Sunday, December 13, 2009

Melbourne

Melbourne is AMAZING! The weather here is SO MUCH BETTER than in Brisbane - I can wear jeans and sweatshirts, but I don't have to because it's just warm enough to still be comfy without them. I love it! This city is also adorable - it's a lot less crowded than Brisbane and our hostel is right in the middle of everything. I'm here with Coop right now, and Linda will be joining us later today in the same hostel. We're staying at Nomads, and luckily we ended up in the really nice one. There are two Nomads hostels in Melbourne, and apparently the other one is filthy and "not fit for humans" according to my shuttle driver. So yay for internet booking! Our beds are super creaky, but I guess that gives it some charm?

Coop and I arrived on different flights yesterday, so we met at the hostel. I flew with Virgin Blue, and their bathrooms were called "Virgin Loo." HAHA!
My flight came in earlier than hers, so I ended up hanging out in the hostel room with two of the guys until she arrived (we're in a 10-bed mixed dorm). I've discovered that I can't really understand Scottish accents, especially when the Scottish person is hungover and drinking an orange-juice juice box. Baahaha but it was really nice because both Ben (English) and Shaun(Scottish) have been in Melbourne for a couple days, so they had some suggestions of what to see. Shaun wanted to know why we had come to Melbourne instead of staying in California because California is so much better. That seems to be a common sentiment from people in Australia in general - they all want to know why we've left California to come to a lamer version. But then I explain about the whole coral reef, rainforest thing, and then it makes more sense!

Coop and I just walked around yesterday to orient ourselves, and we both fell in love with the city!

Trams (just like in SF):
They have really funky architecture here:

The mall's roof looks like a spire above the surrounding buildings:
I saw a guy playing the MELODICA on the street! Who knew that anyone besides Chris was even aware that Melodica's existed!
Chinatown has no bakeries. None. At least, we couldn't find any... they must have ninja bakeries here! But I hope to find at least one so I can get my fix =)
Pretty buildings:
We stopped by the Carlton South Garden and it was gorgeous! Huge trees, and the Royal Exhibition Building was also very beautiful:

All in all, I'm super impressed with this city and I'm excited to be here for a few more days! We're going to try to book a tour along the Great Ocean Road so we can see all the beautiful rock formations, and we're also going to St. Kilda beach to see the penguins. YAY! Expect more photos soon!

Bye-Bye Brisbane

Saturday was the final day of our program, and I still can't believe it's actually over. We spent most of the day just packing and cleaning our rooms, getting ready to radiate back out into the world. That night, we had our farewell dinner at a Thai restaurant in the West End. We got dressed up for one last time:

Ilan and Will were ready for "Dancey dance" time:
Bus ride:
FOOD!!! We had so much delicious Thai food, including fish with sweet chili sauce:

Hanging out in front of the wishing tree - we wrote thank you notes to all our teachers and staff and hung them on the tree!
Almost all our professors were there - most of them gave speeches of some sort, and we had an awesome slideshow from John Hall accompanied by his hilarious narration.

The slideshow (we had front row seats!):
John Hall is one of the best professors I've ever had. He's so inspiring and committed and passionate about sharing his knowledge with us - it was worth coming to Australia just to have had him as a teacher.


This has been the best 3 months of my life, no doubt about it. I've seen so much and learned about things I never even knew existed (SEA HARES!) - and I've traveled to places that I only ever dreamed about. Australia is a beautiful country full of wonderful, generous people, and I feel so blessed to have been part of this program. Life is SO GOOD. I'm now in Melbourne until I go home, so I still have a few more days to soak up the Australian sunshine - and I know I'll always remember every part of this incredible journey.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Last Days in Brizzie!

This week has gone by in a blur - Monday and Tuesday I listened to 46 research presentations from my classmates and gave a 15 minute presentation on the effect of algae on corals. Oh my.

Here's some of my graphs, just to prove that I've actually done research:


If you want to know more, just ask me! I'll email you my scientific paper and you can read all about it for yourself. Yeeeeeah.

So anyways, I finished my 20 page/ 5,000 word research paper on Wednesday (yesterday) and went to see ZOMBIELAND in downtown Brisbane with KL. It was SO FUNNY!! I actually liked it more than Shaun of the Dead. I felt so many emotions! Especially considering that it's just a zombie movie!
I am also SUPER excited for Holmes, which looks epic!

We also went on the Wheel of Brisbane, which is a ferris wheel that has a really nice narration of Brisbane's history.



Thursday (today) we went to Lamington National Park. It was gorgeous! John Hall, our forest ecology professor, offered to take a few extra field trips there since we couldn't go during the class. He gave us basically the same lecture he gives to his classes, and we ended up hiking about 15-16 km. It didn't feel like that far because the trail was pretty even and really well market. We saw some truly beautiful things!

Valley inside Lamington National Park:
HUGE TREES!
Strangler fig, taking over! You can see the roots trying to reach the ground.
Antarctic beech - this tree can live for literally thousands of years because the roots can sprout into trees.
Wet schlerophyll - eucalypts on the top, rainforest on the bottom.

Looking out onto flame-trees and beautiful eucalypts.SO PRETTY!
My girls at the top of Surprise Rock - KL, Coop, Tessaly, and Lauren:
More gorgeous scenery:
Waterfall!

We also stopped by a pie place on the way back for DELICIOUS MEAT PIES! Apparently he took us to one of the most famous pie places in Australia - it's been around since stagecoach times, and everyone in Queensland knows it. It really was quite tasty. I had a steak and mushroom pie with gravy... mmmmm that's good eating!

Tomorrow is our 2nd to last full day in Brisbane. Crazy! I can't believe this quarter has flown by so quickly - I'm going to try to make the most of the time we have left by enjoying the city and soaking in Aussie culture!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

UQ

This week has been really low-key - it's literally dead week! We have no classes, so we're just researching and writing our final research papers. I learned how to use the program Statistica to run ANOVA one-way and repeated measures tests (they're even more complicated than they sound) so I feel very empowered. I managed to run all my data through Statistica to come to the conclusion that none of it is significant, but that's still a form of data so I feel like I can finally move forward and get on with my paper.

It's been pretty humid and hot here, so I've been spending lots of time in the library to stay in the air conditioning. It's actually a good incentive to get work done! It rained and thundered a couple days ago - summer in Australia is hot, raininy, and humid. Nice is small doses, but I'll be happy to get back to the Bay when it's time.

Back to researching! I'll leave you with this photo from our Bing Dinner at the Opera House - there was a thunderstorm happening while we were waiting to go in, and Joyce took this photo. It was INCREDIBLE!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Giving Thanks

Australians don't celebrate Thanksgiving, but we had our own festivities and made it feel like home! The kitchen staff let us use all the stoves and cooking supplies to cook our favorite Thanksgiving dishes, and we ended up making enough food to feed a small army. I made green beans, since everyone else wanted to make stuffing or desserts.







Since we were representing Stanford, we followed the Stanford tradition of dressing rally gear and went crazy! It was super super fun!

Delicious plates of food:

Pasha, one of my favorite people EVER, dressed up like a koala!! It was her birthday too!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

It's Britney, B@%#*!

I have now seen Britney Spears in concert!! Lisa has a family friend who does security for music artists, and he got us 6 free tickets ON THE FLOOR!!!!! We were literally one row away from Birney and her fabulous dancers - I think she found the most attractive dancers in the world and hired them to be her backups.

We dressed in tutus and neon because the name of her concert is Circus, and we wanted to be roughly circus themed and definitely ridiculous because it's Britney Spears after all.

Posing in front of the Woman's College on campus (our dorms are in this building):

We were mostly convinced that when we arrived at the Brisbane Entertainment Center there wouldn't be any tickets. When something seems too good to be true, it probably is - BUT THERE WERE TICKETS!! 6 glorious tickets! AH!




Hailing our ticket goddess, Lisa:

We also posed with one of Britney's clowns!! We thought it was just some strange fan dressed up until we saw him on stage during her first act. Crazy!


The opening act was an awesome female DJ. She was gorgeous and played really good dance music - it was the perfect way to get pumped up for the show!

We were super close to the stage - there was literally just one row of people standing in front of us, so we had a prime view of everything. It was INCREDIBLE!

Don, our champion ticket-obtainer!

Countdown to the Circus:
Sufficed to say we were a little delirious with joy.

The main act opened with some phenomenal circus performances:

Apparently ninjas are now part of circuses. Pirates, beware!
video
Crazy pole-jumping acrobats.
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THIS GUYS IS BLINDFOLDED. WHAT??
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Britney is a way better performer than I was expecting based on other people's recent concert experiences. A lot of the girls here saw her in the US, and she barely danced at all and didn't sing anything live. Her audience in Perth actually walked out in protest because they found her show so boring, but she put on a GREAT show in Brisbane!! She danced a lot and was smiling and engaging the whole time - go figure. She sang "Everything" live and sounded great, and sang live at the end too. I'm kind of glad she lip-synched because she dancing so much that she would've been out of breath by the 2nd song otherwise!

It's good to know that Britney can keep her male dancers in line! It's also the beginning of "If You Seek Amy":
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"Hit Me Baby One More Time" - it's an oldie, but a goodie!
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Everytime:

Womanizer:
FINALE and pyrotechnics. Very nice!
Anyways, it was a really wonderful experience and I can't believe I got to see Britney Spears give an enjoyable show! Haha I really thought her time was passed, but it was fun and yet another ridiculous Australia experience.