The Australia Journals: Feb. 26, 2010

Don’t have a picture that really relates to this journal entry, so I figured I would provide a picture of one of the many cultural differences between Australia and the U.S.

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

Commentary

This day had yet another one of those vivid memories I referenced in my intro blog to this series. There were a lot of those early in the trip. Haha. I’m normally a fairly shy guy, and generally not the type to go strike up a conversation with an attractive female out of the blue. But for whatever reason this day at the beach I decided to strike up a conversation with Celine and ended up hanging out with her for a little bit. She lived in my hall at the dorms, so she wasn’t a complete stranger, but definitely still out of character for me. She was one of two women I met during the trip that, had I met them at home, I probably would have asked them on a formal date at some point (you’ll read about the other later in the series). But since I was in Australia, I didn’t pursue any sort of relationship, and this is the last time I remember spending any amount of significant time with Celine with just the two of us. Part of me still wonders what would have happened had I tried to pursue something. That will always be a mystery. Haha. But this was definitely one of those moments that got etched into my memory. 

The Journal Entry

This morning I got up at 8:45 again and got breakfast in the common room. After that I backed up my files and while that was going on I cleaned my ears. After that I talked with Mom for a few minutes. At about 11:30 I went over to the campus center. As I was walking over there I heard sirens and I saw a fire engine driving towards the campus center. Sure enough, when I got there everybody was outside. The fire alarm had gone off. After a few minutes they let everybody go in. I got a burger and chips (aka fries) for lunch and then got some airborne type stuff. I have felt like I am getting sick for the past 3 days, and it gradually keeps getting worse. Hopefully this will help me get better quickly. After that I came back to my room and got ready to go to the beach. We met in the courtyard at 1 and then everybody split into groups to go in cars. Elizabeth, Vicky, and I rode with Melissa there. It was probably about a 15-20 minute drive. When we got there I put on sunscreen, and then waited a few minutes to get in the water. I hung out in the water for a few minutes with some people, then they got out to lay on the beach. I got out and went and sat by Celine and visited for a couple of minutes. She needed to go buy a swimsuit so I walked with her to go get one. We just walked a couple blocks and found a place. After she had picked one out and bought it we walked back to the beach. We went and hung out with some people in the water. After a few minutes Elizabeth, Vicky, Amy, another girl whose name I don’t know, and I went to the pier to jump off a few times. When we got there it was higher than we realized. We all hesitated for a couple minutes, and I finally just jumped. It wasn’t bad. It was pretty fun. Everybody but Vicky finally did it. I jumped off a couple more times and dove a couple times, and then we came back. Right after we got back most people were leaving. I went with a group of people to get fish and chips. Although I’m not a big fish person, I got some. I got flake, which is supposedly shark. I ended up having to leave right after I ordered it, so I had to eat it in the car. It wasn’t too bad. It was too much for me to finish. After we got back I got a shower, and then Celine convinced me to go down to dinner. We got a free meal at the cafeteria. I just got mine to go. I sat with Vicky, Elizabeth, and some Loyola people. After dinner I came back to the dorm, put my meal in the fridge, and then came to my room and started writing this. It has taken me about 2 hours to write this so far. Chloe and Celine came in and visited for a couple minutes. Celine is so pretty. Her eyes are amazing. But once again, she isn’t a Christian and drinks. It’s so frustrating. It was still really cool to get to hang out with her some today though. Anyway, I’m gonna get ready for my ocean road trip tomorrow and then probably go watch movies for a little bit in the loft. By the way, we went to Mordiallic Beach. 

The Australia Journals: Feb. 17, 2010

Downtown Melbourne, Australia from Flinders Street Station.

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

Commentary

This day was one of those vivid memories I referred to in my intro blog. Walking out of Flinders St. Station into downtown Melbourne was one of those holy crap type of moments. Before this trip, my only time being out of the U.S. was a fishing trip to Canada and I had never lived in a big city. Now here I was, a college student, living on my own, in a huge city, in a foreign country, thousands of miles away from home. And on top of that, I was hanging out with someone from Boston (Erin), someone from Canada (Aliza), and someone from the UK (Vicky). It was a whole new world. Haha.

I obviously got to meet a lot of Australians while I was studying abroad, but one of the other really cool, and unforeseen, things about the experience was meeting people from around the U.S. and around the world.

The Journal Entry

Today was a pretty good day. I got up at 7 and got ready. At about 8:15 I started over to orientation. They had breakfast for us again. It was muffins today. Orientation started at 9:30. We just went over how to enroll for about an hour. After that was finished, we went to our faculties to get approved. That went really quickly for me, but Elizabeth had some trouble. She didn’t get pre-approved for her math course, so she had to go to the math department and get approved. Then we had to go back to the science dept. After that we came back to the dorms. Elizabeth and I worked on timetable stuff for a few minutes, and then I talked to my parents for a few minutes. After that Elizabeth, Vicky, Aliza, Erin, and I ate lunch at the cafeteria. After that I came back to my room to enroll and noticed one of my classes was missing. I left to go talk to the science dept. and got that straightened out. After that I went to go look at pre-paid phones. I picked up some pamphlets and came back to my room. I can’t find any plans that I like. I’ll have to look at it a little more later. At 3:30 the group I’ve been hanging out with left to go into the city. Monash abroad had an activity for us tonight. We went into downtown and did an African drumming class thing. That was really cool. After that we went and got food from a grocery store for a picnic by the river. We got back right before the group left. We just went down next to the river and ate. That was neat. After that we went back to the train station and a couple of the girls got churros. We sat in the station and visited for about a half hour while they ate those. We all got laughing really hard about how Aliza says the words “out” and “about”. While we were sitting there, she also told us that she had to tell us something, and it sounded really serious. She just wanted to tell us she had been in a movie before. That was really funny. After that we came back to the dorms. It’s so fun hanging out with Vicky and Aliza because you get to hear the different phrases they use than we do in the U.S. That’s really fun. They both say “Z” like “zed” instead of “zee”. That’s pretty crazy. Here in Australia they say “way out” instead of exit. Well, I better start getting ready for bed. 

The Australia Journals: Feb. 14, 2010

View of downtown Melbourne during the drive from the airport to Monash University – Clayton Campus.

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

Commentary

Even if I don’t have a significant other, Valentine’s Day is a special day, as that is the day I arrived in Melbourne, which would be my home for the 4 months of my study abroad program.

Little did I know when I met Nadia on this day that she would play a big part in making the experience as good as it was. She was the person I became closest to while staying in the dorms, and she did a good job of pushing my shy, introverted self to get involved in activities I probably otherwise wouldn’t have.

And then there was the laundry. Between machines being broken down, not drying well, or already being in use, laundry was often times a little bit of a fiasco. It definitely made me appreciate having my own laundry back home.

The Journal Entry

I got up this morning at 7 and got a shower and all and then packed. I barely got everything to fit back in my suitcases. I got some breakfast at the hostel, and then Elizabeth and I checked out. We took the train back to the airport. Our flight from Sydney to Melbourne was really quick. That was nice. When we were loading the bus to come to Monash, the driver looked at Elizabeth and I and said, “You’re not an Asian.” There had been about 10 Asian students to hand their bags to him before us. It was really funny. It was about a 30-40 minute ride from the airport to Monash. It took a while to check in. The office was way busy. I felt sorry for the lady in there. After we got checked in, I came to my room and started getting moved in. The building seems pretty old, but oh well. After a little while I went to Elizabeth’s room. She is in Deakin Hall 333, and I am in 121. We went and ate dinner at the cafeteria a little after 6. I came back and got laundry going and then finished getting my room decorated. When I switched my clothes over to the dryer, I had a heck of a time figuring out how to get them to work. I have visited with the female RA on our floor quite a bit tonight. She’s really nice. She invited me to go play Wii with a couple guys. I did that for a little while and then came back to my room. One load of my laundry was finished, but the other one isn’t. It is taking forever for them to dry. Also, if you don’t open the window to the laundry room while the dryers are going, it becomes a sauna in there. I found that out on my own. Haha. Also, they don’t do the floors here as 1, 2, 3, 4, etc., but as G, 1, 2, 3, etc. So, I’m room 121, but on the second floor. Um, I’m sure I’m forgetting a ton of other stuff that I should be writing down. Just now Nadia (our floor RA) and Jess (another girl on our floor) took me and another guy in my hall on a quick tour of Deakin Hall. That was cool. My laundry finally finished. Um, I think that’s it for now. I’m gonna head to bed.

The Australia Journals: Feb. 8-10, 2010

The Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge from the Royal Botanic Gardens.

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

Commentary

On the evening of Feb 8, 2010, I met Elizabeth (another meteorology student at OU studying abroad at Monash) at LAX, and we both flew to Sydney together. We were going to spend some time in Sydney before going on to Melbourne.

We had our first moment of culture shock right after getting to Sydney. As we were walking through the airport, we felt like we were going against the flow of foot traffic. We eventually realized that they walk on the left in Australia instead of the right like we do in the U.S.

I then learned a valuable lesson getting to the hostel: terrain can be just as important as walking distance. It wasn’t a very far walk from the train station to the hostel, but there were some decent hills involved, along with some stairs. Trying to do that with two large suitcases and a carry on was an adventure. I’m pretty sure Elizabeth wasn’t too happy with me by the time we go to the hostel. Haha.

But all in all, the trip went smooth, and it was really awesome to step off the train and a short walk later see the Sydney Opera House.

The Journal Entry

(Actually written the evening of Feb. 11, but about Feb. 8-10)

Well, I am currently laying in a hostel bedroom in Sydney, Australia. That’s right, I’m in Australia. I’m participating in the exchange program that the OU School of Meteorology has with Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. Elizabeth is as well. We are both here in Sydney together. I left to come down here the morning of the 8th. Mom and Dad took me to El Paso from Alpine. We did some shopping first and ate lunch and then they took me to the airport. I checked my baggage in at about 1:30 P.M. and found out my flight was delayed until 3:40. It was originally scheduled for 2:50 I think. If not 2:50 it was 2:55. Anyway, I decided to go ahead and stay and go through security and all. We said our goodbyes and then I went through security. My flight ended up leaving at about 4:20 P.M. I just read my Australia guidebook the whole time I was waiting. I read it on the flight to LAX as well. The flight went well. Nothing too interesting happened. My flight got into LAX about 5:30 P.M. if I remember correctly. I got my baggage and then waited in the arrivals part until about 7:30 P.M. I took the shuttle to the international terminal. I checked my baggage in and then went through security. After going through security Elizabeth and I met up. We went and found a place to eat. I got a cheesesteak sandwich, a drink, and chips. It cost me about $18. After that we went and sat by our gate. We boarded the plane at about 9:45 P.M. We left for Sydney on a Qantas A380 at about 10:30 P.M. The flight took about 15 hours. For the first part of it I messed around with the in-flight entertainment. They served a meal a couple hours into the flight. I refused it and went to sleep. I got about 6 hours of decent sleep. Probably about an hour after I got up, they served breakfast. It wasn’t the greatest of breakfasts. The muffin was pretty good though. After breakfast I watched a movie. We landed in Sydney at about 8:30 A.M. Sydney time. We had to go through customs and then get our baggage. Luckily, they didn’t search mine. I didn’t want to have to mess up how I had packed it. After getting through customs and all, we got our transportation ticket. Then we just hung out in the airport by McDonalds until about 1:30 P.M. since we couldn’t check in until 2:00 P.M. We ate lunch from McDonalds. At about 1:30 we caught the train to Circular Quay station and then walked to the hostel. It was a pretty tough walk since a lot of it was uphill and up stairs. We made it though. After we got here, we both got a shower and then called our parents. We then went on a hunt to find a bank to exchange money. We never were really satisfied with any of the exchange rates though, and the one bank we decided to use was closed. After that we went and looked in some gift shops for a while. At about 6:15 we caught a bus and went and ate at Pizza Mario. It wasn’t too bad. We got a pizza without sauce, just a couple different cheeses and spicy salami. Not really a kind I particularly like, but it wasn’t too bad. After that we came back to the hostel and both were in bed by about 8:45.

The Australia Journals: Intro

“Your brain gets too comfortable in your everyday surroundings. You need to make it uncomfortable. You need to spend some time in another land, among people that do things differently than you. Travel makes the world look new, and when the world looks new, our brains work harder.

Austin Kleon, Steal Like An Artist

This time ten years ago I was preparing to leave for a semester of study abroad in Melbourne, Australia. As a kid, I had always wanted to visit Australia. I’m not sure exactly why, but I remember it was always at the top of places I would like to visit. Other than a road trip to Canada as a child, I had never been out of the country. It was hard to imagine I would soon be spending the next few months in the Land Down Under. 

I was in my junior year studying meteorology at the University of Oklahoma, and the School of Meteorology had (and still has) an exchange program with Monash University in Melbourne, Reading University in England, and Hamburg University in Germany. I’m pretty sure I was aware of this leading up to my junior year, but hadn’t given it much thought until the first semester of my junior year. In one of my classes early that semester there were some students who came in and talked about their experiences with study abroad. I decided after that to at least look into doing the exchange program the following semester. And there I was a few months later about to actually take part. 

I still consider those few months to be some of the best months of my life, and I’m now a big advocate of taking part in a study abroad program if you can. Over the last few months, I have spent quite a bit of time typing up all the journal entries I wrote while I was there, and over the next few months, I will be sharing some of these along with some short commentary. It was fun going back through my journal entries and typing them up. It took a lot longer than I realized it would. Haha. There were some things I remember vividly, and other things I don’t remember at all. There were days when I wished it wouldn’t end, and days when I wondered why I had even done it. I look forward to sharing some of these with all of you, and I hope you all enjoy reading about the experience. Hopefully, by sharing this, I can help others decide it is something they want to experience. Be on the lookout for the first journal entry in the next week.

In addition to sharing the journal entries, I will have a couple pictures from Australia on display and available for purchase at all my art shows that occur February through June (the picture at the top of this post being one of them).