Friday, November 12, 2010

and are we there yet?

Well, today is my last day in Australia.

It doesn't even feel real. It's still hard to believe I'm actually here, let alone that I won't be tomorrow.

I suddenly got cold feet. I'm not ready to leave yet. Four months isn't enough time.

This past week was the best that anyone could hope for. It was hot and sunny, and I went to the beach every day. I thought my last week would be about trying to jam-pack it full of things I hadn't done yet. But I found that all I really wanted to do was be with friends and family. Things like going out to breakfast, or participating in a Harry Potter marathon, or walking around the beach became highlights of my whole trip.

I don't want to leave this.

But I do at the same time. Four months is too short to be in Australia, but it's a long time to be away from home. Not just like, home-where-my-house-is-home. But home like, home-where-my-family-is and home-where-my-friends-are and home-where-my-country-is.

This is the most bittersweet experience of my life. Both ends are so extreme.

But first I'm taking the Ring to Mordor going to New Zealand. See you guys after I battle some Ringwraiths, fight off a giant spider and climb Mount Doom.

current song: Are We There Yet by Ingrid Michaelson

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

we are the tourists in the cafes

Today in class, we watched this short movie called The Story of Stuff. It's this woman who researched how all our 'stuff' is made, and where it goes once we throw it away. You all should watch it here. It's so interesting, and brings up a lot of issues we don't think about very much. I don't think everything she's saying here is gospel truth. But it definitely got me thinking.

After the movie we had a discussion, and someone brought up this quote from Saturday by Ian McEwan. It's kind of long.

"How restful it must once have been, in another age, to be prosperous and believe that an all-knowing supernatural force had allotted people to their stations in life. And not see how the belief served your own prosperity- a form of anosopnosia, a useful psychiatric term for a lack of awareness of ones own condition. Now we think we do see, how do things stand? after the ruinous experiments of the lately deceased century, after so much vile behavior, so many deaths, a queasy agnosticism has settled around these matters of justice and redistributed wealth. No more big ideas. The world must improve, if at all, by tiny steps."

Things don't operate the way they should. The world doesn't work like it was created to. Some people have nothing and some people have too much. We watch the tragedies of the world happen on the news from our dinner tables and often can't motivate ourselves to do anything about it. I don't know where my shirt was made, or who made it and whether or not they have enough food. I don't know if the person who sold it to me was paid fairly and I don't know where it will go once I finally give it up. Isn't that a problem?

I don't know exactly what I even think about all this yet. Or what I think I should do with it. But what I really want is for you to watch that movie and read that quote and tell me what you think.

current song: Camera Talk by Local Natives

Saturday, October 30, 2010

this night is winding down

Tomorrow I start my last week of classes here. Then it's a free week in Sydney. Then it's a week in New Zealand. Then it's home. And now that the end is near, it feels like it's taking forever to get here. When I feel like I can't wait to be home, November 20th just hovers in the back of my mind, and refuses to budge. Everyone keeps saying that our time is running out so quickly, but to me it kind of feels like it's suddenly slowed down.

In our ASC classes, we're starting to 'process' all of the things we've learned/seen/experienced here and figuring out what we do with it all. We seriously have the best discussions in those class, and I'm going to hate going back to normal class where no one wants to contribute. But we were talking about the idea of mobility and stability. And I've been sitting here staring at the screen because it's so hard to summarize those ideas in just a few sentences. One story we read, though, sums it up really well.

There was this pastor, and he was trying to balance working locally in his church with taking national speaking engagements. In this, God spoke to him and said, "Stay home and do your knitting." Stop thinking about going out to save the world and start thinking about serving where you are.

Four months ago, that is exactly what I didn't want. But now I think I get it. Staying home with the knitting isn't very exciting, and you struggle against boredom and ambition, but it's good. And it's necessary.

It's kind of weird that God calls us to stay where we are sometimes. It doesn't fit in our box. It isn't what we think 'God's call' is. Before this experience, it was hard for me to believe that with mobility and stability, one isn't better than the other. Maybe because I thought I hadn't experienced mobility. Now I have, and I love it and it's great. I've had an amazing time in Australia. But I am looking forward to being in the same place for a while, and appreciating it. It'll be good to be somewhere where I have a connection to the place. I would like to be home and do my knitting. And hopefully I won't change my wind after a couple weeks.

Recently I've been trying to do cool things, which is a good goal to have. Thursday I went to Bar Me with some friends/family to see our friend Phebe Starr play a show, and it was really great. Part of me felt like I was back at the student union at Taylor at an IFC show. The musicians were amazing, but Phebe definitely tickled those ivories. Check her out.

I went to a Sci-Fi film festival with some friends and saw a Finnish movie about an evil(?) Santa Claus. And it actually was really good, really well made, and really funny. If you can, watch it. Rare Exports.

current song: After Hours by We Are Scientists [Do you guys get that I do this because I use the lyrics in the title of each post? I hate thinking of titles for this. So this was an easy compromise. But I do love all the songs I post, and I hope you listen to them all as you read.]

Friday, October 22, 2010

sipping life down

-To eat Mexican food.
-To wear different clothes.
-To see my family.
-To have fun with my best friends.
-To eat Honey Bunches of Oats.
[You have no idea how hard it was to make this list not all about food]
-To have my room.
-Assignments to be done.

Mostly what I am really ready for is to be comfortable. I don't want to feel like I'm in someone else's house or at other people's schools anymore. It's been almost 4 months of being out of my comfort zone. And that's been great and I have been able to feel somewhat 'at home' here. But it isn't the same as my home. I'm really looking forward to being with my friends who really know me, and not having to ask directions everywhere I go.

-To leave Australia.
-To leave my friends and family here.
-To even think about fitting my stuff in my suitcase.
-To have to drive places.
-To leave Sydney summer for Upland winter.

There are really 2 things I hate about leaving. One of them is feeling like I wasn't able to experience everything here in Sydney before I leave. The days are going by so fast and with classes and service placement, it's so hard to try to get to everything. I know there's no way I'll see all there is so see, but I don't want to leave wishing I had done more. The other thing I hate thinking about is leaving all the other people in the ASC group. My experience with the other students here with me was different than I expected, but I love the community we've developed. And I know that no matter how well we stay in touch, we won't ever be able to go back to what we have here, and that makes me a little sad.

It's a strange mix of feelings now. I'm so ready to be home, but I hate thinking about leaving here. Right now I just want to live it up and really enjoy my final weeks in Sydney. And speaking of living it up, I am off to the beach.

current song: Tomorrow Comes a Day Too Soon by Flogging Molly

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

the other side shows through

So it's a $110 fine to get caught riding a bus without a valid ticket.

Not that I know from experience.

Okay, so I do know from experience. Sort of.

Here's the story: When we first got to Australia, our director gave us little yellow passes, smaller than a credit card. They got us onto all the public transportation in Sydney, basically. You pretty much couldn't go anywhere without one, unless you wanted to shell out 3+ dollars per bus, train or ferry ride. And if we lost it and had to replace it, it was about 530 bucks. Did not want to lose one of these puppies.

Knowing that I have a tendency to lose important things, I have been pretty obsessed with knowing where my bus pass is. Like, checking for it in my bag every few minutes and having a miniature panic attack when I don't find it right away. But I feel that it's a great testament to my growing maturity and ability to be a responsible adult that I haven't lost it yet. Feel free to congratulate me.

But last Wednesday, some friends and I were going to Hillsong for their college ministry. We were walking to the train station where a shuttle comes to pick up other Hillsong-goers, when we decided to hop on a bus for a couple blocks to save ourselves some time. Getting on the bus, I take out my yellow pass, plop it in the ticket machine and wait for it to pop back up, like I've done millions of time. Except it doesn't pop back up.

My first reaction, honestly, was, "Well, I knew something was going to happen to it. I'm glad it isn't my fault." But then questions like 'How will I get home tonight?' and 'Will I have to become a hermit and never leave home?' started popping up in my head. The bus driver was pretty great about it, really. He gave me something with the bus depot's phone number, and wrote me a little note explaining the situation to show other bus drivers until I could get my pass back.

So we go to Hillsong and come back to catch a train so we can catch a bus. And it's probably a miracle that all the train ticket lanes were open, and no one had to use a pass. After that free train, we got to the bus stop and stepped on the first one that came.

This bus driver was not so nice. Well, in retrospect he actually was. I showed him the card the other guy gave me and explain what had happened. He just sighed and was like, "Well, if Revenue [I still have no idea what/who Revenue actually is] gets on and you don't have a valid ticket, you'll get fined $110." And when I asked him the likelihood of that, he just shrugged. So I just shrugged and decided to risk it. So it's pretty cool of him to just let me on the bus.

But happy ending: I didn't get fined or anything. And I got my ticket back the next day. The nicest people in Australia, by the way, work at the bus depot. All in all, it was a valuable experience.

Other than that, I've been doing things to put off homework, getting buried with more assignments, and then procrastinating more. These past few days I've done some pretty cool stuff while I was procrastinating. Some of us went to Luna Park, which is kind of like a creepy version of Coney Island. I went to Watson's Bay again with my friend Joann. Walked from Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach with cousins and friends, and took my first swim in the Australian Pacific! Which was probably the coldest thing of my life. But it was a beautiful day and it had to be done.

So this week I'm not allowing myself to have any fun. At least, until all my assignments are done. I actually should be reading right now. Let me tell you, doing homework in Australia is the worst. Especially since it's finally warm and sunny and amazing outside and I am in a library, looking at it through windows. But hey, that's just more motivation to get it done as fast as possible.

current song: Sugar Blue by Jeff Finlin

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

clouds came tumbling down

Oh man, I feel like I’ve done so much stuff since the last update. But a lot of what I’ve done looks boring and flat when it’s printed on a page… or illuminated on a screen. There’s been a lot of fun conversations, chill hang outs and movie marathons. It’s nice to be able to just chill out with everyone; we don’t get to do it that often. Whenever we get together, it’s so much work and we always have a plan and have something to do or experience. I’ve missed just hanging out with friends, so it’s been really good to be able to do that.

But I have done some pretty cool stuff. Last weekend, a bunch of us went to Featherdale Wildlife Park, which is pretty much a petting zoo with kangaroos. Yes. Petting kangaroos. And wombats, and wallabies, and emus, and koalas, and dingoes and other assorted Australian animals. I feel like it’s just one of those things I had to do while I’m here. How can I come back to the states and say, “No, I went all the way to Australia and didn’t touch a koala.” Unavoidable. But it was great fun.

Then this Monday was Labour Day, alright! Long weekend! Saturday there was a jazz festival in Manly that we went to, and it was great even though we didn’t listen to much music. Manly is beautiful, definitely one of my favorite spots. If I lived in Sydney, I would want to live in Manly. We went exploring along the beach and came to an amazing lookout on a bluff, and right when we got there it started pouring rain and the wind blew the water off the ocean right into our faces. It was a crazy couple of minutes yelling and running around and really having great fun.

Today, we had an optional class where we went back to Manly for a tour of the Quarantine Station. Ships of immigrants stopped there before coming into Australia and if there were contagious diseases onboard, they were all stopped and had to stay in Manly for 40 days. It was just so interesting to hear about the history of the place, and I feel like writing it all here would be ultra boring. Because even though I loved hearing about it and seeing all the buildings, it would turn into a lame history textbook here. Ghost Hunters International did a show there, staying in the mortuary and trying to find ghosts. Guess what, they found them. My friend and I were talking about going back on Halloween, and try to find some ghosts.

In other news, I made an Australian To-Do List, full of things I want to do and places I want to go before my time’s up here. And it is a pretty hefty list. I’m slowly crossing things off, but definitely looking forward to completing it.
Okay, sorry this blog seems a little lame. Most of what I’ve been doing lately is homework, which is even lamer. It’s just that time of the semester when everything is due soon. If I thought it was hard to be focused on homework in Upland, Indiana, it is a thousand times harder in Sydney, Australia. But just a few weeks, and all my major assignments will be done with and it will be time for more fun.

current song: Landed by Ben Folds

Saturday, September 25, 2010

longing for the view behind the fence

I love stories. I think stories are my favorite things in the world.

I love spending hours with books, and getting lost in someone else’s imagination. I’m a firm believer that you can’t like a book if you’ve only read it once. I even like books I hate, because at least they made me have an opinion on them.

But really, my favorite thing is sitting with friends and family, and listening to them tell their stories and adventures. And it’s pretty safe to say that I know and am related to some of the most interesting people in the world, and their stories are the best I’ve ever heard. And I wish they were mine.

There comes a point where I’m tired of listening and want to do some talking. And when that time comes, I don’t have much to say.

Maybe you’re one of those people that always have stories to tell. But maybe you’re like me and haven’t had many adventures yet. But I decided to change that.

So I came to Australia for life-changing experiences.

And it frustrates me that there are people here content to have a normal semester. It’s like they came for the photo ops, and don’t want anything else. But I don’t want to be like that. I want more than a profile picture with a koala. I want experiences. I want stories. I want drama. I want my exploits here to require courage. I want people to hear my stories and be affected like other people’s stories have affected me.

I want adventures.

But adventures don’t just happen to you. Dwarves don’t knock on your door and invite you on a journey. You don’t come home to a tollbooth waiting in your room. People don’t break down your door and tell you you’re a wizard.

I’ve come to realize, or maybe come to accept, you have to make your own adventures sometimes. And I feel like I haven’t done much about that. I’m sitting around, waiting for the wardrobe I’ve opened a thousand times before to suddenly lead somewhere new. And I’ve finally gotten tired of it. I am going to have adventures, and if I have to I’m going to make them myself. That’s what I want to do.

I’m halfway in. I’ve gotten comfortable. Now I want to get crazy. I want this half of the semester to look different.

I don’t really know how to go about creating adventures, so I’m just going to wing it.

Here’s hoping this blog will get a lot more interesting soon.

current song: Memories & Dust by Josh Pyke