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!