Archive for March, 2011

The Ferry to Manly

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

The weather here has begun to cool down as the southern hemisphere summer I have been so enjoying slowly fades into my first fall season where the trees wont change colors or lose their leaves. I have been watching the temperatures go from 90′s to 80′s and recently dip as low as the 70′s. While this makes my 30 minute shlep to school far less sweaty, it also means that the window of time for going to the beach will soon close for the season. The beginning of this week was cooler but jam packed. I had two big assignments due on monday and was on campus from 9am till 8pm on Tuesday. So when Wednesday rolled around I found myself already exhausted and looking at the weather forecast to find that it was going to be a beautifully sunny 85 degree day.

I have heard it said that:

“There is no fun in having nothing to do. The fun is having lots to do and not doing it.”

Well on this particular Wednesday I decided to embrace this philosophy with open arms. The two lectures I had on Wednesday were for classes I had spent all weekend doing homework for, and turned assignments in for on Monday, so I sent Lyndsay a facebook message that said

“OK so tomorrow is supposed to be BEAUTIFUL. Like 80 degrees and sunny and amazing. What say you to skipping class and hitting the beach for one last day of surf and sunshine before the fall really sets in?”.

Her reply: “sooooo down! where do we sign up?!”

So it was on facebook so shall it be done

Before going to bed on Tuesday night we made plans to head out to Manly beach the next day, which is located  a half hour ferry ride from the city directly adjacent to the Sydney Harbour National Park. We agreed we would get up around 9 so we could make the most out of the day. I have not exactly been reliable about getting up for social things since I have been here (surprised? anyone?) and of course today was no exception. My alarm went off around 9, and when I woke up there was a text from Lyndsay saying that she wanted to sleep in till about 10 and we could leave then. I was more than happy to oblige this request, so I fell back down into my pillow, but forgot to reset my alarm. So I jolt awake around 10:15 to three missed phone calls from Lyndsay. I call her back and she says that she has already left and is already on her way. I freak out, but she insists that she will not wait and I will have to just meet up with her. (I had flaked on her a few times prior due to oversleeping so I can hardly blame her for this)Seth and Andy were supposed to come with us as well, and she said they hadn’t left yet and that I should just leave with them.  I get dressed, get breakfast and go down to the boys room. Seth answers the door and says that they aren’t leaving until after 1 when Andy gets out of class. If I’m skipping class I’ll be damned if I’m not getting the whole day out of it. I decide to try and find Manly on my own.

I set out with no idea where I was going, I just started walking towards the bus station. Lyndsay had told me what station I needed to end up at, Circular Quay, and that I needed to get the ferry from there, but that was all I knew. Luckily the bus station information booth was well staffed and the lady there told me where to catch the bus and what number bus I needed. Since it was still early in the morning the busses were coming fairly often and I didn’t even have to wait five minutes for one to arrive. Once on the bus, it was less than a 30 minute ride to the ferry station, and getting off the bus I asked the driver where the ferry ticket office was and he pointed me in the right direction. The ferrys leave Sydney on the half hour, but they stop boarding five minutes before they head out. I arrived at the ticket office at 11:22, got my ticket and got on the ferry in the nick of time. As luck would have it, even though Lyndsay had a 30 min head start on me, she had missed the 11:00 ferry by mere minutes, and had been waiting in the warf for the 11:30 one, so when I got on the boat I called her to tell her that I was sorry for not waking up and that I was now on the ferry and she told me she was too! We found each other and after I apologized profusely and she forgave me we laughed it off and ended up really enjoying the ferry ride out to Manly.

Touristy picture on the ferry

Cute touristy picture

Presh.

Once the ferry let us off at Manly we found the info center and got directions to the beach, which turned out to be only a five minute walk away to the other side of the peninsula, to the ocean side. Once there we set up shop with towels, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Lyndsay even brought out some homework to do while we were there.

From where the ferries drop off on the sound side to the ocean side was less than a five minute walk. it was awesome

SHe is a far better student than I. I refuse to let something like schoolwork taint my beach day.

Still starkly pale.

Excited!

fab

winning combination

So lovely

After a few hours and at least two liberal applications of sunscreen, the boys showed up and joined us on the beach. We hung out there for a while, but soon clouds began to move in from behind us. The lifeguards informed us that a torrential downpour was headed for the beach in a matter of minutes so we packed up our stuff and headed for drier and higher ground. We found a bar on the beach and sat down for a beer while the summer storm rolled in and the rain poured down. Thankfully the storm was short and passed in only a few minutes. With and hour and a half left before we needed to get back on the ferry to Sydney we decided to do the 40 minute cliff walk around the northern edge of the peninsula that provides beautiful cliff views of the ocean.

So lovely.

rocky coastline

cool rock sculpture

This thing stopped me dead in my tracks, it was SO BIG. Lots of Australians stopped to take pictures of it after I noticed it. Apparently there are huge fines for anyone who hurts them. We didn't believe it was real until it moved. It was so cool!

Evergreen trees....at the beach....in Australia...this was weird on so many levels

So pretty!

view as we were leaving on the ferry

We got back to the ferry station right in time to miss the ferry that had just left. We found a guy who was selling 8 dollar ferry tickets for the express ferry, which is smaller and faster and was leaving sooner than the next regular ferry, but we had purchased round trip tickets for the regular ferry. We debated for a good five minutes what to do about this, wether or not it would be advantageous to spend more money and loose the round trip ticket we had already purchased. Well, really Lyndsay and I debated it while Seth seemed unconcerned, and Andy’s only concern was wether or not he would have time to get McDonalds. The express ferry guy was observing all this and getting quite a good chuckle out of my panicked reasoning clashing with Andy’s intense longing for a McDonalds cheeseburger.

Lyndsay and I had tickets to see Spring Awakening at 8pm and we were trying to get back in time to shower and change before we had to go to the show, and the ferry was a 35 min ride, and then we had to either get a bus from the warf back to Glebe or walk. If all went according to plan we would be get back around 7:15, which would mean 15 minutes for a quick shower and change and then another 20 to walk up to the Seymour Center. Luckily we had already purchased our tickets, good life decision there.

We calculated we could still manage to get to our show on time even if we took the later one, so we opted just to wait. The next boat departed at 5:45 and we made sure we were on that one.

Seth and Lyndsay

Me and Andy

All the sailboats coming out to play in the Sydney Harbour

Postcard perfection. Except I actually took this picture.

The opera house from the angle it is least often viewed. Our orientation director told us that the Sydney opera house is one of the most photographed buildings in the world. I am not sure how one would determine such a thing, but I believe it.

Touristy posed picture.

In case you missed the previous 8 pictures, This is the Sydney Harbor Bridge!

I have watched Grey’s Anatomy for years now and listened to Derek (McDreamy) go on and on about how he loved ferry boats and I never understood what the big deal was. Its a big boat that doesn’t even go very fast, I just didn’t see the appeal. Well, NOW I GET IT. Most forms of transportation offer street views that you would see normally, and the destination is whats important, not really how you get there. But with a ferry boat, the journey is also a destination. Getting to ferry through Sydney Harbor Bay was gorgeous and so relaxing. Sitting on the ocean for the 35 minute trip out and back was just as fun as the actual events of the day. So now me and Derek Shepherd have something in common, a mutual love of Ferry Boats. Maybe while I am here I will also come to understand why elevators are so great, because Grey’s Anatomy writers certainly seem to be obsessed with them. Stay posted for progress on that, the elevator in my apt building is now working again for the first time since I have been here. Who knows what magic awaits me between floors one and two!

We got back to Sydney and the boys took the train back because they had already purchased tickets, but Lyndsay and I decided we would just walk in back to save some money. After a few wrong turns and guidance from friendly Australians we found Glebe just fine, and got back around 7:10, which gave us enough time to shower, change, and walk up to the Seymour Center without needing to sprint. When I was getting dressed for the play I noticed that I had a bit of a sunburn. When I woke up the next day I found that definitely had a sunburn. When a rough morning follows a long night of drinking many people will say things like ” I will never drink again!” this is how I feel the morning after a sunburn.

The use of the color green for this opening scene I took real issue with, as green is a color associated with illness and swampy things in terms of color theory, really this show should be done in blues whites and purples, but I won't get into the technical short comings of this production, because I could easily write another 1000 words on that

The show was well done. The actors were all played their parts with depth and conviction and sang extremely well. That being said, the sound mixing was way off, but it was a tricky situation since the Orchestra was seated above the stage, which makes mixing difficult because normally you have them sitting off stage or have an orchestra pitt to swallow some of the sound, thus making the sound easier to control with microphones. Also- the choreography was SO AWKWARD. This show should really be done with very minimalist choreography and more just staged movement and free form stuff. Like I said, I could write another 1,000 words EASILY on this, but I won’t as this post has already gotten to 2,000.

Yaella, Alana, Lyndsay, Me, Megan and Amanda. No body had seen it before but me, and everybody liked it!

I sat next to Lyndsay who got a bit peeved at me because I was singing every word. During intermission she said

“Valerie I paid to hear them sing not you!”

Everyone liked the show and I sang all the way home from it. A bunch of the girls even cried during the final scenes where things really get intense. It was like my mom was there in spirit to cringe at the sex scenes and cry during the sad parts. It was a great ending to a great day. I never get sick of Spring Awakening.

Billy Collins

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

This does not have a lot to do with Korea, other than the fact that I rediscovered my love of Billy Collins while at school one day, but I really love the poem “On Turning Ten”

On Turning Ten

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I’m coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light–
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

Recently I’ve been feeling like an old grumpy teacher. Believe me, dear blog readers, I know for a fact that I am not old and I am in the prime of my life… it’s just a feeling, quite like Billy Collins’ narrator at 10. I feel that I’m not quite as relaxed and fun as last semester, and instead I’m channeling an old, grumpy tenured teacher. You know, the one who complains about “students and their baggy pants these days” and shakes her ruler at them as they gallop down the halls, except for me it’s their crazy perms and eye-tape (in Korea many girls put double-sided tape on their eyelids to create the appearance of double-eyelids… I don’t think it works particularly well as it just looks like their new double-eyelids are encased in cellphane. And yes when I say “perms” I’m talking about girls AND guys). Even though it’s only a half year later, these new students just seem so much younger!

There are days that are awesome and teaching just flows and the “teaching persona” (how I present myself as a teacher) I have works really well, but for the new classes I’m having issues finding a persona that works. If I’m too nice they sleep/take advantage of my niceness, but if I’m too hardball they don’t want to participate. This isn’t always an issue, just with certain classes and generally on Thursdays. So please forgive me just for today for being old in my mind, if not in my body. 

Darn teenagers.

First School Subject Field Trip!

Monday, March 28th, 2011

This weekend, I went on a two day field trip with my Conserving Tropical Rainforests class to Mossman Gorge, the Cow Bay Region, and Marrdja Boardwalk.  Each of the three places was absolutely stunning in its own way, and I was constantly writing down notes and taking pictures!  I took over 350 photos!  Here’s just a few. :)

Mossman Gorge

The backpackers' lodge in the middle of the rainforest!

Crocodylus.

Crocodylus.

Crocodylus.

Mangrove forest in the Cow Bay Region.

Some coral I found at Cow Bay. :)

An adorable conch shell I found on the beach in Cow Bay! I want to make a necklace with it. :)

Delicious ice cream from the Daintree Ice Cream Company. Flavours: banana, wattleseed, mamey sapote, and black sapote. Too good!

From the gardens near the Daintree Ice Cream Company.

From the gardens near the Daintree Ice Cream Company.

Marrdja Boardwalk.

The coolest tree trunk I have ever seen, at Marrdja Boardwalk.

A beautiful creek by the Jindbala Boardwalk.

Alexandra Lookout. A beautiful view from the side of a mountain!!!

Alexandra Lookout with the girls. :)

I only wish that it hadn’t been POURING rain the whole time.  I will just have to go back on some sunny days. :)   Then again, it is the rainforest.

A Evening for Partying, An Hour for the Earth

Monday, March 28th, 2011

After another saturday morning of sleeping in luxuriously late I awoke to a missed call from Lyndsay, and a voicemail asking if I wanted to head over to the Seymour Center box office to pick up Spring Awakening tickets for this weeks performance. I called her back, showered, dressed and we headed out. On our way out we ran into the lovely ladies form Apt 23 and when they asked us what we were doing we were more than happy to share our plans with them. As luck would have it Glebe is populated with more theatre geeks than I originally thought, and they were not only excited and knowledgeable about Spring Awakening, but asked if they could go to the show with us on Wednesday night. So our party of two became a party of five.

SKETCHY advertisement that we saw walking back from the box office. It totally sounds like this guy is trying to set up some sort of ametur porn studio. "Furnitured"? O yeah, this guy sounds legit. Even I can spell better than that

We walked up to the Seymour Center, with the air thick with the threat of rain. We purchased our student discounted tickets and as we walked back, the apt 23 ladies told us of their plans to have a candlelit dinner that night in honor of Earth Hour.

Earth Hour is an event that was started in 2007 by The World Wide Fund for Nature in conjunction with The Sydney Morning Herald. It is held on the last saturday of March every year, and during this hour it is asked that households and businesses turn off all non-essential lights and appliances for one hour to help raise awareness for climate change and the global energy crisis. The first year it was held 2.2 million Sydney residents participated, and in 2008 other world cities began to take notice and participate as well. While I had never heard of this before coming to Australia its a fairly big deal here. The Australian government even pitches in by shutting off the lights on the opera house and the Sydney Harbor Bridge during this hour. (When I watched the news the following day the newscaster said that due to the participation during this one hour electricity in Sydney had been cut by 12% for the day.)

The ladies of Apt 23 (Alana, Megan and Amanda) invited Lyndsay and I to partake in their earth day feast. Knowing my manners, I refused to accept the invitation without promising to bring something. They had said they were making a pasta dish for dinner, so I decided I would make a tomato bruschetta to go with it, and Lyndsay purchased a box mix cheesecake mix, and together we went in on a bottle of wine to contribute. (We actually caught an estate sale special on wine and we got four bottles for 15 dollars, three white and one red)

Once we got back to the apt Lyndsay and I got to baking and then headed across the hallway to apt 23. Once we arrived we heard that word of our small candlelit pot luck dinner had gotten out, and members of both the boys rooms had gotten in on the action as well. Someone decided that we should all dress up since a candlelight apparently cannot be properly enjoyed without wearing nice clothes. I thought for sure only the girls would be doing this, but much to my surprise the boys were great sports about it and showed up in collared shirts and dress pants.

Box mix cheesecake by Lyndsay, strawberry decoration by me.

She was so proud she had baked something.

Some of the Earth Hour Banquet spread. My very pretty tomato Bruschetta

Alana, Megan, Amanda, little Jordan and Lyndsay

Glebian Ladies! Looking o so pretty. From the left, Lyndsay, me, Yaella, Amanda, Alana, Megan and Rebecca.

Glebians!

After a dinner of mostly carbs and a small salad (provided by me of course) we broke into the heavy liquor and dug into the cheesecake. We sat around chatting and eventually decided that we wanted to go out for the evening.

We actually were eating by candlelight, although the camera flash ruins this effect, but without it, pictures come out blurry like this.

Drinking and dining in the dark

Getting ready to cut the cheesecake!

The whole group

After we had dispersed from dinner Yaella Lyndsay and I decided we wanted to go out, as the night was young and there was dancing to be done. We wanted to go back to retro bar, as our previous attempt at going there had failed and it was supposed to be a pretty happening place. According to the website it had three floors, each featuring music from a different decade. 90′s music on the top floor, 60′s and 70′s on the second floor, and house music on the bottom floor. Alana, Seth and Jordan decided to join us in our pursuit of nighttime entertainments. Before we left we looked it up on the web to make sure it was open, to avoid a repeat of our previous failure and we discovered that they were running a promotion that night where if you wore green you got free admission. Obviously this called for a quick change. Outfitted in our green outfits we flagged a cab, arrived at the club and breezed through the entrance without having to pay the $20 cover charge.

As we were walking into the club some guy yelled at us that St.Patricks day was last week.

Cool chalk wall on the 60's/70's floor. Also- Yaella is doing the YMCA.

Jordan bustin a move

Retro bar specializes in "hen parties" aka bachelorette parties. To distinguish themselves from the rest of the club all the members of the differnet hens parties going on wear matching head bands. We saw antennae, bunny ears, princess crowns and all sorts of random stuff.

Yaella carrying Lindsay back to the apt on her back because Lyndsays feet were killing her from her heels. This is true friendship.

After we had danced ourselves silly we walked back to the apt and collapsed into our respective beds. Another evening in Sydney well spent.

Life is a Cabaret Old Chum!

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

My days and weekends in Oz are really beginning to fill up. This week I worked hard and this weekend I partied even harder, and it all started on Thursday. The night Yaella and Lyndsay and I hung out with the Australian carnie folk we met this lovely girl named Camilla, who is here for a few months from Britain. She took a year off between high school and college and has been traveling around. Had she been at her home university she might have run into my friend Chlsea, a William and Mary student who is currently studying abroad with the Theatre program at Exeter, where Camilla will attend in the fall. The two constants in my life, jews and theatre people, even halfway round the world I still manage to find them.

Yaella had been bugging Lyndsay and I to go with her to check out this fancy chocolatier place on glebe point rd, and we thought it would be fun to have Camilia go with us. So after a long stint in the library on Thursday afternoon I met up with Lyndsay and Yaella and the three of us set out to find Camilla and some chocolate.

San Churro's spanish hot chocolate. AHmazing.

San Churro’s is a chocolateria whose slogan is “Chocolate and Churros shall be your Salvation.”  A philosophy I was more than willing to embrace. Camilla and I both ordered a traditional spanish hot chocolate, which is a very thick smooth chocolatey beverage, served hot. Its rich and creamy and I’m sure an entire days worth of calories. In addition to this Lyndsay and I decided to split a cinnamon chocolate fruit parfait. That was a more complex experience in terms of my tastebuds reception of it. It was comprised not of the traditional yogurt, granola, and fruit that I am used to, but rather a cinnamon creme, strawberries, bananas, raspberry sauce, raspberries, and chocolate on top. It was quite interesting, and Lyndsay and I had no trouble whatsoever savoring every last bite.

Lyndsay mid parfait bite, also Camilla.

According to San Churo’s website, “In 1528 Hernan Cortes brought the decadent Aztec tradition of chocolate to Spain. So precious was this gift that only the monks were allowed to manufacture chocolate strictly for the Spanish aristocracy. The head monk, San Churro, witnessed many miracles of chocolate including the healing of the Queen of Spain and made it his life’s work to spread the ‘secret’ of chocolate across Europe.”  http://www.sanchurro.com/who.php) While this story is cute, Yaella and I were unable to verify any of this information via wikipedia, and since it’s not on wikipedia I am therefore forced to assume it is a flagrant lie made up for the sole purpose of having a cute story. Like anyone cares about cute back stories when chocolate is involved. Priorities people.

Friday morning I awoke to a voicemail and an email from the international student internship office telling me that I had gotten the internship for the Office of Development and that I would start on Tuesday! What a wonderful way to start off a weekend. Plus this meant that I didn’t have to attend my friday class because I would be dropping it since the internship is a 10 hour a week time commitment in addition to weekly career seminars. So not only did I wake up to great news, but shortly after I got to go right back to sleep and snooze through the morning hours. Precisely how I like to start my days. Once I woke up, I poked around the apt for a bit, cleaning up, making food, and hanging out with the roommates. I knew I wanted to do something fun to celebrate my news, so I messaged Lyndsay and suggested that we do something fun together since Yaella would be out for her Shabbat observation and her other two roommates were gone for the weekend as well. We toyed around with the idea of going to a club with the boys next door, but I remembered that the theatre group at USyd was putting on a production of “Cabaret,” and suggested that we do that instead. Lyndsay enthusiastically agreed and we set out around 7 for the Seymour Center where the show was being held.

Stage set up for Cabaret. Perhaps the easiest set ever. Its just scaffolding with taped red fabric and some tables. I mean COME ON.

We were able to get discounted tickets because we were both access card holders (finally that stupid $70 card I bought does something for me). I was rather ashamed that I had never seen Cabaret before, or at least the stage production of it. I knew many songs from the show, but as it turned out, the big number that everyone tends to associate with the show, “Maybe This Time” is not actually in the stage production, but was added for the film version. We were both looking forward to that number and were kinda bummed when it didn’t happen. Also, Australian actors trying to do German accents are often GLORIOUSLY difficult to understand.

Lyndsay and I both enjoyed the show, and were very impressed with the lead male’s ability to put on a consistent American accent. During intermission we were browsing through some fliers for upcoming events and noticed that the following weekend a production of “Spring Awakening” was being put on. I geeked out over this (obviously) and began serenading Lyndsay with every word from the show. Much to my surprise she knew a lot about the show, had the soundtrack, but had never actually seen it. With this information in hand I had no other option but to demand that we procure tickets at our earliest possible connivence and go see it. I have no problem spreading the good word of musical theatre, even to those who don’t want to receive it, although a receptive convert is always easier to handle.

After the show ended we headed back to the apt, but since it was only 10:30 or so there was still time left in the evening to go out. We rallied the troops and Me, Lyndsay, Courtney, Seth, and Kaela headed back out to find someplace for a drink. After scouting out a few locations we ended up at the Landsdown hotel bar, which I had walked by several times but never dared to venture inside. I believe on the first weekend I was here I had remarked to Yaella that we couldn’t go there because I didn’t feel like selling my body on that particular evening. It does look quite sleazy from the exterior, but once we were inside we found it to be quite agreeable. There was a live band and people sitting at tables chatting and hanging out. It was definitely more of a traditional bar atmosphere and not a club.

Loves. O and Seth in the background.

Kaela, Courtney and Seth. The red drink Kaela is holding is a snakebite, her favorite. Lyndsay also got one. Apparently its an Australian thing.

Me and this lady are a winning combination.

After a few hours of people watching and casual drinking we headed back to the apt and turned in for the night.

April Adventures to Come!

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

In place of our normal Tuesday adventuring this week Yaella and I popped into a local Backpackers World Travelers travel agency. This is basically a free travel agent that makes money by receiving kick backs from the tour companies they recommend, and they specialize in booking cheap trip for students and backpackers. The purpose of that visit was to nail down our reservations for a trip to Tasmania that we have been discussing going on. We weren’t really sure what kind of activities we wanted to go on while we were there, but we knew we wanted to do a wineglass bay tour.

Wine glass Bay

Tasmania is part of Australia technically, but most Australians don’t actually consider it to be. It is kinda the unloved red headed step child in most Australians minds.  While looking at brochures and doing research for our trip I found this quote that said “Tasmania is an island of inspiration, a world apart, not a world away.” Most of the natural environment of Tasmania remains untouched, and 37% of the total land mass lies in national parks, world heritage sites, and wildlife reserves. The climate is incredibly bipolar, and the travel agent was telling us that it could be warm enough to go swimming and snow in the same day depending on where you are in the country.

The island is 226 miles long from its northernmost to its southernmost point, and 190 mi from west to east. So its not huge. Still, Yaella and I are looking at doing a five day trip there and getting a fair amount of hiking in during that time.

We would probably fly into Lanceston and work our way down to Hobart, which is the capitol city, and fly home from there.

While we are still ironing out plans to go to Tasmania during a weekend in April, we have already booked our flights to Melbourne for the first weekend of April. Yaella, Lyndsay, Jordan and I will all be flying out at 5pm on April 1st, staying in a hostel and getting up early the next day to do an all day tour of the Great Ocean Road. This is the one attraction everyone keeps insisting is THE thing to do in Melboure (in Australia this is pronounced Mel- bin) so we have booked our tickets already.

The 12 Apostles limestone rock formations

The Great Ocean Road is a 151 mi stretch of road along the south-eastern coast. The road was built by soliders that had returned home from WWI between 1919 and 1932, and is the world’s largest war memorial; dedicated to those lost in the war. It is an important tourist attraction in the region, which winds through varying terrain alongside the coast, and provides access to several prominent landmarks; including the Twelve Apostles limestone stack formations.

The tour we booked is a bus tour that basically takes all day, but lets you out at different points along the route for varying amounts of time.

The Great Ocean Road

Plenty of time on planes traveling means plenty of time to catch up on my readings for class while I am a safe distance away from an internet connection, which is my major downfall in terms of distractions. At the end of April I will leave for my spring break trip (technically a fall break trip in the southern hemisphere) to Thailand! I am so pumped about this I even downloaded an app onto my ipod that counts down the days, as of today only 30 days to go! I also enrolled in a frequent flier program because I am going to be racking up some crazy miles and it would be nice to log all of them and earn a free flight somewhere, since I will undoubtedly be broke as a joke by the end of this trip.

In other news, I applied for the Study Abroad Internship program through the International Student office at Usyd and was accepted. The next step was for them to send me internship options in the fields I had expressed interest in, which for me were media and communications, and public relations. They sent me a long list of internship option profiles, each one detailing the type of work I would be doing and some background on the company I would be working with. I was asked to rank these in order of preference, and a day later I heard that I had an interview with the Office of PR and Development at the University of Sydney, which is great because that means I don’t have to walk very far to get to it should I get the position.

On Tuesday I went over for the interview and the guy who would be my boss interviewed me and was really laid back and had a great sense of humor. He is also an american who up until four months ago worked with the University of Chicago. He was impressed with my background in writing and asked for me to send him some published writing samples. We chatted for over 45 minutes about Australia and America and it seemed like it went really well. If I get the position I would be drafting and editing proposals for groups who are seeking grants for projects and research in addition to dealing with the public relations aspects of public and private donors. There was also talk of the creation of a database of all the donors USyd has dealt with in the past, which would require some research and data entry. I am supposed to hear back by the end of the week so heres hoping! Should I get the position I can transfer it back to UMW for credit and it would also count as a class here, which would be fantastic because it would mean I could drop something else and have less homework and more time to travel. The way I see it I would rather spend my time here traveling and getting in as much of the country as I can because classrooms and homework pretty much look the same everywhere you go.

“LL”

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

One way that a Spanish-speaker can tell where another Spanish-speaker is from if through the pronunciation of the “ll”, which is found in words like “pollo” (chicken).

In Argentina it is a “zh” like the “zh” in “garage” or the ج in Modern Standard Arabic. Thus “pollo” is “pozh-zho” . In Peruvian cities, like in Mexico, it is often pronounced as a “y”. For example, “poy-yo”.

However, when the speaker’s mother tongue is Quechua or if they grew up in an area with lots of Quechua influence, they will say “poy-lo”. That’s because the “ll” in Quechua is a “y” that suddenly transforms into an “l” through some major tongue-twisting. After taking Quechua for two weeks and hearing it pronounced this way, I have begun speaking this way, too.

This “ll” pronunciation could also be the basis of discrimination. If one pronounces the “ll” in the Quechua influenced manner, then the listener could believe that this person came from a pueblo and is a campesino (farmer) or is indigenous, and as such, they are subject to the stereotypes associated with this identity.

Stereotypes of campesinos/indigenous people include: uneducated, poor, and lacking good manner. I’ve been told this and I have heard it expressed unthinkingly in conversation.

For example, I once told a worker in my family’s café that I was going to live with a family in a pueblo for a few days in Colca Valley. He asked me why, and I said because my program was about globalization and indigenous people. He responded with an “Oh, so you are studying poor people”.

Also, one time a husband was eating and he splashed some of his soup. It almost landed in his wife’s bowl. She responded by laughing and teasingly called him a campesino.

Sometimes I wonder what people think of me when I say the “ll” in the “yl” manner. Obviously I’m a extranjera (foreigner), so I wouldn’t necessarily be labeled in a negative way. I think most people are probably just curious, as to why I would have adopted such a way of talking.

(while writing this, my family’s puppy tried getting on my bed the entire time. Here is a picture.)

Nacho!!

The Entry That Is Going to Get Me Lynched

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Everyone, or perhaps more accurately a large percentage of people, have a great many complaints about Mary Washington. They complain about the lack of school spirit and convenient parking. They moan about Seaco and the lack of things to do on the weekend. A small number within the larger percentage complain about rising tuition and how the schools wastes said money on frivolous things (which isn’t entirely untrue.) They moan and they bitch and nothing really changes (except for when it comes to old buildings which I’m not at all against.) Some people transfer but an equal number of people stay and complain. I don’t really understand it though. Boys complain about the lack of attractive girls and girls complain about the lack of available men. We moan, which is almost our equivalent to school spirit, and stay. And I don’t understand.
I’m not saying that I’m absolutely and completely happy with our school. There are things I would change, but most of the them are inconsequential and heavily biased (and so really shouldn’t be implemented.) I can’t say I’m happy with the direction the school is going in especially when it comes to the kind of students being admitted. On the other hand the things that the student body at large complain about seem so superficial to me that I don’t really see the point. It’s almost as if we complain about our school because it doesn’t exactly resemble what the media portrays as a typical college. But really the things we bitch about are things we knew ahead of time when applying to Mary Wash. Alright, maybe not the parking regulations, but the food, the lack of stuff to do on the weekend, the gender ratios, they were all known factors when we applied here. There’s no point in complaining about things we knew ahead of time were going to be part of the experience. It’s like when you start dating someone and you want to change who they are and then moan when they refuse to. You knew what you were getting into, so what’s the point? That’s what I don’t understand and that’s why I don’t complain. I applied and decided to go to Mary Washington knowing what its warts were and accepting those warts for what they are. If you’re so unhappy, then don’t go here because quite frankly you’re ruining it for the rest of us.
I’ve been trying to put this entry into a coherent argument for a while because it really does bother me the amount of complaining my fellow students do. I understand some of the arguments (tuition hikes) even though I don’t necessarily agree with them, but moaning about the lack of school spirit just seems pointless, especially since the school is, sadly enough, known for not having school spirit on the same level as say JMU or Fake College From TV. It’s the frivolous complaints that annoy me, not the meaningful ones. The reason it’s taken me so long is that I had to weed out my own superficial complaints that no one really wants to read about (and largely would just confirm that I am old and crotchety well before my time). If you don’t agree, fine. That’s what the first amendment is for.

Grounds Work

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

I saw one of my boys outside today, waltzing around with his broomstick (actually this is a quite literal description as he was holding his broomstick like a dance partner and pivoting in small circles in the courtyard… needless to say little to no sweeping was getting done), and it made me sad. This is one of my lower-level second graders, and I’ve always had issues with him paying attention in my class. Most of the time he just sleeps, stares off blankly into space, or plays with a box-cutter that he always seems to carry. In the fall when I taught his class for the first time, it wasn’t until halfway through that I realized that he couldn’t read English. I’m not sure how this student does in his other classes, but my guess would be not well because I almost always see him outside, doing other activities.

Korean schools for the most part don’t employ janitors. The students take shifts cleaning their homerooms (cleaning the chalkboard, mopping the floors, etc) and cleaning the school’s hallways. From what I’ve managed to gather, it seems that at my high school if a student behaves badly they are sometimes made to do grounds work. I’ve seen my students cutting down tree branches, trimming hedges, sweeping outside, and carting wheelbarrows all the way down to the street full of tree branches (on a side note, while waiting for the bus I’ve also seen a lot of wheelbarrow races, almost all of which end badly… fun to watch though). However most of these activities don’t seem to take place outside of school, they seem to take place during the class period. So, the problem students are removed from the classroom and instead of after-school detention or anything like that, they are made to do grounds work during part or all of class.

While I appreciate that students are taught to respect the space that they’re in (they can’t graffiti the desks because if they do they’ll have to clean it later) it always makes me sad to see students outside during class hours. Especially if it’s one of my lower-performing students, because it seems like it’s a vicious cycle. I always see the same students outside doing labor… instead of it being a punishment for misbehaving it seems to become something for the student to do instead of learning. The student gets further behind, and then continues to behave badly in class because they are performing badly… instead of giving them extra help through after-school detention, forced self-study, paired with a one-on-one talk with the teacher trying to address the problem of why the student is behaving poorly in class, the student is just removed.

 —-

Some caveats: I don’t speak Korean, and my class operates a little differently than most of the teachers. Even though I am the main teacher, I have a co-teacher who, due to he or she actually being able to speak Korean, is the main power when it comes to removing students, excusing students for illness etc. Because the majority of my students are really low level, when they come in late or don’t come to class many times I can’t get an intelligible reason as to why without the help of a co-teacher translating my question to the students, and their responses to me. Also my information about all of this is from talking to other teachers and observations, so parts of it may be incorrect. All that I know is I see the same kid outside almost every day sweeping.

The saddest thing about it, was that this was the happiest I’d see him. Then again, I only see him in English class.

Anyone else have a similar situation at their school? It’d be interesting to see if my school is the exception or the norm in this regard.

Josephine Falls, Bramston Beach, Babinda Boulders

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

What an adventure today!  Even though I reapplied my sunscreen three times, I still got a really awkward burn all over my body. XD  It’s so splotchy and yucky.  Anyway… today was awesome.  The weather was GORGEOUS and I went to some truly amazing places.

A beautiful creek running through the rainforest on the way to Josephine Falls.

Josephine Falls! Gorgeous waterfalls at the bottom of Queensland's tallest mountain, Mount Bartle Frere!

This looks like it was straight out of The Lord of the Rings.

A natural waterslide! We weren't allowed to go down it though because the current was too strong. :( Maybe next time!

We swam in the calmer parts of the pools. :)

Bramston Beach! The sand felt like silk, it was so soft.

I had to show some love for good old UMW. ;)

These guys were seriously EVERYWHERE; ranging in size from the size of a quater, to bigger than my entire hand.

The Devil's Pool at Babinda Boulders. The aboriginals believe that evil spirits inhabit the pool and are the cause behind the numerous deaths.

Babinda Boulders!

Babinda Boulders, such a beautiful place.