Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sydney Opera House lights video

This is a video I took of the Opera House lights changing. It's short and the quality is probably not that great, but it gives you a sense of what the show was like.

Last Laid Back Weekend (Memorial Day weekend)

Well it’s the last few days of May and that means that it’s Memorial Day weekend, but sadly I have to go to class on Memorial Day this year, for the first time in my life, since Memorial Day is an American holiday and not an Australian holiday. I did get a few extra days off for Easter with Anzac day and in June we get the Queen's birthday off, even though that happens to be in the middle of exam time and I have it off anyway, but oh well. Being that it is the end of May, it also means that it is almost June and when I think of June, I think summer!! I have to remain focused for another 20 days though.
            So this weekend I haven’t done that much of anything. I have 2 assignments left, 1 for each math class and I finished most of one yesterday and started the next one today. Mostly though, I’ve been watching a lot of tv shows and stuff and just relaxing. After this last week of classes I will be studying at least part of everyday if not the full day, so it’s my last relaxed weekend until I get home.
            Saturday night was a lot of fun though. After dinner, a bunch of us from DLC went to the city to see the Vivid lights show on the Opera House and around the circular quay area. We took the train to Wynyard and then walked to the harbour and watched as the Opera House changed from one color pattern to another. It was beautiful. We met up with Jenny and Jason for a bit as we walked through the area known as The Rocks and took more pictures of the Opera House. Then we decided to walk across the Harbour bridge and got a lovely view of the harbour. I got a few really good photos of the Opera house on our way up as well. It was a beautiful night, not too cold, similar to September weather in the states, seeing as it is Fall here. 
the group

Harbour Bridge at night (picture from Jenny)

the city! (photo credit to Jenny)

rainbow Opera House

            After walking across the bridge, we decided to go to Luna Park which is honestly the smallest amusement park I’ve seen. You are free to walk around the park without buying a ticket for the rides, which was awesome, because now I can say I’ve been to Luna Park, even if I haven’t gone on the rides. It was awesome to see the giant clown entrance up close. I have only seen it from on the train and on a boat. It was a fun evening out with friends.

not creepy at all right?? The detail is amazing up close

fun house mirrors!

I'm a yellow person. It'd be awesome if I was a red person, half the price

Monday, May 23, 2011

Boat ride along the Harbour

Sunday was also a beautiful day. I joined my friend Lee and her family friends, Kate and Andy, for a boat ride on the harbour and lunch. Kate picked us up from Lee’s apartment and we met Andy and her 4 children at the boat. Their friends Veronica and Dan also met up with us there and then we got ready to leave. Andy is still learning how to drive a boat so Gary, who has 40 years of experience with boats, was helping.
In the beginning of the boat ride, we were trying to figure out where we were and Veronica says “so it’s this way to the states” and I mention how I don’t have a flight home yet. So I was totally relying on this boat to take me to the states. It would take a while, but maybe I would make it there by the 19th if we left today. Well we didn’t head that way and only went around the Harbour. Oh well…
            The boat ride was wonderful though. It was a beautiful 70 degree day and a perfect day to be on the water. There was a sailing race going on too. At first, there wasn’t much wind and you could just see a bunch of sail boats sitting around and waiting. We maneuvered through the sail boats towards the Harbour Bridge. All of us were talking about how we would not be able to drive a boat through the sail boats. The bridge was especially beautiful from the water. We went along the coast looking at the beautiful houses on the water. We played the game “pick your favorite mansion.” It was hard to choose. We’d pick one and then another one would come along and be even bigger. Some even had swimming pools. I think it’s funny that some houses on the water have a swimming pool. I’m pretty sure most of us decided that the mansion that just sold for 52 million was our favorite and we were going to move in there.
            After some house shopping, we just gazed at the view of downtown Sydney. How beautiful it was. Then we decided on a spot to stop for some lunch. We decided to drop the anchor right by the Taronga Zoo. I wish I could go there but I just don’t have the money for it. It looks like a fun zoo to visit though. It’s on my list for the next time I’m in Sydney. 
the city
sailboats in front of the Harbour Bridge

one of our favorite houses

            For lunch we had a delicious Thai Pork salad with a lime juice dressing that Kate had made. It was delicious. It was so nice to have a home made meal rather than dining hall food. I am absolutely sick of dining hall food by this point and can’t wait to get home to make my own food. 
me and Lee with the lovely Opera house and bridge in the background

Pork thai salad

            After eating, we headed back to the docking site at a faster speed than when we headed over. It was getting cloudier and colder on the way back, but it was so relaxing. We saw all the colorful sails on the sail boats, as they were finally picking up some speed with the wind.
all the sailboats along the horizon
the biggest sail
            We got back around 2:30, which is when the drawbridge goes up. After Andy had parked the boat with the guidance of Gary, I noticed the bridge raising and watched as the taller boats went through. Then it was time to step onto land again and we decided to boat shop along the dock, picking our favorite boat. We need a boat to go with that mansion you know. Then Kate cut the cake that we didn’t eat earlier and it was delicious chocolate cake and chocolate frosting. Great snack for the middle of the afternoon. By the time we cleaned up the boat and got everything packed it was about 3:30 or so. Kate dropped off me and Lee at Lee’s apartment and I met a couple of her roommates and we chatted for a bit and then I walked back to my room and made it back just in time for dinner. 
drawbridge up

             I wasn’t all that hungry, but I like to go to dinner to socialize as well. Basically my dinner consisted of rice, green beans, a few bites of chicken and chocolate. The best part of meals on Sunday is the dessert. They have a ‘make your own sundae’ station every Sunday. I just like to eat the toppings which are m & m’s and chocolate candies that Australian’s call Freckles. They are chocolate with sprinkles on the top. I forget what they are called in the states. Usually in the states we have these with just white sprinkles rather than multi colored.
            After chatting for a bit at dinner and eating, I headed back to my room to get back to working on my math project since I hadn’t done any homework at all this weekend, but that was ok because I finished (mostly finished) up my paper on Friday so that I wouldn’t have work for the weekend. I love weekends without homework. Just 2 more weeks of classes and then studying for 2 weeks for my finals then HOME!!

Baking and Aquarium

          This weekend was one of the most eventful weekends since break. Starting from Friday night, we had a delicious meal in the dining hall, pad thai. They even had a tofu option for the vegetarians! It is rare that they have tofu which is why I mention it and even though I am not vegetarian, I do like tofu. I decided on the chicken pad thai though, but I did get to taste the tofu one. The tofu needed some soy sauce, but other than that, most delicious dinner.
            I talked for a while with my friends until we were all ready to get baking. One of my friends, Ariana, had asked the Dean of Residents, Rachel and Eli, if we could use their kitchen in their apartment to bake one night. They agreed as long as we played a card game, Munchkin afterwards with them. So we made peanut butter cookies, molasses cookies and my friend Angie made a gooey butter cake. All of these turned out to be quite delicious. We snacked on them as we played Munchkin. In this game you have characters such as wizards, clerks, and warrior and different races including Ogres and more. Your goal is to get to level 10, by defeating monsters of different levels and of course there are curses along the way that make it difficult. It was certainly an interesting game. We played for 2 hours. With 6 of us playing, it took a while to go through each turn and everything and by the time 2 hrs had passed, people were getting a bit tired (or at least I was). I made it to level 5 by then, so I was quite happy. One person made it to level 9 and probably would have won, had we continued to play. It was certainly a nice and relaxing night and homemade cookies were delicious. I can’t wait to get home and make cookies again.  
Angie, me and Ariana

peanut butter cookies that I made

my initials on a peanut butter cookie :)

            Saturday I went to the Sydney Aquarium with Jenny. It only took us a couple hours to go through the whole aquarium. I saw a platypus. They are much smaller than I thought they’d be and so cute. Apparently they are only found in Australia, which explains why I had never seen one before. The only platypus I know is Perry the platypus from Phineaus and Ferb on Disney and unfortunately platypuses are not like Perry, but they are quite adorable. 

            We then went to see the 1 octopus they had. Jenny loves octopi, which I look at it and it’s cool and creepy to me at the same time. Then we went down a bunch of ramps to walk through the glass tube and see the sharks swim over us. That was definitely the coolest part of the aquarium. Then we saw lots of fish and more fish throughout the aquarium and of course exited through the gift shop. 
bridge in a shark cage

at Darling Harbour
            After that we walked down Darling Harbour and found the chocolate cafĂ©, but it was way too expensive to buy anything, so we continued walking. It was a beautiful 75 degree day outside and sunny. I wished that I had worn shorts, but you never know with Sydney weather. It can change so quickly. We took some pictures by a beautiful fountain and then found our way to the Town hall train station which is connected to a mall, so we did a bit of looking around first before heading back for the day. 
            When I got back I didn’t really feel like doing work, so the rest of my afternoon, I pretty much just watched movies on my computer and then went to dinner. 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Awesome Saturdays!

Well since I have returned from break I have been enjoying my Saturdays. The weather seems to be getting nicer here, in other words, not raining 24/7 and some sun in the afternoon. It is a bit chilly in the morning and evening, but the middle of the day is usually in the 60s and sunny. Last Saturday I spent the day with my friend Lee and we went shopping at Chatswood, a place nearby. What was really cool, was that we didn’t have to pay a bus fare to get there because the trains weren’t running, so your only option was to take the bus and it was free. Basically we spent 4 hours walking around the different shops and malls in the area before heading back and just playing cards in my room.
This Saturday I went to the Koala Park with my friend Angie. The Koala Park is very close to campus, only a 15-20 minute bus ride and then a short walk. We had an awesome bus driver who was very kind to give us directions to the koala park after getting off the bus and then told us what time the bus comes for when we wanted to head back. He also gave me the student rate for the bus. Usually I don’t get the student rate, because I’m a study abroad student. Only Aussies and exchange students can get the student rate, which is really annoying, because for the train and bus fare, the student rate is half the price of the regular rate.
When we arrived in Pennant Hills, where the Koala Park was, I noticed all the flowers on bushes along the sidewalk. It is Fall here, not Spring, so it’s weird to see that they have flowers in the Fall. There were also trees with leaves changing colors. While this makes sense for Fall, many of the trees that lose their leaves around here just have their leaves turn brown and fall to the ground. It was nice to have a change from campus and see a neighborhood and all the beautiful colors of fall and spring together, even though it was odd at the same time.
At the Koala park, we first saw a bunch of adorable Wallabies and then some Dingos and cockatiels. Throughout the park, there were chickens and some other types of birds just walking around. My favorite bird walking around was this rainbow bird. It was so beautiful with all of its colors and its feathers looked like string. 
Swamp Wallaby

Rainbow Lorikeet

Next we bought some kangaroo feed and went to pet and feed the kangaroos. That was so much fun, even if I ended up with kangaroo slobber all over my hand. They loved the food and would try to steal the bag of food from my hand as I was posing for a picture with them. 

my 2 new friends

so cute!!

After that we waited around for the koala presentation. I learned that koalas mate between November and January and the baby is born in 35 days but then has to climb up the pouch of the koala. Once the baby finds the nipple, it latches on and stays in the pouch for a few months. Once the baby gets too big for the pouch, the mom will carry the baby on her back and care for the baby until he is 12 months or so. Then the mom will tell the baby to leave so that she can be ready to mate for the next season.  Following that short presentation, we were able to pet a koala and take a picture. 
petting the koala, I think his name was Tezzy

Shortly after that we decided to head back over to the bus stop, but we were still there about 20 minutes before the bus was going to come so we walked around the neighborhood and looked at the houses and the beautiful trees changing colors on one side of the street and flowers on the other. We definitely picked a good day for being outside.
It was early afternoon when we returned to DLC and mostly I just relaxed in my room until dinner time. Then after dinner I went ice skating with a few people. If you go ice skating in just the last hour, it is just over half price. I hadn’t been ice skating since last April, but it was a lot of fun hanging out with people and a great way to spend a Saturday night! (I have to get pictures from my friend of the ice skating)