Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What a week!

This week has been a very influential one in my life.There have been both ups and downs. One thing is for sure, it is a week I will never forget.

We'll start at the beginning...

My 21st Birthday
At midnight on Monday, Emma, Michelle, and I went down the road to the Alfred Hotel to get a beer. We were the only three in the pub, and even though the drinking age is 18 in Australia, we made the bartender ask for my id so we could take a picture.

When I woke up the next morning Emma, Michelle, and Lindsey had decorated my door with birthday signs and streamers. I skyped with my family, and when they appeared on the screen they had balloons and a birthday sign in the background and were singing happy birthday. Half was through skyping, Emma barged into my room throwing balloons everywhere and gave me flowers.

That night, some friends and I got tight a** Tuesday pizza and sat out on the picnic tables to eat. After dinner, my friends gave me a card which they had had a bunch of people sign, a potato peeler, a cookies and cream kit kat (two things believe it or not, I've been wanting ha ha), and a birthday crown for me to wear for the remainder of the night. Later they threw me a birthday party at Lindsey's appartment with cake and everything. From there we went to a couple of local pubs and with the last stop being the Alfred hotel, where we had begun my birthday at. It was a birthday that I will never forget! I am so thankful to have such great friends and family which made my day so special!

Other News
As some of you may know, I have been waiting to hear whether or not I got into my major of Exercise Science at the Ohio State. Thursday morning, I received the email saying that I got in!!! What a relief!! All that work in chemistry last quarter finally paid off! Feeling motivated from the good news..I tried again to find a physio to observe with no luck. However, I did get in touch with someone about helping out with little athletics (a little league track club) and I may be volunteering with that in May.

 Friday-I spent the day at Coogee Beach. As Australia is moving into its cooler season, we are trying to take advantage of every nice day there is! The sun was hot, but the water temperature is dropping because of the cool nights. Friday afternoon a friend we had met in Byron Bay on our mountain climbing adventure came to visit us. His name is Tyler and he is an American studying 2 hrs. north of Sydney up in Newcastle. Tyler, Michelle, Lindsey, Emma, and I got all dressed up that night and went out to a nice birthday dinner at the Rocks. It was our first nice sit down dinner in Sydney. We went to a little Italian place called, Amoroma Ristorante. After dinner we went to the Lowenbrau, where a trumpet player from the band came to our table to play happy birthday, upon my friends request.

Saturday- In the morning I saw that I had missed some text messages from my Dad. My stomach dropped, because all they said were to give him a call as soon as I could. I knew what they had to mean. My Grandpa was diagnosed with Leukemia a couple of months ago, and not given much time. When I called my Dad, he told me the news. It makes me sad that today was his funeral and I am half way around the world. But I think what upsets me even more is that I didn't get to visit with him in his final months. He will be missed by many, but there are so many stories to tell about him to reminisce. One of my favorite stories is the one about when a horse bit him. That horse didn't know who he was messing with because my Grandpa turned around and punched the horse in the head and knocked it to the ground. My Mom always jokes that she could write a book full of Levi stories. I just want my family to know that my thoughts and my prayers go home to them in this time of loss. 

Saturday evening, Emma and I went to an Australian friend, Scotts 21st birthday party. Although 21st are big in the U.S., they are big here too, but in a different way. Families rent out venues, get dressed up, and close friends and family members give speeches in honor of the birthday boy.

Sunday- ANZAC Day:
ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. ANZAC Day – 25 April – is probably Australia's most important national occasion. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. The Australian and New Zealand forces landed on Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated, after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers had been killed. News of the landing on Gallipoli had made a profound impact on Australians at home, and 25 April soon became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in the war.

To celebrate ANZAC day our apartment complex had a bbq with an inflatable twister and bull riding. I only last 30 seconds before getting bucked off. In the afternoon Emma and I played tour guide and showed Tyler around the city and took him down to Darling Harbour.

Monday- We didn't have class because of the Holiday. I spent the day preparing for two uni presentations that were this week. The first was a debate in my fitness training class, in which my team argued that cardio is the key to weight loss. The second was a presentation in my sports leisure and youth course about the experiences of Aboriginal people and sport. Monday night Emma, Michelle, and I booked flights to Melbourne for a weekend in the end of May. I started to panic as we planned the trip when I looked at my calendar. My weekends are filling up and my time in Australia is flying by. I don't want it to end!!!

Thanks to everyone for all of the birthday cards!!! Sorry for no pictures, the uploader was acting wacky. I'll add some later if it starts working!

Have a wonderful week!         

  Cheers, Betsy

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Give It a Go!

"Give it at go": Commonly said, meaning “give it a try”. What a great attitude to have in life, don't hold back, just "give it a go"!
It was s nice to get away for Mid-Semester break, but this past week I got back full swing into Uni work. I had a presentation last Tuesday, have a paper due Monday, and two presentations the following week. I still can’t complain too much because while there is work to be done there is also plenty of play J!
Weekend Adventures:
Friday: I got breakfast at Hoochie Mammas, the cafe at my apartments with Emma. I love Hoochies; my goal is to try something new off of the menu each time I go there. So far I have not repeated, and I think I will probably end up trying everything by June! In the afternoon some friends and I went down to Darling Harbour to the Sydney Aquarium. We saw, sharks, manatees, crocodiles, giant sea turtles, penguins, Nemo, Dory, and a whole bunch of other fish. They had a where’s Waldo theme going on, and inside to the big aquariums they had little Waldo’s hidden. For the shark and Manatee exhibits we walked through glass tunnels and were surrounded by water with the animals swimming over and all around us.

After the Aquarium we went to the Lindt Chocolate Cafe on Darling Harbour. The three of us ordered three golf ball scoops of ice cream for $12. We each had a scoop and decided that although it was extremely over priced, it could have been the best ice cream we had ever had.

Saturday: Some friends and I went to the Glebe St. Markets (a boutique type market where local vendors and people bring their original clothing, crafts, and jewellery) to shop for a birthday outfit! I got a great deal on a skirt that was homemade by one of the vendors $15 which was previously $40! Woo I love bargains! On the way out of the markets we spotted some handmade journals that were made out of random pieces of paper, newspaper clippings, doilies, maps, and other miscellaneous materials. Perfect for my next journal because my current one is filling up fast!
 In the avo (afternoon) Emma and I watched the Olsen Twin movie, “Our Lips are Sealed”, which takes place in Sydney. I forgot how cheesy those movies are, but I still loved it, and it was neat to watch them go to places like Luna Park and shopping at Bondi. That night I put on my visor and went to work at Cold Rock!
Sunday: We did the usual Patty’s markets and grocery shopping routine. However, this week we skipped the cafe, because some of our friends from St. Johns College invited us over for Brunch at their dining hall. St. Johns looks like it is straight out of the movie Harry Potter. Their dining hall is just like the great hall, their dormitories look like you are in Gryffindor tower and for special events the students wear academic robes. Emma and I joked that we were surprised when owls hadn’t flown in to deliver our mail while we ate.
This coming week:
Tuesday is my 21st birthday!!! Ah I can’t wait. In Newtown, where I live, Tuesday’s are known as, “Tight A** Tuesday’s”, because all of the restaurants have good deals. So my friends are throwing me a birthday party and they titled it, “Betsy’s Tight A** 21st:” Since I am pretty cheap and thrifty, they thought it was ironic that my birthday fell on a Tuesday. On Friday night a smaller group of us are going to get dressed up, go out to dinner, and listen to live music down at The Rocks.
Thanks to all who have sent me birthday cards! I have enjoyed reading them and have them hanging up in my room!
Right now I need to stop procrastinating and get some Uni work done! I hope everyone has a wonderful week!
Cheers, Betsy   

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mid-Semester Break

 I hope everyone had a great Holiday! I just got home yesterday from my Mid-Semester break vacation. I had an amazing time, and was amazed at how much coming back to Sydney felt like coming home.  So here is the recap of my latest adventures:

Gold Coast: Surfers Paradise-
Saturday: Emma, Lindsey, and I left in the evening and flew to the Gold Coast where we would be staying for the next three nights in Surfers Paradise (a town that is part of the Gold Coast).  There we stayed in an older hotel which they had turned into a youth hostel. We shared a room for 4 with a Swiss girl, Yamush, who was travelling alone. I really enjoyed staying in the Hostel because of all the young travellers you meet from around the world. We met some Australians up the coast for the weekend, Irish, Canadians, English, Dutch, and French along with other Americans all in our hostel.
Sunday (Easter): My friends and I asked if there would be any sunrise beach services, but no one seemed to know of any. So we ended up going down the road to a church the front desk had mentioned called SurfCity. We thought day light savings time had occurred, because it had in New South Wales, but soon found out that Queensland does not, and showed up to church an hour late. The church service was unlike any I had ever been to before, but seen on TV. A lot of “Hallelujahs” and “you are healed”.  After an hour had passed and there had been no sermon and only healing for the sick (don’t get me wrong the sick need to be healed, but we were just looking for a nice Easter sermon and praise service) we decided to leave early for brunch, to exchange Easter baskets, and relax on the beach.
Monday: Another wonderful beach day. We took lots of goofy photos and Emma and I ran along the beach. I enjoyed our time in Surfers. It reminded me a lot of Florida, a very commercial beach town with high rises and amusement parks.

Byron Bay-
Tuesday: We took a Grayhound 2 hours south of Surfers to Byron Bay. Byron is a way more laid back and un-comercial (they outlawed McDonalds) beach town. Unfortunately we arrived a day after their big Blue’s Festival had ended with headliners such as Jack Johnson and The Fray. Cape Byron is the most Eastern point of mainland Australia. So Tuesday afternoon we did a coastal walk out to the exact most eastern point and the Cape Byron light house.

Wednesday: We booked a cheap tour to Minyon Falls and Nimbin via “The Happy Coach.” It was an interesting day to say the least. The falls poured into a gorge from 100m high. On the way to Nimbin we spotted a koala in the wild up in a tree. Nimbin got its reputation as Australia’s hippie town after the Aquarius music festival (Australia’s Woodstock) took place back in 1969 and the town thrives off of this reputation for tourism. Not exactly my kind of scene, but it was neat to see. That evening when we got back to Byron we met two English guys, Tim and James, a Danish guy Michelle, and an American, Tyler. We all sat around and visited at the hostel then went out to the local pubs.

Thursday: Emma and I got up early to walk on the beach, and saw a dolphin. The rest of the day we spent swimming, lounging, and playing Frisbee on the beach with the friends we had met the previous evening. That afternoon Lindsey was scheduled to catch a train for Sydney at 5 and Emma and I were to get on a bus for Brisbane at 7. After chatting with our new friends and hearing about their plans to climb Mount Warning (The first spot in Australia to see the sunrise) at 2 am Friday morning to watch the sunrise at 6 am Emma and I decided to reschedule our bus for the following day and join them. Probably one of the best decisions of my life! Unfortunately Lindsey still had to leave us for Sydney.

Friday: Possibly the best day of my life! James, Tim, Tyler, Michelle, Emma, and I rented a car and left at 2 am for an hour drive out to Mt. Warning. All of the guys had head flashlights, but Emma and I shared a little key chain flash light for the 2 hour trek up the mountain. On the way up we passed two snakes. There were a couple of times when we turned off all of our flash lights and we couldn’t see a foot in front of our faces. About 10 minutes from the top the path got extremely steep and we were holding on a chain and climbing up the side of rocks to reach the peak. 

We got to the top about 30 min before sunrise, but it was so foggy that we could only catch glimpses of sun rays and we still could not see the scenery that surrounded us below.

As we waited for the fog to disperse we met a French guy with dread locks who was carving a didgeridoo. He climbed up the mountain the previous day (barefoot!) and camped overnight. We gathered some wood and sat around the fire a few hours until the fog dispersed. By this time we were all delirious from lack of sleep and I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard or long as I did that morning.

The views from the top were amazing! It was so neat to finally see our surroundings which we were blinded to by darkness on the way up.

We got to the bottom around 10 am and departed for our next stop...Nimbin. I never thought that would be a place I went to twice in my life and I visited it twice in 3 days ha ha. But the guys hadn’t been there and wanted to check it out so we did a quick stop by. While in Nimbin we asked the locals if there was any place to go swimming or cliff jumping. They suggested that we go to a place called Breaking Rock a little out in the country. It was AWESOME! There was a cliff about 50 ft high and at the top was a rope to swing off of into the water. There was also a 15 ft drop off next to a waterfall.
 After swimming for a while we decided to make our second campfire of the day. Before we had left on Thursday night we had heard that James, Tim, and Michelle had never had a s’more, so we brought supplies and made some by the water. They loved them! We had to make do with chocolate coated digestive cookies because it was the closest thing Australia has to a graham cracker, but they were delicious!

On the way back to Byron the guys all spotted a kangaroo jumping into the bush by the road, but I missed it L! Right before town the sun was setting, so I captured both the sunrise and sunset on camera. After spending so much time with our four new friends, Emma and I had felt like we had known them from for years. It was such a neat dynamic of people: 2 giggling loopy American girls, an ex-professional soccer player from Denmark, a hyper chatty American boy, and two goofy “brilliant” Brit’s who are best mates.

Still Friday: We got back to Byron just in time to catch our bus to Brisbane and we both slept the whole way. When we got to Brisbane around 9:30 pm we found a hostel close to the Transit Station, unloaded our stuff, and went out exploring. As we walked down the road we saw a statue of a campfire and took picture or our third campfire of the day.

 We made our way through the Queen Street mall and then crossed the river to South Bank to ride the Brisbane Wheel (a huge Ferris wheel). We got there 20 min before it closed and had it all to ourselves for a night view of the city. Exhausted from only 4 hours of sleep in the past 40 hours we headed back to our hostel.

Saturday: Emma and I got up around 8 and took the train over to Fortitude Valley for some breaky. We were surprised at how quite Brisbane was on a Saturday morning, but it was a nice change from the hustle and bustle in Sydney. After breakfast we walked through china town, and then to the river to catch the river cat down the Brisbane River.

We got off at South Bank, a nice park with pools, creeks, fountains, street markets, and gardens. From there we crossed the river to check out more of the city.

We passed a casino, and I played my first slot machine. Emma and I each put in $1 and had no success. We revisited the Queens Street Mall, an outdoor shopping and cafe area, full of street performers.

Our time in Brisbane was dwindling fast since we had a train to catch at 3 pm, but we both agreed that we had gotten a good feel for the city in our 18 hr visit. The 15 hr. train was a nice way to catch up on journaling and sleep!

 I will never forget this Easter break and all of the great people I met on my adventures!
I hope I didn’t drag this post out too long. I didn’t want to leave anything out! I wish everyone the best in the next week.
Cheers, Betsy