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.

Short Post: Language Differences

In Australia an “answering machine” is a “message bank”.

No one says g’day mate; not anyone of my generation anyway. People do say phrases like “Hey mate!”. By the way, mate is sort of another word for friend, but it has more loyalty and comradeship associated with it than the word “friend”.

Americans say “How are you doing?”, we say “How are you going?”.

I had a surreal moment today when I wrote arvo almost without thinking. Arvo is Australian for afternoon. Seems like I’m assimilating well.

Kisschasy: LIVE!

I went to a live performance by Kisschasy this past weekend at the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds. Kisschasy is an Australian band that originated in Melbourne. I have been listening to their music since before I arrived in Australia. They didn’t look like what I would have expected; they didn’t look like a rock band. Then again, I haven’t been to many concerts. I also didn’t expect to get so close to the stage. I thoroughly enjoyed the concert and roamed around the showgrounds afterwards. There is something called “showbags” that are sold at the fair. Showbags are sample bags of related products. I still don’t understand it really; it was the first time I felt some culture shock. I paid $19 to get into the showgrounds which I would have thought expensive but it was a cheap price to pay for a live concert of an Australian band that I am a fan of.

Cognitive Psychology Test

I took my midterm exam today for my cognitive psychology test. I had a strange moment when the tutorial lecturer started talking about 10 minutes for reading. Apparently it’s customary to read over the exam first with “pens down” and then you actually start the test. I had another jolt when I saw a casual reference the the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the test. It made me think conciously that I’m in Australia taking a test. Sometimes it still feels surreal that I’m on the other side of the world. It’s going to feel so different when I’m back at New Paltz. I’m going to feel different than anyone else; I’ll probably seek out international students (especially Australians) more so that I did before I came here. I’ll want to find other people who can relate to what I’ve experienced studying abroad.

People told me that I would come back a different person. But I don’t think I realised how different that will be.

Tomorrow When the War Began

I finally saw the movie of Tomorrow When the War Began with Chris today. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. It was a bit surreal seeing a foreign film on such “the big screen”. Although technically it wasn’t a foreign film; just foreign for me. It was an intense movie. I liked the actress who played Ellie and the actor who played Kevin; the latter for more shallow reasons. It was an emotional film for two reasons. I just read the book so I feel like I know the characters and because the plot would be the worst thing that could happen while I’m here; not that it ever would. I hope they make sequels for the other books. If it doesn’t make it to the US then I’ll have to buy the DVD to share with my friends back in the States.

Learning Footie with Stuart

I spent an hour after my cognitive psychology learning some of the basics of Aussie Rules Football with Stuart. He showed me how to bounce, hand-ball, and kick the footie (the ball). I would never play this game as it is played professionally; as I value my health (it’s an aggressive game with no protective clothing). However, I would like to be able to play a game of recreational/touch footie by the time I leave.

I don’t know when I’ll be coming back. Ideally I would like to get a job with Apple corporate and move here to work. One way or another my goal will be to return within 3 years of graduating college. I know that I will miss the friends that I have made here and the friends that I will make before I leave. It’s hard for me to think that it will be at least a couple of years before I see Chris again after I leave here. He’s been a great friend since I met him last semester.

That being said, it will be easy to keep in touch with my friends here on a regular basis with the Internet. Even if we are on opposite sides of the world. I also intend to read The Age or The Australian (local newspapers) on my Kindle every morning when I get back; as a way to keep in touch with Australia.

Song I was listening to as I wrote this: “Je Te Vends Mon Âme” by Kyo.

Gillard Wins!

The election was decided today. Gillard won! That makes this “new-Australian” rather happy. I would not be in a good mood right now if Abbot had won. This means that Labour won and not Liberal. Hopefully the next Australian election that I am here for will be one which I can vote in. Election is mandatory here for citizens. If you don’t vote, you get fined. I think this makes for a better system. This way the votes are a better representation of the country’s population; rather than it being voluntary to vote like in the United States.