Archive for April, 2011

No Worries Mate!

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Things have finally begun to cool down in the state of New South Wales. The dog days of summer have finally slunk away and the pleasantries of Australian fall have swept in. I find myself able to walk the 20 minutes to class without being drenched in sweat. I have also noticed as of late that I seem to have hit my Australian stride.

Upon arriving here it took me a few days to get used to the time difference, and then orientation happened and it took me a few days past that to get used to the climate and how expensive things were. Once I finally moved into my Glebe residence I had to learn about how to navigate the grocery store, and a two-flush toilet. Things I hadn’t thought of as being difficult were new, like using my weird Australian oven in Celsius.  And just when I was feeling like I had everything in order, classes started happening and once again I was thrust into a whole new acclamation process.

At first it was bewildering, being a freshman was not an experience I had hoped to repeat again so soon. It’s frustrating, and confusing and often you feel helpless under the weight of everything that is new around you. Soon this too passed, and I feel into a rhythm where I was getting to my classes on time and not needed to fumble around with my schedule and my campus map to figure out where I was going and what time I needed to be there. Physically getting to class was one thing, but then the school work started happening. I have been out of school since the first week of December, so it had been a good three months since I had done anything worthwhile with that lump of gray matter sitting inside my skull. I had gotten a little rusty. On top of this I had lapsed into vacation mode, which is easy to do when its 80 degrees and sunny and the beach is a backdrop to your life. I went to my classes for the first few weeks, but this was more of a physical going than a mental presence of actually being there. Sooner or later my professors started using words like “essay,” “exam,” “test,” and “soon” in the same sentence and I was yanked out of my blissful Australian day dream. I was here to STUDY?! I thought I was just here to play? Apparently not. So the last few weeks I have been frantic in my efforts to pull everything together in regards to school. I had lapsed on my readings and not started working on my mid semester assignments that would soon be due. Around this time my internship also started, adding another time commitment to my life, and more responsibilities.

There was one day where I remember sitting down with all my syllabuses and feeling really overwhelmed with everything I needed to due to prepare for the papers and projects I would soon need to turn in for midterm exam period. In the midst of all this travel opportunities kept presenting themselves, Tasmania, Melbourne, surf weekends, and while I am here to do some studying, had I only wanted to study I could have stayed in Virginia, so I didn’t want to miss out of any chances to explore this beautiful country I had been placed in on the precedent of “studying.” So instead of reading and doing school work I planned trips, one to Melbourne, and one to Tasmania, and spent my time in class day dreaming about where else I might go. Soon the impending exam period progressed from a mental itch to a full on rash. I needed to attend to it. One of the big reasons I had been putting off school work is because the books I needed for one of my literature classes were SO EXPENSIVE. I had gone to the bookstore and calculated that the 7 books I needed to buy were going to run me close to $150. In the world of an english major, thats pricey. Last semester at UMW I spent less than $100 on all the books I needed for five classes, so dropping $150 on books for one class was not something I was keen to do. Especially since Australia does not believe in textbook buy back, so I was going to get stuck hauling these books back in my suitcase.

The wonderful thing about being an English major is that you read books all semester, and until you have to write a paper or take a test, it is not imperative that you have read anything. It is the procrastinators worst nightmare, or greatest fantasy depending on how you look at it. We had four texts we were going to be on the midterm for my Australian Texts: International Contexts. One was a movie that I had managed to find and illegally stream for free online, one was a book of poetry that I had to do a presentation on so I had been forced to buy it at the start of the class, and the other two were expensive so I hadn’t bothered with them. I decided that since it had been weeks since the two books I hadn’t read had been assigned I would try getting one of the reserve copies out of the library. I was able to get copies of both, and as it turns out I really enjoyed reading them. One, called “Dreams of Speaking” I finished in two days because I was so absorbed. In the last week or so I have managed to catch up completely with all my school work, and even get ahead on a few things, and ever since this incredible sense of  joy has taken up residence in my person. Things at my internship have been really great, I have met some fantastic people, and am genuinely interested in the work I am doing. I return to my apartment at the end of each day tired, but feeling accomplished and productive. I feel like I have struck that perfect harmony in the melodies of fun and the baseline of productivity.

When I walk to school in the morning I hum and sometimes dance to the music in my headphones as I’m waiting to cross the street and pay no attention to the odd glances I attract. I smile like a loon when the wind picks my hair up off my neck and I can feel the warmth of the sunlight on my face. I find a childlike sense of pure delight over the silliest things like when my toast comes out of the toaster in a light brown crispy perfection. I would say its a case of spring fever, but its fall here in the southern hemisphere and getting colder not warmer. The kind of weather we have been having lately is the kind you don’t even notice. You walk outside and its so wonderfully temperate and sunny that the weather attracts none of your attention, for there is nothing to notice, it isn’t rainy or too hot or cold, its just wonderfully pleasant.

I am really enjoying the sense of independence I have here. Going to college at Mary Washington was a huge step for me in terms of starting over socially, and being away from my family for the first time, but it was also very close geographically, so I was able to run home whenever things got hard. While I felt blessed to have this option since my freshman year was really difficult, it meant that I was eased into my college life without ever really having to deal with anything hard on my own or for too long. Coming to Australia I was so concerned about making new friends and really being forced to do everything on my own for the first time. These concerns turned out to be completely unfounded as I have made so many great friends, and I am thrilled that so many of them live close to Virginia because I fully intend on seeing them once I return to the states.

My trip to Tasmania with Yaella fell through due to scheduling conflicts with her availability and mine, but in its place I decided I would book a surf weekend instead. I had wanted to do this since I got here, but as my weekends began filling up I had accepted that I might not be able to get it in before it got too cold to be desirable.  So on Wednesday of this week I decided to put a call into Mojo Surf just to inquire about their program, but after answering two of my questions the lady who was helping me asked me for my credit card number, and  I thought, well ok! So surfs up this weekend!

In Australia often in the place of saying “thank you” or “no problem” they say “no worries.” More than just being a way of saying thanks it seems to really be a way of thinking, and in my new and randomly blissful state of being I am really embracing this. While I am truly loving every minute of being abroad I am also looking forward to going back to UMW in the fall, being a tour guide again, seeing my friends, and finishing my degree. I feel like I am finally becoming a complete person all on my own. I feel ready to start a life that is my own. It’s a simple kind of free.

No I'm not the girl I used to be lately, you see you met me at an interesting time.

Sharing Isn’t Bad Unless It’s Not Yours and Then It’s Stealing

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

*DISCLAIMER: For the last time, I’m not actually an expert on copyright law. I have opinions on it, but then again I have opinions on lots of things including music, literature, and film. So while it’s nice that I keep getting my opinion asked on matters concerning copyright law, I don’t know what I’m talking about. These are just opinions. And a very sparse smattering of facts.

This is probably going to hurt me in some way later on in life but I have illegally downloaded music. To anyone crying foul I would say this: I don’t anymore and everyone’s a hypocrite. The reason I use to illegally download music was because I use to be so obsessed with certain British bands* that I had to have everything they ever recorded in my collection or I would be sad. I’m no longer at that level of obsession and I have a better understanding of how royalties work so I can no longer argue that I make up for my nefarious ways by purchasing merch and going to their concerts. I “get” illegal downloading. Honestly I do. But just because you understand why someone does something doesn’t make their illegal action any less illegal. I’ve said before that copyright law isn’t perfect and that they way record companies handle enforcing copyright law (amongst other things) isn’t perfect either. But as any elementary teacher can tell you two wrongs does not equal a right. Illegal is still illegal even if it doesn’t conform with how you think the world should work.
So what’s so wrong with sharing? Nothing. If you choose to share an original work, for instance a photograph, and decide to forgo normal copyright protections for Creative Commons then sharing is just jimdandy. Or let’s say you take a photograph and decide that you’re just going to forgo any kind of legal protection for the work. You put it the work into the ether and let whatever happens happen. That’s fine and completely your choice. The problem occurs when you share something that isn’t, legally speaking, yours to share. I own a copy of Lily Allen’s most recent album.** That one copy is mine and mine alone. According to copyright law I don’t have the right to provide copies of Lily Allen’s album to the ether. It doesn’t matter if I don’t make a single penny, it’s not my right to share my copy of Lily Allen’s album with anyone. The fact that Lily Allen (and Lily Allen’s manager and producer and the people who wrote the songs with her and her record labels) lose money is almost beside the point. The only person who has the right to make copies of Lily Allen’s album is Lily Allen.*** Hence copyright. It’s the right to make copies. I don’t have that right. You don’t have that right. My blind dog Rosie doesn’t have that right. Only Lily Allen. So when you share a copy of your favorite artist’s album with someone else over the internet you are, in a very general way, depriving that artist of some money. And that small amount of money amounts to a shit ton of money when millions of people all around the world do it. And that’s when sharing becomes a problem.
Tempestuous Sea (Erin) made a really good point after class about filing sharing, particularly dealing with music but which really applies to all kinds of file sharing. If you really love an artist you should be willing to fund their career by actually purchasing their music. And I think that’s part of the reason I don’t illegally download anything anymore: If I really like something I should be willing to take the time to watch it or spend the money to own it legally. You can say what you want about the big bad record companies and how copyright only benefits the fat cat corporations (and you wouldn’t be entirely wrong) but as I’ve said time and time again copyright came into existence to benefit creators. And for the most part copyright still does what it’s suppose to do. Now please stop asking me to write the same thing over and over again.

*Okay, one British band that will be discussed at length when we get to fanfiction. You guys have no idea what you’re getting into when we get to that section. It’s going to be insane.
**Why Lily Allen? Because I’m listening to her right now. That’s why.
***This is probably not technically true. Based on my class last year, her record label probably actually holds the copyright to the sound recordings and her music publisher probably holds the copyright to the songs. But we’re going to pretend that it’s Lily and only Lily.

TUSK!

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

This is my favourite* mashup ever. It was introduced to me by a friend in 8th grade and every time I hear one of the songs used in the mashup I almost immediately say “TUSK!” in my head. I feel I should point out that I haven’t heard full length versions of most of the songs used, but if you don’t know the context or haven’t heard every song used (and therefore don’t necessarily get all the references) it’s fine. And still very, very hilarious.

*You might have noticed this, but I’ve recently gone back to using British spellings for a lot of things. I used to do this more regularly, but the sour aftertaste immediately after I returned to the US after my stay in London meant that I forced myself to use American spellings for words I had used British spellings for before my stay in London. I’ve since gotten over all of that have gone back to spelling things the British way.

Mashup Solution

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Here’s a conundrum: You’ve been a diligent and dedicated DJ at your local college radio station for three and a half years. However because you have managed to graduate on time (fingers crossed) your tenure is coming to an end and you’re having to put together your last show. This makes you sad because there’s no way you can feature all of the artists you’ve ever played on your show (which varied between 14 to 27 songs a week) and it’s your last show so you want it to be awesome. Obviously there are some artists you featured more than others, so those guys will definitely get a song on your last show. But what about all the outliers? What about the awesome songs that you played just once or maybe twice but were awesome nonetheless? And the killer part is you only have 45 minutes. What do you do?
If you’re me you realize that you have a mashup project due in your digital storytelling class that will solve this problem quite elegantly. Despite my initial wariness of going anywhere near Audacity again doing an audio mashup of about 3 minutes and 30 seconds (with each song getting somewhere between 15 and 30 seconds each) will allow me to fix the conundrum I’m in. I get to feature my favourite artists and get in most of the outliers as well. Rather an elegant solution, no?
I will say one thing about this mashup though: It will not be anywhere near as lovely as the mashups created by professionals like, for example, Girl Talk. Then again I don’t have the same amount of time or the kind of equipment Girl Talk has, so I don’t even know why I’m bringing them up other than to say that what I’m going to be doing is somewhere along the same lines as what Girl Talk does. Kind of not really. I still like this idea though and I think it will work. I don’t know how well, but it will work.

Return to Hapkido!

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

I started up hapkido again!

Due to a long, long, complicated series of events which include winter break, winter camp, losing my phone for a week, CLEA, and hurting my wrist, I have been unable to do hapkido for the last 3 months. I didn’t realize quite how important it was to me until I went back for the first time yesterday. I knew that it was enjoyable, and that it was fun, but I didn’t realize how important it was to my mental health to not only have a physical activity to do but also a person my age to talk to.

I was really nervous about going back because I hadn’t really been in contact with Kyungjin, the hapkido instructor’s wife and my friend and contact at the studio, and I felt very guilty about that, and also because I hadn’t practiced in 4 months. What if I sucked?! What if I forgot how to throw a punch?! (Well let’s be real here, I never really knew how to throw a punch… you don’t really punch as much as you kick in hapkido).

Upon arriving at hapkido I was hugged by Kyungjin, I was swarmed by tiny little elementary-aged hapkidoers, and it turns out it was the hapkido instructor’s birthday! Good thing I brought a present ^^;;. Also I remembered how to do pretty much everything – that is, except for how to put on my uniform correctly. Fail.

Pre-Production Post

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

The biggest issue when putting on a production of any kind is communication. In putting together our opera our biggest downfall has been a lack of communication. While all the individual pieces (music, libretto, instrumentalists, etc.) were done in plenty of time we as a group had issues communicating with each other which meant that there was a headlong rush the week before our opera to try and put everything together to try and create the cohesive story we originally came up with a month ago. Thankfully we have some very organized and dedicated people in our group that could pick up the slack where others failed and we also have an excellent group of musicians who will be able to put everything we have together in a manner befitting of this project. While there’s not much we can do to fix the past, I do think future classes need to keep in mind that a good line of communication is essential when doing a project like this, or really in putting on any kind of dramatic performance.

An Extra Hour in Melbourne

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Waking up to face the day on our last day in Melbourne was difficult. We were all groggy and tired from our long night out at Eurotrash. Regardless of this, we still had to be checked out of our rooms by ten, so we dragged ourselves out of bed, dressed and started to pack up our belongings. Lyndsay had gotten out my laptop the night before to play music while we were getting ready to go out, so I had to pull it back out and turn it off. When I did I was surprised to find that the clock on my laptop said 8:08am and not 9:08 am like my watch and my cellphone were telling me. When I brought this to the attention of the group Jordan was the first to say “O shit, daylight savings time!”

We deliriously debated this for a few minutes, but it was too wonderful a miracle for any of us to believe it was true, so we sent Jordan out to the front desk to ask what time it was. He came back and confirmed that our miracle was in fact reality. We all sat in stunned silence for about a minute before Seth announced that he was going back to bed. We all followed suit and fell back into bed, fully clothed with suitcases already packed and ready to go. It was a marvelous 50 minutes of sleep, and we all awoke feeling far less groggy than we had an hour before.

Around 10 am we checked out, placed our luggage in storage for the day and were out in the city once again. I had demanded that since we were in Melbourne, the cultural capital of Australia, we needed to go to at least one museum before we left. Most of the museums are located off of federation square so we headed in that general direction. On our way there we scouted for odds and ends to make up a breakfast. Yaella had recommended that we try out this vegan/vegetarian fully kosher burger stand called Lord Of the Fries.  http://www.lordofthefries.com.au/ It is just a small take away stand that looks like a regular burger stand with a sweet literary referencing name. All of the burgers are made without any dairy products and the burgers are made of meat substitute.

Their slogan is "We care, alot"

Generally I shy away from any sort of meat “substitute,” as this kinda sketches me out and if I want a burger I get a black bean, chick pea, or garden burger, but I had been assured by Yaella that these burgers were amazing and I was not to leave Melbourne without trying one.  The boys, being hardcore carnivores, were scared off of the  meat “substitute” thing, but Lyndsay and I decided we would go halfies on a burger and fries. One bite into the burger, Lyndsay, who is not a vegetarian, was mumbling praises through a full mouth. Once she had chewed properly she said that not only did it taste amazing generally, but that she had trouble telling that it was not meat. This surprised all of us, but we all sampled it and came away with the same conclusion. The fries were equally good, and the selection of sauces was extensive. I opted to go with “Aussie sauce” which was basically a variation of ketchup, but it was quite tasty. I was impressed that such a great burger could be created and be vegan and kosher and still taste amazing. Lord of the Fries is truly a burger mansion among burger huts.

The travel desk clerk at Nomads had suggested that we check out the Australian Center for the Moving Image, which offered free admission, so that was our first stop after we had all eaten. http://www.acmi.net.au/screen_worlds.aspx

Australian Center for the Moving Image from the Outside

The main exhibit in the museum was free, but they also had a special exhibit running called “Dreams Come True” which was all about the artistry behind Disney’s animated films which they were charging admission for. While the Disney exhibit sounded really awesome,  we all agreed it wasn’t worth the $15 dollar admission price and we could do without it. As it turned out the main exhibit, called “Screen Worlds, The Story of Film, Television, and Digital Culture” was incredible. It detailed the development of the moving image and highlighted Australian contributions to the film and television industries.  The whole exhibit was highly interactive and allowed museum goers to play classic and contemporary video games, view movies, tv episodes, rarely seen behind the scenes footage, and use interactive displays to understand the technology behind the special effects in movies and animation. The scope of the exhibit was ambitious but very well put together, and really gave a comprehensive look into the diversity of entertainment and creativity that makes the moving image such a dominant cultural force.

Main floor of the exhibit. Everything was really interactive

The car from Mad Max

One of the dresses Cate Blanchett wore in "Elizabeth"

**GEEKS OUT** The red dress Nicole Kidman wore in Moulin Rouge during the "Elephant Love Medley" song, and one of the windmills they used for scale models of the set. I FREAKED WHEN I SAW THIS

After a few hours in the museum we went out in search of more Melbourne adventures. We ran into some Melbourne city guides, who are basically cute old ladies wearing baseball caps and fannie packs filled with free fliers and maps who can answer questions about attractions and things in the city. We asked them where we could see more street art and they point us in the direction of Hoiser Lane. If street art is the premiere art form of Melbourne than Hoiser Lane would surely be the Lourve. It is a long alley way that is famous for the art put up on it.

Hoiser Lane

Further up Hoiser Lane

Hindu Elephant!

"Terrorists Often Wear Suits" Truth.

WHy so serious?

This arrow decal was all over the city

Textile street art installation

so much color.

Tree!

Punny

political

More traditional graffiti

Colorful

bullet holes

The diversity of art here was incredible

This one was incredible. I don't even want to think about how long it must have taken

The living wall!

sticker tag war

Crazy detail

Street artist in progress

Big Fail

Once we made it past the colored walls of Hoiser St we went out in search of more Melbourne adventures. Next stop: the Royal Botanical Gardens!

Royal Melbourne Botanical Gardens

Fairy Tree

Mini tudor Village in the Botanical Gardens.

The steps of the Victoria Parliament building, we saw so many couples going in to get married. you can see one on the right there.

Self Explanatory

After a bit more city wandering the day began to wind down. We had to catch a plane out of Avalon at 8:50 and in order to do this we had to get on the bus that would put us at Avalon around 8:10. Around 6 we headed back to the hostel, grabbed our bags and walked back to southern cross station to buy our bus tickets and catch our bus. Once we got to the airport we headed in to check in, and as soon as the four of us had cleared the checkout counter a woman came over the loud speaker and said

“The check in desk is now closed”

We had made it in just the nick of time. The lady at the check in desk scolded us saying that we should have come in on the earlier bus, which was an option we had considered but it would have put us at the airport around 7, which would have given us two hours to sit in that tiny rinky dink shed of an airport, and since we had the option of a later bus we decided against it. I don’t know what would have happened if our bus had arrived any later, and I would rather not think about it.

Lyndsay and I cleared security no problem, but when Seth’s bag went through the x-ray scanner, security stopped him and said:

“Sir you have a fork in your bag, you are going to need to take that out”

Earlier in the weekend Seth had gotten take away food at an Indian restaurant and had grabbed a real fork out of the restaurant because they had neglected to include a utensil with his takeout order, or so he thought, he had later found that they had included a spoon, but never the less he had kept the fork. When security pointed this out to him he went searching for it, but it was actually inside his small day bag inside his backpack, so he had some difficulty finding it. Lyndsay and I were boarding the plane while Seth and Jordan were still caught up at security. Eventually he was able to locate the fork and security asked what they wanted him to do with it. What was he supposed to do? Check his singular fork? Yeah no. It got left behind in Avalon.

Finally we all made it onto the plane and were back in Sydney before midnight. We were all exhausted the next day, but Melbourne had been a lot of fun and even though waking up the next morning was rough, it was well worth the trip.

Melbourne City Sights

Monday, April 4th, 2011

After a full day on the Great Ocean Road on very little sleep, Seth, Lyndsay, Jordan and I were all too pleased to sleep in a little bit the following day. We woke up around 11 and set our sights on checking out a local Melbourne music festival for the day. Once we got a little breakfast we headed off to Federation Square where it was being held. On our way there we passed Findlers St Station, a famous Melbourne landmark and meeting spot. We also saw street art around every corner. Melbourne is the second largest city in Australia and is known as the cultural capital of Australia, and also for its diverse range of street art and subcultures. The whole street art movement began in the 1970s and 80s and Melbourne was one of the first major cities outside of the UK to embrace this renegade art form as legitimate, and not try to penalize people for doing it or cover or clean it up. Due to the governments laze faire approach to this art form, the movement has grown to take over just about every empty alley way in the city. The street art in Melbourne includes not just graffiti paintings and stencil art but also sticker art, poster art, wheat pasting, graphs, wood blocking, sculptures, textiles, and street installations. There is a strong sense in community ownership of these art works and much of the art carries with it some sort of political message.

Sticker art

More sticker art

stencil tagging

so cool

Creepy

Findler's St Station. The front of this building has different clocks that tell the time in various cities. This is a big meeting place in Melbourne, you say "meet me under the clocks!"

We arrived at the music festival to see that it was much smaller than we had heard it was going to be and the turn out there was disappointing. I have seen larger crowds at ihop at 2 am. So we ditched that idea and just wandered around the city instead. In the picture above you can see the “free” Melbourne tram. Technically it costs money to ride it, but there is one official who checks every tram in the city once a day, so the chances that you will get caught riding it without a ticket are VERY low. When the front desk manager at our hostel was describing this to us he said “Everybody rides and nobody pays- isn’t this country great?”

We rode the “free” tram down to brunswick and spent the day wandering aimlessly through the city looking at street art, shops and popping in and out of any store that grabbed out attention.

Amazing chickpea veg burger

Australia in general I have found to be very vegetarian friendly, but Melbourne in particular had a LOT of vegetarian/vegan/kosher/healthy food options. For lunch Lyndsay and I found this burger place that specialized in vegetarian burgers and it was FANTASTIC. Quite possibly one of the best burgers I have ever had. Mine was made of chickpeas with tomato, sweet tomato relish, tomato, beet root, and various other delicious things on it. At $10 it was a steal (yes this is considered affordable in Australia).

Lyndsay enjoying her tasty healthy burger

With lunch in our bellies we continued to explore. We rode the “free” tram up and down through Melbourne until it was dinner time and we ate in this funky but wonderful restaurant called the Gypsy Cafe. We lingered over dinner and then headed back to our hostel as it was getting dark. While we had been out during the day we had stopped into another Nomads location (its a chain) and talked to the travel desk clerk who was an American guy who had grown up in New York but attended UVA. He gave us some great suggestions on clubs and nightlife locations, including a three level club called Bubbles. He gave us the address for this, so on our way home we tried to look for it. In Melbourne I think they must have named every street and then found that they had run out of street name ideas because for every street there was another street with the name “little” in front of it. There is Collins St and Little Collins St, Bourke St, Little Bourke St, Lonsdale St and Little Lonsdale st and it goes on and on like this. Bubbles was theoretically located on Little Collins st, and we walked the entire length of the street (which, thankfully, was in fact little) and we couldn’t find it. We asked a few different people about it and they all told us the same address we already had. So it became a running joke that this place was just a figment of everyones imagination. My theory was that it had some sort of secret Harry Potter -esque entrance where you had to tap seven different bricks in a certain order for the door to appear. Who knows, we never found it. We went back to the hostel to shower and change and then head back out again in search of nightlife. The front desk manager at our hostel suggested a local club called Eurotrash, but we weren’t completely sold on that idea so we set out with no real destination in mind.

After a few minutes of aimless wandering we ran into two aussie college girls and their male friend and decided to ask them for directions to Bubbles, they told us they had never been to Bubbles, but were headed to Eurotrash and asked if we wanted to come with. Of course we did! We walked with them to Eurotrash, talking the whole way. They asked us lots of questions about where we were from, what we were studying, and the united states, and we in turn asked them about Melbourne. Once we got to the club we were pleasantly surprised to find this little hole in the wall establishment that was busy but not too crowded on the inside playing great dancing music and had plenty of outdoor areas to sit in and chat. We danced and drank the night away with our new Australian friends. I had my first gin and tonic, which was quite tasty.

I'm Lyndsays boyfriend, in case you didn't know. The guy on the far right is the guy we met the night before from Maryland

In a bizarre twist of fate we ran into a bunch of the people we had met the night before at this club. Among them was the guy Lyndsay had met that went to Maryland. He hung out with us for the rest of the night even after his friends left. While we were dancing this tall Australian guy came up to me and started talking to me. Talking to people in dance clubs isn’t talking so much as it is yelling. After a few minutes of half dancing half screaming my way through a conversation I asked him if he wanted to go sit down to talk. He agreed and we ended up chatting for upwards of an hour. As it turns out he was half american as his dad was from Las Vegas. I didn’t know anyone could actually be from Las Vegas, I just always thought of it as someplace like Disney world that people went to have fun but you couldn’t actually be a resident. He asked me lots of questions about America, and about Washington DC under the pretense that he wanted to go there during the upcoming holiday. I feel like this was just an in to talk to me, but either way we had a good conversation.

When we parted ways I went back into the dane dace room to find Seth, Jordan and Lyndsay but they they were nowhere to be found. They had left to go next door and get McDonalds but neglected to tell me this. Luckily I found our new Aussie friends and danced with them while I waited for one of them to return my text message asking where the heck they were. In only a few minutes they came back and insisted I tell them all the juicy details of my encounter with the tall Australian guy. They were quite disappointed to hear that we had just been chatting, and it took me insisting at least eight times that nothing else had gone on for them to believe me, and even then I’m not completely sure they bought it.

We were having such a great time dancing and hanging out with our new friends that we lost all track of time and didn’t end up leaving the club until almost 4 am. Since we had followed our newfound Aussie friends to the club, we didn’t really recognize where we were once we exited. Luckily the Maryland guy was still with us, and he was able to point us in the right direction. Before we parted ways with our Maryland Melbourne friend we went into a 7-11 and each got a maxibon man chew ice cream bar. This is basically a thicker crunch bar without a stick but the commercials they run for them are so outrageous. Watch this and you will understand:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHrhmpKSLVg

Jordan and Seth giving their jaw muscles a work out

So we all had one and made all sorts of cracks about our jaw muscles getting bigger. Once we had finished our ice cream we parted ways with the Maryland guy who was able to point us in the direction of our hostel. We were all more than happy to crawl into bed, but not before setting an alarm for 9am since we had to be checked out by 10 in order to avoid getting charged for another day. It was a slow day wandering through Melbourne followed by a wild night out.

Living it up in Melbourne

TAYLOR SWIFT IN DUBLIN

Monday, April 4th, 2011

WE GOT TO SEE TAYLOR SWIFT IN CONCERT IN DUBLIN. Sadly I don’t have any pictures because we weren’t sure if they take your cameras here like they do in the US, but the concert was amazing! I would go again right now if I could. Such a great night.

Anyways, the concert was on Sunday and my mom and Jenny were in Dublin until Sunday morning.  We pretty much just hung around Dublin, and made a little day trip to Howth Beach.  It was kind of a chilly/windy day, but the beach was still pretty.  We saw the Dublin Castle, a leprechaun and went to an Irish pub for dinner.  We met a girl who was studying in Dublin for the semester that was also with her family and talked with them for awhile.  It was a nice couple of days.

After Taylor Swift on Sunday, the 5 of us that were in Dublin just relaxed.  We have pretty much seen all of Dublin and we were hanging out their until our flight on Tuesday so we just walked around a little, and went to a coffee shop and read.  We met up with my friend Adam who is studying at UCD and went out on Monday night, ended up dancing for hours on end, it was great.  Then we flew out form Dublin to head to Edinburgh on Tuesday.  We got in around 9 and our friend from Mary Washington was there to pick us up.  We headed to the city and met up with two other girls who also go to Mary Wash, it was nice to see people form home.  Next day we walked around the city and saw all the sights which only took a couple of hours.  Edinburgh is such a pretty city.  It is definitely the most beautiful all around city I have been to.  The entire thing looks so authentic and all of the buildings seem to have that old look to them.  After our sight seeing we went back to the hostel to take a nap before our first night out in Scotland! Which turned out to be a bit of a bust because I only brought my Cork ID with me and none of the bars would take that as a valid ID.  It got a little tense, Leigh and I were probably being a little too pushy, but it didn’t work anyways and we had to go in for the night.  So that was a bummer, and the next night I brought my immigration card and it was all fine and dandy and we got into the club and had a great time! Another thing about Edinburgh, I had never really heard that it was known for its bad weather, like say Ireland is, but it seemed like they get it a lot worse than we do.  On the second day we were there is so windy and rainy and the girls who have been there all semester talked about how it used to ice/snow/hail a lot.  It made me thankful for Irelands weather.

I forgot my camera on the first day but here are a few picture of Edinburgh:

The Castle (you can see it from all over the City)

Street View

Our tour guide (our friend form Mary Wash) was telling us some interesting stories about a couple of pubs.  There is place in the City where people used to be hung for the crimes they had committed and right beside the hanging site is a pub called The Last Drop and thats where they would go to have their last drink.  A pub right beside that one is named after a woman who was hung for adultery, but the rope broke and she landed in such a way that her heart started beating again and she walked away form it and lived. I thought those stories were really interesting so I took a picture of the pubs.

Where they hung people:

And the six Mary Wash girls before going out!

A Flight to Melbourne, A Drive On The Great Ocean Road

Monday, April 4th, 2011

After class ended on Thursday I frittered away the afternoon until I realized I had a plane to catch at 10pm and frantically packed at the last minute and met up with Lyndsay, Seth and Jordan to fly to Melbourne for the weekend. We flew with a small company that is a subset of Quantas called Jet Star. It is a budget airline, and we got a roundtrip ticket to Melbourne (pronounced Mel-bin) for under $200, which is pretty awesome. Our flight left Sydney at 9:50 and the flight time was about an hour and ten minutes, putting us at Avalon Airport in Melbourne around 11 pm. The airport we flew into I don’t really feel justified in calling an airport. Really it was more of a very large shed with a parking lot for airplanes. It was a budget airport, which means there were only four terminals, the parking lot was gravel, the boarding passes were printed on the paper they use for receipts, there was only one food option inside, and it was located 45 minutes outside of the city so once we landed we had to get a bus into Melbourne. But hey, it was cheap!

Once we actually got into the city we walked from southern cross station to our hostel, which was called Nomads. We had booked ahead of time, and the four of us were sharing a room with four bunk beds and our own bathroom, we were lucky to get this because rooms can sometimes have 10-20 beds to one bathroom. We plopped our stuff down and then went out in search of food and an ATM because were going on a bus tour of the great ocean road the following morning at 7:30 am and had to pay in cash. Melbourne around 1 am on a friday morning is a ghost town. It might have just been the area we were in, but things were eerily dead. There seemed to be a lot more chain restaurants in Melbourne though. 7-11s were on just about every corner, along with McDonalds, Subways and a sprinkling of Starbucks. Once we had eaten and gotten money we crashed because we had to be up in about four hours.

The next morning we were up bright and early and waiting outside our hostel for the tour bus to come pick us up. It was dark and chilly out and I was having serious flashbacks to waiting for the bus in middle school. The bus came by, we payed, boarded, picked up some other passengers and we were off to the Great Ocean Road! Our tour bus was not full by any means. Aside from the four of us there was a family from the states and a few other families, but we each had two seats to stretch out across which was really nice.

The Great Ocean Road is a 151 mile stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of Australia that links the cities of Torquay and Warnambool, which are both in the state of Victoria. The road was built by soldiers who returned from war between 1919 and 1932 and is the worlds largest war memorial, dedicated to the lives lost in WWI. When you see pictures of it most often you will see pictures of the Twelve Apostles, which are limestone stack rock formations. Our bus tour was not going to run the whole length of the road, but it was going to take all day. We left in the dark and by the time we got back at the end of the day it was dark again. The tour took us about seven hours out along the road, and then drove us back, stopping several times at major landmarks along the way. Our first stop was a beautiful beach.

Me, Jordan and Seth on our first stop. Jordan looks to be as tall as Seth and I here, this is an illusion.

Stunning

Official starting point of the Great Ocean Road and our second stop

Memorial to the workers who built the road

More oceanic views

The area the Great Ocean Road is located in is very biologically diverse and so one of the stops we made was into one of the patches of rainforest along it which was wild.

Rainforest!

I'm in A RAINFOREST! HOW CRAZY IS THAT?!

Lindsay being framed perfectly by rainforest foliage

Map of the 12 Apostles

And the real thing. There used to be 12 of these limestone rock formations, but erosion has really taken its toll over the years and there are only about 5 left now.

It was really windy, and much cooler in Melbourne than it is in Sydney. Apparently the summers in Melbourne are much cooler and end much faster.

This made us laugh. It's hard to see but someone put googly eyes on the stick figure guy

Family! Perfectly proportioned, two males, two females, two short, two tall.

I have so many different photographic variations of this picture.

razor back rock formation explanation

Razorback rock formation

They look like mushrooms!

Lyndsay and I posin

They named this rock formation "London Bridge" and then parts of it fell down. I think they doomed it.

London Bridge rock formation...it fell down.

More cool limestone rock formations

rocky coastline

Erosion makes the edges of this mammoth incredibly smooth

One of the stops we made was to feed the beautiful tropical birds in this region. They have gotten so used to tourists that they will quite literally eat out of your hands.

License plate I need for my car at home

Me and Lyndsay

So after a long day driving the Great Ocean Road we were all exhausted but still wanting to check out what nightlife Melbourne had to offer. As luck would have it Jordan had some friends from his pre trip that were studying in Melbourne, so we went back to the hostel, grabbed a quick dinner, showered, changed and met up with Jordans friends at their apartment which turned out to be right down the street from our hostel. Jordans friends showed us some great Melbourne hospitality and Lyndsay even met a guy who went to Maryland and was involved in greek life there, so they had plenty to talk about. After about an hour hanging out at their apartment we all headed out in search of clubs and bars. There was a group of about 15 of us which made getting a cab or making any decisions very difficult. This was compounded by the fact that a bit of wine had been consumed so energy was high and rational productive thinking was low. The activities of the day were really beginning to catch up with me, and since we weren’t that far from our hostel I opted to sit this evening out, and head back to the hostel to go to sleep early. Jordan, Seth, and Lyndsay went out with Jordan’s Melbourne friends and we all got to enjoy sleeping in a bit the next day.

Probably the best picture of the four of us from the whole weekend. Taken at Jordan's friends apt.