Thursday, March 31, 2011

March Recap in Pictures

It's the last day of March and I only have two and half months left in Australia! Good thing I've been spending my time wisely.

Five girls that became best friends and have WAY too much fun

Too many pictures at Sydney Harbour

Mossman's Gorge- Wishing I had taken more than four months of ballet

Deep in the Rainforest
Commencement- Getting dressed up with 200 of your closest friends

The money shot- Jack & I
One AMAZING day snorkeling and diving the Great Barrier Reef

Even if you hit a couple of bumps like I did this month, just look to the good times to realize how much you really have! I hope March was just as wonderful for you as it was me! Let me know what you did.

Cheers for now,

[SDU Note: Going through all my pictures, I realized I forgot to blog about my week in Cairns. Shame on me! I'm getting on that right away; stay tuned.]

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Home Sweet Home

It occured to me the other day when I was Skyping my parents that I haven't showed what my room looks like. So you already know that I live in Evatt (which I love), but here is the low down on my block. We share a huge common room and kitchen. There are two wings that split off with five rooms and a bathroom each. We are the closest block to the laundry and mailroom; plus we're one of the few blocks with wireless (score)! Basically D Block is where it's at. Plus even when I'm in my room, I'm still part of the action because the Cat (aka the Evatt rec slash party room) is right next to my window. Nice until about 1 a.m.

Here are some pictures of my room. It's only this clean because I just did laundry always this clean :)

Look how organized that closet is!

Cheers for now,

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Untapped Resource

Last night there was a dance party in the Cat that went on well past 4 a.m. Yeah I wasn’t too happy with that. Now I’m in my fourth class of the day and dragging. Why did I think seven hours of class in a day was a good idea?
This week I am going to be busy busy busy with school work. I just gave an Aboriginal Studies presentation in my last class, but I have three papers due next week. So in order to actually get work done, I’m relocating to the library for a while.
In my opinion, the library is such an untapped source for college students. The libraries on campus are new and have a lot of study space. My marketing group has had several meetings in the high-tech study rooms. Also libraries have . . . wait for it . . . BOOKS!
Most classes have the required textbook on short loan at the library; I haven’t bought a book since freshmen year. I’ve been checking out my Creative Writing book and doing the readings in the comfort of my own bed (super convenient if I doze off). Also I’m attempting to read for fun. If you have any recommendations, I would love to hear them.
Ok maybe I should pay attention to lecture.
Cheers for now,

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hanging out with Jack

Day trips really are the best! Last Friday, Katie, Bekah and I hopped on the train to Blackbutt Reserve, just outside Newcastle. This free wildlife park hosts a variety of Australian animals including kangaroos, emus, birds and koalas!

Koala Tree

Sleepy little things

A lace monitor; creepy

I was informed by the park ranger when I asked for tickets to the koala bear encounter that koalas aren't bears. Koalas have pouches and are in the marsupial family. Therefore the term koala bear is entirely American. It's hard not to say the bear part but I'm making an effort.

Getting up close and personal with koala was the greatest; it's one of the things on my must do list. We met Jack, the alpha male of the koalas at Blackbutt. He was heaps adorable. What a pampered life he lives!

The girls plus Jack

He's ready for his close-up

All and all, the girls and I had a great day exploring what Australia has to offer. We got to pet a koala bear and see kangaroos-all for the price of a train ticket. Cheap and fun!

Cheers for now,

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Unichurch: 1 Corinthians Series

Since I've been at school, I've been going to Sunday night Unichurch, a contemporary church service held on campus. Amy, one of the girls I live with, is a Growth Group leader and has really encouraged me to become involved. It's a great way to start my week and refocus on what really matters in life.

The services are part of an eight week series discussing the first four chapters of 1 Corinthians. The verses deal with the foolish ways of the people. It's almost like a congregation-wide Bible study. Plus the band is really good; they select songs that really fit with the sermon. A lyric that really stuck with me tonight was
Our fear is overcome. Our God is love. Our God is love.

Tonight we read 1 Corinthians 3:16-23. The verse that stuck with me the most was the first one. Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and the God's Spirit lives in you? I want to respond with by life through this passage by respecting my body as a temple of God. A verse from an earlier sermon comes from 1 Corinthians 1:25- For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. How can we as sinners think that we will ever measure up to God? How silly can we be?

Cheers for now,

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sending Love from Down Under

I've been abroad for over five weeks now and I'm missing home. Send me your address if you would like a postcard or letter from the beautiful land down under. I'd love some mail as well!

Cheers for now,

Monday, March 21, 2011

Carolina Cup & Marley Lilly Giveaway

One thing I'm missing being abroad this semester is Carolina Cup. For those that don't know, Cup is the equivilant of the Kentucky Derby with just a little more Southern srat frail. Like I mention earlier, I love any reason to get dress up. Last year, I went to about 12 stores until I finally found the perfect Cup hat. Over the fall, I discovered Marley Lilly, a South Carolina store with everything a sorority girl could ask for including . . . monogrammed Carolina Cup hats.

I am so jealous of everyone who is attending the races this year. I can't wait to see all the pictures from my lovely sisters of Kappa Kappa Gamma.

One of my favorite blogs, College Prep is hosting a Marley Lilly giveaway for a monogrammed tumbler, another essential for Carolina Cup.

Cheers for now,

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Airport security and other oddities at the Sydney Airport

In typical Kim fashion, Ryan and I procrastinated on deciding what to do for his last week in Australia. We went back and forth between our three options - Uluru, Cairns, Melbourne. Cairns was ultimately decided on Monday night; we bought plane tickets roughly nine hours before the flight. We pulled an all-nighter, passing the time watching the first season of Entourage. (I’ve watched the seventh season before and now I’m starting from the beginning.) Wheeling our luggage through Uni to the train station at 4 in the morning wasn’t too glamorous, but after two train transfers and five hours later I am now writing this post while sitting at Gate 5 awaiting our departure, with Ryan off finding breakfast.
I would consider myself an experienced flyer. I’ve flown the most out of my family and for the most part solo. When security divides the line into ‘Causal’ and ‘Expert’ traveler, I’m always the latter. Sydney, however, is my first time flying domestic in a foreign country. My main concern as Ryan and I were traveling was the fact that we only had an hour from the time we got off the train at the airport and our flight leaving. My main concern wasn’t what if we got lost but would we get held up in a long security line?
Sydney is the largest airport in Australia, so you would assume there would be some strict airport security. Having ‘earned my wings’ in post-9/11, I know airport security is something America takes seriously. I’ve become a master of the security line shuffle-the awkward dance where I remove my shoes and belt while scooting my carry-on and trail of bins down the conveyer belt while holding my boarding pass in my mouth. It’s a spectacle to see!
Yet I did not perform “the dance” in Sydney. I wasn’t asked to remove my shoes or even show my boarding pass. I was extremely puzzled. Would they check for my id at the gate before I boarded? Going through security took a grand total of two minutes and one of those minutes was when I was randomly tested for explosive material on my clothes and bag.
I’ve come to learn that Australia is an extremely laid-back country, but is this taking it too far? Anyone could’ve gotten through security or posed as another person. There were no security announcements reminding passengers to be aware of suspicious looking baggage. My boarding pass was never verified by an id. Then I thought-does being American have something to do with it? After all, controversial body scanners are now being installed into our airports. Do we take airport security a little too far?
Ryan’s view of the matter is that no the US doesn’t go overboard on security because terrorists are coming up with new tactics so we have to keep one step ahead of them. He gives a valid point. September 11th showed a great weakness in our system and we’ve been try to compensate ever since. He does joke that he has no problem with TSA patting down his “God-given” asset.
Something that was also interesting but not surprising was that there were no check-in counters. We got our tickets and even checked our bags using the nifty airline kiosks.
Ahh Ryan’s back with breakfast; Hungry Jacks it is!
Blogging on the go
Cheers for now,
[SDU Note: Of course nothing goes right for us and both of our flights-to and from Cairns-were delayed by an hour and two hours.]

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tim Tam Yum Yum

As I stated earlier in my Australian dessert post, I had yet to have the famous Tim Tam chocolate biscuits. Well that's changed. While grocery shopping with the boyfriend, I caved in and bought some. Man, I was eating relatively well before he got here. It was just as delicious as my Aussie friends have made it out to be. I also endulged my sweet tooth by making Milo milkshakes one night. Yummy!

Cheers for now,

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Commencement: Any Reason to Dress Up

An Evatt tradition, Commencement is the formal event of the semester. So glad that I packed a cocktail dress, just in case. You can't go wrong with a LBD. I paired it with my Nine West pumps and Lilly earrings for a touch of color. I felt very classic and totally loved it.

Cutest Couple Award
Since Ryan was here, he got special permission to attend. He was the only non-Evatter in attendance; how VIP did he feel. I was thrilled to take pictures with him since we missed both Semi Formal and Formal this year. He was so cute ironing his clothes before the evening.

Everyone at Evatt goes out for a nice dinner. I loved taking pictures with my block because it was the first time we actually had everyone in D Block in one picture.

D Block Love

Dee First
We held an after party downtown at Customs. Evatt rented out the top floor and we had a huge dance party. Most of the songs were American, but I loved hearing my new Aussie favs like Calvin Harris. The party continued with the last tradition of the night-a midnight swim in the ocean baths. A procession of about 200 Uni students walked over the baths which is basically a swimming pool connecting to the sea i.e. salt water and sandy bottom. Everyone had a blast splashing in the water and playing sholder wars (Aussie term for chicken fight).
Overall the night was fabulous-lots of pictures, drinks and memories. 

Cheers for now,
The lovely ladies of Dee

Friday, March 11, 2011

Study In Australia Student Blogger

A week ago, I was informed that I made the cut to be a study blogger for Study in Australia. Study in Australia is the official education brand of the Australian Government’s trade promotion agency, the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade), located at the Embassy of Australia in Washington D.C. How exciting that Sratting Down Under is getting attention from some big names!

As an ambassador for the program, I am helping encourage prospective students to study abroad in Australia. How easy; I'm already having an amazing time and I've only been here three weeks! So to whoever who is reading this, whether friend, family or anyone interested in sratting Down Under, be on the lookout for some amazing posts to come. I've only just begun.

Cheers for now,

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Beach & Beer

Now that classes are over for the week, I can actually entertain my guest. Since it was a nice day, we headed into town for a beach day. The water at Nobby's Beach was a little cold but the sun felt relaxing. I would have enjoyed laying out all afternoon, but Ryan soon grew restless. What is a boy to do on the beach? He decided it would be fun to bury his girlfriend alive. Not fun considering I got a mouthful of sand.

Afterward we headed to Queen Wharf and had lunch at The Brewery. We sampled some local beers like Pure Blonde and Carlton's while looking out into the bay. I wish I was more of a beer connoisseur because every thing tasted the same to me.

Cheers for now,

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Restaurant Review: Chat Thai

My favorite part about being in Australia is the opportunity to experience new things. That being said, I've had Thai food before but the boyfriend hasn't. Oh, well, when in Rome. . .  or Sydney. . . anyways. . .

Over the course of our wanderings, we kept passing this restaurant called Chat Thai (20 Campbell St., Haymarket). It must have been the local favorite because the wait was out the door every time. So for our last meal in Sydney we went to see what the buzz was all about.

We were seated at a table with delicate silver drinking glasses. At first we didn't know if they were even meant to be drunk out of. After looking at the menu, we ordered the following:

Mu Bhing-pork skewers with dipping sauce, well seasoned and delicious

Main Meal:
Gaeng Keaw Gai-chicken curry in spicy green paste and coconut milk, curry is my favorite especially with steamed rice
Pad Thai-a classic Thai dish of chicken, peanuts and noddles, Ryan's new favorite

Coconut Ice Cream-a Chat Thai specialty with peanuts and jellied rice, interesting combination that works
We were celebrating our last night in Sydney, my Study in Australia blogger position and Ryan's first Thai experience. We joked that we should have told them I was a published Australian blogger so we could get a free meal in exchange for a food review :) Overall I walked out there having only spent $50 and feeling extremely full. If you are ever in Sydney, I would definitely give this restaurant a Sratty Star of Approval. Good food and amazing atmosphere-what more could you ask for.

Cheers for now,

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lions and Tigers and (Koala) Bears, Oh My!

It was a gorgeous Sunday afternoon when Ryan and I embarked on our journey to see koala bears, my favorite animal. The Taronga Zoo is located in the middle of the Sydney Harbour; the only way to get to it is by ferry. We ended up seeing heaps of animals including some Aussie favs like the Tasmanian Devil and wallaby.
We arrived right in time for the seal show, a main attraction at the zoo. The trainer brought out three different types of seals including a California sea lion named Archie. Archie was the biggest and most talented.

At one point, I looked up and a koala was hanging in the tree above me. According to a bush legend, koalas are permanently drunk on fermented gum leaves. In fact, eucalyptus leaves are low in energy and difficult to break down, which is why koala bears sleep up to 20 hours a day. Their laid-back pose also keeps them cool. It exposes the soft white belly fur which reflects the heat and is easily ruffled by the breeze.
How cute is he!
Did I mention that the Taronga Zoo has some of the best views of the Harbour. How cool is it that you can see the Opera House in the background of the giraffe area?

I would recommend this to anyone who is visiting Sydney!

Cheers for now,

[SDU Note: Just for you Mom-There were heaps of sailboats out in the harbour. I know you would have loved to be out sailing about. Miss you.]

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mardi Gras & other Sydney Shenanigans

Ryan & I at Mardi Gras
Yay he's finally here! After waiting at the airport for two hours, Ryan finally made his way through customs. My initial thought was that he got in trouble for all the Reese's I asked for.
The Easter Koala came early!
First up on Ryan and my weekend in Sydney was Mardi Gras. After checking into our hostel Wake Up! Sydney (definitely recommend and located right next to Central Station), we made our way to Oxford Street for the parade. The Sydney Mardi Gras is put on by the gay and lesbian community. The overall effect was a lot of feathers, sequins and leather. We were about three people back from the guardrail, but still had a decent view. People were selling foot stools to get a better view of the parade and at $10 a pop were making quite a profit.

The next day, we decided to explore the city. Seizing the day bright and early, we walked up George Street toward the Harbour. Our first quest of the day was finding Pancakes on the Rocks, a delicious 24-hour pancake restaurant. Although Ryan ordered the ribs, I went for the Strawberry Patch pancakes with chocolate sauce instead of strawberry sauce. Pancakes with cream, ice cream, strawberries and chocolate sauce sounds more like dessert than breakfast but YUMMY!

The Rocks is the historical part of Sydney; it's where the first European settlers-British convicts-landed in Australia. We walked along the boardwalk around the Sydney Harbour and took the typical tourist pictures in front of the Opera House.

We sat on a bench in the Royal Bontanical Gardens, taking in the sights and trying to decide what to do. We wanted to do the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb, but the steep price didn't seem worth it. So we opted for the Taronga Zoo instead. Great decision; I made a whole seperate post just about it. 

After a long day exploring, we headed to a local fav for some dinner: Chat Thai.

Overall, Ryan and I enjoyed ourselves. Be on the lookout for a guest post from Ryan about his time in Australia.

Cheers for now,

Friday, March 4, 2011

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

I have a very special surprise coming on Saturday. Ryan, my loving boyfriend of almost a year, is spending his Spring Break (and some) in Australia with me. He'll be flying in Saturday morning just in time for the Sydney Mardi Gras. This should be very interested since it's put on by the gay and lesbian community. The rest of the weekend will be spent in Sydney then back to Newcastle for classes. I'm pawning Ryan off on a friend who doesn't have class on Monday or Tuesday. Most likely it will be boy bonding time over beers and beaches.

The following week will be our traveling week which brings in the dilemma. I've been pouring over travel brochures from STA Travel and I've decided on three options:

1. The Outback. This six day adventure takes us camping (most nights) from Darwin to Alice Springs. We get to see a sunrise at Uluru and hiking Kings Canyon. This is the most outdoor-sy but definitely warranted since we're in the Outback.

2. Great Barrier Reef. A quick flight up to Cairns (pronounced cans) and the tropical waters of the northeast. A full day of diving and snorkeling will be the itinerary with a possible trek inland to the rain forest. Only downside is that Ryan isn't scuba-certified and Katie and I wanted to dive this together.

3. Melbourne. The southern part of Australia is a perfect combination of beaches, mountains and cities. We could go to Philip Island and get up close with Australian wildlife like wombats, dingoes and my favorite, koala bears! Plus the trip takes us back to Sydney for an extra day exploring.

Where do you think we should go?

Cheers for now,

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pavlova, Tim Tams & Lamingtons

Anyone who knows me knows I love sweets! Luck for me Australia has its own dessert confections to feast on.

The first dessert I had was pavlova, a meringue pie with custard and fresh fruit. Apparently it was created in 1935 in Perth, Western Australia, to celebrate the visit of the great Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova. The meringue was extremely light and very sugary. The custard on the side was a nice contrast in texture.

Pavlova: Sorry for the poor quality photo
Tim Tams are the equivalent to Oreo's in Australian popularity. It's a chocolate-covered chocolate biscuit with filling. I had it mixed in ice cream a la Marble Slab style. Whether it was the ice cream or the Tim Tams, my ice cream was delicious. Can't wait to try them solo or in a thickshake like its website suggests.

Lamingtons are the final dessert I need to try. I had a store bought one and was quickly told it wasn't the same. I have a date with Kellee to make them. She's obsessed and has just as much fun making them as eating them (sounds familiar). Lamingtons are sponge cake dipped in chocolate and rolled in coconut. I'll put up pictures of the real thing when we get around to making them.

Don't worry family and friends from home. I will bring back recipes and make you an Australian dessert bar to die for.

Cheers for now,

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Class equals a 5 day Weekend

Classes started on Monday and I'm already done for the week. Yay five day weekends every week!
How did I manage to only have Monday and Tuesday classes? Oh yeah, by having seven hours of class in a row with no breaks.

The class structure is a lot different than USC. Instead of having a MWF or TTH class schedule, classes are broken into a lecture and a tutorial totalling 3 hours (although my writing class is only a two hour seminar). Also classes go the full hour, so I get out of one class at 1 p.m. and my next class starts at 1 p.m. A little confusing but classes don't start right away. The Australian set up has its pros and cons.

Pro: getting classes out of the way
Con: having to sit through a two hour lecture

I'm really excited for this semester's course load. I'm taking 4 classes:International Relations, Marketing, Aboriginal Studies and Creative Writing.

International Relations: Most interesting class the first week. It's going to be very interesting to hear a non-American point of view. I went up to the teacher after class to ask for some Australian news resources so I can 'defend America' in class discussion.

Creative Writing: My teacher is lovely! She's a young published poet and is currently writing a novel. I'm most excited to see my writing improve from this class. I will definitely be out of my comfort zone.

Marketing: Although the two hour lecture was extremely dry, I am excited for tutorials to start next week. Apparently they are very hands-on and social!

Aboriginal Studies: Bottom on the totem pole for the week (no pub intended). I feel the material will get better as the semester continues. Also there seems to be a lot of study abroad students taking this.

Keeping with the Osborne tradition, I had my friend Caitlin take a 'first day of school' picture (just for you Mom!). I got all dressed up in my Jack Rogers and infamous $10 dress from Urban Outfitters.

Cheers for now,

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Aussie Inspiration

My first impression of my room at Evatt was 'Brick walls?!'. How incredibly boring having brick walls in your room. Nothing could be more bland than walking into this 10 by 10 living space.

Luckily I came up with a quick solution. I turned to the magazines I had with me for some sort of pick-me-up. Ripped from the pages of the latest fashion magazine came campaigns from Michael Kors and Marc Jacobs. The 'Your Spring Hot List' spread from the March edition of Seventeen (guilty pleasure at the age of 21) added the pop of color that my Aussie room so desperately needed. The mismatched bikini and tribal necklaces are so colorful and inspire me everytime I enter my room.

The bright colors and fun jewelry is perfect for the Aussie culture. It reminds me to step outside my comfort zone and try something eccentric-something that I normally would never wear back in South Carolina. I think about how designers must be constantly inspired in order to stay in business. They aren't looking to be like everyone else; they are the trend setters. For me, this new surrounding is bringing me inspiration and a new  wardrobe outlook.

What inspires you?
Cheers for now,