The Australia Journals: June 3, 2010

Underside of the Bolte Bridge in Melbourne, Australia. Grabbed this picture while wandering around Melbourne one day.

For background on this series of blogs, see this intro post.

Commentary

If you study abroad at Monash University Clayton Campus and stay in the dorms, chances are you’ll hear about The Nott. The Nott is a bar/pub just northwest of the campus, and every Thursday night a large amount of students from the dorms go hang out there. I was one of the few who didn’t go, but on this day I figured I would go just to be able to say I went. It was pretty funny seeing the surprise on people’s faces when they saw me there. While it wasn’t my thing and I felt like a fish out of water, I’m glad I went once just to experience it.

The Journal Entry

Written on June 4 about June 3.

Yesterday I got up at 7 and got ready. We had 2211 tute, but Nigel just did a review session that took about an hour. After that I came back to halls. I stopped by the ops office to get a package. It was a couple things from the church in Alpine. There were a couple books, a DVD, and some envelopes. The envelopes were kind of random. They would probably have been more useful…Now that I think of it, I don’t even know if I could send them from here because they already have stamps on them. Anyway, after I got back I studied 3360 for a little while until lunch. After lunch I studied 3360 until I went on my run, which was at about 3:30 as usual. After my workout I got a shower and then just chilled in my room until dinner. Our hall had a BBQ last night. That was nice. I had a couple hamburgers. Always nice to get free food. After that I came back to my room and worked on NDIPS stuff for a little bit. I worked on that until Michael came and got me to go to The Nott. I was gonna go with Nadia but she had to do an essay, so I just decided to go with Michael. It was ok. It was really loud, and I didn’t like the small of all the alcohol. Plus I didn’t really know anybody there really well besides Michael and Elizabeth. It was pretty funny to see the reactions people had when they saw me there though. I left at about 12:10 with Jonno, Michael, and Jillian. When we got back we watched a movie in the foyer for a few minutes. After a few minutes I got ready for bed. 

The Australia Journals: May 29, 2010

My dorm room in Deakin Hall at Monash University.

For background on this series of blogs, see this intro post.

Commentary

Not a whole lot to this journal entry, but it marks a big milestone. At some point during your experience, you’ll realize the end is drawing near and it’s time to start preparing to leave. In my case, one of the preparations for leaving was figuring out what to do with kitchen items I had bought that weren’t going home with me (cookie sheets, pots and pans, etc.). Thankfully I was able to find someone to buy them from me and at least make a little money back on them.

The Journal Entry

Today was a pretty good day. I got up at 8 and got ready. I went down to catch the shuttle to Coles at about 9:15. I got my stuff at Coles and then came back. After I got back I got laundry going and then updated my checkbook. After that I talked to my parents for a few minutes, and then figured out how much to sell my kitchen stuff for. I got lunch after that and then went through some pictures. After I finished going through the pictures I started backing up my files. I looked into hiring out camera cases in Cairns for a little while. Dutch came in and visited for a little while. That was cool. He is going to buy my kitchen stuff from me, so that’s good. After that I got dinner. After dinner I watched the news, and then at 7 I watched the footy game. It was Brisbane vs. Collingwood. I cleaned my ears during the game. It was a really good game. Brisbane won by 8. It’s now about 10, and I’ll probably get ready for bed pretty soon.  

Thoughts On “The Last Season”

Sitting on a rock for the noon radio check, halfway down the South Fork, I feel no questions, no troubles, just a great oneness with all welling up inside me. This moment is all that is, all that ever will be. Memories can never equal the experience, and at best we can only attempt to visualize the future. The best we can do is absorb the most possible from Great Moments Like These. 

Quote from Randy Morgenson on page 270

Earlier this month, when I hiked the Eagle Rock Loop, I started reading “The Last Season” by Eric Blehm. I can’t even remember how I came across this book, but it seemed like a good trail reading book, so I had ordered it just in case I did the Eagle Rock Loop this spring. I got partway through the book on the hike, and finished the book Saturday evening. I just expected an intriguing story, but got so much more. It was so good, in fact, that I skimmed through the entire book yesterday to jot down some quotes to keep for reference and to use for this post.

I had never heard of the Randy Morgenson story until reading this book. After reading the book, I’m sure like a lot of people, I really wish I could have known Randy. But after reading this book, I felt like I had actually got to know Randy to some extent. It seems like we would have had a lot in common. I love being in the wilderness (or backcountry as they refer to it in the book) and consider the mountains to be my happy place. I have a love for the backcountry and like to see it taken care of (although I’m not nearly at the level Randy was). I’m into photography. I’m not much of a social person. I don’t want to have any kids. Cindy Purcell was quoted in the book as saying “His dreams had conflicts. His ghosts were big and scary. But his spirit was so full of joy and love that he could overcome his doubts and move through them.” I can definitely relate to that. It was kind of eerie how much of myself I saw in Randy.

After reading the book, I feel like there is so much I learned from Randy even though I never met him. At times I’m guilty of being what Randy referred to as a “trail pounder,” someone rushing down the trail not taking the time to enjoy the sights and sounds. Granted, I’m usually on a somewhat tight schedule and don’t have the entire summer to spend in the backcountry, but on my upcoming trips, I will have to try and do a better job of slowing down and taking it all in.

More than anything, Randy had taught her to “pay attention and don’t walk too fast. You might miss something.”

Pg. 205

Both shared stories of how Randy helped them to keep their priorities straight – to take notice of their surroundings, to not rush through life, and to be gentle on the land.

Pg. 306

While reading through this book, I happened to come across the “Out Alive” podcast by Backpacker Magazine, and have listened to several of those while reading through this book. Between those podcasts and this book, I have gained a whole new respect for the backcountry. After all, if something bad could happen to Randy, how much more likely is it that something bad could happen to me? But instead of scaring me out of the backcountry, the book reinforced my feeling that the mountains and backcountry are a special place. Such a special place, that even with the risks, how can I not want to spend time there? I will definitely be more thoughtful with my decisions in the backcountry, both out of caution for myself and anybody traveling with me, and out of respect for the environment.

In addition, I’ll definitely have to consider more off trail ventures in the future. I tend to stick to trails while I’m backpacking. I have always been intrigued by going to places off marked trails, but have never really had the courage to give it a try. After reading this book, I think there is definitely something special about finding those places that are rarely visited, or at least less so than places along the trails. Not sure I’ll do this much, but it’s definitely something to consider when I’m looking into trips and routes.

All of your life, someone is pointing the way, directing you this way and that, determining for you which road is best traveled…Here is your chance to find your own way. Don’t ask me how to get to McGee Canyon or Lake Double-Eleven-0. Go, on your own. Be adventuresome. Don’t forever seek the easiest way. Take the way you find. Don’t demand trail signs and sturdy bridges. Don’t demand we show you the mountains. Seek them and find them yourself…. This is your birthright as an animal, most commonly denied you. Be free enough from intentions to find goodness wherever you are and in whatever is happening. Here for once in your life you needn’t do anything, be anywhere at a determined time, walk in a certain direction. You can now live by whim. 

Here’s your one chance to get lost, fall in the creek, find a beautiful place.

Logbook passage from Randy Morgenson on pages 313-314

I doubt he will ever read this, but huge kudos to Eric for putting together this book. I can’t even imagine all the research that had to go into it. Thank you for forever capturing the life of someone all people visiting the backcountry should have as a role model. Even for those of us who never met Randy, we can get to know him through this book and learn from him even though we never met him. I think this should be required reading for anybody entering the backcountry. 

I leave you with one final passage from the book, the quote from Randy Morgenson that closes out the book:

I wish only to be alive and to experience this living to the fullest. To feel deeply about my days, to feel the goodness of life and the beauty of my world, this is my preference. 

I am human and experience the emotions of humanity: elation, frustration, loneliness, love. And the greatest of these is love, love for the world and its creatures, love for life. It comes easily here. I have loved a thousand mountain meadows and alpine peaks. 

To be thoroughly aware each day that I’m alive, to be deeply sensitive to the world I inhabit and the world that I am, not to roam rough-shod over the broad surface of this planet for achievement but to know where I step, and to tread lightly. 

I would rather my footsteps never be seen, and the sound of my voice be heard only by those near, and never echo, than leave in my wake the fame of those whom we commonly call great. 

Logbook passage from Randy Morgenson on pg. 324

The Australia Journals: May 21, 2010

The Hook Turn…something unique to Melbourne.

For background on this series of blogs, see this intro post.

Commentary

Being shy and an introvert, I have always struggled to make friends. It was difficult after my family moved when I was 14. It was difficult when I went to college. And it was difficult when I went to Australia. It definitely resulted in some frustration and rough days while I was there. If you’re the same way, don’t let it discourage you from doing study abroad though. I won’t lie, there will probably be some difficult days, but it can still be an amazing experience. You can still have some great moments, like the “made in America” joke reference in the journal entry below. 

The Journal Entry

Today was an ok day. I got up at 7 and got ready. 3360 was normal this morning. After 3360 Elizabeth and I went to the campus center to print stuff off. After that I went to Menzies to work on 3040. Elizabeth went to get a metcard and then came up. Steve just did a review type thing in the 3040 tute today. That was cool. After that Elizabeth and I came back to halls. I got lunch and just hung out in my room until I had to leave for 2020. Melinda showed up to 2020 today. That was cool. She hasn’t been there much lately because she has had to do teaching rounds. 2020 was pretty fun today. One of the maps in the slides was messed up and somebody made the comment that it was probably made in America, and then Elizabeth was like “Hey!”. It was pretty funny. After 2020 we walked to the math building with Melinda. She went to turn in her 2020 assignment and we went to go get help from Steve on 3040. After we got help from Steve we came back to halls. I went to Elizabeth’s room for a couple minutes to go over 3040, and then came to my room. After I got back I read through a bunch of Vortex 2 stuff. Some people got videos of the TIV and other scientific research vehicles driving recklessly during this past chase day in OK, and so now there is a big uproar going on. It’s pretty intense. After that I worked on 3040 for a while. Nadia came in and visited for a few minutes at around 5:30, and then I got dinner after that. After dinner I tried to work on 3040 some more without much luck. At 7:30 the Geelong vs. Collingwood footy game came on. I watched that on my computer in my room. It was #1 vs. #2. I was so jealous that Elizabeth went. It makes me so frustrated that I tried to get people together to go and ended up going by myself. And then when the biggest game of the season comes around I have already gone to two games, and then Elizabeth goes with Erin and a couple of Erin’s friends. It just seems like I always get screwed doing stuff by myself. In addition to that someone used some of my butter at some point without asking, so that pissed me off. I let Jonno use my baking sheet last night, and he didn’t clean it, so I had to scrub it for a while tonight to use it. That’s the third time I have let someone use it and then I end up cleaning it. And on top of all that I just have felt so lonely lately. I just don’t feel like I fit in. I’m always in my room and never out doing stuff with people. Needless to say, it’s been a frustrating day. I’m really starting to be ready to go home. Anyway, the footy game was really good up until the 4th quarter, then Geelong kind of took off with it. After the game I watched 24. There’s only 2 more episodes of that left now. After 24 I started writing this. It’s now 11:20, and I think I’m gonna get ready for bed.  

The Australia Journals: May 18, 2010

In one of my previous blogs, I mentioned getting made fun of for saying candy. In Australia, candy is called lolly/lollies.

For background on this series of blogs, see this intro post.

Commentary

One of the classes I took when I was in Australia was a fluid dynamics course. That was definitely one of the most frustrating courses I took during college. I was really worried about even passing it, and was super relieved when I found out I did. As you can tell from the journal entry below, it resulted in a lot of frustration throughout the semester. Don’t forget that there is a study component to the study abroad experience!

The Journal Entry

Today was a decent day. I got up at 8 and got ready. I watched a video of the OKC hailstorm before I went to 3360. That was nuts. There was so much huge hail falling. It was amazing just watching it in the video. Anyway, 3360 was ok. I’m just to the point in that class where I just don’t know what to think anymore. I’m so frustrated by it. After 3360 I came back and Skyped with my parents for a while. That was cool. I looked on Storm Prediction Center before I talked to them and saw that there was golf ball size hail reported in Alpine. My dad said they only got pea size at his work. There was also 4.25” hail reported south of town. After I talked to them I got lunch. After lunch I read for 3360. 3360 tute was ok. Didn’t really understand what was going on, but when do I. After the tute I came back to my room and then went on a run. After my workout I got a shower and then got dinner. After dinner I went up to Elizabeth’s room to work on 3040. We worked on that until about 10:15 and then visited for a little while. After that I came back to my room, checked email, visited with Chloe for a couple minutes, and then started writing this. There is possibly supposed to be another tornado outbreak in OK their Wednesday. We’ll see what happens with that. Vortex 2 was around Artesia for the second time today. All these storms are hitting these places where I’ve lived and I’m not there. It sucks. It’s 11:20 now, so I’m gonna get ready for bed. 

The Australia Journals: May 11, 2010

Since Mother’s Day was yesterday, I figured I would highlight a related cultural difference. In Australia, it’s “mum” instead of “mom”.

For background on this series of blogs, see this intro post.

Commentary

Even though the study abroad experience as a whole was absolutely amazing, there were some not so great days sprinkled in. This journal entry, along with the next two, will give you some insight into some of my not so good days. This day was definitely one of the worst, if not the worst day, while I was there. 

I knew going into the semester that I would be missing storm season in Oklahoma. Since I was into storm chasing at the time, I was bummed about that, but it didn’t stop me from participating in study abroad. It just so happened on this day that there were several tornadoes around Norman, OK. My best friend from college, who I normally would have gone storm chasing with, ended up getting some great pictures of a couple of the tornadoes. I had yet to really get a good look at a tornado (and still have yet to, although I no longer storm chase), so it pretty much ruined my day when I found this out. So don’t be surprised if there ends up being a day or two where, for some reason, you really wish you hadn’t done the study abroad. 

The Journal Entry

Let’s just say I’ve had better days than I had today. Haha. First off, last night after I got ready for bed, I listened to my iPod for a while, until the new Storm Prediciton Center (SPC) outlook came out. When that came out I got up and read through it. Then I sent Jason a message just giving him a heads up about the possible bad weather. Elizabeth caught me while I was on Facebook and reminded me there was a show called “Wild Weather of Melbourne” on sometime. It didn’t end up starting until about 11:20. Our 2211 professor was on the show. That was pretty cool. The show itself was kind of disappointing though. It seemed more of a show to push global warming than anything else. Anyway, that got over at about 12:20, and then I went to bed. I got up this morning at 7 so I could check out what was going on in OK. When I got up they were having bad storms up in north OK. There was already a PDS tornado watch out. I went to the News 9 website and saw they were streaming live, so I brought that up. While I was watching that I ate breakfast. Eventually the storms started firing up in central and southern OK. There was a quick tornado in Yukon, and then another pretty good funnel on the west side of OKC. Pretty quickly after that there was a tornado reported in Moore, and then about the same time the News 9 helicopter spotted a tornado just outside Norman to the east. It was a huge tornado. The funnel actually went right over the weather center, and first touched down about 200 yds from the weather center. To make a long story short, there were about 3-4 tornadoes just in the Moore/Norman area alone. At least two of them were quite large ones. And of course, all my friends back home got to see at least the funnel go over the weather center. John got some amazing pictures of the tornado when it was huge east of Norman and another large tornado NE of Norman. I watched all this unfold live on the internet. You talk about frustrating. It actually wasn’t bad a first, but it has just been getting worse as the day has gone on and people have posted statuses and pictures and all on Facebook. It was really hard to convince myself to go to 3360, but I went. As soon as I got back I brought up News 9 again. The storms had moved past but they were just showing all the damage and stuff. Mom called me on Skype and we talked a little bit. I wasn’t too talkative though because I was so frustrated and I was trying to watch News 9. I got lunch at about 12:40, and then went up to Elizabeth’s room at about 1:15 to work on 3360. We did that until about 2:30. Then I came to my room, got my stuff together, and went to 3360 tute. It wasn’t too bad today, but not great. After the tute I came back to my room and then went on a run. It was pretty chilly today. I was wishing I had worn a sweater at the beginning of my run. After my workout, I got a shower, and then went and exchanged my sheets. After I got back I got dinner and then made my bed. After that I studied for 3040. We have a test in there tomorrow morning. After I did that, I started writing this. It is now 10:20. I am going to get ready for bed since I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep once again last night. Missing that tornado outbreak is gonna have me mad for quite a while. 

The Australia Journals: May 7, 2010

Picture with Ben (Australian exchange student in the U.S.) in Big Bend National Park while on Thanksgiving Break in the fall of 2010.

For background on this series of blogs, see this intro post.

Commentary

One really cool part of the study abroad experience was that I got to meet a couple Monash students who were planning on coming to OU for a semester. Later, when Ben (in picture above) came to OU, I got to spend quite a bit of time with him, including a road trip over Thanksgiving break. It was kind of like an extension of the study abroad experience. Haha. It was really cool to be on the opposite side of the exchange after having done the exchange. Definitely a cool experience if you can meet someone who will be attending your home school after you return and you can spend some time with them in your home country. 

The Journal Entry

Today was a pretty good day. I got woken up at about 2:45 this morning. No surprise for a Thursday night anymore. I got up at 7 this morning and got ready. Math was ok. My sinuses were bugging me the whole time, so it was hard to concentrate. After that I went over to the math building. On my way there I visited with Megan for a little while. That was cool. After that I went and got help on a couple ATM 3040 problems. One of them we couldn’t figure out what was going wrong, and the other one Steve was going to take a look at again. After that I went to Menzies and visited with Elizabeth until 3040 tute started. After that Elizabeth and I printed a couple things at the campus center and then came back to the halls. When I got back I talked to Mom and Dad on Skype for a while and then talked to Cory for a little while. I ate lunch while I was talking to them. Mom and Dad got to see Nashville all flooded. I’m so jealous. It was nice to finally get to talk to them. It had been a while since I talked to Cory as well, so it was nice to get to talk to him too. After I finished talking to Cory I went to 2020. After 2020 Elizabeth and I talked to Megan and Ben for a couple minutes. Ben is the guy coming to OU next semester. That was cool. After that I came back and stopped by the ops office to get my new backpack. I was glad to finally get that. It’s pretty nice. It’s got so many different pocket/compartment things. It’s crazy. It will take a little getting used to. After I messed with that for a little while I organized my binders and then worked on my 2211 essay. I worked on that until I made dinner. I made pancakes tonight. Those were good. After dinner I worked on my essay some more. I did that until about 9:15 or so. After that I went through pictures from last weekend. After I finished that I started writing in this. It’s now 10:11, and I’ll probably get to bed here pretty soon.