Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sydney!! Weeks:11-12

Hey everyone! I just got back from Sydney last night! It was truthfully incredible! My friend Emily and I left late on Wednesday night and began our day early on Thursday morning.

On the first day in Sydney, we booked a tour to go up to the Blue Mts. From 7am -8pm we hiked and saw various amazing sites in the Blue Mts. The Mts. aren't actually in Sydney they are a few hours outside of the city. We spent the day hiking up rough terrain and super steep cliffs. The hiking was super tiring. The paths weren't very well put together so you had to be really careful with every step you took so you wouldn't fall off the cliff-literally! Our tour guide said that we were going to climb up 1,000 stairs at one point. There was no doubt that I was going to be sore on day 2. The various paths we went on took us to different waterfalls that were absolutely gorgeous. I had never seen anything like it before. After the long hike we had lunch before starting the afternoon hike.
The second hike didn't seem too bad because it was mostly downhill. We all got to take trolley back up the mountain. This trolley we took is known to be the steepest trolley ride in the world, at 150 degrees. It was insane! I definitely felt my heart fall into my tummy for a brief minute or so. Once we got to the top we jumped into the van and went back to Sydney. It was an incredible day.
beautiful Blue Mts.
Fact: The Blue Mts. are called the Blue Mts. because when you look down into the valley of the Mt ranges, the particles in the air reflect the sky onto the trees, giving the entire mountain rage a blue tint. :)
 That night we basically just crashed and got a good night sleep.

When we woke up in the morning my calf's were so sore it hurt to walk. I guess that's what happens when you aren't used to hiking all the time. Anyways, we set out on a free walking tour though out Sydney. On the walk we got to see Chinatown, the Chinese friendship gardens, the Sydney Entertainment Center, places where various Olympic games occurred, the Victorian Mall, the Harbor Bridge, and of course we ended our tour with lunch outside the Sydney Opera House! I learned a lot about the city.
Sydney Opera House!

That night Emily and I went back to the Opera House for dinner and an Opera show/competition. It was really great getting the opportunity to not only see and take pictures of the Opera House, but actually experience it and an Opera show. The show was incredible. I grew much more appreciation for Opera singers after I had seen the show. I still don't know how these singers have the breath and lung capacity to do what they do ;)
After the show, Emily and I decided to hit up the club! We went to this really cool and hoppin' place called "Ivy." There, we danced a lot and had a fun time bringing out our alias's. haha
Emily and I after the Opera show, Harbor Bridge

We slept in the following morning due to staying out super late the previous night. Our goal for the day was to shop! We went to the Hay Street Markets where there are tons of flee market-like shops with a huge variety of items. I got some nice souvenirs for friends and family. These markets were really cool and I wish Chi-town had markets like these!
After we shopped, we headed over to the Sydney sky tower. Once we made it to the vary top of the tower (the Sydney tower is the 3rd largest tower in the Southern Hemisphere) we got to view the entire city from way up high. It was beautiful to see the sunset on the ocean.
sunset over Sydney looking down from the Sydney outlook tower
pretty city view
Afterwards, Emily and I met up with my friend Stacey to see Avatar 3D Extended version on the largest screen in the world IMAX theater. This theater was really intense and huge! The movie was great and we all enjoyed the movie very much.
on our last day in Sydney, Emily and I woke up earlyto start out ourday bywalking across teh Sydney Harbor Bridge. It was super sunny outside which made the walk and the views that much better! We took several pictures of the Opera house from the bridge. It was cool seeing the Harbor and and Operahouse from different angels! 
establishment of the Sydney Harbor Bridge
Once we hiked back over the bridge, Emily and I decided to take a bus over to Bundi Beach. Bundi Beach is one of the most famous beaches in Sydney. It is a big tourist attraction because the waves can get quite large and it's basically surfers paradise. It was nice having dinner along the beach side and watching surfers surf. The water was a bit too cold to swim in, but we enjoyed laying on the beach and soaking up the sun.
Bondi Beach, Sydney

Once we got back into the city, we met up again with our friend Stacey and went to this famous pancake place in Sydney called "Pancakes on the Rocks." The pancakes were unbelievably good. We basically had desert for dinner. Pancakes were definitely a great way to end our trip in Sydney.
Pancakes on the Rocks, yummm

This week I'm back at Uni with just 2 weeks to go! I cannot believe my trip is almost coming to an end. I have a quiz this week and then nothing else until finals...which are 2 weeks away. I leave for Singapore/Thailand in a week and a half so I hope to get a lot of work done prior to when I leave. It's hard to get into the groove of studying when there are so many things going on all the time! It should be fine though, I'm not too worried.

OH Also, before I left for Sydney, my roommates and I threw a big party. It was called an ABC Party in which everyone came in "Anything But Clothes" --> It was soo funny. People came in garbage bags, boxes, cloth grocery bags, flags, leafs, and basically anything you could imagine. People got really creative with different costumes. It's always fun to dress up and everyone had a lot of fun! 
at our ABC party-Leafs, straws, and cardboard 

I will probably only have a couple blogs after this because I'll be home in just about 6 weeks or so. I'm not really ready to leave yet! Australia has been so much fun and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the time I have here :)
Until next time folks !!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Weeks 6-till about now.

Sorry I took so long to get back to this blog. Everything got super busy since my last post, so I'll update everyone now. So much has happened since the last post that I hope I don't forget anything.

So, I did end up getting to go see a Ruby game. It was really cool watching these guys basically kill each other. No joke, I don't think I have as much appreciation for the NFL back at home anymore, they look like chickens compared to these Rugby boys. I went with a bunch of my friends and we had a great time. It was cool watching an Aussie sport.
rugby game! Go Brisbane Lions!

The next week my roommates and I threw a huge party again. It was the Brisbane River Festival. This is a big celebration of the main river here in Brisbane. We all got together and then went out to the lagoon area on the river where we watched an amazing firework show. It was honestly incredible. Fireworks shooting from 3 or 4 different places in the sky all at the same time and separately. It was soo cool, best firework show I've ever seen. Afterwards we all just hung out around the beach area.

The following week began to get really difficult. Midterms began and essays were due. Things get hectic here real quick. I didn't do much during that time period. However, on the weekend I managed to go out to more parties with my roommates and had a good time/study break.
the roomies -a night out

About a week later, my friends/roommates Alejandra and Anna and I went to the Gold Coast. Since we don't have an actual "real"  beach here in Brisey, going to the Gold Coast is a fun thing to do to get to the beach. Unfortunately, the weather got too cold to go into the ocean, but it was still a good time. We will definitely be going back in the somewhat-near future.
I couldn't stay long, however, because the jewish holidays began at sundown. I was fortunate to have a place to go for the high holidays. I went to a Chabad in the city and met some other students around my age which was nice. The Rabbi's wife invited me over to break the fast as well. I was lucky to find a family to have me over for that. I missed my friends and family from back at home though. It was different from what I'm normally used to.

Most days during the week I end up just working on school work and watching movies with my friends. Everything is really chill here. With Spring Break not too far away, everyone was getting antsy to be done with school.

Sydney and Melbourne 
It's so crazy that I got to live 2 spring breaks this year. I originally was only planning on going to Darwin (Really North Australia) for the last 4 days of break, however, my friend Sven decided last minute that we should spontaneously take a road trip to Sydney and then take a train to Melbourne and then I would fly home before going to Darwin.
I couldn't turn down that opportunity, so we left early morning on Saturday. Our friend Benjamin came along with us and the road trip began. We got to rent a huge camper van that we spent the night in. It was incredibly huge and really fun to camp in. There was a ton of space and even a bathroom/shower inside. Also, since the ride to Sydney was a 10hr ride, I began to get used to the left side of the road. It was definitely scary for the first few hours, but once my friends got a used to it, everything was fine :) On the way to Sydney we stopped at Byron Bay. Byron is known for it's paradise-like area. Unfortunately, it was a bit cloudy and too chilly to go in, but it was still pretty and a good hour break from driving!
our home for 2 days
air picture in Byron Bay
the inside of our home
Once we got to Sydney after our long drive, we were only able to spend 6 or so hours there before our train for Melbourne was due. With the little time we had we went to a little park called 'Hyde Park' we just basically walked around and enjoyed the city. We went over to Chinatown for dinner and then we were off to Melbourne.

We had to take a train to Melbourne which was another 10 hrs. Fortunately, we got to go over night so we didn't miss much day time traveling. I didn't get much sleep so by the time we arrived we were all exhausted. The hostel we stayed at was decent. We had cool roommates which was comforting.
Melbourne city at night
Sydney- Hyde Park
Our first day in Melbourne was rainy, but we still went to see the Dockland harbor area, Melbourne city, and my friend Sven and I went to see the Tim Burton exhibit. It was really cool. I got to see his early works, costumes from his movies, and various other things from his life. It was really interesting. Afterwards, we went to Little Italy for dinner which was delish.

Victoria Markets- Melbourne
The actual Bat Mobile in Batman Returns

The following day we did more sight seeing. We went to the Victoria Melbourne markets. There was so many things to buy and shop for. It was really fun for me, for the boys, not soo much.
I had to catch a plane after 2 days from Melbourne back to Brisbane so I could start packing and getting ready for my trip to Darwin!

So, I got back from Melbourne super early in the morning which gave me time to prepare for my trip to Darwin later that night.
Darwin was absolutely amazing. I feel like I really got to 'see' Australia after going there. Unlike Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, Darwin is really far north. It is super hot there and not a large city at all. It is considered to be part of the outback. My friend Alejandra and I spent the first day there walking around, checking out various lookout spots, and going swimming at the wave pool right on the harbor. Unfortunately, we weren't able to swim in the Indian Ocean because crocodiles are that prominent in that region. We did a little bit of shopping after getting some sun and then headed to the wharf for a nice dinner.
dinner on the wharf 


The next day we woke up early to begin our guided tour. The tour was my favorite part of spring break. We first stopped at an a swamp/billabong area where we got to go on a boat and watch jumping crocodiles jump for meat. It was crazy being so close to one of those killer animals! Afterwards, We were lead by a tour guide through Kakadu National Park. This park is a few hours from Darwin and is semi-arid/desert/tropical land. Once we got to the National park we went to a few lookouts and got to overlook the entire national park. It was absolutely gorgeous.
our 4WD tour

the group in front of a termite tower
jumping crocs!

on the way to Twin Falls- Kakadu Nat. Park


When we woke up the next day, we went on a few hikes around the national park. The hiking here is much different which I had not anticipated. We were climbing and jumping over huge rocks.
It was insanely hot outside, which made hiking 10times more difficult. However, one of our hikes lead to Jim Jim Falls and we got to go for a swim in the falls! It was beautiful.

At night we sat around the camp fire and ate Kangaroo! I was quite nervous to try it, but it wasn't that bad. A bit chuey but worth trying. I had a hard time eating Kangaroo knowing that it came from such a cute animal.

Our tent had a net ceiling so we got to sleep under the stars. It was really cool. The stars were amazing at night in the national park.
Our group was made of 9 people. 2 Germans, 1 English, 1 Irish, 1 Columbian, 1 Taiwanese, and then me. It was fun being the minority for once. It was interesting listening to everyone stories. We all had to listen carefully because everyone had an accent :)
Jim Jim falls 
On the way home after the 2nd day we stopped and learned a bit about the Aboriginal culture (like the USA indians, but Australian). It was neat.

Once we got back we pretty much crashed after a heavy duty past 2 days. We went to bed early so we could be well rested for our last night in Darwin.
In the morning we got some breakfast and went souvenir shopping and just hung around our hostel. It was pretty relaxing and enjoyable around the whole Darwin area.
Our flight wasn't until really late on Sunday night so we went for a late night swim near the pool.
Camping out !
At the Darwin Sunset Markets

We got home around 6am Monday morning. I had class at 10am so I got a few hours sleep before class. I was exhausted.

Now school has resumed. With only 4 more weeks of Uni to go, I still have a lot of work to do. However, every other week starting now I'll be in Sydney (to actually tour the city), Singapore/Thailand, and then New Zealand- in that order. I'm really looking forward to the next couple months. I study during the week and then travel on weekends for the most part, it's a good plan, I think.

I can't believe the time has been traveling so fast. I'll be home in less than 2 months which seems way too soon. I really enjoy living here and the weather has been getting warmer. I only have a few weekends left in Brisbane which is sad. My friends and I will be making the best of the time we have left! I feel like there is so much more to see and I can't wait for more!!

I promise I will update my blog a lot more sooner than this past one! I miss everyone and I'll be back home on Dec.1st as an fyi. Until next time :)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Omg!!!!!!!! Definitely loving weeks 6&7

Well I'm not even sure exactly where to begin! 
I'm about to start my 6th week at Uni which means midterms are just a few weeks away....ah! Uni is getting hectic and quite more busy. It can be kind of scary knowing that I've been at Uni for 6 weeks now and have not gotten one grade for anything. The system here is a lot different and exams/essays are weighed on a much higher scale. I have a few papers and a midterm just a couple weeks away, I guess I need to start hitting up the libs instead of going out as much for the time being..... 

However, there are always constant things going on to direct me away from my work. A couple weeks ago there was an International Psychology Lunch for all the international students. I got to talk about various current research projects and socialize with other students. I met a few girls and we decided to buy tickets for a rugby game soon! That will be fun. Also, last week one of my friends, Sven, had to do a project for one of his film classes. He asked a bunch of our friends to be extras in one of his short films. So we all spent the whole day helping him out. It was really fun being around everyone and real interesting to see how a production like this was created! 

 Our apartment has officially become the 'place to be.' Every night, without fail, our main door is propped open for guests to just walk in. Our kitchen/lounge area is always full of people. It's nice having people here especially when you really don't want to do homework...:) Often times we'll have movie nights and just hang out and talk. 

Last Friday I got the chance to celebrate Shabbos at the nearby Chabbad. It was definitely a little different to what I am used to, but it was real nice going on a Friday night (something I do miss from home). The Chabbad was right in the city and really beautiful. After services the Rabbi invited my friend Dafne and I to his home for dinner. I hadn't had Challah in a long time, and it was absolutely amazing!! The dinner took like 3 hours in total and there was 3 or 4 courses of food. By the time we finally left from dinner Dafne and I were so full it was ridiculous. The Rabbi's wife invited us back for break the fast for the high holidays (I think we'll take that offer!) 

This past week I turned 21!!!!!!! 
The day started at approx. 12am. My guy friends Mike, Zach, Ben, Jim, and Sam invited me over to their apartment where they had a birthday cake for me :). It was really good cake. After we devoured the cake we all went out to the casino! After playing and losing some Roulette and Black Jack we decided to go back before losing even more. 

The following morning, (since I have no school on Wednesdays) I met up with some friends at a really cute cafe in the West End area of Brisbane. It was really nice and I had some yummy hot chocolate. Afterwards, I ran home to get ready for MAMA MIA! My mom bought me a ticket to the show here in Brisbane. I had an amazing seat and absolutely loved it!! 

Once I got back, I noticed a package at my apartment. My parents sent me a few items for my birthday, including a beautiful diamond bracelet :). It is so pretty and I was really excited about it. They also sent me other items likes: mints, a dress, and BOGGLE! So I can't wait to take on everyone here in boggle. 
So thennnnn, my roommates took me out to our favorite burger place for dinner. It has become a skrumshis tradition. Two of my roommates made me pictures for my birthday and my friend Alejandra bought me an Australian shot glass, of course. It definitely was handy that night! 
Of course having a 21 birthday is not nearly the same sort of celebration in Australia as it is in the states, so we HAD to make sure it would be just as awesome. My friends and I had planned to have a huge party here for my 21st. So once we all got back from dinner, people started coming over. There was another girl who had her birthday on the same day, so we decided to make it an even bigger birthday and combine our parties at my apartment. It got absolutely crazy! Their must have been nearly 50+ people in our apartment. I felt like I was in a club. People were all over the place, in the hallways, in our rooms, everywhere! It was soooo much fun. After a few hours I made a serious dent in my absolute vodka and also had some pina colada and wine. A few of my friends brought some cakes over and we celebrated until a man from the front desk came up and told us we had to get out before he would call the police. So we left the apartment and went on our way to the club. I don't remember anything that happened after we left, but all I know is that I was a block from the club but never made it. I got too sick and friends brought me home :) 

Even though I never got to dance and club, I definitely had an amazing and very 'memorable' 21st birthday party! I can't wait to be legal in the states and celebrate my friend's 21st birthdays with them! 
Birthdays! 22 and 21!
Lastly, after I recovered and all, I had the chance to see this amazing 'Valentino' (the fashion designer) exhibit at a museum in Brisbane. The exhibit had all of his famous dresses of all time. The exhibit was extraordinary. Even for people who don't particularly like fashion, this was incredible. It was just a cool thing to see and really worth it. 

As the weeks just keep passing by I've been thinking about planning more trips to take soon. I haven't totally decided where I'll be going for spring break but it is between Singapore/Thailand and Sydney/Melbourne. All depends on travel expenses. I will decide soon enough though, because spring break here is just around the corner! I can't wait. Next week I plan to go to a nearby island called Frasier Island with some friends and maybe hit up that rugby game!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Weeks 4 & 5: It's all the same amazing routine

The past two weeks have been quite eventful! Uni has been great. I really enjoy having two days of the week completely off. It gives me time to run errands, relax on the beach, work out, etc. I have been running around a lot lately with friends. I have become friends with a lot of the international students at Uni. Everyone is in a similar situation as me so it makes it easier to talk with them and fascinating to learn about where everyone grew up. Just the other day I was at a BBQ with some of my friends and other internationals and I realized by the end of the night that I spoke with a German, Czech, Swedish, Norwegian, British, Spanish, French, Mexican, Chilean, Canadian, and other fellow Americans. It was incredible! I love being around that sort of atmosphere. I felt the longer I spoke with them the more understanding and interested I grew. I definitely feel as though my perceptions, misunderstandings, and stereotyped thoughts are so much clearer. It is fascinating how people from other countries view America as well. It was definitely an eye opener. Many people have told me that I'm not a "stereotypical American"... I think that is a good thing! Not just my friends but my professors as well are not shy to bash our former president George Bush. For some reason everyone has a lot of jokes about him and what he had done during the presidency (who knew?). :) Nevertheless, I already feel much more cultured and well rounded. I think that it is really important for people to in general spend more time trying to understand cultures instead of disregarding them.

Anywhoo, every Tuesday night some of my friends have movie nights and we just chill and watch various movies. My friend Emily and I also got the opportunity to take a poll dancing class just for the heck of it. It actually grew quite straining. It was a hilarious experience though! After we finished, Emily and I agreed that we grew a little more respect for poll dancers in general... hahah, however, won't ever try that one again :)
I've been spending some time looking up more trips to take on weekends as well as Spring Break and such. I think I will be going to Sydney, New Zealand, and possibly the outback or Fiji. Everything is quite expensive here so I definitely have to be a bit more money conscious! I may look for a job as well since I have a lot of spare time.
Partying around here never really gets boring. I do get exhausted after several nights of partying in a row, but often times than not, my friends drag me out anyways. It's always a good time though. I'm not used to this crazieness all the time, but it's all good. Speaking of craziness, my birthday (THE BIG 21) is just about a week away, so I am definitely looking forward to a fun-filled day. I think my friends and I are going to see the musical "Mama Mia", go out for dinner, go to karaoke, and then clubbing. I'm super excited for my 21st birthday. Supposedly, my Aussie friend told me that 21 is bigger in Australia than it is in the states, who knew. We actually just celebrated my friend Alisha's 21st the other day. There was live music at this particular bar. We danced and enjoyed the night.  

Now that 5 weeks have gone by, I've grown a little homesick. I definitely love it here and I would never leave, but at times I definitely miss my friends and family from home. It's nice having friends here, but I do really enjoy skyping with family and friends to get a taste of what is happening at home as well. I never thought I'd be that homesick, but acclimating to a totally new environment is a bit difficult at times.

Other than that, not much more is happening. I think I will update my blog every other week now since things have become quite routine.

Next time I post I will be 21, so until then ,mates!!! :)