South Western Travels

My fieldtrip down to the Albany and Margaret River areas of the Southwestern region of WA will probably be the most memorable experience that I take back with me when I leave Australia. It consisted of seven days, filled with hard work, which wore both on the body and mind, and late nights spent completing the maps and diagrams of certain outcrops that we spent the day studying. Through it all, however, I made wonderful friends and learned so much more, in such a short amount of time, than I ever could have in a classroom. Traversing, at times, over fairly dangerous terrain, sometimes consisting of sharp limestones that jutted out at every angle, to steep rocky slopes that abruptly dropped off into the crashing waves (of the Southern and Indian Oceans) below. It’s a miracle that my fellow classmates and myself made it back safe and sound without any more than a scratch.

The first four days were spent dodging rain drops and sheltering our detailed sketchwork, maps and field notebooks from the ever-impending shower, while managing the impossible task of keeping ourselves and our belongings dry(which we packed up each morning and lugged around the field with us all day). There were moments when I felt quite miserable and in need of dry/warm clothing and shoes. I even remember envying the instructors, with their years of experience in the field, who sat about oblivious to the weather around them. I envied their indifference.
It really only affected me the most on the second day out, when we were all stuck out on a huge outcrop in Albany, known as The Gap because of its main physical feature. It consists of two stifflingly large cliffs, which have essentially been split apart by the enormous waves (that this particular area is known for) below, forming a gaping gap with very high walls.
On this day, not only did the rain pester us all day, but temperatures stayed quite low as well. We even felt it sleeting at times! We all sat around this rock pavement, with the overcast sky persistantly hovering overhead, struggling to produce detailed (and to scale) geological sketch maps, using 1 meter grid squares as the mapping base.

It was so bad at one point that as soon as I saw a few others heading off towards the bus (the only refuge) I took off in a mad dash after them. At that point it was more important to get shelter than it was to finish my work. It could be said that the bus was our home away from home twice removed; sometimes it seemed that we spent more time in it (travelling across the region from site to site) than we did in our beds at night.

To be continued…

80 Days Left

Well there are less than 80 days left until I leave for Australia. I’m getting really excited. I found out last Thursday that I received the fee reduction from SUNY New Paltz. I want to keep in mind when going abroad that I don’t want to spend time with Americans. I’m going to Australia to socialize with Australians. If I can find a job, I’ll be staying two semesters. That would be epic!

Out of breath….

These last few weeks have left my head spinning…yet still overwhelmed with happiness. I really hope that when I return home the best days of my life will not be over. But that’s too disheartening to discuss.
Only arriving back into town, here in Perth, a couple days ago, my time has been prioritized around getting back on track. After being away from school for the past three weeks (for the two week semester break, followed by a geology field trip during the third week), I have to return back to the return of school. And I am absolutely happy about that, as it is that I am a routine type person. I must admit that I have quite a bit of catching up to do on my work, but it doesn’t consist of anything that I can’t handle. I will also be sure to write extra blogs in order to make up for the blogs that I wasn’t able to post while I was away. And I must admit, it gives me a good feeling to know that I have such a full plate – so much to do! I love that!
My return also re-engages my job search activity, which I am on the brink of giving up on; however, considering most places that I have submitted resumes to / had interviews are not intereted in hiring me since I am only here for a couple months. But I haven’t given up yet.
Perth is a great city, with much to do, contrary to what the people that live here say. I always jokingly tell them it’s because they don’t have an imagination. I never give myself the chance to feel bored. After having met and made so many friends from all over the world, it’s always easy to find something going on. That’s after I get all of my done, of course, which takes up plenty of time as it.

Over the break I headed out all over the city, and tried to take in a much as possible, such as checking out the art gallery, Subiaco (a beautiful city of its own and a side section of Perth), the museum, London Court and much more. I also had a day trip down to Fremantle, the famous and beautiful port where are the prisoners were first kept. I took the train down, and spent the day there with lovely Aussie friend, Rebekah, and checked out all the markets(from funky shops to farmers markets), cafe’s (where I had my first authentic aussie virgin drink: lemon, lime bitter – a really tasty soda) and much, much more. I even got to see the ever-popular “Little Creature’s” brewery; however, I was not able to get in because I did not have my passport on me that day. Next time…except next time I won’t need my passport because I finally have my proof of age card! YAY! Many of the venues here are very strict about proof of age documents, only accepting AU driver’s licenses, proof of age cards, or passports…not NYS driver’s licences. My first experience going out on the town here, months ago now, was quite a drawn out process. First of all, after travelling on buses and trains into the city with a large group of new found friends…taking almost an hour in itself…we finally arrived. And after waiting in line for almost as long, I was told by the bouncer that my NYS Id was insufficient. And crazy to some, I decided to head all the way back and for the passport…luckily I had a great friend by my side the whole time…smart enough not to do it alone. Finally making it back to the club, I was permitted access. I had a blast, but it can make one very conscience and paranoid to carry a passport on them (however seeminly stupid it may be). But we all had to do, as most of my friends are international…I just happened to miss the memo before hand. The point here, is that now I have my proof of age card, and no longer need to carry my passport on me when I go out. Such a good feeling to keep my passport locked up where it should be.
The second week of the break, I took a roadtrip roughly two-three hours south of Perth, with two friends that are from down that way. I was able to meet their families and pets (which made me miss mine). I have at least fifty pics on facebook from this excursion, but I have included on of me posing on the Donneybrook (apple country) sign:

For now I have to get back to my work, but shortly I will discuss my third week away, which consisted of a week long geology field trip down to the regions of Albany and Margaret River! Cheers, Ashley

The trickiest part of an interview

After days upon days of hot, arid heat, the sky finally released a shower of water and wind in a powerful thunderstorm. Unfortunately, not all of the tension for the moment was released. My anxieties still lingered that I was to encounter the following day. A part time job at Sizzler Restaurant didn’t seem so fierce, should the interview that preceded it; however, there was still a small detail in this chance for work that caused the knot in my stomach: I didn’t know the location of the interview meeting!
I received a phonecall Friday afternoon, in regards to the application that I had submitted a little more than a week before. The conversation was short and sweet, but too brief. As the gentleman on the other side of the line arranged the date and time for my interview session, there wasn’t any time for any other thoughts. So, after quickly agreeing to a 3pm appointment for the following Tuesday, the conversation was almost immediately haulted and brought to an end. With a spinning mind, I was overjoyed that I had gotten a bite.
It quickly occurred to me at that point that I had no idea where I was to go for the interview. It seemed that for some reason, that small detail was left out of the conversation. And as the number of the incoming call had not posted on my caller ID, I had to wait to find out that vital information until I was able to find a contact number. And this I did. When I finally had access to a computer, I found a 1800 number on the Sizzler website. Unfortunately, after countless unsuccessful phonecalls to Sizzler human resources, which is based on the other side of Australia in Brisbane, I had no other choice, but wait for human resources to return my call. Of course, if I didn’t plan ahead and make alternative arrangements, that waiting around would have rendered me helpless. So, I had to take my chances and google directions to the various Sizzler Restaurants around Perth and plan my trip so that I arrived early at one of them. In this way, at least if I arrived early enough, having face to face contact with an actual person, i could have been pointed in the right direction.
After having mapped out all of my potential destinations, I finally received a phone call from one of the Sizzler representatives, who finally gave me the information that I needed. Unfortunately, that shortly before I needed to leave, and not to mention, it also happened to be one of the furthest restaurant branches to get to.
Hopeful enough, and with no time to spare, I ran to the bus station…where I thought I was boarding the right bus. Unfortunately, the bus system can be quite confusing here in Perth. After having mastered the train system, I still find myself intangles when it comes to which bus line to choose. However, the bus I boarded had the correct number and location posted on its forescreen, as according to my googled directions. Unfortunately, things are never as they seem. Regardless of the fact that the bus posting matched my directions, it was an alternate route, and took me in the opposite direction of where I needed to be. This set me about forty five minutes behind schedule, but after contacting the manager of the particular restaurant that I was headed, with his understanding and generosity of time, it bought me some more time. Finally making it to a familiar place, the train station in the center of downtown Perth, I hopped on the Armadale line and headed Southwest of the city.
After roughly half hour ride, I finally reached Kelmscott, the final public transport destination. Now only having to depend of my eyes and feet to get me to my true final destination, this was much easier. And so, after a five minute walk, I reached the cool airconditioned Sizzler premise. Fortunatley, at mid-afternoon, the place was half empty. After a brief and fairly easy-going interview, I was back on the train, headed back towards the city. As the return journey proved to be much simpler, I had time to ponder over my potential to once again be employed. Trying to be optimistic, I looked over the other sets of directions that I had brought with, for much simpler and seemingly more successful alternative routes, and hoped that I would have a chance to use them on a return trip to the restaurant. The virtue of patience calls for my attention, and now must wait for that potential phone call…

So far away from home?

Sometimes when I’m here, in Australia, I feel as though I am still at home. That is…although it has its differences, Perth seems very much familiar to home. I’ve been here for a month now, and I’ve seen a range of similarities consisting of the conduct of instructors in classrooms, students attitudes toward education, people in the local community, similar automotive vehicles, grocery stores and largely, humor. It’s just the sense that the way people live their lives here seems generally familiar to that of home.
Occasionally, I even forget that I am so far away from home, or that I’m even in Au of all places. Of course, being so close to the airport there is the constant drum of aircrafts flying overhead (something I rarely have a chance to hear at home). This causes me to ponder my return flight home. In some ways, although I really do enjoy this lovely place, I do look forward to that day…but only in time, not now. I’ve always enjoyed flying, so it gives me a stimulating rush to think of my next flight. When I snap from that dreamy and ponderous state, I quickly remind myself of where I am and what I am here to do…which sometimes is difficult to pinpoint, considering that my opportunities here are endless.
Regardless of the arid landscape and climate that surrounds me, I am witness to an abundance of tropical vegetation, which sprouts and towers above me in almost every angle of view. This, combined with the birds that I see and hear everyday, and some fauna that I had the opportunity to visit while at a wildlife park (such as kangaroos and koalas), really makes for a spectacular combined experience.
Regardless of whether I feel only a couple hundred miles away from home, or actually conceptualize that I am half way across the planet, I am still in Australia, and am extremely grately to have had the opportunity and ability to travel as far as I did.

Heads up

After spending most of my weekend tackling assigned reading and exercise problems for my math course, I feel as though I have transitioned back into a scholarly flow. The stress of the first week was the result of the overwhelming responsibility of Uni life that I felt suffocated by, at first. However, after breaking through the barrier that seperates the fun times from the hard-working and tedious, I feel compelled to take on all of these challenges. From balancing my academics, to finding and having a job, being a member of the geology club, donating my services to the Kurrajong Village (where I live) garden, training with the recreational soccer team and fitting everything else in between…I’d say I have…a lot to look forward to! As I become increasingly acclimated, things are seemingly looking up.
….And since I really do not have anything nagging at me right now, I should also note that, although living with 7 other people in one flat, I have great flatmates. We have yet to encounter a significant conflict, or any conflicts for that matter. As long as I take this experience one step at a time and keep my head held high, I hope that it will prove to be smooth sailing!

Australia, Here I Come

According to the Study Abroad Office I have a 4000% chance of getting accepted to the Australia college in Melbourne that I am applying to. So…it looks like I’m going abroad next semester. I’m going to try applying to an Apple Store for a job when I get there as well. I have a lot of paperwork to take care of for classes to make sure they count toward my major and GEs. I’m also going to start looking into loans and scholarships. Scholarships don’t look promising but there is one tuition assistance program that I’ve applied to through New Paltz. I am continuing to enjoy my first year of college at New Paltz! I CAN NOT WAIT TO GO ABROAD! This will be an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.

Good-bye freedom…

As the first week of the semester has blasted off with me grasping for the edge of my seat, I have had a difficult time trying to find some way to sum it all up. With overwhelming emotions, as a result of uni life and the extremely high costs of everything, here in Perth, it is difficult to be completely positive. I have fully enjoyed my first two weeks, from the orientations to the people and great friends that I have made; however, I knew there was more to come: not just great and exciting moments, but also the stressful and very aggrevating moments. By having a full plate, with classes Monday through Friday, I am struggling to find time for job; something I am required to do in order to cover my living expenses. The seemingly “low cost of living” in Perth has now presented itself to me as deceiving, and according to many people that live here, it is in fact one of the most expensive places to live in Australia. Cheaper than Melbourne or Sydney? Not so true.
I’m sure this will all be worth it, but for right now I have to pay for additional class activity fees and purchase geology equipment that I am expected to already have for labs and field trips. Seriously in search of a job…
On the other hand, I have been working on my tan a bit, even with a ton of sunblock, and was able to attend a day at the beach with some friends, Sunday, before the commencement of the semester, with which comes the drastic decrease in my freedom.

Hurdling the registration obstacle course

Sorting out messy timetables when registering for courses has never been easy. In fact, when the tedious task of rearranging and fenagling the list of classes into a practical schedule of weekly classes is complete, and if everything has somehow fit together smoothly, then it is quite the job well done. At the moment I am enrolled in four classes that I plan to study while I am here at CU. Of the four classes, two of them are conflicting…this is a fairly normal and almost expected circumstance that many college students face, especially if they are nearing the end of their undergraduate career, like myself. This situation only lengthens the process of registering for classes, and I am now forced to meet with advisors and coordinators once more, to see if there is some way to squeeze myself into the unobtainable Mineralogy and Geochemistry class (or unit as it is referred to at CU), which conflicts with my Calculus class (unit), or find an alternative. This is all fine and dandy, for I’m sure something will work out, but it’s safe to say that it is a cause for a bit of a aggrevation.
How do I reflect on this with a positive note? Just by simply reminding myself that this small hurdle is only for my benefit. Meeting once again with my mentors/advisors, establishing the reason for the conflict of interest between myself and the schedule, and by creating a solution to the problem, I will not only feel better, but it will also help to strengthen bonds with advisors/mentors/professors. By successfully hurdling the registration obstacle course, I will leave myself with one more reason to feel the pure bliss of one more accomplishment.

The process of settling in

I arrived in Perth five days ago, already, and I am enjoying every minute of it. The people are great and the weather is fantastic! I have found so much to do, and have been involved in so many activities with my flat mates, so far, that I have not had much time to post some blogs…not to mention that I did not have access to a computer until yesterday. However, when classes begin, roughly a week and a half from today, I will be in Curtin’s library more regularly (my main access to computers and the internet), and will be postings blogs much more frequently as well. Hopefully by that time, I will have transitioned from the unknowing newcomer to Perth and CU, into the more familiarized and savvy inhabitant and student of my temporary home and life. With much more to say and only moments before the library closes, I am forced to end this blog with much less than I planned to include; however, one way or another my blogs will tell the story of my adventure abroad here in sunny Perth!