Monday, August 29, 2011


A few photos are on Facebook, for anyone who hasn't found them yet:

Classes, church, bus fail, food

Well, classes have started...  9am every day this week we have Music with a professor from Houghton who lectures via Skype.  So far it's been about music in general rather than Australian music in particular, which I think is a little weird since it's only a week-long class.  But it's been pretty interesting.  Some of it just goes over my head, and sometimes there's this horrible echo on Skype so you can't really understand anything, but there have been a lot of YouTube clips of different types of music from around the world, so that's been cool.  In the afternoons we have another class, Engaging Australia Culture (I think...), but we don't really know what we're doing for that one yet.  Yesterday we talked about different stages of adjusting to a new culture and intro stuff like that.

Let's see... on Sunday we went to church, not the one where we had youth group but a different one, Southgate Wesleyan Methodist, I believe.  It was kind of in the middle of nowhere and was a big square building, not particularly church-like.  There was a peacock in the front when we pulled up--they're wild here.  The service was pretty normal; we sang some familiar songs and some new ones, Prof. Kettelkamp preached, and that was about it.  Afterward we had snacks and tea and chatted with the Australian people.  An older man told me about his grandsons and how to make pumpkin soup.

Back here that afternoon, we didn't have anything to do and wanted to do something exciting, so we decided to try taking a bus for the first time.  We walked to the bus stop and waited 10 minutes or so for the bus to Victoria Point, where we'd gone shopping the first day.  When the bus was in sight, we all watched and waited expectantly for it to pull up and stop.  But, as we all stood there, waiting and watching, the bus drove right by us.

Of course we were all like, "What?  What was that?" especially because the next bus wasn't for another hour (they run the least on Sundays).  Then we saw that on the sign for the bus stop, beneath a picture of someone waving to the bus, it said "Hail driver."  So, realizing our mistake, we headed back the way we'd come to the other close bus stop, deciding to take a bus in the other direction, where there's another shopping center.  When that bus came into view we all waved frantically, and were very relieved when it pulled over and stop.

But then, after talking to the driver for a minute, we realized that that bus wasn't going where we wanted to go; the bus we wanted didn't run on Sundays.  So we finally gave up and headed back to the college.  It was pretty sad.

But after a little while of sitting around in the lounge area, some people got a ride to Victoria Point with one of the Australian students here, and Adam, Nora, Bekah and I ended up biking there, led by the only American student here, who's really into biking and was happy to show us the way.  It was a nice ride there, all downhill.  We bought a few groceries--everything was closed but the grocery stores and Kmart; things shut down around 5 here, it seems like--and then we had to bike back.  All uphill, this time, with our groceries.  It was exhausting, but we made it (walking up the last hill helped).  And we'd had our adventure for the day.

Yesterday Prof. Kettelkamp drove us to Victoria Point--he'll be doing that every Monday and Thursday, which is nice because I was expecting to have to pay for the bus every time we wanted groceries--so Nora, Adam and I went and got even more food.  The three of us have decided to cook together, and now we should be set for a while with food.  There was a community dinner last night for everyone at the college, and we ate burgers with fried egg and beetroot.  It was different, but good.

Class time... more soon.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Jetlag and awesome Australian animals

Still very jetlagged and exhausted, but I want to write about things before I forget them.  Today we went to a koala sanctuary, and I got to hold a koala!  The zookeeper lady had me hold my hands a certain way to support it, and then set it in my hands facing me, with its hands on my shoulders.  It was so cute and soft!  They have lots of other animals at this place too--a platypus, dingoes (my favorite--they're really pretty and look like normal dogs), wombats, lots of birds, and kangaroos.  We got to go right in with them (the kangaroos) and hand feed them and pet them.  Most were really small ones that looked a lot like wallabies, but there were some red kangaroos, which were a little bigger and more like typical kangaroos.

We also saw a sheepdog demonstration.  The dogs were so eager to herd the sheep, and it was so cool how they knew exactly what to do.  When a sheep didn't go with the group, one of the dogs ran right over and got it back with the others.  They herded the sheep into this small fenced area where they were all packed together, and to get from one side of the group to the other the dog would jump up and run right on top of the sheep!

It was raining pretty much the whole time, which is normal since it's winter here now.  It also starts to get dark around 5, which is very weird because I'm used to it getting dark around 8.  That makes adjusting harder, because it feels a lot later than it is.  I can't believe it's not even 8pm yet.

Last night at the youth group thing was a weird time.  The first thing we had to do was wash each other's feet, and I was so tired and it was such a random thing to do on my first night in Australia that afterward it felt like a strange dream.  The whole thing was like a weird dream, actually, because after a short message we had a Wii tennis tournament.  Playing Wii tennis in Australia while exhausted and jetlagged was pretty surreal.  I lost my match.

We were there for a pretty long time.  By the time we got back it was after 9.  I was in bed about 10, and I feel asleep right away but woke up at 1 feeling really nauseous.  And then I couldn't get back to sleep; I would close my eyes and then "wake up" later feeling like I'd been asleep, but when I looked at my watch barely any time had passed.  Actually, I think I was sleeping, but just very lightly, and I kept having this dream where this man was telling me and the rest of the Houghton group about these different Australian boxes and how they were used for different things, and I had to do something with them but I couldn't figure out which box was used for what even though the man kept explaining it.  This kept going on, and I kept looking at my watch and seeing that time was hardly passing, and at one point my over-tired, sleep-deprived, half-awake brain reasoned that something in my dream was preventing me from going to sleep, and it seemed like there was something I could do about it but at the same time I couldn't do it...  That probably makes no sense, but at the time, it was very logical.

But I finally did get to sleep, and I only woke up very briefly hours later when I heard the kookaburra, which they told us like to make noise early in the morning, and then I slept right till 9:15.  I woke up feeling great, not sick at all anymore and very well-rested.  After I got up, though, I started feeling off again, and that's continued all day.  But I know soon my poor body will be adjusted.

Tomorrow morning we're going to the church where the youth group was; Prof. Kettlekamp is preaching.  Then we have the whole day free before we start classes on Monday.  Sometime soon I'll write about this place where we're staying; it definitely deserves a post of its own.

P. S. I forgot to mention our trip to the koala sanctuary.  The group was in three cars; I was in the second one, following someone who had a GPS.  It seemed to be taking a long time to get there (over an hour); I'd gotten the impression it was closer.  We were driving through the city, and had been for a while, which seemed kind of strange.  And then we got lost.  We had to stop at a red light, while the car we were following had made it through.  This had happened before, and the lady driving would pull over somewhere and wait for us, but there must not have been anywhere good to pull over that time, because when we drove on we didn't see her anywhere.  So we kept driving and then asked for directions at a gas station, drove some more, then asked for directions from a guy walking, drove some more, saw signs for the place, followed the signs, stopped seeing the signs, saw a sign pointing back the way we'd come, followed the signs again, and finally made it there, after almost two hours.

On the way back we stuck to the highway, and the drive took 50 minutes.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Right now, I really wish I wasn't sitting.  My legs are aching, just like they ached the whole plane ride over here.  What I really want to do is lie down, but that isn't going to happen for a while, because if I lie down I'll fall asleep, and we have to be somewhere at 7 (right now it's about 6 here; we're 14 hours ahead).  This day has been ridiculously long.  I've had way too much time (a very uncommon problem for me)--they gave us 3 hours to unpack, then 3 hours to shop, then 3 hours before some sort of youth group at 7.  And originally we were told we'd be able to sleep at 7.

But it's been really exciting, too.  About an hour or so ago I saw my first wallaby, and it was pretty amazing.  Then he hopped, and it was even more amazing.  I saw a bunch more wallabies, too; they're all over the campus, just hanging around, eating, watching us.  And I saw this cool bird called a curlew, and we've been hearing kookaburras and magpies, and Professor Kettlekamp told us there are koalas all around this area, and I saw koala and wallaby crossing signs, and we drove on the left side of the road and it was super weird, and we can't go off the paths here because of snakes and who knows what else...  I'm actually in Australia!  It's actually real!  It's very cool, very weird, and very overwhelming.