Going Down Under

…My life abroad

It’s raining it’s pouring but Sydney’s not boring July 25, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 10:54 am
My housemates and I cruising the harbor!

My housemates and I cruising the harbor!

For all those of you shaking your head at my blog entry title, you will have to cut me some slack. I have the worst time with titling entries and I just went all-out cheesy tonight because it’s been a long day.

For my View from Australia class today, we had heaps of homework and I was up really late last night finishing it. We read hundreds of pages of different readings (which included several chapters of Blue Like Jazz so that was exciting) and had to answer reflection questions. Single-spaced, my answers came to 4 pages. That’s like writing an 8-page paper. And trust me I was not over-achieving. It was crazy. We’ll have to do that every week. But fortunately the readings are really good and this week all about social justice. After discussing the readings in class for an hour or so, we took off on a bus for the Sydney public library. Do you remember the library from Beauty and the Beast? With all bookshelves all the way up to high ceilings and spiral stairs going up the walls? That’s what it’s like kinda. It’s pretty cool. I prefer looking at books than actually reading them but it was a nice tour of the library, which will come in handy for some of our projects. From there, we headed to Circular Quay (which is the harbor where the opera house is located, and pronounced Key in case you ever need to know that) to begin our scavenger hunt. Today was around 50 degrees and rainy, so it wasn’t the best weather, but as a group we had to get a picture in front of all the main city sights. We all felt kind of miserable in the rain so we didn’t even try to run and beat the other groups, haha. But we got to see lots of sights and afterwards got free gelato in the Quay. From there we set sail for a harbor cruise. It must have been mad expensive but the ASC paid for it… well I suppose I paid for it but it just feels better when it’s factored in…and there was a man dressed up colonial like Captain Cook (who first discovered Aussie) at the dock. Photo ops around every corner. The cruise was beautiful and the weather improved for it. We sailed under the harbor bridge, past the opera house, and saw great views of the city. I expected it to be kind of dumpy but it was a really nice ship that served us coffee and cake and had all sorts of decks and things. Then we spent some time wandering around Darling Harbour, a different harbour in Sydney that is very similar to Inner Harbour in Baltimore. Our program took us out for Mongolian Barbecue dinner (aaaah so good) and we trained it back to Petersham.

Oh I also proposed to this boy in my program today. But just because his last name is Von Herbulos. Andrea Von Herbulos has quite a nice ring to it, I think. He went on to inform me that his last name means Great Warrior. And my name means Andrea. So either him or his brother who he also recommended needs to marry me so my name can mean Mighty and Womanly Warrior (Andrea means womanly). Man with a name like that you’re set for life. hah!

My housemates are I are going to get into our PJ’s and watch a movie so I gotta go. Later!

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This blog entry is a welcomed homework distraction. July 24, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 12:00 pm
Look! They even come in an assortment of colors! Just so you know... mine is purple.

Look! They even come in an assortment of colors! Just so you know... mine is purple.

In light of the weather being so cold this week (rain), our host mum has gone out and bought us all hot water bottles. The kind my grandma used to use. Yes, the rubber things that you thought had died out along with 8 track tape players. But they are alive and well in Sydney. These are the kind of things that come about when indoor heating is overlooked in an entire nation. What’s more, one of the female students at Wesley actually walks around with one during the day, just holding onto it for warmth. The brand of water bottles that is the most popular (these things sell like hotcakes, apparently) is called “Hottie”. How clever. Subsequently, you can make all kinds of “hottie” jokes. To the tune of : Hey look I found myself an Australian hottie. hardy har har, i know, i know.

Today I made a pal. She was a woman in her 70’s named Heather who was waiting at the bus stop with me today. What started off as simple small talk “Gee do you know why the bus is 15 minutes late?” -“No I haven’t the slightest idea” turned into a full-fledged heart-to-heart as our bus decided to arrive an hour later than the scheduled time. Heather had been to her first movie in 30 years the night before and was very excited to tell me all about it. Of all movies, she picked Mamma Mia as her re-entry. She said it was lovely and I assured her that I would see it after her high recommendation. She was a bit of a sad woman, with no family in Sydney and her children grown and far away. From what I gathered they are uninterested in her, unfortunately. She spends all day on Wednesday just getting her weekly groceries. She relies on public transportation, which accounts for about half of the day lost, and she must make two trips because the cauliflower is too heavy for her to bring in the first bag and home delivery would cost her $9 extra, $8.75 more than it used to cost her and $8.75 beyond a reasonable price for a service to the elderly if you asked me. She had the funniest way of speaking in that she was always looking grim and shaking her head, even when she was very excited and happy about something. I also couldn’t help but noticing that she applied blue eyeshadow quite liberally. She was quite the character. I have been learning that sometimes I have the choice to leave my ipod earbuds in and disengage, sealed into my own little world behind my familiar music, and at other times I have the opportunity to meet someone I’ll probably never speak to a second time and get one more glimpse at this culture that continues to surprise me every day. Heather was proud to be Australian but like so many others, seemed a bit amiss somehow. I wish I would have been brave enough to bring to the surface more questions about faith than I did. But nevertheless it was a good conversation and a reminder to seize the present.

 

first wednesday in Oz July 23, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 2:35 pm

The first week of school is kind of like aaah i have so much work to do this semester. But I am thrilled about my classes so far and here’s why:

this morning i had the first meeting for my class called contemporary christian music ensemble, which is a fancy way of saying chapel worship team, basically. Wesley has a chapel once a week called The Gathering, which is optional but most everyone comes because they want to (fancy that! people willingly going to chapel!) and it’s an amazing time. So this class that I’m taking involves preparing the worship for that service, including sound, set-up, and music. We got to class today and the teacher was this awesome guy named David. He was really really cool right off the bat, clearly with a heart after worship and said he was so excited that we enrolled in the class. He is going to teach us all sorts of things about how to be better worship leaders so I’m like – heck yeah sign me up for that! I have so much to learn still! Well he mentioned briefly at some point that he was a worship pastor, then at another point he alluded to the fact that he went to a large church, then at another point he made a bit of a joke about Joel Houston (the guy that sings salvation is here). I didn’t really put two and two together and after class during our lunch break as we were both at the counter buying a soda i asked what church he pastored at, just to make conversation. He goes, “oh, Hillsong – the hills”. You’re probably sitting there kind of impressed that he’s a pastor of hillsong. but let me clarify that hillsong the hills is the big church out of the two in sydney, where all of the music is produced from. Not only does this guy teach at the hillsong worship college, but after googling his name (yes i suppose that was borderline creepy) came to find out that he co-wrote Glorify Your Name with Darlene Zschech and produced her solo album! I mean… this guy is like a big kahoona at this church that i have looked up to in the aspect of worship for years and here he is teaching this class i’m in! and it’s a small group of maybe 12 people so I will have plenty of opportunities to pick his brain! It was just one of those.. “pinch me i’m in freaking Australia and this worship pastor from hillsong is going to mentor me in worship leading for 4 months” kind of moments. the kind that happen when you study abroad. did i mention you all should study abroad? In my personal opinion it’s the best thing since sliced bread.

Tonight my host mum had a bunch of friends over for dinner, and these are the people that are in her small group bible study. So they come over every week. They were awesome. There was a young couple included in the group with an adorable baby named Ella and the husband was a hysterical man, about 6’5 or something, that talked with his hands in the most exaggerated way i have ever seen. if you have ever seen someone who uses their hands a lot in conversation multiply that times 73 and you’ve pretty much got this bloke. They were all really sweet and genuinely interested in how our experience had been here so far. They all go to the same church that was hosting pilgrims from world youth day when their flights were delayed, so they all swapped pilgrim stories which was pretty entertaining. The conversation went something like this… *don’t forget to image the aussie accent or it will lose it’s effect. and picture everyone interrupting each other*

“Well, my taiwanese gehls (girls) were just taking pictures right and left of my house and i have no idear why”

-“I presume they haven’t traveled much, then”

-“Yes and they did rock paper scissors for the beds which was another story in itself”

-“Well, the nuns we had were simply lovely. Did you notice they never interrupted each other?

“Not once?”

“No, it ’twas very odd”

“Well my gehls wanted a blanket late at night and i thought oh dear haven’t i given them enough already but then they said they always cover up mirrors at night because they don’t want to wake up in the middle of a night and have a fright”

-“Well, I have a fright every morning when I look in the mirror”

“Well I know but I just said okay and gave ’em the sheet and went off on my merry way”

“They said it was a spiritual thing, though in their culture, dahling”

“Well the mexican pilgrims thought that ’twas quite strange we had kickboxing in our church..”

-“Yes, and do you remember when they announced that the gehls would be going to the homestays and the men would be staying at the church and that monk tried to go to a homestay under the qualification that he was wearing a skeht?!”

I could go on… but the dinner conversation was definitely amusing. I was content to be there… to soak it all in. And also content that I had found my way home, by myself, from school that day without any major transportation catastrophes (for which I deserve some sort of ribbon, believe me). Never a dull moment around here! haha.

 

dodgey July 22, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 1:03 pm

I like the word dodgey. People use it here a lot. it means sketchy/shifty/iffy/shady. It’s a great word. I don’t even know if I’m spelling it right. But it’s a great word.

Anyways, today was my second day of classes and our first day of class for our View from Australia course, a course done by our study abroad program to acclimate us to Australian culture and help us to think critically about it. Today we played a culture-related game called Faba Faba. Just in case you ever play it I won’t give it away… but half the class goes to another room and both halves of the class become their own culture with their own set of social rules and customs, even language. The cultures send representatives to the other cultures to “observe” and try to figure out what they are all about, and the process repeats. It’s very complicated and it took over an hour to do but it was a great learning experience. We talked about how cultural values can be relative and how we need to be careful to avoid pitfalls like ethnocentrism (our culture is the best), naive realism (“there can only be one logical explanation for why they are doing what they are doing”), and stereotyping (EVERY australian is friendly, for example. even though it may be positive, it’s probably not true of every person and unfair to generalize.) It was a good first class and should be good throughout the semester.

After class I went with a random group of people from ASC to a few of the girls’ homestay. In this homestay, the four girls actually have their own guesthouse behind their family’s main house, so they have their own mini-kitchen and living room. We played cards, talked, and they fed us lots and lots of fruit. haha. It was fun to get to know a whole different group of people and we had the best time. Then I went with a few of them back to Flo Harris, which is the student housing unit. Everyone at the beginning of this semester could choose to live with a family in a homestay, or to live in a Christian dorm for students (some from Wesley and some from other unis). Most of us chose families, but there are about 8 of us living in Flo Harris, and luckily our house is located about 5 minutes walking-distance from it. It’s a sweet dorm, with its own cafeteria and sweet areas to hang out like the rooftop and patios, as well as a victorian house attached with pool tables and stuff. It’ll be a really great place to hang out and today I met a ton of Aussie students there. So today was spent mostly on meeting new people and it was a blast.

Then tonight Denning and Felicity ate dinner with us and we had a cool opportunity. I think I mentioned before that my brother was in the stations of the cross presentation. If you google it on youtube (try World Youth Day stations of the cross) it’s worth your while. He has been rehearsing for the cast for 7 months for this, which is basically a passion play that was performed in all of the main sights of sydney throughout the course of the day last friday. It was amazing. Denning was on the steps of the opera house, pouring the water into Pilot’s hands for the 4th station of the cross. Tonight there was a cast party and showing of the telecast for all the actors, and we got to go as guests of our brother. It was pretty cool to see all the actors, since I had already seen most of the telecast and was a bit starstruck to see these actors that had been viewed by half a million people worldwide. They had it in an amazing old theatre and it was really cool to go and support Denning, as well as meet some people who did an incredible performance that will be remembered by the world. We got free jackets, bags, all kinds of food and stuff for showing up and that also scores well in my book. : ) We had fun as a family being together.  I could not ask for a better situation.  They care about the little things.  For example, today our host brother left reeses’ peanut butter cups on all of our nightstands.  Just to be nice.  This totally made my day because you can only buy them here in international stores which are rare and expensive!  And our host mom has been wonderfully patient with us as we get used to transportation and has driven us all over creation to help us out.  I am so grateful.

Got to go to bed for class tomorrow!

 

Back to school July 21, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 2:06 pm

Hi!

Today was quite the day.  Yesterday our host brother roped us into babysitting for him, so this morning Cristina and I set off down the street to a random family’s house to earn a little cash.  We showed up at the door and the mom said, “Oh that Denning.  I must’ve told ‘im three times I don’t need ‘im today!”  So she promised to call us when she needed a sitter in the future and sent us on our merry way.  Since we didn’t have class till the evening, we figured we were dressed and ready to go anyways so we might as well head into the city.  See we have this amazing thing… an unlimited transportation pass.  It gets us anywhere within Sydney (which is UUUGE) for free, including buses, ferries, and trains.  It’s pretty awesome.  So why not?

We hit up some thrift shops in the heart of the city, and that was an experience!  There is something really awesome about going to Salvo in another country.  Makes it much more exciting.  Plus, Aussies dress better so it’s more promising.  Our goal was to buy some sweaters because it is freezing in the evenings here.  Aussies don’t install heat in their homes because they need it for so few months out of the year, and they are far less wasteful than we are in all aspects, but those months are frigid at night.  I have a little space heater in my room to fight off the chill, but even so, i feel like i could never be wearing enough layers at night.  I wore gloves to eat dinner in our kitchen last night.

Then Cristina and I went to The Rocks, a very historic section of Sydney that as a history dating back to the late 1700’s.  Our ASC director told us that we aren’t to consume any alcohol during our semester, which would be a bad idea anyways, but that we should frequent the pubs because they are a cultural experience here in Australia, and that we should order something called a Lemon Lime and Bitters when we go.  This is a non-alcoholic drink, kind of like an Aussie shirley temple but very sour, that all the pubs will serve to kids and stuff.  Pubs here are a family affair.  So me and Cristina tried our firsts Lemon Lime and Bitters while some Aussies tried to explain the rules of Footie (Rugby) to us on the telly (TV).  It went way over our heads but it was quite the experience.  We were in the oldest pub in all of Australia, called the Lord Nelson.

Later we went again to the harbour to see the bridge and opera house since Cristina hadn’t yet, and the second time around was even better than the first because the weather was beautiful today.  We got lost for the next several hours, lost including multiple forms of transportation like buses, trains, and even lost on foot, but eventually we found our way home and thanks to those handy-dandy passes weren’t poorer at the end of the ordeal.  Also, we met a really nice Aussie named Claire with wavy blonde hair who helped us at one point when we were really confused.  Myself, being the cool kid that I am, decided to tell her she reminded me of Claire from Lost.  Wonder if a lost tourist has ever told her that before? But she works with a Christian club at the University of Sydney and invited us to church with her, which was cool.

Tonight we got lost again going to school and my housemates and I arrived at our photography class an hour and a half late.  It’s only 3 hours once a week so that was pretty bad.  But the teacher forgave us and i’m really looking forward to the class.  Tonight my host sister hung out with us after dinner and we talked about the Australian music scene and her job, which is babysitting artwork in a famous island by the bridge. Then Roslyn came home with two nuns, who are pilgrims that were here for World Youth Day and had no place to spend the night because of delayed planes.  Roslyn is an awesome lady like that… even with 3 houseguests she’ll take more on and feed them to boot.

Well, I’m going long.  Tomorrow I am leading a devotional for our first day of ASC class so I need to go prepare.  Love you all.

 

First entry from Sydney! July 20, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 10:04 am

Well guys…

I’m here!

I have been in Sydney since Thursday, but unable to update you all on the goings-on due to a stupid mistake on my part: not bringing a 3-prong adapter to Australia. I finally found one today in downtown Sydney, which caters more to tourists who also forget these little details. Now I am connected to the internet and have no excuse not to write.

okay so.. man where do I start? Well, Sydney is lovely. Be prepared for my vocabulary to change a bit because everyone uses British words here and it’s rubbing off on me. It’s absolutely amazing and I can’t think of a better city to live in. It’s always sunny and beautiful, it’s friendly, it’s clean, it’s safe, it’s diverse, it’s full of gorgeous waterfront views… it’s no wonder so many people choose to live here. I spent the first few days here at the Wesley Institute with the other people from the ASC (that stands for australian studies centre… that is the group of people i’m studying abroad with from the states) doing orientation. This was a neat opportunity to learn about the program from our directors and get acclimated to some things right away. It was fun getting to know the others from the program, and they’re all really cool people. There’s 35 of us, from all over the USA. My housemates, for example, are from Seattle and Iowa… so we pretty much cover the span. Their names are Christina and Heather and they’re both really cool.

There are many things to learn early on, like the Aussie lingo (tooootally different… but they have sweet words like dodgy and musely and servo) and the incredibly confusing bus system. But there are lots of exciting things to discover. We spent the weekend mostly exploring our immediate suburb of Petersham and Leichhardt as well, which is the nearby Italian district of Sydney. Our host mom’s best friend Sharon took us on a bike ride from our house to our school, which is a half an hour ride that I’ll do a few times a week to and from school because it winds around a gorgeous section of the bay called Five Dock bay. There are tons of cute coffee shops and a great park across the street. If we want to go to the opera house/harbour bridge area, it’s just a quick 20 min. bus ride into town. From there, we can easily take a ferry to Manly beach any time we want. It’s a great place to live.

Aussies are incredibly friendly, just as I hoped they’d be. They’ve got a funny sense of humor that we are all still getting used to, which is too hard to describe early on but i’ll take a stab at it later. Our host mom is the coolest lady. Her name is Roslyn and she is in her early 50’s with three kids. Their names are Jessica (25), Felicity (23 i think) and Denning (21). Roslyn is a school counselor with a calm spirit about her and a tranquility and hospitality that makes her the ideal host parent. Her voice sounds a lot like Emma Roberts’ (the lady from Stranger than fiction) if you add the Aussie lilt to it. I could just listen to her talk all day. She is a fabulous cook and always making amazing homemade things like vegetable soup and muffins and tea. Her best friend Sharon is always around and they’ve been friends since high school. She’s a school counselor too, and being around the two of them together is like living in a sitcom. They’re a hilarious pair. sharon is energetic and spunky, always on the go and with a great sense of humor. You never know what she might say and Roslyn says she needs 3 friends to keep up with her. Like most Aussies, she’s also got all kinds of animal attack survival stories, including a poisonous stingray attack and a spider bite that was very serious. She talked about these like they were bee stings, with a smile and “oh, yeah… well…” kind of ease. Felicity and Denning are really fun to hang out with and we’ve had a great time with that. Today we checked out one of Felicity’s paintings, which was a painted sculpture of Jesus on display in Darling Harbour. This is a very big opportunity for her and we all went out to see it and support her work. She’s very talented. Denning is a music student at our school which is cool. He’s very easy to get along with and promised to introduce us to all of his friends so that we can make some Aussie acquaintances.

This weekend Sydney has been upside down for World Youth Day. This happens every 3 years and brings in Christian “pilgrims” as they have been called from all over the world. Sydney is hosting the event this year and it is the biggest thing to happen since the 2000 Olympics. The theme of the event this year is the power of the Holy Spirit, and of course this sparked some interest for me. The Pope has been here all week, and this is his first time in Australia, and the first time a pope has been here for over 15 years. Naturally the city is chaos with hundreds of thousands of people walking around in their pilgrim gear, so we’d avoided the city until this morning. Their final event was a mass in a horse racing stadium, which the pope was to preside over. Our program gave us free tickets so we headed over. There were 400,000 people in the stadium from every country imaginable. This is the biggest gathering ever to take place Down Under – even bigger than any ceremony at the olympics. Heather and I happened to be in the right place at the right time and were stopped at an area where the pope motorcade… or dare I say… the “Pope-mobile” drove past. We got some sweet pictures of this which i’ll post as soon as I can. The mass was really cool and it was neat because the pope gave this message about receiving the baptism of the holy spirit, right on and straight from Acts. I hadn’t realized that the Catholic church was experiencing this kind of revival which is awesome. It was a cool morning. Then we went to see the harbour bridge and the opera house for the first time, which of course is just as beautiful if not more than every picture I had seen. We also hung out in darling harbour which is another beautiful well-known section of the city and had a starbucks while we people-watched. It was a long and busy day but full of once-in-a-lifetime kind of moments.

I have so much more to tell but I’m going long. hopefully i’ve caught up and now they’ll be shorter. Thanks for all of your continued prayers and support but know that I’m doing well and having the time of my life!

 

for the music lovers July 13, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 4:13 am

Lately I have been wondering what music will be like in Australia.  I know that’s about as far away from here as you can get, but I have been assuming that they listen to the same stuff we do.  Should be interesting to find out.  I hope to get some new stuff and bring it back!  But one thing that always confused me was: why do Australians, or Brits or fill in the blank, not seem to have an accent when they sing?  I don’t get it.  I know of one Australian singer-songwriter who has an accent and she’s awesome… her name is Missy Higgins and you should definitely listen to her stuff.  Particularly, The Special Two or Scar.  But mostly, accents seem to go under-the-radar when it comes to music.

Speaking of music, lately I have been loving this thing on itunes.  No, not the free songs.  I mean, yes I love them and think they’re the best thing since sliced bread, but I’m talking about something else.  “Itunes Essentials”.  These are mix albums made up by… well… actually I have no idea who makes them but I love them.  Today I got some stuff from the Cafe Cubana Starbucks mix, the Alternative Pop playlist, and the Surfer’s playlist (reminds me of those Montanita days in Ecuador).  Its my new favorite thing.  I don’t have the money for this.  hah.. story of my life.