Friday, March 15, 2013

An Enlightening Vacation?

So it started, the true reason I am here, school. I have been on break since interterm ended in late January so it’s been quite awhile. Basically, I had forgotten the concept of school entirely. My first class was in a building called Institute Building. It took me an entire hour just to find the building; even asking around nobody even knew what I was talking about. It was a scramble to make sense of the enormous campus, but I was happy I had left enough time for this search by leaving an hour early. I arrived with 10 minutes to spare. In my class we watched a video that had Obama in it and a clip of The Incredibles. I realized how America is imbedded in the culture in little ways.
After visiting the International Office to change a couple of things, I finally have the perfect schedule. I am taking 2 business classes and 2 classes about Australia. My business classes are People & Organisations and Operations Management. My Aussie classes are Learning in Outdoor Education and Indigenous Creative Expression. My outdoor class goes to the Blue Mountains, which are a must do and also Royal National Park. My creative expression class covers my art GE credit and examines different forms of Australian media and art in the indigenous Australian culture. I have classes in blocks and no big breaks which is awesome! Plus, no Friday class!
After the first week of classes was over it was off to celebrate at Max Brenner Chocolate Bar, which has come to be known as Club Max. I named it that jokingly because I would much rather have a chill night there with friends than go out. It was now my second time there and I got the Brownie Sundae. So good! Then it was another lovely beach day followed by a night at the casino. I played Pinkjack, which is basically Blackjack with a couple of rules changed. I lost $20 and I’m pretty sure I will never gamble again. It just isn’t worth the risk. However, most of my friends seemed to do well. Some won over $100.

The weekend consisted of Chinatown, The Rocks, and another American movie to make me feel at home. I strolled down Dixon Street in the heart of Chinatown and was greeted my two lions and a gate at both ends of the street. The gate I walked through read "Within the Four Seas All Men Are Brothers" nd the other said "Understand Virtue and Trust". Walking down the street brought so many scrumptious smells that made me want to walk into the restaurants for a quick sniff. There was even a Campbell Restaurant at the very front of the street! There were lots of noodles and traditional Asian cuisine. It was the weekend so it was very crowded on account of dim sum. I will definitely be back to experience the food there.
Sunday everyone wanted to go to the beach again, but I had gotten pretty burnt the previous tanning session. There is no ozone layer here so sunscreen is a must and sadly I had forgotten. I got a really bad Capri tan from the Coogee to Bondi walk and it still remains to this day. So instead of a beach day of further burning, I decided to explore on my own today and just relax. I went to the historic Rocks and had a lovely stroll through streets that have made Australian history. I walked the Argyle Cut with its walls jutting up into the sky. Ran into Campbell’s Cove (yes, I know it’s meant to be), examined Holy Trinity Garrison Church, and took in spectacular views of the harbor and bridge from the highest point in the city, Observatory Hill. There was a wedding as I walked to the park under the bridge. The background was the harbor and the stunning Opera House in the distance. It couldn’t have been more picturesque. Dawes Point Park had lovely views as well with its canons pointed straight to the Opera House. I walked Nurses Walk, a street walked when "Sydney" and “sickness” was the same thing. Then it was through Suez Canal, a narrow alley once the hot spot of gangs. Lower Fort Street was a lovely stroll as the Georgian houses and wrought-iron lacework were once the best addresses in Sydney. At the end of the street was the Harbour View Hotel. I sat on the balcony and took in views of climbers about to make their way to the bridge. The bridge was so close to the hotel and it was a lovely spot for a nibble of hummus, baba ghanoush, pita bread and some tomatoes and olives. After a very independent day of exploration, it was back home to reconnect with friends and escape reality with one of my favorite movies, Tangled.

I have now just finished the second week of classes and still haven’t done any homework. I feel like I am on vacation and forget that I still have readings and papers. They are definitely to come, but for now it is nice to relax. Yesterday, I volunteered with my friend Kaya at a park. We did made an area where children play look so much better than before. We pulled so many weeds, picked up trash and racked away all the excess leaves. Then, a boat was constructed by the boys in the group. Once they were done, Kaya and I painted the entire thing. I feel honored to be able to have made a difference in an Australian community and I hope many generations of children to come enjoy the waves we made on the side of the boat. At the end of volunteering we received free tickets to a concert! I would have volunteered anyway, but this was just the cherry on top.

Urbanest throws a waffle dinner every Monday and I finally had time to go. I met some Aussies and they invited me to their house in Cronulla Beach. I was so excited to meet more Australians! I have been with a lot of study abroad American students most of the time, which is nice, but I definitely want to further immerse myself in the culture here and I plan on taking every opportunity possible to do so!

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