Fremantle Sunset

Fremantle Sunset

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Quakka for Daaaaaays!

Whew! What a stinkin weekend! I had several friends who met my excitement over my trip to “Rottnest Island” with skepticism and disgust, mainly due to the unappealing and unfortunate title of the island. However, there is an explanation that makes the island’s unappetizing name tolerable. No, the island does not have a bad case of putrid fungus or rancid food (rot), but instead has an infestation of lovable Quokka. Imagine a fuzzy, adorable, friendly, playful, miniature kangaroo. Got it? Alright that image in your head is a Quokka. Phenomenal right? Now imagine that they are literally

EVERYWHERE on the island, hopping to their hearts content and constantly making new friends due to their bouncy, tame, and friendly nature. Schweet! It sounds like Mark Jansa’s dream come true! Anyhoo, back to the name of Rottnest. Early settlers of the island thought that the delightful, lovable Quokka were actually horrid, oversized rats (how they made this drastic error in judgment is inconceivable to me) and therefore named the island “Rat’s Nest” Island. However, due to their AWESOMELY thick Australian accent, the pronunciation was interpreted as Rottnest, effectively giving the gorgeous island a rather foul name. Anyhoo, after hittin the hay early on Friday night in order to rest up, we awoke bright and early at 6 AM to prepare for our island adventure getaway and catch the 7:15 Rottnest Express Ferry. I packed my travel backpack full of food for the weekend (carrots, apples, canned tuna, peanut butter, and approximately 40 pre-made francakes) and headed out for our weekend adventure. Upon arriving, we immediately stashed most of our gear in a rented locker (with the exception of my massive, heavy backpack due to lack of space in the locker) and wandered over to the bike rental shop. We all snagged some sweet one size fits all (except for 6’3 males) bikes, all equipped with fantastic handlebar bells and no gears (the good ol’ single speed brought back a pang of nostalgia for childhood). However, the bikes, while simple and basic, proved themselves to be absolutely brilliant throughout our weekend and were a stellar investment. On the other hand, I was absolutely devastated upon realizing that my bell was malfunctioning and did not deliver a crisp, loud ring, but instead a dull click. How disappointing. Thankfully, my broken bell is the only thing that comes to mind in terms of complaints about the weekend, everything else was beyond spectacular. We decided to take a scenic ride around the entire island on the challenging but gorgeous hilly oval loop. We pedaled to our hearts content, taking occasional breaks to snap pictures of our unbelievable surroundings. The island was truly a tropical paradise, the views were awe-inspiring, the water was breathtakingly clear, and the hills were covered with windswept trees, isolated lakes, and rocky cliffs that emitted powerful roars from the unrelenting crashing waves. My pathetic excuse for descriptive writing could never come close to accurately portraying the amazing scenic beauty we witness, and although my pictures are far less than perfect, they’ll have to do for now.

After completing our loop around the island, along with a few side expeditions for further island exploration, we checked into our little cabin and sat down for a minute to rest our weary, but content bodies. Next thing we knew, all of us had slipped into a powerful and delightful coma. Following our long nap, we meandered down to a lovely waterfront restaurant to grab some food (I gobbled down some flavorful canned tuna instead). We then casually strolled back to our humble abode, where we spent the night playing outrageous games and drinking copious amounts of alcohol. I must comment that our group (consisting of my self, one other fine gentleman, and 5 lovely ladies) was a fantastic collection of human beings who were great to spend a weekend with. What a fantastic day!

We awoke early the next morning to some nagging hangovers, but a gloriously nice day outside awaiting us, fresh eager quokkas greeting us at our door, and some seriously sore butts (none of us had thought to slip on our luxurious and elegant diaper shorts that bikers often wear). We grubbed on some quick snacks (FRANCAKES), walked down to the bike shop to return our well-used bikes, and headed out on foot for an island hike in the beautiful Australian sunshine. We trekked aimlessly over the lush island, passing many more spectacular views and dazzling beaches and happily chatting away. After a long hike, we headed to a secret, secluded beach that two of our group members had luckily stumbled upon the previous day. The walk was several scorching miles away (Sunday was the hottest day we’ve had thus far down under), but the beach at Salmon Bay instantly erased all doubts any of us had about the lengthiness of the journey. What a freaking beach! Never in my life have I been on a beach with such crystal clear shimmering water, pristine white sand, and utter seclusion from the rest of the world! We plopped down our gear and set out to check out surroundings, including a series of jagged rocks that led to a cave. We instantly found some unique creatures, including a giant sea slug, several scuttling crabs, and a birds nest that housed a couple of tiny baby birds. After returning to our gear, we snatched up our snorkeling equipment and hit the temperate water running. I was blown away by the size and variety of coral and fish that I witnessed, and I could have spent an entire day with my head in the water enjoying the incredible aquatic animals and views. We spent the rest of the day snorkeling, relaxing on the beach, tossing some Frisbee, reading, and really just enjoying the heck out of the mind-bogglingly gorgeous beach and island. We eventually had to drag ourselves away from our secret paradise to catch the last ferry home, where we discovered just how exhausted the weekend had made us all and just how unforgiving the brutal Australian sun can be (using the word tomato to describe our skin would be an understatement). However, the weekend was truly one of the highlights of my trip thus far and we all had a marvelous weekend on Rottnest Island!

-On Monday afternoon, a few friends and I took the train to Perth to experience first hand some of the somewhat bizarre local cuisine. We shared an absolutely mouthwatering plate of assorted meat including kangaroo, crocodile, and emu! It was definitely a memorable experience, and although some of my female amigos were less than thrilled with the interesting meal, I savored my portion and found it to be quite delicious!

-Another fantastic evening of late night Tuesday pick-up basketball, never gets old. The car ride was highlighted by a heated 30 minute debate over whether college basketball or NBA is better, more entertaining, and more intense (I of course argued in favor of the infinitely superior NCAA).

-Wednesday marked round 2 of myself cooking community dinner. Our glorious team of 4 prepared a delicious appetizer of various popcorn flavors (my favorite being the peanut butter and chocolate chip popcorn), as well as a main course that included grilled, seasoned green beans, corn, and three delicious varieties of pasta: fettuccine with butter and parmesan, fettuccine with sausage and Italian tomato sauce, and my personal favorite, fettuccine with deliciously succulent chicken and pesto. YUM! To top it off, I borrowed my dear friend’s recipe for no bake cookies, a fudgy, peanut buttery delight that was met with rave reviews. Great success!

I’m headed to Broome tomorrow morning to live with an aboriginal community for 5 days and I could NOT be more excited!!! The same day I return from my journey to the outback I’m taking a plane to Thailand for what will surely be a stupendous vacation, what a stinkin’ blast! My life is pretty darn hard… This next week will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of my study abroad experience so wish me luck!
Peace, LOVE, and gumdrops,

Friday, September 17, 2010

Does it get any better than this?!?!

Whew!!! What a crazy and fun week it has been! Because words could never do justice to the incredible sights and animals I’ve seen this past week, I’ll try to include more pictures and videos than usual to attempt to share these phenomenal experiences.

Last weekend, the study abroad crew had the pleasure of visiting the extravagant and spectacular Caversham Wildlife park. The breathtaking experience included

feeding friendly kangaroos, as well as gawking at a plethora of other magnificent Aussie critters including wallabies, dingos, all kinds of birds (kookaburras, hawks, owls, cockatoos, parrots), koalas (who sleep 20 hours a day! Tough life.), Tasmanian devils, emus, quokkas, wombats, peacocks (who showed off for us and spread their amazing, vibrant, strangely pulsating green feathers. Apparently, that’s how they try to attract possible mates, I think it might have given some of the fellas a few tips on how to flirt with the ladies), various menacing dragon-like lizards, alligators, ducks, swans, lorikeets, camels, deer, foxes, as well as many farm animals: cows, chickens, goats, guinea pigs, rabbits, donkeys, horses, sheep, and adorable little fuzzballs that I eventually found out were baby bunnies. After spending a delightful morning checking out all of these fantastic creatures, we were treated to a “farm show” that included milking a cow, learning how to crack a whip, watching a man shear a sheep, and seeing how Kelpie’s (unbelievably smart dogs that are trained to function like a well-oiled machine) round up sheep. Caversham was truly an amazing, authentically Australian experience and we all had a magical day (even though I was a tad disappointed that they wouldn’t let me take my own ‘roo home with me!).
To complete an Australian animal-filled weekend, I used my free Sunday to

travel with a fellow P and O-er to witness the famed Perth Aquarium. Having a personal history of loving aquatic creatures and all marine life (aka fiiiishies!), I was beyond excited to see all the crazy and unique ocean organisms that Australia had to offer, and needless to say, I was absolutely NOT disappointed!!!! However, the day did not start out nearly as well as it ended and my lack of foresight nearly cost us a stellar day at the Aquarium. Allow me to explain; in order to get to the aquarium, one must take 2 separate trains, 2 separate busses, and trek the home stretch on foot. After successfully riding the rails and arriving at Whitfords, we realized that the next bus would not be arriving for another hour. We decided to just book it on foot and explore the city and headed out towards the only landmark we knew, the big, bad, blue ocean. Unfortunately, after an hour or so of strolling, we still had yet to have an ocean sighting and the hope of seeing the aquarium was beginning to trickle away. Thankfully, we saw a bus heading our way and climbed on. After a couple minutes, we figured it would be a good idea to ask the bus driver which stop to get off at, and he responded by informing us that we were going nowhere NEAR our final destination and that we were on the wrong bus! Whoops. We quickly exited but were promptly scooped up by the correct bus, and after a 15 minute ride, we hopped off and walked the rest of the way (thank GOD we didn’t try to walk the entire way, we weren’t even remotely close to making it there on foot). Anyhoo, when we finally made our way into the Harbour, we were surrounded by a quaint, cozy little beach town that featured a pristine beach with crystal clear water, beachside restaurants, and numerous local shops selling all kinds of trinkets. We ambled through the town until we eventually miraculously stumbled upon the AWQA, our glorious destination. Thankfully, the long journey was definitely worth it and we were blown away by the multitude of colorful tanks and unique fish! We were able to observe the deadly poisonous stonefish, venomous sea snakes, electric eels, various branches of surreal coral (that made is seem like I was tripping on acid or experiencing the insane effects of LSD due to the bizarre array of shapes, sizes and colors), camouflaged sea horses, the most deadly jellfish in the world (the box jellyfish), enormous crabs and lobsters, other intimidating shellfish, Nemo, Dory, sea turtles, mammoth manta rays, and gigantic sharks. The aquarium included one magical highlight that I will honestly never forget: an immensely massive tank that literally surrounded me as I walked through it. Basically, they carved out a small tunnel of glass that people can walk through (actually you just have to stand there as they had the brilliance to install a conveyor belt that slowly moved you in a GIANT circle around the entire tank) and it carted me around the aquarium as I was surrounded by all kinds of unimaginable creatures! My description comes nowhere near describing the profound levels of awesome that this particular tank had, but if you can imagine it was literally like being plopped into the middle of the ocean, surrounded on all sides by the biggest, most awe-inspiring animals in the world, with only thin glass separating you from them and the water. Absolutely unbelievable. I could have stayed in the AQWA all day, slowly circling the impressive tank until dizziness got the better of me, but after several hours of me acting like a kid in a candy shop and continually yelling “oh wooooow!!! Did you see this one??? Oh my GOD and what about the Shark??? And the sea turtle??? And LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THAT FREAKIN MANTA RAY!!!!!! This is AMAZING!!!!!” I figured it was time to count my blessings and call it a day. Afterwards, we stuck with the fish theme and snacked on some delicious sushi before we headed back home (thankfully navigating Australia without getting hopelessly lost). The Aquarium has been one of my favorite experiences thus far and to say that I was blown away would be the understatement of the century!

In other news, the Yankaroos participated in our first Footy game against Brothers United, a team with many experienced players and fierce competitors. Thankfully I was finally able to escape a Footy encounter without any trace of brutal injury; unfortunately the rest of our team was not quite so lucky. The Yankaroos experienced numerous bone-crunching hits, bumps and bruises, intense muscle cramps, and even a shattered nose after a painful collision. Indeed, Footy is not for the faint of heart. Anways, we had been informed that many of the players from this seasoned team had experienced troubled pasts, including violent attacks, drug and alcohol abuse, prison time, and other traumatic events that had shaped their lives. This information, coupled with the intimidating first glance that many of us received, struck terror in the hearts of several members of our American squad. However, our notion that these men were hardcore thugs and brutal savages could not have been more off-base or inaccurate. In fact, they were all incredibly friendly, acted like gentleman, and were great sports as a number of our players struggled with some of the rules throughout the game. In fact, during the rare lapses in play, I was able to engage several of their players in interesting conversations and learn a little bit more about the game and their background. Unbeknownst to us, this game actually had media coverage and was broadcast on a local radio station which is pretty stinkin cool if you ask me! Also, numerous fans showed up to cheer on both sides and the exciting atmosphere added to the thrill of the game. Brother’s United had a solid squad of players ranging from 15 years old to 50, including a number of unbelievable athletes who maintained a stunningly quick pace and who never seemed to tire throughout the entirety of the exhausting game. Coincidentally, Aussie chose to have its first absolute scorcher of a day on the afternoon that we all stepped onto the pitch to play our first footy game. Real cool Australia.
I played the majority of the game at the Ruck, meaning that after each goal I got to engage in a high flying aerial battle for control of the ball (similar to the jump ball in basketball, but with a large running start and full body contact allowed). In addition, as a member of the midfield, I got to partake in the majority of the game’s offense and defense, as well as many rambunctious tussles, tackles, runs, and monstrous boots of the footy. I loved every second of it! After the first half, we had held our own and were only down by single digit points, but many of us were experiencing massive fatigue (especially those of us in the midfield) due to the incredible pace of the game, the scorching heat, and our complete lack of any subs. Coming out of the halftime huddle, we continued thrusting all of our force and focus into the game and somehow managed to prevent them from opening up a double digit lead and pulling away. As the game reached its final moments (although we were unaware as they did not display how much time was left), we had pulled within 4 points and the game had reached a climactic battle where every possession was crucial in order for us to chase the lead. We expended every ounce of our waning energy to regain control of the ball and together we worked it up the field as the clock ticked away towards our inevitable doom of defeat. As we pelted towards the opposite end of the pitch, there was a massive pile-up and the ball squirted loose. I tore after it and managed to scoop it up amidst the chaotic heap of bodies. I broke free of the mob of defenders and booted a kick that soared between the goalposts, and as the ball sailed towards the back of the net, the final buzzer sounded to signal the end of the game! By narrowly beating the resounding final siren, my last second goal was allowed and the Americans were granted the well-fought, yet miraculous victory!!! Yankaroos 46, Brothers United 44! Following the heated match, medals, trophies, and awards were given out to each team and a cordial and congratulatory “hip, hip, hooray!” was enthusiastically bellowed by both sides. In addition to the individual medals we all received, the Yankaroos were presented with a magnificent gleaming cup. I also got a sweet trophy after being awarded the honor of “best team player” for my play throughout the match and my last second antics! All in all, twas a grand first effort for the Yankaroos and a phenomenal first experience for all of us playing in our first actual game.

-I was talking to a Gonzaga buddy who is studying nursing and I learned the medical term for the large tumor that has resided on my face for the past several weeks in the form of a glorious ripper (black eye): subconjunctival hemorrhage! Pretty sweet sounding huh? Also, I learned from my friend that occasionally if there is blunt trauma to the eye the vessels break and blood pools under the surface! This explains the gruesome, gory eyeball that has attracted so much attention recently. The good news is: I’ll be fine! She says that I’ll recover in no time and soon enough people will stop flinching in shock and screaming in horror whenever they see my face.

-On Wednesday evening, a large group of students from the P and O hotel took the train to Perth to participate in a "light the night" walk for Leukemia. It was an incredibly special event where all walkers are given a fluorescent balloon to hold in memory of loved ones affected by leukemia. The profound effect of hundreds of people all walking together in unison for such a noble cause with brightly lit balloons illuminating the pitch black darkness of the Australian sky was extremely powerful. The walk brought back memories of loved ones for all of us. I wore my tie-dye proudly and had the spirit of Bobs in my heart throughout the walk. The event definitely helped me reflect on what an amazing impact he has had on my life. Bobs, you will be forever missed.

-I’m getting up bright and early tomorrow morning (6 AM!) to spend the weekend on Rottnest Island, which I have heard is one of the highlights of Western Australia! Wish me luck on my island adventures!

Miss you all. Sending my love from down under.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Epic Sandboarding Weekend

As I mentioned in my previous post, myself and 9 of the other fine gentlemen of the P and O decided it was time for a little weekend road trip to go make some mischief and explore outside of Freo. After a few hours fist pumping to techno, we arrived in the lovely little town of Lancelin. Well… lovely might not be the right word, I think “empty” might be a more suitable descriptor. Since we stayed true to our form and hit the road much later than expected, by the time we arrived to our campsite, we were surrounded by complete darkness, which made setting up the tents an adventure in itself. After we were all situated, we decided to take a little jaunt and check out our surroundings. After only several minutes of wandering, we found ourselves on the shore of a beautiful beach. We all plopped down and engaged in copious drinking, enjoying the lapping shores, ocean air, beautiful night sky (some of the most unbelievable stars I have ever been fortunate enough to witness), and company of our P and O buddies. After a wobbly walk home, we snoozed away and dreamt about the insanity that was sure to follow the next day.
The following morning, we awoke bright and early and drove into town to snag some supplies. After purchasing some goodies to ease any remnants of the thunderous hangovers that plagued many us from the previous night, we rented our sandboards and sped off towards the monstrous dunes. I’m going to attempt to describe the landscape of Lancelin, because it was truly unlike anything I’ve ever seen in any of the beach towns I’ve visited and my pictures definitely don’t do it justice. Perched atop one of the monstrous dunes, we could see the light turqoise ocean, a tiny strip of a few buildings and such that made up the town, and everything else was just a never-ending playground of pristine sand. Imagine sitting in a GIGANTIC vat of perfect and ultra-fine flour, surrounded by enormous mounds of endless blindingly white sand and nothingness as far as the eye can see. Quite a surreal experience to say the least.

Other than the occasional daredevil dirt-biker and rambunctious 4-wheeler, we spent the day in almost complete solitude, soaking up the pristine rays of the Australian sun, indulging in a few alcoholic treasures, and enjoying the exhilarating delights of sandboarding. In addition to the thrills of speeding down massive mounds of powder, we all got a little more of a workout than we had bargained for because unlike snowboarding, there is no chairlift to sweep you back up to the top of the mountain following a speedy run, meaning that we all had many opportunities to struggle up these colossal mountains of sand. Whew!
After several hours of glorious boarding and relaxing in this bizarre yet gorgeous place, we decided to spice things up a bit and add a little zest to the sandboarding experience. We used a spare rope that we had handy and attached the sandboard to the back of the pickup truck we had driven to the dunes. One by one, we took turns risking our lives “speed-sledding” across the vast landscape at breakneck speeds. Not exactly the epitome of safety, but certainly a wild and entertaining ride! I’ve attached a short clip of myself taking a turn on the epic rollercoaster ride; although it may be difficult to tell from the video, the car was absolutely rocketing throughout these massive dunes, and during each hairpin turn the car made I was hanging on for dear life (pardon the language as well, boys will be boys, full of fun and noise). My reward for my daredevil antics was a massive wedgie and sand ALL the way up my swimsuit (my apologies for sharing too much information). As a matter of fact, remnants of the distinctive sand still cling to my shoes, my backpack, and the majority of my clothes; I swear this stuff is impossible to get rid of! It’s not quite as much fun to feel the unique sand a week later…

Anyways, after everyone had gotten a significant rush of adrenaline, we decided to head back into town to catch some more glorious rays and relax at one of the many nearby beaches. Once we arrived, we noticed an enticing island offshore that appeared just within our grasp. As we stared in curiousity at what surely was a magical land full of treasures and wonder, we noticed an Australian lounging on the beach with a large fishing pole and decided to see if he had any further information for us regarding a potentially hazardous journey. When we asked the local fisherman for any words of wisdom, he assured us that the short swim was “too easy mates!” and that we should absolutely take the plunge and attempt the journey. Brimming with newfound confidence, we splashed into the balmy Indian Ocean and began our adventure. Unfortunately, our friendly samaritan forgot to mention that halfway across the narrow passage towards our desired island, the water level lowers substantially to a mere 3
or 4 inches high. While in any other circumstance this would have actually been monumentally helpful in our island conquests as we could have simply casually strolled to the island as opposed to swim, the beautiful, soothing sand from the beach quickly transformed into jagged, blistering coral. We realized our catastrophic error in judgment too late, and as punishment we spent a solid 20 minutes (no joke, 20 flippin minutes) frozen in place debating whether to turn back or push onwards and endure the pain. I can imagine our dire situation appeared quite comical from the shoreline; 10 Americans glued to the same spot, all yelling at each other and occasionally yelping in pain. Meanwhile, in addition to the slow frying of our skin by the scorching Australian sun, the slow churning of the ocean continually pushed and tugged at our aching feet and caused countless cuts and sores. Despite our best efforts to stay as still as possible as to avoid any more painful coral wounds, the constant pulling of the tide proved to be a worthy adversary. Finally, after what seemed like hours, we discovered that the best course of action was crawl on our bellies, using our hands as support while floating in the trickle of shallow water. Despite a few bloodied feet, we survived and were able to laugh off the expedition that failed so miserably (after we kicked the crap out of the lying Australian first of course. Kidding). After another night of fun and frolic (and more stunningly beautiful stars), we packed up our gear, piled into the two cars, and hightailed it back to Fremantle. Overall, the weekend was a phenomenal and unique experience, and one that has been one of the many highlights of my time thus far in Australia.

Other updates:
-Another wildly successful Tuesday night of basketball. This week I recruited a few of my fellow American ballers to come join in the fun. A couple other new guys showed up to the gym as well so there were some extra subs available, and overall the competition was much more fierce than last week and we all had a blast! So so so glad that this has become part of my weekly schedule.
-I continued my other weekly tradition as well by going on a nice, relaxing bike ride around Fremantle. I wound up at a gorgeous beach and spent the afternoon there relaxing, reading (it’s hard to believe that sometimes I have reading and homework to do! I mean after all, I am supposed to be “STUDY”ing abroad!), and watching a crazy guy fly past me, literally fly, on a chair attached to a massive fan and parachute. Seriously. Picture on the right.

-Two Footy games have been tentatively scheduled for the Yankaroos over the next couple weeks (one tomorrow night and one next Thursday, wish me luck!). Epic thrashings are undoubtedly in store (with the poor Americans most likely being the victims), but hopefully we can use our newfound fundamentals and skills to hold our own. Regardless, we are all itching to play and saying we are excited would a massive understatement. I’ll deliver some intense in-depth analysis, game overviews, box scores, and individual commentaries shortly following each match.
-My basketball playing buddy Blake took note of my keen interest in picking up on local jargon and developing my Australian accent and decided to purchase me a spectacular gift: a book called Strine. Essentially, Strine consists of dozens of pages of silly Australian terms, as well as countless definitions of slang, and pronunciations that help develop an Aussie accent. I was thrilled by the gift and will undoubtedly spend countless hours poring over this crucially important text (schoolwork=overrated).
-In addition to the continued obsession of the glorious game of 500 (we have continued to add new players as individuals have become interested to learn about what all the fuss is about), we have began playing another group game in the P and O: Mafia! If you have ever played Mafia, you understand the heartwrenchingly tense, beautiful game. If you do not know what Mafia is, kindly go behind the old shed and smack yourself in the face because you are missing out on so much joy in your life (AKA ask me and I will gladly describe it to you).
-I finally caved and trimmed my truly disgusting facial hair. On the other hand, my flowing locks are staying strong and are beginning to show signs of the absurd curls that
-After discussing the differences in education between Australia and the states, I learn this shocking fact from one of my Australian housemates: if you take a year off of school between high school and uni, the government will literally pay you (up to about 500 dollars per fortnight aka two weeks) to go back to school and study. DANG!
-I successfully completed my first midterm in my “math for babies” class and passed with flying colors. However, I nearly threw up (or chundered as the Aussies call it) after looking at the midterm examination scores that were posted online; all 70(ish) student’s scores were posted out of 60, I would say the average was in the low 30’s and there were around 10 students who had single digits (one poor student rocked a 3 out of 60… Yikes!)

-We’ve got a super fun weekend ahead of us with tons of fun things planned so look for another update soon!

More new words/slang:

Spider=Root beer float

“Too Easy!”= Piece of Cake

Pill= Footy i.e. “Oy, pass us the pill will ya mate?”

-That’s another interesting Aussie mannerism; instead of referring to oneself as me, as in “hey, can you please pass me the footy?” many locals would instead say “Oy, pass us the pill will ya mate?” the first few times I heard it, it caught me off guard and I began suspecting that invisible athletes roamed the oval, making plural statements such as these understandable.

Fremantle Spinach=marijuana

Miss you all!

P.S. Just to give you guys all a taste of some of the musical genius I've been experiencing, this is the most popular song in Australia at the moment, it is not uncommon to hear it 3 or 4 times in a single night at one club. Gross. It sounds like a mix between a techno rave and a Jewish bar mitzvah ceremonial song and it makes me want to vomit. It’s lovingly called “We no speak Americano”

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Man, my life sure is tough!

On one of my numerous days free from class, I borrowed an old-school bike from one of my gracious and friendly Australian buddies who lives at the P and O hotel and went on a little cruise around Fremantle. My expedition had no real planned direction or purpose, but I ended up pedalling past some stunning beaches, quaint little shops, and spectacular landscapes. I admit that I ended up getting a tad lost as I was exploring aimlessly, but I had a blast on my joyride, I thoroughly enjoyed checking out some of the cool sites and shops along the way, and navigating my way back home was just part of the adventure! Now that I know I have a bike at my disposal (meaning that I can occasionally borrow it), hopefully my cycling outings will become weekly occurrences!

Another phenomenal event that took place this week that I fully anticipate becoming a fun weekly tradition was Tuesday night pick-up basketball with my Australian friend Blake and his mates. I met Blake through the mixed bball tournament in Perth earlier in the semester, and we recently discovered that we actually share an English class together. Anyways, he asked me if I’d be interested in strapping up and running a little full court pick-up game with him and his buddies. After carefully considering the offer and spending countless hours carefully pondering my answer (NOT! It took about .00001 seconds for me to make my decision) I eagerly accepted. He generously offered to pick me up at around 8 so I could avoid the hassle of public transport, and we spent the half hour ride discussing all things basketball, school, and he even helped me work on my struggling Australian accent (which has made massive strides under his expert instruction)! He also offered up a plethora of useful slash hilarious Aussie slang that I will surely integrate into my daily vocabulary. We arrived at the gym and after meeting everyone we dove right into playing on the beautiful, full-court of glistening hardwood that they have reserved from 9-10 every Tuesday night. It. Was. AWESOME!!! No absurd rules about where guys can run/rebound/play (cough cough shitty mixed tournament rules cough cough), just pure, exhilarating, glorious full court basketball with 2 competitive teams. In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been going through massive withdrawals from true pick-up bball and the hour we played felt like a dream come true! I had a handful of thunderous swats, threw down a few nice dunks, and played decently well considering the rust that has accumulated from my limited playing the last month, and the players there seemed impressed enough by my playing to invite me back for future sessions. Next week I am recruiting some of my fellow American ballers to join me so they can share in the wisdom of a native Australian as well as release some pent-up competitive juices on the court.

Although the eye is progressing nicely and I’ve developed a truly impressive shiner (pictures of the gruesome development are up on facebook, you might want to abstain from looking at them if you’re squeamish…) The doctor advised me against playing any full contact sports given the state of my eye, but I couldn’t resist and thankfully no further damage was done (after participating in Footy practice on Wednesday I breathed another sigh of relief as I managed to escape unscathed even though we spent a large portion of practice working on tackling and body slamming our teammates), Whew!

This weekend will be a particularly quiet one around the P and O hotel, mainly because nearly everyone has fun and exciting trips planned! There are a group of girls taking the ferry to Rottnest Island (something I fully plan on doing, I’ve heard it’s a spectacular place for camping, surfing, snorkelling, biking, and playing in the gorgeous tropical-esque ocean), another group of girls rented a car and are road-tripping down south (another adventure I plan on undertaking before I head back to the states), and myself and 9 other charming gentlemen are borrowing a couple cars to get away for a guys weekend of camping and sandboarding!!! Shinanegans will undoubtedly abound with such an abundance of testosterone. Surely a memorable weekend will be had by all.

Warning: pictures below are not for the faint of heart… my eye appears to have developed a slight bleeding problem. Whoops! Nevertheless, I assure you that it’s fine and recovering nicely.

Here are some more Australian slang terms I’ve picked up through class, extendable ears (eavesdropping), and interactions with locals:

Thongs=flip flops (many girls have been appalled and embarrassed when they have been asked if they brought along any “thongs,” thankfully they calmed down after learning the difference in local jargon)

Laricka=boisterous, loud, somewhat obnoxious individual

Waffle on- to fluff up, to over-emphasize trivial subjects

Trunk=boot i.e. “pop the boot mate!”

Ripper/shiner=black eye (I have gotten countless stares, comments, and inquisitive looks from shopkeepers, peers, and teachers about the condition of my multicolored eye)

Mug maps=rough, crude, and basic sketches of landscape

Snakies= when someone is swerving on the road i.e. “oy that drunken bastard is making bloody snakies all over the road! Bloody Hell”

Stubbies=short shorts i.e. “the stubbies we wear for footy are quite revealing and leave little for the imagination!”

Give way signs=yield signs

If you’re like me and desperately want to adopt a sexy Australian accent, here are a few tips on how to pronounce words with an Aussie accent:
Ranger=Ranga (Ranga is their version of ginger; redheads are lovingly named after orangutans)
Australian=strine (say it out loud, trust me)
How are you going? = How ya gan?
bath= barth
bloody hell=blardy hell

Less than a month until my trips to Broome and Thailand!!! Woot woot! Blake also invited me to head down to his farm sometime in the near future to check out what rural life is like in Australia and also to help him out with shearing his sheep! There’s one more adventure I can tack on to the long, growing list!

So long!
Much love from Australia,

P.S. Apparently head boys and prefects actually exist outside of the magical world of Harry Potter; Blake was head boy of his high school!