Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Week 3: Time to Build an Arc

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Week 2: Ey Currumbin

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

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

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

Feeding time

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

Sarz, Storm and I feeding the roos

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

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

Chillest kangaroo around

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

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

Cha boi Lleyton-named after the tennis player

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Week One: Rules of Thumb

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

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

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

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

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