Friday, April 11, 2014

Studious Tina!

          This week mainly consisted of me doing what I came here to do- studying hard! I realized this week how much I had procrastinated homework-wise during break week. I thought I had accomplished quite a bit last week but.... let's be honest, I could have done a lot more. :P I think I have spent more hours in the library during this last week than all the other weeks of this term combined. But good news is that I finished homework that isn't due for a while so I'm ahead of the game for all of my classes! Woohoo!

           Last Saturday morning I woke up to find that my food that I keep in our communal fridge had been raided by a few hungry, drunk people the night before so I decided to take a trip into town to restock! Rather than carry the grocery bags like I normally do for the almost two miles between my dorm and the nearest grocery store, I emptied my school bag and headed out! It was a beautiful day (as usual)  so I didn't mind at all! There's a food market that I really enjoy where I can get my fruits, vegetables, and homemade bread. I love it! Since coming here, my eating habits have drastically changed. Because it's still sort of "in-season" natural foods tend to be quite a bit cheaper than junk food regardless of where you go. Instead of spending $5 on a bag of Dorito's, I can buy about a dozen apples. Yum! One of my friends has gotten me hooked on fruit-infused water. So I usually purchase lemons and limes to cut and add to my drinking water throughout the day! I also add green tea bags to make it even more delicious!

           On Sunday I had the chance to Skype with Jess for the first time since she dropped me off at the airport. It was really nice to catch up and hear all about her jobs and such. I think that we've decided that I will live with her this summer and work at The Corn Palace and Subway when I return. Even though I will be paying rent for a place in Aberdeen, I will get a lot more hours in Mitchell and be able to save so much more money rather than essentially wasting a couple weeks when I get back trying to find a job in Aberdeen. I'm very excited to be back in the States! 

         In the same weekend I was able to connect with my friend Tonya from school as well. It was awesome hearing about all of my friends back at school and how they're doing! I also have been Skyping with Dylan as well periodically since I've arrived here. We try to Skype about every three days or so. It's very comforting being able to talk with him and always a blast! He has helped me so very much with adjusting to my life here! Also, he sends me pictures of Taco John's every once in a while to help me through my withdrawals.  

        So throughout the week my friend Marina (a fellow exchange student from the States) have just spent a ton of time in the library. We have a few classes together as well so it's great having someone to discuss and complain about homework with!

 
*Marina & I during our weekly trip to the local shopping center.
 
            Today, during my Outdoors Pursuits class, we surfed/ stand-up paddle boarded for the last time! The waves were fantastic and the largest that I've surfed on so far. This made it way easier! It took quite a while for me to actually learn how to surf well but I achieved it nonetheless! Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of me surfing but a friend did snap a few of me paddle boarding. The beach we traveled to was gorgeous and was a very picturesque way to end our surfing adventure!
 
 
 
**Ben (US), Marina (US), Me, Julie (Canada), and Jill (France)
 
 
         I think that pretty much covers the highlights from this week! Not too much has happened and I'm predicting that next week will be even less eventful because I will be studying for my mid-term exams that take place on Friday!

Until next time,

Tina
   

Friday, April 4, 2014

Break Week!

        Hello all- this week's post may be a bit short because I had just posted a couple days ago! This past week has been break week! Many of the international students took advantage of this week by traveling to Melbourne, Sydney, and Cairnes, etc... but I along with a few others stayed on campus and enjoyed our week off! I ended up accomplishing a lot more than I had planned. :) I did boring things like register for classes, finalize on an apartment in Aberdeen, finally got my bank account here, paid residence bills, and lots of workouts. I also had some quality Skype time with different friends back home! Yay for technology!

        Yesterday (Thursday) I decided to take a trip to Yeppoon and to have a nice beach day. Yeppoon is a beautiful town on the coast with a wonderful downtown full of little shops and art galleries. It was great playing in the ocean, enjoying some delicious beachfront cafĂ© food, and chatting with locals. I wish I could experience that more!
**An old church converted into an art gallery showcasing local artists.
 
 
**Lunch! A grilled chicken, avocado, and feta cheese wrap with fresh fruit.
 
**An intersection in downtown Yeppoon.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
         This week, classes will resume and I'll return to my routine! It's crazy to think that I've been here for about seven weeks already. Time is flying by so very fast and Rockhampton is quickly becoming another home to me. Last week was a tough one for me in terms of homesickness! A friend of mine posted a quote on Facebook recently and it really struck a chord with me and how I was and am feeling. "You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place." - Unknown. As I'm getting closer to friends here, I know that it will be extremely tough for me to leave when the time comes. But, that's a ways away still- I'm enjoying every day "down under"!
 
Until next time,
 
Tina

Monday, March 31, 2014

Braving the Elements

Sorry for such a late post! I try to get these written by Friday night but this one totally slipped my mind for some reason. This week's post will center around the theme of "braving the elements". I'm finding out that the weather here can be quite unpredictable at times and can get quite wild! On Tuesday (the 25th), the normally picturesque blue sky turned grey and unleashed a crazy downpour that lasted for a few days! Up until that point I had only experienced one or two small rainfalls but this was a doozy. Some of you may have seen the video that I posted on Facebook. That post was made about halfway through the storm and it got much worse afterwards!
*The front of Hutton House --> where I live
 

*Front of Hutton
 
I loved the downpour of rain and it provided a nice, grey day perfect for curling up with a good book! During a slight pause in the storm I went outside and enjoyed the view from our patio.
 
 



** This little guy came out for a bit during the break as well!
 
On Thursday the storm finally ended. That night a group of us went to Stockland's (the local mall). There's a shuttle that runs from campus to the mall every Thursday night and Saturday morning for a couple of hours. I go every Thursday to pick up groceries since I am self-catering. I have been able to experience lots of different, new foods and experiment with my microwave cooking skills. To be honest, I'm more of an oven, stove-top kind of person but I said I was going to widen my horizons while I'm here and that's exactly what I'm doing haha :) Speaking of other housekeeping type details, we have a couple ladies that come in and vacuum our rooms, etc... once every two weeks. It's a requirement that we keep our rooms neat and orderly so that the ladies are able to do this. This is one detail that's different then the schools back home. There, they don't care what your room looks like as long as your able to get out of it if there's a fire! I do laundry here once a week. Laundry is free (thank goodness)  
**The poor man's laundry basket.
 
On Friday, my Outdoors Pursuits class once again went out to Yeppoon where we learned how to stand-up paddle board. I wish I could have gotten a picture of this but it was sprinkling at times so none of us really had our phones or cameras out to take pictures. I did way better at this than I did at surfing! The key is balance and keeping your knees unlocked so you can recover quickly when you paddle over waves! All of us wiped out a lot at the beginning but I quickly got the hang of it. I think this is because of my vertical height impairment haha I have a low center of gravity! My favorite moment was after I had paddled about half a mile out from shore past the breaking waves where the water was completely still. The sun had come out and I was just standing there on a surfboard listening to the birds and the sound of the ocean. It was so very peaceful. I just thought to myself: wow- I'm here. I'm in Australia! It's one of those places that you think of "well I would love to go one day, I bet it would be amazing"- and I made it here! At that moment I just had to reflect on how thankful I was and am to be here. And to all the people in my life that has supported me and help make it happen. I think that moment standing on the ocean is a memory I'll cherish for a long time. Anyways! After class we had a half hour or so until the bus arrived to take us back to Rockhampton so my friend Marina and I walked around a bit in Yeppoon's downtown shops. We bought some fresh fruit from an organic shop and browsed the tourist trinkets! I think I'll head back to Yeppoon sometime this week to do some gift buying! Also on Friday it was Marina's 21st birthday so a group of us had a lady bake her a cake and we held a small party for her! She was very appreciative especially since being away from home, friends, and family for such an awesome occasion!
*Marina & I outside the campus library
 
This week the (31st- the 4th) is "spring break" week so there are no classes! I decided to forgo the traveling as I wanted to save money. I'm planning on taking a bus to Yeppoon and have a beach day and treat myself to some local seafood cuisine! A friend and I are also planning on having a Lord of the Rings marathon so I'll have that to look forward to as well. :)
 
In an email recently, my Aunt Angie inquired about my classes here. I took a picture during one of my lectures on Monday to show you all really what it's like.
 
*My Personality Psychology lecture (24/03/2014)
 
The large white screen is where a PowerPoint show displays chapter highlights and notes for us to remember for the exam. The smaller screen to the right shows the lecturer presenting from a different campus. My lecturer for Personality is based in Adelaide, Australia. Fun fact: South Dakota was mentioned during this lecture! We were learning about a psychologist named Erik Erikson. He studied the Sioux tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1938.
 
On that note, I believe I shall be done for now! I hope everyone is doing well!
 
Adios,
 
Tina


Monday, March 17, 2014

Climbing to the Top

        First and foremost- happy St. Patrick's Day! Even though I'm perfectly legal to drink here, I'm resisting the urge to go to the bars and am staying in and actually studying! And I'm not lying ha. I'm not entirely comfortable with the bar crowds here yet and I figure tonight will be one of the crazier ones in Rockhampton!
       Classes are going well. I'm staying ahead of all my work and I've received perfect scores on the few assignments that have been graded thus far. Yay! Today was kind of an interesting day in the educational sense. During my first lecture, the electricity went out so we were released an hour early and then during my second lecture the teacher actually threw up! So... that one was cut short as well! The professors keep on schedule so we'll be expected to catch up on our own time. I'm not sure if today was a win or a loss? haha.
      Temperatures this week are projected to be in the 90's! Today I was a sweaty, hot mess by the time I got to class. Not my favorite look but I suppose I, and the unlucky individuals around me, will just have to deal with it:).
      Not too much has happened in the last week! Friday was a surfing day again and I am steadily getting better! I stood multiple times and felt a bit more confident on the board! The instructor and I had a really nice conversation about special education and kids with special needs. He has a son with Autism and also teaches a weekly surfing class of kids with special needs. He was very adamant about the fact that children with special needs need to be given opportunities same as "normal" kids. We shouldn't be scared that they'll fail to the point where we deny them a chance. With his surfing class, my instructor said that each person is different and that kids with special needs can pick up surfing just as fast as others. If given the right attention and encouragement, anyone can flourish! I love being able to relate my passion with my every day experiences both here and back in South Dakota. I'm very excited about the path I'm on!
      In other news, on Saturday a group of us went on a hike up Mt. Archer. This is the mountain that I see out my window every single day and for some strange reason I thought it would be a fantastic idea to climb the thing. I was WRONG. That hike was a killer! I like to believe that I am an active individual but this was honestly one of the hardest workouts I've ever done! The trail was 14 kilometers long (which is about 9 miles) of intense steep upgrade. The path itself was rated difficult by the Australian Department of State Parks and to sum up the terrain: it was recommended that everyone climbing this trail bring a first-aid kit. It was also recommended that the trail is hiked from top to bottom because of the difficulty but... us being international didn't know that so we hiked it from bottom to top. If I ever do it again, I'll be sure to do it the right way! It took us about four hours to complete the trail. The path at times wasn't even a path. Sometimes the path would only be about a foot in width with a drop on one side. Other times, we were bushwalking with grasses and other plants well over six feet tall. We also had to pass a certain creek about seven times throughout our hike haha. I'm complaining quite a bit but it really was a beautiful hike. The sights were stunning and pictures really can't capture it at all. We all felt pretty accomplished by the end of it!    

*The creek we had to cross over multiple times throughout!
 
*About two hours in and refilling our bottles
 
*Posed hiking picture
 

*Beginning of the hike- at the bottom
 
*End of the hike- at the summit
 
*Group photo at the top!


      On Tuesday night last week we had a house formal dinner. I was pretty excited to get all dressed up for the first time here. One, there was an open bar and two- it was a great excuse to break out the heels! Our supper consisted of salad, mixed vegetables, pumpkin soup, steak with shrimp, mashed potatoes, and either an apple pastry or cheesecake for dessert. Since I have been living on tuna, fruit, and cheese for the past couple weeks, it was a great change of pace! 
 
*All the students in my house- mostly international!
 
*My table- consisted of students from the U.S., France, Germany, Japan, Canada, and Australia
 
     So I think that'll be the end of this post! Sorry for the length this time. I usually think that a post once a week will be sufficient but then I forget how much I like to talk. :/ Hope all is well back home! I'm receiving emails from Mom pretty consistently so I don't miss out on everything!
 
See ya later alligator,
 
Tina

 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Catching the Wave

Hey all! As you may or may not have assumed from the title of today's post, I have had my first surfing lesson! I would like to say that I now know how to surf but to be honest.... I still cannot surf to save my life. I don't feel toobad because usually first-time surfers don't even get into the standing position successfully and I did TWICE! Woohoo! For the next two Friday's we will go out and continue to practice and just have fun attempting to surf. :) This is a part of a class that international students are offered at CQU called "Outdoor Pursuits".  This class meets every Friday from 8 AM until about noon to do various... outdoor pursuits. :) Honestly, taking this class in no way helps out my college degree but hey, I figure why not? I'm getting to do fun activities that otherwise might not have been an option for me during my stay!

(Photo Credit: Ai Yoshimura)


Yesterday a few friends and I went to the shoreline in a town called Yeppoon (where we also learned to surf today) for a beach day! Yesterday was the type of day that I had dreamed about while I was in Aberdeen running from building to building trying to escape the bitter temperatures.

 
 

One thing that I did not dream about was the wicked sunburn. Ouch! Let's just say that today I am doing a remarkable impression of a tomato (if I say so myself). Yes, I've invested in both sunscreen and aloe. Combined with my bruises from today's adventure, I am looking quite colorful overall!

Now moving on to the more boring yet necessary stuff, classes started last week and are going pretty well. A main difference here is that classes only meet once a week instead of the two or three times that most U.S. universities meet. I am not a fan of this style of teaching because when I go to a class here, I sit in the same chair for two hours watching a professor on a T.V. screen and listening to a droning lecture with an equally enthralling PowerPoint to accompany it. Not my cup of tea! But, with a good amount of study time, I should be alright in my classes.

The other day I utilized Rockhampton's city bus system for the first time! This was the first time I had ever gotten on a city bus. It went a lot smoother than expected haha :) As soon as I sat down at the campus bus stop to wait, it started downpouring! Luckily I was under an eave so my spirits weren't too downtrodden yet! After going grocery shopping at the local supermarkets, I hopped back on the bus with only one questionable character insisting on helping me with my bags. I only had to tell him "no thank you" about twelve times before he got the hint that I was perfectly capable of being on my own. It was just my luck that as soon as I got off the bus to begin the mile or so walk back to my dorm that it, once again, started raining. I'm talking about the heavy raindrops with a combination of wind that seemed to make rain fall sideways right into your face. And.... here I am trekking through campus with 6 grocery bags barefoot in the pouring rain. (barefoot because my it was too slippery to walk with flip-flops on uneven ground- I kept sliding out of my shoes anyway!) Long story long, it was an interesting first solo bus trip!

I think that pretty much wraps it up for the last week! I am starting to miss so many people from back home and also Taco Johns. I miss tacos. They don't have them here! I think I'm going to have to go on an expedition to try and find out where I can get some good quality Mexican food! Until next time....

After a while crocodile,

Tina

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Home Sweet Home

First and foremost, sorry for the delay! My electrical wall converter busted within my first couple days here so I was unable to charge my computer until last night! Last night I went to the local shopping center and bought two replacements just in case. Well, I arrived in Rockhampton at midnight on Saturday and have been slowly adjusting since then. When I arrived it was completely dark of course and I couldn't see any of Rockhampton's landscape or even most of the buildings! It was quite a shock the next morning when I pulled back the curtains and looked outside my window.
 
Sunday was a beautifully sunny and humid day so I decided to participate in a bit of independent exploring! I like to call it getting lost on purpose. I find that you discover the best places when you have absolutely no idea where you are! While I was out and about I saw my first kangaroo- they are more intimidating in person than I thought they would be! I would say that CQU has at least a dozen full-grown kangaroos and a few little joeys around campus. And yesterday morning I saw two males fighting and it was quite the sight. Their arms and tails would actually balance them while their hind legs kicked up at the other. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures or videos of that!
 
The CQU campus is stunning! Incredible native bushes, flowers, and trees give the campus a rural feeling and a "wildly tame" look! I'm still adjusting to the humidity/ heat but I'm really looking forward to studying and relaxing outside once my body can handle it! To best describe the campus layout, I would say that it's organized into three side- by- side layers. The first layer is the residence area with multiple dorms and the dining hall, the next (middle) layer consists of all of the sport fields, gym, pool, and outdoor arena, and then the last layer is the "Uni" campus where all of the education buildings, cafes, bookshop, support services, chapel, medical building, and library are found. It is quite the walk that I'll be taking to classes and everything else!
 
So far life at CQU hasn't been all that eventful. This first week was orientation week. This is when all of the first year and international students are introduced to the campus, what's expected of us, and what we can expect from the university. There were a couple hundred students on campus for that! Today, Friday the 21st, was the last day of orientation that was dedicated solely to international students. Information overload! Otherwise, I've been hanging out in my dorm trying to overcome the heat and jetlag- I think I've taken more naps in the last week than I did all last semester of school! I'm struggling a bit more than the other American students on campus (there are eight of us total) in terms of overcoming jet lag and participating in the fun activities that residence had planned for us this week. - I'm also battling a cold that flared up during my travels over here. I always seemed to fall asleep at mid-afternoon and maintained a deep slumber until about 11 at night! I'm getting better and will be out and about in no time!
 
The food is FANTASTIC. I haven't been exposed a multitude of new foods yet but I'm sure I will soon! Fruit is in abundance here and I'm definitely eating my fair share. Our dining hall here serves fruit with almost every meal and it's a double-win because they also cut it up for you. Call me lazy but that always played a huge role whether I'd eat fruit or not at home! Too lazy :)
 
I had my first car- ride yesterday being the passenger on the wrong side of the car.  My friend Jess drove to Stockland's (a local shopping center) located in the middle of Rockhampton. I finally was able to purchase some necessities like sheets and bug spray! Seeing all those cars driving on the other side of the road made me slightly nauseous surprisingly! Also, it seems that the general consensus is that red lights are optional here in Rockhampton- makes for some pretty interesting moments in the car!
 
Classes start on Monday and we shall see how that goes!
 
Toodles,
 
Tina
   
 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Staking Out


             I’ve come to the conclusion that traveling is simply waiting. You wait to get on a plane, then wait until that plane takes you to your destination, and then wait for the next one. The vicious cycle repeats itself until the journey’s end!

 At the moment I’ve set up camp in the Brisbane International Airport. The flights all have gone incredibly smooth with no worries! Although, a fun fact that I’d like to share from my last flight is that first class has these amazing seats that recline almost to the point of being parallel to the floor! No, I didn’t fly first- class but I was sitting in the row right behind first- class and had the pleasure of having a nice, elderly gentleman sleeping in my lap for fifteen and a half hours! My favorite part was when he asked me to move my knees because they were in his way. For those of you that know me, you know that with being five feet tall, it’s nearly impossible for my knees to be in anyone’s way while sitting! Oh well, his snoring was actually quite soothing.

So far, all the airline personnel have been amazing. Whenever I had a question, they were very kind in answering or finding out the answer for me if they didn’t know. Nothing too interesting has happened thus far. Ooo! Except for when I was in line at customer service in Chicago. A multitude of flights destined for the east coast were cancelled due to weather so the line was about a two- hour wait. At the end of the line, there was a girl who looked my age in military uniform. She was on the phone and sobbing hysterically. I couldn’t really understand what she was saying on the phone seeing as I was at about the halfway point in the line. The lady that was waiting ahead of me and I were talking about what might the problem be and she decided to let the girl cut ahead of her and asked if I would be okay with that. Of course I responded along the lines of “heck yes!” So we get the girl up to where we were and she tells us that she was coming home on leave to see her husband before he was deployed overseas. (He was a Marine and she was in the Army.) She only had three days until he left and her flight to Charlotte had gotten cancelled with the next available flight not until Monday morning- (effectively cutting out about half of her three available days.) Isn’t this story just awful? As she was telling us this a man who was a couple people behind us came up to her and told her that everything was going to be okay and that they were going to fix things. Turns out, this guy was a retired Marine and let’s just say, he got the problem sorted out real quick-like. Within 10 minutes of him talking to United Airlines personnel, they had a seat for her to meet her husband in Atlanta, a ticket for him from wherever he was to also get to Atlanta, and a hotel reservation there for the three days. Isn’t that awesome? Kudos to United for being fantastic!

Other than that, nothing has happened worth mentioning yet. Soon I will be boarding a charter bus for 13 hours to Rockhampton. There, a lady from CQU will meet me and take me to campus!

After a while crocodile,

Tina


P.S. The weather here is sunny and humid- it’s about 27 degrees Celsius. That’s about 80 degrees Fahrenheit! Annnndd it’s only nine in the morning.  Sunscreen is one thing I unfortunately neglected to buy- yikes!