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Monday
09/10/18

Staying Motivated Through Slumps

Posted by bostonki on September 10, 2018 in Uncategorized

I have a graduation countdown, 250 days.  I wish I was kidding.

You’re probably thinking, “Senioritis?  Already?  It’s September!”

Yep.

I had the option to graduate in December, but I decided to stay through the year so I could continue working and take part in all those fun senior spring events (I’m looking at you, Senior Brunch and Celebration of Academic Excellence!)  But there’s a paradox.  By the time your last year of college rolls around you begin to think about how you just wish your time hadn’t gone so fast and that you could go back to freshmen year when it was, as I like to tell my friends, acceptable to head back to your dorm at noon with some Sizzles and watch Netflix for eight straight hours.  There just becomes more places you need to be, and more places you need to look professionally dressed for.  Anyways, but we’re also simultaneously thirsting for the sense of accomplishment and perceived freedom that wait for us eight months from now.

I think the most important thing to do in order to push yourself through senior year is to keep things academically interesting and challenging.  The last thing you want to do is slack and make things too easy for yourself.  Nothing is worse than going to a lecture you find unstimulating.  I’m in an elective course right now which sounded super interesting but just makes me groan whenever I look at the textbook.  I wish I’d just signed up for an extra education elective.  (Funny story about that elective class: my apartment neighbor is the course instructor.  I didn’t know it was him when I signed up for the course, and I still don’t think he recognizes me.  Our bedrooms share a wall.  He was a making a lot of noise cooking dinner for himself today.  It’s weird.)

Try to make some goals (academic, professional, personal, whatever) to work towards and fill your days with as many interesting things as possible.  I’m enrolled in a graduate level course on Global and Comparative Education, and let me tell you, I think after taking this class I want to make a career out of it.  Seriously.  I love going to class each week.  The readings are through the roof (to be expected in a 500-level), but I just don’t mind doing them because I love the content so much.  Plus, it feels really good to give my brain that workout it feels when you take a really good class.  I’ve probably wrote about this before – your brain strengthens when you use it in new areas.  I’m getting such a good exercise in analyzing and critical thinking that’s honestly impossible in an undergraduate level course.  They tend to be more lecture-and-regurgitate.  Or, once you get to a higher level and smaller class size, a little more discussion-based but still for some reason nowhere near a graduate level.  Maybe it’s the readings?  In undergrad you usually have published texts or easier-to-read books.  Here, it’s straight up research papers, OECD reports, and in my case, a book written by a Finnish education specialist type person.

Another challenge I’m taking on is getting more teaching experience.  I’ll be the first one to admit that my teaching record is weak.  I had a summer of experience working with high school students, but teaching is a whole different level.  Especially across cultural boundaries.  I wanted to strengthen my teaching experience and skills (hey, it’ll probably come in handy some day!) and so opted to complete an internship at Newcomers Academy downtown.  This school is for students who have been in the country less than a year.  They know English on a very rudimentary level, if at all.  Many of them have fled war, governments, or other adverse conditions.  I’ve only met a handful of my teacher’s students, but so far we have students from Congo, Rwanda, Angola, Vietnam, and Thailand.  The first day of school, we taught them how to play Jenga, Uno, as well as did several speaking and writing activities.  It was much easier than I expected, and interesting to see how the ENL (English as a New Language) teachers communicated.  More on that when I have more experience.

I guess the point of this blog post comes to this: keep yourself involved and challenged when you feel it least.  Whether the goals are personal, academic, whatever.  It’s important to feel accomplishment if you want to keep yourself motivated until you finish.  Thesis, internship, teaching, study abroad, running five miles in twenty minutes, saving money to take a nice spring break or end-of-year trip, ya’ll can do anything.

Wednesday
09/05/18

The Future of This Blog?

Posted by bostonki on September 5, 2018 in Uncategorized

As I approach two years of having written this blog, I’m beginning to reflect on what I’ve written over that time period, and how I’m going to increase my blog’s quality.  Most of the pieces have been about my experiences at UB – various jobs, study abroad, student life, but also about my personal life.  I want to write about those same things, but with a more sophisticated and analytical tone to them.  After graduation, I want to take the blog out on its’ own and keep writing about my experiences, but also about issues in education, books I’m reading, and just interesting stuff that I hear throughout the course of a day.  I have no idea whether it will catch anyone’s eye or gain any traction, but I really find writing relaxing and stimulating.  Hey, you never know.

 

 

Monday
07/30/18

Things I Learned in July

Posted by bostonki on July 30, 2018 in Uncategorized

Duolingo sent me a notification today that said, “These [daily] reminders don’t seem to be working.  We’ll stop sending them for now”, and I think that’s a perfect embodiment for how my July is going.  Boston’s brain doesn’t seem to be working right now, try again later.

Things I Learned in July:

  1. Don’t try to rustle up renters insurance and utilities the week before you move out.
  2. Cleaning an apartment from floor to ceiling is not fun.
  3. High schoolers are tough and exhausting, but rewarding.
  4. I can take daily naps and go without dinner until 9 PM if need be.
  5. I’ve developed an unfortunate dependence on a morning cup of joe.
  6. Not all parents embarrass you on your 21st birthday.
  7. Dancing Chopsticks on campus sells better bubble tea for cheaper.
  8. Walmart is a godsend for apartment-shopping on an $11.00/hr budget.
  9. Buffalo is a pretty cool city.  (Comes to the realization of this after I’ve been here for 21 years)
  10. It is possible to read 150 pages of a book per day.  Just not when it’s a textbook 😉
Tuesday
07/10/18

If you want to know what humuhumunukunukuapua’a means you should read this post

Posted by bostonki on July 10, 2018 in Uncategorized

Hola!

Yo deseo que todo el mundo disfruitan este verano.

I hope everybody is enjoying this summer so far.  It has a been quite a busy one for me!  I took a well-deserved break, but my life the past few weeks has been work, a scholarship application, and apartment hunting.  Oh, and clearly, practicing my Spanish.

The more I’ve been thinking, the more I realize that I really should be adding a second language to my repertoire.  Not only does it boost your brain with cognitive benefits, but since I am planning to enter the field of international education, it would be a nice asset when job-hunting time rolls around.  I took Spanish for six years in middle and high school, so I might as well attempt to increase my proficiency in a language I pretty deeply studied the first time around!  I’ve been using Duolingo, which is a website that you can learn over a dozen languages on for free – everything from Spanish and French to Arabic to Hungarian to Chinese and even Klingon if you’re into that.  It’s completely free to join and they have a mixture of speaking, writing, listening, and vocabulary exercises.  Most importantly, it’s kind of fun.  They have little caricatures that speak to you through speech bubbles, and oddly enough I’ve been getting some help from the legend herself, Terri Irwin.  (Steve was also helping me but alas, I deleted the screenshot)

I’ve even gotten Mike involved on the app/website, too.  He’s been talking about how he wanted to learn Japanese and now he can say sentences like “My friend Maria is Chinese.”  Or something along those lines.  Languages in Japan are actually quite interesting.  They’re considered language isolates, meaning they don’t have that much evidence of being related to any other language in the world.  Linguists are debating about whether Japanese is related to dialects of Chinese or Korean, but they’re just unsure at this point.  It can’t be a coincidence that Japanese, Chinese, and Korean all have some form of “characters”, although they may be called something different, like in the case of kanji.  In either instance, they’re both classified as some of the hardest languages to learn for English speakers because of the structure, but also because of the “character”-sound relationship.  They don’t use Latin letters and we as English speakers really aren’t sure what any given character or shape is supposed to sound like.

Thanks to Professor Hoeing of LIN 108: Languages of the World for the prior knowledge that allowed to write the entire previous paragraph with the exception of how to spell kanji.

Another fun language fact: Hungarian is not related to any of the languages in its surrounding countries.  Not Cezch, not Romanian, not Polish, not Ukranian.  It’s actually related to Estonian and Finnish in a group called the Uralic Languages.  How Hungarian managed to isolate itself is still somewhat a mystery, but I think we’ve come to the conclusion that the folks in Hungary have been able to fight off people and thus, language influence, for a long time.

Another language fun fact:  humuhumunukunukuapua’a is the word for fish in Hawaiian.  High School Musical 2 all of the sudden makes so much sense.

To take away from today:  Take LIN 108 if you enjoyed reading this blog post.  Join Duolingo.  Learn a second language.  Watch High School Musical 2.

That is all.

Monday
05/07/18

The epic finale. Australia, Part 12.

Posted by bostonki on May 7, 2018 in Uncategorized

11:36 PM Auckland time.  Sam checks her email and bursts into tears.  Our 7:20 AM flight to Sydney has been delayed until 3:30.  In a rush, we hastily call the shuttle company and arrange a new pickup time.  Arriving at the airport around 10, we check to see if another flight was available.  After all, we only had 48 hours in Sydney before our flights home!  To no avail.  Once we arrived at the airport, we waited.. and waited.. and waited..  Since our airline was budget, we had to physically take a bus out onto the distant tarmac to board the plane.  We finally finally finally made it to Sydney at 6:57 PM, 8:57 PM Auckland time.  Whew.  Customs in Australia seemed pretty suspicious as to why we left the country for four days and then came back (probably thought we were a part of a bustling drug trade) but nope, this was the cheapest flight configuration.

Our first night in Sydney was great.  Once we landed, we dumped our stuff at the hostel (conveniently located right underneath a train station with DIRECT access to the airport) and were picked up by one of Miakela’s family friends who lived in the area.  She and her wife were amazing, as was her adopted sixteen year old daughter.  They lived in a traditional brownstone right in the middle of the Darlinghurst neighborhood and fed us our first mom-like homecooked meal in over a month.  The houses were SO STINKIN CUTE!  House GOALS.

So tiny.. but so cute!  Google Street View any Sydney residential neighborhood and you won’t regret it!

Since we only had one day to explore Sydney, we really had to prioritize.  Meaning, we spent all day at the Opera House, Royal Botanic Gardens, and the Rocks neighborhood.

Our first stop was the Opera House.  I squealed so loud as soon as I saw the iconic white sails… and THERE I WAS!  AAAH!  We took plenty of basic pics in front of the House and the Harbor Bridge, before venturing underneath.  There is a whole array of cafe’s and restaurants beneath the Opera House that you can’t actually see, which is pretty cool.  Pixar even got the birds right.  They weren’t saying “mine, mine, mine” but BOY were they after our food!

Along the water, you can kind of get a glimpse of the restaurant seating areas.

We took a guided audio tour of the inside about an hour later (only $30!) and that was probably one of the highlights of the entire trip.  They have tons of theaters, dance studios and prep space, and The Concert Hall.  The history was really interesting, and it’s sad this this is a surprisingly underutilized space.  Plus, they still have some of their retro purple velvet carpeting.

The Concert Hall.

After this, we walked around the waterfront and hung out in the Botanic Gardens.  There are some great views from there and it was so relaxing!  Also on the walk, Sam got pooped on by a bird wearing her brand new dress!  (This seemed to be a theme).  Some woman stopped and offered her wet wipes.  It was great.  (Sorry, Sam).

The last stop that day was the Rocks, a neighborhood I was particularly interested in visiting.  A little Australia history lesson – it was first settled as a penal colony by the British, and the neighborhood of the Rocks was where these people were housed.  The cobblestone streets and buildings date from the mid 1700s.  That day, there just so happened to be a market going on over there!  There were a ton of food trucks and I tried some sweet little pancakes (maybe Dutch?) and we window souvenir-shopped while admiring all the architecture!

Dinner that night was less impressive.  I ate at one of the chain places across from the hostel.  Let’s be frank, at this point I was so ready to go home.  I was so tired of airplanes and living out of a suitcase.  It’s actually pretty tiring.

The next morning, we hopped on the train and took it to the airport.  The whole plane ride back to Los Angeles was pretty uneventful, with the exception of the “helpful” woman sitting next to me who, upon seeing me take my shoes off in prep for takeoff, warned me that “I should put my shoes back on because when there’s an emergency, I’m going to want to be the first one out the plane”.  The entire time we were descending into LA (which was awesome actually because we flew right into the sunrise and I got to watch it progress as we cruised), she wouldn’t shut up about how she was from Vegas and she loved their new highway system.  Okay, lady, let me listen to my Fetty Wap and please respect the fact that my earbuds are in.

There was a problem boarding in Los Angeles and that was delayed too.  I asked to switch to a window seat because my body thought it was daytime flying over the Pacific, so I was awake for ALL fourteen hours.  I basically hadn’t slept in a day.  I curled up right away and when the flight attendant told me to put up my window shade, I vaguely remember begging for mercy because I “didn’t sleep for the last 24 hours”.  I later woke up as we were cruising over Philly.  Easiest flight ever.

I said goodbye to Mikaela and Sam at JFK, but I still had one leg left (and a six hour layover to sit through).  I remember watching the whole boarding process for three or four consecutive flights before Buffalo popped up at the gate.  It was around 11 or midnight when I finally boarded.  20 minutes up, 20 minutes cruising, and 20 minutes down and I was home.

My parents, along with Mike and his parents, greeted me with the cutest homemade signs ever.

Funny thing was, when I woke up the next morning, my jet lag was nonexistent and I wanted to go back.

Ladies and gentlemen, how to study abroad 101.

Monday
04/30/18

I’m not in the mood for a sassy title so I’ll just call this New Zealand. Australia, Part 11 or something like that.

Posted by bostonki on April 30, 2018 in Uncategorized

The feeling about this time of the semester: I could use some coffee.

When I left off last, we were heading back to Mooloolaba for our last weekend on the coast (the 4-week summer program students, that is.  We were on the trip with twenty-something students who were staying and student teaching until September).  The night we left Longreach was pretty rough; we were taking an overnight bus trip back to the coast and sleeping was not easy considering that everybody else on the bus was in the mood to party.  We stopped in the middle of the night for a restroom break and a dance party on this dirt Outback road.  Even C danced.  I would sure like to see video, I’m sure it exists somewhere.

The last weekend in Mooloolaba was uneventful – more beach days, last minute tourist shopping, and a last trip to Taps.  The real party started at 2 AM on Monday when we got up to catch a flight to Auckland, New Zealand.  For some reason we booked one at like six or seven AM.  We had a shuttle pick us up and after making a couple more stops, headed into Brisbane for the airport.  The flight was totally uneventful.  There were some beautiful views heading into the North Island, though!

One word to describe NZ: GREEN!

Once we touched down, we got to our hotel which was definitely on the shady side.  It was right on Queen Street (the main thoroughfare) and really convenient, though.  Just a block away was every Asian cuisine you could possibly want – Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Vietnamese, you name it.  Then the tacky tourist shops, then the chain shops, then the classier shops, and that culminated at the ferry dock at the waterfront.  We went for a walk around the city and it felt surprisingly like New York, of course on a much less grand scale.  Plus, there were some awesome shopping districts.  And of course, I found a bookstore.

Sunset shot of the Auckland Sky Tower in the distance.

How cute is this?

We made it an early night considering that we’d been up since 2 AM.  And Auckland is actually an hour or two AHEAD of Eastern Australia, so that was pretty dizzying.  New Zealanders are one of the first people to see the light of a new day, so cool.

The next day, we hiked Rangitoto.  This is a dormant (but active volcano), so it could’ve erupted at any time but scientists say it’s safe for now to hike.  Now, we hiked a LOT on the trip.  I had thighs of steel by the time I was done.  This one beat me up.  There was a main path, so that was fine, but it was so steep.  Once we made it to the top, it was totally worth it for the killer views.

TSA wanted to know if I had any foreign material on my shoes.. yeah right just the soil of a New Zealand volcano

Auckland from a distance! *heart eyes emoji*  Worth the hike!

On the way down, we saw a path for a cave and followed that.  Clearly this wasn’t a popular option because there was not even an attempt at a path, you were climbing over rocks and such to get there.  It was so cool (yet slightly claustrophobic) walking through the cave, except for when I hit my head on a stalactite and cried my head off for about ten minutes.

We spent a lot of time exploring Queen street and all of the shops there.  And in every tourist shops were stuffed kiwis.  Fun fact: the fruit “kiwi” is named after the native New Zealand bird because of it’s fuzzy exterior.  And the people eventually got to be called Kiwis.  Or “Antipodeans”, but it sounds kind of rude to me.

The next day, Sam and Mikaela went to a local island for some wine tasting.  I headed out to some of the museums I had read about to check them out.  My first stop was the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, with the largest collection of New Zealand art, past to contemporary.  It was pretty sleek inside, kind of reminded me of the Museum of Modern Art.

This was supposed to represent some sort of blend of Maori men’s menial jobs and toughness..

After that I walked all the way across the city (yikes) to the Auckland Museum, which has the largest collection of Maori and Pacific Islander artifacts.  It was part science, part art, part history museum, and it was AWESOME.  There was a whole exhibit about volcanoes because of their prevalence in New Zealand.  And a LOT of boats everywhere!  Those Pacific Islanders and their voyaging (we know the waaaaay!)

HOW COOL

Most of New Zealand besides the structured activities done here was honestly just walking around looking at everything.  We went over by the sky tower but at this point I refused to go do anything that would cost me an exorbitant amount of money.  I think at one point I just went to the public library and checked out their stuff.

For our last night in town, we went to a local restaurant/bar that was advertising the third and final State of Origin game between Queensland and New South Wales rugby teams.  I might have mentioned this earlier, but the two rugby teams play a series of three games each summer (kind of like an all-star game) and Queensland has come out on top the last several years.  We donned our Maroons gear (American girls watching an Australian rugby game in an New Zealand restaurant…) and we won!  A great conclusion to out trip to New Zealand.

By the way just a brief side note.. it was in the 40s and 30s when we went.  Keep in mind this was wintertime in NZ and it’s pretty far South.  Some girls went to Queenstown on the South Island and actually went skiing.

Next time, the final saga: Sydney.  The joys of flying unreliable budget airlines, and the blissful 24 hours in the city basically just hanging out by the Opera House.  But by far the most epic conclusion ever to a study abroad adventure..

Stay tuned 🙂

 

 

 

Monday
04/23/18

World Book Day! Here are some of my top picks and recommendations

Posted by on April 23, 2018 in Uncategorized

Today is Confederate Memorial Day.  But significantly less controversial, it’s also World Book Day!  I am SO looking forward to writing this post because I’m going to share with you all my favorite books of the past, present, and the ones I’m eyeing for a read in the future.  Leave comments here (or on Facebook) with recommendations because I’m always looking to add good reads to my shelf!  And speaking of, if you’re in the reading culture and don’t have a Goodreads account yet, sign up!  You can track which books you read, interact with authors, leave reviews, and check out all of the newest releases.

Let the reading begin!

Favorite Childhood Book

Children Just Like Me (Kindersley, 1995)

My mom bought me a copy of this book after I kept stealing it from my second grade teacher’s bookshelf.  I still have it and repeatedly read it.  Barnabas and Anabel Kindersley travel all over the world to meet kids and their families from all six inhabited continents, and you get to see their family life, school life, things they do for fun, and their dreams.  They’ve been everywhere.  There are more recent editions of this book but it feels more homogenized and there’s less info.  I’d definitely recommend the 1995 one without reservation.  The Celebrations book is awesome too, talking about holidays all around the world.

Some runner ups: Blubber by Judy Blume, Amelia’s Notebook by Marissa Moss, and all of the Junie B. Jones books by Barbara Park.

Favorite YA Novel

This one is a LOT harder.  I still read YA a lot because they’re great!  Full of uplifting lessons about life and adventure without any of the somewhat bogging adult themes.  I’ve never meet a YA novel I didn’t like.  I’m going to make an obvious choice here.

Every Harry Potter Novel (No author necessary since we all know it)

Harry Potter has been unbelievable.  A whole universe we can escape into, where out problems become no longer.  It’s engrossing and we feel like we are one with the characters.  Until the summer before my sophomore year, I had only read the first four books.  I was always too young to understand the darkness and honestly, fantasy isn’t my favorite genre.  But I gave it another shot, and read all seven in two months.  Worth every second.  I’m very sorrowful if you haven’t read these yet, GET TO IT.

Some runner ups: Looking for Alaska by John Green, The Westing Game by Ellen Rasking, The Kingdom Keepers by Rick Riordan (especially if you’re a Disney fanatic), The Clique by Lisi Harrison, A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, and Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (wow, tears)

I’ve read Eleanor and Park and Looking for Alaska as an adult and especially enjoyed those.  I’m not into the whole YA theme of vampires and romance.  EVERY book, amirite?

Favorite Classic

To Kill a Mockingbird  (Harper Lee)

Much better than the movie.  I know it’s usually required reading, but I’ve come across a few people who haven’t read it.  Another cast of relatable characters and themes of racism that echo into today.  And of course the whole mystery that surrounds Boo Radley (I don’t remember how it ended though, since it’s been four years).  One of the more readable classics for sure!  If you really liked this, I’d at least give Go Set a Watchman a try, but it certainly isn’t as good.  It’s all about Scout grown up and it’s just a slow moving story that takes place over a couple of days.  Oh, and Jem is dead.  Sorry!

Runner ups: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kesey, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

Favorite Mystery/Thriller

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

One of the first real thrillers I read, and it got me HOOKED on the genre.  Gillian Flynn’s works are messed up.  But that’s what makes them intriguing on a natural level – murder, psychological distress, lies, cheating, killer children, whatever.  Our desire for a good scandal is always fulfilled through her works.  All three of her mainstream ones are good, just pick any of em up.  But this one is best.  And arguably, the most complete in the sense of detail.

Runner ups: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, any Stephen King monstrosity (if you can get through it, I got about halfway through It, but maybe I’ll finish it next Halloween),  You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott, and Tornado Weather by Deborah Kennedy

Favorite Historical Fiction

By far my least favorite category.  I read them so far and few between that I actually only have like two to recommend to you.

My top choice is Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.

My only other recommendation is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  Especially if you like war fiction.  You’ll laugh, but you’ll mostly cry.

Favorite Nonfic/Memoir

I’ve really begun to love nonfiction.  I enjoy reading about people in different parts of the world, and getting to travel there in my brain as I read.  I’ll read nonfiction… for fun.  Excluding education books from here since I’ll do a separate category below.

I Am Malala

A bit hard to read at first, the story becomes one you can’t put down.  It took me awhile to comprehend and organize the names of all the places she mentions in the book, so they should put a map in.  But just an outstanding story about repression of women’s rights to education in Pakistan (I guess this is about education after all..).  I wish I had gone to see her speak last fall, but I had a three hour class that night, not skippable in the least.  I trust that she was even more inspiring in person.

Runner ups: Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick, Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline (one of my honors seminar books!), The Corset: A Cultural History by Valerie Steele, and The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore.

Favorite Education Books That Will Make You Really Angry About The State of American Education

Here’s a category I’m an expert in!

The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way, by Amanda Ripley

A journalist’s educational investigation into why the kids in Finland and South Korea are so darn smart, including the good and the ugly.  No homework policies for the Finns but cram schools for the South Koreans!  Ripley traces a few high school kids as they embark on exchange programs and get to experience education in another country.  A must-read for comparative ed fanatics like me!

Runner ups (although who am I kidding, they’re all good): 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools by David Berliner, Savage Inequalities by Johnathan Kozol, and The Language Police by Diane Ravitch

On The Horizon

I have a LOT on my to-read list – ALL of the education books I’m missing out on, memoirs, hot fiction, and travel memoirs.

I’m currently in the middle of both A Short History of England by Simon Jenkins, necessary trip prep, as well as What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding, a travel memoir about a girl in her twenties who goes abroad once and decides she needs to give her entire life and soul up and follow her dreams.  Not too keen on it so far but we’ll see how it progresses.

I eventually want to read some of the major classics I’ve never touched – things like The Great Gatsby, Frankenstein, and 1984.  The Girl With the Pearl Earring, Turtles all the Way Down, and Educated: A Memoir.

I’m constantly updating and revising my GoodReads list.

Well guys, that is all for today!  Happy reading!

Tuesday
04/17/18

When sheep are more important than providing adequate medical care in rural Outback areas. Australia, Part 10.

Posted by bostonki on April 17, 2018 in Uncategorized

It’s a rainy, depressing, post-ice storm Monday morning here in Buffalo, and I’m glad that I designated this as my blog day a.) so I can procrastinate even more and b.) so that I can leave my mind behind and go back to the goodness that was Australia.  I’d really do anything to get my mind away from the here and now.

Here’s a photo I forgot to add in the last post, from our one night in Yungaburra.  The infamous C is in the middle, and he just kind struck this pose so we followed suit and got a pic.  We probably promised not to put it online, but lets just say I’m having temporary amnesia.

From left to right: Austin, Chris, C, me, Sam.

When I left off, we had been spending the night in Yungaburra.  Early next morning (like 6:30), we packed our bags and headed out for our final destination (8+ hours away), Winton.  The bus ride itself was uneventful and to be completely honest with you, I’m not even sure what we did.  I can’t remember.  What was really cool was that we got to see the progression of the Outback from Tablelands to.. dust.

This was first in a series of progression pics I took.  The little mounds?  Those are termite mounds.  C advised us that when inevitably going to the bathroom outside, we should take care to avoid.. ahem.. going on the mounds.  Some nasty story about how the Royal Flying Doctor Service had to come for a rescue.

Next was this photo.  The vegetation became more and more sparse as one pushed on.  Also, notice the dirt roads.  Only roads near towns were paved.  The bus and our luggage were all covered with a nice layer of red dust by the time Winton.

And the trees eventually fell away to this.  Nothing but grasses and blue sky.  And small towns.  We stopped in one called Hughendon for lunch, and we went to a cafe called FJ Holden’s.  I tried the homemade chicken nuggets, which were super delicious.  The whole place was decked out in car decor because of some famous guy from the town and his being the first to do something.

Back on the road for the rest of the afternoon, we arrived in Winton before dark.  We were staying at the North Gregory Hotel at the center of town, and in a lot of ways the place was super cool.  It had a whole pub area (probably the only recreational activity to do out there) with a pool table and darts, every room opened onto a terrace that either had a view of the main street or a view of the courtyard, and the interior was gorgeous.  The rooms were a little weird, but all in all it was a pretty neat place.  And they had chicken races in the courtyard that evening.

That night, a true “Australian bush dinner” (something like that) was held for us behind the hotel.  They had a ridiculously massive fire pit and cooked up some stew and rice for us, finishing up with ice cream.  That was the 4th of July.

The 5th of July was the worst day of the whole trip.  I was sick all day in my hotel room (debating whether it was from the chicken nuggets or the homemade bush stew and I’ll bet my last dollars it was the second one).  Since I was sick and in the middle of the dang Outback, I was anxious and that made it even WORSE.  Luckily one of the moms that accompanied us was a nurse and had some treatments, because by the time I decided to take something it was 5 o’clock and the one pharmacy in town was closed.

I didn’t waste the entire day, luckily.  Most of the group went on a dinosaur tour (apparently Winton’s a big dinosaur history town) or to the local school for an optional tour.  Michelle and I spent the morning walking the town border to border.  Me, frantically fearing a death via hydration, ran into every shop (so like three) looking for a bottled beverage.  We checked out a market with one person inside, Arnot’s wall (just a wall with everyday objects built in), and the worst advertised “musical playground” ever.  We doubled over when we saw this “major” town attraction.

The only person in the world who could enjoy this is a four year old Outback kid who has nothing but the dirt to satiate his appetite for quality play.

It was a pretty quiet place.

To give you a better approximation, here’s a picture of the travel section of the Winton Library (which was already as big as my bedroom).

It was definitely a genuine small-town Outback experience.  That night we all congregated in the pub and I ate more chicken nuggets.

Longreach was our next stop, and we only passed through for the day.  MUCH more interesting than Winton, but still Outback.  It’s the home to a TON of stuff.  The Quantas airline was actually founded there, and there was a huge facility alongside the road where I guess they built some of the earliest models.  The Stockman’s Hall of Fame was pretty neat, and we watched a cattle show and I cried when the sheep were forcibly sheared.  Inside there were awesome displays on Outback life and the Royal Flying Doctor Service that services the area, but I guess sheep was more important than providing rural medical care to C because I left without seeing anything else.

The primary thing we were in Longreach for is to see the Longreach School of Distance Education.  There are a couple of these schools in Outback Queensland, and they service kids who (surprise) live too far away from school to attend.  They all converge in Longreach once a year for some activities with their peers and teachers, and that’s it unless the teacher conducts home visits.  There weren’t more than a couple actual classrooms, but more radio rooms and television rooms that teachers would record themselves live or talk over the radio at their students.  Radio education was the way for the longest time, and now the transition is being made to newer, virtual methods.

One of the “classrooms” at Longreach School of Distance Education.

Oh, and one other really cool thing about Longreach: the Tropic of Capricorn ran through the town.  This was a super big deal to C (and admittedly I was pretty excited) because it separated the tropics and subtropics.  How geeky can you get?

Cash me in the subtropics how bow dah

The day in Longreach culminated with a visit to a real, working ranch.  This woman knows C, and we drove around her ridiculously large ranch for like an hour (while I was probably slowly falling asleep against the window, lol).  Once we got inside her house, she had more tea and “scones” and dinner for us.  I leafed through all her books and explored her house.  She had a massive pool table.  And the outside was done in classic Queensland style (read: ugly).

Architecture majors.. WHY is this a style of house??

This was the culmination of our two week trip around Queensland.  We boarded the bus after petting her doggo for a half an hour, and prepared to make the overnight return trip to Moloolaba, where we remained for one last weekend.

I’m tired.  So next time, NEW ZEALAND.  

 

Monday
04/09/18

A dead cricket and other adventures in small town Australia. Australia, Part 9.

Posted by bostonki on April 9, 2018 in Australia, travel

Here’s a bonus blog for tonight!  Yay!

I really didn’t want to stop writing, so in this post I’m going to talk about what happened after we left Cairns!  I really didn’t want to leave – it had been a busy and wonderful five days!  Visiting the rainforest, some beautiful obscure parks like Paronella, fun night spots like the Markets, rafting, going to the Aboriginal cultural center, and the reef trip, not to mention spending some fun time just chilling at the hostel near the ping pong table.

Our next stop, which would take two days to get to with all of the side trips, was the Outback.  The town of Winton was our destination, about a 10 or 11 bus ride inlands.  Past the atherton tablelands and into the heart of the Queensland outback.  It’s not a part of the red center that people typically think of (it’s probably another 10 hours to reach that, but it’s pretty darn close to the red center’s outskirts.  Keep in mind that Australia is HUGE, the size of the US or potentially bigger.  In fact, I routed from our base town Mooloolaba to a latitudinally (is that a word?) similar town on the West Coast, and Google gave me the quickest route as taking FIFTY SEVEN hours.  So, yeah.

C iterated over and over again that we NEED to stock up on food for the Outback.  Even though we were only going to be in remote areas for a few days, he was concerned that the bus would break down and it’d take more than a day for help to arrive.  So we all went to the grocery store and stocked up on nonperishables.

On our first afternoon out, I was the captain along with Michelle (goody, goody.  At being the captain, not at being with Michelle).  We again made a few pit stops before seriously hitting the road.  We went and stopped at Josephine falls, which was about a twenty minute trek from the visitor’s area.  It was beautiful, one of those natural rock that was smooth enough that people were sliding down it.  In true parental fashion, he told us how he used to do the same thing but he would bar us from doing it.  We also made a trip to Milaa Milaa Falls, which I liked better.  Even though the water was cold and muddy, C held a race to the waterfall and back.  Something I maybe would have done looking back on it.

Milaa Milaa Falls

That day, we also stopped at the Nerada Tea Plantation.  Oh. My. Gosh.  So this place specialized in hosting the hoity-toity afternoon teas (which are a thing in Australia, perhaps not the extent as they are in Britain, but nonetheless).  Their “scones” (sc-AH-ns, according to C) were basically American biscuits, and they served them with decadent creams and jellies.  I ate two and then was in a food coma for pretty much the rest of the day.  The plantation also had a factory where you could see the tea being made, which was neat.  But the sc-AH-ns.

A sc-AH-n.

 

Getting a taste of Australian tea life.

That night we spent the night in Yungaburra, which couldn’t have been an hour from Cairns.  Life in Yungaburra was.. interesting.  It was a super small town, with one motel (which we occupied all twelve rooms of, lol) and one pub in town.  So that’s where we went for dinner.  I was pointed out after my post last week that we didn’t have a Cards Against Humanity love going, but rather a Phase 10 one.  And that’s exactly what we spent the entire night in this town doing.  We hosted it in the room that Sam, Michelle, and I were staying in.  Perhaps, though, the best part was the preparation.  I pushed the beds together to make a larger playing space to discover this huge dang dead cricket under Sam’s bed.  Her face when she emerged from the bathroom to see this cricket was priceless.  Naturally we ran to the guys’ room and dragged in Sean to transport the cricket to the toilet, where it refused to flush until we weighed it down with toilet paper.  Ah, adventures in Yungaburra.

Well this blog post was much shorter than usual but I want to next week talk about our brief lunch stop, Hughendon, and how that resulted in me being trapped in my hotel room for the one whole day we had in the Outback!  By the way, the Outback is an experience to have only once.  But it had it’s own charm.  More next week!

Monday
04/09/18

How to tour the Great Barrier Reef without getting seasick (Hint: you can’t). Australia, Part 8

Posted by bostonki on April 9, 2018 in Australia, travel, Uncategorized

As I promised myself, it’s Monday blog post time!  Today I’m taking you under the sea (lol) to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Great Barrier Reef.  Every bit as beautiful yet depressing as people talk about.  I only spent about 45 minutes under the wonder because I was highly anxious (as you’ll read), but I saw enough.

We were stationed in Cairns the night before and after the reef trip, which is probably the most popular jumping point since the reef is super close to the coast here.  By super close, Aussies mean an hour boat ride out, but whatever, I can overlook it.  😉  We boarded our private little vessel early in the morning and set sail.  I had planned on snorkeling and most of the people had planned on scuba diving and had to listen to safety and equipment usage presentations on the ride, so a few of my snorkel buddies and I hung out on the deck for the first half an hour or so.  I loved the spraying of the water on my face, and the speed of the boat.  The landscape was beautiful too, lush hills and mountains of islands passing us by.

Then it got turbulent.

I swear, the only reason I even entered an anxious state that morning was because of the turbulence.  I heeded to warnings I’d heard through the grapevine about the potential for motion sickness and brought some dramamine for myself and a friend.  And boy do I wish I’d brought it for the whole ship.  People started lining the back deck about 35 minutes in with paper bags in hand, staring at the horizon.

The barf story isn’t over yet – just on hold while we actually reached the reef.  I geared up, and jumped down a few feet into bitter cold water.  I get it, it was winter, but still.  And because it was so turbulent, the water was rough and every two seconds I was coming up to clear saltwater from my tube or my goggles.  I had a panic attack after about 45 minutes of wading in this, and sat out the rest of the day.

In the meantime, though, I did see some pretty spectacular stuff.  The reef was pretty unicolored, an unfortunate side effect of humans.  But you could just snorkel up to a coral shelf and see right there the vivid color, and the finish swimming right alongside you.  They warned us desperately not to touch the coral.  And I didn’t, but I may have snapped off a particularly large chunk with my clown-sized snorkel fins.  #notmyfault #reefruiner #badperson

Once I was pretty over the saltwater in my mouth, I climbed back onboard and got dry.. and simply never resuited.  A few of my friends and I hung out in the captain’s quarters and we talked to him while he worked.  We may also have eaten all of his crackers.  Like, the whole box.  Arnot’s Shapes.  Holy moly.

 

“Look at me. I’m the captain now.”

Once everybody finished scuba diving, we all boarded again, and the captain took us to a sand island.  THIS I regret not stepping off the ship for, but we all have regrets.  It was this giant island, made naturally all of sand, popping up in the middle of the water.  You could swim to it and then wade up on the sand.  It was incredible.  Luckily I got some pictures from the captain’s quarters while eating Shapes with Sam.

View of the sand island from the captain’s deck, probably holding a Shape cracker in my other hand.

Now THIS is where the turbulence got bad, see?  People actually started throwing up (sorry to bring this up if you’re reading this, Anne) and even I started getting a little queasy from the rocking.  And this was WITH two doses of dramamine.  It was like this all the way back, and then the captain decided at the very end of the day to take a last-minute detour to cruise by Fitzroy Island, like we HADN’T just spent the last nine hours getting seasick on a boat.

Fitzroy Island.  LOOK AT THE CLOUDS HANGING OVER.

Luckily for me, I’d brought a book to read.  I mentioned that I was nominated “Bookworm”, right?  Rule of thumb: always carry reading material.  It definitely took away my anxiety.  Sam and I were (and still are probably) pretty emetophobic, so how could that not be a sour experience?

My overall advice for the Great Barrier Reef sightseeing: don’t blow dollars if you blow chunks.

Are Great Barrier Reef helicopter tours a thing?