Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lots to Write!

So, since my last post accidently got deleted, I have been putting off coming to blog, because I figured I would have to re-blog everything, in less detail...  Anyway, I guess I will have to start somewhere, haha, so I will keep working on this long blog little by little.
Last week, again- The toga party hosted by Weerona College was held on Sunday night, and was a lot of fun. A lot of students here are first years, and went out and bought patterned fabric for their togas.  Americans did that too. I received a pack of sheets when I arrived (but didn't like them and went out and bought some different ones) so I just used those. An "After Dark" party bus came and picked us all up, and it was really awesome!  I wish we had these at home- it was kind of like a school bus, but it had lights inside and blasted loud party music.  I quickly learned at the bar that alcohol is REALLY expensive.  The day before we visited a liquor store, and a fifth of Smirnoff vodka is $37, more than the cost of a whole handle in the states. The uni, or university, students all drink cheap, gross boxed wine, like our franzia.  It is fairly cheap ($8-15 for 4 liters) and definitely does a good job as a 'pre-drink.'  A good price for a mixed drink or a basic shot at a bar is $5, and on pint night equivalent a pint of beer costs $3.  I spent some money at the bar, but am vowing after the fact not to do it again while I am here, because there are so many other things I would like to do with my money, like travel!
Anyway, on Monday I laid around for most of the day, and then a new friend Emma and I went to explore International House, or I-House, another dorm in town.  My mom had been bugging me to try the food at I-house, and to meet some people there, and Emma had a friend staying there, so we set out.  We were told it was just a short walk away, but we kept walking, and walking, and walking... I think we got lost, actually, but the walk would have been a lot anyway.  One thing that is different here from home is the distance of a walk or stroll.  A walk across Wofford's campus is irritating to most Wofford students, but here that is nothing.  Most short walks in Australia would be considered 'treks' by South Carolina standards, and it helps me realize how much we rely on our cars at home!!  The food over at I-house was pretty much the same as at Weerona, and the student makeup was not as international as the name sounded. 
On the walk, I took a picture of this pretty flower!
On Tuesday we had UOW Study Abroad student orientation.  This kick off event to O-week was pretty typical- we sat through how-to lectures, were instructed on enrollment, and were given advice about where and how to travel.  There were also quite a few boths and things set up all around the lawns, with free pens and cups and music and everything else.  One thing I really like about UOW's campus is that it has everything on it- a dentist, hair salon, 2 banks, a bar, and an STA travel agency.
During the O-week lecture, a biology professor did a presentation on Australian animals.  He was as quirky and entertaining as every bio professor I have ever had, and really fun to listen to about Australian wildlife.
I took a photo with transit man during the O-week festival!
On Wednesday my friends all went to the beach, and I headed into town to get my hair done.  I made an appointment at Total Bliss, a place I found in a student book we were given that looked nice.  It was a wonderful experience.  I arrived around 12:30 and was immediately put into a chair and offered an expresso.  I got a FULL head of foils to take me to blonde, and it took a while to get them all in.  She took them off all at different times around my head, and put me under this awesome heater that circulated around my head instead of sat on it like a hat.  She also put a toner on at the end and then a conditioning treatment.  I am SOO happy to be blonde again...  It really does make a difference, and I really think that once you have been blonde you don't want to be any other color.  I left the salon around 4:30pm, with $190 less than I had when I went in, but I am so happy.  It really was total bliss.  Wednesday I also did a little piddling around town...

We shop for groceries at Woolworths!  Yummy

On Thursday we decided to take a day trip up to Sydney via train. We arrived at the train station pretty early in the morning.  Round trip tickets up to Sydney are $10.80, and it takes about 
1 and a half -2 hours to get into central Sydney. The train runs along some pretty scenery, so I snapped some photos!

When we got to Sydney we immediatley jumped on the train to Circular Quay that would take us to the harbor.  When we arrived at the harbor there were a lot of options of ferries we could jump on that went to the zoo, the aquarium, Manly Beach, and to Darling Harbor.  We decided we would attempt to walk to Darling Harbor, little did we know....

Our first view of the harbor! There is a cruise shipped docked and the Sydney bridge is also pictured. 

feeding the birds! Australia is just like finding nemo- the seagulls in Sydney are more aggressive than any other I have ever seen!

Schoolchildren all wear uniforms with matching hats because the sun is SO hot. 

A wharf on the harbor. 

jellyfish everywhere!

the maritime museum in Darling harbor.
We ended up walking around the periphery of the harbor, which is a lot farther than we realized, and eventually got to Darling Harbor. We went thru basically everywhere on our walk, including the business area of Sydney.  There is so much to do and see around Sydney Harbor, and especially in Darling Harbor.  It was a bit of a tourist-y trap, with Wildlife places and the Sydney Aquarium and different boats that can take visitors out into the harbor.
In the food court of the aquarium this awesome lego statue sits in the center of the room. 
After walking around Darling Harbor we headed to Paddy's Market, a world famous market in the heart of Sydney's Chinatown.  I was seriously hoping to find some awesome replica handbags and other cool stuff asians frequently sell, but only found Australian souvenirs and generalized junk.  The market was definitely worth our visit though, and I bought some things to take home.  I bought authentic hand-painted aboriginal handicrafts, like a boomerang and kangaroo figure.  I spent a little more than I maybe should have, but I feel ok about it because all the money goes back into the aboriginal community the craft came from.  I also bought some tea towels, but I'm not sure what the difference in tea towels and dish cloths are?...
Anyway, after all the walking we did all day in Sydney we were seriously worn out, and I slept on the train ride home... Overall, it was an awesome day.  Pictures do not do Sydney Harbor justice, it is a beautiful place!
Decided to take a dip into the fountain...


Sydney Central Station

I just had to snap a photo of these at the market- you can buy Kangaroo scrotum souvenirs... uck.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Feel the Blonde

         I don’t know why, but I can’t quite get used to the time here. I keep waking up really early in the mornings, and it is really a drag.  My roommate came yesterday, so I can’t just jump on skype when I wake up because she might wake up to me talking or something. So now I just have to sit around thinking of things to fill up the time until breakfast.  I have never been so excited to get up in the morning before- anytime before now I have wanted to sleep in as late as possible.  I don’t know why I can’t sleep here…
         Anyway, yesterday was a big day.  My roommate arrived from a tour of Melbourne that her program took her on upon her arrival.  She comes from Roger Williams (?) in Rhode Island with about 12 other students who also came yesterday.  There are a total of 30 in their group, but they are spread out between the dormitories.  She is nice and has had a smooth time settling in.  I didn’t meet here until after I got back from orientation.
         Yesterday morning our CIEE director and assistant directors came and picked us all up from our dorms in a touring bus and drove us up to this beautiful Bulli Pass.  (I promise, I will post pictures soon!).  We took a group shot there and then grabbed lunch at a restaurant in town.  They told us all about certain academic things we need to know, gave us travel tips, and told us about our trip next week with the group to the mountains.  There are 8 of us in the group, and we are from all over, literally.  Two girls are from Wisconsin, another from Oregon, and Connecticut, and South Dakota, and  one guy is from California.  It interesting that our backgrounds are just as different as Australians’ backgrounds probably are, so we are bringing a lot of different experiences from a lot of different regions to the group. 
  Bulli Pass

    The Beach

         In Australia, students call professors ‘lecturers’ and refer to them by their first name. It is much more casual here than at home with lecturers, as they offer much less guidance and feedback during the semester.
         After orientation I came back to Weerona for dinner, then we went back out to look for some fabric because there is an upcoming toga party for the dorm.  It is super weird- all the shops close at 5pm on Saturday evenings, and we still don’t know what people do!  In the states it is totally normal to go hang out at the mall on Saturday night, but here no one is out.  !! I am going to have a hard time adjusting to the slow pace of Saturday afternoon… maybe I will head to the beach next weekend!
        ...Today we were planning on hiking around the pass again, but we couldn't figure out a good way to get there. I decided that I want to attempt to drive here at the end of the week, and we can drive there when I rent the car! How exciting :)  We actually ended up going to the mall again because there is a TOGA party tonight that the girls wanted to get fabric for!!  We went to a craft store and I got some cheap knitting needles to get me started knitting.  When we got back I took a lazy Sunday afternoon nap that was greatly needed. 
       My mom wrote me a note that she was proofreading all this in her head, and it was driving her crazy- so a note to those who are wishing I would be a better writer I AM SORRY. I am not even reading back over the things I have written before I post them, so if while I am typing about all the thoughts in my head I made mistakes I am very sorry. sincerely.  if any mistakes are totally driving you crazy please comment and i can fix!
       Anyway, on another note, I have decided that I need to return to blonde hair. This week, before school starts, I am bound and determined to get my hair done back blonde and make it healthy again.  This color is so drab, and I don't even know myself as a brunette! The color has faded to a boring reddish-brown-blonde, and I hate it.  Blondes REALLY do get more attention, get noticed more than brunettes, and have more fun. ... Now that I have gotten my frustration with this haircolor out on the blog, I feel better, and soon I will be blonde again. I will go to hair ER, and fix or improve this issue. the blonde in me loves and misses you all!
 Until next time.... Cheers!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Rockpools and Moonlight Parties

The beaches here are surrounded on each side by rocks like this.

This salt water pool sticks out into the ocean.  This is where I played with the little boys, and there are living things all surrounding the pool in the rocks. There is a snorkel spot off to the left.

I ran out onto the tip of the rocks to get this shot :)

A Rock Pool surrounded by rocks that jut out into the surf.

Good morning from Australia! It is Saturday morning here, and I am up early enough to write some things in the blog before my day begins!
         For the past couple of days I have been going out with some American girls shopping or to the beach on the bus.  There is a free shuttle bus around the town that runs right by our residence, so it is easy to jump on. One thing we are learning quick is that Australian “walking distance” is quite a bit further than American walking distance.  Thursday we went out looking for a beach towel and a couple other things, and ended up at the mall. We couldn’t help ourselves and each bought a dress at a shop where they were on sale for $10.  Yesterday we were shopping for the same kind of things, and I was in the market for a straightener with an Australian plug. I ended up getting one on sale for 19.97 that does the job, and I am satisfied with it.
         One interesting thing we have seen out shopping is that sometimes people don’t wear shoes here. We were in the food store the other day and several people were just shopping around without shoes it.  It seems to be something that is very commonplace and totally overlooked by most Australians. 
         We have also been going to the beach for the past couple of days, and let me marvel at how wonderful and beautiful it is for a moment!  The coastline here is littered with huge rocks, and the waves are pretty big coming onto shore.  It is like a really like a picture, and there are gulls and everything else littering the beach.  It is also not very crowded, so it really looks natural all the time.  The beach that we have been to, North Beach, is right next to a beautiful little harbor where sailboats and old yachts are moored out in the middle, and there is a lighthouse jutting out in the ocean.  Along all of this is a cool walkway that runs parallel, and on the walkway people are jogging, pushing ‘prams,’ or carrying their surfboards from the beach. 
On a rocky part of the beach there is this awesome rockpool- it is built right into the scenery, and the bottom is quite mushy, and smells like horrible sulfur if you sink deep enough. It is really cool, though, because it stays calm and relaxing even when the ocean current is rough and the waves are big.  It is really awesome, and all around it there are rocks with so much marine life it blows my mind!  People snorkel in this area, also, because the water is clear enough to see. 
I ran into two little Australian boys who where very excited to show off their crab catching abilities to an American girl.  I told them I was from South Carolina and when their mum came up one was heard saying “Mum, this girl is from South Carolina! What’s that??” haha.  I told them about our crabs, and about how I was worried they would get pinched, but they were not worried, as Australian crabs on this beach are a little smaller. They did catch me two, and each was about the length of my finger.  They also looked kind of like ghost crabs, not the colorful crabs we are used to on the marsh.  They showed me the different corals that were stuck to the rocks, and we took turns touching each one because they all felt so different, and would usually move when we touched them.
Besides the awesome rock pool, there is a pool right at the ocean that is totally free and totally cool. This pool is a saltwater pool, and puts its water out into the ocean, but somehow it is sanitized. I don’t really understand the mechanism.  But anyway, lots of Australians come to do laps in the Olympic size lap pool, while others go to the shallower pool and relax, and others take their children to the baby pool. This pool is more beautiful than any pool I have ever been to because it is separated by a roaring ocean and the rocks surrounding it by only a small seawall.  It really looks like the pool juts out into the ocean, and on rough days I imagine the water comes up over the wall and into the pool. 
We layed out on this seawall/walkway that separates the pool and ocean, and I must say it was one of the most pleasurable things I have ever done.  People were doing laps on one side of me, the ocean was roaring on the other, and the sun was shining down but it wasn’t hot because of a great breeze.  This place really is magnificent, and breathtaking, and all of those other adjectives that I want to use to describe things that are wonderful!
Anyway, I haven’t been to another tribunal, but I have been going to dinners, which have been improving by an American’s standards. Last night spaghetti was on the menu, and it was really more cheese and meat than tomato base.  That is another weird thing here- katsup is tomato sauce, and tomato sauce is katsup. We have to specify, haha, when ordering food, because the language really is slightly different. 
Last night we did something cool to- we told ourselves we were going to go out, so we got ready and everything and starting walking. We were told by a couple of the girls on our hall how to get to some bars, and we followed their directions. Somewhere along the way we started following some other people walking, and eventually ended up walking across town back to the beach.  On the beach there was this Moonlight Party; it was all of these people who casually were like firetossers or throwers, and were all doing it with their friends on the beach. There was also a big circle of people drumming on different instruments they had all brought down with them, and in the middle were hippie girls dancing to the beat.  Along the sides there were other people with little sideshow type talents, one guy throwing machetes, one guy who had made a tightrope between two bars and was trying to walk upon it.  It seemed like a lot of hippies from the area, a lot of younger people who casually spun the fire batons and stuff, and then older people who came to sit and watch and drink wine.  It was relaxing and cool to sit and watch, because you could see more than one firethrower on the beach at a time, and the drums resounded everywhere onto the beach.  It was really something to see, and the closest thing I have ever seen to anything like it was at the sunset down at Key West, where performers go down to perform their weird talents every night for the hoards of people who come to watch. 
One of the girls was disappointed we never found a bar, but I am glad we ended up at the moonlight party. While I will probably never be participating in the activities, I enjoyed sitting and watching other people perform and drum and everything else.  It was a beautiful, totally Australian scene right on the beach, and I am glad we ended up there.
Today, I have CIEE orientation, where I will meet the other people in my program and we will get to know each other.  I am looking forward to it, because soon we will be taking a trip together with CIEE. I will update the blog soon!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New Friends

     I ended up sleeping all the way thru last night, and waking up this morning around 5am.  I couldn't sleep, so I went to the computer lab and got on Facebook, because I knew everyone from home would be up and might be on.  I didn't spend too much time up, and eventually went back to sleep pretty early, and slept until breakfast was almost over in the cafeteria. I hurried downstairs in my nightgown, grabbed breakfast and sat down with three girls I did not know.  I was lucky to find out that they were Americans who had just gotten here too!  They are from U. Scranton and they are all transitioning just like me!
     After breakfast, we decided to go to the beach.  North Beach is within walking distance of Weerona College, so we headed in the direction.  First we hit the harbour, which is quite small actually, but very cute.  Atleast 20 boats are moored inside and a pretty lighthouse sits guarding the entrance.  Next to the rocky harbour is an awesome walkway and a pool that juts out into the rocky seacoast.  We took some great pictures that I will definately add soon!  The beach was a bit overcast, and we didn't think we were getting much sun. My mom has warned me, though, about the Australian sun, so I was sure to wear sunscreen.  She told me that Australia has one of the highest rates of melanoma because the ozone layer here is thinner than normal.  She was right- hours later it turns out that I am in fact burned on my shoulders and chest a little, places I didn't think to load up on the strong sunscreen.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Wow- what a couple of days it has been. Since my last post in the airport a lot has happened, so I will attempt to retell all here...
Boarding the plan did not take too long. Over 350 passengers traveled on the United flight, and the plane even had an upstairs (for first class passengers only...).  I think there were several other students onboard too, but I did not speak to any of them or anything.  I was seated in an aisle seat in row 20, which was the second row in economy plus class, so I had a great spot.  There was no one in between me and the guy with the window seat, so we had some extra room as well for our belongings.   Several movies played, including Morning Glory and The Social Network, and I watched them in between naps.  Two meals were served on board- one dinner about an hour after getting up in the air, and then breakfast about an hour before descent into Sydney.  Alcoholic beverages were complimentary, too! The flight went pretty well, and was very smooth.  I was much more comfortable than when I flew to China (also a 14 hour flight) and am so glad I opted to get the Economy plus seat!
Once we arrived in Sydney we had to proceed thru Customs and Immigration; the line for people with international passports was very long.  Once we got thru that line then we had to collect our bags and proceed thru quarantine.  I did not declare any items, so none of my bags were x-rayed or anything.  We arrived around 7:30AM Sydney time, Wednesday, February 16.  It was weird to have lost so much time in the air (going from Monday to Wednesday!), and I was really exhausted in the airport.  The Sydney-Kingsford airport was one of the busiest I have ever been to- there are many Asians arriving in Australia, as well as many people from the middle east (like women in scarves and robes).
Students are sent to a meeting place in the airport where they can get shuttles to their destinations.  When I went to the meeting place, I met a girl studying at Wollongong from Norway, some others from Colgate University in the states, and then some others from China and Hong Kong.  We all got on a bus for the 1 hr ride south to Wollongong; the ride was very pretty, and it is unbelievable how scenic the area is.  I will post pictures to facebook soon!
The ride went pretty quick, and eventually I was dropped off to Weerona College, my dormitory for the semester.  I checked in and the Orientation staff helped me haul my bags up the stairs.  When I got to my room it was dirty, but a nice cleaning lady named Winnie came and cleaned it up quickly and welcomed me to the floor.  She was very interested in why I had chosen Australia, what I was studying here, and where I was planning on traveling while I am here.  I figured out quickly that there were a lot of things I needed for a smooth move into my room, like hangers, an Ethernet cord, sticky hooks, and maybe some organizer baskets.  My program rented me linens that Winnie brought to my room, but after feeling the sheets I decided I wanted to buy some of my own, too.
I asked the lady at the front desk how to get to town to shops, and she told me I could walk.  I set off into town all alone, and went searching first for a place to grab a bite to eat and some water. Man was I thirsty after that flight!  I had a delicious turkey sandwich with a bowl of fruit and bottle of water for around $A12, which is a little expensive, but I was so famished and thirsty that it really didn’t matter to me.  The people at the cafĂ© directed me to a warehouse, kind of like an Australian Big Lots, where I could purchase most of the things I was looking for.   I went to the shop and came out with lots of things, including sheets, a hairdryer, a pillow, hooks, baskets, hangers, and cleaning supplies!  Everything was pretty reasonable, but certainly nothing like in the US. It is crazy how cheap things are at home compared to abroad! 
By the time I was done shopping I was really tired, so I took a taxi home. I had walked so far to this warehouse store that my taxi fare was $A12!  I really got my workout around town!
When I got back to my dorm I really wanted a shower; the showers here seem to be pretty nice, and I really enjoyed relaxing after such a whirlwind couple of days.  Once I was ready I went out into the hall and met some Aussie girls that live on the hall. The only girls that had moved in were freshmen, or first year, students who were participating in Weerona Orientation.
I learned more about O-Week later, at “Tribunal.”  At the same time each day all of the students and the leaders come together for a briefing about what did go on and what is going on later.  One big difference here from home is that first year students are allowed to drink when they go to college at age 18, so orientation for Australians is very wild.  The night before I had arrived, the students had all attended a Pub Crawl event, where all of them proceeded to get hammered.  Needless to say, everyone was still hungover at this Tribunal.  The leaders gave out awards that were kind of shocking to me- an orange vest to the drunkest person from the night, a yellow vest was given to the sloppiest person of the night, and a necklace of glued together condoms was given to the person who kissed the most people.  This was determined with a hookup board that listed each and every kiss by each and every person.  It was truly shocking to me that all of this was so public, as a girl who has made out with 5 guys in one night does not want people to know in the US, but here she is told to wear a condom necklace.  It seems like orientation here is almost like mild pledging- the freshmen do scavenger hunts, and trivia, and receive humiliating awards and attention.  Anyway, when I asked about this later they said that it is really just some innocent fun for O-week, and that because everyone got so hammered on O-week, the leaders decided they would plan some fun for it…
After Tribunal everyone went to dinner. Since it was my first dinner in Australia, and my first experience with ‘normal’ Australian food in general, I was excited.  It was ok (typical cafeteria stuff); there was zucchini, some pasta, ‘squid rings’ (calamari), baked chicken, and oriental rice.  There was also an awesome fruit bar with sliced kiwi and melon and orange and everything.  It will be an okay place to eat for the next couple of months, because there is more than one option served. 
It is around 6pm now, and I am worn out from my days of traveling and today trekking around the city, so I am going to attempt to nap before an evening orientation treasure hunt activity.  Will post later!

Monday, February 14, 2011

My first post!

Thanks for coming to read my blog! So- here it is. My first entry to my first blog.  I’m sorry if it’s a bit rough… I don’t have a whole lot of experience writing journals or writing for other people, but I will do my best to describe my days and experiences in an interesting and “worth-reading” kind of way. I am writing this blog this semester for my family and friends who are wondering what I’m doing over in Aussie- it is going to be hard to coordinate skype or phone call times because Australia is 16 hours ahead!  I am so excited to be traveling to the east again, as last year I had the chance to visit China. That trip was amazing- I’m hoping this semester will compare!
            Just for an update on what I’ve been doing lately to plan, and how I have packed, I will completely tell all here, because I have 2 long layovers… I’m thinking this post will probably be one of the longer ones : ).    It’s been a whirlwind to the point I am now (sitting in Dulles International Airport, waiting on flight 2 of 3 to SYD), and in a nutshell…
            During the month of January Wofford gave biology students the chance to shadow doctors and medical professionals for the month- I was so lucky to get to participate, and had some amazing experiences.  I got to see a lot of surgery, including a robotic hysterectomy, a colostomy, and open heart surgery. I also got to observe a traditional birth and a c-section of twin girls! My favorite part of working with the doctors, though, was rotating with them around the rooms- each patient had a different problem, and even though each was similar, every patient was unique. Doctors definitely have a hard job, and work REALLY long hours, and have to be really dedicated- I was so impressed, and didn’t know how much time they put into each patient. I also learned how subjective medicine is, and that it really is an art- two surgeons or doctors could easily have differing opinions about the same patient or diagnosis. 
The clinical experience ended on February 2 with group presentations on something interesting, and on February 3 my mom planned for me to fly to Costa Rica with my Yiaya to have some dental work done. We weren’t exactly sure what I needed, so my mom booked my original flight until Feb 12. While we were there the weather was beautiful- it was summer, and the kids were out of school.  I layed out one day, but many of the days were cloudy.  San Jose is a cool city- it is surrounded by huge luscious looking mountains that are uninhabited and wild looking! We didn’t do much shopping there, as everything is more expensive because it is imported. Luckily, CostaRica90210 got me done sooner, and I got to come home early, but I was sad to have to say goodbye to my grandmother (she stayed with a friend)!  I will miss her very much while I’m in Australia, and am so grateful so was willing to take me.
Since I got home Wednesday night, I have been hurrying to pack, clean up my condo in NMB where I keep all my clothes and shoes and things, and spend time with loved ones!  On Thursday I got all my packing done, and feel pretty confident about what I have. Packing probably took me 4-6 hours, but I was also organizing my closet at the condo and unpacking things that were hastily packed up in my dorm at school, so I think I could have done it a little faster. My strategy was simple- take everything I think I’ll need, including an excess of toiletries (partly because I love shopping in drug stores), and then leave any excess toiletries there when I get ready to come back.  With this strategy, I will have room in my suitcase for whatever purchases I desire, because I will have left a certain amount of weight in AU(hopefully!!).  It was simple enough, but I had to be strategic, because believe it or not, toiletries are the heaviest parts of traveling!  I itemized a list of things I’m taking in my own shorthand, but I will reproduce a shortened version for this blog, just incase you’re wondering “How much does one person need for four and a half months on the other side of the world???” I asked myself the same question, and this is what I came up with…
Blue Duffel Bag-
3 Bathing Suits
Razors, new toothpaste, xtra toothbrushes, contarcts, 2 pairs of glasses, 2 shampoos, 2 conditioners, 3 bars of soap, body wash
2 towels with hand towels and washcloths
7 dresses
5-6 pairs of jeans
7 various fleeces, jackets, and pullovers of different weights
a full first aid kit, with some of every medicine I’ve used in the last year
some costume jewelry
Pink hard suitcase-
            6 pairs shorts- normal and workout
            4 button downs/oxfords
            5 bras
            17-20 pair of underwear
            10 pair new socks, 1 pair wool socks
            8 tank tops
            11 short sleeve tops
            7 long sleeve tops
            6 short sleeve ts, 2 long sleeve
            SHOES!- 4 pairs flats, 3 pairs flip flops/sandals, reetones, 2 pairs boots (brown& black)
BIG roller Carry on-
            Extra cute purse
            Lightweight tote
            Pencil case with pencils and pens
            ALL my makeup and beauty essentials, including 3perfumes
            Cowboy boots (this item was disputed by my dad “you should take the basics, AU won’t be a fashion show, you’ve got others!”  “Daddy, I need these boots…” )
            Extra fleece and underwear
            Cap- for all that bright sun in AU!
            Bathing suit, just in case
This sounds like a lot, it really does, but it was the perfect amount to fill up two suitcases at 52lbs each, which is a lot less than you think! It was harder to decide which shoes to take than anything else, as it’s hard to anticipate what exactly I’ll need when I get there.   I didn’t want to show up down under unprepared, and so this is how I planned… Some of you may have noticed there is no hair dryer or straightener on the list. “How is she going to live without that?” you say.  The simple solution will be that I have to buy one there- because Australian plugs run on an entirely different, higher voltage than ours, I am planning to buy electronics upon arrival, instead of buying a converter that I may or may not be able to count on and paying almost as much. 
Anyway, all of this brings me to my finals days at home.  Because I was packed, I got the chance to spend time with my family that I wouldn’t have had if I had been more undecisive.  I got to go see my Papa, my mom’s dad, and his wife Irma; he needed help with the computer and his Ipad, and so I visited with him.  I also got to spend time with my Granddaddy at his house and at ours, as my parents cooked chicken bog and spaghetti for dinners that we enjoyed together!  My mom and dad took good care of my in the last couple of days- we even went to get Mexican food, because we figured there might not be many El Cerro/Coronas type places down under.  I also got to spend time with Manny, which was nice, because I am flying out on Valentines Day.  It was sad to say goodbye to him, but he just got a new iphone, so we will be able to skype all the time.
This morning my granddaddy, my momma and my daddy brought me to the airport.  After I got checked in (and had to remove just a couple things from my bags, along with some rearranging), they sat with me by the security check in for awhile, waiting until my boarding time got closer.  It was sad to kiss them all goodbye, but they were happy and excited to see me off, especially my dad.  He seems really excited about Australia, but sad to see me go for so long.   While I was going through the checkpoint, my granddaddy watched me the whole time, and then we waved goodbye.  It means a lot of me that he came and saw me off at the airport, too; I love him so much and will miss him while I’m gone!
It’s weird- a couple of weeks ago I got emotional really easily about going, because it is kind of scary, but now it just feels like a big adventure.  I’m excited about everything in store for me there, I want to make the most of every experience.  I am expecting some homesickness two weeks into my trip- while I was in China I still remember the feeling, the culture shock, hitting me.  It was overwhelming to look around and feel completely unfamiliar, completely out of place, completely alone.  Even though I had my sorority sisters and a group of Wofford students there with me, it was scary to be in a new place that was so different than anything I had known before.  I got over the feeling, and had an amazing time, but for an instant I wanted to get on skype and cry to my mom and my girlfriends (and I was never THAT girl at summer camp!!) about coming home. My happy place was a Pizza Hut in Shanghai- it was enough of a Chinese fusion with American food that it gave me the confidence to carry on, and push forward, and take it all in.  I learned that something scary can be wonderful, but you have to jump right in and experience it.
Anyway, back to the easy stuff- Washington-Dulles airport is really nice!  I just rode on the trains that transport around the terminals, and I think they might be new.  The terminal I am in now looks sort of deserted, and I am camped over by a power plug. Oh, look, I am not getting power… just noticed.  Well, that’s all for now.  I’ll update this post in when I arrive in LAX (and hopefully see lots of celebs J ).
…I just arrived at LAX and I haven’t spotted any celebs. Yet.  I am sitting at a table at a bar type place- I just had a Caesar salad and a Michelob Ultra, and now I have about 3 hours to sit and wait for my flight to Sydney.  This airport it pretty big, and people keep dashing each direction. Lucky for me, I am flying on United, so my gates are all right next to each other- I don’t have to go rushing around the airport looking for my place.  I called my family members when I got here- my mom said her and dad were upset after they dropped me off, and sad that they had to see me go, but excited too.  I’m happy to have their support!