Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Back from Outer Space!

I'm back in good ol' cali! My home sweet home. ah *sigh* its good to be home ^^

After my last final, which I tried to finish as soon I got it, I packed my bags, cleaned up my room, (threw away tons of stuff that would make my luggage overweight....) and headed to the airport to cairns with sean!

we took murrays bus, a 3 hour ride to sydney from canberra, (only 15 bucks, hella cheap) and flew from sydney to canberra, another 3ish hours. immediately even before we landed, cairns looked like a tropical paradise =D lush green mountains, water, humid and wet with tons of palm trees lol, ah ^^ perfect for vacation esp right after a final. we checked in to a hostel complete with a small lagoon-ish pool, hammocks and overhead fans in every room. it was pretty hard to fall asleep at night lol it was so hot even tho it's technically winter in australia! that's cause cairns in pretty far north, which brings us real close to the equator, hence its tropical rain forests and warm waters all year round.

the city is kinda dead at night, well at least compared to sydney or something but i guess it wont be fair to compare. they do have a night market but we just strolled along the esplanade- a promenade along the water edge, hehe pretty romantic, "summer"'s balmy air and everyone wearing flip flops and shorts and the sea melts into complete black in the horizon. (it was kinda scary tho lol seemed like the world just ended right there) oh when ur walking down the esplanade, one side is the ocean, and the other is a huge public pool, they call it a lagoon, so seriously, the pool is right there up against the beach!

the only bad thing was that i kept getting lots of nosebleeds every day (i tallied it up and the total number was 9 nosebleeds in 5 days XD yikes!) in my family, im pretty known getting nosebleeds alot but it sure freaked sean out alot!

we only spent really a few days in cairns and i wish we could stay longer, mostly to snorkel some more ^^ the second day, we joined a tour group to visit milla milla falls and other sights south of cairns- mostly lots of waterfalls and rainforests lol. it was alot of fun cause our tour guide was a funny man and kept us entertained and informed at the same time. everyone on the tour were like us in their 20's and traveling around. we went to 2 crater lakes, of which one, most everyone jumped in for a swim (i didnt go in but everyone said the water was really cold! lol) and we also trekked through some rainforest. it was really nice and cool in there under the shade ^^ but like 90% of the stuff in there is poisonous XD. then we went to see a gigantic fig tree randomly in the rain forest. basically it towers over overthing else lol and the root system is all u see. its kinda cool finally we went to a series of waterfalls- one is the famous milla milla falls-apparently the most photographed waterfalls in australia, some of us on the tour group went in for a swim again. i didnt but sean did and he said it was completely freezing! lol then we went to a national park and visited some more extremely picturesque waterfalls and a deep gorge which leads to god knows what. we threw a rock down it, it had water with green algae at the bottom and it took 6 seconds for the rock to hit bottom, once it had, it made a hole in the algae and seconds later, the hole would be refilled with algae! crazy! to get to the park, we went up a road that had more than 200+ turns in it. lol needless to say, if you get carsick, im pretty sure you would throw up if u drove on this windy road...

the next day we reported at the pier, bright and early at 8am to check in at the boat to go snorkeling! we drive out 60km out from land, it takes about an hour and a half to get to the site. along the way, we get instructed on what to do, safety stuff and all that. of course the divers get more training and info. the ppl on the ship were pretty nice too and were very helpful. oh and they also give u lunch, cold meat and cold salads, very refreshing after a day swimming in the ocean. a word of advice tho, take their sea sick tablets. its only $1 insurance. sean got preeetty seasick and snorkeling made it worse. so yea. just to be cautious and not jeopardize your day of amazing sightseeing swimming amongst some incredible stuff.

we all got wetsuits, snorkel masks and flippers and me and sean rented waterproof camera and got prescription masks. they took us to two different places out on the reef and gave u more than an hour to swim at ur leisure. it was reeeeallly amazing the first time you see the coral reef. it's so up close and intricate and the water is totally clear- u can see all the way to the bottom- and its a long way to the white sandy bottom. you see all the fish swimming about and eating at the coral- i saw nemo and even a sea turtle! i was so stoked!! lol we had guides in the water to point us in the right direction and tell us if they sighted anything interesting. they even have hand signals to signify shark, nemo, etc fishes. and no there werent any jellyfish around and i heard there was some small sharks but i didnt see them. it was really nice ah...crystal clear water, clear blue skies and the beautiful reef right below you stretching in all directions and fish, large, small and colourful darting about. i absolutely loved it. everyone should have this experience. it's really breathtaking!

it was also exhausting lol esp if u wander off too far. ud be surprised when u finally lift your head up out of the water and find yourself waaay far from your boat! i know that everyone does diving but i have my own personal problems lol but id encourage ppl to go diving! you only really see 10% if u go snorkeling. it's still an amazing 10% that i saw!! you definately wont be dissapointed. it's like swimming in a huge aquarium, cept it's actually really the pacific ocean lol.

the last night in australia, or rather, in a real city we splurged and ate some quality australian steak, also had australian game platter haha- kangarroo, crocodile, emu and barramundi fillet. and we randomly had some czech beer to wash everything down. for dessert, we had pavlova and gelato.

the next day we flew back to sydney and then on to sfo. we spent the night at an airport hotel cause our flights were a good 15 hours apart. our flight back, i sat at the exit row. lol and i had a blast there. i had a priest and a lady, both from sydney sitting in my row. facing us there were also seats for 2 flight attendants and they kept us laughing with good conversation. so, all in all, it wasnt a bad trip back. oh and as we left, we flew right over the sydney opera house and bridge! even the lady next to me was amazed, she'd never seen the sight from up in the plane before!

i had a great time overall studying abroad, especially the traveling bit lol. i have tons of memories and sorry cheriz, i didnt party like an animal cause u kno im not like that but i had lots of fun and ill definitely be going back.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Last Day of School!

Today was my last day of instruction! Now for 2 final projects due BEFORE final week....and then finals...-_-

The fruits of my (and my group's) labour: for my Language Planning and Language Policy class. (hopefully it's not locked to private setting) I must admit, it was a really interesting assignment and I enjoyed doing it. It's also worth 40% of the course mark.....we had to do a case study of a country and my group got Vanuatu.

Oh and I also got 68% (which is 2% away from a "D" - D for Distinction!, which is like a A- or something) on my Language in Indigenous Australia essay (worth 30%). That was also really interesting because I chose a cool topic: numbers and counting terminology in Aboriginal languages. It was like 10 pages long. They like it long here >.<

I learnt sooo much here from my classes- about the sociopolitical side of linguistics, about a tiny island country called Vanuatu that I've never even heard of before, about the structure of conversation, about all sorts of topics on Aboriginal languages and some Asian languages (that was in the intensive course) I think got a lot better at researching for essays too and writing them in terms of technicalities.

But if I were given the chance to do it all over again, I would definately do things differently. I would put myself out there more and join student groups and clubs. I would try my luck at getting a research assistant position for a semester, like the studentships here. I would also start those essays earlier lol.

I'm kinda scared thinking about my finals. Basically I have to answer two questions and that is worth 30% or more of my total mark for a single course. TWOO!??? questions?! c'mon!! that's putting ALOT of weight on just a couple of free response answers......*terrified*

well, at least after i turn in my last final, me and sean will be traveling again for a few days before heading back home. we're going to cairns. Basically, that's headquarters for the great barrier reef! i'm so excited!! finally i'll get to snorkel!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Update since easter break!

It's been a long time since i last posted, yes. i'm sorry. but my computer was broken even before i went traveling to new zealand. i had to get a new hard drive installed and it cost me $AU245, which includes service fee and the actual new 160GB hard drive. not bad, right? the geek squad at best buy charges more (in US currency at least).

so what have i been doing since vacation? bascially its been really busy. really really busy. between last week and then, i had5 assignments due, 3 of them were essays, of which 2 were 10 or more pages. yikes! yes, yes, thats how it works at universitites here in australia. they enslave you to your microsoft word =( i've still got 2 more projects due and im not even counting final exams!! XD i work so hard here, it doesnt feel like a vacation...

the good thing, at least is that the content of my essays are interesting because the classes im taking are particularily interesting. i mean, youd never find a sociolinguistic or political linguisitic class at berkeley. its so much more old school topics at cal, the basic 4: phonetics, phonology, semantics and pragmatics. you never get beyond those. it gets pretty boring. i was talking to my language planning and langauge politics professor (who likes to single me out because she's from socal and im from norcal) who commented on that, she said the lingusitcs dean here is concerned that the classes offered here covers too wide a spectrum. but its because of this that i chose this uni! the breadth of classes offered! actually interesting ones unlike the ones at cal!

its definitely fall in canberra. the walk down to union court from my dorm is lined with autumn trees and its heartstopping beautiful for a brief couple of weeks when the trees stretching down the walkway is golden yellow, yellow as youve never seen (maybe cept new england haha) and the leaves falling down are like glitter in the breeze. its truly amazing. i like to walk down the centre between the rows of trees to crunch underneath its gold leaves and to surround myself in yellow =] the leaves fall like snow, and they fall so thickly on the ground. you can even make leaf angels, but sean wouldnt let me. boooo =p here's a picture, but it cannot capture the feeling:

they have free comic book day in australia! i didnt know this was an international event! but unfortunately, we missed it. we totally forgot!! ahhh!! but its ok, next year i guess. but i wonder if the free stuff they give out is different...

according to other ppl who dont live at bruce hall, apparently we have the best dorm food, which is utterly laughable because i cannot stand the food here. i mean, id would much MUCH rather take crossroads over bruce food. that, my friends, is how bad it is here. i guess bruce lives up to the sterotypical cafeteria food. because the food is so bad, i fill myself up with fruit. i eat so much fruit here compared to at my apartment. youd think im eating healthier but since i dont eat the bruce everyday (thank god, theres places to eat on campus) i eat ramen instead haha and theres some pretty interesting types of ramen they sell at the asian supermarket....

the upcoming week is the last week of instruction. how time flies... ive got finals exams spread out almost 2 weeks apart so ill be exploring canberra a bit- i havent been to the national library or the war memorial. they're both on the other side of the lake. speaking of which, i finally went down to the lake. you can rent bikes and ride around the perimeter, you can rent canoes and even those boats that you power by paddling with your feet. when we got there, there were these two black swans. sean is wearing his bruce hall shirt hehe, ive got one too =)

sean has his finals during those two weeks when i got nothing so i cant travel then, i wish i could though. but we want to go to the great barrier reef after all our finals end. thats still a maybe, im still planning for that now that ive got the time.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Easter Break Travels - Auckland

Day 1
well day 1 i suppose was spent traveling from melbourne to auckland, which is detailed in the following post. so here comes day 2 instead:
Day 2
one of the first things we did once we got there was to go the the nearest internet cafe, korean owned of course. seriously, the homepage was korean, all the writing was in korean. google results were in korean! omg... XD we stayed there for a good long time trying to plan out what the heck we wanted to do in auckland. it got really stressful cause it was activity overload. there was so much you could do and we only had a limited amount of time to do it. well, we gave up after a bit and decided to go to the tourist centre to ask for help later. we walked down queen st to downtown and ate lunch. oh we noticed that in new zealand, burgers kings are no longer hungry jack's like it is in australia. they're named burger king again. anyway, we went to that tourist centre where they helped us out immensly. they did everything for us. omg such a relief to have someone else do it for you. like travel agent, but free! yay! we knew that today was the only day that week that was sunny so we decided to do kayaking last minute right then. they got us booked a kayak trip on waiheke island and thats where we headed next. we bought lunch and ate it on the ferry ride to waiheke island, a good 50 min ride out. the kayak rental place was convienently located next to the ferry terminal and we got taught how to kayak. >.<; it was a gorgeous day to seakayak in open water! refreshing and sunny, with green waters under us. a breeze sometimes and if we went out far enough, there would be waves toying our little kayak around. ok, that part was scary. we stayed mostly to the coast haha. oh while trying to land the first time, sean dropped his camera into the saltwater. died. we did have trouble getting back into the kayak after we landed on a black sandy beach. it was really scary!! we kept getting washed back ashore, the waves were hard and the litle inlet we got ourselves in was dotted with rocks in and sticking out of the water. we paddled hard, wanting to get the hell out of there. our pants got wet heh. we werent expecting to go kayaking and i only had my jeans. (no other clothes wahh..!! my clothes were lost in the bag i forget to get from the bus!) and that is why you wear waterproof shorts wen u go kayaking. we paddled around the island a bit, it didnt seem like 2 hours had past, but it goes by quickly and your muscles tell you to stop. our arms were crusty with white sand but it was actually the saltwater that dried. we dragged ourselves out and ate at the ferry foodcourt, wet pants and all. lol and ferried back to mainland, showered and changed immediately once we got back to the hostel. it was getting dark too. we went back to the korean internet cafe and booked a tour online, staying there at the cafe until 1am XD

Day 3
we got up at 7;30a and ate breakfast, bread and nutella we got from a convienence store nearby. yum. we walked to the coach terminal 15 min away to go to matamata! thats where the LOTR's set of the shire was filmed! it took 3.5 hours to get there....yea...long way out... we went on the hobbiton tourand drove from town into a farm to see the shire! it was really cool to see all the hobbit houses. well not all. while driving there, the lady told us the history of the farm, and how peter jackson found the place and molded it, and how much effort he put into the place and everything. yes, i am being vague. but it was really cool. paramount studios has very strict guidelines on what we, tourists and everyone else can and cannot do on the premises. the set was suppsed to be temporary and after filming, it was supposed to be all torn down but because of some reason or another, it was saved. only 17 of the 30 or so hobbit houses are still there today. most everything else is gone, like the bridge and the mill and the tree above bags end. but the party tree is there- that is part of the farm and hey, bag's end is still there, theres even a small room built in where we went inside. it has suprisingly high ceilings for such a dinkly front door. there were colored stakes everywhere where certain events happened in the movie, like where gandolf came down the road with his wagon, where mat or perrin said this was the farthest he's been from the shire, where bilbo stood at the tree, the window where gandolf pulled matt/perrin in from outside the house, etc etc etc. tons of this stuff. no wonder the tour went on so long! the only thing was that the swamp is no longer there, and the pretty gardens are gone. the lake is there, its part of the farm like the tree. actually, those two things and the rolling hills there were why peter jackson decided to chose this place for the shire. perfect location. the perfect tree along the perfect lake with the perfect green hills. hehe we took lots of pictures. the guide told us that fans of LOTR actually would dress up as hobbits and have a party, complete with music right in front of the party tree. ppl would cos-play and reenact scenes! crazy... we didnt have those fans on our tour haha, tho it woulda been cool. darn! shoulda brought my hobbit clothes! jk jk! after the shire, we went to the nearby sheep shearing farm to see a little lamb sheared right in front of our eyes...the poor thing. then i got myself a milk bottle and hungry lambs got turned loose right in the barn. i was just holding the bottle of milk and a lamb almost ran into me to suckle the bottle. so hungry and so eager. the tour had only say, 15 people and 3 bottles of milk between us. all of a sudden, people were crowded around me, cameras in my face with the lamb nursing the bottle i was holding. the lambs were so cute! there was another one that finished early and was just walking around the barn. he was so soft! hehe so we went back to town and ate a late lunch. the coachbus to go back to auckland was late and it was getting dark. it was a long drive back to auckland and we ate dinner (korean). we went to the cafe again to look at other places we could go.

Day 4
today was cloudy and we just walked around downtown auckland. we window shopped for clothes and got some souvenirs. sean got his camera fixed. we ate lunch at a food court where they had yum cha. finally got my yum cha. it was not bad acutally. oh and there was boba too! quickly's acutally. i didnt know it was international. i was pretty happy. yum cha AND boba?! yes! we went to a internet cafe again, then went back and watched tv, then slept. we basically just chilled.

Day 5

we woke up later today and heard the rain and wind outside the window. gloomy and wet day =( we tried to contact airbus to get my bag back and they said it was found, but at the airport. a relief off of my mind, though still. since there wasnt much we could do about it, we went to a thermal spring. haha. logical right? =p we took the bus to parakai springs. i wanted to go to another one but this place was cheap. since i didnt have my swimsuit, i had to buy one. i randomly bought one at a nearby opshop(opportunity shop, like salvation army or goodwill but hipper). i was so rushing, got it 15 min before the bus came. haha it was sooo cheap at $6.50 for a top! we took the 1.5 hour bus ride there and the springs was more of a local swimming spot. they had an indoor and outdoor pool where many families were gathered. the really cool thing was they had a giant slide (!!), like one of those you see at waterworld! the only thing was that the water was all hot. even the slides! we got a private spa aka a jacuzzi, also filled with hot thermal water. i got dizzy after a while. but it was really nice to soak in there. so warm....=] and bubbly =) the place definately wasnt a resort, nothing fancy at all. next time, ill treat myself to one of those. we took the bus back and at dinner at a chinese noddle place off of queens. it was soo good cause it almost tasted homemade, like something my mom would cook up. the lady who billed me even spoke to me in canto. do you know how long its been since ive spoken canto?! ah... =] back at the hostel, we did laundry and packed for tomorrow.

Day 6
we woke up early again and got on the 8:30 bus to wellsford. it was 1.5 hour ride and on the next leg, a lady from parakai beach picked us up to go horseback riding! it took a while to get there, a long and windy road that passed though wide open green pastures with sheep grazing, so much sheep. sooo much sheep. seriously. so picturesque and new zealand hehe. =) we went horse riding on the beach for 2 hours wandering into the sand dunes with native wildlife and bushes. my butt and thighs hurt like hell. omg...i dont know how ppl horseback ride all day! it was a cold and windy day, even more so at the beach. but it was nice still. my 1st time riding on a horse and i was nervous but the guide was friendly and helped me out. the owner's dogs followed us out on our ride. after the 2 painful hours, we got off the horse on very shaky and legs. hurt to sit! we ate lunch there and discovered the farm a bit more. there was a little cat that we played with. oh and they have so many horses there! the same lady drove us back to town, we fell asleep in the car, so sore and tired. we walked a bit around town, as the ppl at the horse farm told us to walk it off to feel better while waiting for our coachbus to take us back. at the hostel, we rang up airbus as someone called about the bag but the work day was over so i would have to wait until the next day. well, we didnt have that long cause our flight leaves at 5;30am. we quickly packed and ate dinner (korean) and took one of the last airbuses to the airport. we got in contact with airbus lost and found again and the guy said he found out a way for me to get my bag. we waited for a park n' ride bus which came around every 15 min all night to bring my bag to me. and i got it back! omg...a week without my clothes and toiltries and i survived (living off sean's stuff)!! now i know that i really can pack light. i didnt need all that stuff that was in my bag all this time! ha...

Day 7
we hung around the airport all night and checked in at 3am for our flight back to sydney, then transfering to canberra. i didn't sleep for 24 hours it seems. oh! oh! the plane ride back was interesting. i felt like we were on the wrong plane cause it was full of south americans. everything was in spanish. the pilot was spanish, all the attendents. the ppl who sat around me, the movies. (well, i set everything to english so i could understand) but the plane actually took us to sydney, and not brazil or something. lol thank god. the explanation: the plane was an affilate of qantas and mostly did flights to and from south america. i think this plane was stopping in new zealand from south america to australia. i watched how to lose a guy in 10 days but didnt have enough time to finish. we arrived in sydney airport which was now familiar to us. we transfered to a domestic flight but didnt make it in time to catch it. there were so many ppl like us that had to transfer and it took too long getting our bags, going thru custons to make it on the plane to canberra. but we took the next one out. it was a really small plane, we had to go on the tarmac and go up steps to get to the plane, didnt use the long hallway that connects you directly into the plane. ppl on the plane were all business suited up, probably politicians, or something ahah since we were going to canberra. we took the taxi back to bruce and i finally fell asleep, having not slept for 24 hours. phew long long day. but id go back to new zealand anytime. that dang island has waay too much stuff packed in there for tourist to do. you can spend half a year traveling around. hmm maybe i should do that... =p

Friday, April 24, 2009

Easter Break Travels - Melbourne

I just came back from traveling a couple of days ago. My laptop broke and the stupid comps at school wont upload pics onto facebook. (we took alot of pics too) but i can still describe it in words here until we get that fixed =) we went to melbourne for 5 days then to new zealand, auckland for 7.

Day 1
me and sean left canberra early saturday morning and took a taxi to the airport. we got there at 7:30a and the place was completely empty. even our cab driver said it was strange how there were no other cars around. our plane to melbourne was delayed for an hour though. the really cool thing was that they(tiger airways) barely checked our bags, maybe not very legit as the plane ticket was so damn cheap. we had to actually walk down the tarmac to the plane and climb up steep stairs to get inside. have you ever had to do that? i mean, we didn't even had a gate! you just go outside and climb up the plane yourself! and then wen we landed, we didnt even go inside the airport! it was so shady haha it was just a 3 walled room and then a fenced gate where you collected your luggage and off you go. just go out the fenced gate and its the parking lot. we took the skybus shuttle to downtown and from there, got transfered to another shuttle that took us directly to our hostel, victoria hall. the skybus system was beautifully efficient and convienent. the city sure knows how to accomodate travelers. no taxi needed. wonderful. so we checked into our hostel. it was really clean and was newly renovated, walls painted with fun, bright colours. the rooms were nice too, although the people that you share with will make or break the experience. the ppl sean had in his room were rude and inconsiderate but my room had quiet people who minded their own business. everyone got their own little closet.actually, big enough to put a suitcase in, and then some. after we put down our stuff, we walked downtown and found the nearest hungry jack's lol. yes, yes. the tummy dictates us all haha =p oh and our hostel was right across the street from the city gaol (pronounced JAIL...XDD). they even have night tours....spooky... also if this is of interest, the infamous ned kelly was sentenced and hanged there. right across the street from us a hundred years ago. XD aaaanyway... we walked around the city a bit for the rest of the day- chinatown was the closest to us. we walked around Queen Victoria Market for the 1st time. thats where they sell lots of fresh fruit and veggies along with meat, and clothes, shoes, souvenirs, your basic flea market sorta. it was really really crowded! downtown was really crowded too! i think even more crowded than sydney! later we were told that melbourne has wider streets than sydney because it was made for horse carridges, and not just a temporary settlement. but yea,even at night, the streets were so busy. i wish canberra was like that. we ate at a restaurant at a chinatown arcade and went back to the hostel. then we walked around some more, passing through more night life and eventually making our way to the skydeck. it was real pretty up there, seeing the night skyline. there were even fireworks near the 2 stadiums and a little fire show along the harbour. very nice and peaceful.

Day 2
we woke up at 8:30 and ate a sad breakfast of canned sardines (they were good! and cheap!), crackers and museli bars (granola bars). we walked the rest of queen victoria market, that place is huge! we got there early so alot of the vendors were still setting up shop but as we walked along, the place got more and more crowded again, although less people than the day before. probably because it was easter sunday. we ate lunch at the foodcourt there and took the city tour bus (especially made for tourists, the city is very thoughful) that went around the city, the harbour docks, the botanical garden and domain. the bus was really crowded and i sat next to an old shanghainese lady who talked to me in mandarin, making conversation. omg my mandarin is sooo bad now, but i could still talk to her somehow heh. we jumped off the bus at federation square where there was a street performer surrounded by lots of people. we was just juggling fire and such atop a pole he was clinging onto held straight by a few ppl from the crowd. after he was done, we went to the tourist centre and waited a long ass time to book a tour for later in the week, the penguin parade tour. i found the cheapest one at just under $100 per person. we walked back to the hostel from there stopping by the melbourne library, which was gorgeous. id say it can compete with doe library although this library wasnt as big. the central room had high high ceilings with old desks arranged like rays of the sun from a centre dais. really magnificent. oh free internet. sean was getting regretful that he didnt bring his laptop. in the side rooms, we played a game of chess there haha. sean won -_- then the library was closing so we went back to the hostel to drop off things and went to eat at lygon street with the concentration of italian restaurants. really though, one side of the street were the italian restaurants and the other side were the chinese, japanese, malay, korean haha. they lied when they said it was all italian! but we ate at an italian one that sean chose cause the restaurant had the same name as him. it was a really bad place, dont go there. we ate at those outdoor tables along the sidewalk, but we sat right next to a table of blokes smoking all the while. not pleasant. oh and they dont let you byo unless it's wine. booo. right next to lygon street was the museum and imaxx theatre but all was closed so we walked back to the hostel and we turned in for the night? nope, the cool thing about our hostel is that they had their own little theatre room, huge screen and plush seats. hehe we watched autumn rush and we drank some skyblue too =)

Day 3
sean didnt wake up and i was mad at him cause he didnt set his alarm. he didnt get much sleep that night cause of the bad ppl in his room drunk and talking loudly. today we went shopping on famous collins and burke street! actually i couldnt find anything to buy so it was really only window shopping. but thats ok, everything was really expensive, all retail stores. we stopped by the block arcade and royal arcade too. then we ate at that same chinese restaurant cause sean really liked their chili sauce. haha. it was a pretty popular restaurant, it was crowded to capacity at every moment. we finished off window shopping and went to imaxx hoping to see watchmen. unfortunately, it wouldnt be showing the days we were free so we watched alien vs monsters instead. in 3-D!! alriiight. hehe then we went back to the hostel haha feeling a little nauseous. the screen was really big O.O 3rd largest in the world or something. then we had dinner at a japanese restaurant where we had our first taste of hot sake. haha and sean burned his tongue a bit. yea, i definately like it more than beer. very fragrant and doesnt burn alot. only if its hot tho, wen it cools down, it tastes bad. along the street, especially around chinatown, theres a few aracade game places, you know, the racing cars and shooting people and ddr. we went there cause sean is always pulled by it and played a few games. each game cost $2 to play! so expensive!!

Day 4
we woke up even earlier this day and went to victoria market, which was very close to our hostel, we realized. we got some fresh fruit. yumyum. it was also the last chance to buy stuff. i got a heat pack, and a dress. haha, of course a dress. im still a sucker for that. sean was sad that he couldnt get anything, but it's true that things there were cheap quality. we went back to the hostel where the phillip island tour was picking us up. we were the first ones to get picked up and the bus dropped us off the tour office where we waited for a few more people to join us. total, there were 22 people on the tour plus a little kid. not bad. i still have nightmares about the huge tourgroup to the east coast. (just kidding, phil.) we drove to moonlit sanctuary where dingos, a koala, and many wallabies run free in the wild! just kidding. but there was a little forest trail where wallabies were hiding. we tried to coax them out but only had a little luck. oh the tour guide, bernie, even had an emu pecking/eating out of his hand! scary bird. we had a short lunch there, then off to a winery! yeah! i picked this tour out of all the other ones cause this one had the wine tasting hehe. mmm and the wine was good. i could sorta taste the difference between the different wines now, red and white. we even had some fortified wine. and now me and sean are looking everywhere for our favorite: white port. grrrr and we still cant find anywhere that sells it! after this, we finally headed down onto the island where we stopped at wiamia(?) beach. it was nice to see the beach again, sunny and sparkly in all its glory. very windy too, the sun was about to be setting soon then. we headed to nookie island, all the way on the western side where we walked along the rugged cliffs, with platforms for the tourists and the sun really was setting now. quite beautiful: water, clouds and sun. and still very windy. finally we drove to the penguin parade site. the bleachers were all full by then and they wouldnt let us even crouch on the remaining ledges (it was wet) so it was either sit there, getting your butt wet or sitting on the sand, closer to the beach, and still getting your bum wet. we sat on the sand, the closest you can get to the penguins and a nice lady gave us a large brochure (waterproof) for us to sit on. everyone waited for the sky to get darker, the floodlits came on and aftera while, the penguins popped out of the surf! ....and dove right back in! then in little groups, they would waddle up to the sand, and all of a sudden, they would race back into the water! a few minutes later, they would come up again and do it all over again haha. they're not very brave, are they? but so cute!! and so small! we watched this little show until they got brave enought to venture all the way onto the sand, leaving the waters behind and into the bushes, past the bleachers to find their home. there are the smallest penguins in the world, just over a foot tall. very very small and adorable. after a while, the crowd got bored and started to leave (it was pretty cold out there) but you could still see the penguins waddling up the beach and up to their burrow. and if you turned your attention away from the penguins to look up into the sky, you would be breathless. the sky was full of stars, concentrated into a milky white band stretching across the sky. i wasnt the only one walking and bumping into people, face up looking at the sky. so, while i was oogling at the starts, sean steered me throught the crowd haha to go back to warmth and food. it was amazing to finally see the milky way. no light pollution and the sky so dark, with so many sparkling white diamonds there in the milky way, so many you couldnt count. *sigh* =] we were also very hungry, not eating much since we left, our fruit hoard was long gone. we left the island at 9pm and ate at the pizza place. i scarfed down like 5 slices. by the time we got back to melbourne, it was 10:30p and time to turn in for the night, bringing back 2 little stuffed penguin plushies, gifts courtesy of the tour. i definately recommend this tour.

Day 5
we ventured into an asian supermarket to get asian snacks and green tea. it was like $2 for 2 litres! super ridiculously cheap!! oh and we went into the victoria library this time for the exhibit about books. (sean finally gave in and let me go see it. hey, i was excited, the geek i am.) then we went back to the hostel to take a nap, or at least sean did. he moved into my room cause his roommates were so bad. at night, we went out to dinner at a pho place. i was missing my pho. back at the hostel, we chilled and watched 2 movies from the hostel theatre room. we watched sweeny todd, which wasnt as scary the 2nd time you watch it, and we watched the illusionist, which was scary, at least for me. after those two movies, we went to back well past midnight

Day 6
we had to wake up early the next day to check out and take the shuttle bus to the airpot. it was a 3.5 hour planeride to auckland with a really fat guy sitting next to me. you know, one of those people who can just barely fit into their seat. yea. XD but it was a pleasant ride. qantas airlines is really good! they kept us hydrated with popsicles and good food. i mean, what airlines hands out popsicles?!! very nice touch. compared to qantas, united airlines sucks. mostly cause they dont have your own screen to watch movies. qantas does! i bet almost every airlines has it, cept united. i dont want to think about the flight back to sfo with united. *shiver* now that i have experienced qantas. so anyway, we took the airbus shuttle from the airport once we landed which took us near our hostel. and just like that, 2 minutes after we got off, we realized i forgot to take my luggage off the bus. we decided to pursue the matter later, cause we were starving and discovered that the neighborhood our hostel was in was smack in the middle of korean town or something. the restaurants that lined the street was; korean, korean, chinese/korean, korean, korean, korean, japanese/korean, korean. yea...the hostel manager was even korean! and very nice lady too, who advised us how to best track down my duffel bag, with all my clothes and toiletries!! i tried to phone the bus company but my phone eventually died, saying i had no credit left. bullshit. this is what ive learned: vodaphone au =/= vodaphone nz. your vodaphone credit in oz doesnt work in nz, nor does any credit you buy in nz work toward your phone if your sim card is australian. so DO NOT buy vodaphone vouchers in nz. they do not work. i have $40 of vodaphone nz credit if anyone wants it. T.T sigh. well at least our room at the hostel, (called BK hostel) was ok. until at night...... we got a room that overlooked the main street, where the clubs rock their music till late at night. ugh. we walked down the street later the next few days and found that we were in the middle of nightclubs, stripping joints and sex toy shops galore. wonderful. lol the good thing was that we were pretty tired at the end of the day to notice too much the noise at night. oh and our room was the only in the hostel to have our own TV! yes! ...with only 2 channels. >.<;

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pictures galore!

yayy so finally pics? =D yes. that's right. i havent been updating with pictures, but here they are, when i am procrastinating my hw! no haha.. ive been having trouble getting stable internet. ugh its so slow here!! its driving me crazy!!

Earth Hour 2009: Chiefly field on campus, not very exciting, mostly just sausage feast (ie free BBQ hehe, can u see the line on the far left?) and entertainment for 3 hours >.<

Sean's Bio Fieldtrips: He went to Jervis Bay, with its absolutely gorgeous beaches and a huge ass national park that apparently took 3 hours of walking to walk thru in order to actually get to the beach. then there was Kiolia, somewhere along the bay, not as famous as Jervis Bay's beaches. but still pretty darn nice. His last fieldtrip is this w eekend (right now) at the Snowy mountains. The 2nd to last pic is a blue squid ( i think.) he was stepping on them and they made popping noises, he said.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


omg my convo analysis prof always uses that. noticings. "lets have a look at the noticings" XD they also use 'have a think' alot alot... i snicker inside everytime they say that.

another thing that was quite curious were arcades. there were big arcades in sydney, and a small one here in canberra. i was like ooooOoOo an arcade! but i didnt really see any flashy games or loud arcade-y sounds. rather, here, they are just an open air mall, sorta. dang it!! they even have big letters at the entrace: ARCADE. suckered me in....XD

oh yea, and since im in an ex-british land, they say cheers alot. i'm not really sure what it means but you can use it in alot of situations. i looked it up and i guess that helped. but seriously, wen i come back to the states, i should just say cheers every other sentence hahaha.

actually, ive never heard anyone say g'day. ppl say 'how ya goin' alot more. so much for that so called overused aussie expression.

last one:
sms=texting. isnt that more syllables? lol i think its just US that says texting. if you say 'sms me' or something. us americans'll go huh??

i almost get run over cause i still dont know which way to look first when i cross the road and if you look wrong, and start to cross and a car is coming, you'll most likely be hit cause drivers arent lawfully bidden to yield to pesky pedestrians. so much for being courteous on the road. i jaywalk so much and i take it for granted that they'll slow down for me. but NOOOO they don't!! ive got to be more careful aiya...

okies, imma put up pics later. sean went on another bio fieldtrip to the beach, darn him. he even saw the stars at night, the milky way and everything!!*cries*

Saturday, March 14, 2009


i just finished my 1,000 word essay that is due tomorrow morning and i just started this morning ha! actually its like barely 900 words cause they give you 10% leeway- min of 900, max of 1100 words. but omg writing essays here in australia is really hard! its such a high level of expectation. i spent all day doing this essay which would have been so easy to do back home. the deathkill here is they ask for referencing. usually i just write and blab haha, then again, linguistics dont really make you write essays much. good thing this wasnt like an english essay where you need a thesis. this "essay" was just answering a question that was answered in lecture, if you were paying attention so i was like shoot! how will i make my answer long enough for the essay?!
they use harvard style referencing which is not what im used to. they also dont indent paragraphs- you start skip a line to start the new paragraph there so it seems like your essay is really long but its not. and since they dont set the essay by how long it is, you cant do all those tricks with font and page setting like you can in the states. dang it!! but anyway, i hate referencing. it takes so much time and i had to figure out how to use the journals online. its not very good, unlike the ones cal provides. but beat. x.x time for nap.
mmm i found my new favorite drink: irish cream and coca cola mixed. SOOo good... its like root beer float, with a kick! =D

other news: oh yea, its my birthday. but no one here knows that. ppl back home know because its on fb but no one uses fb here.

wow. it is POURING outside as i type. i just got back from civic too. good thing i came back in time.

sean is on his botany fieldtrip. it sounds like he's having a good time, walking thru forest, seeing kangyroos, chilling with his classmates drinking lol. but he's there with his class to collect plant specimans. right.

what will i do? go see a movie haha. after all it is the weekends and anu film group has movies 4 days of the week =]

i think ill go drink my booze and listen to the rain. its so refreshing =D

Monday, March 9, 2009

ANU tips

those fucking bastards. libraries are just out to shit you. i got fined $80 cause apparently my books got recalled by someone and that means the old due date no longer applies. who the fuck does that? i mean, u check out a book, you get it for 3 weeks. you're happily reading them, havent finished and then a little fuck comes along and snatches it away from you just cause they can.

now the question is, should i write a pissy letter of appeal to those bastards? or should i play nice and bomb the place? no? alright, ill pay the fucking $80.

moral of story: check your snail mail everyday cause thats how satan rolls. (they alert you to recalls by the default way: mail.) fuck them.

at yu-xuan: there, you got more cursing out of me

at everyone else: yea, im mad.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Weekend Classes

This weekend was the first weekend of a 2 weekend course. we got lecture from 9a to 4p with an hour lunch break in the middle. we have hours and hours of lecture... ugh. but it only lasts a total of 4 days, since we do both saturday and sunday. oh yea and the course is called lanugage in asia, where they consolidate the undergrad and grad together into this one course. actually, its more like 4 classes put together cause the you(undergrad or grad) also have the option of doing the essay assignments in an asian language and that counts as a different course number. but its the same class. im being confusing. anyway, the lectures are really interesting. so far we talked about javanese, east-timor, singapore english, chinese writing, tagalog and its only half way over! other than that, im exhausted at the end of the day. its pretty tough, this intensive class. we also have lots of essay writing and omg im so scared at all the researching and writing that is expected of you here at this uni and generally in australia! i mean, i kno i kno, they warned us. at least i dont have to do it in another languge which would have happend if i went to a different country. tomorrow is canberra day so everyone gets a 3 day weekend! (cept i had class...) next weekend, sean is going on a fieldtrip for one of his bio classes. he's got his mosquito repellent, his tagging labels, and he's even got a hat! yay haha. actually, he'll be going on 3 different fieldtrips for each of his bio classes. that's pretty cool!! i wish i could go...! linguists. boooo. always into their data sets and never going anywhere! lol thats not true tho i wish we had fieldtrips too

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Missing out.

Dear Cal Students:

It is with great pleasure that we announce that His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama has
accepted an invitation from the UC Berkeley Blum Center for Developing Economies and
the American Himalayan Foundation to present his talk Peace Through Compassion, on
Saturday, April 25 at 2:00 p.m. in The William Randolph Hearst Greek Theatre. Doors
will open at 12 p.m.

Please visit the official website for more information about tickets and security at

Yours sincerely,

Robert J. Birgeneau

*cry cry cry* i can't make it! why does berkeley have cool events the semester im gone????

No worries

i like it here how ppl are so relaxed, laid back and happy. (and probably getting skin cancer) they just go to pubs, drink and talk....and talk and talk...>.< im not that sort of person unfortunately. it feels like slow torture if i have to put myself in that setting. im getting off course. so anyway, this is usually what happens:
A: Thank you!
B: No worries *smiles*
=D so far i havent heard anyone saying "you're welcome". actually, when people say thank you to me, im not even sure what im supposed to say. no one says you're welcome. should i say 'you're welcome'? or 'no worries'?

during eap orientation, kay warned us that we might find that something thats quite ordinary in the US, they might not have here and you'll be so perplexed as to why on earth could australia not have it? her thing was baby carrots. australia simply does not have baby carrots. they have the regular kind of long carrots youd have to peel and such. but no baby carrots. ive found my thing: there is no boba in canberra!! oh google map mocks me and says there boba places in sydney. which is 3 and a half hours away. but in my small pathetic town there is no pearl milk tea. as a result, i am dearly DEARLY misssing my boba....*cry cry* when i go to melbourne, im going straight to their chinatown and getting me some milk tea T.T

but there is one thing i am getting accustomed to. ppl here go to bed early and wake up early. makes a man healthy wealthy and wise. lol i couldnt resist putting that in. so, early as in around 10pm and early as in 7 or 8am. that's early for a berkeley college student! but its quite a refreshing change. you wake up early and the glaring afternoon sun hasnt shown its UV death rays completely and the air is nice and breezy. most of my classes are in the morning so by 2pm it feels like the day is almost over. ive done all that i needed, gone to my classes, even done some of my reading already. if this was berkeley, id probably have just eaten my first meal of the day and gotten up only a couple hours before. XD i guess because we wake up early, or actually we are forced to wake up early if you want a hot breakfast, we go to sleep early. late late for me here is midnight. i havent stayed up later than that, i usually try to be in bed by 10p. i guess the meal times here at bruce dictate my schedule. breakfast ends at 9am so i have to be up by then. lunch is at the normal noon-ish time. dinner ends at 6:30 so i have to have eaten by then and before you know it, its 9 or 10 and you go to sleep. well, theoretically, because my floor is the loudest in my wing so i cant exactly fall asleep by then. it would be wonderful if i could. i like getting my sleep. and lots of it.

that is why like any other college student, i sleep in on weekends. it doesnt matter which country im in haha

other news: im learning an aboriginal language! it sounds like they dont have teeth when you try to speak it (no fricatives that's why, very strange)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

ANU tips

If you want to get an australian bank account, use the commonwealth bank because a) theres a branch on campus right in union court and b) you can apply for an account before you're actually in australia. this beats standing in line during 0-week to set up an account because everyone else is trying to do the same thing. instead of standing in the LONG line that never moved to get a commonwealth account, i just went to the regular bank teller's window and it was alot faster. (i had applied online right before i left the US) also, its a good idea to wire money over as soon as you know the account number of the australian bank, before you leave but there are service fees on both sides - commonwealth and wells fargo charged me. the only down side is that i got the student type account and i have yet to figure out how to access my card in order to know the balance, and whether or not i get statements. (so far, i dont think so) its more convienent in the US cause you can just go online to look at a glance at your bank acccount but here, there's more obstacles in order to be able to do that. booooo!!
the only thing about the commonwealth bank is that since its right on campus, its pretty popular and so far, everytime i walk by, i see a long long line for the atm. >.< that is why i go on movie nights, which is at dusk, on my way to the movies cause there's fewer people by then and sean's with me.

also, get your school supplies, ie notebooks especially, before 0-week or as soon as possible. well.. at least that applies if you want to get the cheapest notebooks (its expensive here!), which is at big w (i got the spirax brand, which is bad only if you use pencil cause it doesnt erase well on this paper) cause wen i went back in a week, the entire aisle of shelves were empty. O.O also, im having a hard time finding folders... another thing, i brought a binder from the US but my handouts don't fit inside! that's cause the folders are perfect for 8.5 by 11 paper but ppl use A4 paper here! agh! i wish someone told me this! the binder's useless, my handouts are hanging out cause the binder's too short for it! the school newsagency, which is like the asuc store i suppose, doesn't have very many kinds of school merchandise or even very many of the ones they do stock. im surprised at how little variety they have in ANU logo-ed T-shirts (they're pretty ugly and too simple and of course, very expensive) . they don't even have ANU logo-ed folders....i need a pretty folder...=( ok ok im asking for too much. this town is too small....! freaking 300,000 people!! last thing is you can get free diary (planner) at the ASUC undergrad association and free wall month planner and highlighters at the Co-op but the highlighters get taken quickly. so grab a huge fistful -you'll need alot as the pen's ink runs out fast-its cheap, but free! =D

Monday, March 2, 2009

Iono about smaller updates...

Cuz im lazy and i find new things everyday but i dont want to post stuff up everyday... so it'll just get crammed into bigger ones whenever i feel like updating..which is right now! =)

okies so i dont have class on mondays and fridays. w00t! but in this little town, it doesnt mean its good....there's NOTHING to do here! sean still has the regular 5 day week so we cant go anywhere for the weekend. two days isnt enough. but anyway, i went to the 3 block mall on monday, just trying to figure out how to navigate the maze that is the mall. yes, my sense of direction is terrible, ok? well, of course, i got lost... but its ok cause i got everything that i needed, although i was frustrated that target didn't sell band aids or earplugs (i figured out you have to go to the chemist for that, which is like a drugstore), big w doesnt sell fans and that i could have bought everything for cheaper at the discount store or aldi's. man, aldi's has some cheap sunscreen... they sold sunscreen by the liter. can you imagine that? its like a jug of laundry detergent, and it even has a pump! oh they have really cheap booze too. haha.
its been pretty dry here stuck in the middle of bush country. my heels are cracking. anyone know good moisturizers? that i can find in australia?
its jarring how much australians are so in tune with american culture. they have a store in the mall called valley girl XD, just like forever 21 or wet seal. and i cant tell what australian music is cause they play ne-yo and britney spears just like in the US. their cinemas play the same thing the US is playing, although they release it later i think.
its also jarring how close to asia you really are. sean said something like if you take the people that go to cal and make all the asians REAL fobs, thats ANU. there's alot of asians here, more than i expected. and its weird how indonesian and japanese are the foreign language of choice. those two are the most popular langauge courses. i have never even considered indonesian being taught. just today, my ling prof asked how many ppl have studied indonesian and 3 people out of 22 there raised their hand. how many at cal have studied indonesian? is there even an indonesian course at cal?? so strange how french or italian aren't the foreign language of choice here.

tips for travel:
-you need to have loose change when you first arrive at a new country. i only had $50s and $100s. not smart. the first thing i needed was to make a call, which was like $2 or something. i know you can just buy something there to get some loose change, but ugh, its pretty annoying. the smallest bill i had was $5 which is ok, but i ended up going up to a stranger and asking to use their mobile.
-dont lose your contacts lenses. which leads to the fact that i have lost my contacts. all $200 or so, and that's american dollars. i should have put them in my carry on. i have no idea where they are, probably lost somewhere during traveling or something. i dunno if i should buy new ones here, i brought the prescription from my optometrist but that means i have to shell out money. *sigh*
-i also lost my zune cable. wtf, its like only ipods exist here. i have not seen any other kind of mp3 players since ive come here. ipods are ruling the entire world. i went into dixon's, which is like a best buy and asked someone where are the zune accessories and he gave me a look and was like, what's a zune? oh my god..... so i tried to buy it off of ebay but. UGH! you can't use your paypal account to ship to another country! the only way is to cancel your paypal account, set up a new one, where you need an australian bank account.


more translations:

foot path=sidewalk
a burger with the lot= a burger with tons of stuff in it, iono how to eat it without dripping everywhere lol. it has the tomatoes, lettuce, cheese? i think? but also an omelette, radish and pineapple. sean doesnt like the radish but the pineapple in the burger is really goooood...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Undergrad vs. Grad classes

All of my classes are shared by grad and undergrad students. the grad students take the exact same classes we undergrads take- we have the same lecturer, the same class time and room, the only difference is, it seems, they just have to read a little bit more, go to a couple more tutorials, and do a tutorial presentation. seems so easy! its like theyre just taking the honours course instead or something! i wonder do grad students are berkeley do this too? the grad program here compared to cal seems pretty different.

im looking at 5 classes this week; im enrolled in 4 so im kinda shopping and dropping =p they do that here too hehe. i decided that i want to take lang in asia, lang in indigenious australia, language planning and lanugage politics and conversation analysis. im gonna drop cross cultural communication cause ive got the feeling ill be extremely bored sitting in lecture. but the reading is very interesting so im gonna be doing the readings on my own. its pretty relevant to my other courses, especially LPLP (planning and politics) and CA (convo analysis). i just dont want to do the essays and all that stuff for the class.

ah! >.< one of the SRs...or i think SRs....he was wearing a black shirt, just came into my room telling me bruce hall gets loud during the day. it gets loud during the night too. and he told me to get a pair of earplugs, but if i cant stand it, i can switch to another room....siigh...i hope he didnt come by because of what i did last night....XD i was in bed, trying to sleep and i got really mad (i was already in a really bad mood from something else) at the people outside talking loudly, laughing so i got out of bed, screamed down the hall at them to SHUTUP! and then i slammed the door. i couldn't sleep for a good while.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Two O-Weeks in a Row! aaahh...

Me and sean arrived at our uni the day before mandatory o-day (orientation day) for international students so that we could settle in. OMG my room was incredibly dusty. good thing i brought wet wipes with me so i could wipe down everything. there was also a dead moth on the carpet in the corner, the deadbolt didn't work and my window curtains didn't close all the way. the dead moth is still there. that's right. i dont like to pick up dead things. especially ones with wings and or lots of legs. *shiverr...* the dead bolt was repaired the day after and the window curtains the same day. its all good. im living in mid ex and sean's top ex. that means i live on the middle floor of the extension wing. they abbreviate everything here. sean's room is alot hotter than mine but his floor is also quieter. everyone goes thru my floor and at night when you want to sleep, theres also lots of loud and (prolly) drunk guys gong thru my hall. its connected to the main building and the packard wing, maybe that's why. the packard wing, or as they call it here, the people's independent of packard is the self catered wing of bruce hall. so they have a kitchen and stuff to cook their own food.
i get catered, with means i get meals everyday lol. the only thing with that is that they have REALLY short hours for mealtime. and mealtimes are REALLY early. im getting used to it now that ive been here for 2 weeks now. you see, breakfast starts at 7am and ends at 9am. no brunch here, not like crossroads where its open all day almost. lunch is an hour and a half long and if you miss it, well, i guess all you can have is cereal. and they only have skim and soy milk! wth? dinner starts at guess what time? freaking 5 pm and lasts until 6:30pm. during the first weeks, it was really hard to get used to having dinner so early. the sun was still shining brightly, good thing there's lots of tables right outside the dining hall. the dining hall isn't small either. it has really high ceilings and lots of light comes thru. there's also a podium and a high table with a grand piano in there. oh and of course, lots of paintings. the high table is like the one in harry potter where all the professors sit. the three chairs in the center even have high backs! definately cool. food here is ok, i think ill get tired of it soon. their salad bar is really bad. ive taken for granted the ones at xroads and ckc. *sigh*
not only is there a resemblence in the high table in harry potter, we also have academic gowns! theyre long and black with huge sleeves, like the ones you wear at graduation. we dont wear them everyday haha, theyre for special events only. we also get a bruce hall polo shirt. everyones gets a blue one with the bruce hall crest on it. lol it looks reaaally preppy... esp if you pop the collar =p the SRs (senior residences = RA) get red ones and other ppl get black ones and there's also bruce hall jerseys, shorts, the like for athletic stuff, interwing and interhall competitions, no doubt. bruce hall has quite a number of wings, mine is the extension wing, and theres several other halls (dorms) on campus. they're all on the same street going down. i guess i live on frat slash dormitory row, if there's such an equivalent. at bruce hall, we also get free laundry. theres a big laundry room and the first time we did laundry there, all the machines had (wet, but clean) clothes in them. omg there was wet clothes everywhere! ppl! take your clothes after youre done washing them!! geez...the cool this is that its no coin operated!! oh theres a blank space where the coins WOULD go. lol its pretty weird how you just close the door and it works! =D very excited about that! we also have clotheslines here and ppl actually use clothespins(remember what those were?) and use the sun, ah glorious sun to dry their clothes. ppl are very green here. in everyroom we have a recycle bin for paper (including a rubbish bin of course), all the toilets are water efficent (half flush or full flush), the showerheads are water efficent, all the lights have stickers reminding you to turn it off when youre done, the outlets have a on/off switch, we recycle wasted food at the dining hall, its pretty neat. i mean, i see berkeley doing only SOME of these things but australia as a whole it seems are waaaaaay ahead of us. i mean, even the hotels have half/full flush toilets! the people that live on my floor, at least the ones whom ive met, are all international students hailing from germany, china, the US. oh and ONE girl from melbourne but shes chinese and speaks with practially no accent. no real australians. =( sean's floor has a healthy mix of both. iono why it turned out this way. actually the girl living down my floor is from the eap program like me! but she's such a socal girl: white, blond and obnoxious. (i dont talk to her). when i moved and had the floor meeting during my 2nd o-week, alot of ppl still hadnt arrived yet. im looking forward to the next one so i can see everyone together and get a better picture of my floor. ok, so why 2 o-weeks? the first week was for international students. the second one is for everyone else. so there were events specifically for internationals students, then ones for bruce hall people, then the general events for everyone on campus. much to do. most of it involves drinking. XD *sigh* sooo...i have to admit, i was pretty bored these past 2 weeks. What have i done then? well, i didnt not go to anything. that would be pretty sad. i went on a bus tour of canberra, did the campus tour too, did enrollment- that one lasted a good half a day, lunchtime BBQs (not very good and they dont use hot dog buns here, just a folded piece of white bread XD), went on a scavenger hunt at bruce and civic, there was "speed dating", a bush dance, market day, lawn bowling and film screenings. those were interesting lol. sean and i joined the ANU film group. we got membership and we get to watch movies screen on campus for the rest of the semester. that's how we're going to spend our evenings for this semester lol because there is no night life cept for mooseheads (the closest pub to campus). oh and we tried to get gym membership so we could go somewhere to pass the time but it was really expensive! it was $200+ what kind of student has that kind of money?!!! i think ppl really dont take advantage of cal RSF memebership. its only when you go somewhere else that you realize how ridiculously inexpensive it was at home. seriously! who would pay that much?! i really want to be fit but that's waaay too much to shell out. lol ok back to events: lawn bowling was ok, i beat sean hehe. i was the only girl who went, there weren't that many ppl total anyway, but i felt pretty excluded cause it was the bruce boys who took us and they didnt really socialize with us or help us. then market day, which is like calapolooza(sp?) was the only time i saw (so far) any sort of large number of students gathering in one spot since i came to canberra. it was exciting, it was actually crowded! the clubs they had were diverse too! there was also lots of free stuff lol. bush dance was for international students. it was a buffet dinner and then the ppl from the international office taught us to bush dance. one of them i thought put it quite nicely: we learn to bush dance when we're in 4th or 5th grade, dont do it again for 30 years. (until they have to go up front and show everyone how to do it) hahah so it wasnt a very serious dance, kinda like a hoedown or something. you switch partners and do the same things over and over, involving clapping and skipping alot. =p oh and also the bar was free so i took the opportunity and had champagne. just like wine. alcoholy. speed dating was just bruce hall. it was intense! you get only a few minutes with each person, then everyone moves down one and you chat again! it was really loud too! my voice got hoarse lol from screaming that whole time. you meet alot of ppl tho and its cool cause i see them around and i know them somewhat. makes bruce seems smaller =) the cooler thing is that everyone was wearing their academic gowns so it looked like a harry potter scene or something! keke =D
the animals here are really big! if you walk around campus, dont look down because if you do, youll get freaked out by the huge ants walking around you everywhere. its really really scary. they are huge!! and their ant hills are huge! lol what i like best are the parrots flying around. theyre really shy but really pretty in bright red and blue feathers. =D its disconcerting to see such pretty birds flying freely. you'd expect them to be someone's prized pet, locked up in a cage. there's also cuckatoos (yes really!) lots of geese and rabbits and the occasional kangaroo walking around. ( i havent seen the last one yet on campus but other ppl say they see it outside their dorm)

ok now for some more differences:
fire brigade= fire station
reading brick=reader
yea i kno those are also the british versions, here for some candy examples hehe:
timtams=yummy chocolate coated wafers
mintys= white colored taffy-ish candy. bad for you, of course
the bad thing is theres a soda and snack vending machine like 4 doors down from my room. and i use it. XD
they use longer paper than our US standard of 8.5'' by 11'' they use A4 which is longer and a little thinner. so! all my folders dont work for it! and the whole thing about driving on the left side of the road, its not only that, but theres also other stuff because of that, that i never took into account. most obvious is that the steering wheel is on the right side, which means the passenger seat is on the left! really weird! i was in a taxi in the passenger seat all the while feeling like the space in front of me is awkwardly empty.... the other thing is that doors in buses and such open on the other side of the bus. people pass each other on the other side when walking on the road or anywhere, and even escalators are on the other side. lol at the mall, i catch myself cause i would go on the escalator on the rightside but it would the down escalator, not the up one id expect it to be.
alright, thats all so far, ill try not to have so many long posts but these were catchup ones, sorry!

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Longer Rant - a week in Sydney cont'

day 4
the eap hotel accomodations include breakfast down at the hotel. the hot breakfast is buffet of beans, mushrooms, eggs, tomato, and bacon. and actually, thats bascially the same hot breakfast they have at bruce hall (my dorm). apparently australians dont do bacon eggs and sausage for breakfast. nonetheless, the beans are really good. the mushrooms too, although im a sucker for them anyway =p we were late for orientation because sean was waiting for me, but i was already eating so he didnt get to eat. silly boy. anyway, orientation was just a powerpoint lead by the eap office manager, kay harmes. she's pretty amusing, as were her slides but all the info we already know, like voltage, money, phones, the like. oh and she handed over a $50 bill to each person. that was for lunch haha. after orientation, we had murray's drive us over to circular quay. murray's is like a tour bus, like greyhound in the US. it took two murray's buses to get everyone there. we were about 70+ people. quite alot. i didnt expect that many mostly cause berkeley didnt bring overthat many. well. i guess we were a substantial amount. everyone went to get food. theres tons of places to eat around circular quay. its basically the ferry terminal. lots of activity and lots of tourists. me and sean got a seafood platter. the name was deceptive cause it was basically fish and chips. with one or two fried shrimp and a lobster leg. booooo. very unhealthy. but i was eyeing it for a few days now lol. finally got it using that $50 kay gave us! lol since there was still plenty of time before we went on the harbour ride, we walked over to the Rocks and the weekend arts market, which was right next door. the rocks is just a street lined with old pubs and touristy shops. it used to be the centre for convict life and where all the whore houses used to be. really. but now, theres little alley ways and cobbled sidestreets coming off from the main street. the arts market is an open air market at the end of rocks and it reminds me of arts and crafts street fair, like telegraph's at the end of the semester. cept it was filled with aboriginal art and other cool stuff. also, it was VERY hot. it was all under giant tents which made it seem even hotter. *sweat sweat* we walked back to circular quay where we found the eap ppl gathered in front of terminal 6. sharon block (the eap director) and her husband saw me and sean lingering at the edge of the group and had to ask us if we were part of eap. grrr that kinda offended me cause we were the only asians that hadn't integrated into the eap cliques that had already f-ing formed. plus, almost everyone was caucasian and had blond hair. what the fuck is up with that? that doesn't represent california! so i was mad that them silently. we boarded the cruise ship and i prompty forgot my bitterness. wow! it was really nice once the boat got moving! REALLY WINDY! but lol really nice to finally cool down from the heat! we went around the harbour, and even went under the gigantic harbour bridge twice. very very good angles of the opera house of course. that's where ppl get their super good touristy pics from lol. some of the ppl from our group brought some champagne? something. and even had champagne glasses, walking around and taking college spring break pics >.<; it got really sunny up on the ship deck and im sure lots of ppl got sunburned that day. the ozone layer is really harsh! we got off the ship and headed over to the front of the opera house to take a group picture. then everyone dispersed to do their own thing for the rest of the day. me and sean finished walking the Rocks and then started heading back to the hotel. slowly. lol we walked thru the royal botanic gardens and then couldn't find a way out... then we shortcutted thru The Domain, which is extension of the gardens, mostly fields of green grass and the occasional tree. the botanic gardens is huge! we didnt get to see much of it but what we did see: the rose garden, the trees, the grass, the flowers, walking along the paths with so many benches put in strategic places.... it was sooo relaxing.=) im thinking this must be like how central park is for new york. we got the mexican food at king's cross, one of the ones ben the hostel manager suggested to us. it wasn't half bad, surprisingly. we got some sky blue and went back to the hotel to eat and drink lol. we watched a movie in sean's room. it was on tv, called billy elliot. nice story. im surprised tho cause so far, australian television is very dissapointing. everyone watches the same 4 channels so theres not much variety. ok, that was an understatement. but theres really very few channels: two sports, (TWO sports!) one comdedy, one or two? news and another channel. blah. we were looking across the street watching someone else's tv thru their window and lol they were watching the same thing we were! not a big coincidence tho XD
day 5

breakfast at the hotel. by now, the novelty of the different style of breakfast had worn off. fast, i know. then it was orientation again. this time, it was the boring stuff: school and grades. also we did an activity on matching australian slang to the american translation. oh shoot! ah we did that at yesterday's orientation. too lazy to cut and paste. my bad. anyway, so this orienation was boring, but important we are here to study afterall. some ppl say study abroad is like the school's paying you to vacation. its somewhat true, depending on whether your classes are easy or not lol. mine are not boooooo. so after orientation, we walked to the australian national musuem, where i got concession (discounted) ticket cause i used my musuem pass from work! w00t! it was a cool musuem, filled with stuffed marsupials and birds and the like. there was a skeleton room which was scary, a dino exhibit, which was also scary, a birds and insects room, which was terrifying, and a mineral exhibit which was REALLY boring. while walking to chinatown, after the musuem, we stopped to eat at a hungry jack's. can you guess what the american name for this franchise is? lol the logo is almost the same too: burger king. that's right lol. and you ask for tomato sauce, which is a watered down version of ketchup. ppl charge you extra if you want it with you chips (fries). the walk to china town was tiring but that was only the start. once we entered paddy's market, i was completely overwhelmed by how big the market was. it's like an underground flea market (which means it was natually air conditionned, thank god) although the prices weren't dirt cheap, even tho the market and the stuff that was being sold closely resembled something you would see in china, chinese markets. i know, lol ive been there recently. you look down one aisle and can't see to the other end, its remarkable! and then wen we went upstairs to the clean and sparkling shopping centre, it felt like i was back in china again with their large department stores and huge shopping centres. and ppl everywhere speaking cantonese! i was so excited lol i felt back home....sorta but sean would not repeat canto phrases after me wen i try to teach him -_- we went down dixon street which is where the gates with the chinese writing are. there was dim sum houses ( which they call yum cha places, very correct, i think cause dim sum only refers to the food, while yum cha refers to the actual act of eating the dim sum while chatting and gossiping.) chinatown is right next to darling harbour and the chinese gardens. we didnt go to that cause it had just closed, but its ok, you go to china to see the real thing anyway (which i have 3 years ago, but i was still dissapointed) the outside looked very authentic chinese. we continued into darling harbour, following the breeze somewhat. theres a lot of little public parks ie wading pools and grass. very nice for families (we saw many along the way) eventually i got enticed by a spiral wading pool in the heart of darling harbour. so, =) we took off our shoes and cooled down beside little kids with their parents. it was relaxing and entertaining to people watch (ie lol watch kids get soaked and then cry. it was cute!) then we walked back to the hotel ugh...very tough after a whole day of walking around. we got meat pies and sausage rolls at the shady place in king's cross. it was REALLLLLLLY bad food. dont'g to there. we took the food back to the hotel to eat and then relaxed. oh we also checked out the hotel's rooftop pool and gym. pretty decent. but then a bunch of kids took over the pool. no doubt from our group, so noisy and rambuctious XD
day 6
we stayed at the hotel while the other eap kids left to go to their college or moved into a different place while still in sydney. my roommate left at 5am to catch her early flight. breakfast was still included, thank goodness. it was surprisingly cloudy, the first since we got here!! and we planned on going to the beach! noooo...... well, it was our last day in sydney and we had to go to the famed bondi beach no matter what. so...we changed into our swimclothes (that never got wet) and headed on the bus (the first time getting on the bus! the driver was really friendly and helpful!) headed to bondi junction. it was a long and windy ride. lots of twists and turns in the suburbs and the roads here are so narrow! then we got off at bondi junction and was immediately lost. wheres the beach?! lol we were at the crossroads of large department malls and lots of touristy surfing shops, not to mention the very big bus terminal we just got out of. so we followed the road signs and walked to bondi beach. trust me, after that, we learned how to use the bus system. the walk was very far and the buses kept speeding past us grrrrr. we got there and there one at the beach! it was a cold cloudy windy day (where we still got sunburned.....) it even freaking sprinkled a bit! we built a sand castle and explored the tide pools. oh we also ate at mcdonalds lol (it was cheap!!) mcdonalds is the only place with free wifi. everywhere else charges you at ridiculous amounts, even the hotel. and just spent the day at the beach, on the sand, watching the waves a bit until it got too cold and lol we took the bus back. transfered at bondi junction! oh yea! using the system, so proud of us! =D except.... we got lost coming back...... so we just walked the rest back lol we weren't that far from the hotel by then.... this is when we got dinner at elvis' pizza. two pastas and then bought a bottle of wine from the bottle shop. hehe i drank too much wine at once and got tispy. XD not doing that again, wine tastes so strong of alchohol.....
day 7
we slept in, in the morning and left the hotel at noon. took the bus (yes!) to circular quay (it cost $3.20 one way, which is considerably cheaper than taxi, which was enticing everyday so far cause we didnt want to walk back to the hotel from CBD (central business district=downtown) far....and hot..) we ate lunch there, also very bad lunch. lol i dont think any tourist place sells good food... we bought ticket for ferry and zoo, it was a discounted package. targona zoo can only be accessed by ferry, which was nice cause i like ferry rides and its a nice way to get from point a to point b. we were at the zoo until it closed at 5. seriously. australia just closes down at 5pm everywhere. everyday. *sigh* even in canberra!! so annoying!! -____- it was also a cloudy day filled with light sprinkles (the weather, not the candy) and taronga zoo has great views of sydney skyline but it was really foggy so it was dissapointing. you couldnt see the top of the tower that day! yea...the zoo itself was really big! so many animals! and i liked how there was many enclosed parts where the animals could roam free. like the walkabout where wallabies were just hopping meters away from you, peacocks hanging around the zoo, getting chased by maggie =p. it was a great day, yet another chance to see australia's animals. we took the ferry back and bused back to king's cross where we went to cole's andg ot dinner there. it was delicious and inexpensive. we bought a whole cooked chicken in the deli section and finished off the wine from the night before. (sean payed close attention to me this time)
day 8
day 8 is actually spent not in sydney but on the road and in canberra. we took a taxi to central station (it costed $13.50 XD) but we had 3 suitcases so i dont think taking the bus would be easy... and brougth along fruit and snacks we got the day before at cole's. it took 3.5 hours by bus, we took murray's, to get to canberra. we had a meet and greet, a service from anu where someone picks you up and drops you off in campus. we got to bruce hall and got to our rooms, unpacked and settled in. our rooms are all singles and things were very dusty as no one had been in the room since november (its their summer break right then) the hall was also very quiet cause we got there early for international orientation and it was before the official date ppl move into the dorms. This very ugly fountain sculpture outside Bruce is apparently nicknamed 'the eggbeaters' appropriate no? haha ps i hate those cuckatoos now, they are freaking LOUD like a blowhorn!!