Oz: Fremantle Prison Tour

My week can be summarized by the fact that the most exciting thing to happen to me was receiving my external hard drive in the mail. I suppose shopping in Perth with some of my mates and ordering some mushroom and rocket pizza Thursday night should top that. It has been a slow week for me, getting back to classes after a week off and returning from an interesting outback trip.

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Sierra and I in Perth

The last activity in which I participated before the outback trip was the Fremantle Prison Torchlight Tour, and I only briefly mentioned it, so I wanted to explain a bit more about its history and the tour. The Fremantle Prison, originally named The Convict Establishment, was erected by English convicts between 1852 and 1859. The limestone that constructs its walls was quarried right on site, and the first cell block was inhabited by 1855. It was used as a maximum-security prison up until 1991, despite it being deemed an uninhabitable unit about a century prior.

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Entrance to the prison

The life of inmates revolved around routine. Each day usually consisted with waking up quite early to start a day of work with intervals of eating minimal food. Prisoners often learned traits such as metal and wood work, tailoring, shoe-making, painting, and other trades that could be used once they were released back into society. Fremantle Prison was one of the first maximum security prisons to provide free reading material, its library holding over 10,000 books. Art classes were also offered, and there is still artwork in the prison left from inmates. Religious activity was encouraged at the prison and was seen as an instrument of reform.

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An original 4 by 7 foot cell

Life at the prison was absolutely atrocious with dirty living conditions, bug-infested food and constant danger to one’s life. The tour focused on this aspect of life, and the guide definitely tried using this to spook us. On the tour, we saw the maximum-security cells, the solitary confinement cells, the yards, the bathroom convicts would first enter to be stripped and cleaned, prisoner artwork and the morgue. There were two “inmates” who startled most of the crowd when they jumped out at random times, but I thought it was a bit corny. I think the most morbid part of the tour was when the guide was making jokes about hanging where many people were hung. The scariest part, for sure, was when Nicole and I entered the “most haunted cell” together, because I thought the guide was going to shut the door on us.

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Sierra trying out an old punishment

It was an entertaining and informative tour. I had always wanted to go on a nighttime prison visit, so I am glad I got to check that off my list!

(All information received from Fremantle Prison)

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Oz: Back from the Outback

I have returned to Perth from the outback! It has been quite some time since I last posted, and that is solely due to the fact that I was embarking on a 10-day-turned-nine outback camping trip in Northwest Australia. I have so much to say about the trip, but I have to type it up first, since I was not able to bring my lap top. I project that I will post about my adventure in the later half of the year when my travels have calmed. Below is a quick preview of the magnificence that I witnessed.

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Circular Pool at Karijini National Park

The trip was shortened by a day due to a cyclone that rained on us for three days straight, causing Karijini National Park to close and for us to miss out on a day of hiking and a few points of interest. We also were lead to an upset in Coral Bay, where those who paid almost $400 to swim with whale sharks and those who paid $165 to swim with manta rays did not even get to see one. This was due to the coral spawn and the windy weather, which turned the marine beauties away and made it difficult to spot them.

The camping journey was definitely a bit unlucky, but I did have a swell time exploring the massive amount of land Australia has. I was absolutely astounded by the amount of nothingness in WA, and I really appreciated it as well.

Classes have started up again, and my mind is a swirling mess of due dates and facts being crammed in last minute for exams. It was nice to have a break from school after only three weeks of classes, but it definitely did not help with my motivation. Luckily, I only have another three weeks of classes until my next weeklong break and arrival of Pop Pop!

Oz: Third Week of Classes

This week was a big one: March 14 marked me being in Australia for a whole month! Time really is flying by and I feel like I am leaving tomorrow, even though I know I have three months left and so many plans. Another exciting thing that March 14 marked is the day I fly out to meet my Pop Pop in Sydney. I cannot believe that my Pop Pop and I spoke about Australia for so long, and now our new chapter of travels starts so soon. I am pumped!

I have really adjusted to my life down under, from cooking healthy meals and exercising almost every day, to the unfamiliar class set-up and balancing my social life. At first, I was not as excited as I could have been to be in Straya, most likely because I felt like I was running around without a head a good portion of the time. However, I am so happy with my life here. I wish I could do nothing but travel; however, I am here for a reason: to “study.” I do take my schoolwork seriously, of course, as I always have. Nevertheless, I am in no way turning down a great opportunity such as a trip due to homework.

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Campus views

My third week of classes definitely treated me well. I am accustomed to my schedule, and I am still able to fit in an abundance of fun time between my classes. For example, I stayed up late in the library Monday to catch up with the work I neglected during the weekend (because I was too busy having fun). Tuesday, I was lucky enough to catch a few waves thanks to my new Aussie friend, Mitch. The weather was not very nice and the water was rough, but I was still able to get out there for a bit.

I signed up for a village-run trip to the Fremantle Prison for a torchlight tour Wednesday night. It was really interesting learning about the brutal history of the prison, seeing inmate cells and getting a bit startled by some “prisoners” who jumped out at us. Did I mention Nicole and I were forced into the “most haunted” cell in the prison?

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Entrance to Fremantle Prison

After that, Sierra and I decided it was a good idea to go out to the Newport Hotel, since we were already in Freo. We got there a bit early due to the tour ending at 8:30 p.m., but we eventually found our friends and had a fine time.

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Out in Freo

That leaves me with the last day of my school week: Thursday. Thursday consisted of classes, homework, general organization, blogging, laundry and packing. That’s right—packing! The first break of the semester is already here and I am embarking on a 10-day outback trip with other study abroad and exchange students Friday morning. I will have no service, no worries and hopefully nothing but enjoyment.

I do really feel so thankful that I am taking to my new life so well. To be honest, I already get teary-eyed when I think of leaving. It has been a good month, and I look forward to the excitement that the next month has in store.

Oz: Weekend Whereabouts

Another beautiful weekend in Straya is down in the books.

Friday began with of course, a fantastic pancake breakfast. I had a few too many, but I had to eat enough to cover the pancake-less two Fridays that are in my near future. I spent Friday relaxing and chatting by the pool with Nicole and Jordan. It was my first time really spending any time at the pool, and it was actually quite satisfactory.

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Jordan and Nicole by the pool

That night, Brian, Ethan, Sierra, Nicole and I ventured to South Perth to Confluence, which is an art exhibit set up along the water. According to the Facebook event page, it is a “dense network of cone-shaped forms” with responsive lighting that illuminates the path as one approaches a cone. We were warned not to go, and I understand why. It really was not “dense,” nor interactive. The most interactivity I saw was all the little kids punching and jumping on the art, and ignorant parents encouraging the the kids to run wild. The view of Perth lit up at night was worth it, though.

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Sierra, Nicole and I at Confluence

Saturday was another day spent at the beach with Sierra and Nicole. This was the most gorgeous beach day by far. There was a slight breeze, only a few clouds and the temperature was perfect for warming up to go into the water, without dripping sweat. The water was crystal clear and gorgeous. I felt like I was on a tropical island.

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I was excited about the pretty shell I found

We headed back from the beach to go food shopping and to buy some items for our upcoming 10-day trip. Sierra and I made it back to campus in time to participate in a village craft event, where we made dream catchers.

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My masterpiece

To end the already successful day, Sierra, Jordan, Nicole and I headed out for the night to Tiger Lil’s in Perth for a girls’ night out.

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Left to right: Me, Sierra, Nicole, Jordan

Finally, to top off the fantastic weekend, I met up with a nice guy I met on the way to Newport last week to go cliff jumping at Blackwall Reach into the Swan River. It was the highest I had ever jumped; he said it was about 8 meters, although it seemed much higher. Regardless of the height, it was super fun and I also enjoyed climbing up the rocks and wood to get back up.

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View of the Swan River from Blackwell Reach

We ended the night by going to my first casual dining chain restaurant in Australia, Sizzler’s, where I had a steak and calamari combo platter, preceded by great salad, and followed by a delicious apple crisp dessert. We spent some time at City Beach before he dropped me off at Murdoch.

My fourth weekend in Perth turned out to be fantastic. I feel so grateful I was able to spend so much time with my American friends and enjoy a popular local spot with my new Australian friend.

 

Oz: Second Week of Classes

I am definitely adjusting to the new style of classes and am much less stressed than last week. I actually switched from my indigenous studies course to a photography course. I did this because neither course will count towards my degree, and I can do much more with some extra photography skills than historical knowledge. It’s not that I am not interested in the history of the indigenous people to Western Australia, I just thought that photography would be much less stressful. This is the first time I have ever switched classes. Usually I would make myself stay, but I am trying to enjoy myself as much as possible here.

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A view of campus

Monday night was by far the best night of the week, and most definitely the best night of my time here in Australia so far. Tuesday was awesome because after class I went to a time management workshop. Although I am pretty good with organizing my life, I figured the small workshop could pump up my motivation. Following that was Italian Night put on by the village, and I was fortunate enough to indulge in delicious pasta carbonara with bacon, spinach and mushroom. I wish I took a photo!

Wednesday was another night at Newport in Freo. I had respectfully declined the last two times my friends went out, so I promised them I would. I actually had a fantastic time and it made me look forward to going out again, whenever that will be. Nightlife is not always my scene, but I can always have a really good time dancing the night away.

Finally, Thursday was a low-key day of class and catching up on various things such as ordering an external hard drive and filling out an academic application. I rewarded myself for getting through another week by working out twice and having a huge chocolate ice cream sundae, courtesy of the village.

I am glad I am adjusting to the academics here, and I can say that I am enjoying my classes so far. I am also remembering where my classes are more easily than I expected. Of course, the thing getting me through the week is Pancake Friday, and the fact that I leave for a 10-day trip in one week. Cheers!

Oz: Second Week of Classes

Somehow I have already completed my second week of school here at Murdoch.

I am definitely adjusting to the new style of classes and am much less stressed than last week. I actually switched from my indigenous studies course to a photography course. I did this because neither course will count towards my degree, and I can do much more with some extra photography skills than historical knowledge. It’s not that I am not interested in the history of the indigenous people to Western Australia, I just thought that photography would be much less stressful. This is the first time I have ever switched classes. Usually I would make myself stay, but I am trying to enjoy myself as much as possible here.

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Beaching and studying

Monday night was by far the best night of the week, and most definitely the best night of my time here in Australia so far. Tuesday was awesome because after class I went to a time management workshop. Although I am pretty good with organizing my life, I figured the small workshop could pump up my motivation. Following that was Italian Night put on by the village, and I was fortunate enough to indulge in delicious pasta carbonara with bacon, spinach and mushroom. I wish I took a photo!

Wednesday was another night at Newport in Freo. I had respectfully declined the last two times my friends went out, so I promised them I would. I actually had a fantastic time and it made me look forward to going out again, whenever that will be. Nightlife is not always my scene, but I can always have a really good time dancing the night away.

Finally, Thursday was a low-key day of class and catching up on various things such as ordering an external hard drive and filling out an academic application. I rewarded myself for getting through another week by working out twice and having a huge chocolate ice cream sundae, courtesy of the village.

I am glad I am adjusting to the academics here, and I can say that I am enjoying my classes so far. I am also remembering where my classes are more easily than I expected. Of course, the thing getting me through the week is Pancake Friday, and the fact that I leave for a 10-day trip in one week. Cheers!

Oz: Purpose World Tour

Monday, March 6 may not see like that important of a date to most, but I had been looking forward to it for months. It is the day I saw Justin Bieber on his Purpose World Tour at NIB Stadium in Perth, Australia.

As soon as I found out he would be in Perth when I was, I knew I was getting tickets. The only uncertainty I had was if I would be going alone or not. Luckily, Jordan is a huge fan, and Brian wanted to see the special guest, DJ Martin Garrix, so I had two friends to share the experience with.

The opening act, Sheppard, is an indie pop band formed in 2009. The leads are both super talented and I thought to myself I would have to check them out. Then, they played their last song, “Geronimo,” and I realized I had heard it before. I became super excited I got to see a fairly popular band and hear a song I already knew.

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Sheppard

 

The next act was Martin Garrix, who I almost saw in Ibiza. He played an hour long set, weaving in and out of remixed songs and beats set to vivid graphics and tricked-out light and fire effects. He ended with his new song “In the Name of Love.” I enjoyed his music, but one can only listen to a DJ for so long. I was ready for The Biebs.

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Martin Garrix

The lights went off. The screen came on. A video came on the screens with Justin’s silhouette teasing the audience. About a minute later, the one, the only Justin Bieber rose from the stage in a clear box, which we wrote “Mark my words” on, which was his opening song. This was it. He was finally here. Someone I have supported for about ten years was right in front of me.

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Justin Bieber

To make it short, his whole performance was absolutely marvelous. This was my seventh time seeing him, and I can confidently say this was his best performance yet. For a while, he was going through a rough patch in life, and seemed like he was just moving through the motions of touring. However, this time around, he was joking, smiling and talking to us with meaning. I had never been more proud of him and thankful to be in his presence.

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My favorite photo from the show

On top of the spectacular show, my seats were super close to the stage, about 25 yards away from him, so that was just fantastic. He wore Adidas soccer pants the whole time and only changed his top three times, which is a smaller amount than usual. He thanked Australia for having him back, and I thanked him for being there.

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Jordan, Brian and I had such a great time. I think Brian even turned into a bit of a Bieber fan, even though he doesn’t want to admit it. I can’t wait to see Justin back in the states!

 

Oz: Sculpture by the Sea

My roommate’s birthday was Sunday, and I definitely did not want her sitting home all day. So, Sierra (my roommate), Nicole and I traveled to Cottesloe beach. This time, it was for Sculpture by the Sea. This is exactly what it sounds like: many, many sculptures on the beach and the surrounding pathways for all to come enjoy. There were many more than I expected, which was a neat surprise. I have posted a few of my favorites below.

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Loyalty – Ayad Alqaragholli
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Canumerism – Hayley Bahr and Tim Keevil
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Narration of the Sea – Lei Huan
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Dearest – Margarita Sampson

The night ended with a trip to the library and a move night with the birthday girl. We watched The Intern, which I highly recommend. It was a low-key birthday, but I hope she enjoyed it!

 

Oz: Surf’s Up!

Surf’s up down under! One of the days I was looking forward to the most was here: surf lessons! I have surfed a few times in my life, but I am absolutely horrible at it. I was looking forward to having a lesson with other beginners so I would not feel as ashamed of my poor skills out in the water.

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Surfing actually went very well, and differently than I imagined. The waves were no more than two feet high, and they were crashing one on top of the next. These are not ideal waves to surf by any means, but they worked out better than I expected. There really was no time to paddle into a wave, because they were crashing so frequently, so it was more of catching any wave I could and hoping for the best. Apparently, this worked out for me because one instructor told me I looked like I was brushing invisible dirt off my shoulder when I stood up so casually, and that it looked easy for me. A few other people told me I was better than anyone, so that definitely felt nice. I hope I can come home this summer and have the confidence to try again.

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That night, we planned a surprise birthday party for my roommate, who was turning 20 the next day. It was black-out theme, so we all dressed in black, including her, who had no idea what she was getting herself into. The party ended up being a huge success.

From surfing to a surprise party, it was another eventful and fun Saturday.

Oz: The Beach Life

Luckily I do not have classes on Fridays, so you can guess where I ended up: the beach. That was after the free chocolate chip pancakes I ate for breakfast with Nutella and syrup, of course. It definitely seems like a sweet life, that’s for sure!

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After Nicole, Jordan and I returned from a splendid time at Leighton Beach, I cooked for myself and got ready for the evening’s festivity. The on-campus tavern was finally open after a renovation, and it was holding a beginning of the semester beach-themed party.

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The party was not as happening a I had hoped, but there were free cookies that I indulged in and some pretty good music to dance to. I ended up staying until the end and then spent some time with Brian and fun people he met that night.

A day at the beach, and a beach-themed party. The beach life is the best life!