Recently in Catch Up Category

One week...

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That's right. Only one week until I board that plane and head on home to Minnesota. I know I haven't updated this in a while...I've just been super busy traveling and trying to fit in as many things as I can before I leave. That being said, A LOT has happened since I last posted on here. I've been to Sydney, Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road, Cairns, and the Great Barrier Reef. It has been a complete blast and I've seen some incredible things. I'm not going to post a huge entry right now about all of my travels because I am very tired (I flew back from Cairns/my dive trip this afternoon-evening)...but I do have my photos from my dive trip already up on facebook. So if you want, you can check those out here: Spirit of Freedom trip

The trip was one of the best trips I've ever taken in my life. It was four days out on the ocean, with 3 of the days filled with diving. All we did was dive and eat and sleep. We would get up in the morning, have breaky (breakfast), dive, 2nd breaky, dive, lunch, dive, snack, dive, dinner, dive, dessert, sleep, repeat. It was absolutely spectacular and I still wish I was on the boat (Spirit of Freedom). The crew were wonderful and meeting all of the other divers was great... especially because they were from all over the world. There were people from Germany, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile (I think), the UK, the US. It was such an interesting experience getting to hear all of their stories of different dives they've done around the world and it made me fall in love with diving all over again. I'm just so happy that I started diving as young as I did because now I have the rest of my life to continue with it. I was the youngest passenger on the boat by at least 10 years I think...but that didn't even matter because diving people are the best type of people around and we all get along no matter what the age difference is.

I still have to go through my photos from Sydney/Melbourne and get them uploaded, but I've just been pretty busy with doing last minute things, taking Brisbane in and enjoying the city I've called home as much as I can these past few weeks. I am very excited to be home though. I can't wait to see all of my family and friends that I have not seen for over five months.

I hope to post another update on here tomorrow or Sunday, so until then... cheers!

School and Semester Break

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Oh wow, it seems as though I have fallen behind again on updating. I've been quite the busy girl these past couple of weeks with having projects due for critique in every one of my courses as well as a few exams thrown into the mix. Ahhh the joys of midterms. Thankfully they are completed but now comes the waiting to hear back on how they all went.

Right now I am on semester break, which is still crazy to believe seeing as everyone back home (at least at UMD) is only in their fourth week. As soon as I start classes back up next week, there will officially be a mere four weeks left of regular classes. After that, there is a break week, which is to be used for studying, and then a week of final exams. Being that I am an art major and most of my finals are projects as opposed to exams, there is a high likelihood I won't actually have any finals during that exam week though. All of my critiques--or at least the ones I know of so far--are scheduled for the last day of or normal class. So what does this mean? It means I get an extra two weeks I didn't know I would have to explore some more of the local area of course!

So, semester break. It's supposed to be a nice break away from the stress of school, right? Wrong. I still have projects to work on and other things ended up happening that caused more stress than need be--unfortunately resulting in a falling out between someone I've known since kindergarten. However, it is nice to have a break away from needing to go to class on a daily basis and actually being able to work on my projects when I want to rather than worked in around my class schedule. My break isn't all projects and stress though...I've managed to work in a few enjoyable things into my week.

Last Saturday, four of us--Josh, Scott, Leah, and myself--took a mini road trip down to the Gold Coast for a day at the beach, in Surfer's Paradise. It sure was an odd experience driving (technically riding along) on the opposite side of the road as well as being in a car where everything was flip-flopped. Despite being thrown off by my surroundings in the car, the ride was an enjoyable one...how can it not be when the first song played is "Don't You Forget About Me," from the Breakfast Club??? The beach was absolutely amazing. Again I say the ocean is one of my favorite things in the world; you can't help but love the smell of the air, the sand in your toes, the salt water against your skin, and that beach tangled hair. I was completely worn out by the end of our day full of tumbling along with the ocean waves. I'm pretty sure sand is the devil though seeing as it covers everything when you go to the beach...your hair, skin, clothes, bags, everything! While we were at Surfer's, we also ended up passing by the tattoo shop the leader from my Byron Bay orientation trip works at. Unfortunately I didn't get to see him and catch up though...he either was in the back working or out somewhere.

Sunday through to today I have been working a lot on a project for Digital Print Design....designing the packaging for a CD. I have to say I love projects like these. They are always quite fun to work on and beat studying for an exam any day. I just finished turning it in, so it's nice to feel productive and have one more thing checked off my list of school works to do. Now all that's left is to write an essay for my Music in Contemporary Contexts course.

Besides the work I've done for school over break, I've also started into the largest drawing I've ever done and I have to say it's probably my favorite to date (at least out of my drawings of people that is). The drawing is of Wally De Backer...more commonly know by his stage name, Gotye. I'll upload a picture of it once I'm finished with it, which will hopefully be later this week.

Either tonight or tomorrow during the day, I am going to see Hotel Transylvania. I'd rather be going to see Perks of Being a Wallflower but seeing as it apparently doesn't get to be released in Australia, I'm opting for the other movie...still excited to see it though. Plus, who can say no to a fun animated movie anyways? Gotta keep the child in you alive somehow!

This coming Saturday, a group of us--same group as Gold Coast, plus 4-5 more people-- were supposed to take a trip to Stradbroke Island (Straddie) but it got pushed back until next weekend. That trip should be a fun one when we actually go. Basically we are going to spend the day on the island, just hanging out at the beach, and then watching the sunset and camping out/grabbing a cheap hostel for the night. It should be nice and relaxing.

Seeing as this entry is quite lengthy, I think I'll wrap it up here. Sorry there are no pictures for this update...like I said, I've been rather busy with projects that I just haven't bothered to take too many pictures. The next ones will definitely (I hope haha) have pictures to accompany them.

Cheers!


Catch Up Update #5--The Sad Update

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Just a forewarning, this update is a rather sad one....

After breakfast, on my third day in Australia, I called home to tell my parents about my previous day's adventures on the reef. As soon as I finished telling them about all of the things I saw, I got the words, "We have some bad news". I instantly knew that it was in regards to my dog, Sandie, who had not been doing the best these past few months. Despite the fact I hate crying in front of people, there was no stopping the tears at that moment...I couldn't help but to cry being on the opposite side of the world, knowing my dog of the past 12 years won't be there when I return in a few months. I knew she was reaching the end of her years and that there was a good chance she would pass during my time abroad, but I didn't expect to get the news she passed the very day I left. It turns out that even though she was really spunky and followed me around the whole morning of my departure, she must have been putting on an act for me....when my family got home from sending me off, they found her not able to get up and it was her time to go.

Things are definitely going to be a lot different when I return in a few months. It will be hard getting used to walking in the front door and not seeing her waiting at the top of the stairs.

The only picture of Sandie I have with me in Australia...from when she was a puppy.

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My favorite picture I've taken of her.

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One of the last pictures I've taken of her.

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Catch Up Update #4--Reef Day

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This day was the day I was most looking forward to out of the whole orientation week in Cairns, and for good reason! It was the day I was going to dive the Great Barrier Reef!!! I was finally back to the sea, back to the only place I want to be (I hope some of you catch the reference ;) haha)

Anyways....

It was a 2 hour boat ride to get to our dive site, with a company called Passions of Paradise. During the ride out there, we all went through various dive briefings/filled out paperwork and then got to just relax. I loved sitting out on the bow of the boat, even though I got drenched due to the weather not being the best. It was rainy and cold but I could really care less--I hit 30 hours of time spent under the water while on my dive! The only thing that was unfortunate was that we weren't able to do the second dive on the outer reef because of the conditions.

Our dive was about 50 minutes long and even though the visibility was pretty low, we still saw a lot of things. (a turtle, 2 rays, tons of batfish, a puffer, morish idol (Gil from finding nemo), titan trigger, starfish, a bunch of butterfly fish I've never seen, and I even got to play around at a cleaning station (one of my favorite things!!!)). Once back at the surface, we spent the next few hours anchored at the site while people snorkeled, swam, and went to the nearby island. We then made our way back to the marina, all worn out from the day on the water.

The crew from the ship were some of the most entertaining people I've met and and an example of why I love the diving community so much. Anna, the dive leader for my group was a spunky little thing and I loved talking with her about diving (and tattoos). Russell was also really fun to talk to about diving and it was interesting because he was actually a former study abroad student through the same program I am in. He also entertained the boat on the way back by doing magic tricks--ones I still don't understand. Overall, the crew were all just really easy going people who loved the sea and that's the reason they are so much fun to be around.

That's it for reef day update....I really could go overboard on this update if I really wanted to because of my obsessiveness over diving, but I'll spare you. I'll just leave you with photos from under the water, including one with all of my North Scuba dive buddies from back in MN.

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Next Up: The Sad Update
Then: Brisbane
Later: Byron Bay

Catch Up Update #3-- RainforeStation Day

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For our first non-travel day in Australia, we ventured up into the hills near Cairns into a place called Kuranda. Located here was the nature park, RainforeStation. This day was jam packed with so many events that it is almost too hard to describe everything that happened without going on and on and on. The best way to share of my adventures from this day is to show you through photos from my time at the park. Since I don't have pictures from every part of my day there, I will also leave you with a basic list of what we all did....if you want to know more about any of the things listed, just shoot me a message on facebook/email. If I were to talk about every event on here, I could go on for days describing things.

Everything we did while at the sanctuary:
-painted our own aboriginal painting
-outback style buffet lunch
-pet roos
-saw crocodiles, dingoes, a cassowary, wallabies, a wombat, cockatoo, koalas, snakes
-held a snake
-took a photo with a koala
-ate an ant (tasted like a warhead)
-watched an aboriginal dance performance
-threw a boomerang
-attempted the didgeridoo

Now for some photos:
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For more pictures from this day, go here:
RainforeStation Photos

That's it for catch up #3.....Cheers!

Next Up: Reef Day
Then: The Sad Update
Later: Brisbane


Catch Up Update #2--The Hostel/Bridging Cultures

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This update will be shorter than the last, I promise.

Part One: the hostel....
During our orientation week in Cairns we stayed at a place called Gilligans, which was basically a backpacker's hostel meets nightclub. I shared a room with 4 other girls from my orientation group. Our room overlooked the pool/bar area. The hostel was a very lively place to stay at, with events going on pretty much every night.

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Part two: bridging culture sessions...
As part of our bridging cultures program, we had 3 sessions in which we basically learned the dos and don'ts of Australia/cultural things. In simplest terms, do have a good time and be safe, don't be an idiot.

The sessions were led by a guy named Shane (who looked like Richard from Lost for those of you who know the show) and he showed us what to expect during our time here in the land down under....including the proper way to eat vegemite (gross). I'll skip over a lot of boring details about our sessions and rather leave you with this list of words, we got while playing bingo, that are used in Oz and what they mean.....

Ankle Biter-- Toddler/ Small Child
Bludger--Lazy Person
Dodgy--Sketchy
Sanger--Sandwich
Smoko--Smoke Break
Mate--Friend
Cactus--Broke
Ripper--Great/Fntastic
Sunnies--Sun Glasses
Thongs--Sandals/Flip Flops
Esky--Cooler
Tinny--Boat
Bloke--Male
Chunder--Throw Up
Sticky-Beak--Being Nosy
Ear Basher--Someone who talks your ear off
Shout--Round (as in a round of drinks)
Mozzie--Mosquito
Vejjo--Vegetarian
Ute--Truck
Arvo--Afternoon
Brekky--Breakfast
Fairy Floss--Cotton Candy
Chemist--Pharmacy
Whacker--Idiot
Lift--Elevator

Next Up: RainforeStaion
Then: Reef Day
Later: The Sad Update

Catch Up Update #1--Traveling

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I'll start off my catching up of entries with my days of travel--aka days of pure stress. Everything had started out all fine and dandy, but quickly took a turn for the worse. I was all set to go at my gate in Minneapolis when I get news that the plane we were supposed to fly out on was having mechanical problems. After being delayed for about an hour we finally boarded the plane, only to sit on the runway for another hour or more because of the weather conditions in Chicago.

By the time we landed in Chicago, it was already 5 min past the time my flight from Chicago to LA was supposed to leave....luckily for me, that flight too had been delayed. When we finally made it into LA, I only had about 40 minutes until my flight to Sydney was supposed to leave--this was cutting it a bit close compared to the 3 hour layover I was originally supposed to have in LA. I then got the news I was switched flights onto one that was leaving 10 minutes earlier--still confused as to why this happened, but whatever. By this time, it was already 1 or 2 in the morning (Minnesota time) and I'd been in airports or on a plane since around 10:30 that morning....needless to say I was sick of flying/airports.

We all boarded the plane leaving for Sydney, and I really don't remember much of what happened within the next 3 hours or so. I don't remember passing out as soon as I did, but apparently somewhere between waiting for the rest of the plane to board and waiting for the plane to take off, I was out cold. I woke up to eat something since I hadn't eaten since about 11 that morning, but fell right back asleep after. The next time I woke up, we were somewhere over the ocean and I was wide awake while everyone else was passed out. I watched The Vow on the in-flight entertainment, along with episodes of Dr. Who, Sherlock, and listening to a lot of Gotye (they had 3 of his albums on their music station). After getting breakfast a long while later, I took another nap before landing in Sydney...a few hours behind the original landing time.

In Sydney, I was hoping everything would be smooth sailing from there on out--I was wrong. Waiting for my bags in customs, I realize they aren't on the carousel with everyone else. I go to baggage services where they tell me to just go straight onto Cairns and to deal with it there. I get to Cairns and discover my luggage is still at the airport back in LA and wouldn't be in Australia until the next day. At that point I didn't really care too much since I had enough clothes in my carry on...I just wanted to get to the hostel and be done with traveling. After a short bus ride to the hostel, we checked in, dropped off our bags in our rooms, and were on our way to our first learning session of our Bridging Cultures Program......

And on that note, I'll cut off this first update. Sorry it was a bit lengthy, the other ones shouldn't be this long (and they'll actually have pictures)

Next up: The hostel/ learning sessions
Then: RainforeStation
Later: Day on the reef