First Time Back at New Paltz

Today I went to New Paltz to visit some offices on campus for next semester. I’m trying to volunteer for the winter international orientation for incoming students. It’s strange being back. I miss Australia with all my heart. The closest I’ve gotten to feeling “at home” was when I visited New Paltz today. I’m looking forward to returning next semester.

I’m reading Bill Bryson’s “In a Sunburnt Country”. I bought a book called “Little Aussie Fact Book” to study up on my favorite country. I need to learn as much as I can so that I’m ready for my citizenship test in…however many years it takes to get to that opportunity.

Australian Christmas Songs

(I don’t celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday as I’m a “secular humanist”. So I feel that the title and content of this post is politically correct.)
Jingle Bells
Dashing through the bush, in a rusty Holden Ute,
Kicking up the dust, esky in the boot,
Kelpie by my side, singing Christmas songs,
It’s Summer time and I am in my singlet, shorts and thongs
Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia on a scorching summers day, Hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut!
Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute
.
Engine’s getting hot; we dodge the kangaroos,
The swaggie climbs aboard, he is welcome too.
All the family’s there, sitting by the pool,
Christmas Day the Aussie way, by the barbecue.
Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia on a scorching summers day, Hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut!
Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute.
Come the afternoon, Grandpa has a doze,
The kids and Uncle Bruce, are swimming in their clothes.
The time comes ’round to go, we take the family snap,
Pack the car and all shoot through, before the washing up.
Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia on a scorching summers day, Hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut!
Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute.



What the words mean
Holden Ute – Holden is a make of car (like Ford, Toyota) and Ute (rhymes with boot) is short for utility (utility vehicle).
Esky – portable cooler to carry drinks and food.
Boot – trunk of a car.
Kelpie – Australian breed of dog traditionally used to herd sheep.
Singlet – undershirt.
Thongs – beach type shoes/flip flops; not a type of under garment.
Swaggie – short for swagman; a drifter (person without a permanent place to live) who carried his swag (pack) as he travelled the country on foot looking for work.
He was a common sight during the depression of the 1890’s and 1930’s.
We take the family snap – take a picture of the family with a camera
Shoot through before the washing up – leave quickly so someone else has to clean up.

The Twelve Days of Christmas
On the 1st day
of Christmas

My true love sent to me,
An emu up a gum tree.
On the 2nd day
of Christmas

My true sent to me,
2 pink galahs,
And an emu up a gum tree.
On the 3rd day
of Christmas

My true love sent to me,
3 kookaburras laughing,
2 pink galahs,
And an emu up a gum tree.
On the 4th day
of Christmas

My true love sent to me
4 koalas cuddling,
3 kookaburras laughing
2 pink galahs
And an emu up a gum tree.
On the 5th day
of Christmas

My true love sent to me
5 kangaroos,
4 koalas cuddling,
3 kookaburras laughing,
2 pink galahs,
And an emu up a gum tree.
On the 6th day
of Christmas

My true love sent to me
6 brolgas dancing,
5 kangaroos,
4 koalas cuddling,
3 kookaburras laughing,
2 pink galahs,
And an emu up a gum tree.
On the 7th day
of Christmas

My true love sent to me
7 possums playing,
6 brolgas dancing,
5 kangaroos,
4 koalas cuddling,
3 kookaburras laughing,
2 pink galahs,
And an emu up a gum tree.
On the 8th day
of Christmas

My true love sent to me
8 dingoes digging,
7 possums playing,
6 brolgas dancing,
5 kangaroos,
4 koalas cuddling,
3 kookaburras laughing,
2 pink galahs,
And an emu up a gum tree.
On the 9th day
of Christmas

My true love sent to me
9 wombats working,
8 dingoes digging,
7 possums playing,
6 brolgas dancing,
5 kangaroos,
4 koalas cuddling,
3 kookaburras laughing,
2 pink galahs,
And an emu up a gum tree.
On the 10th day
of Christmas

My true love sent to me
10 lizards leaping,
9 wombats working,
8 dingoes digging,
7 possums playing,
6 brolgas dancing,
5 kangaroos,
4 koalas cuddling,
3 kookaburras laughing,
2 pink galahs,
And an emu up a gum tree.
On the 11th day
of Christmas

My true love sent to me
11 numbats nagging,
10 lizards leaping,
9 wombats working,
8 dingoes digging,
7 possums playing,
6 brolgas dancing,
5 kangaroos,
4 koalas cuddling,
3 kookaburras laughing,
2 pink galahs,
And an emu up a gum tree.
On the 12th day
of Christmas

My true love sent to me
12 parrots prattling,
11 numbats nagging,
10 lizards leaping,
9 wombats working,
8 dingoes digging,
7 possums playing,
6 brolgas dancing,
5 kangaroos,
4 koalas cuddling,
3 kookaburras laughing,
2 pink galahs,
And an emu up a gum tree.

Australian National Anthem

Well, at this time I’m traveling around Australia. I could be anywhere right now. Since I know I likely won’t have computer access I have scheduled my blog to make a post or two while I’m traveling. Please note that the national anthem is rarely sung in comparison to how often American’s sing theirs.

Here’s the Australian National Anthem:

Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free;
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil,
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in Nature’s gifts
Of beauty rich and rare;
In history’s page, let every stage
Advance Australia fair!
In joyful strains then let us sing,
“Advance Australia fair!”When gallant Cook from Albion sail’d,
To trace wide oceans o’er,
True British courage bore him on,
Till he landed on our shore.
Then here he raised Old England’s flag,
The standard of the brave;
With all her faults we love her still,
“Brittania rules the wave!”
In joyful strains then let us sing,
“Advance Australia Fair!”Beneath our radiant southern Cross,
We’ll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing
“Advance Australia fair!”While other nations of the globe
Behold us from afair,
We’ll rise to high renown and shine
Like our glorious southern star;
From England, Scotia, Erin’s Isle,
Who come our lot to share,
Let all combine with heart and hand
To advance Australia fair!
In joyful strains then let us sing
“Advance Australia fair!”Sho’d foreign foe e’er sight our coast,
Or dare a foot to land,
We’ll rouse to arms like sires of yore
To guard our native strang;
Brittania the shall surely know,
Beyond wide ocean’s roll,
Her sons in fair Australia’s land
Still keep a British soul.
In joyful strains the let us sing
“Advance Australia fair!”

Sydney

Today I’m in Sydney. I’ll be staying here to two days then heading to cairns to experience the great barrier reef and Daintree forest. Then I go to fraser island. From there I fly back to Melbourne via Sydney to get my luggage from Chris. I’m staying in a hotel close to the airpor so that I can catch my early flight on the 19th. You will probably not hear from me much over the next week due to me not having access to a computer. Check the travel updates above to see any updates I post to twitter from my kindle.

Australian culture of the day: outlets are called power points in Australia

A Perfect Day

I went to Torquay today to surf in Victoria for the last time before I leave. It saddens me that I might not be back to Australia for five years. I think back five years ago…at this time I was halfway through freshman year. Now here I am. At Geelong station waiting for a train back to Melbourne after a daysurfing in Torquay; “the surfing capital”. I doubt I would have believed someone if they told me that five years ago. So I can’t imagine where I’ll be in another five years. I only know that it will be somewhere close to a beach (for surfing of course), preferably outside of the USA.

I bought a (used) copy of Tomorrow When the War Began at a market that was happening in Torquay. The book has writing in it and it’s a bit worn, but it’s readable and some of the writing is useful. I wanted a physical copy to loan to friends who are not yet ereader users. Once I’ve lent it to all my friends I might donate it to the SUNY New Paltz library.

I had an amazing day. There is nothing I would rather have done today than go surfing. It was the perfect way to spend my last weekend in Melbourne. I rode about 7-8 waves and nose dived a few times. It was more or less a downhill day. I rode the first wave I tried catching and it was one of my longest rides yet. I then caught a few more before the waves started getting fewer. I spoke with my Mum today and she said that it was getting very cold. I thought, sitting on my board watching the ocean for waves, that it was amazing that I was soaking up the sun surfing in December! While most of the people I know are probably wearing thick winter coats.

I got a picture of me with the surfboard I used that day and another with Mark in it. I rented my board and wet suit from Go Ride A Wave every time I went surfing at Torquay; Mark is the owner. He was friendly and supportive; and also gave great customer service. He’s another example of how awesome Australians are (talk about alliteration). If you are ever in Torquay and want to try surfing, find “Go Ride A Wave” and ask for Mark.
Tomorrow I am doing some Christmas shopping then I plan to meet up with Chris in the evening and plan my travel around Australia then we’re going to see a movie.

Finally, here’s a shout out to my mates at SUNY New Paltz: Kyle, Lisa, Torian, Danielle, and Lana. See you next month.

(Most of this post was written on my iPod)

Fluff: If you’re reading this, did you get the alliteration reference?

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.