The week returning from Bali was probably my most stressful week of uni. I got back wanting to continue relaxation and recovery, but found myself having so much more to learn before my first exam on Wednesday. I had talked to others taking the exam, but they didn’t seem too worried, which only worried me more. There was a lot of information on that exam! With little sleep and late night snacks, I powered through those few days until I knew the information. It was lonely studying for an exam without my best Wofford mates – I don’t know how I’m going to handle exam week here! I may have felt sick the entire day of the exam, but when it was in front of me, I was able to focus and regurgitate incredible amounts of pathways, enzymes, molecules, and disorders. Thankfully, right after the exam, I found out that my presentation for the next day had been cancelled, and I was able to relax and have a fun Wednesday night.
Friday afternoon was spent preparing for a good friend’s birthday party that was being held on Saturday. The theme was the Rocky Horror Picture Show, so we had to invest in some flamboyant outfits. The salvos here are pretty awesome, and we all made it out with our costumes. Friday night we went to a concert in Freo. The band was called Blue Juice, so of course we all had to wear our best blue outfits! However fun concerts are, Saturday night was just as great. Curling my hair and wearing a white dress to look like innocent little Janet in her lingerie, I had the best time hanging out with the transvestites from Transylvania, and of course my fiancé Brad (or AJ). Guys in bright gold shorts were everywhere, trying to rock the Rocky look. We then all migrated to the Court, which is a gay bar in the city. They played some jammin’ tunes, the crowd was all super friendly, and those men sure could dance.
The next morning was an early one. We woke up for a surfing safari with the CIEE program! We headed out with Paul, Kate, and their 3 kids to a beach about 45 minutes away to meet our two surfing instructors for the day. They were absolutely awesome, but the waves were not so much. The surfing in Bali was much better, less seaweed and less waves, giving you more time to prepare before trying to catch one. My best ride was my first one. The instructor decided to use me as her guinea pig, and I guess I was trying to impress, and managed to ride to the shore. However, it quickly went downhill from there. My favorite part of the day was probably getting to know Paul’s daughter Freya, and son, Ned. We had a table to ourselves at lunch, and they were probably some of the coolest kids I’ve met. I enjoyed listening to their stories, while they asked me about some of my own. Although surfing wasn’t extremely successful for me, it could have been much worse. For Kate, it was quite the painful experience. She stepped on a cobblerfish, which has spines that inject venom and hurt for days after. Her trip to the hospital was made even worse when her car broke down on the way back – unlucky in the land down under.
The following week was full of studying as well, but when I got my midterm grade back, I found out that studying here works the same as in the US: do a lot of it, and you make good grades! However, the class average was 48%, which is only 2 points from passing (a 50 passes here), but still, it seems that over half of the class of 115 students didn’t pass. Good thing the exam was only 15% of our final grade! On a high from my good grade, I spent the next few days getting work done and getting pumped up for the Mumford and Sons concert on Friday night!! On the day of the concert, we got a ride from one of our awesome friends, Elizabeth, because it was way out in the middle of nowhere. When we got out of the car, I felt like I was home again – surrounded by fields and farmland, with a few scattered houses. It was beautiful. We arrived before they even began letting people in, so that meant that when we finally got in, we went straight to the stage to reserve our front row spots! The arena was amazing, with large grass stairs as the seats. It looked like something out of ancient Rome. The opening to the opener was Willy Mason. He was good, but we were ready for the real stars.
When the real opener, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, came out, it was finally concert time. They were the closest thing to real hippies I’d ever seen. From their clothes to their hair to their voices and movements – they were chill and carefree and tons of fun. They’re from the US, and their song “Home” is a classic among many of my friends. When they came on stage, they knew that not many people there knew their other music, so Alex (the lead singer) immediately asked jokingly if we wanted to hear “Home.” When the crowd went wild, he surprisingly gave in and started singing (“Alabama, Arkansas…”). The female vocalist, Jade, had one of the prettiest voices I’ve ever heard, and they sounded just like the recorded version. Later in the concert, Alex came out into the crowd, and on his way back up, I made sure to grab his arm. Mumford was up next, and we screamed out the lyrics to all of our favorite songs for the next couple of hours. They’re a very talented British folk rock band, and proved to be much better live than I had even hoped.
On Saturday I was craving a much more chill night, and went into Freo to see Taken 2 with Eric, who’s an RA here in the village, originally from Sweden. There were a few key differences about the movies here than in the US. First of all, you don’t pay outside at the ticket booth; you pay at the same place you pay for food. Next, it costs a gazillion times more. And third, when you pay for your ticket, you also have to choose where you’d like to sit in the theater, and your ticket comes out with row and seat numbers on it. Weird, I know. So the movie was definitely not as good as the original Taken, but was still pretty action-packed and kept me engaged. After the movie we hung out in a little coffee shop, watching many drunk Australians stumbling, yelling, or singing down the streets moving from club to kebab shop to club. That free entertainment was almost as good as the movie we had just paid to see.
I know you students at Wofford don’t know the definition of a lazy Sunday anymore, so I don’t want to rub it in your face too much…but they are fabulous. That Sunday, I woke up late, had a good breakfast, watched an early afternoon romantic comedy with the girls, did some fruit and veggie shopping in Freo, ate dinner at Annie’s with some of the crew, and THEN did some studying, before going to bed reasonably early. Going back to real college American-style is going to be rough…
And then, to add to the chill lifestyle of Australian unis, I got to eat AND sleep in CLASS on Monday. This is, actually, as good as it sounds. Our Indigenous Spirituality class had a “cultural experience” during our lecture and tutorial. It started with a welcome speech from a Noongar elder, followed by heaps of delicious food for lunch. We then proceeded to a quiet, dark room filled with blankets and pillows. In this room we met a white man who had lived with Indigenous people, and was adopted into their family. He found a passion for a type of medicine called “sound healing.” He let us get cozy lying under our blankets, and then began to play all of these different instruments for us. It was so peaceful, I was never quite sure if I was sleeping or just resting. When I came to, I truly felt like a new person. According to the performer, all of the toxins had just been vibrated out of our cells as our spirits journeyed. That night, I slept like a baby and my cough went away. It may have come back a few days later, but my body seemed to appreciate that relaxing and rejuvenating session.
That same day before netball, I made one of my favorite dinners for some friends. It’s something I always beg my mom to make when I come home from Wofford. I didn’t have much trouble putting all the ingredients into the casserole, but after about 15 minutes of being in the oven, I noticed that the top of it was beginning to burn. It was supposed to be in for 30-45 minutes! I was very confused, but took it out and served it a little charred. When Eric came over, I was telling him how the oven didn’t go up to 350 degrees, so I was very confused by it burning. He then realized my American stupidity, and told me that the oven was in Celsius, like everything else in this country….guess I need a few more months to get into the swing of things. I brushed off the mistake because with a life like this in Australia, there truly are “no worries, mate.”