The Melbourne Musuem

Australian culture of the day: “I’ve never seen it better.” is slang for I’m doing well.

I went to the Melbourne Museum yesterday. I enjoyed seeing many exhibits; including dinosaurs, sea life, the earth, animals, the brain, the body, and forests. Two of the most interesting things I saw were viewfinders that pointed at the bone skeletons of animals. when you looked through them the animal bones transformed into the living animal before your eyes and appeared in it’s natural habitat. There was then a short video of it moving around and then it switched back to the skeleton. This was accomplished by having a video of the skeleton as it would appear if you looked through a screen. The other interesting thing that I saw were two animatronic dinosaurs. I took a video of them. They looked rather real. I want someone to make an animatronic jurassic park…or better yet, make jurassic park itself. Once we can manipulate DNA we should be able to reconstruct the dinosaurs by tweaking bird DNA. For more on this topic, read the book “How to Build a Dinosaur”.

In other news, Harvard scientists have reversed the ageing process in mice – now for humans! This doesn’t have anything to do with me being in Australia. It just has to do with my goal of living hundreds of years. For more on this, read Aubrey De Grey’s book “Ending Aging” and learn about the exponential growth of technology.

The reports of my death have been greatly exagerated

My previous report that I would be staying has been reconsidered. After much thought, and for many reasons, I will be returning to SUNY New Paltz for next semester. I have a couple weeks of work then a week of traveling before going back to America. I predict that it will be more difficult to readjust to life back in the US; that I will have more reverse culture shock than I had culture shock. My journey back will not be complete until I’ve moved back into a dorm room on campus. The month between returning to the US and going back home (SUNY New Paltz) will be a difficult one; although a much larger part of my heart belongs to Australia now. I am an American by birth, but an Australian at heart.

Surf Camp

I went on a surf camp this past weekend in Lorne. It was a lot of fun despite the rain. I bought a tent and sleeping bag at a camping store called “Ray’s Outdoors” which was right next to where I live. They had a sale so I got the tent for $20 and the sleeping bag for $30. I’m thinking I’ll sell the sleeping bag because it will take up too much room in my suitcase on the way back; not sure about the tent though.

We met up across the road from a popular restaurant called “Dracula’s” which is down the road from RMIT and Melbourne Central station. There were about 10 people in the van. We drove to Melbourne University and picked up a trailer with surfboards and wetsuits. The drive down was long but we drove some of the Great Ocean Road so it was enjoyable. It was interesting to see what an Australian road trip is like with a group of college guys. Here is one of the jokes that one of the guys told:

Why did the first Koala fall out of the tree? It was dead.
Why did the second Koala fall out of the tree? It was handcuffed to the first.
Why did the third Koala fall out of the tree? It thought it was a game.
Why did the fourth Koala fall out of the tree? Peer pressure.
Why did the fifth Koala fall out of the tree? It was tied to the other koalas.
Why did the Kangaroo drop dead? It was hit by 5 Koalas.

I am not making this up…I don’t think I could.

When we got to the camp site I set up my tent and put my backpack and other bag inside. Not long after a group of people got back into the van and we drove down to a beach about 15 minutes from Lorne. I put on a wetsuit and grabbed a board. What followed was the best surfing I’ve ever experienced yet. I stood up quite a few times and for a longer time than I have before. That being said I did fail to stand up multiple times and slid off the front as well (there is a term for this but I forget what it is).

After we got back I walked to the beach down the road from the camp. It couldn’t have taken more than three minutes to walk there; maybe 50 meters away. There was a lot of ocean gunk washed up on the beach and dead birds scattered around the beach. I wasn’t enthused. I walked into town, just exploring. As I was walking back to camp I ran into some people from ride down (there were about 50-60 people at the camp in total). I joined them for diner. We walked around and decided on a burger place. I had a cheeseburger and some chips (french fries for Americans).

I met some more Norwegians when I got back to camp and played cards with some other people; I think they were Germans.

Saturday wasn’t as much fun. The waves were really low at the Lorne beach and not much better elsewhere. I read my Kindle for a few hours and made progress through multiple books. I read in my tent and some by the beach before it started raining. Saturday night was the barbeque. I helped cook the sausages on the gas grill. One burner wouldn’t light but some of the guys eventually decided to just keep pressing the starter button every 4 seconds…and they actually cooked half of the sausages on it.

Someone had changed the time and date on a guy’s phone. When he woke up he thought it was Sunday morning. Keep in mind it was Saturday night. This guy eventually showed up at the grill. I assume he found out later that night when it started to get dark that he had been tricked. Or maybe he was too drunk to notice.

After the barbeque we went to a local pub. I walked there with a guy I had met at the barbeque. I didn’t have my passport on me, but I was able to get in by showing my credit card and student ID. It didn’t matter as I had no intention of drinking, but it wouldn’t have made a difference if I had said that. I did dance some but it was a bit uncomfortable and unusual to be in a “pub” (read between the lines). I walked back to the camp around midnight. After taking out my contact lenses I decided to walk down to the beach because I haven’t been at the beach at night. It was a very beautiful sight. The waves and the lights of the peer off to the right.

Sunday I tried surfing again because the waves were bigger. But although they were bigger, they were too rough and the waves didn’t go far but flattened quickly. After getting tossed around I decided to go back. You have to respect the ocean and know when the conditions for surfing aren’t right.

There’s not much more to tell. I packed up my tent around one and got a ride back in the van a few hours later. I woke up today feeling sore. It was a great weekend away from modern life and it will be a weekend I will never forget.

Music I was listening to while writing this post: Sondre Lerche (Norwegian musician)

First exams in Australia

I’ve taken my first three exams here. I have one left to go. Exams are done differently here than at New Paltz. We all go to the Melbourne Showgrounds and sit in big rooms with hundreds of desks for three hours. There are fifteeen minutes of reading time before we start; when you can’t write. You have to bring your student ID card (which I forgot a few times and used my passport or got a written slip confirming my identity). It felt like I was back in secondary school (high school for Americans) sitting in the gym taking my finals. Very weird. And yes, I did feel a bit frightened when I sat my first exam because I was remembering Tomorrow When the War Began.

Apple rejected my application for a job. It’s unfortunate but I also had a great time experiencing the interview process. I now have an idea of what will happen the next time I apply.

I visited Queen Victoria Market this past weekend. I bought an Australian flag for $5. It’s now hanging in my room. When I get back, it will be hanging on my dorm wall.

I went tanning today. Outside. In November. I heard from a friend at New Paltz that there was a snow flurry this morning in NY. It’s strange to be able to walk outside and lie in the sun with shorts on in November.

A New View of Melbourne

On Sunday I went to Eureka Tower with Chris and saw some stunning views of Melbourne. I also went into the Edge: a glass box that extends three meters into free space over 80 stories above the city. Afterwards, Chris and I went to a tech sale event. I came close to buying a mic for my iPod but decided to get an extension cable for my Macbook because I didn’t have one with an Australian plug. Chris had to go to work afterwards so I went to the Melbourne City Library. I now have a Melbourne City Library card to check out items; I feel like such a local. I took at two audiobooks by John Marsden of books I didn’t have. I bought a sandwich at Subway and then went back to Eureka Tower (I had bought a two visits in one day pass) to look at the city at sunset/at night. It was a great day. Today I had my first interview with Apple. I feel that it went well. I don’t know if I got the job yet; I should know within a few days. Classes have finished and I only have exams left to complete. I’ll be studying for the rest of the week for two exams on Friday. The exams take place at the Melbourne Showgrounds. The same place the Royal Melbourne Show (a carnival) is held. It should be an interesting experience.

Staying For Another Semester

I woke up this morning and casually opened my email on my iPod Touch. Keep in mind that I’m half awake. My eyes focus upon an email from New Paltz. The first words I process are Global Scholar. Now I’m a little more awake. I read the subject of the mail which informs me that I received the Global Scholar Fee Reduction again.

What does this mean? This means Christmas in Australia, my 21st Birthday in Australia, New Years in Australia, more surfing, more footy games, more Aussie friends, more international friends, more Australian culture, and more Australian University classes (which to be honest is the real reason I’m here, to study). What do I have to say to all of that? I have three words. Bring. It. On.

How do I plan to celebrate? I plan to go to Torquay again for some more surfing. I was sore for two days after the first time I went last weekend and I have some small bruises on my right eye from where my board hit me. But it was still the most fun I’ve ever had; not to mention a great workout.

Barring unforeseen severe complications that prevent me from staying, expect to have another 6 months of blog posts to read. And a big thanks to the Study Abroad Office at SUNY New Paltz for helping me stay for another six months of wonder.

Surfing and a sad epiphany

I went surfing for the first time yesterday. I awoke early at 6am on Sunday morning and was out the door at 7am. At first I was disappointed because I thought I wouldn’t be able to get to the train in time; I couldn’t find a bus to the train station. I walked up to the shopping centre and found that there was a bus there. Lukily it stopped at Footscray Station. I then caught a train to Geelong and then a bus from Geelong Station to Torquay. I rented a board and wetsuit and hit the waves. I didn’t expect it to be easy, but it was more difficult than I thought. Let’s just say I failed. I went back to the shop and stored my board, put on my shoes, and grabbed some lunch. At two I went back to the shop for my surfing lesson. There was a group of seven of us, not including Chris the instructor. I managed to stand up for about a heartbeat before falling off. I kept trying until it got to the point where I knew if I didn’t go back then I would soon be too tired to swim back. I had a lot of fun and walked away very tired, not to mention sore feet because I forgot my thongs (thongs are what Australians call flip-flops; seriously).

If you’ve read my previous entries you are probably wondering what this means for me moving here. Well, yesterday confirmed it. I’m moving here. [Side note: I mentioned that I didn’t want to move to Melbourne in a previous post. I’m not so sure now. I’d very much like to live somewhere near Torquay. It’s not too far from the city and the epicenter of surfing culture and beaches.]

That brings us to the “sad epiphany” of this post’s title. I have contacted Australian Immigration and spoke with someone on the phone. It looks like I have some hard choices to make if I want to move here. It will take at least 2 – 3 years after I graduate from New Paltz before I can move here. Then based on the cureent system, I will have to find an employer to sponsor me after having worked for 3 years. So it will take at least five years before I can move here; unless the system changes by the time I graduate.

The First Day of Summer

Today felt like the first day of summer. It was also Daylight Savings Time; everyone in Victoria set their clocks forward an hour. I had wanted to go to Torquay to go for my first surfing lesson but it didn’t work out. Instead I did grocery shopping for the week and then decided to go for a run. On the way back from running two guys from the Village offered to give me a ride back. We got back to the village and after talking with some other people, we played some frisbee. I went back to my room to put on some sunnies. After awhile some other people joined in and there was a miniature footy being kicked around. I ran back to my room again and brought back my footy. I was surprised how well I did. Given, I didn’t kick or catch it perfectly every time, I did alright. Eventually everyone decided to leave. I got a towel and my Kindle from my room then went outside to read and work on a tan. It was a great day overall even if I wasn’t very productive.

I’ve started another book: Stephen Hawking’s The Grand Design

Great Ocean Road

I had an amazing day yesterday going to the Great Ocean Road. I even got my wish to go with Australians. Unfortunately I didn’t see any kangaroos; just a lot of road signs warning of kangaroos. I did see breath taking views of the ocean and coast. The road through the forest and along the ocean felt like a roller coaster at times with all of them turns.

I woke up very early at six to get to Footscray Station where I caught a V-line train for the first time. The seats were much better than the Metro trains. I got my first real look at the Australian countryside while on the train. Australia is very flat and you can see very far into the distance.

I got off at Melton station where I met up with Jo and Cassie. We all got into Cassie’s boyfriend’s rather attractive slightly-off-gold coloured car. It feels a bit weird sitting on the left in a car and not being in the driver’s seat. I also had to restrain myself when we were making right hand turns because it feels like you are turning into oncoming traffic.

The first stop on the Great Ocean Road Trip was Torquay to check out the surf community. I will be going back next weekend hopefully to go surfing for the first time. I went to a Rip Curl shop and then to a Quicksilver shop. I bought two quicksilver shirts; one of which I’m wearing as I write this post. Expect to see these shirts in future posts photos.

We went to the beach where I took my first swim in Australia. It was freezing. There were some people surfing at the beach. I was very jealous but we didn’t have time for a surf lesson.

Our first big stop was at the Otway Fly in the Great Otway National Park. Below is a photo of me on one of the walkways high up in the trees, the photo is taken from a taller lookout.

We were walking through the forest when a pair of velociraptors surprised us…they looked like velociraptors anyway. I think they were more scared of us than we were of them.

The last stop was The Twelve Apostles. There’s not much I can say other than it’s a stunning sight.

We only got lost once; which was on our way driving back. Instead of ending up back a Melton station we went to Werribee Station. It all worked out in the end.

My Country

There is a popular saying, “Home is where the heart is.” My heart is here. There are few things I know about my future, but one thing I do know is that my future is here. I try not to think of how much time I have left in Australia (because it seems so short); but I do know that when I do leave I will leave my heart here. I will long to return home. Below is one of the most popular poems in Australian literature that describes my heart’s new home.

My Country
© 1904 Dorothea MacKellar

(modified from original)

The love of field and coppice, of green and shaded lanes,
Of ordered woods and gardens is running in your veins.
Strong love of grey-blue distance, brown streams and soft, dim skies-
I know but cannot share it, my love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges, of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons, I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror- the wide brown land for me!

The stark white ring-barked forests, all tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains, the hot gold hush of noon,
An opal-hearted country, a wilful, lavish land –
All you who have not loved her, you will not understand –
Though earth holds many splendours, wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country my homing thoughts will fly.


P.B. (Post Blog) Australian’s understand this country’s hold on me. They love to travel but would never want to live anywhere but here. Jus think, how many Australians have you met in America or wherever it is you live?…My point exactly.