Thursday, March 28, 2013

When Dreams Became Reality

It’s been another awesome week of adventure and cultural immersion. I went to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Stadium and saw the place that Michael Phelps started his Olympic career in the aquatic center. It so surreal to watch a swim meet in a place that had so many spotlights pointed at the place I sat in just 13 years ago. I saw an Olympic gold medalist, Akihiro Yamaguchi, compete in breaststroke and complete 100 meters in 1 minute, which if you are swimmer and understand the sport you know is crazy fast! 
I went to see my friend’s friend compete in an archery tournament there. We arrived just in time
 to see his last round as we had to cross the huge park to reach the archery area in the upper corner. On the way back we ran into a glorious fountain and pool area with a sculpture of cones jutting into the sky. We frolicked about in the water and enjoyed cooling off on the hot summer day. Then we climbed up a hill for a great view of the whole Olympic Park. 
I wanted to find the Olympic rings, but apparently they didn't exist. There was however white Olympic rings etched into the ground. I saw the Olympic torch among a bunch of pillars with athletes names on them. It was so inspiring to see! There was even an entire block of Campbell's. 

After another night at Max Brenner’s Chocolate Bar (aka Club Max, and yes I go here way too much) trying their famous Babka, it was off to plan some trips! I want to go to Bali and Fiji if possible while I am here. I also want to explore Australia by going to Melbourne, the Gold Coast, and Ningaloo Reef among other places. I feel like this experience has sparked a deeper desire to travel and see the world.
The next day I explored the Royal Botanic Gardens. It was the perfect place for a lovely stroll in the harbor, I want to come back and picnic under the trees and among the amazing greenery! I sat on Macquerie’s chair at farm cove as runners ran past. I found a Wollemi Pine tree, which is extremely rare. It looked skinnier than a normal pine. Then we found a wishing tree!! I got way too excited for that! You are supposed to walk around the tree 3 times forward and 3 times backwards to make your wish come true, so I had to do it. I also touched the tree for extra luck! After a long day of walking around the gardens, I wanted to try some more Australian native cuisine. I read about a place that makes kangaroo pizza and it was nearby, so that had to happen! We split a pizza so that each of us got a slice of crocodile, emu, and kangaroo meats. It was delicious! The emu was my favorite with kangaroo in a close second.

Classes have been going well! They seem a bit easy so far! I’m hopeful that they won’t get too much harder so this can truly feel like a vacation. On Tuesday I spent my whole day in the library so I could at least feel like a student a little bit. On the walk to the library I bought a pair of Australian brand Blue Ridge high-waist denim shorts. I read the textbook for my hardest class, Operations Management, and did my homework for the class. I was then in need of a coffee break to revive myself from the 6 hours of drowning under books in the library. I went to Gloria Jean’s near home and got a cappuccino and brought along a couple Tim Tam’s for some prime slams. The coffee here is amazing! Mine came with a lovely heart shaped in the foam. I feel like I have tried the majority of the Tim Tam flavors now. There is original, double coat, dark chocolate, white chocolate, chocolate with white filling, raisin rum, Turkish delight, honeycomb, orange, and mint chocolate. Most people here joke about how addictive they are and refer to them as “crack cookies”, which I definitely agree to.
Saturday morning my friends in the building started a tradition of going to this place called “Pancakes on the Rocks”. It is hands down the best pancakes I have ever had in my life! They are served with ice cream and come in both classic buttermilk and chocolate forms. I sense another addiction coming along. Saturday nights at Darling Harbor are a spectacle of fireworks for all to see. They shot straight out from the water and it was amazing to see.

Sunday night is movie night at Urbanest. This week was “Looper” which I found to be quite an interesting movie. I had dinner in Chinatown at Campbell Restaurant (yes another place named after me, yay!) and tried real Chinese food. I got a seafood bowl of miscellaneous unknown sea creatures. It was fun to decipher what I was eating exactly, quite the interesting meal as my friend and I talked to our food the entire time.  Then we stopped at a gelato place called N2 that is basically a science lab. I spotted it on one of my walks in the city and wanted to share my discovery. It was then a movie night of “I Am Legend” with my friend, Conor, after a Coles run for our sweet tooth. I tried Anzac cookies which are another famous Australian cuisine icon. They were crunchy and kind of coco nutty. Wives made them for their husbands during the Anzac war.
Ellen DeGeneres decided to come to Sydney to film her show with her mother and wife, so I knew I h
ad to be in attendance. I almost made it into the audience, but I did get to see the show. After, I saw Ellen as she walked on the dock from crossing over the harbor on a boat. She smiled as she held Portia’s hand and they drove away in a large, white van. Then I wanted to explore around a bit so we first stopped at the Opera Kitchen for a quick bite. I ate a salmon salad under the sails of the opera house with a beautiful view of the bridge in the background as seagulls squawked at me in envy. It was quite a picturesque lunch.  It started to rain so I decided to explore the Australian Contemporary Art Museum. It was 4 floors of art, some of which I was confused by and some got me thinking. Once at the top there was a pretty view! At night the group was off to Ivy. There was an area around a pool and a live band playing poolside. It was fun, but way too crowded and we ended up leaving pretty quickly. 

There was a smaller group this weekend as most people went on a surf trip. I was happy to stay behind and do my own thing. The small group that remained united for a night out in Chinatown at the Dixon House foodcourt, an overwhelming display of the variety of Chinese food options available. I got some more seafood in a lovely sauté sauce. The end of the weekend meant it was time for my Outdoor Education class field trip at Royal National Park (separate post on that day). Monday I ditched my lecture to go to the Royal Easter Show, which was basically the Australian version of a state fair. There were animals, food, and rides.

The next week of school was the final stretch before spring break! Although it has come up so fast and I don’t even feel like I have done enough work to get a break, I will gladly take it! There was a strike on Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday my class was cancelled, so basically this week was a start to my break. I found out my class was cancelled after I had arrived so I decided to make the most of it before my tutorial and I went to see the Sydney Fish Market. It was definitely not what I had expected, but it was still awesome to walk around and sample fish! I ate raw salmon for the first time and I must say it was delicious!

Now break is official. Tomorrow I am off to New Zealand to explore the South Island and road trip around to see Glaciers in Franz Josef, bungee jump in Queenstown, and see Milford Sound in addition to all the amazing sights and beauty of New Zealand. I also really want to frolic with sheep while I am there. There are more sheep than people, so it shouldn't

be too hard to make that happen! I can’t believe I get to see another country!  I feel blessed for all the opportunities this experience has given me so far.

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