A Travellerspoint blog

Chocolate and Cash

...all day

sunny 65 °F

Thursday night was the big night at the UBar on campus. Yeah, there is a bar on campus. So I went up there for a few hours with some friends, danced, got beer spilled on my toes, got hit on by a few creepers, and overall had an alright time. Just as it was getting really packed, a few girls and I decided we were above the scene, so we left. Ha, no not at all but rather we decided that we wanted dessert more than we wanted booze. So we caught the bus to Town Hall. It was a Thursday at 11:30pm but we thought, "it's Sydney! Tons of places will be open!"
It didn't take much observation to see that we were wrong once we stepped off the bus. After asking around we learned that there were in fact places open in Sydney but they were ten or so blocks away. We checked the bus schedule heading back to uni and decided that our schedule wasn't going to allow us to enjoy a proper dessert. We settled for much less than we wanted, 7-11. This 7-11 (1) didn't have hot chocolate and (2) charged more than double what the grocery store does for Tim Tams. We all pitched in for some mediocre cookies and walked back to the bus stop. Epic fail.
The girls caught the bus back to uni and Anthony and his friends picked me up from downtown. As I got into the car with my chocolate milk in hand, Harry said, "woah, crazy night?" Haha. After dropping Harry and Steph off, we went to his house, had a wrestling match, brushed our teeth, and fell asleep. After Anthony came back from school the next morning, we lounged around the house before he drove me back to school.
I met up with some friends at a BBQ in the village, enjoyed the free food, spit out the nastiness so called vegemite, and hung around with the girls next door all afternoon. We decided we had to redeem ourselves from the previous night and decided to attempt a second dessert outing.
So, Friday night we took the train to Circular Quay (train stop nearest the opera house) and walked around. We walked around in an area called The Rocks...kind of the boardwalk area on the harbor. There was tons of nightlife going on and choosing a cafe was pretty tough. Compared with the crowd who had just gotten out of the show at the opera house, we were way underdressed. The desserts were to die for...so good that we didn't even care that they sneakily charged $7/bottle for the water.
The next morning (this morning) Anita, Jess, and I left the village at 9:30 am and took the bus to Town Hall. We walked to the Imax theater on Darling Harbor and met Simone and Bea to watch Under The Sea 3D for Simone's birthday. Imax was pretty sweet...even sweeter to walk out and see the opera house and harbor bridge and remember, "oh yeah, Sydney".
We got some lunch, ate outside, and got attacked by the seagulls. No, I'm not exaggerating (for once)...we actually had to run inside. After watching a street performer for an hour, we walked to Paddy's Market. Paddy's is the ultimate flea market in Sydney. I resisted my urge to buy pocketwatches and postcards and only bought some ten dollar sunnies which I actually did need. By the time we were back on the bus, it was 5:30.
I'm eating scrambled eggs and watching Australia's Funniest Home Videos with Belle. In a bit, a few of us girls are headed to a birthday party with "A Night In Oveido" theme...I don't know, something about zorro, dressing like a 'temptress', and wearing red. Oh, these foreigners.
If I don't have anything else on the agenda in the morning, I may take the train into the city and check out the ward near Hyde Park. I know my last entry said I really don't enjoy church and that still holds true. I just want to see whats on the social calendar. I can't even imagine the schedule for mutual in Sydney. Church is at ten but after three weeks of continuous trains, running around the city, and meeting people I think I might not make it. I'm enrolled in the minimum amount of credits at uni and I still think that focusing on school will be a challenge.
I am still looking around for a cocktail dress for the 21st next Friday...
There's talk of New Zealand for mid semester break...
Am I missing anything interesting in the news back home?

Posted by ChristinaC 01:48 Comments (1)

Bloated Babbling

sunny 68 °F

Yeah, I said bloated. Even after an intense cycling class last night, I feel bloated. Maybe because when I feel anxious or don't know what to do with myself, I eat cereal or peanut butter. This has been happening a lot this past week. I'd appreciate some family input on a few things. If you're not family feel free too.

1. The ongoing question of what am I going to do when I leave Australia? I had been considering taking winter term (jan-march) off, staying in Hawaii, working full time, and banking as much money as I could which in reality probably won't be that much. This would also allow me to go to the winter olympics and mom's business trip in february as well as fly over to Oahu to stay with Liz for a while when the baby is born. Then I'd go back to school for spring term in march.
But as Rich has pointed out, it would be more financially beneficial in the long run to go straight back to school (which involves a transfer to Portland State because I've decided I like living in Corvallis as much as I like going to church every sunday) for winter term. He meant like the sooner I get my degree, the sooner I start working at a big girl job making big girl money. So I'd stay at PSU for winter and spring term...possibly stick it out through summer term?

2. I'm still considering applying for an internship back east with the FBI. It's a summer internship for 2010 that lasts a bit over ten weeks. Applications open up in a few weeks. I think it would be a really valuable experience and there is the minimal chance that it can set me up with a career with the bureau. This would no doubt involve significant costs (driving my car back east, accommodation, food, snazzy business clothes).

3. I don't know where to go for mid semester break here. New Zealand? Tasmania? Up north to the great barrier reef? I know, I know...you feel sorry for me and my tough decisions. But I need to organize it now. If I start organizing, I know of people who will go no matter where I end up choosing to go. I was originally planning on letting Anthony choose where to go because I gave him a week of worldmark for his birthday (Thanks Mom!) but he isn't sure if he will get the time off work.

4. Any good recipe suggestions that involve minimal ingredients?

I'm feeling a bit homesick and overwhelmed with school and having to spend money on books and groceries this week. Also, the movie Anthony and I saw last night was $14...isn't that about the price of Imax at Bridgeport? Oh which also reminds me...

5. Borders in the mall next to my school is hiring. Should I tie myself down with a part time job somewhere?

Posted by ChristinaC 21:13 Comments (1)

The Sydney Tower

Day Off From Uni

semi-overcast 66 °F

First off, too all my readers: I know my entries are lengthy. The primary reason I write these is for my family member's enjoyment. So, after deliberation, I've decided not to shorten them because they love every bit these things. Also, it makes for less time spent writing in my actual physical journal.
To follow up, i enjoyed my free pancakes and ice cream in good company last night. Some girls taught me the correct way to eat Tim Tams. You bite off opposite corners of the rectangle cookies and then suck hot chocolate through it like a straw. After a few seconds, you smash the melted chocolatey goodness into your mouth and grab another. SO GOOD.
Today, I didn't have class until 6pm. So I bought a bus/train/ferry ticket that's good for one week and Simone and I went in to the city. We went halfway up the Sydney Tower before we realized we had to pay money to continue to the top. Thinking of Anthony and my conversation from the previous night ("You should just spend some money and live it up! Don't worry about it!"), I decided to cough up the $20. The Sydney Tower is kind of like the Seattle Space Needle but taller...as tall as the Eiffel Tower. I saw the opera house, harbor bridge, pretty much everything. The observation deck at the top had a 360 view of Sydney...this place is huge. Huge and beautiful. I think I get so tired everyday because my brain is overstimulated. I have little time to process and reflect on things I've done/seen.
So when we got down, we bought some lunch and went to Hyde Park to eat. Hyde Park is downtown downtown and really beautiful. It is obviously where all the fancy business men/women in suits take their lunch break. For the next two hours we walked around...saw a beautiful cathedral, Hyde Barracks (used to be a prison to the ever-so-famous convicts of Australia), courthouse, something resembling Rodeo Drive, and lots of the city. So beautiful. I love love love Sydney.
We went to Woolworth's and bought some fruit and more Tim Tams (caramel this time) then caught the bus back to uni.
I barely made it through my 2 hour stats lecture because I was exhausted. Stats170, by the way, is the most failed course at Macquarie. I was pretty worried about this. Then I sat next to a mentally challenged asian man who spoke some crazy made up version of English and I thought..."there are people in here worse off than me".
I went for a run and went over to Simone and Brendan's house...Miller came over too to hang out. Brendan has a super nintendo! With Mario Allstars!
There was talk of planning a trip to north west or possibly south Australia or maybe even Tasmania for mid semester break. Mom? Can we swing some Worldmark? :)
So, everything is pretty happy. Well, expect for the fact that somebody in this house thinks they are allowed to share my butter, bread, and milk...that isn't very happy at all.
I'll finish with some differences between AU and home that I think I've overlooked in previous entries:
1. There is rarely anything bigger than a Ford Ranger on the road
2. Every single toilet has a full flush/half flush option...even in private residences
3. The wall outlets have switches on them
4. It's capsicum, not bell pepper
5. No one is allowed to have fireworks
6. Subway has 7 dollar footlongs, not 5. Not as catchy, I know
7. Guys can straighten their hair and pretty much get away with it
8. It's "How are you going", not "How are you doing"
9. Fries are called chips
10. It's not customary to tip in restaurants
11. Everything is shortened. Breakfast/breky, Bikers/bikies, sunglasses/sunnies, post man/postie
12. The birds sounds like distressed toddlers

Posted by ChristinaC 07:12 Tagged tourist_sites Comments (2)

"Back to School...Back to School...

To prove to Dad, I'm not a fool"

overcast 17 °F

Friday evening, Miller, Brenden and I took the bus from Macquarie Uni to a sketch suburb in Sydney called Gladesville. Miller had previously googled Taco Bell's location and determined that the ONLY one in Sydney was in Gladesville. On the 30 minute bus ride, we got suckered in to talking to the crazy man next to us. He was all about, "Don't go into Kings Cross (suburb, hooker territory), I've gotten bashed there 30 times easy. All because they want my sexy eyes, and because my name is Eddie...that's sexy too, makes 'em jealous." Miller said quietly, "this is why I hate public transit". To which I replied, "this is exactly why I love it".
After much suppressed laughter, we got off the bus and didn't see TB. I went into the KFC and asked the nice brace-faced aussie boy sweeping the floor, "Hey, do you happen to know where Taco Bell is?" He smiled and said, "Aw, you guys are Americans huh...yeah it used to be a KFC/Taco Bell but TB failed 4 years ago so now its just KFC". How does Taco Bell fail?!
So, we ate Subway with sad faces on. Brenden remember is from Belgium and was sad to be cheated out of his first TB experience.
Anyway, I know, enough about Taco Bell.
Simone texted during dinner asking us to meet her downtown so she could commute with us back to uni as it was well past dark by then. So we caught the bus downtown. We bought some Tim Tams from the store for dessert...aw Tim Tams are so good (chocolate covered wafer goodness in any flavor you want).
Anthony called from a 21st birthday party for his friend (21st are huge here...pretty much like sweet sixteens at home. Usually the family rents a place out, sometimes has it catered, designates a theme, and the friends give silly speeches about the birthday boy/girl)and invited me over. Long parenthesis sub topic! Miller Brenden and Simone went back to uni and I caught a bus out to Seaforth. I was pretty on edge about catching a bus in downtown Sydney at midnight by myself but was relieved that Anthony was at the bus stop to walk with me!
The next morning I met Anthony's cousin, Harry. I was already invited to Harry's casino themed 21st (Aug 14th) before we met...it's no doubt going to be somewhat of a family function and I'm looking forward to meeting them. Anxious but looking forward to it nonetheless. We went to Manly Beach which is roughly 3 miles from his house. He went for a surf and I walked the boardwalk and got hot chocolate. Manly Beach in the daylight is so nice. I love it. Lots of cute places for breakfast/lunch right on the beach. It's kind of upscale and any outting in Manly makes me feel special. Afterwards, we grabbed a map from his house and asked his parents for directions to Macquarie in North Ryde, an area Anthony isn't very familiar with. After 30 semi-stressful, semi-Amazing-Race minutes in the car, we arrived in the village to pick up my laundry. So much laundry. Back in Seaforth, Judy gave me the rundown on how to do laundry at their house. Hang drying clothes! Thats a first! Surprisingly, it gave me a really peaceful feeling to hang up my clothes (which smelled like eucalyptus:) ) in the sunshine and then turn around and watch all the activity on the bay and also see the city in the distance. I'm telling you guys, no pictures of their house or its surroundings will do it justice...it's just amazing.
Anthony and his parents went to a footy (rugby) game and I stayed home to nap and sort through uni stuff online. Anthony came home, woke me up with a nice hug, and took me to dinner in Manly.
I found out from Judy and Steve that Earlwood, where I was considering being a live in housekeeper, is way way far away from my uni. So,I've scratched that possibility off my list. I'm still looking for a similar gig however because canceling my housing here would put a nice amount of money back in my pocket. Meanwhile, I'm also looking for a job in the city. I didn't anticipate Sydney to be this expensive. In the past week I'd say I've spent approx $50 on transit alone.
Anyway,
the next day was a blur of relaxation: Anthony made me breakfast (one eyed monster :) ), Steve and I had naps in the chairs on the deck in the sun, I had another nap on the couch in the sun, Anthony and I went for a swim at a nice beach, he took me to buy a few school supplies, he took me to some mall to search for Taco Bell but again it wasn't there, we watched TV, and his parents made a really nice steak dinner. I've told them that I don't have any food preferences to speak of but I think they think I am just being polite and too shy to say otherwise. They each asked "Do you eat steak? I hope so, because it's all we have...but if you like we can make you something different". I laughed a little because who would say, "Oh yeah, no I don't feel like steak tonight". After some intense Guess Who, Anthony drove me and my laundry back to uni. Overall, the weekend was some much needed relaxation, time away from uni, time to catch my brain up on everything that's happened the past 3 weeks, and time next to Anthony. I think he is especially successful and comforting me/helping me with things because he's already been through a study abroad experience himself.
Today was the first day of school! My only class was at 10am for an hour. Just a quick bio lecture. The professor actually promotes just listening to his lectures online instead of coming in to class. So, consider Monday a day off for me...more opportunity to work or go on weekend trips.
After class, the girls next door got me to go to a yoga class with them at the gym. My first ever. Like Pilates, it wasn't as intense as I envisioned. There was alot of silent laughs because of the instructor. For one, Aussie accents still make us American girls giggle...am I right? For two, add a lisp and a an appearance that could have passed as either gender...and then take all that and have him tell you to do a 'downward dog'. Haha!
After a run and lunch, we went to a GLP meeting for international students. Global Leadership Program. It involves going to 10, 3-hour workshops on different topics throughout the semester and attending a keynote speaker/free cocktail party. For doing all of this, I get a letter of reference a certificate of completion, and it goes on my transcript. I figure even though I've already taken the initiative to come abroad, I need to reinforce the decision by doing things like this and volunteering...not just beaching and going to 'El Rancho' on Wednesdays. By the way, I'm already on the guest list for this wednesday and the theme is back to school. I don't have a sleezey school girl outfit and if I did, I wouldn't be wearing it to the ranch anyways.
Tonight is free pancake night in the village for back to school!
Sadly, it's time to go grocery shopping. Somehow half of my jar of peanut butter is gone already...um, I guess I'll just blame it on roommates eating my food. Haha, right....
I feel like I'm on the upswing of my homesickness. But, in orientation they said your mood and mental health will drop, rise, and then drop again before leveling off. So stay tuned for the next drop.

Posted by ChristinaC 23:22 Comments (2)

Sydney Harbor Dinner Cruise

I refuse to spell harbor with a u

65 °F

After shopping with the Jersey girls thursday morning, I went to a four hour orientation/enrollment session for uni. We got an overwhelming amount of information like "go to this website, register for this...if you want to get here, make sure you take this bus...update this otherwise you will be deported". It was pretty boring and I was disappointed at the absence of free food.
At the conclusion of the session, the lady said "now for the welcome dinner, you're going to need to take the train to downtown Sydney to meet the boat". THE BOAT?! The 'Winter Wonderland' dinner turned out to be a free dinner cruise in the Sydney Harbor.
I met Simone (Switzerland), her roommate Brenden (Belgium), Shanna (OSU), and Miller (Sherwood) around 5:30 and we walked to the train station. I anticipated that it would be semi formal but I resisted my urge to wear a dress and dressed warm. I even put on some snazzy earrings. I was so glad I dressed warm because the girls on the train with bare shoulders and legs and heels looked so silly (t was around 40F outside by this time).
We caught the train without complication (okay, I'm a little upset about the fact that only 'exchange' students get a concession sticker on their ID which gets them half off transit tickets. As there was no spots open for exchange between OSU and Macquarie, I am 'study abroad' and have to pay the full fare!)
Sometime during the 45 minute train ride we realized that our time planning was skewed. We were to step off the train just as the boat was scheduled to leave the dock at the Man O War steps of the Sydney Opera House. As soon as the doors opened at Wynyard Station, the four of us set off running. We ran and ran, asked for directions from Aussies, and ran some more. We were running so frantically, that I didn't even have time to stop at stare at the opera house in amazement. Sad, right? Miller carried my purse. We were relieved to see that the boat had obviously
anticipated that students would be late and had waited an extra 20 minutes. Somewhere along the way though, I had lost one of my earrings:(
The cruise was aaaamazing. I really couldn't believe that some kids opted to stay in The Village on campus and party because they heard the booze on the boat was expensive. It's the Sydney Harbor!
The boat had three floors. For the first bit, we cooled off outside and took pictures of us and the landmarks. Then we heard there was food downstairs so we went and got some pizza. Classy, no? The bottom floor was also the dance floor...not ballroom but a club setting with boom boom pow, strobes, etc. For a few minutes I was standing there feeling awkward...I don't dance alone, but I wasn't about to grind up on the foreigners. Then I thought, "I'm in the Sydney Harbor, on a boat, and I'm with tons of funny people I just met... who else is this lucky?" And then...I started to dance. We had soooooo much fun. For the remainder of the cruise (3 hours) I danced, hung out in the bar on the second floor, got hit on by a number of foreign and slightly intoxicated men, and laughed with my friends on the third floor...kind of an observation deck.
When the boat finally got back, a group of us was headed to a bar downtown. Suddenly someone suggested McFlurry's at McDonalds (Maccah's) and so we stopped. Then, afraid that the transit system stopped running at midnight, we decided to head back to the village.
Overall I had an amazing night and strengthened a couple friendships that I think will last the duration of the semester.
This morning I went to the gym where I ran and did a Body Step class. Hollllyyyyyy cow. Talk about cardio, that thing kicked my butt.
So I need your opinions...
Yesterday I found this lady on craigslist saying she needed someone to move into a room in her house in the city. In exchange for rent, she wants the person to do ten hours a week of house work like laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, and walking the dogs. She's offering free meals on the days that I cook. She's 31 and 6 months pregnant and I'm assuming living alone. So I emailed her and told her I'm studying abroad until December and it was something I was interested in. She got back to me and is pretty enthusiastic about it. She said if I'm still interested, she'd love to meet with me. What do you guys think?
I'm going to Taco Bell in the city with Miller tonight...and then tomorrow morning Anthony is picking me up for the weekend! Going to Anthony's feels so good...like going home.

Posted by ChristinaC 21:13 Tagged cruises Comments (2)

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