August 2012 Archives

It's Tuesday on the island....

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Well I'm not actually on an island, but it is Tuesday....and today has been great. Tuesdays are my day off from class, so they are normally spent catching up on some homework or out exploring the city. Today was different. Today I sat down and spent hours looking up flight information, hostel bookings, and trip itineraries, all trying to figure out my set plans for semester break and once school is done. I am glad to say that everything is worked out! Here's what my future (in terms of trips around Oz) looks like:

Semester Break:
Friday night--Jimmy Buffett concert in the Botanical Gardens
Saturday/Sunday--day trip to the Australia Zoo
Monday/Tuesday--meeting up with friends in Mt. Tamborine for a few days filled with wine tastings, horseback riding, waterfalls, and hiking. It should be amazing.

After school:
Dive trip: I'll be going on a 3day/3night liveaboard dive trip out of Cairns.....flying into Cairns Sunday, departing for the reef Monday, return to Thursday on a low-level flight over the Great Barrier Reef, back to Brisbane Friday. I'm really excited for this trip because I get to live on the ocean for 3 days and dive with human sized fish!

Sydney and Melbourne 2in1 trip:
I've done a lot of planning and figured the best way to get to both cities is to do them both in the same trip! Instead of flying Brisbane to Sydney and back, and then repeating that later for Melbourne, I'm now flying from Brisbane to Melbourne...spending a few days there (meeting up with my friend Sam, and going to the Great Ocean Road)...and then flying to Sydney from Melbourne (only $35) for a few days (getting to see Darling Harbour, the Opera House, and having a cheeseburger and pina colada at Margaritaville). I'll then return to Brisbane for another week or so before I get to see Gotye and then I'm home!

Cheers!

Called by the lure of the sea

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I've decided that I'm done with all the catch-up updates....I've covered pretty much all the major things that have happened during my first 6 weeks here in Brisbane and I feel like if I were to update you all on how my everyday life is, it'd get real boring real quick. With having classes all in full swing again, I'm not out cuddling koalas or hiking to the most easterly point in Oz every weekend like I was the first two weeks here. Anyways, this update is more so an update of things I'm looking forward to in the coming weeks/months.....mostly pertaining to the ocean.

Back to the sea, back to the only place I want to be
Diving:
I'm so excited to go diving again and I get to in a less than 2 weeks! On the 8th and 9th of September, I'm making my way back to Byron Bay with the local dive shop, Snorkel Safari, and going for a weekend trip full of diving. The best part of the weekend....SHARKS! and the possibility of seeing/hearing whales while we're diving. I'm pretty sure if I see or hear a whale, you guys will have to endure me going on and on and on about that experience. I also am planning on another dive trip towards the end of my time here in Oz....I'll be heading back up to Cairns, where I started my journey, and will be living on a boat for 4 days as I get to see the Great Barrier Reef up close and personal.
Great Ocean Road:
Sometime during my time here, either over my semester break or after school is out, I am heading down to Melbourne for a few days. The main reasoning behind this trip will be to spend a day on the Great Ocean Road, the perfect post-card picture place (try saying that 5 times fast). My friends Paige, Katie, Nathalie, and Kelly just took a weekend trip there and the pictures they came back with made me A) super jealous they got to go this past weekend and B) super excited for when I get to go later on. The other reasoning behind my trip to Melbourne (potentially) pertains to my next thing planned.....
Jimmy Buffett:
That's right, I am a parrothead. I love me some good ole Jimmy Buffett and now I'm getting the chance to see him live, in Australia! Needless to say, I freaked out when I heard he was officially planning on coming here....I had a hunch he would be since he has two of his Margaritaville restaurants opening later this year in Oz, but I didn't actually expect it to happen.

Speaking of concerts....
Gotye:
Two days before I'm on my way back home, I get to see Gotye in the botanic gardens in Brisbane. Pretty sure it's going to be one of my favorite concerts to date. He is such a musical genius....getting the inspiration for a base line for a song from a fence?!?! He is sure to put on a good show.

Back to Jimmy Buffett and his restaurants......

There's this one particular harbour

Sydney:
If I can, I want to make it down to Sydney for a couple of days, preferably towards the end of November. Why? One, it's Sydney and I feel like it's one of those "must see" places of Oz. Two, Margaritaville is set to open it's doors in November and I want to have my very own cheeseburger in paradise in one particular harbour.

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That's all for the bigger side-trips I have planned for my time left in Australia, but I also have a few things planned for weekends....

  • Coming up in September, pretty much the whole month actually, is Brisbane Festival. There will be loads of new and exciting things to do during that time (the river is also lit up by lasers on a nightly basis).
  • A few of my Aussie friends are also taking a group of us camping one weekend (or multiple depending on timing) and also around to different places.
  • I'm going to make it over to the Gold Coast to visit my friends from my Bridging Cultures Program in Cairns.
  • A trip to the Australia Zoo (hopefully)....I grew up watching the crocodile hunter way too much to not go to his zoo
  • And who knows what else.....

That's it for now, stay tuned for updates for these events as they roll around!

Cheers!

Ekka, Ekka, Ekka

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This update was primarily going to be pictures, but again the uploading of photos isn't working. So if you would like to view the photos I have to go along with this update, you'll just have to follow this link to my album on facebook: Ekka photos

So what is Ekka?

Ekka is basically our equivalent of the MN State Fair....just a bit smaller in size. When we went, we had no clue what we were going to. We just knew there was going to be fireworks and figured it'd be fun to check out, and it was. It was a week or week and a half (I can't remember) long celebration...much like our fair is. The cool thing about it though was that on the Wednesday of it's main week it is considered a public holiday, so we get classes off (but I was in a design workshop that week anyways, so all of my courses were already cancelled).

My friends Sam, Julia, Sandra, and I went to Ekka on the first Saturday it was open and were there from about 1pm until sometime after 10pm...we were definitely tired after walking around all day. Their fair had a lot of the same things our state fair has....animal barns, carnival rides, carnival games, different vendors selling all sorts of things, food carts up the wazoo, and various shows going on throughout the day (we watched lumberjack competitions, horse shows/stunts, chariot races, motor cross stunts--one of the guys from Nitro Circus if you know what that is, and a precision driving team). And of course the fireworks....no matter how old I get, I will always love watching fireworks.

Since I can't upload any photos, I'm going to cut off this update here. Here's the link to the photos again if you want to check them out on facebook: Ekka photos

Life at Uni

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The picture upload still isn't working, so no pictures for now. Not really sure why it's not working, but every time I try and upload photos, my internet freezes....I'll try uploading them from school/the library later this week. I think it may just be a problem with the internet at my apartment complex.

Anyways, here's an update about my life at uni and how it's different from life at UMD.....

During my time here in Oz, I am studying at Griffith University--South Bank Campus (which is home to the Queensland College of Art). I am enrolled in 4 courses that all transfer credit towards my BFA in Graphic Design back at UMD. The 4 courses I'm in are as follows:


  • Typographic Design--Tutorial (studio) on Mondays; Lecture Wednesdays

  • Digital Print Design--Tutorial Thursdays

  • Introduction to Jewellery and Small Objects--Tutorial Fridays

  • Music in Contemporary Contexts--Lecture Mondays

It's now week 6 of coursework for me and the main difference that I've observed compared to back home is the way classes are structured. Class meets only once a week (unless it has a lecture portion) as opposed to MWF or TTH back home and there are only 2 major grading (marking) criteria per course (at least most of them are this way). At UMD there is a lot of more homework and little assignments that are graded and count towards your final mark. Here, your mark is based mainly on the results of your mid-point and final project/exam with the occasional extra smaller assessments along the way (ex. in typo, my final project is worth 50% of my overall mark). Being that I am in week 6 already, I would have expected to already have multiple assignments turned in, but that is not the case. I've only had one semi-major assignment due so far. I have to say it is a bit odd. Another difference between schoolwork here and back home is the fact that here, it is a lot more self-taught/ self-driven. I have found that the professors back home seem to be a lot more helpful about things if you have questions or need clarification...here, the professors seem to have the mindset that we should be able to figure it out on our own which is a bit unfortunate.

I don't really know what else to talk about in terms of school....I mean it's school, you get in a routine with your classes and not a whole lot changes week to week in terms of what is happening. I had planned on uploading pictures of the projects I've been working on, but since the uploading is not functioning properly at the moment, I guess that will just have to wait.

Cheers!

I'd like to go where the pace of life's slow....

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and that place would be none other than Byron Bay...a little surfer town where everything is super chill and relaxed.

On the weekend of the 20th-22nd of July, I took a trip to the little town of Byron in New South Whales with a group of other international students from Griffith Uni. The trip was run by a group called Extreme Adventures, who run multiple tours through Australia and New Zealand. Our 'chaperones' for the weekend were Leigh and Dan and they were a bunch of really great guys. Overall, the trip was an unforgettable experience that I'm glad to have taken part of. Just like my orientation week in Cairns, a lot of things were cram packed into a few days and it would get a bit lengthy to explain everything in text....so what I'm going to do is post a list of everything we did, followed by photos. If you want more detailed descriptions of the various events, shoot me an email or drop a comment in the box below.

The list of events:
Friday--
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Cape Byron Lighthouse Hike
Cheeky Monkey
Saturday--
Surf lesson
Explore Byron
BBQ at the hostel
Sunday--
WAS SUPPOSED TO GO SEA KAYAKING AND SCUBA DIVING (got cancelled due to weather)
Bangalow Markets
Nimbim

Time for pictures!!! (full album here: Byron Photos)

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Ok, so I've been trying to upload more pictures from my trip to Byron in this post, but for some reason it's not letting me. I can edit everything else on my blog but I can't get the uploading of files to work. For now just follow the link to my full album on facebook if you'd like to see more of Byron (which I encourage because there are some pretty sweet photos from my hike to the most eastern point of Oz!)


Brissy!

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Time for a quick update about my surroundings here in Brisbane! I'll post some of my pictures from around town on here, but here's the link to the full album on Facebook: Brissy Photos
First off, where I live....

It's this big green monster of an apartment complex.
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My room is about half the size of a room in Griggs....actually probably a bit bigger than half. The room has lots of storage (set of drawers, a full wardrobe, desk w/ shelves under, a bookshelf, and underbed storage). It also came with two big pegboards that I've filled with things from home as well as random drawings I've done while here/projects I'm working on.
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Next up, exploring....
One of my favorite things to do here in Brissy is to just explore. It's about a 15 minute walk from where I live to the heart of the city and the walk is absolutely amazing. There are numerous different routes you could take to get there and each has it's own perks. My favorite is to walk along the riverside since it's super relaxing and fun (it also reminds me of the board walk on Lake Superior). There are a lot of different things tucked in along the way to the city....multiple parks, lots of grass lawns w/ barbeques, a lagoon/beach, a water area for kids, a ferris wheel, many statues, a jungle walk-through, countless shops/cafes, and simply the riverfront itself where people tend to sit out on.

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After crossing the bridge, you are instantly in the heart of Brisbane. The main stretch is the Queen Street Mall---a lot like the Nicolett Mall for those of you who know what that is---and it is filled with constant buzz and activity. I love going just to walk around. Every Wednesday there is a market where I get all my fruits/veggies from for really cheap prices (for example, 3 big bags of your choice for only $5 total). Many times there are also street performers on Queen St. and my favorite of the bunch are the spray paint artists. There are two guys who both do it and I've spent numerous hours sitting and watching them. Here's one of them:

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That's all for this update....if you want to look at the rest of the photos from my time exploring around, check the link at the start of this post. Next update, I'll be posting about my weekend trip to Byron Bay. Stay tuned!

Cheers!

Brisbane--a month in recap (major catch up entry)

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I've realized I have fallen behind (again) on the whole updating of this blog....my bad. I've been pretty busy with settling into my place, meeting new people, having school start back up (it's taken a bit to get used to this again), and just day to day happenings/adjustments. Anyways, bear with me on this update, I'm going to just go through the past month of my existence here in Brisbane and catch you all up with what I've been up to........

Week 1 (12-18 July):
Ok. First week of Brisbane/second in Australia was one filled with quite a bit of emotions. I arrived in Brisbane the day after I received news about Sandie having to be put down so I was still a bit shook up over that. It didn't help that the weather was all rainy/gloomy and that when I got to my flat it was a complete ghost town as I was the only one in my hall. To make matters worse, I walked into the living room/kitchen area to find it a COMPLETE disaster. The previous residents practically just up and left, leaving food to rot in the fridge, dirty dishes in the sink, fruit flies everywhere, and the remains from a going away party still in the room. Continuing to make matters worse, when unpacking everything, I discovered I had left my bear from when I was little at the hostel in Cairns (had taken it out when I got news of Sandie and apparently forgot it there). So that is long gone now, which is very unfortunate and definitely did not make things better that first day in Brisbane. My other flatmates finally moved in though, we cleaned the kitchen, and everything turned around. But let's just say those first two days were a complete nightmare. The rest of my first week was basically spent exploring the city (which I love and still do many days) and figuring out what all I needed to get ready for my classes. I'll leave the explaining about what's all in Brisbane for another update with pictures (it'll be more interesting that way).

Week 2 (19-25 July):
This week was one of the most fun weeks I've had here in Australia, mainly because of my weekend trip to Byron Bay on the 19th-21st. I'll post another update (with pictures) giving more of a description of my weekend in Byron, but basically we (a group of international students) took a weekend trip with this group called Extreme Adventures to the wonderful little town of Byron. It was such a relaxing and exciting weekend. (Here's the link to my photo album from the trip on FB: Byron Photos) After my amazing weekend in Byron, classes started up that Monday. It was sure quite the change of pace starting back into course work. I had been so used to constantly doing orientation activities/trips that it seemed odd to be starting school again so suddenly.

Week 3 (26 July - 1 August):
The basic summary of this week: Schoolwork and Olympics. It was the second week of classes and basically was all I did that week besides stay up/get up early to watch the Olympics. It was also my best friend's birthday back home in the states on the 28th. Since I wasn't there to celebrate with her, I drew her a picture of the Doctor from Doctor Who (one of her favorite shows).

Week 4 (2-8 August):
More Olympics. More school. More exploring the city.
I'm pretty sure people around here thought I was crazy for staying up as late as I did to watch the Olympics as they were happening, but it was totally worth it. I loved staying up to watch Phelps make history. I also met a lot of new people through watching the Olympics (people from all over including Croatia, Italy, Australia, Germany, China, Denmark, France, and a few more I'm forgetting). I have to say that watching the Olympics while in another country is an experience in itself...the coverage of the games are a bit different and being around people from other countries makes it a really interesting but fun atmosphere.

School this week was same old school. Most of my classes are fun but right now a lot of the work I'm doing is all review and just really busy-work to fill class time. They should pick up though once we start in on actual projects.....speaking of which, I think I'll make yet another (really brief) update just going over what courses I'm actually in and how the courses are structured different than in the states.

During my exploration of the city this week, I sat and watched a spray paint artist for over 2 hours one day. I find his work to be incredible and I was so fascinated watching him do his thing in the middle of the Queen St. Mall (the big outdoor mall here in Brissy).

Oh! One last thing from week 4, I got a package from home! Stuffed inside the little box was my favorite sweatshirt I left at home the day I left, my TOMS that I forgot, pictures of my dogs, Sandie's dog tags, and the scuba dvd from my trip this summer. I seriously watched that scuba dvd 3 times the day I got it (and probably another 5 times since then) because of how much I miss diving. I loved being able to relive those moments spent under the water in the Caribbean, surrounded by the people who understand my passion for the life under the sea and all the creatures that go with it. Plus, Bronson (who put the dvd together) had excellent choice in music this dvd. The Jimmy Buffett song I'd been wanting to listen to but couldn't (it's not on spotify in Oz) was included in the dvd, as well as Off to See the Lizard (Buffett's song about Oz), songs from Fun., and my favorite song by Of Monsters and Men. Overall, the dvd is basically perfect and I love watching it (and find something new every time I do watch it).

That's it for this recap....I know it was a very lengthy one, but I figured I'd rather just get the past month all taken care of. Within the next 3-4 days, I'll have the other little updates (Info about Brissy; trip to Byron; school) uploaded.

Cheers!