Going Down Under

…My life abroad

UGH January 31, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 3:39 am

academics!

i love the privilege to get an education but i still have my moments… like tonight when i realized that i have to read 11 books in 12 weeks for spring semester, 5 of which are about science and technology for a gen ed which i put off until my last semester. joy.

see, here’s the thing.  i get the distinct sense that some of my friends at college ENJOY “the books”.  the learn FOR FUN.  they would research things whether it was compulsory or not.  I, however, either have not yet arrived at that place or perhaps never will arrive at that place.  I know I’m almost finished with college, and I’ve done pretty well grade-wise I guess, but it has been a struggle for me.  Looking back, there were times when I thought I simply couldn’t complete numerous assignments.  Two different faculty members at Messiah that have been mentors in my life are both working on their doctorates at the moment.  They have both said to me on separate occasions that getting this degree is exceptional in the incredible amount of perseverance that it requires.  Not necessarily in its difficult; but in its perseverance.  I feel the same way about college now, to a lesser extent.  I just have to charge through and finish, and the end is in sight.  That doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for college and classes and what I’ve learned from textbooks.  But perhaps my greatest lesson of college has been in coming to the understanding that I don’t learn best from books.  If I really want to learn something, I have to interact with it – outside of the classroom – in real life.  Textbooks serve their purpose to a degree, but for the most part I feel that the other experiences of college outside the classroom have prepared me far better for the curve balls that real life will throw my way.

man those 11 books really put me on a soap box didn’t they?

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Let’s talk music January 26, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 9:06 pm

Over the past few weeks I have been busy busy busy in the area of music.  I’m not sure if I already mentioned it on here, but for Christmas my parents gave me money towards recording a CD.  It has been a lifelong dream of mine ever since I was a kid, and now I can finally say that the process is beginning.

Originally I thought about doing some covers  (meaning any song that is written by somebody else) – you know, throw in a little norah jones here and a regina spektor there, maybe a worship tune or two.  But this past year has been quite the year of inspiration for me, causing me to write a bunch of songs based on various thoughts and experiences.  Many of these were written in Australia, since being around “musos” (music majors) at an arts school rubbed off on me.

It was tough to get things off the ground recording-wise because it is quite a lengthy and complicated process, but two friends I met recently are great musicians and have a studio in their basement so they have been helping me out with it.  Friday I had my first recording session where my friend helped me to narrow down my songs to my favorite ones and format them.  Then the recording began!  I “laid down” (i love these little terms somehow they make me feel cool hhahah) piano and vocal tracks for two of my songs, apathetic and make it count.  Hopefully my demo CD will have about 7 tracks on it, and they will be quite the mix let me tell ya.  One of them is a super-jazzy song called dandelion, another a worship song I wrote for a school project called Shadow of Your Holiness, another a cute little folk tune where I admit most of my quirks called A Quick Synopsis.  So basically… they are completely different from one another: some very “Christian radio” sounding, others indie-ish, others jazz.  I am going to include two covers – a combined version of Stand By Me and I’ll Be There into one song.  But anyways just wanted to throw out an update on the project and everything.  I hope to be finished recording by March if all goes according to plan and be able to promote the CD on campus here at a coffeehouse in the spring.  It’s all pretty overwhelming but I feel good about it.  It is giving me an outlet to share a lot that has been on my heart and what I’ve been learning (well in regards to the more serious songs) and it will really challenge me musically.  I wrote the following little folk song last night and thought I would let you peek over my shoulder a bit – I don’t think I’ll be able to include it on the album.  It’s really weird and strange and random but here are the lyrics…the goal was that I wanted to play around with personifying objects.

If walls could talk, they’d sure keep their mouths shut

Give them credit – keepin’ secrets ain’t easy

They don’t forgive and they sure don’t forget

You can bet they don’t take your side

If hearts can really break, most people wouldn’t make it

You could give them a spare – it wouldn’t make a difference

If hearts can throb you can’t control who they long for

You can bet they have a mind of their own.

Chorus: If

If

If

Don’t you ever wonder?

If seagulls understood us, they’d kind we’re kinda foolish

Who’s to say they don’t – maybe they’re plotting to take over

Can’t really blame ’em if they are ’cause we deserve it

You can bet they wouldn’t be sympathetic

If roads could bend, they’d be too proud to bend over

They’re too stuck in their ways to change

They never get a break and it’s made them quite contrary

You can bet they’ve got a chip on their shoulder

If records could play, they’d sure feel much better

Think of how they feel since they became an antique

They’ve got no pity for women with wrinkles

You can bet they don’t skip by accident

If print was fine, it wouldn’t volunteer it

It prefers to be discreet and let you assume

Maybe it seemed a little down, but don’t be fooled

You can bet it laughs at your expense.

 

Exhibit A: What a college student does when they are supposed to be studying January 22, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 6:18 am

Yes, it’s true. I have a big exam tomorrow and it’s 1 AM and here I sit blogging. Don’t worry, 4 out of 5 chapters are nailed down. Also not helpful was the LOST season premiere tonight – confusing yet AWESOME because the words awesome and lost are synonymous. obviously.

Well January is flying by, I gotta tell ya. I knew it would with the psycho schedule of mine lately. It’s funny how the grass is always greener. I was complaining about being bored by new year’s, and now I’m begging for a break. I am taking a J-Term class called Adolescent Development, which has been really interesting. People call me crazy for this but I love the middle-school age group. Somehow I don’t like kids or animals really but I love adolescents. Go figure. It’s such a weird stage of life and studying it intensely has been really cool. I’m writing a big research paper right now about social networking sites (translation: facebook/myspace) and their influence on teenagers’ personality and social skills. You know you’re in the right major when your classwork is relatively enjoyable.

So what else is new? Besides Obama. Who is pretty sweet if you ask me. Well, I am hopefully going to begin recording this Friday. I wrote this new jazz song centered around the concept of a dandelion… a person who becomes a weed in your life. I think I’m gonna start with that one because it is so totally opposite of the kind of song most people would expect from me. It’s a weird mix of stuff, my collection of original songs – some are really Christian-y worship-y, others are just about random things. And they are all totally different styles. If this project comes together it will be miraculous.. oy. It’s probably going to turn out to be like a 4th job time-wise but what’s the fun in doing life half-way? Sleep is for wimps.

Hmm. Oh yeah! My friend Emily and I are soon going to make one of our freshman dreams come true. No, it does not involve graduating cum laude although hey that would be nice too. Oh no. We have been planning for four years to go to THE groundhog day ceremony in Punxsutawney. Who knows if that is spelled right but you get the gist. Yes: On a special day (Feb. 2nd) Punxy Phil, the beloved woodland creature will emerge from his little dwelling to determine our weather for the rest of the spring. And WE will witness this ever-reliable prediction. haha. It sounds like a bizarre weekend which I will have to be sure to tell you about afterwards…but after the stress of this month I am going to be so ready to do something random like that. Maybe I will wake up the next day and get to relive it all over again.. or was that a movie I saw one time? : )

Epic.

Epic.

In conclusion,

I submit to you that tough economic times are not a good enough excuse for under-tipping your waitress.

obladi oblada life goes on

later tigers

 

Discuss. Connect. Reflect. December 23, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 7:41 am

Well me and my buddy Ellie Chase just had one heck of a movie marathon… consisting of a double-header: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 and American Teen. Yes yes, don’t be fooled by movie titles that might cause automatic gag reflexes – they were actually pretty awesome.

American Teen - rent it OR ELSE

American Teen - rent it OR ELSE

Sisterhood blah blah serves its purpose by further increasing my desire to go to Greece with its gorgeous shots of both Santorini, Greece AND Turkey where I also hope to spend some time this coming year. And American Teen is an incredible documentary about high school kids.

This high school movie got me thinking about my high school days a bit. I was such a different person as a senior in high school from the person that I am now, a senior in college. Wow, what four years can do to you. I saw in this movie all of the high school cliques all over again, the exact same stuff that seems to occur in every small-town high school…it’s all the same. And I thought to myself about how happy I am to have gone to an amazing college which I love and how grateful I am for the way it has shaped my character. Do I still have a lot of problems and am I still on a journey? Of course. You never “arrive”. But I look back at all the pettiness of high school and I’m so glad that for the most part, it never sucked me in. I had God and somehow that got me through years of potential bad choices and heartache unscathed. I had God and somehow He helped me to see that there was more in store for me than a comfortable middle-class life in the suburbs of Mechanicsburg forever.

I’m 21. I’m about to finish school, something I’ve been doing since I was 5 consistently. That is weird. I have no prospects of a relationship in my life at the moment and it feels like most of my friends are in serious committed relationships. Also weird. While many of my friends are applying for grad schools or job-hunting, I am booking a flight for Thessaloniki to see what Greece has in store. I am about to live overseas for the 3rd time in 2 years and that is weird. What do I do with all that?

I just want to know. My life is so open-ended right now that I just want some clarity. I want some better idea of who I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to do. I want to let God be in control but I want Him to let me in on everything first. It’s like – you know when you’re opening presents and you’re always supposed to read the card first? I just did this today that’s why it’s on my mind. I tore into a gift before the card and the person giving it to me made me stop unwrapping and go to the card first. Turns out the gift didn’t make much sense without the gift card that was inside of the card. Before this sounds too much like a bad Sunday School object lesson, all I’m saying is I feel like I’m living life the same way – wanting to rip into it and find out the answers to all of its unanswered questions. But I have to do things in order. I have to take it one thing at a time and start with the card, which is sometimes the most boring part of the gift but at other times the gift depends on it. Maybe there is something to be learned from all of this in-between-ness. Yeah.

And with that, it’s way past my bedtime and who knows if I am even making sense anymore.

 

Bugs are taking over. December 4, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 6:20 pm
this = my life

this = my life

Yes, it’s true. I feel that I am on the set of some weird horror movie here in the college ministries office at Messiah. I am working on the workstudy computer (well working as in – not working at the moment) and these bugs are crawling all over the mouse and computer screen and walls around me. I kid you not. They are those boxelder bugs that kind of look like lightning bugs. Without of course the cool part of lighting up. So really they are just posers. Basically there is nothing cool about them except the fact that unlike mosquitos and bees they can’t hurt you in any way. So on the cool insect continuum they are about right in the middle. But that doesn’t mean I like them. and they are everywhere. My boss Doug says that when the weather changes they migrate from outside in the cold to the inside, crawling through the vents and making the trek to some nice little nook or cranny of hostetter chapel. We, the priviledged college ministries workstudy students, get to witness this epic journey as we go about our business. It’s like Jumanji over here.

Anyways I do have a thought for you. Lately I have been considering that I am just way too obsessed with celebrities. I mean I’m no so bad that I have a Twilight poster in my room or something (no offense to any potential tweenage reader out there) but I mean when I turn the TV on, I usually go straight to E!. I love E!. It’s funny to put a period after an exclamation point. Odd. Anyways celebrities just fascinate me and they always have. I mean I know my stuff. I know just about every Hollywood relationship going on right now thanks to the copious amount of TV I have been watching in the past few limbo weeks of being home. I have always been a huge magazine fan as well and I actually look FORWARD to waiting rooms so I can read people for free. It’s one good thing about the dentist anyways. But this morning as I’m sitting there eating cinnamon toast crunch watching E! True Hollywood Story about Ellen DeGeneres, I’m like – why do I even care? I mean it wasn’t that it was Ellen in particular but I just said to myself – this is stupid. I could be out there doing something meaningful with my time or knowing details about the lives of people I actually know and care about – let’s not even get started on how bad I am with birthdays, but it’s just kind of sad. This is something I have to give more thought to…but I need to start investing in the people I actually see everyday, the people I know and have relationships with instead of these paparazzi snapshots of people who don’t even come close to sharing anything in common with me.

Just a thought.

 

Oh – hey December 3, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 3:13 pm

Well it’s been embarrassingly long since I have been in the blogging world.  sorry.

I kind of forgot to tell you anything about the second half of my semester in Australia.  But you know, I don’t really regret it – because I feel like I really lived in the moment this semester.  Sometimes when you’re so busy blogging becomes a chore and when it felt that way I just took a break.  hah a long one.  But anyways the deal is I am back in the USA, chillin in PA.  I get the same questions every day: “How was Australia?” (with the tone of give me a one-word answer not a half-hour desciption) and “Are you glad to be back?” Well, sure.  It’s always good to be home.  I mean my family is made up of some of the coolest people I know.  But of course it’s not Sydney and this isn’t Australia and everyone’s accents are stupid now.

But that chapter in my life is now closed and it was a good one.  Australia was a time for me to grow and learn and also get in touch with the artist side of me.  Which has in turn motivated me to pursue recording over the holiday season.  I’m still trying to get it off the ground so I’ll let you know how that goes.

So, where am I going next? One might ask.

My next adventure is moving to Greece to live with Tony and Jamie Sebastian.  The plan is to live there anywhere from a year to a couple years, mainly directing a study abroad program and helping them out wherever needed.  I’m young, not tied down, graduating from college – it’s the perfect time in my life to do this so I’m going for it.  But all of these exciting travels take money and I’m hurtin for it.  Actually right now I have four dollars to my name.  But not to worry I just got a waitressing job so we’ll see how that goes.  (*cough come to Italian oven and leave me large tips as an act of charity cough*) Yes and I have also returned to Messiah College even though I’m not taking classes to work for our worship pastor and help out with campus worship stuff.  I’m keeping busy.

Okay well that’s enough for now and probably everyone has given up on reading this so.. till next time.

 

Hangin Out Outback September 10, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 12:42 pm

Well folks, I have survived my journey to central Australia! 

I spent this past weekend (friday-monday) in the outback with my study abroad group.  It was an organized trip centered around us learning about Australian land and environment.  We stayed on a farm in the outback, but before you picture a lancaster farm with cornfields, let me just tell you that this farm is 30,000 acres of mostly desolate terrain with some tempermental wheat fields and herds of cattle and sheep thrown in.  Oh yeah.. and some typical Australian wildlife, which I’ll get to…

On the way there we tried to make a stop in the Blue Mountains, which sit an hour or two outside of Sydney.  Unfortunately, it was so foggy you couldn’t see anything at the lookout point.  Oh well.  The trip took pretty much all day via charter bus, but we watched some Australian films and I listened to an audiobook (i’m cool like that).

We arrived and explored the farm a bit.  We stayed in the cabins where the hired sheep shearers normally stay when they’re hired out.  The host family that are professional chefs came along (since it was their brother’s farm) and cooked all our meals, so needless to say we didn’t go hungry in the Australian wilderness.  There was a constant bonfire going on, and our little campground area was situated right by a creek.  They challenged us at the beginning of the weekend to see if we could go the whole trip without showering.  This was not so much for us to be gross for the fun of it, but more because they water supply out there is low and it would be best to spare as much as possible.  Most of the group of 35 made it the whole time, including myself.  Hey when you’re chillin in the outback hygiene just goes out the window.  Who cares!

It was cold, but I still decided to sleep outside the first night with about 10 other friends.  We brought our sleeping bag out to a tarp and slept under the stars.  We all laid there looking up, and we could see the milky way constellation, and even the planet Venus.  The southern cross and scorpio were all there, too.  The moon was low the first night so the stars were incredible.  I saw several shooting stars as we were talking at night.  It was incredible and one of those memories that I will never forget.  The sky in the outback is weird – it’s different somehow than ours.  Well, partially due to low pollution I suppose.  The ozone layer is thinner above Australia as well which may contribute to it.  I don’t know I’m no scientist but I just know it’s different.  Every night the sunset was incredible.  The first night they took us out in jeep-type vehicles to go kangaroo spotting.  Someone in shotgun holds a huge deer light (or should i say kangaroo light) and shines it around as we drive along the dirt roads of the property.  We saw tons of them bounding across the road and through the fields!  They were everywhere!  When we saw one we’d speed up and just off-road it through the field trying to keep up with them!

The next day we went on a tour of the farm.  We saw the coolest stuff, including a rock quarry, the old abandoned homestead, a lizard we got to pet, a herd of emus which was definitely a highlight, and outback watermelons (don’t try them no matter what anyone tells you).  They took us to a hill – yes even though the outback is flat they can be found from time to time) and gave us the answer to an essay application question we filled out before we came.  It asked what our goals were for studying abroad in Australia.  It was funny to read what I had written, since I had forgotten by now.  Then we were to write a letter to ourselves, which we’ll open at the end of the semester.  It was a cool experience, looking out onto thousands of acres of wilderness and reflecting on my semester so far.  That day we also chased sheep and that was quite a production.  I got to hold a little lamb from the flock and it was so cute!  On Monday I also had the opportunity to help a shearer shear a sheep.  Say that five times fast.  It was really awesome.  We did some canoing, some guitar-playing and singing around the fire, some card-playing, and lots of picture-taking.

The whole trip was a great chance to build relationships with the other ASC students and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.  It was perfectly timed to be a great getaway and I loved every minute of my time there.

the outback through the doorway of the old homestead

the outback through the doorway of the old homestead