the koala and be right up next to him. We got to pet the koala named Moe. Then we took pictures with Charlie and another one. 

            Then we headed to go see the kangaroos. Only one was out in the open and the others were taking a nap in the shade. They were so cute though. I also got to touch a lizard. I was so excited to see some Australian animals!!!! We continued through and saw Wallabies and the most dangerous bird in the world, Cassowary. I guess it was rated in the Guinness World Book to be the most dangerous and there is one type of the three types of Cassowaries, found in Australia, but not in the Sydney area.
            The last stop at the wildlife world was the butterfly garden. I had a couple butterflies land on my hand and one land on my shoe. They were pretty and it was so cool to have butterflies flying all around you. 

            By the time we finished at the wildlife world, it was 2pm and we were all starving. Along the harbor, the places are very expensive so we went to subway and then brought our food to the harbor to eat it.
            After our late lunch, we walked down the street through Sydney to check out Paddy’s market. It’s a huge indoor market area and they have pretty much everything and some pretty good prices too. We spent an hour walking around the market. Another day we plan to head back there. By then I had definitely spent enough money for the day so I just looked around. You could easily spend half a day in there though and next time I plan to bring some paper and compare prices as well because a lot of the places will have similar if not the same types of items.
            At about 4:30, we started to head back to the train. We pulled out our map and started walking. As we were walking though, we made a wrong turn and got lost. I think we made about a 30 minute detour. Sarah finally pulled out her GPS and I took over reading the map, finally finding where we were. Although we had originally planned to head to the Town Hall station, we ended up in the complete opposite direction of that and instead, eventually found the Central St station. A fun adventure to end the day trip!     

Week 3 DONE

It’s so nice to have it finally be the weekend. This week has felt so long, well mostly Thursday. Thursday I have 5 hours of class, which I should be pretty much used to by now, but since most of my days consist of 2 or 3 hours here, 5 seems really long. I also attended 3 ISV meetings in between classes yesterday. ISV stands for International Student Volunteers. I went to Costa Rica for 5 weeks with them last summer and now I’m a student rep for them, although they always seem to time their meetings when I’m not available, such as my busiest day of classes.
Anyway I was there to help promote the program. I shared my favorite part about my trip which was zip lining and told them about how I worked with sea turtles and got to see a turtle lay eggs and hold a baby turtle. It was definitely a great experience and I encourage people to take part in it. They don’t only go to Costa Rica. You can also go to New Zealand, Thailand, South Africa and for Americans, Australia (where I am right now!!). Basically the trip consists of 2 weeks of volunteer work and then a 2 week adventure through the country you are in. I also did Spanish lessons while in Costa Rica, because I had only taken French, so that was pretty interesting and I got to live with a host family. You learn about the country you are in, meet great people and learn to appreciate life in a different way.
            The meetings were about half of my afternoon and then I had my last tutorial for the day from 5-6pm which always seems to fly by as I have done some of the labs before and they are really easy. Then we end up just talking for the rest of the time. Finally I got back to my college for dinner and after dinner I was able to relax. I couldn’t look at any work (luckily I didn’t have anything I needed to do either). I was so exhausted, so it wasn’t long before I headed to bed for the night.
            Friday I pretty much took the afternoon to relax after I was done with classes. It was quite rainy outside up until around 3pm when the sun finally started to come out and that always makes the afternoon better.
            At night, I had the DLC (Dunmore Lang College) commencement dinner. A nice fancy dinner. I hated waiting until 6:30 to start dinner as I am always at dinner right when it starts normally at 5:30. We had an appetizer, then announced some awards for people who lived here last year, then the main course (chicken which was alright) and then after waiting for many more award announcements, we finally got dessert and it was delicious chocolate cake. That was the best part of the meal in my opinion.

appetizer, some sort of cheese and bacon filled pie thing
 main course: chicken with red currant sauce and mashed potatoes (also had some green beans not shown)
the best part of dinner, "death by chocolate" it was called and so delicous

            After dinner, I headed to the Ranch up the road with a few people. It was totally dead when we got there at 9:30pm. We hung out for a bit until more people arrived, but it was still pretty much dead and not that much fun, so I left with a few others around 10:15 and that was the night for me.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Mardi Gras

Last night I went to the Mardi Gras parade with some people from my college. Mardi Gras is different here as it celebrates gays and lesbians. Many people were dressed up in costumes so it reminded me in some ways of Halloween. We took the train down, not knowing where exactly we were going, but since Mardi Gras is one of the biggest celebrations here, we figured we’d just follow the crowd of people and eventually get to where we wanted. After getting off at Town Hall, we just followed the crowds through Hyde Park and then back through Hyde Park and around one street after another. For a while, I thought we’d just be walking in circles all night. Luckily we had about an hour before the parade started. Eventually we came to the street with the parade. There were so many people, it was hard to walk through the crowds and try to see the street where the parade was coming down. 

Eventually the parade started and all we could see were the tops of the floats pretty much. I tried to take pictures but they all came out blurry. A lot of people brought crates to stand on even though they were towards the front. A guy in front of us was recording the parade on a video camera and it was almost better to watch that tiny little screen because he was holding it up so high that it could actually get the parade. 

Since we couldn’t see much of anything, we decided to leave and headed to a Pub. First we had to figure out how to get back towards Town Hall. As we were walking back, we recognized the streets that led us to the parade and basically took a backwards loop of our walk there. We found a Pub, called Civic VIP lounge and got in. The security guard at the door was a bit confused with my Illinois driver’s license so I had to point out my birth date for him and got in.
It was much quieter being inside and finally being able to sit down was nice too. At first, there were 6 of us. Then some other people wanted to meet up with us so we waited for them. Then we met up with some others as we were walking towards another place. I don’t know how many people we had then, but we all headed to a bar and dance place which was super crowded just like everywhere else. Me and a few friends attempted to dance on the dance floor but it was so crowded and they weren’t playing good dance music. We ended up staying there for the rest of our time downtown and just barely catching the last train at 11:40pm back to the University. It was quite the interesting night as most of the time none of us really knew where we were going, but we stayed together and made it back in one piece!

Small World

This week went by fairly fast until Thursday when I have a lot of classes, but overall it wasn’t too bad. Done with one assignment for one class already and just working on a math one for this coming week. This week will get busier I’m sure because more assignments will start to come up. Right now though, it’s fairly relaxed and mostly I just have some reading to do for a couple classes.
I had a great day on Friday as I got some time to sit in the sun and work on homework outside. It’s nice having so many benches outside and trees to sit under. So as I was waiting for my second math class to start, my teacher asked me whether I was wearing a Buffalo t-shirt the other day. I said “yeah I’m a study abroad student from there.” He then told me that he used to teach math there many years ago and that it was one of his first jobs. He said he may still know a few people in the math department there but isn’t sure since it was a while ago. Immediately I thought, wow, such a small world…come to Australia and have a teacher who used to teach at UB…