Friday, November 11, 2011

Time Flies When You're Having Fun...Unfortunately

I think this month with exams happening has made me realize that school this semester is almost over, but it hadn't really hit me that I am going really soon.  Don't get me wrong I am definitely excited to go home and see Scott, my family, and my amazing friends, but leaving here is going to be tough.  Tomorrow Val, who I have hung out with a ton while here, is going home and it just makes me realize that I too will be leaving soon.  Val is luckily from South Dakota (which I never thought I would say someone living there is lucky) so I will get to see her while I'm home for sure.  Megan, a girl on my floor, also went home today and thank goodness she'll be back to hang out but still to see her leave was rough because we got close throughout the semester.

Things I WILL miss in Australia...
*the amazing people at Menzies and especially A1
*the delicious sticky date pudding (that I will ATTEMPT to make when I get home)
*the kangaroos, koalas, and wombats
*having a common room to hang out with so many amazing people
*the positive attitudes of most people in Australia
*the amusement of my American accent
*the beautiful cities and beaches
*the public transport...its nice to go anywhere in the city as an international without a car
*dressing up for so many events
*having so many amazing social events
*long conversations with the girls on the A1 staircase
*Queen Victoria Market

Things I WON'T miss...
*the birds!!!!
* Vegemite
*seeing Asians EVERYWHERE!
*the horrible classes
*my Pocahontas looking comforter
*the prison looking resident matter how many pictures I add it's still boring
*food're welcome to who ever enjoyed my cheese all semester
*the GIANT flies and cockroaches
*how there seems to be a cloudy period almost everyday
*the smell of the stagnant moat in the middle of campus
*the outrageous prices of everything
*the ridiculous Australian TV shows, or lack there of

I'm just going to miss it is 11/11/11 however so maybe I can wish that all of these lovely people will come and see me in the States at some point :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Stake's Day and Procrastination

This past weekend I went to hang out with a friend that I met in a very round-about way. My mom actually works with her aunt and her aunt gave her my email and ta-da we were friends. Sounds crazy but sometimes you just need to go with the flow and in the process you meet amazing people.

I took the train out to Oakleigh where I met Meg and her friend Margherita. We first went to the largest shopping center in Victoria and it honestly was close to the size of Mall of America or at least it seemed like it. We enjoyed shopping and looking at all of the shops along with eating delicious cupcakes. We couldn't decide on one flavor each so we decided to each get one and split each 3-way and share. We got vanilla strawberry, sticky date pudding, and red velvet. All three were really good but it was a unanimous decision that the sticky date cupcake won. I find it strange because their puddings here are kind of like cake, which is different but so good! They have actually never seen or heard of our pudding and as they ask me what it is, I find it really hard to explain. As they explained it, apparently they love their puddings and we love our pies, which they don't really have.

The whole purpose of the shopping trip was to find a dress for the Stakes Day Races on Saturday, so yes we definitely looked around for more, but dresses and fascinators. What is a fascinator you might ask...well it is a crazy thing women wear on their heads at the nice races for a fashion statement. I had a hard time convincing myself to buy one of the silly things but they are a must have. I ended up finding a white one that didn't look completely ridiculous and matched my dress perfectly. After being exhausted by an afternoon of shopping we went back to Meg's house where her parents prepared a nice BBQ. They love their BBQs here , which is definitely okay by me. :)

On Saturday, we woke up bright and early to get ready for the races. Margherita's family was picking us up around 9am, which meant we got up at 8am...that's REALLY early for me...I am dreading the real world where that happens everyday, just earlier. Anyway, we headed to the races where we set up our blankets and chairs for the day. The atmosphere was amazing! I went to the Packy Races earlier in the semester, but this was huge compared to that. Not to mention we had perfect sunny weather the entire day, which is extremely unusual for Melbourne. I bet on a few horses throughout the day and won once, but didn't end up with any bit of a profit. O well...

The police were on high patrol that day for those crazy alcoholics and they were busting every clever idea that people had to hide their alcohol, I was honestly entertained by the ways they were finding stuff. We had some but because we were with parents we just walked away every time they were coming close and they didn't even do a thorough search it was amazing. Overall, the day was great, the people were fun, and the weather was perfect.

On Sunday the weather was supposed to be nice, but leave it to Melbourne to ruin that. So, even though we were all dressed in our swimming suits we had to make alternative plans and cancel the beach. We ended up going to this really pretty lookout point where you could see all of Melbourne and then to lunch at this place with amazing food, but HORRIBLE service. See, servers here don't work for tips but usually they are still decent, here they were the worse I have ever experienced in my life. However, like I said the food was amazing so that made up for it. On the way home we took a pit stop at this delicious bakery one of their friend's parents owned and it was so good!! I got a banana cake thing and it was amazing. But before enjoying that we went to see the train yard where Puffing Billy, an old steam train, was passing and also by great chance...Thomas the Tank Engine came to town! So we went and took pictures with the trains and pretended we were kids for about 15 minutes. :)

That evening I headed home being that I have exams this week and next and needed to crack down on studying. It is hard because all of my classes come back as pass/ fail and I am passing all of mine right now with no problem. So my focus factor = 0 if not in the negatives. Finance is my big one worth 70% of my grade, so I will continue to study for that tomorrow and hopefully do well on that in order to pass. :) The other three are next week so I will focus on those after I finish lovely finance. Off to bed! Love and miss you all a lot, but no worries I will see you this month!! AH! How crazy! :) Xx

Friday, October 28, 2011

One Month Left...Definitely Bitter Sweet

October was about taking in the lasting memories to be made here in Australia.  I have amazing people on my floor and beautiful sights in Melbourne still yet to be explored that needed to become my priority.  The first weekend in October a group from Menzies, including myself, got all dressed up and enjoyed a day full of fun and horse races.  I bet on three of the five races and they all placed 2nd or 3rd, so out of frustration I gave up, even though I only lost $11.  The weather wasn't amazing, but the social atmosphere made it a great day.

The next weekend we had floor trip with two other floors (2N and 3N).  The thought of camping did not sound appealing to me at first but the opportunity to go down to the beach with amazing and fun people made my mind forget temporarily about the camping part.  The drive down was full of a scavenger hunt with everyone.  My car was Meg, Bron, and Liz.  Liz bought a mouse to have "wildlife" in our car (part of the scav hunt) and then we needed to give a stranger something to hold and not return for it...and there went our little mouse.  It was quite entertaining.  After the pub stop we took a few scenic beach stops including one with an amazing lighthouse.  Camping with a pollen allergy I found was not as fun as I thought it would be.  However, the night as a whole was so fun along with a nice cafe breakfast in the morning.  The next night was supposed to storm and with many of us having work to do to prepare for exams, many of us headed home.  

The next weekend was full of St. Louis weather where Saturday was cold and rainy and Sunday was beautiful.  Val and I decided to still make a fun day out of the rain with a trip to the Aquarium.  Everyone in Melbourne seemed to think it was a good idea because it was quite crowded.  The penguins had just laid eggs the week before and so it was neat to see them protecting and warming them.  As we moved through we came to the walk through aquarium.  I honestly have never seen stingrays so huge in my life, except for on Finding Nemo. These's sea creatures that we got to touch and look at were amazingly breathtaking.  The sea life here is like none I've ever seen; pictures can't even begin to do justice to the beauty.  

Sunday was Sporty Day and we could not have asked for better weather.  It was the last social event planned by the reps of the year, so it is a huge event.  Menzies won the Sporty Day Cup for the 3rd year in a row. Throughout the year each College (Glenn, Menzies, and Chishom) competed in various sports from netball, touch football, tennis, volleyball, and others and then based on all of those there is an overall point winner and that was us!  I played volleyball and actually got top votes for both games, I honestly felt so humbled and grateful.  The rest of the day was full of relaxing in the sun and amazing bands and music.  There were spas (hot tubs), inflatable jousting, and an inflatable jumping thing. Overall, it was a great day and amazing way to cap off a great semester.

This week was the last week of classes and I could not be happier.  I love Australia and the people I've met, but not too crazy about this University.  I could have definitely gotten unlucky with my courses, but I'm just glad to be going back to MSU for my last semester.  Speaking of which, I registered tonight for my last semester and its a crazy, strange thought to think that was the last time I had to wait on slow Banner to register.  I mean I have been in school continuously for 17 years and now its time to journey into the real world.  Weird.

The weather here is getting warmer since its Spring, so it's nice to enjoy days outside having lunch or just walking around.  But, reality has sunk in that in about a month I will be at home in the cold, which is basically the one of the only things I am not excited about.  I miss home like crazy and can't explain how blessed I am to have an amazing, supporting husband back home, but leaving everyone here is definitely going to be tough.

PS Hopefully next time I can write about the Cardinals coming back and winning the World Series (knock on wood) :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sydney! Sydney! Sydney!

This is a little lengthy, but I think you'll enjoy it...

This past week was Spring Holiday, which was a much needed week off away from school work.  Rachel and I planned our trip to Sydney back and July and so for it to finally be here was super exciting!  The forecast for the week was looking like it could be better, but we were still excited to go and do some site seeing.

We flew in on Saturday night and it was chilly and rainy.  We caught the train to the family's house we were staying at for the week, which was interesting with all of the crazy kids getting ready to go out.  Let's just said the boys on the top deck of the train decided to pee and let it just be on the was gross.  But, when we got to Wahroonga we called David Moss, the guy we were staying with, to come and pick us up.  David works for the same company as my mom and we were very blessed to stay with him and his family for the week.

Sunday was just constant rain, so we just stayed home with the family and watched rugby, which Rachel and I still don't completely understand.  We both, however, decided that we would never let our sons play it because it just seems so dangerous.  Monday was our first day of adventure down in the city.  We went to Circular Quay (pronounced "key") and then decided to walk around and enjoy what the city had to offer.  We immediately saw the Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge and it was like we were kids at Christmas opening an amazing present, our faces were honestly showcasing our awe to the max. We then decided to just start walking down some of the historical streets and to get to different look outs.  By about 11am we were getting hungry, so we decided to look for some food.  This is obviously a simple task, but not here is Australia.  Everything opens and closes at weird hours and apparently in Sydney you are not supposed to be hungry for lunch until noon.  So we finally found a Lebanese restaurant that was open right next to the water and it was really delicious.  As we were paying we asked him the quickest way to get to the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the directions he gave us took over an hour...

So, we started walking and took the stairs that he said we needed to take and then from there asked 2 different locals where to go...we were quite lost.  On our trek we had the same runner pass us 3 times, I can only imagine his thoughts about us crazy, lost tourists.  We also found the Observatory while on our journey so we decided to check it out.  It was actually quite interesting and had a bunch of old telescopes and interesting facts.  There was also an amazing view of the city.  As we left the backside of the building we could finally see our destination!  So, we followed the main flow of people and finally made it to the bridge.  The long walk was definitely worth it and the view was so pretty.  The main point of interest for the day was actually a carnival we saw on the other side of the harbor, Luna Park.  So, once we finally made it across we were able to go in and see all of the rides and get some delicious honey comb ice cream. :)  As you can imagine we were quite tired after all of our walking, so we caught the ferry and train and headed home.

Tuesday was sunny and warm so we went to Manly Beach, which was just across the harbor.  It was super crowded being that all of the schools in Sydney were on holiday.  However, we got there and found a prime spot to lay out and just stayed there all day and relaxed.  Around lunch time we went to a beachy restaurant and I had a yummy chicken burger and chips (fries).  On our way home we stopped to get ingredients for our stir-fry dinner we were making the family.  Having home cooked meals every evening and chatting with the family was definitely one of the high points to the trip.

On Wednesday we went to lunch with Nova, my mom's collegiate.  She took us to another side of Sydney she said many do not experience, which was Greenacre.  While there we had authentic Lebanese food at a place called Little Tripoli and it was honestly some of the best chicken I have had in a very long time... and that's a lot for me to say being that I eat chicken all of the time.  We then went shopping in Chatswood and bought some cute dresses.  I have found this new love for shopping, which is probably not the best thing but its fun!

Thursday it rained hard all day long, so we stayed in and watched baseball which was so exciting being that the CARDINALS WON!! Now hopefully they can come back and win against the Phillies (fingers crossed). But, we went out to eat to this pizza place that was authentic Italian and SO good!!  On Friday we planned on going to the zoo and then to Bondi, but we ended up going to the zoo and Darling Harbor being that it was a little too chilly and windy to go to the beach.  The zoo was absolutely amazing though and has the most amazing view of the city.  It is called the "zoo with the view" and it definitely carries out its name well.  I also got to see giraffes, which are my favorite animal so it was great. :)  After staying there for a few hours we decided to go and grab some lunch at Darling Harbor.  We ate at this latino place and had wonderful chicken burgers.  That night we went out to the city where we started at Ryan's Bar, which was this hue outdoor bar, and then went to Club 333.  It was honestly the best night so far in Australia and I got to spend it with my best mate, Rachel! :)

Early the next morning we had a private airplane ride over Sydney Harbor, which was breathtaking.  The water all around Australia is the bluest and clearest water I have ever seen.  I mean its honestly like that everywhere: Cairns, Perth, and now Sydney.  The view of the city was also beautiful.  It was the perfect cap on our wonderful trip to Sydney.

The rainy weather caused Rachel and I to be all stopped up, so when we returned I decided to go to the doctor after being sick for 3 weeks and I FINALLY am feeling better.  I can't believe I have almost been here for 3 months and have less than 2 months left!  I am going to live out the rest of my time here to the absolute fullest.  I am going to my first horse race this weekend, which is supposed to be absolutely amazing.  I will keep you all updated as I begin my crazy journey to the finish line!  Love and miss you all like CRAZY!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Beaches, Beaches, and More Beaches!

The last two weekends have been full of amazing sunshine, relaxation, friends, and fun.  Two weekends ago I went up to Perth with a friend across the hall, Liz.  She lives right outside Perth and was going home and I decided to join.  The city is beautiful with warm sunshine, beautiful beaches, and lovely homes.  The first day that we went exploring we drove 3 hours south to Smith's Beach.  It took us awhile to find being that the turnoff was not marked, but the wait was totally worth it.  We just laid on the sand of this hidden beach for hours soaking up the sun and eating lollies, chocolates, and Doritos.  It was a perfect lazy day in the sun.  We then tried to grab a late lunch/ early dinner before heading back at Margaret's River (a cute little town), but the place wouldn't let us in without shoes so we decided to just get some meat pies and head back.

The next day Liz and I went to a beach in Perth and once again just relaxed and soaked up the sun for a few hours.  We then walked through the little beach town to a cute little beachy restaurant with yummy smoothies and delicious food.  After lunch we took a scenic route through the residential side of Perth where we stopped and viewed the beautiful BLUE river.  I thought it was amazing how clean there rivers were compared to the brown gross waters back home.  We went to a park to relax for a bit that was ten times the size of central park and was beautifully kept.  See, here in Australia the motto is, "Keep Australia Clean" and it is quite obvious because everywhere is just so well kept.  That night we went out with her family to a nice dinner at this German restaurant.  It wasn't the typical was actually a house that was made into a antique filled restaurant with delicious food.  It was owned by this gay couple, one cooked and the other one served and did the cashier.  The dinner for the evening was beef and vegetable soup, chicken schnitzel, salad, and potato salad.  It was all homemade and perfect.  We then had black forest ice cream with schnapps for dessert.  It was a delicious meal to top off the weekend.

The next day we were just bums and laid out at her house and then relaxed in the hammock listening to music and talking.  It was so nice to get to hang out with Liz and her family!  She was one great tour guide. :)  Coming back to Melbourne was not exciting being that all weekend they had wind, rain, and cold temperatures.  But, the sunshine must have followed up back because it wasn't bad last week at all.

This past weekend Val and I went on a two-day Great Ocean Road tour.  It was packed with site-seeing and adventures.  We started at Bell's Beach and then made our way around the ocean stopping at different photo stops.  The highway was modeled after the Pacific Highway in California, but I will say I think the Aussie version has more to offer.  Other than beaches we stopped at the 12 Apostles, London Bridge, Locke Ard Gorge, Hall's Gap and Apollo Bay...and that was all in day one!  Day two we went kangaroo spotting at a local football field (they like flat grassy areas), on a morning waterfall walk, aboriginal center, and last but not least a hike up the Grampians.  It was a tall mountain that our group of 11 hiked up.  All was going perfect until hiking turned into rock climbing...I don't rock climb one bit.  So, most of the girls stayed at the last look out point before the top because the view was amazing and we were not about to do intense rock climbing.  It was so fun though, our group got along really well.  Finally, we finished our day with a trip to a local winery for wine tasting.  The group for the two-day trip was basically 11 young international students minus two young Aussies, we all bonded so well it was so fun.  The whole weekend was AMAZING and absolutely breathtaking.

Today's high is 80 and its beautiful and sunny, so hopefully it will stick around for awhile!  I am going to Sydney this next week for Spring Holiday with Rachel and I am SUPER excited!  So, I will keep you all up to date soon.  I love and miss you all like crazy.  

Sunday, September 4, 2011

My weekends are about to become more amazing than EVER before...

Hello friends and family!  I know its been a while, but I promise I am about to make up for it...

So, since I have last posted I have traveled to the city a few times and went shopping more than I should have.  The one time I went downtown with Valerie and the photography club was absolutely wise and the overall experience.  No, I have not become some photography guru...I simply was the tag-a-long!  We started out at the Queen Victoria Market, which is HUGE!!  Val and I actually went early to walk around and get lunch.  I also purchased a wonderful Collingwood jumper (sweatshirt) to support the team I decided to go for.  After walking around the market taking pictures, we went on to the Victoria Library, which was absolutely beautiful inside and out.  Following that we went to the graffiti alley way.  This was a random alley where people were able to express themselves and paint what ever they want.  Taking pictures of these "hidden" locations, or at least less known about to tourists as a must see, was amazing.

My birthday was a few days ago and getting 39 hours of Facebook "Happy Birthday!"s was great.  I read through every one of them and they all made me smile and remember how blessed I was with amazing friends and family both at home and here in Australia.  I bought a special dress for the occasion a few weeks in advance to get excited about celebrating and take my mind off of school...lets be honest I love to shop and it gave me an excuse for a new outfit.  We all hung out here for a while and they surprised me with a cake and all sang to me, which was such an awesome surprise.  We then all went to Eagle Bar and had fun dancing and celebrating me turning old.  I also got a package from my mom AND flowers and a balloon from her, I truly am blessed to have such a special mom. :)  The package had cards and presents from people back home.  In the package was also Scottie Bear, which I left back home at first but now I have Scott by my side and in my arms every night. 

My time here is about to heat up like the weather...I am SOOO excited!!  Next weekend I will traveling to Perth for a weekend of camping, beaches, and fun in the sun with an Aussie friend across the hall, Liz.  The next weekend, Val and I are going on a two day trip to the Great Ocean Road and seeing all of the amazing viewpoints it has to offer.  Then, Rachel and I will be traveling the following weekend and the week to follow to Sydney for Spring Holiday.  We just booked a plane ride over Sydney Harbor to see all of the sites and beauty of Sydney.  Then, we are going on a floor trip to a city about two hours away from Melbourne and to end October we will be going to Ballarat to celebrate Toohey's 21st! So...those are my weekends in a nut shell!

Between my exciting weekends there a few papers thrown happens to be one I am supposed to be working on right now, but I have always been the Queen of Procrastination.  So, with that I will go back to working/ starting that wonderful paper, but please feel free to Skype me, write me, or Facebook chat me at anytime...I am missing you all like crazy. :(  I love you all! Xxxx

Friday, August 19, 2011

Learning How to Cook and Travel Frenzy!

So first order of business is that I created a cooking group with the other internationals on my floor and Lachie (an Australia). It has been a successful and adventurous first week of meals.  I am the only girl so entering into it was a little risky, but the boys proved they actually make decent food!  I cooked on Monday and made chicken teriyaki with green peppers and rice, which was simple but yummy!  Tuesday was Jonathon (one of the awesome Swedish guys) and he made seasoned chicken with pasta and red sauce, which was also really great. 

Wednesday is when the week took an adventurous turn with Marco cooking his English meal of fish and mushy peas.  Now if you know me well you will know that two main things I don't like are 1) seafood 2) peas, so hearing about this dinner earlier in the week made me REALLY nervous.  But, I tried them both, surprising I know... The fish was actually not too bad; it was breaded and then baked so I just put heaps of BBQ sauce on it and it was fine!  The mushy peas on the other hand were...interesting.  The reason I don't like peas is the mushy texture, so this dish just exemplified that feature. It is meant to dip your chips (french fries) in, but once again I just ended up using BBQ sauce.  Thursday night Daniel (the other awesome Swedish guy) made tacos.  At first I asked him if it was meat, cheese, and lettuce and he looked at me like I was crazy and said, " Americans put cheese on everything!!" HAHA.  He likes to make fun of Americans a lot, but its funny because a lot of it is true.  So, his tacos ended up having meat, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and salsa and were REALLY good.  Next week is when Lachie officially joins the group, so he will start cooking on Sundays.

This week I also booked a trip to Perth, which is a beautiful city on the west coast and the most isolated city in the world.  Liz, the girl across the hall, is going back home in a few weeks and asked if I would like to join, so we are going for an extended weekend in the middle of September, I'm SO EXCITED!  We are going to be going camping and enjoying the warm nice beaches!  Then, at the end of September Rachel and I will be heading to Sydney for the week!  It is our "Spring Holiday" here, which is weird because it is Fall back home. 

So far I have Skyped family and friends and of course my amazing husband and doing so has made the adjustment easier than I thought it would be.  I obviously miss home, but having that connection has made it better.  Gotta love technology!  It has been one month and a bit since I've been here and its been amazing!  I can't believe I turn 22 here in less than 2 weeks!  CRAZY!  Anyway, I will continue to update you with my Aussie life!  LOVE YOU ALL! :)