The Australia Journals: June 27, 2010

Pictures I took of various license plates while in Australia.

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

Commentary

Four and a half months after hopping on a plane to Australia I was back in the U.S. While I was sad to have left Australia, I was glad to be home. Even though there were some rough days in there, it was still an incredible experience. It seems as time goes on, I gain more and more of an appreciation for the experience I got to have. I’m now a huge advocate of participating in a study abroad program if you have the opportunity. For most people, there will never be another opportunity to integrate yourself within another culture for an extended period of time and get the experiences that come with that. Not only will you meet plenty of people from the country you are studying in, but you’ll likely meet people from around the world. While you are studying abroad, be adventurous. Go exploring on your own if you can’t find anybody to go with (be safe, of course). See if the school offers any sort of special trips/events for students. Even if you can’t afford to do a lot of traveling, you’ll still have tons of opportunities for local experiences.

For those of you who have read through this whole series, I hope you have enjoyed it. It has been fun for me to read back through my entire journal after having it sit in storage for the last 10 years. It has made me want to go back there all over again. Haha. Hopefully I can make it back there again at some point.

Finally, if you know of anybody considering study abroad, encourage them to really look into it. I understand it’s not for everybody, but if they can make it work, it’s likely to be an experience they will be forever thankful they did.

The Journal Entry

I’m currently laying on my bed in Alpine and it is the 27th. I never got around to writing in this on the 25th. Anyway, my flight to L.A. ended up leaving Melbourne an hour late. That was a bummer. The flight was ok. The first half was a lot better than the second half. I got a lot more sleep/rest during the first half. The flight was pretty full. During the first half I slept/rested pretty much the whole time. There was a meal in there as well. During the second half I tried resting some, eventually watched an episode of Mythbusters, and then slept a little. I was woken up when they started serving breakfast. I didn’t eat much because my stomach felt horrible. After that I think I just tried to rest until we landed. We landed at about 8:20 A.M. Going through customs went pretty quickly. That was good. After I got through that I went to the Southwest terminal. I got there at about 9:30. I hung out there for a few minutes. I put my jacket and sweatpants up. A little before 10 I got in line to check in. That went pretty quickly. After I got checked in I went through security. That went pretty quickly as well. After that I just hung out until about 11:30. At that point I got lunch from McDonalds. After I finished lunch I worked on organizing pictures for a while. I talked to Cory for a while as well. My flight to El Paso left on time (at 1:40). That flight went pretty quickly. It wasn’t too full. I pretty much listened to my iPod and rested the whole time. We got into El Paso at about 4:30. I went and met with Mom and Dad and then we got my bags. After that we went to BK and ate dinner. After that we came home. We got home at about 10. I stayed up for a little while checking email and stuff. Just one more note. While I was in the L.A. airport, I noticed I was walking on the left instead of the right. That was pretty funny. Anyway, I believe that’s it for my Australia journal. It was an awesome trip, but I’m glad to be home. 

The Australia Journals: June 21, 2010

The boat I stayed on while SCUBA diving on the Great Barrier Reef.

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

Commentary

This was definitely one of my favorite days during my study abroad trip. Over the course of the semester I was looking into getting a SCUBA dive trip booked, and I think there were a few times where it didn’t look like it was going to work out. Eventually, though, it worked out so that I could do the trip between my last final exam and leaving to go back to the U.S. I had never done SCUBA diving before, but I figured it would be a really cool experience, so I wanted to give it a shot. I am so glad I did. Even though I sound a little disappointed in the journal entry below, looking back on it now, it was a fantastic experience. Really the only downside was that, over the 4 day dive course, I only got in two “stress free, fun” dives. Everything else was more stressful since it was aimed at training. Had I been able to get in another day or two on the reef to get in more “fun” dives, it probably would have been a lot better. Regardless, it was a super cool experience, and one heck of a way to finish out the study abroad experience. I’ll have one final blog in a few days to wrap up this series.

The Journal Entry

Today was a decent day. I didn’t sleep too well last night. It seemed like I would wake up about every hour. We had to get up at 6 for our first dive, which was at about 6:30. That one was ok. We all messed up one of our skills, which didn’t make Peter, our instructor, too happy. In addition, he told us not to go deeper than 18m, and three people did, so they had to eat vegemite. We only had a short break until our second dive of the day. During that break we had breakfast. Our second dive was at about 8. It was our video dive. I liked that dive so much more, since it wasn’t really about testing us. It was more of a dive for fun. That was nice. They just have a videographer on the boat that goes out on a dive with each group. That’s really cool. After that dive we had a little longer break. I had to eat vegemite during that break since I forgot to strap my tank down after taking it off. I can honestly say I think that’s one of the worst, if not the worst, things I have ever tasted. It was absolutely horrible. It just makes me feel sick thinking about it. Anyway, the boat moved during that break. We had our last dive at around 11. Our instructor didn’t go with us on this dive. It was just our own dive. I was a buddy with Nick. That was really cool to be able to do that. It took so much pressure and paranoia away and made the dive so much more enjoyable. After that dive we got all our gear torn down and put away and then had lunch. After lunch our group went to watch the video. It was pretty sweet. It was sooo expensive though. It was $75. I still got it though because I didn’t really have any other way of showing people what it was like. That was frustrating. After the movie we just hung out until Sunkist showed up. We got on there and it brought us back to Cairns. We got on there at about 2:20. We got back to Cairns at about 4:30. It was a pretty rough ride once again. I got sick, but not to the point of throwing up. It was so nice to be back on land. A van took us to the CDC, and then I just walked from there back to the hostel. After I got back I visited with a new guy in our room. He just finished a dive course with Pro-dive. That was cool visiting with him. I got all my stuff put up, brushed my teeth, and then got a shower. It was so nice to get a warm shower. I felt so nasty. After my shower I ate dinner and checked email and stuff. After that I went and checked out the night markets. Those weren’t anything too impressive. There was one aisle where one person after another asked me if I wanted a massage. It was so annoying. After I was finished there I started back to the hostel. I stopped by a convenience store to get a drink, and then came back to the hostel. When I got back to my room I started writing this. Overall the diving trip was pretty awesome. It wasn’t quite as awesome as I was expecting though. There’s just so many things you have to worry about and you can’t be down very long. Other than that, it was really cool seeing the barrier reef. It’s only 8:40 right now, but I am totally exhausted, so I’ll probably end up getting to bed pretty soon. Hopefully tomorrow I feel good enough to do all the walking I want to. It could be fun trying to get to sleep tonight since I still feel like I’m on the boat. 

The Australia Journals: June 16, 2010

View of Cairns from a hike in Mt. Whitfield Conservation Park.

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

Commentary

Final exams were quite a different experience at Monash than what I was used to at OU. If I remember correctly, at OU, finals were generally all in one week, and the tests generally took place in the same classroom you had been using all semester. I can’t remember if they were during normal class time or of there was a different finals schedule. Anyway, at Monash, I believe the tests took place over at least two weeks, and I had to go to a completely different campus for some of the exams. The different campus part was quite odd. Another great example of a unique experience while I was studying abroad. And after my last two final exams in the journal entry below, it was off for one last big hoorah while I was in Australia, which you’ll hear about in the next blog.

The Journal Entry

Written on June 17 about June 16.

Yesterday was a decent day. It took me forever to fall asleep Tues. night though. I got in bed at about 11, and I don’t think I fell asleep until about 12. That sucked. I got up at 6:30 and got ready. A little after 7:30 I left to go to the bus loop to catch the shuttle to Caulfield. I stopped by Nigel’s office on my way there to see if he put Elizabeth’s essay on the door, but it wasn’t. That was frustrating. I had to wait for the shuttle for about 20 minutes. I got to Caulfield at about 8:45, so I had about 45 minutes to just chill. I had my 3360 test at 9:30. I think that went ok. I’m pretty sure I did good enough to pass. I don’t think it was great though. I’ll be happy as long as I pass. I finished the test (or what I could do on it) in about 2 hours. After I finished I went to KFC and got lunch. I got some chicken nuggets. After I finished eating I stayed there for a little while and worked on NDIPS stuff on my laptop. A little after 1 I went back to the racecourse and worked on NDIPS until about 15 minutes before my 2020 exam. After that I visited with people from my 2020 class. That exam started at 2:30. That exam was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. I was pretty frustrated by the end of it. It took me a little over 2 hours to do. I don’t think I did near as well as I thought I would. It will be interesting to see what I got on it. After I finished that exam I went and waited for the shuttle. While I was waiting I visited with Leah from Deakin. That was cool. I got back to my room a little after 6. After I got back I made pancakes for dinner. That was good. I made a full recipe, and I was stuffed by the end. I didn’t even finish the last pancake. After I finished dinner I cleaned my ears out and then did laundry. While laundry was going I packed as much as I could, and then took pictures down from my walls so I didn’t have to do that when I got back. After that I just chilled until my laundry was done. After that I got as packed as I could, and then went to bed. I got in bed at about 11:30. 

The Australia Journals: June 11, 2010

Looking through St. Kilda Harbour towards downtown Melbourne.

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

Commentary

The end of the trip got very real on this day. It was the last day that Elizabeth was in Australia. She had to leave early to get home for a summer internship/job, I believe. I was sad to see her go. After spending the last 4 months with her in Australia, it was kind of weird to not have her there the last couple weeks I was there. It was great having someone to share the experience with, and with me being on the shy and introverted side, it helped a lot having someone there I knew. But, I still had a couple weeks left in Australia that consisted of final exams and one last amazing trip, both of which you’ll hear about in the next couple blogs.

The Journal Entry

Written on June 12 about June 11.

I got up at 9 yesterday and got ready. After I got ready I started to study 3360 but then called my parents on Skype. After that I chatted with John on Skype for a little while, and then ate lunch. After lunch I tried to study for 3360, but don’t know how successful I was. I had a really hard time concentrating. I studied the majority of the afternoon. A little after 5 I made pancakes for dinner. After dinner I watched the Melbourne news and then Today Tonight for a little bit. After that I just chilled in my room until about 8:15. About that time Erin and Elizabeth came down so Elizabeth could give me her tomato sauce, bread, and sultanas. We ended up visiting in the hallway for quite a while and then we looked at a couple things on my computer. After that they went back up to Elizabeth’s room and I went out to the foyer and watched footy with Michael. We worked on a trivia thing with some other people as well. That was fun. After footy was over Elizabeth and Erin came back down to bring my saucepan back. We visited a little more and then they went back up and I got ready for bed. Before I got in bed I told Elizabeth goodbye on Skype since she was gonna be leaving to go to the airport to go home at 1:30 A.M. She ended up bringing my sharpie down that I gave her at the beginning of the semester. We said our goodbyes and then I went to bed.

The Australia Journals: June 5, 2010

One of the Melbourne places known around the world, particularly if you’re into sports.

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

Commentary

If you get really lucky while you’re studying abroad you’ll get to have the experience of watching a U.S. national team play the national team of the country you are in. In my case it was the U.S. mens soccer team playing the Australia mens soccer team. I’m not much of a soccer fan, but it was really fun watching it with several of the Aussie students in my dorm. Also, you’ll likely find that after studying abroad, you’ll become a big fan of that nation in sporting events (aka the tennis match mentioned in the journal entry, and in the olympics). And on the subject of tennis and sports, my semester of study abroad started right after the Australia Open finished, so each year the Australian Open is a reminder of my experience down under. Don’t be surprised if there is something each year after study abroad that reminds you that you were there or about to leave/come back from study abroad.

The Journal Entry

Written on June 6 about June 5.

Yesterday I got up at 8 and got ready. I went down to catch the shuttle to Brandon Park at about 9:15. I did my shopping at Coles and then came back. When I got back I got laundry going and then put the groceries up. After that I updated my checkbook. Not too long after that John called on Skype. We talked for a couple minutes, and then he got off to talk to his girlfriend. He said he would call back after. While I was waiting I ate lunch. A little while after I finished that he called back. We talked for about a half hour, and then he got off so I could call Mom. After he got off I got some tea poured into the jug and got another pot going. Then I got my whites out of the dryer. After that I called Mom on Skype. We talked for a while. I got laundry put up while I talked to her. After I finished talking to her I studied for 3360 until I got dinner. After I finished dinner I believe I studied 3360 for a while. At some point I stopped studying and started watching the footy game on my computer. Pretty soon after I started watching that I started cleaning my ears. Not too long after that Michael came in to watch the footy game. He hung out in here until the end of the game. That was cool. The game was West Coast vs. Geelong. It was a pretty good game. After that I hung out in my room for a few minutes, and then at about 10:45 went down to the projector room to watch the Australia vs. U.S. soccer game. They were playing a pre-World Cup game. That was pretty awesome. When I got down there it was already 1-0 U.S. At halftime of that game I went up to the foyer to watch the women’s French Open tennis final. One of the women playing in that was from Australia. After watching that for a little while I went back down to watch the soccer game. The U.S. ended up winning that 3-1. That was awesome. After that finished I went back up to the foyer and finished watching the tennis match. The Aussie lost. That was a big bummer. After that I got ready for bed. I didn’t get into bed until about 1:10. 

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.  

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.