Friday, October 24, 2008

Perth 1

I took Tiger airlines (my first time flying with them) and despite the bad things I had heard (because they are the cheapest airline) they were actually a very neat service! All of the staff at every point were very nice, so I had a good first experience with them. I got into Perth around 6:00 PM and was picked up my my hostel (Comfort Backpackers). I got settled and went across the street to Hungry Jacks (Burger King) for dinner cause I was starving (you're not allowed to bring your own food on the plane, and they don't give you any FREE food/drinks... that's one downside to Tiger). The next day I got up early and had free brekkie (provided by the hostel) and caught a bus to Murdoch Uni. When I got there I found that they had printed up a program for me and I was supposed to have gotten there at 7:30 AM (I got there at 9:00 ish because I didn't think they would be open before 8) but they had only sent me the email about this the day before while I was on my way to Perth and so I hadn't been able to check my email. Anyway, it went ok, I didn't get to meet the Dean of the Vet school that day though cause he had meetings. I was given a tour of the campus buildings including their on campus clinic and farm; very cool. Everyone was very nice and very helpful. I got a lot of information sussed out, and later I met with Christina, a 5th year student from California. She has been really helpful for international students, she's set up a website with information on being an international student at Murdoch. She also has her blog up for people to read. Anyway, we talked a lot about different stuff, and we had lunch together. the campus is really beautiful, I like it. I am very excited to go there, which is pretty much a for sure thing now. I will apply this spring and if I get accepted (which everyone I talked to there seemed pretty certain I would... especially since I took time out to go to WA and visit/ talk the the Dean) I will be going in January 2010. Anyway, the day I left Victoria I got an email just before from John Henderson, the prof in the linguistics department at UWA (University of Western Australia) saying that I could come meet with him at 2:00 and then he had a student that would show me around at 3:00, well, I was at Murdoch that day so I wasn't sure I'd make it, but luckily I got done with everything at Murdoch and was able to catch the train up to UWA by 3:00. I ended up having the tour with the student first then talking to John as I was late. There were actually three linguistic girls (one from the UK but grew up here, one from Perth, and one from Minnesota!) that showed me around, they were very nice, very cool girls. :) The UWA campus is THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CAMPUS I HAVE EVER SEEN!!! I absolutely love it! I got a lot of questions answered on David's end of things talking to John, so that was good. I did the best I could anyway with the information that David sent me to ask. :) I talked to David afterwards and he's a bit nervous, but it sounds promising. They are saying that he'd most likely be able to go straight into PhD work (pure research) which is neat but he's not so sure he's prepared enough for that... I think he'd be fine but. After leaving there I went one my way back to the hostel, stopping to get food for the week at IGA.

Before Perth

I know it's been a while since I wrote, sorry. :) So, Ambika (one of my housemates) was on a 9 day fast in honor of the goddess Turga (I think it's actually a really beautiful thing and they do these fasts and things honoring good behavioral practices and beliefs, so I like it). I was thinking of fasting with her mainly because I thought it would be neat to do something from another culture, and plus I've never fasted before. Alas, it fell at a bad time, it was during the week that I had swimming and I didn't want to zap my energy, plus these meals were incorporated into what we paid for, so I wanted to get my money's worth. :) Her fast was that she could only eat potatoes (but can add spices), the principle is that you have to eat simple foods and you don't have to do much in the way of preparation. No grains or wheats. She could also only have one meal a day, at the end of the 9 days she would make a meal for everyone in the house in order to break her fast. She had to serve a girl first and picked me because (and this might seem a bit intimate, but oh well) I was the only girl in the house that had not started her monthly cycle yet. I helped her to prepare some of the food, I had to be the first to be served and Ambika couldn't eat until I did. She also presented me with an apple (for good health) and a dollar coin (for offering) and she had to touch my feet (don't remember why). She had on an Indian suit, she also went and prayed after preparing the meal. I was a really interesting and fun experience, and the meal was very delicious!! After that, on the 16th of October I set out to Perth!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The spirit vs. the body

I have recently discovered an interesting way of looking at life as we know it. It all occurred to me when I was hanging out with the ultimate frisbee players. I was watching people bandage up legs and wounds and taping knees etc. This is when it really dawned on me that our souls are a slave to our bodies. The fact that I have been taking physiology also plays a part in me really starting to think about this. It may seem like one of those obvious parts of life, but I had never really stopped to think about it before; and if many of you have, well I guess I'm a bit slow, but for me this is a small epiphany. Who we are, our personalities, our ability to think and reason and communicate, everything about us is unique and special. Even though I believe animals have many if not all of these qualities (although many of them could be said to be not as advanced as ours) the main thing linking us to animals, AND plants, is that we all have physical bodies that have demands that must be met (I don't want this to sound as if I don't believe all spirits go to Heaven, or wherever, after death; that is something I am not sure of). If we injure ourselves, our soul, our being, is also limited by this. The fact that who we are never dies, but can become changed by our bodies (ie: dementia), or is "forced" into death by our bodies is, to me, very interesting. I think when one really looks at it it's a kind of evidence for an afterlife, at least it reinforced my belief of such. If who we are is a seemingly undying entity, but we are merely caged in this physical form that is temporary, then there must be a place for our souls to go after our bodies give in to their surroundings, or time. One could argue that our souls aren't immortal entities, but with everything that one person is capable of doing (ie: influencing the world in some way... like socrates... I won't use Jesus as an example because he was here under special circumstances ;P; and for the sake of arguing assuming non belief in God) I just can't believe that death is the end of our actual BEING! That is, however, just the way I see it, others might not feel the same. As this has somewhat changed my view of the world and its inhabitance, I just wanted to share it with everyone cause I think it's a pretty big deal. :)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Werribee Zoo

My friend from STA travel (who helped me with my Tassie trip and Alice Springs trip), Laura, took me and another girl she works with to the zoo today! We met up at a place for brekkie then headed to Werribee. We got lucky in that it was a really nice day, a little chilly in the wind but not bad. It's an open range zoo, so we took a driving tour, then walked around to see the lions, cheetah, hippos... I won't describe much, I'll just put up some pics. :) We ate lunch then went to look at this mansion that's also there, but we didn't want to pay the $8 admission so drove back to Geelong then got ice cream. :) It was a good day. :)

update #2

On Thursday night I went out to the Rock n' Roll themed party with my swimming team, I had to leave my bag at the apartment that they were renting (just until Sat morning) so that meant that I had to spend the night there, which was more convenient anyway (the last bus is at 12:05 AM on weekdays). It was ok, fun enough. :) I only got one drink cause it was fricking $8.50!!! I can't justify paying $7 for a return ticket to Melbourne from Geelong and $8.50 for a drink! Anyway, a Monash Uni swimmer tried to kiss me, that was interesting. We were all pretty stuffed so went home at around 1:00, but the other girl swimmers came trickling back to the apartment between 1 and 3, so didn't get to sleep until around 3 AM. It was really funny though, one of the guy swimmers came in and I introduced myself and he said "NO WAY, THEE CASSIE IS IN OUR APARTMENT?? No offense but didn't you come in last in every event? It's funny that you're like the worst swimmer and Belinda is like the best and you're best friends." (we're just friends ;P). I thought it was so funny, I really didn't mind. :P I knew I was going to be crap because I hadn't been on swim team for 8 years and only got to practice for like a month, and even then only now and then. I actually didn't learn much good technique until the day before we raced from Bel and Shane (team members). I just thought it was hilarious that I was famous for being the slowest swimmer. ;P I am kind of proud of that in a strange way. ;P Anyway, we, for some reason, all started waking up at 8 AM, so I showered and got ready then left them and took the tram to the city centre. The Dream Festival was starting that day (Friday) so I decided to go take a gander. It's on the bank of the Yarra River, and it's a bunch of art work with dreams being the theme. I got some brekkie then had a look, they were still getting set up a bit, so it was neat but didn't have the atmosphere. It would be really cool to go back at night (it's all lit up and have bands...) but I'm not going to go to Melbourne just for that. Here're some pics from there.

I then decided to go to the Queen Victoria Market cause I've been wanting to for a while, to do some souvenir shopping. I got almost everything I needed/ wanted to get for people, and I even found a few things for myself. :P The most exciting thing is that I GOT A DIDGERIDOO!! That was the one thing that I really wanted to get for myself here, and I got an amazing offer!! I have been looking at them for a long time but it's hard to find authentic ones (made out of gum wood and carved out by termites, then painted by aboriginals) that don't cost HEAPS! The sales man was really nice and he made me some awesome offers as I got a few other things there as well. But anyway, the one I got was completely authentic, and has a beautiful hand-painted design! Ones like the one I got usually run about $400, and he said he sells them on the weekend for around $200, but I got it for a mere $100!!!! I thought I was for sure going to have to spend at $200 on a decent one, and as I wasn't willing to go much over $200 for one I was a bit worried that I wasn't going to find one that I REALLY liked, but I got lucky!! Yay for the Victoria Market!!
Here are some pics. The story is that there are two kangaroos protecting the water holes (the little circles) and day and night are coming together in the centre. At the bottom end is a circle of hunters around a camp fire with their spears and boomerangs. On the back of the didgeridoo are kangaroo tracks. :)

I have been practicing a bit and am already better than I was a few days ago. :) I mainly need to work on the circular breathing, I have the concept, but it's not easy!

Friday, October 3, 2008

update #1

I don't know if I'll be able to fit all of this update into one readable post, but we'll see; I'll try to make it relatively short. :) Siddhant had his (late) birthday feast on Thursday and so we all went and had Indian food (I of course had too much cause it was so yummy) and then went to a club for a while.

A guy offered to buy me a drink. ;P I took it cause hey, it was a free drink (don't worry, I was careful). ;P I told David about it, I thought it was funny. :) Anyway, we got back at about 3 AM and I was going down to the waterfront at 6:00 cause Muffin Break was down there giving away free muffins and coffee cause of the footy again. This time it was a big shindig, the Today show (based in Syndey... the equivalent of our Today show in NY) was there. I got to be on TV again, but just in a crowd. Anyway, so I just stayed awake until I had to take the bus down there. I didn't have to go, but I figured it was a once in a lifetime thing. I was completely buggered! I got a picture with Richard something... he's on the Today show in LA and is on the Aussie version of Home Makover (Domestic Blitz)... he's American and probably very gay. :) Anyway, here's the pic of me and him, maybe someone will recognize him, although I never heard of him till I came here. :)

I only spent about an hour there then went home and slept until 2:00, worked out then went to work at 5:30. On Wednesday we got our uniforms for swimming (the social jacket anyway), but we didn't get all of our stuff yet, it was late coming in. I ended up not going to the opening ceremony cause I got sick and decided it better to stay home as I hadn't been getting much sleep lately and that's most likely the reason I got sick. Belinda didn't go either and I'm not sure about the other two swimmers. I went into Melbourne on Monday though and had a practice session with them, so that was good, I learned a few pointers on how to do the strokes that I didn't know. I knew I was going to be total crap, but was willing to deal with that. :) Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we swam, on the first day I finished last in one race, was disqualified for taking too long in another and didn't finish the 200 free because by the time I was at the one end on the third lap everyone else had finished so just decided to get out than make everyone wait for me. That gave me a feeling for what I could and couldn't do, which I really had no idea about before, so over the next two days I scratched two events, the 400 free and 800 free... definitely couldn't do those!!! On Wednesday and Thursday I walked over to where the ultimate Frisbee players were playing in Albert Park (just about 10 min walk from the Aquatic Centre where I was swimming). They are all really cool people! I almost felt more like part of their team than my swim team (that's mostly because I can relate to them more, they actually play as a team whereas swimming is individual, and they were larger ;P). On Thursday I wore their homemade mascot uniform to cheer them on, they are the Deakin Cheese Graters, so they had a big cardboard cheese grater for a mascot. :P I think they were the only team with a mascot. ;P

To be continued...