Monday, December 8, 2008
10. The Sun, The Sand, The Ocean. enough said.
9. Running around the Swan River with a backdrop of Perth city and kite boarders on the river.
8. Stopping for coffee/tea time every 2 hours...may need to incorporate that into my NA life.
7. The plethora of outdoor adventures at my fingertips- surfing and scuba diving will be missed the most.
6. Tim Tam Slams. If you're lucky (and you throw me a party or stop by the Heywood house within the first few days of my arrival) you may get to experience one of these.
5. Generous terms of endearment. Ranging from "mate" to "love" to "sweet" to "gorgeous"...who doesn't like being called "gorgeous" by a perfect stranger??
4. The Aussie abbreviations. Adding a "y" or "o" to every word is just fun. So don't judge me if you hear me call sunglasses, "sunnies" or a wetsuit, "wetties" or mosquitos, "mozzys".
3. Perth public transport. This is complete sarcasm.
2. The Great Barrier Reef. I think everyone owes it to themselves to see it.
1. The environmental influence that now has me taking 2 minute showers, worrying about gas emissions from flights and driving, and checking the labels of all my products.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
and now, here i am in hong kong, continuing the journey through asia. this is my last stop before i head to cairns and sydney to complete my final travels before i head home. i'm sitting on the 32nd floor of a sky rise overlooking hong kong city, amazed at the view before me. another old friend, harmony mcmillan, is teaching at a school in hong kong as well. i spent my first day yesterday walking around with my jaw dropping at the size, activity, number of people and busyness of hong kong. i've never seen anything like it before. harm took me out for a night on the town that included some delicious chinese food from one of her favorite spots, a trip to some market stalls to check out the latest knock-off products and my first ever chinese foot and shoulder massage! good food, good shopping and good rubbing made for a good night. today i'm doing a hike on hong kong island called the "Dragon's Back Hike" which is supposed to be one of the best short hikes here. i think the biggest challenge will be finding my way through the cities public transport to the starting point of the hike. sadly, tomorrow i'll be leaving harm and her hong kong life, but i'm looking forward to seeing Cairns. i'm meeting a friend to do our PADI scuba diving certs while we're there- can't wait to see the Great Barrier Reef up close and personal! pray that the sharks will be full next week. :)
life is full and i'm loving the adventures of new places, new sights, new faces....not long til i'll be back seeing some familiar old ones in the homeland. until then, cheers!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
I think its rare that life affords us the opportunity, chance or means to step away from all that is familiar and look in on our little lives from a removed, outward position. When it comes down to it, we establish our circles of friends, our jobs, our family, our home, our church, our schedule and we build our lives around these things. Even become consumed by these things. And stepping away from it all for a long period of time has been the best knock in the face that I've gotten in awhile. God has given clarity through the discomfort of the unfamiliar, the longing for family and friends, the challenges of adjusting to a new country. Being broken and humbled is truly the best place to be in life. It gives an all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God the room to work that we wouldn't allow Him when we try to do things on our own. What amazing revival His work brings to life! He has convicted my heart in ways that I refused to face when I was at home. He has made me crave solitude so that I may be silent before Him- be still and simply think of Him. He has shown me things about my life that need to change, people I need to love better, ways I need to give of myself, my resources, my energies. I came to Australia with the expectation of experiencing a new life and instead, God gave me vision, purpose and clarity for my old one. I feel a sense of renewal, of refreshment, of vitality to live a life worthy.
As people, we were created for relationship. With God, with people. We are relational creatures that function, react and thrive off having our lives woven together with others. It's a beautiful thing. God's shown me how much I've missed out on the joy of relationship because I let my own pride and selfishness get in the way. I've realized how much I cherish and treasure the people He's woven into my tapestry of life, and that I never want my schedule or my business to get in the way. And even moreso, He's shown me that my life source is Him. That the only way to experience true joy, real life, richness and depth out of life, is through deep and authentic relationship with our Creator. The simplicity of it is profound, and yet really living this way in everything I do is a life-time task that will never be perfected.
What a journey its been! I can't even scratch the surface in this little blog of the things I've felt, the new experiences I've had, my changed view of the world and the people in it. As the idea of home becomes nearer each day, I can't help but be thankful for such an opportunity as this. I have the feeling that God still has fresh insight and teachings for me that will continue to be revealed post-Aussie.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
me and a friend have planned a week of adventure that includes surfing every morning (finally without a wetsuit!!), mountain treks, cycling through rice paddies, kite boarding lessons, trips to the local markets, and not getting robbed by sketchy balinese men. which is a common occurrence there. we are also hoping to avoid the death penalty, which seems to be handed out like candy there. good thing i am writing this close enough to departure that my mom won't be able to reach me to forbid me from going....
i'm also looking forward to partaking of one of my passions in life- food. balinese food is meant to be delicious so i'm excited to see what the locals have to offer. i'm told that the aim is to avoid "bali belly" by staying away from the water and anything that looks like its been put on your plate straight from the end of a fishing rod. we'll see how i go....
Sunday, October 19, 2008
I got up early and headed out for a morning surf lesson. A friend of mine, actually a Canadian friend of mine (she and her hubbie moved here "for the lifestyle, of course!" ) has graciously lent me her extra mountain bike for my time here, so I've been loving speeding around the gorgeous river bike paths and avoiding the buses/trains as much as possible! My journey to this beach is quite a long one- bike for about 25 minutes, hop on a train for another 15 minutes, and then another bike ride for about half an hour...and then finally the beach! It was packed yesterday as it was an amazing 33 degrees celsius with bright blue skies. For the first time, it was too hot to wear a wetsuit in the water! The surf lesson went fabulously, followed by a few hours hanging out on the beach with some friends and then I started the bike ride home.
I had just gotten off the train and was about to start my last leg of the journey home. I gave a quick head check to see that there were no cars coming and started to pull out to cross the street. This is a main road that's always busy cause it links two highways. Just as I was pulling out into the street, I looked to my LEFT and saw a bright purple sports car hooning (note: this is one of my new australian words which means speeding) straight at me! The car swerved to miss me just as I slammed on my breaks and pulled back...it narrowly missed me by about a foot! I almost had a panic attack as I stood there with my bike on the sidewalk, staring at a line of cars waiting for their light who I'm sure were all saying to their passengers, "Another stupid biker, no wonder they always get hit"...quite humiliating to say the least. On the way home I couldn't get it out of my head how close I had come to being plowed over and left as roadkill on Canning Highway in Perth, Australia. It made me think about how irrational my fears of sharks have been and how much more aware I need to be when I'm biking and walking in this country of left-sidedness. So no, I can't tell you any fantastical story about a close call with a great white or a giant jelly fish sting, but I will say that the roads are just as dangerous a place as the great deep ocean.
Monday, October 13, 2008
In honor of you, Knuckles!!
Cuba's a staffy.
Cel & I at the caves.
Jon and Ash.
In Augusta, the lighthouse where the 2 oceans meet.
Taking the kids out for a surf.
Jon & Cel's adorable little holiday home!
Beach time with 2 of the many Germans in Perth!
Asher and his two cousins, Bella & Sophia (so prec!).
Celeste & I in Augusta.
My fave lil Aussie boy- footy ball in hand.
The hot sun is pulling out 30 degree celsius days and some heat that I've never experienced before in my life! There is no O-zone over the whole continent of Australia which means a penetrating sun that can be quite damaging to your skin if you don't wear sunscreen! Australia has the highest number of cases of skin cancer in the world and its easy to see why! Its hard to believe that this is only the beginning of the warm season...summer gets up into the 40s!
Another sign of spring is the magpies. If I haven't mentioned the birds before, I should have. They're vicious and aggressive here. That was one of the first things I noticed about Australia. The crows are massive and sound like dying cats, the seagulls are even more belligerent than in Canada, and there are so many weird bird sounds and calls ringing through the trees. But anyways, back to the magpies- I was warned by John and Celeste that the beginning of spring is magpie swooping season...basically the mother magpies will swoop down and try to peck your eyes out if you walk under their trees. I thought this was just an embellishment and a rare occurrence until this morning when Celeste warned me again to be careful of the magpies. Apparently a little girl lost her eye last weekend and there are usually about 5 cases of magpies pecking peoples eyes out over the course of spring!! Please pray for me!
Spring also means cricket in Australia. Another new sport for me to observe and try to figure out. There is a beautiful park next to the river that I jog/walk/bike on, and the past few weeks have been busy with cricket matches.
Other updates: my surfing lessons have taken on a whole new dimension since last Saturday and the final triumph of my first "green" wave. As a beginner, the only waves that you generally surf on are the white waves (after a wave has broken). Basically the water just pushes you toward the beach with enough force that you can practice standing on your board and riding the wave out. As you can probably guess, there's not much excitement to this after awhile. Well, this past Saturday I had a great surf instructor (he's been surfing all his life and he's about 45 years old!) and he was a lot more ambitious with us than other instructors I've had. He goes to me, "Jods, come out here and we're gonna catch ya a green one." Clearly I wasn't going to argue even thought I was a bit nervous because the swell was pretty big that day. So I paddled out and he watched the waves for me (picking the right wave is a big part of it) and told me to start paddling at the right moment and I hopped up on my board and finally experienced what it really feels like to ride down a wave! Pure adrenaline. It was exhilerating! I caught 2 more after this, and then got pounded and obliterated by the majority of the rest of the waves. One time I think I was turned in 3 complete somersaults under the water and came up with my rash guard T-shirt completely pulled over my head and covering my face! haha. But I finished the day feeling pretty happy and satisfied.
Anyways, there are only 3 more weeks of classes left and then a study week which will include me leaving Australia to go on a little trip to Bali, Indonesia. After that, there are two more weeks of exams and then the semester is finally finished! Hard to believe. Although I still have 8 more weeks here, I know the time will fly and there is still much to do before my Aussie adventure comes to an end.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
I just got home from a weekend away as far south as you can go in Australia, in a little town called Augusta. I think it might be the most beautiful place on earth. Augusta is at the point where the Indian Ocean from the west and the Arctic Ocean from the south converge. This in itself creates some pretty amazing displays of nature. Augusta also has a river that runs through the town and into the ocean where lots of sea life tends to drift in and out and amaze us viewers on land. It was amazing to see dolphins swim by as I jogged by the river and to catch a glimpse of a whale out at sea during an early morning surf. This was probably my favorite part of the trip- the surfing. Celeste's brother-in-law is a major enthusiast of any outdoor adventure/sport, so he's taken me under his wing to show me the more adventurous side of Australia. We made it out every morning around 7am for an hour or two of the best surfing I've experienced thus far. The swell was a perfect size for a beginner like me, the sand bed was a heck of a lot nicer to crash down on than a hard, pointy reef, and the aqua-marine waters were absolutely fantastic. Another sweet part of the trip was getting some time to go for walks or jogs by the ocean and river and admire the stunning beauty of the nature around me. I caught myself quite often wondering how in the world God came up with all this stuff around us. The power of the waves to the awesome display of a rainbow from horizon to horizon continues to woo me.
The pics are of a cave tour that Celeste and I did. The underground cave was filled with stalactites and stalagmites and took an hour to walk through. It was pretty awesome! More Augusta pics to come once I get my camera working!
Thursday, September 25, 2008
With the grand final being played on Saturday, I'm sure I'll see a whole new side of Aussie life. We're heading to a local pub to watch the game, and I'm pretty sure all eyes will be glued to the screen across Australia at noon on Saturday. Australians take their footy quite seriously.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
1. They speak English. This might sound like it should be a positive, but hear me out. The trouble is that Australians speak what I like to call a “dialect” of English. Do you know what the word “ta” means? How about “chook”? If I were to invite you to evening tea, would you come with an appetite, or with the expectation of some tea and cookies? It is in these basic conversations that I often find myself confused, processing words 2 minutes after they have been spoken, and asking someone to repeat a sentence 5 times before I understand. Speaking English may be more of a liability because the full on slang that Aussies throw at me leaves me with a blank, bewildered expression most of the time.
2. Rat tails. Need I say more? They’re popular here. Worn with pride. Even dyed quite often. I don’t know if North America missed the memo, but as far as I know, rat tails went out of style at the beginning of the 90’s and they haven’t been welcomed back since.
3. Paying $3.30 for a black coffee. The economists out there may call this inflation but we have another word for this in Canada- robbery. Across the board, everything here is shockingly expensive. I like to tell myself that when I say no to buying a cookie it is out of self-discipline, but the reality is that a $5 sugar rush is just way too expensive for a student budget around here!
4. Lack of competitive college sports. All humor and sarcasm aside here, this is one of the major downfalls of Australian universities. My life has been consumed with nail-biting, sweat-producing, heart-wrenching feats of athletic prowess through The Ohio State University. And I’m talking purely from a spectator point of view here. There are no Saturday morning tailgates, no F Michigan t-shirts, not even a glimpse of any type of a band or cheerleading squad. No one wears a shirt that says “Curtin University SOCCER” or “CU BASKETBALL” on it. I have learned, however, that if you show up at lunch time to the far corner of the rec center basement, you may find a rowdy game of basketball being played between some of the faculty members. I guess this will have to do.
5. Vanishing Sidewalks. I started noticing this when I was out jogging and suddenly found myself no longer on the sidewalk, but forced onto the road where cars were coming at me from the instinctually opposite direction than they should’ve been coming from. Slight safety hazard. The river and ocean jogging paths make up for it, but within the city, Perth is not a very jogger-friendly place.
6. Moving from Ohio, USA (Unlimited Surplus of Amenities) to Perth, WA (Wait Awhile) has shown me that I am a spoiled brat. In Perth, the people say that they have to “Wait Awhile” before they get what the rest of the world had last year. I am so used to having everything that I want available when I want it, that it has actually been a shocker to not be able to get certain items or to walk up to the grocery store and find that it is closed! We don’t realize how blessed we are with material things in North America! The bratty side of me complains about all this, but I know that it is good for me to get a small taste of what it is like to not have all things readily available on a whim. The realities of situations in Third World countries are so incomprehensible for me.
You can probably see by the superficiality of this list that these aren’t real problems, but they drive home a simple point in my mind. Australia is awesome, great, enjoyable, fun but…it isn’t home. I am loving the adventure of this country but I have also come to realize that North America is where my heart is.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Our knowledgeable instructor, Rob. Learning the basics
The surf shack
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Listen to this quote.
"The Christian man, in his present state, is like a bird in a cage. His body imprisons his soul.
His spirit, it is true, ranges heaven and earth and laughs at the limits of matter, space and time.
But for all of that laughter, the flesh is a poor scabbard, unworthy of the glittering sword.
A mean cottage unfit for a princely spirit. This body is a cog, a burden, a fetter." - C. Spurgeon
Ok, deep breath out. Not the most light-hearted quote. Charles Spurgeon is not known for his soft deliveries. It's solid, hard-hitting truth...but it hits the heart and resonates there. Because deep inside, we all know this body, this life, these present circumstances, are not what we were made for. There's something more that our souls know exists...and I need to be reminded of this often or I find myself getting wrapped up in the scabbard and forgetting about the true treasure- the glittering sword.
I've been listening to these amazing podcasts that a friend recommended to me a few months ago and I've been hooked on them ever since. They've been challenging, inspiring me and hitting me pretty hard upside the face quite often. A good slap in the face is healthy in my opinion...keeps you on your toes. They're by a guy named Matt Chandellor out of the Village Church in Texas. First of all, he speaks truth in a powerful and relevant way. He drives to the core of the message and focuses on the essence of what really matters. Plus, he's freaking hilarious. I've been caught laughing out loud multiple times, most commonly on public transport which is probably the most somber and silent atmosphere out there. Somewhat awkward but thoroughly enjoyable.
no wonder i am an oddball here. first of all, i see ocean and that means swimming. i will not lie on the beach for hours. ew. so no matter how white and pasty i am, and how weird i look diving through the waves while everyone else is covered from head-to-toe with an ultra-heat retaining wetsuit, i'm gonna be in that water. sask lakes have taught me a thing or two... mostly about hypothermia and how to make use of your limbs when you've lost feeling in them, as well as the best methods of recovery once your lips are blue and your sentences are slurring. we're tough up there.
next of all, i have not owned a pair of wool socks for at least 15 years and i intend to keep it that way. if i can manage through -30degree weather in canada, i think these "winter" temps of 20+ degrees celcius (thats around 70degrees for all my american friends) will not be my undoing.
and finally, i have struck up an unlikely yet beneficial friendship with a young girl named Cuba. we have similar interests in mind...enjoying the coolness of the evenings, walking together along the river, pondering the greater things in life. no words are necessary between us. she is longing to escape the confines of 3 fences and the back of a house, and i am looking for a protector, a little security. its really quite beautiful, actually. cuba is one of the only aussies who will join me on my night time outtings to take in the AU stars and revel in the beauty of the amazing landscape here...it seems that all the two-legged aussies prefer to hide behind their tv screens and space heaters (shocking statistic- australia currently has the highest obesity rates in the world!) at least until the end of august, i am told.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
1) Tourist phase (first week I was here),
2) Culture Shock (week 2 and 3- depression/homesickness),
3) Beginning of Adjustment (currently experiencing) and lastly,
4) Complete Adjustment (can't say I'm there quite yet!)
I didn't really think that I would experience this in a mere 6 months away from home, but in hindsight, I have definitely felt the emotional rollercoaster ride that is a part of each phase. It is so crazy taking learned theories from a class and experiencing them firsthand!
The Aussie way is sooo laid-back, and I am noticing this more and more each day. The beach seems to pose enough reason to skip class, hop out of work early, and take an extra long weekend for a coastal roadtrip. The Aussies love to travel and I have swapped stories with a few people who have been up our way in North America. It is so interesting to hear what they have to say about our country (Canada and the US!) and to gain a bit of insight into what they think of us as people! Lets just say that they are not afraid to speak their minds!
I am actually in the midst of moving to a new family to live with and do my part-time nannying stint. The family that I was living with initially was just not a fit for me and for any of you Harry Potter enthusiasts out there, the word "house-elf" comes to mind...I think you catch my drift! It has been a long process but I am feeling optimistic about the idea of moving in with my new family.
I'm going to end this one because I am heading off to meet some friends at the Tavern on campus. Miss you all so much and think of you often!
Monday, August 4, 2008
As far as my current residence goes, I am living with an Australian family in a beautiful area of Perth, right next to the Swan River. It has made for some really great jogs alongside a gorgeous view. Once I figure out how to post some pics, I will be sure to include some. I am looking after two girls, Isabella (2 1/2 yrs) and Alexia (4 months) who are probably the cutest kids in the world, but are also quite a handful! Their parents are a mix of Italian and Persian so when you throw an Australian accent on a little dark haired 2 year old, it is absolutely adorable.
Classes are underway and the Aussies are living up to their laidback stereotype. My professors ask me to call them by their first names, classes take on a conversational tone, and the students seem to feel very at ease in the classroom setting. Surprisingly I look forward to going to my classes each day (will be interesting to see how long this lasts though!). Curtin University (or Uni, as the Aussies call it) is a culturally rich and diverse school. It is rare for me to see another white face in the classroom, as most of my classes have students from Malaysia, Africa, Europe, Australia, China, just to name a few. The diversity of the school is refreshing as well as stretching because I have realized how different it is to feel like a minority! As I mentioned earlier, the church I have been going to on Sundays is predominantly asian students from different asian countries around Australia. I have tasted more asian food than ever and have had the amazing opportunity to worship with some of the most lively and passionate worshippers I have ever met! So encouraging.
That's all for now, but I promise more to come. I used to be a computer tech when the most complex command was loading up a game of Packman, so it may take me some time to figure out how to embed some pics....but they're coming! I miss you all so much and hope to chat with each of you individually while I am over here! Ciau!
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
No, I do not thrive off of labeling every folder and filing it with a color coded sticker, and I confess that my eyes glaze over when I open up mail that is not a postcard or a package, and yes, I'm guilty of having a huge pile-up of miscellaneous papers stuffed in my bottom drawer and ok, I am also that girl who has to rush order every single document I've ever needed due to major procrastination and lack of reading the fine print in a letter (or any print at all)...
And so I concede that these things called "details" are way out of my league.
They say that in order to be freed from the things you fear most, you must face them. And so, I will confront Details head on, with a face of determination and an air of defiance that I will not be mastered by such a finicky little thing called Details.
So here they are- the Details of my trip down under (but only the fun ones!)...I left the rest for Danae to figure out. haha
Where: Perth, Australia (West coast)
When: July 21- December 10 2008
Why: Study Abroad, Travel, Adventure
Biggest Fear: Getting attacked by a shark and losing limbs (Either take all or none of me)
Secret Wish: Become a surfer girl
Hours in the airport: 85 both ways
First book to be read along the journey: The Evolution of a Creationist by Jobe Martin
Word I will start using profusely: "Mate"
Aussie Job: Nanny for 2 little girls, Isabella (2 1/2 years) and Alexia (4 months)
I don't want my parents to know that: I plan to acquire a liking for the taste of beer
Inspiring words for the way: "I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me- the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."
Academic Goal: Attend all my classes
Academic Reality: If chance for outdoor adventure comes knocking, will completely disregard Academic Goal.
Things I will miss about home: Sask's Living Skies, Buckeye Hockey Girls, UA Church Moms, my sibs, B & D, taking my pup Tia out for runs
Anticipated Weakness for: Australian accents
Airports to Travel Through: Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, Perth
Anyways, the adventure hasn't even begun yet...so I promise more deets to come!
Friday, July 11, 2008
So here I go with this...I can't promise anything too fascinating or brilliant and if you want a good laugh, you should prob check out Nic Olson's blog cause he is one funny guy...but if you want, I'll do my best and share a lil bit of Aussie life with you as I head down under...
"That's all for now."