Oz: The Final Countdown

I remember saying in March that I felt like I only had two weeks left in Australia even though I knew I had so much time. In early May I would wake up with my heart racing because I felt time ticking. Now I wake up with headaches due to the amount of information I need to memorize for finals and the two massively important projects I need to turn in within a week. This only means one thing: one month remaining.

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Taking in the beautiful coast of southern WA

I honestly thought I would be much more emotional coming on the one month left point, but I honestly think I am too panicked about my schoolwork to worry too much about  leaving. All I can say is I simply cannot wrap my head around the fact that my time in the Land Down Under is almost up.

Am I sad? Yes. Am I going to miss Australia? Of course. Am I ready to go home? Probably. It has been such an eye-opening experience living in a new land. However, living in a country and traveling in a country are very different things—it’s not always fun and games. Okay, it was mostly fun.

I am not dwelling on the future quite yet. I am going to spend the next month (take out about half of that for studying and completing assignments) immersing myself in my beautiful surroundings. Not that I ever have, but I will not take my time left here for granted. I am going to make an effort to go into Perth with nothing to do, just to take this sweet place all in.

Here is a little something new I want to try. At the end of my posts, I want to jot down my thoughts at the end of writing (As I have said, this is WhitmanyTHOUGHTS for a reason). Here it goes:

Whitmanythought 1: Why haven’t I been able to fall asleep before 2 in the morning?

Whitmanythought 2: How do I only have a month left in Australia?

Whitmanythought 3: Only one week left of hard work and then you only have two finals until you’re done. Stay strong. Also, stop stressing about your upcoming trip.

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Oz: Game Time

I believe I just encountered the most relaxed weekend of my semester here so far. My weekend consisted of a mix of homework and night adventures in Northbridge for some time away from my piles of work.

However, Sunday ended up being a great day to experience some Australian culture: I attended an Australian Football League game. Australian football/Aussie rules/footy is played on an oval field with a whopping 18 members per team trying to kick the oval-shaped ball between two tall goal posts. Players can kick, throw and run with the ball. My best way to describe it is a mix between American soccer and football.

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Apparently AFL is hugely popular in Western Australia specifically. It is usually more difficult to enjoy a sport while unaware of the rules, but I had a fantastic time spectating and rooting for the Fremantle Dockers, despite the rain that fell most of the time. On the bright side, we won! For some reason, I only had a slight idea of attending an Australian sporting event while here, and I am not sure why I did not make it more of a priority. I am so thankful that Murdoch University Village snatched some student-priced tickets!

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To end the night (and put off homework), my roommate and I enjoyed some churros and hot chocolate for dinner at San Churro, which is where I ate for my birthday. I was not planning on going out, but I knew that the next 10 school days would be a scramble trying to complete two projects and two papers before my next scheduled trip, so I thought I would treat myself. Can you guess where I am going next?

Oz: Week 12 of Classes

This week proved how small the world really is. I was able to spare a night from my university work Wednesday and spend time with a friend I met in Berlin last summer. He showed me around the less touristy party of Northbridge, which is a neighborhood of Perth. I felt lucky to be able to experience different bars that the locals know.

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An impromptu photo shoot (Photo: Nicole Remus)

I felt luckier, though, due to the fact that I was able to make a connection ten months ago all the way in Germany, and follow through with it all the way in Australia. Andrew told me that last summer when I mentioned I may be studying abroad in Perth, he didn’t think I actually would, since it is so easy to declare travel plans, but even easier to not follow through with them. Alas, here I am! We discussed that although it is incredible to see the world, the things we remember the most are the times spent with other people, and I could not agree more.

This is why I love travelling—exploring new places and meeting new people. You never know the stories behind the strangers you are passing or are coincidentally participating in something with, and you never know if you will see them again. However, if you open your eyes and mind, all these outsiders may seem just a tad bit closer.

Oz: My First Music Festival

Australia’s hot new music is broadcasted on Triple J radio station, which is filled with different sounds—incredible tunes—that I never heard until I moved here. I am so fortunate that I was able to attend my first music festival partly sponsored by Triple J and see some of my new discoveries in the land down under.

Getting to Groovin’ the Moo was not an easy process. I was supposed to attend with an acquaintance I met, and we even paid for an Airbnb. Unfortunately, he cancelled, I lost my accommodation money, and I was stuck with two tickets. However, I very quickly sorted the situation out because my roommate, Seirra, was more than happy to purchase the ticket and we bought bus vouchers, which were charted by Groovin’ the Moo. Once we got there, all the issues I had melted away and I experienced one of the best and longest days of my life.

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In front of the Cattleyard/Triple J stages

Upon arrival, all I could say was “Wow,” as I saw the main stage and another area covered in a giant tent which reminded me of the circus appear before my eager eyes. There were four stages at Groovin’ the Moo (Cattleyard/Triple J, Moolin Rouge (the circus-like structure), Mootown and Silent Disco), the Cattleyard/Triple J stages being the largest. These stages were on one huge, main platform, only being separated by a divider so that acts can perform one after another on alternate sides, which worked out beautifully.

Sierra’s and my day began with some incredible food truck munchies: I bought a vegan doughnut and Sierra got some tasty fries. I did not expect there to be a vast array of food trucks at the festival, and it really pleased me when I realized I would not be eating overpriced, run-of-the-mill venue food.

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After our delicious treats, we headed to Moolin Rouge stage to await our first favorite Performer, Amy Shark. Amy shot to fame with her song “Adore You,” which rose to the number two spot on he Triple J Hottest 100 Chart in 2016. Luckily, we arrived at the tent at the right time, because we were front row for her performance! She was so talented and sounded completely the same in person as she did on recording.

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Amy Shark

Our luck grew when we were able to meet her and receive her autograph at the artist signing table. She told me she liked my shirt and was such a pleasant person to meet. She is heading to America soon for a small tour and I am so excited for her!

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Amy Shark and I

After this meeting, Sierra and I moved over to the main stage almost three hours before our next two favorite artists, Tash Sultana and Milky Chance. We were again extremely lucky that we arrived when we did, because after the fist performer we saw at the stage, the crowds did not dwindle and steadily grew. Before we knew it, we were in the second row of a wild mosh pit. If I have any advice for people attending general admission shows, it is to not enter the main crowd if you cannot handle being pushed, shoved and touched by random people. It is not fun. The only reason I survived the hours of waiting was due to the fact that two people in front of Sierra left the crowd before it got too packed and I shoved her onto the barricade. That’s right—we found ourselves front row again for our two favorite performers!

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Tash Sultana

 

The hours of standing and alternately watching people on the stage in front of us and musicians on the other side of the stage via giant screen was worth it. After what seemed like forever, we were enveloped by the sweet music of Tash Sultana. Tash is a singer, songwriter and looping artist from Melbourne. A looper is a tool that allows one to record herself singing or playing an instrument multiple times and layer the recordings together. Man, does this girl know how to jam! She does not even need to sing; I could listen to her on the looper working her magic all day long. When she performs, it’s like all my worries fade away and it is just me captivated by her beautiful music. Tash is by far one of my favorite musicians I have ever seen live, and that says a lot because I have seen a fair share of artists.

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Milky Chance

Luckily, our final favorite performer played on the same stage as Tash one act later. Milky Chance is a German electronic/alternative/folk group whose single “Stolen Dance” lead the men to the number one spot on music charts in several countries in 2013.  Seeing Milky Chance in person is even better than hearing the band’s recorded music. The lead singer’s on-stage presence was so much more animated than any video I had seen of him. I also did not expect his adorable German accent to draw me in so much. Between Tash and Milky, I was in music heaven.

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The Wombats

The festival ended with Sierra and I shoving our way out of the mosh pit to find some food. After we finally sat down in the barely lit grass, we returned to the Triple J stage to watch The Wombats, another notable and pretty famous band, and back to Moolin Rouge, to see Dillon Francis, an American DJ.

Sierra and I got back to Perth city around 12:30 at night and had probably the best idea that day, which was to take an Uber home. I cannot believe I experienced my first music festival and that the experience was as incredible as it was. This without a doubt will be one of my favorite shows I have ever witnessed.

Oz: Magic, Music and Markets

Wizards assemble! My busy weekend started Friday with a Harry Potter-themed pub crawl to which I won tickets through a company called Blue Elephant Promotions. This company successfully runs crawls through the UK and Ireland, and decided to bring them to Australia, which I think is pretty cool. My crawl started at seven (there were multiple time slots), which is a bit early to be out on the town, so it definitely was not as energetic as it could have been. Regardless, I received a hand-made wand and completion certificate, tasted magic-themed drinks and got to be surrounded by people decked in Harry Potter apparel, so it was still a pretty magical night.

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It only took 21 years and moooo-ving across the world, but I finally made it to my first music festival, Groovin’ the Moo. This is a three-weekend travelling festival that spans all of Australia to let the whole country come enjoy the beautiful vibes and pure talent provided by the performers. Something that I didn’t expect when I moved to Australia was to find new music and fall in love with it. When I found out my new discoveries were going to play at the festival, I knew I had to go. There were several bumps in the road from the start, but I made it there with my roommate and had the time of my life. The best part was that I was front row for my three favorite new artists and got to meet one. There will definitely be another post coming about this incredible time.

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To end the weekend, Sierra and I visited the Freo markets for the first time since the first time we went, which was all the way back in February. Our friend Shelby is really into crystals and their energies, and I talked to her a lot about her beliefs over the Southwest IMG_1678trip. I have been wanting to restart my crystal and stone collection, so I thought this was the prime time. She brought us to a few crystal shops and advised us to pick a stone with which we connected. I almost did not get anything, but then I saw a bag of gemstones meant for people with the Taurus zodiac sign and felt like it was the perfect option. I am excited to learn more about crystals and the belief system behind them!

Random luck brought me to something I never imagined I would participate in Friday night. Determination drove me to finding a way to GTM on Saturday, which turned out to be one of the best days of my whole semester. Curiosity lead me to purchasing some crystals at the lovely Fremantle Markets on Sunday. All these things added up to giving me one of my favorite weekends in Australia yet.

Thoughts: Finding My Way to My Mom

I have no idea what it’s like to be a mother. I have heard, and fully believe, that being a mother is a gift and develops a love like no other. I also have heard that somehow and some way, Mom is always right and if you don’t believe it now, one day she is going to be the one you turn to for help—not your best friend, not your sibling, not your significant other—your mother. I always knew the above mentioned things, but I did not always actually believe them.

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Holidays with my mom

My mother and I are quite different. I tell people that I am like my father, and my sister is like my mother, and my parents are divorced. People usually get a laugh out of that. Despite the fact that I have realized our differences over the years, I have opened my eyes to all the incredible qualities my mom has that she has thankfully passed on to me. During my childhood years, my mom provided me with the love and laughter that every kid needs. During my teen years, I was convinced I would never have a super close bond with her. Now, in the early stages of my adult years, after I have seen my relationship with my mother ebb and flow, I can confidently say we are close than ever, and I know that is how it will stay.

My mom is no average mom—we joke about things that other moms would be appalled to hear. I can say literally anything to her, serious or not, and she will not judge me. Well, she definitely judges me, but it is with so much love. That is my favorite thing about my mother. She may have no idea what I am up to half the time (I can’t blame her because I can barely follow my own life), but she is always there to listen to my crazy stories and ideas (and to share my life on Facebook to her friends). Just last night I called her and made her listen to my new musical discoveries and she patiently listened as I screamed at her to pay attention. Honestly, it may have been one of my favorite conversations with her.

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Lakewood Blueclaws game with my mom

Something notable she said to me last night is that she wants me to live in the house forever. First of all, I have never heard her say this. Ever. As much as I told her I am convinced she wanted me out of the house ten years ago (which may have been true), I almost want to believe a part of her was serious. This really meant so much to me and was actually quite unexpected. It made me smile that even through our disagreements, my constant singing and squealing around the house and my crazy ideas that have driven her mad over the years, she actually would want me to stay home. Home is where the daughter is, right?

Earlier I mentioned the infamous saying that Mom is always right. My mom may not always be right about everything, but when it comes to people and life lessons, she’s always about spot-on. I have seen her eye for observation in me, and I am so thankful for that. It took me 20 years to not just know, but to believe, that Mom is going to be the person I can come to with anything, even if I choose not to. Mom will be the person who says, “I told you so,” and I will be happy she did. Mom will be my confident and person I can trust with anything. This comes after realizing that the stuff she would tell her friends about me when I was younger is very unimportant, of course.

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Monster Mile with my mom

The last few years have really shown me that Mom really is going to be the one I tell everything to, the one who is going to pick me up drunk from a bar (that has NOT happened, I am just saying it could), and the one who is going to give me her two cents, but usually just when I ask for it. She may think I am crazy, but I think she is crazy too. And that is probably what has made our relationship so great. I fully think my mom insane, but what child doesn’t? And my mom constantly reminds me how weird I am. So, thank you, Mom, for thinking I am nuts, because I definitely got it from you. Every time you say how crazy I am feels like an accomplishment. Thank you for being there, for being real, and for not being boring. I can’t wait to see you and make you do things with me, just like you do to your parents.

Oz: Birthday Week

The last few days I have felt nothing but loved and lucky. Turning 21 is a time I will never forget.

I started the celebration by heading to the beach Monday. I was supposed to go Tuesday, on my actual birthday, but we had a feedback session with the vice president of AIFS to attend. This was my first time skipping class, but it was only a lecture, which is recorded and available online to watch. It was a beautiful quick escape with my roomie.

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Well I was already fun, but now I am also 21! Tuesday was a low-key, but great day. I spent most of my day, and my week, talking to friends from home. I only had my wellbeing class Tuesday. This class focuses on the promotion of and facts around physical and mental wellbeing, but that day we got to experience what I think a wellbeing class should be: yoga. I got to take a free yoga course for class—what a birthday treat! I have never been good at yoga between my lack of flexibly and my racing mind, but I am still glad I could try it out again.

Tuesday night, Sierra, Brian, Nicole and I went out for my birthday dinner; or should I say dessert? We went to an eatery called San Churro, and it serves only churros and sweets. We split a platter of 18 churros with six sauces (dark, light and white chocolate, hazelnut spread, caramel, and salted caramel) and I tried a salted caramel popcorn hot chocolate. It was the sweetest dinner I ever had! Then, Brian and I split a savory salted caramel lava cake.  We literally had dessert for dinner and for dessert! My dream. I could feel the sugar rush coming fast and strong.

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Nicole said she had to buy me a drink since it was my birthday, and she didn’t let me argue, since apparently her surprising me with chocolate cupcakes was not enough. So afterwards, we walked the strip and settled at the National Hotel bar to listen to some live music. I had no worries and no complaints!

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Wednesday was an average day of class for me, but nighttime was nowhere near average. We invited a bunch of friends over to Courtney, Stivia and Hannah’s apartment and had a birthday party complete with pink and black balloons, my favorite colors! I could not believe I was all the way in Australia having a birthday party for my big day, and that I had made enough friends that cared to celebrate. Thankful does not even describe how I felt.

After my birthday party, we took the train to Raffles, a hotel and bar on the water. I was nervous that it would not be a satisfactory place to celebrate, but it ended up being mint. Everyone had a blast! I am so delighted everything worked out so well.

Between last weekend and this week, this has to be up there with the best birthdays ever (maybe the ponies at my sixth birthday has it beat). The best part is that the celebration is not ending here—Friday morning I was set to depart for a weekend getaway to the Southwest region of Western Australia!

Thoughts on Turning 21

I remember turning 10 years old and having my mom say, “You’ll be in double digits for the rest if your life!” I thought that was scary. I recall becoming a teenager and having some friends over for some Wii Olympics. I remember deciding whether or not I should have a sweet 16. Turning 18 was an exciting day because I was finally a “legal adult.” My friend surprised me with balloons and I had more friends over for a bonfire that night. Then, I left my teenage years behind and said hello to “the best years of my life.” Now, I am 21 and I am speechless.

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I turned 20 last year and I had just confirmed that I would be studying abroad during the summer. I did not do anything special on my birthday, but formal was right after it, so I counted that as my celebration. I was ready to take on a new year and navigate through whatever came my way. I had no idea that 20 would treat me so well. I visited Costa Rica with my father and sister, explored Europe with my Pop Pop, I lived in Italy for a month and made some memories that are not even comparable to those from Australia. I landed my first internship at a big company and I even tried the college dating scene last fall. Then, I was lucky enough to ski in Park City, Utah for the first time with my dad and head to London with one of my best friends for two weeks. Of course, it was not all happy—I lost one of my closest friends growing up and experienced heartbreak—but that is all part of life. Regardless, I am in awe when I think about the last year and I am forever grateful for it.

I usually don’t get too stoked for my birthday because it just means I am one year older. Of course it is always exciting to have people reach out to wish me a nice day and have a bit of attention, but I never got extremely into it. Although I usually don’t get too wild about my birthday, this year was different. With this birthday, I would finally be “legal” in the eyes of American nightlife. I would have finished 10% of my twenties. This year, I am surrounded by people I basically just met who told me I had no choice but to celebrate my birthday and it feels awesome. This year, I am actually eager to become another year older because it means I am growing, learning and experiencing.

I feel so much love this birthday from all around the world. I had people from America  texting me “Happy early birthday,” I had people from New Zealand and Europe wish me a great day and I had all my friends and acquaintances here showing me love. Nothing is better than feeling loved and celebrated on my special day. It is pretty cool, because I feel like I have two birthdays since it is May 2 in Australia 12 hours before it is in America. I’ll have to keep this in mind during my birthday celebrations in the future.

I am so grateful for all the things I got to experience, all the new people I got to meet and all the new places I got to see during my twentieth year of life. It will be hard to top what I think was the best year of my life, but who knows what the future holds. With that being said, I am so thrilled to see what this year has in store for me. Wow, 21.

Oz: Nature and Nightlife

The weekend arrived and I was ready to celebrate! If the enjoyment that came with Thursday night was an indicator for the days to come, I knew I would have a fantastic weekend.

Friday started off with my favorite chocolate chip and Nutella pancakes, which I had missed for a whole two weeks. The rest of the day consisted of homework and finally creating videos from my Northwest trip. While I was trying to plan Friday night, I learned that it was the last night of the Twilight Hawker’s Market in Perth. This is the lively food market right in the Central Business District that we visited during our Perth City Lights tour and we all agreed we would love to go back. Well, it looked like we had plans!

hfghSierra, Nicole and I visited the market and we were eager to try some fantastic food. Nicole took my advice and got paella, which was her first time having it, and she was super excited she did. Sierra bought an Asian noodle and chicken dish, which was light and refreshing. Before dessert, we wandered to the stage to listen to the Latino band that was performing. Nicole and I got up and twirled around together, shamelessly laughing at our horrible dance moves.

We finished the night by sitting on a bench and eating some scrumptious fried dough covered in Nutella. I am so glad I made it out to the city for a tasty night with my girls!

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I got up to exercise the next morning even though we had a full day of hiking ahead. AIFS planned a waterfall tour for us Saturday, so at 8:30 in the morning, we were on the bus and ready to explore Perth’s surrounding nature. Along the way, we stopped at Serpentine Falls, Ellis Brook Valley Reserve, Lesmurdie Falls and Noble Falls. We saw some wild kangaroos at Serpentine Falls, which was a great way to start the day. I braved the chilly water and went swimming at the first and last stops.

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Noble Falls

There was no water flowing at Ellis Brook, but the hiking and views that reached to Perth City were still beautiful. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring trails and visiting some waterfalls, even if there was not much water to fall. In my opinion, a day in nature is a day well spent!

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Ellis Brook

I left no time for rest Saturday night. The resident assistants planned a “Big Night Out” at Library nightclub in Northbridge and I was super excited to go to a proper club. Plus, this would be the last night I went out of age everywhere besides America. That’s right—my 21st birthday is just around the corner! It is almost legal for me to get into clubs and bars and purchase alcohol in the United States, which is a bit of a right of passage for us Americans.

I gathered with some friends I met on the wine tour, and we all headed out to begin the night together. Unfortunately, Sierra and I are the only ones who made it out to the city due to several different reasons (one person chose to got to her boyfriend’s house, one person had a cold, etc.). Library treated us super well—Sierra and I danced all night with people we don’t usually get to spend time with and it was a blast. What a way to start my birthday week!

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Sierra (left), me (middle), Nicole (right)

I reverted to my state of laziness Sunday, as I was giving my body a break due to the exercising, hiking and walking around in heels I endured Saturday. Sierra and I made a movie day out of Sunday by watching Grease, Twilight and New Moon (throw back to my middle school Twilight obsession). This weekend was absolutely fantastic and definitely motivated me to get back on my school, exercise and fun grind. Up next: my birthday!

Oz: Week Nine of Classes

Week seven of classes may have been the most uneventful, but week nine of classes was the laziest. Well, the week was not lazy; I was.

I got home from the best trip with Pop Pop late Sunday night and I was so upset that it was over. The fact that I had to go to class the next day made it worse. The sad thing is that I only had one class on Monday, and I could barely pull myself out of bed to go. I could barely even get myself to hang out with my buddy that night. I did not have classes at all on Tuesday because it was Anzac Day, which is a day of remembrance for all who participated in the first major military action fought by Australia and New Zealand in World War I. For such a relaxed week, I was riding the struIMG_8140.jpgggle bus for sure.

My week took a turn for the better Thursday and my spirits started lifting up. After finishing classes, I told Sierra I would go into Perth with her so she can pick up and item she needed. Before heading out, my friend sent me the cutest picture of a seal, which definitely made my day. Then, I noticed I had letters from my sorority sisters on my desk! I was so ecstatic, I definitely screamed multiple times. I felt the love all the way from America and I could not be more thankful for my friends.

It gets better. I thought maybe I would do some light shopping in Perth, even though I keep telling myself to stop buying things. Well, I found some incredible sales and scored four dresses for $60 AUD, which is even less in USD! I was so excited about my purc
hases. I am pretty sure that after this trip I will have enough dresses to last me through my twenties.

ghjggkuiOnce we were done shopping, Nicole and Brian met us in the city to have some Hungry Jack’s. I was excited to try one of Australia’s most popular fast food chains. People told me it is the same thing as Burger King, but I thought they just meant they are similar. However, I learned that Hungry Jack’s is Burger King, but with a different name. Oh well!

Sierra and I finished the night by watching one of my favorite movies, Jersey Boys. I am so glad she enjoyed it as well!

The week ended so much better than it started. It went by much further than I anticipated as well. Of course, no day is that bad, because I am in Australia!