Sunday, April 10, 2011


Confession... I only use my blog as a jumping off point to get to all of the blogs that I keep up with (listed in the right hand column down a little bit on this page). Someday (hopefully soon) I will start up again, but for now, I'm swamped as a grad student, nanny, tutor, volunteer, girlfriend, daughter, sister, friend.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Semester Summary

As I pulled onto campus on Monday morning, it suddenly hit me just how fast these four years have gone. It seems unbelievable that in a few short months we will be thrown into the real world (or for most of my friends, into the world of grad school). We'll find new jobs, make new friends, learn new cities, move into new apartments. But not necessarily because we want to... mostly because we have to move out by 5 pm on May 22nd or they will kick us out. I find myself wavering between two groups -- Group A: the people who will be kicking, screaming and crying as their parents drag them off campus and Group B: the people who have accepted that change is inevitable and they should embrace this "exciting" time in our lives. Some days, I would like nothing more than to leave behind the Friday nights full of shrieking girls in stilettos outside my window and the horror that is 8 am classes. But on other days, I can't imagine leaving behind these people, these professors, this campus, in search of my next "thing" (this coming from the girl who never thought she would utter the words, "I really don't want to graduate...").
So instead of living in denial, I've decided to just fill this year to the brim. I was off to a good start last semester with plenty of time spent with roommates, Alex, professors, myself. I lounged on the docks (but did not jump in (Annie and Michelle did, picture below)... don't even try to dare me to... I refuse),

laughed at the fall "concert" (comedian Demetri Martin), traveled to see the Poet's House in the city with LAS (complete with a performance by Natalie Merchant), organized by our devoted president, Flor, pictured below,

watched the lanterns be launched from the new pedestrian walking bridge over the Hudson with my housemates and best friends,

spent a weekend here with Lauren (including a walk across the pedestrian bridge (well... halfway anyway)), then spent a weekend in Boston with Marisa,

then spent a weekend celebrating my sister's 30th birthday (complete with dancing with the aunties and Grandma Veet at Vapor nightclub at the Racino),

then spent a weekend in Washington, D.C. for the honors conference with Amanda and Flor,

after cramming in my last LAS Spooky Slam.

I went to the dance show, Into the Woods (starring my fabulous housemate Courteney) (the Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood are picture below),

African drumming (as Amanda demonstrates below),

and The Tragedy of Harvey Dent (a Shakespearean play written and preformed by the English capping group), starring Alexa, pictured below,

went to a packed house women's basketball game with Amanda,

and closed out the semester with our last LAS meeting, complete with Santa hats and Christmas lights.

Can you really blame me for not wanting to leave this behind? And that's just the "events." I also had fantastic classes taught by some of my favorite professors at Marist (consequently conquering C+ Sue's grading, gaining a new appreciation for film, writing some decent poetry, analyzing mine (and others') personalities, and completing my psych and global studies minors (complete with a mini capping paper/presentation about multiculturalism in Australia) and my honors requirements (minus my senior honors project -- redesigning the Marist Abroad handbook)). I became closer friends with some people and made some new friends, played intramural volleyball, made some serious money at Marist Poll and online proofreading (and had lots of fun doing it), advised future Australia-bound students, got published in The Circle, The Generator, and The Globetrotter and was co-editor of my fourth Mosaic.
This upcoming semester holds more of the same, plus a new internship (location TBD) and hopefully some job shadowing to attempt to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. I don't know exactly what the future will bring, but I know one thing for sure -- when May 22 rolls around, despite the tears I'm sure I'll shed (what would a graduation be without a red-nosed, cheek-stained Amy???), I will have made the most of my time at Marist and I'll be fully (okay, maybe not fully, but mostly) prepared for the next stage of my life.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The End

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be."

- Douglas Noel Adams

Well, this is it. I can't believe this will already be my last post from Australia. As I was waited for the bus at Central after dinner at a Turkish restaurant (complete with belly dancer) tonight for my final bus ride, it hit me.
This was it.
And all of a sudden, there was a complete half of me that did not want to leave my new country, my new city, my new home.

I hope that I succeeded in taking everyone's advice: enjoy every minute, try new things, be brave, take advantage of every opportunity, keep an open mind, live it up.
This week I fit in lunch with our abroad coordinators, bowling with the boys in the coolest bowling alley I've ever seen (managed to pull off a 91 -- pretty good for not playing for months), one more trip to Lindt chocolate cafe, Roof Bar with Hiroko and Mayana, Japanese dinner with Hiroko, Ryoko and Christina, meeting a cool French guy, breakfast at Le Petit Tart, Yum Cha (Chinese restaurant where they come around with carts of food and ask you what you want and you choose many dishes for the table) with the flatmates, packing, laundry and reminiscing.

From playing Wii with my host family kids, to tending to the chickens, to nights out with the boys, to beautiful beach days, to the New Zealand adventure with my mom and sister, to laughing with Isabel, Petra and Hiroko, to deep frying Mars bars with my flatmates, to grabbing Spanish churros on my last walk down Glebe Point Road, I have loved it all. While it hasn't always been easy, it has always been fulfilling.

Some highlights in photos:

“Beginnings are usually scary and endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts. You have to remember this when you find yourself at the beginning.”
- Hope Floats

My trip in numbers:
- Hours it took to fly to Australia: 20
- Photos in my "highlights" folder: 330
- Times I've wandered around the Botanical Gardens: 7
- Houses I've lived in: 3
- Haircuts I've gotten: 0
- Movies I've seen in the theater: 8
- Movies I've seen on film: 20
- Times I've driven on the wrong side of the road: 1
- Pictures of the opera house: 41
- Gondolas I've riden: 3
- Different countries I've eaten food from: 9
- Times I've walked across the bridge: 2.5
- Books I've read: 8
- Times I've ridden a horse: 1
- Times I've cried: 5
- Bats in the Botanical Gardens: 1,453
- Times I drank an entire beer: 0
- Umbrellas I've bought: 3
- Ferry rides: 12
- Performances I've seen in the opera house/symphony hall: 3
- Tim Tams I've eaten: 107
- Times I was fairly significantly late to work: 6
- Pieces of nutella toast I've had: 56
- Times I refrained from buying a gelato: 2
- Sea turtles we saw (much debated): 21
- Pieces of banana bread/pear and raspberry bread I've eaten: 254
- Total pictures: over 2,400 have made the "cut"
- Times I've wanted to kill the birds: 658
- Blog posts: 28
- Articles/reviews for FILMINK: 26
- Hours at FILMINK (approximately): 300
- Times I've used the 131500 transport info site: 752 (true fact, I checked my Foxmail history)

My trip as a Mastercard commerical:
1 piece of banana bread: $3.50 AUD (about $2.80 USD)
My favorite Lindt hot chocolate: $4.50 AUD (about $3 USD)
One Royal Copenhagen single scoop: $4.80 AUD (about $3.50 USD)
The best dumpings in the world: $9.50 AUD (about $7 USD)
Bowling at the sweetest bowling alley ever: $14 AUD (about $10 USD)
One night out: $20 AUD (about $14 USD)
A game of indoor mini golf in NZ with my sister at the coolest mini golf place in the world: $16 USD
Trip to Taronga Zoo: $28 AUD (about $20 USD)
Breakfast for two on Glebe Point Road: $30 AUD (about $21 USD)
Seeing an opera in the Opera House: $80 AUD (about $65 US)
Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef: $100 USD
Swimming with the dolphins: $120 USD
Phone calls and texts: $350 AUD (about $260 USD)
Trip to Melbourne: $400 AUD (about $300 USD)
Transportation: $680 AUD (about $530 USD)
Trip to New Zealand and the Great Barrier Reef: $1000 USD
Total experience: $4,300 AUS (about $3,700 USD)
Seeing the first sunrise in the world, my first glimpse of the iconic Opera House, learning a new city, losing my fear of spiders, walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, taking the best flower pictures I've ever taken, hiking in the Blue Mountains, learning to be friends with people I never imagined liking, petting a kangaroo, making friends with the gelato girl, sharing a drink with my sister on an island in the Pacific, seeing the smallest penguins in the world, lounging on the most beautiful beaches in the world, laughing at goofy seals, driving on scary one-way bridges, going outside of my comfort zone, working for a real magazine, exploring Watson's bay, jet boating on the Dart River, eating gelato with Dutch boys, laughing with Japanese girls, having girl talk with my Spanish roommate, dancing with Brazilians, discussing politics with Frenchmen, taking a random salsa lesson, learning about myself, seeing an elephant dance, wandering in the Botanical Gardens for hours, watching random fireworks with friends in Darling Harbour, listening to champion slam poets, reading back-to-back with one of my best friends in Hyde Park and seeing a baby joey in its pouch: priceless.

Closing time - open all the doors and let you out into the world... Closing time - you don't have to go home but you can't stay here... Take me home... Closing time - time for you to go back to the places you will be from... So gather up your jackets and move it to the exits - I hope you have found a friend. Closing time - every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end...
- Semisonic

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Amy and Alex's Adventures, con't

Thursday, June 4
I'm completely blanking on what we did this day, but I think it involved breakfast across the street, eggs for both of us this time (though the waitress was very confused when we asked for them "scrambled with cheese," insisting that this was an omelet. I think Alex wasn't feeling very well this day, so we took it easy. For lack of details on this day, I'll add some general thoughts on things that happened throughout the trip.
1) We both agreed that we hate the Storm, which happens to be one of the most prevalent cars in Sydney - a mix between a car and a truck, with a super long bed. Hate it.
2) We watched Juno (liked it even better the second time), the first 2/3 of Lord of the Rings (the movie we used to help us fall asleep - me pointing out places I was convinced I saw in New Zealand every other scene), 28 Days Later (awful), Darjeeling Unlimited (great), The Talented Mr. Ripley (good, but not what I had expected), and the first season of Scrubs (never thought I would like it, but it's grown on me. Alex also convinced me to start watching Lost, and I hate to admit it, but I'm hooked.
3) We read Alex's new book, Becoming A Doctor, about the first 3 years of medical school, together aloud. Really interesting and made me tired just thinking about how hard they work.
4) We ate/drank a ridiculous amount of Starburst gummies, Powerade (my new favorite flavor is the light orange one), lime and pepper chips (which I don't even really like), apple and kiwi juice (love it), eggs, pizza and Tim Tams (which, by the way, apparently are in US Targets now!).

Friday, June 5
I think Friday was one of my favorite days in Sydney so far. We started off at breakfast at Le Petit Tarte (I know there's an intentional typo in that, some play on gender, but after not taking French since 7th grade, I can't remember where it is), which was one of our favorites so far. We grabbed a super-sweet lemon tart for the road and wandered through Victoria Park on the University of Sydney campus for a while (the weather was beautiful). Then, we headed down to Circular Quay to take a ferry to Watson's Bay, about a 40 minute (maybe?) ferry ride away.

There was a walking tour in my book to follow, which we did for the most part, but we explored on our own too. There were beautiful views of the city and Manly from multiple places along the way, along with impressive views of the ocean.

We explored on the rocks for a while

and then continued the walk along the beach where we met a very friendly dog who we played with for a while.

There were beautiful houses all along the coast -- can't image how much they must cost. We made our way along the coast to Lady Bay Beach - one of the nude beaches in Sydney where we found one nude older man who stared us down.

We continued on to "The Gap" - a popular suicide and proposal spot and then headed back to catch the ferry.

Saturday, June 6
Another beautiful day on Saturday, we decided to head to the infamous Bondi Beach. We stopped at the Bondi Trattoria for an early lunch - pizza with prawn shrimp for Alex and a steak sandwich for me (not like the ones at home with like thin meat... this was like a steak, on a sandwich). After walking along the beach and watching the surfers for a bit, we started on the Bondi to Coogee Cliffwalk (Alex, for some reason, decided to do it barefooted). We watched some beach volleyball games for a while, resisting the urge to join in, and then continued along the coast to the Waverly Cemetery, probably the best views from a cemetery in the world.

We only made it to Clovelly Beach before we decided to take a bus back into the city.
The bus dropped us off in Circular Quay and we decided to take the ferry to Darling Harbour again, as there was a pizza and pasta place my guidebook had recommended that I wanted to try. After searching for a while, we finally found Blackbird Cafe and had one of our most disappointing meals yet. It was expensive, the food was not that great, and the atmosphere was nothing to brag about. The first time my Lonely Planet guidebook has lead me wrong.

Sunday, June 7
After a bit of a late start, we decided to head to Newtown (an area that kind of reminds me of New Paltz), by foot, to explore. We stopped into a huge used bookstore that reminded me of the Strand in NYC (which incidentally had a very odd bathroom with no lock and a 1-way mirror - who knows why) and perused for a while, and then found a cafe to grab a late breakfast, again, eggs for Alex and a strawberry banana smoothie and pancakes with strawberries and bananas and icecream for me. As we headed back to the apartment, we stumbled upon a footy tournament at University of Sydney and stopped to watch for a while, having the locals re-explain the rules to us. The boys were only 16, but were brutes.

Monday, June 8
Monday was the Queen's Birthday which is a public holiday here. We decided to go to Le Petit Tarte again (this time with worse service) and ran into my flatmates there. After breakfast, we hopped on a ferry to Manly (which ended up costing $25 because I forgot that it wasn't included in our bus pass). We walked along the Corso, resisting the urge to grab fish and chips or icecream, and stopped briefly at Manly Beach. Luckily, it wasn't our intended destination because it was covered in gross seaweed.
We headed back and found our way to the Manly Scenic Walk. Much like the other coastal walks, this one brought us past amazing houses and provided excellent views of the harbour.

We attempted to do the entire walk which would have brought us to the "Spit Bridge," but we wouldn't have made it there and back before dark. We grabbed some Copenhagen's icecream (Alex's - honeycomb and butterscotch - is my new favorite) and headed back to the ferry at the perfect timing in order to see the Opera House lit up for the Luminous festival - it's completely dark on one side and then lit with cool designs and colors on the other.

Before catching the bus, we stopped into the Customs House so I could show Alex the huge 3-D map of Sydney that is under the glass floor. On our way home we got off the bus on Glebe Point Road and grabbed a pizza to take home from Lavara Pizza and Pasta - yum.

Tuesday, June 9
After many days of walking, we decided to take it a little easier on Tuesday. We had breakfast (my first french toast in 4 1/2 months!) at the Badde Manors Cafe (supposedly the "most vegetarian cafe" in Sydney) and brought our books to read in Hyde Park. Upon entering the park, we noticed a very strange animal that looked like a mix between a squirrel and a wombat. It started getting a little bit chilly, so we headed down to Martin Place to grab a hot chocolate from Lindt Cafe (by far the best hot chocolate in the city).
We decided to see Star Trek (which I never would have suggested, but it has gotten rave reviews, even from non-Trekkies) and killed some time shooting hoops and playing air hockey in the arcade (for the record, he won basketball every time, and I won air hockey every time). I thought Star Trek was really good and Alex loved it. After the movie, we happened to catch a bus that would take us to Leichardt (the Italian district with my favorite restaurant) and so even though we weren't that hungry, we decided to stay on and have dinner at Cafe Jolly - yum. I think I might have to go back and get the gnocchi gorgonzola and honey, cheese and chili bread one more time.

Wednesday, June 10
Wednesday was zoo day. We managed to sneak in on student discount, despite it not being exactly allowed (after getting caught with student travel passes by the train guys -- oops) and had a fantastic day, despite the cold and wind. Although we were disappointed that the seal show was cancelled due to renovations, it ended up setting our day up perfectly. We literally saw every part of the zoo and got to see the amazing bird show.

In the walkabout section, where you walk on a path where kangaroos, wallabies and an emu are roaming "free," we happened to see a joey in its mother's pouch! Our attention was drawn to him because there was a woman clearly going where she was not supposed to be and getting up really close to the kangaroo to get a picture (while the emu attacked her bag). Turned out, she worked at the zoo on their design staff and had been coming to the walkabout every day on her lunch break for weeks to try to get a picture of the joey and this was the first time she had been successful. Talk about good timing for us!

After grabbing some pictures of the joey, Alex decided he must pet a kangaroo and succeeded in luring the softest one I have ever felt in my life toward him - so adorable.

Thursday, June 11
On Alex's last day, we put on our fancy clothes and headed to the Opera House after grabbing lunch at Moore's Cafe on Glebe Point Road. We had front row tickets for the "Romantic Perfection" symphony. The performance was really fantastic and I was glad to get to see one more performance in the Opera House (this one was in the Symphony Hall of course, which is actually the prettier of the two).

After the symphony, we headed back to the apartment to pack up all of Alex's things, and then walked to Annandale for dinner, again on the recommendation of my guidebook. After walking up and down Booth St. without finding "Zenith," we decided (duh...) to look at the street number as opposed to just looking for the name of the restaurant. When we got to the right address, which we had passed about 10 minutes earlier, it turned out that the name of the restaurant had changed, and was now called Vicini. And it wasn't open for another half an hour. We decided to stick it out and headed back down the street to wander around in a cute bookstore for a while. We headed back to the restaurant and had a very nice dinner (each of eating our entire pizzas which were huge) and then headed home for an attempt at an early night, as Alex had to wake up at 4:20 the next morning. Unfortunately, it was my flatmates last day of uni and so they were having their first and only party. After about 2 hours of sleep for Alex, he woke up, grabbed a taxi and headed off to the airport for his 6 am flight to Melbourne to visit with his sister, her boyfriend and our friend Maxine.

Cue: loneliness onset from Amy. After having a constant buddy for 2 weeks, I suddenly felt incapable of doing anything on my own. Miss Not-So-Independent-Anymore spent most of the next 2 days doing pretty much nothing (some homework, lots of Internet nothingness and some internship applications). I managed to drag myself out of the house on Saturday to hit up the Glebe Markets and grab a hot chocolate and some pear and raspberry bread at Sapphos Cafe, but other than that Friday and Saturday were pretty much a bust.
On Sunday, I decided I had to snap out of it and decided to go to the Government House which I had yet to see, despite going past it every time I had wandered around the Botanical Gardens.

I showed up a few minutes before the 12:30 tour and moseyed around the grounds taking (shocker) pictures of flowers and the house. The tour was fairly interesting, but we really only got to see 3 or 4 rooms of the house, which was kind of disappointing.
After the Government House, my next stop was the State Library of NSW. Fairly typical, but there was one impressive room filled to the brim with books.

By this point, I was starving and decided to go to Lindt Cafe for lunch and (of course) hot chocolate. Super yummy, yet again. Then, I headed to the Art Gallery of NSW and saw everything in it in 2 hours flat. Some pretty cool exhibits, but nothing too memorable.
Then, I had 2 hours to kill before the Fire Water event I wanted to go to that started at 6:15. I thought about going to the Hyde Park Barracks Museum but didn't want to pay for admission and it didn't look too impressive (plus, I was kind of museum-ed out). I considered having yet another hot chocolate at Lindt, but couldn't justify going twice in one day (even though the take-away hot chocolate is $2.50 AUD cheaper than when you have it there... yeah, I'm definitely going there again before I leave). I decided to walk down to the Rocks where the event would be and do some souvenir shopping.
After that, I still had an hour to kill, so I decided to go to the cafe that Julia had recommended, which turned out to be just like Lindt, except for it was Guylian chocolate. After sitting down and realizing I a) was not hungry b) had just had hot chocolate 3 hours beforehand and c) could not stomach paying $15 AUD for a dessert, despite how yummy they looked, I decided that I would get a $9 AUD chocolate and banana milkshake, which ended up being only mediocre, but it allowed me somewhere warm, safe and dry where I could read Great Expectations and kill some time. When it finally was time, I followed the crowd down to Cadman's Cove, stopped to take a few pictures of the lit-up Opera House, and then made my way down to where the fire water performance was to be held.

Turns out, I should have used the hour I had just spent at the cafe getting a spot where I could actually see what was going on. Unfortunately, I hadn't, so I was stuck behind four rows of people, attempting to stand on my tippy-toes to see what was going on. Luckily, I don't think I missed too much. The highlight was the raising from the water, burning, and sinking of this ship. I think it was supposed to be something about refugees, but I completely missed the symbolism.

On Monday, I lazed around all morning and then headed to Circular Quay to meet up with John and Tyler who were doing some souvenir shopping. Since the last thing I had eaten was a panini at Lindt at 1:30 the day before, I was starving and so we stopped at the Australian Hotel in the Rocks and grabbed some wedges and pizza (just missing the happy hour discount on emu wings... fortunately?).
Tuesday was much of the same, but ended with me going to see The Hangover with John and Steve at night -- hysterical.
And now, finally, today! I am caught up! :-)... Today I met Petra and Hiroko in Chinatown for a farewell lunch. Petra leaves tomorrow for a 13-day trip to Alice Springs, Darwin and Cairnes, so it is the last time I will see her. We got dim sum, spring rolls, corn soup (or something), rice, an entree (honey chicken for me) and a drink for $12.80 each. I love Chinatown...
Only 4 days left! Eek!