Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Happy birthday America! I've been home for less than a week, but my 5 months in Australia already seem like just a wild dream. I definitely miss it already, but there are some things that America just does better.

Things I won't miss about Australia:

  • the constant haze of cigarette smoke in my face
  • stores closing at 5 pm
  • $14 per kilogram bananas
  • $3.50 half-the-size-of-a-starbucks-tall coffees, and $6.50 iced coffees
  • the "cold," and the sun setting at 5:30 pm
But even so, there are so many things about Australia that Americans will just never catch on to. For one thing, everything sounds better with an accent. Australians can even make talking about dog poop sound interesting.

Things I will miss about Australia:
  • being able to walk everywhere instead of driving
  • heaps of cafes everywhere
  • being able to sit at a cafe for hours with no one handing you a check
  • pub culture
  • not working, ever
  • Queen Victoria market
  • being able to whip out my "sorry, I'm American" card

But, I guess it's time to get back to real life (RL) now.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Red Dirt Roadtrip

I managed to squeeze in one final roadtrip with a few friends before I had to leave Australia. Okay, actually, I changed my flight so that I could go on this trip and stay down under for a few extra days.

We spent three days learning to drive on the wrong side of the road and soaking in as much Australia-ness as we could. We camped our first night in Wyperfeld National Park, which was surprisingly deserted except for one sketchy old man. We made a sick fire and cooked a delicious meal of pesto pasta over the flames, and then topped it all off with some freshly roasted marshmallows.

We found a wild pack of emus near our campsite in the morning. It was awesome, until they started pursuing us with deep, throaty growls.

The next day, we headed out to Mungo National Park, the real outback. We took our little periwinkle blue rental car off-roading on the unsealed red dirt of the outback. Big no-no according to Budget Rental Cars, but we're rebels, hey?

Over 80 km of this bumpy ride.

Lesser known than Uluru and Kakadu, Mungo still has some awesome history. It used to be a huge lake that has since dried out, and it's also the discovery site of the oldest cremated human, an Aboriginal scientists named Mungo Woman. Several Aboriginal tribes still live in the area and maintain it as a sacred ground.

Unfortunately, the Great Wall, one of the main attractions, was closed off because of recent erosion (supposedly caused by flooding, even though there was zero water to be seen), but we were still able to admire its beauty from afar.

Lake Mungo has seen better days.

Another night of campfires, cooking, and marshmallows (there are no graham crackers in Australia, therefore no smores). The weather was warm, a welcome change from Melbourne's winter days, so we slept under the stars.. until it got really cold and retreated to our tent.

With heaps of wood, a giant pack of fire starters, and an even bigger pack of matches, the theme for the trip was, "What else can we burn?"

A great last trip to conclude an awesome semester abroad.

Monday, June 27, 2011


The marathon/half-marathon wasn't all we did in Wellington, NZ. The night before the big race, D and I went to the rugby match at Westpac Stadium. When we weren't busy hiding from the on-off pouring rain, we waved our awesome free flags for the Wellington Hurricanes and tried our best to learn the rules of rugby.

Bandwagon fan for the losing team..

I already picked my favorite player - obviously the one with the dreads and neon orange shoes (I think he's inside the tackle in that picture).

Post-run, we recovered around the hostel and the nearby area. I did manage to crawl out of bed on Monday morning to check out Te Papa, New Zealand's national museum. It was huge and had heaps of information in its interactive exhibits.

This exhibit was called Slice of Heaven, and showed historical, politically hot topics in NZ.

Overall, an awesome trip. I'm so glad I made it to New Zealand again, and I can't wait to go back again soon!

Videos of the Day

In honor of my flying home in about 15 hours, here are two hilarious safety videos that Air New Zealand showed on my flights last weekend.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


I ran the HALF Marathon in Wellington, New Zealand last weekend, and I finished just under my goal of two hours!

This is my "I think I'm gonna die" game face, 10 metres from the finish line.

Here's the general timeline of the 21.1 kilometres, or 13.1 miles, aka the longest almost two hours of my life:
0-5k: Yeah the race is starting! I'm so high on adrenaline I don't even care that it's rainy and cold!
5-10.1k: This is too easy. Let's speed up. Finally, the turnaround point. Halfway done party!
10.2-21k: Hell with a headwind.
21k: I can see the timer. Gotta break 2 hours!

Survivors! Look at our cool towels and D's sweet medal. She was hardcore and ran her first full marathon and did AMAZING.

Finishing the Half Marathon definitely makes the Top 10 Best Accomplishments in Audrey's Life list, somewhere between getting the gold medal in the 50 Backstroke (2001 Summer Swim Championships) and becoming President of the United States (2032 elections).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Junior Year - Check!

My flight from New Zealand landed just in time for me to wait in an almost 2 hour long Customs and Immigration line, grab a bite to eat, and complete my last exam of junior year!

Exams in Australia are a little more official. In addition to stretching the finals period over three weeks, almost 3000 people take their exams all in one venue, at the Royal Exhibition Building (the equivalent of our Convention Centers, I think). The Royal Exhibition Building is about 1 km off campus, in the Carlton Gardens, next to the Melbourne Museum.

A mad dash as the doors open. As if I need more reason to stress right before my exam.

Also, seats are assigned (I found out the hard way). Luckily, my seat for my second exam was right near the entrance (#1118) so I didn't have to go hunting for it.

This is only about 1/8th of the seats in the entire building.

A few other interesting rules:
  • 15 minute reading period. You're not allowed to write anything.
  • Nothing allowed in the room besides writing utensils (in clear ziploc bags) and clear water bottles. There are giant storage boxes outside for people to put their bags. Preventing cheating, maybe, but really it just adds to the bareness of the entire building.
  • No one is allowed to leave in the last fifteen minutes of the exam, but you can leave before that.

A little intimidating, and very freezing, but it's a lot prettier than taking an exam in your classroom or the gym. Exams are still exams, and I'm glad they're over for another six months. Senior year, here I come!