Oz: A Weekend for the (Scrap) Books

I would not have started my last full weekend in Australia any other way than having a huge pile of chocolate chip pancakes drenched with Nutella and syrup. I am so going to miss my Friday mornings filled with my favorite breakfast food and the kind folks who prepare it.

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I spent my Friday afternoon with Nicole and Sierra in Perth. We had a bit of a photo shoot between King’s Park, which overlooks the city, and the Central Business District. I have given a sampling of my work below.

To finish the eventful Friday, we celebrated Jordan’s 22nd birthday by going into the city and it felt just like old times.

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Me, Geoffery and Nicole

Saturday brought beautiful weather and a fantastic road trip to The Pinnacles in Nambung National Park about two and a half hours north of Perth. The best way I can describe The Pinnacles is a desert of limestone formations. There are many theories as to how these formations ended up there, from the wearing away of lime-rich sand dunes to the petrification of a forest.

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There is a short walking trail in the park, but the best way to see the limestone desert is the road that goes through the area and allows people to park and wander about the rocks. My friends and I had a fun time running in and out of formations, trying to decide what they looked like.

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Sierra, Shelby and I

Brodie scheduled an AIFS farewell lunch for us at an all-you-can-eat Brazilian meat buffet in Fremantle on Sunday. The interesting part about this buffet is servers come around again and again with the options until you flip over your coaster to the red side, signifying that you are finished.  I have never eaten so much meat in my life. Although I came for the various meats, I could have consumed the lasagna they served all day. It was a delicious feast and it was great having almost everyone together.

Sierra and I took our location as an opportunity to take some photos around Fremantle. We found some great street art in the side streets, as shown below.

My last full weekend in Australia is one for the (scrap) books. I took so many photos, which I had wanted to do for a while. Now, it is time to get serious about my last final exam!

Oz: 2 Weeks & 2 Cities

Perth. Study. Fremantle. Study. This about sums up my second to last week in the Land Down Under.

I took my plans to visit these two cities as much as possible seriously: I was in one of them almost every day of the week. Brian, Sierra and I visited Perth Monday to make an appointment for Sierra’s tattoo and then went souvenir browsing. I say browsing because we simply scoped out the prices of souvenirs and decided we would check Fremantle the next day.

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Old vs. new architecture in Perth

My first final was on Tuesday, and it went fairly well. There was a series of practice quizzes throughout the unit, and our tutor said not to expect the quiz questions to be on the exam. Not knowing how else to study, I used those quiz questions as flash cards and reviewed the lectures. I am lucky I did not listen to my tutor, because many of the questions on the exam were exact copies from the quizzes. Now I am awaiting my grade less nervously than anticipated.

That night, a group of us went to Mexican Kitchen in Fremantle to devour half-price nachos. They were absolutely delicious and I am so going to miss half-price nacho Tuesdays. Of course before that Sierra and I souvenir browsed again and decided to wait to purchase items yet again.

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The best nachos ever

Wednesday was tattoo day! I got my closest friends to come for the important mark in Sierra’s life, so it was me, Brian, Sierra and Nicole in the parlor. Afterwards, we visited Toastface Grillah, a gourmet grilled cheese place I found on Google that had awesome reviews. The shack, I’ll call it, is hidden around the corner from the shops of the Central Business District and is not easy to find if you don’t’ know where to go.

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Grilled cheeses with swag

Toastface has a handful of grilled cheeses (although I think they were more like paninis) for under ten dollars. It was packed when we got there, and we had to wait for seating in the hip, plant and pillow-decorated outdoor eating area. I ordered a grilled cheese with roast beef and horseradish, and it was absolutely worth the wait. A lot of flavor was coming out of a very small place!

Surprisingly, I did not go into Perth or Fremantle Thursday and actually stayed on campus for the day to study, blog and relax. The week flew by and my last full weekend in Perth arrived!

Week Six of Classes

Week six of classes turned out to be enjoyable, especially since I was powered by my strong surge of happiness I received from the previous weekend.

IMG_1116Tuesday was special because the weather warmed up and it turned out to be a fantastic beach day. Plus, Ben & Jerry’s was hosting its annual free cone day, so after the beach, we went to the B&J’s store in Fremantle to claim our prize. We also took advantage of the fact that we were allowed to hop back in line and we scored a second cone. It turned out to be the perfect day.

The rest of the week was filled with classes and assignments. However, Thursday and Friday nights were packed with celebration. Thursday I went to a different section of Perth to a bar called Mustangs to celebrate Jordan’s flat-mate’s birthday.IMG_1123.jpg I met up with Mitch Friday at his friend’s boat before heading out to the city again to celebrate our coordinator Brodie’s birthday.

The week could not have gone better. The perfect weekend lead into my most enjoyable school week yet which lead into what would become another perfect weekend.

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: 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: First Week of Classes

I have officially made it through the first week of classes here at Murdoch University. I knew I was psyching myself out before they began, but I definitely was not prepared to have so much work to do even after one day of classes. I will definitely be friends with the library this semester.

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First day of school photo, of course

The education system at the university level in Australia is much different from that in America. It is a lot of self-teaching and online components. Therefore, there is much more work outside the classroom than in the classroom. How do students stay on top of our work? Well, called the syllabus in America, our unit (class) learning guide here is our Bible, as noted by many professors. It is an outline of every single thing expected of us for the whole semester, and if one doesn’t follow it, it’s hard to pass the class.

The first two days I was overly stressed out about the unit guide, falling behind, and the inconsistent online learning base the school uses. I say it is inconsistent because although each unit uses the same online program, the set-up for each course is very different and I find it very easy to miss things. It is going to be a difficult transition, but I know I can pull through.

My second two days of classes were less stressful, as my mind started working overtime to adjust to the knew school life. So far, all of my professors seem friendly and willing to help if we have questions. My one professor even said he would be there for us after our unit ended, which is super nice.

I am definitely jealous of those who studied abroad, but barely had to do work. However, I am hoping I do enjoy what I learn here at Murdoch and that it broadens my horizons a bit more. Alright Semester, I’m ready for you!

Australia: Digeridoo Lesson

After a nice Saturday morning work out, I hopped on the bus to Freo with Brian and Nicole for a didgeridoo lesson. Didgeridoos are wooden instruments that one blows into by vibrating the lips together and sealing the mouthpiece entirely. Surprisingly, these instruments are not native to the indigenous people here and came around once Western Australia was colonized.

Didgeridoos are made by termites. Yes, termites. Didgeridoo makers start off by looking for trees with termite action at the bottom. The perfect piece of wood is already hollowed out by termites and just needs to be cut down, cleaned and polished. Now, the instruments are made out of many different materials, and not always just wood.

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The lesson was enjoyable, but the didgeridoo is much harder to play than I anticipated. Some people easily got the hang of it and were making different sounds with the instrument. Meanwhile, I was lucky to get any sound out of it. It is really difficult to describe what sound a didgeridoo makes, because it can make so many. Traditionally, they are used to copy sounds of the surrounding environment.

After lunch, Brodie took the AIFS students to a really cool warehouse-type building that was split into different restaurants. We ordered about five kinds of pizza, salad and garlic bread. The food was phenomenal.

It was an extremely hot and dry day out, about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. After looking in one unique clothing store, Nicole and I headed home to escape the heat. I relaxed in my flat the rest of the day, and went out to a bar called Tiger Lily in the evening for another night out in Perth.

Australia: Perth City Lights

Friday did not end after my awesome animal-filled trip to Caversham. I signed up for a few events weeks ago, and Friday night was one of them: a Perth city night outing. I thought this would be an actual tour of the city, but it was composed of a few stops throughout the night.

The first stop was King’s Park to overlook the the city while day transitioned to night. It was basically a photo shoot of 40 people trying to get the perfect shot. The sun did not cast much color on the city, but it was nice seeing the city lights slowly light up the darkening sky.

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The next place we stopped was the Perth Twilight Hawkers Market. This is a gathering of food vendors of all sorts right in the Central Business District. Occurring every Friday night, people congregate to try foods of all types, from burritos, fish and chips and barbeque to sweets and so much more. The summery, relaxed vibe was set with a live band. I had a fantastic time browsing the area with my friends and trying refreshing mint iced tea.

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I thought this food truck was sweet

Our final stop for the night was Crown Casino. This is the first time I had ever been in a casino and it was enormous between the vast amount of games offered and multiple bars throughout the venue. I waited for my friends to purchase drinks before heading to the nightclub upstairs to dance for about an hour.

The night was an overall success. I loved being in the city at night and the festival, as it reminded me of summer nights at home.

Australia: Beaching, Learning and Eating

Thursday was another empty day that was filled with last-minute plans. Even though I was dancing for about two hours straight the night prior, I still woke up early enough to get a quick exercise in and to make myself two eggs before the bus came at 8:40 a.m. Nicole, Brian and I, all being the early risers of our group, found a beach to check out that was only abut 40 minutes away.

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Leighton Beach

Traveling this far to a beach is huge for me, because it is only a fifteen-minute car ride to the ocean at home. This beach was in North Fremantle, instead of being directly in Fremantle like the last one we visited on our own. We hopped on the bus at Murdoch, got off at Fremantle Station, and took the train one stop to Leighton Beach. It was really smart going to the beach so early, because like I have said before, the sun in Australia is intense.

After about two and a half hours of lounging and swimming, we headed back to Murdoch to eat and nap. Before dinner, Brian and I walked to the university center for a cultural presentation by the Nyungar (Noongar) people, an indigenous people who live in the southwest corner of the continent. They brought many items with them, which I have posted some of below.

Pictured above are various boomerangs. Some are used for ceremony and some are used for hunting.

Pictured on the left is a bowl that is traditionally used for gathering berries. Larger versions of these bowls are used to carry babies. The stick on the right can be used for various things, such s digging up roots.

Above are shields used for protection and dance.

To finish the presentation, the performers showed us how the Noongar people used to make paint, played a Didgeridoo, which is an instrument not original to the people, and performed some animal stories and a dance. As always, it was interesting learning about some of the history of the area’s original inhabitants.

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Thursday night was highly anticipated, as it was the International Student Welcome Dinner. The coordinators split everyone up into teams, similar to orientation, so we were forced to talk to new people. The first game was a quiz about Australia. Each team was given a roll of tin foil for the second contest, and we had to make creations and then present them to the room. It was actually a really fun time, and the food was spectacular. Dinner was a buffest of pasta, rice, roasted vegetables, salad, bread, beef and chicken. Dessert consisted of apple crumble and bread pudding. I wish I could eat like this every night!