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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

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?

Monday
04/02/18

Oh look, another sugarcane train. Australia, Part 7!

Posted by bostonki on April 2, 2018 in Uncategorized

Back to Oz we go!  What’s keeping me partially motivated to continue my now months-long trip report is the fact that I just want a record of it to remember.  I lost my copy of the itinerary months ago and only have my location-alphabetized photos left to go by.  The 5 (?) days that we spent in Cairns were by far my favorite of the entire trip.

Once we finally surfaced again in Townsville after three long days of isolation on Magnetic Island (I’m probably the most introverted person you’ll meet and even THAT was a little too remote for my liking), we began the four hour trek up the coast to Cairns.  It turned into a whole day on the bus due to some pretty remote but awesome little stops we made.  Our trip leader informed us that since we were heading up to the Great Barrier Reef, we needed to watch a mandatory video from the Australian government about reef safety and conservation (it was winter, no stinger suits necessary).  He told us all to get out a pen and take notes.. then turned on Finding Nemo.

For lunch, we stopped in Mena Creek, which is a part of the Atherton Tablelands (Australia’s fancy way of saying it’s basically the boundary between civilization and outback).  It was a one-road town (maybe even less than that.. yikes) with a hotel (? pub?) that we ate at.  Perhaps the coolest part was across the street in Paronella Park.  There was this gorgeous waterfall and wooden bridge – think Shrek – and a stunning, never-finished castle built by Jose Paronella for his love, now seeping in moss.

Shrek: Oh, you can’t tell me you’re afraid of heights?
Donkey: No, I’m just uncomfortable about being on a rickety bridge over a boiling lake of lava!

The unfinished castle.

During our drive, we got a really deep look into Australia’s sugarcane, banana, and pineapple industry.  Sam and Austin were our bus captains that day and thus needed to keep us engaged by talking to us over the mic, playing music, whatever.  C wanted them to keep talking, so they eventually just reverted to pointing out every sugarcane train and pineapple tree we saw.  Kudos to them.

Oh, look. Another sugarcane train.  Surprise.

I still can’t get over how awesome Cains was.  It’s this cute, but rough, little city that has its fair share of questionable nightlife and Aussie surf culture.  Our hostel was probably a half an hour walk from the main thoroughfare, but luckily there were shuttles that ran back and forth.  Sam, Michelle, and I shared  a room for six with Chris, Austin, and Sean, and it was here that our legendary Cards Against Humanity nights would develop.

My favorite part of the city was the Cairns Night Markets, which must have had hundreds of stalls worth of food, souvenir, and gift vendors.  I tried bubble tea (it tasted slightly different, probably less Americanized.  Asian food as a whole was more authentic due to the proximity and large wave of immigration), brought my boyfriend back some coffee, and it was here (well, on the main touristy thoroughfare) that I purchased my beloved mother-daughter plush koala bear (later named Chloe and Joey) from a Chinese souvenir shop.  You don’t even know how hard it was to find a reasonably priced yet cute koala bear.  Some of them looked like they’d been through a woodchipper or something.

The entrance to the Cairns Night Markets.

I don’t remember the exact order of how things were done in Cairns.  I think I’ll save an entire post dedicated to the Great Barrier Reef for a later date.  The whole Northeastern Queensland is pretty much blanketed in rain forest, so we did a lot of wet, sticky, humid activities.  One day we went on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, which took us up over the trees in gondalas and down the other side to the rainforest village of Kuranda, where we walked the streets and I waited ten minutes for them to bring me a muffin from behind the glass.  Australians pride themselves on relaxation and “taking your time” but come on man, I could’ve gotten that in thirty seconds at Tim Hortons.  The village was beautiful.  On the bus ride down, we got stuck in traffic and after waiting an hour, turned around.  Good thing!  It turns out there was an accident and the wait time was TEN HOURS to get through!

#views from the Kuranda Skyrail. There’s a train as well that weaves in and out of the mountain.

Another day, I went white water rafting on the Tully, which cut right through the rainforest.  According to the group that took us, it was one of the greatest places to go rafting in the world, and it was.. quite an experience.  I’d love to do it again.  And I only fell out once!!!  Rafting is kind of a weird combination of paddling and then all of a sudden you drop to the floor and pull your knees to your chest as you’re sailing over rocks into the next section of the river below, and the water you’ve displaced is crashing over you.  I was soaked!  Also that day, I slid down a rock-formed slide into a sucky spot of the water (like it sucked you and pushed you out) and jumped off a cliff (sorry, mom).  I totally almost backed out and I never want to feel that sensation of my stomach lifting into my throat ever again, but it was all good fun.  The whole trip ended up being twelve hours and I just crashed when I got back to the hostel.

Yet another day, we went to the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Center.  I wish I cold have looked around at the art and exhibits, but we were on a group schedule.  We learned about bush foods and medicine, Aboriginal Dreamtime stories, saw performances featuring an actual life sized digeridoo, and the best part, got to learn how to throw both spears and boomerangs!.  I was terrible with the spears (I would have starved if I had to actually catch kangaroo with these things), but if you threw the boomerang and it came back to you, you got to keep it.  My second time, I threw it.. and it came back in a complete circle and hit my arm!! He let me keep it, and to this day it’s one of my FAVORITE souvenirs.  Plus, it didn’t cost a dime 😉  What an awesome feeling!

My friend Mikaela throwing a boomerang.

I was having a terrible, panicky, cancel-all-my-obligations-and-take-a-mental-health-day kind of day but writing this made me so happy.

Next time – the ins and outs of the Great Barrier Reef.  So much barf!  Panic attacks in the water!  But what I did see int he 45 minutes I was under was astounding.

 

 

Tuesday
03/27/18

Long time, no see and the last time I will take the G train

Posted by bostonki on March 27, 2018 in Uncategorized

And it has certainly been a long time.

I’m so sorry for neglecting the ten friends I have on Facebook that read this.. and whoever exists remotely that may be reading this.  But I missed writing.  I couldn’t stay away forever.

First it was finals week, then I went to New York with my boyfriend for a few days.  It was my third actual time in the city (I don’t count my eight hour layover from JFK to Buffalo last summer, thanks mom 😉 ) and I had a blast!  We wandered around midtown and I FINALLY saw the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center (I’m crying inside right now at how beautiful that was), and we saw the 2018 led lights in Times Square that were on display before being hoisted onto the ball for New Years Eve.

The next day, we stopped by Strand Bookstore a.k.a my new favorite place on Earth (twice actually – Mike was willing to go BACK) and went to the Museum of Modern Art, where I ogled at Starry Night.  We spent some time in Williamsburg but I was ultimately so fed up with the G train and the fact that it took 45 minutes to go maybe a few miles that I vowed never again.  But alas, I was WEAK and the next morning fed into my cravings for a rainbow bagel with cream cheese frosting from The Bagel Store.  That, I promise, is the last time I’ll take the G train.

Soo caloric.. I only ate half

After New York, I pretty much just followed through on my promise to do nothing the rest of the year.  Then January came and I went back to work nearly full time and basically the last two months has been a mix of burnout, seasonal affective symptoms, and thinking a LOT about my future.

Thus why I haven’t been writing.

But there ARE some pretty cool updates in my otherwise chaotic life.

All that money I made over break, I put it towards a mother-daughter trip to Europe this summer.  I just couldn’t keep away the travel bug.  It’s like every several months I just NEED to go somewhere.  She was down with the idea (she’s been once before to Italy) and I was certainly down with the idea because I am really itching to get over to Europe and see what it’s all about.  Especially the more people I see travel there.  I worked on the itinerary a lot over spring break, and it basically looks like this:

Day 1: London

Day 2: Stonehenge, Bath, and Lacock

Day 3: London (particularly, the Harry Potter Studio Tour)

Day 4: London

Day 5: Travel to France

Day 6: Disneyland Paris

Day 7: Paris

Day 8: Paris

Day 9: Versailles and Paris

Day 10: Travel to Brussels, spend time in Brussels

Day 11: Potentially a day trip to Bruges

Day 12: Travel to Amsterdam

Day 13: Amsterdam

Day 14: Amsterdam

I’ve convinced mom to stay in hostels in some cities (only 20 euros per bed per night, certainly a good deal if you ask me).  Travel through Europe via train is pretty cheap.  Also, we scored some sweet airfare deals.  About a little over $500 round trip per person.  It’d probably cost more to fly to California. Shoutout to www.statravel.com and www.studentuniverse.com for making student’s cheap travel dreams come true.  Most of the sights in London, Amsterdam, and Belgium are free or cheap, and Paris has a wonderful attractions pass deal, so it isn’t as expensive as you may think.  Just about a month of near full time minimum-wage work was all it took.

So my second cool development is also pretty neat.  See, I have this obsession with doing really cool and neat stuff, with making the most out of the opportunities you have and living your life so that you’ll always have a story to tell.  And one day when I was feeling particularly panicky and out-of-control, I spontaneously applied to the Disney College Program.  And made it through the whole application process, and actually got accepted for the Fall semester on an attractions role.  Now, this is a paid internship, and while you can take courses, they really don’t recommend it.  I’m planning taking the semester off to go down (I could use a break anyways).  While this is certainly exciting, I do need to be practical and have been wavering a little bit on it’s practicality as a whole and how it will fit into my career interests.  I’ve asked multiple people in the field I’d like to enter if they’d recommend it, and the answer was “Do whatever you feel is best.”  Thanks.  Muy helpful.

Yikes… what do I do with my life now??

My timeline feels so crunched.  Freshman, MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME.  I wish I’d spent less of freshman and the first half of sophomore year feeling bleh and made use of it.

Live and learn.

I think that’s it for my updates.  I might as well turn this into a travel blog, because I want to finish my Australia story that I left off with last fall.

See you sometime in the near future!

 

 

 

Monday
11/27/17

20 Completely and Utterly Free Things to Do in Manhattan

Posted by bostonki on November 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

In spirit of my upcoming trip to New York (yes.. AGAIN), I have compiled this list of actual free things to do in Manhattan. Hotels and transportation are already expensive enough (trust me, try finding a cheap way to get there on a college budget and with everybody basically poking holes in your plan to drive.  You’ll see it’s not easy).

DISCLAIMER: Subway fares = not free.

DISCLAIMER #2: If you actually live there you probably can think of 500 free things, but New York is a vacation destination to us poor Buffalonains, so bear with me for the touristy stuff, OK?

  1. Visiting Central Park, especially the Imagine tribute.
  2. Hanging around by the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree (SO EXCITED).
  3. Literally just walking anywhere in Manhattan.  It’s only 2.3 miles wide and 13.4 miles long at its’ max.
  4. Times Square.
  5. Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge.
  6. Every single talk show in existence almost.  Seth Meyers.  Jimmy Fallon.  GMA.  Today Show.  Tickets are actually free but you either have to sell your soul or spend your morning waiting in line.
  7. Visit the American Girl Store.  Relive your doll-filled childhood.
  8. Visit FAO Schwartz (where the rich people shop for their kids) and dance around on the life-sized piano.
  9. Hang out in Battery Park and watch the Staten Island ferry go by, and get great views of the Statue of Liberty.
  10. Chinatown.  It’s a destination within itself.
  11. The High Line.
  12. Visit the New York Public Library at 42nd and Bryant.  The building is beautifulll
  13. Grand Central Station.  There’s actually a room that’s built so if you stand in one corner and whisper into the wall, the person in the other corner can hear you clear as day.  Weirdest thing ever.  Don’t ask me where it is.  The place is a maze.
  14. The Met.  12789147194 days worth of art in there, and it’s technically free since admission is by donation.
  15. The MoMA.  This one is really free for students in SUNY/CUNY schools.  No charge to see canvases like this? SCORE!  Just kidding, I love art.The worst part is that people are actually standing around trying to analyze this.
  16. 9/11 Memorial, NOT the museum.  Imagine paying (ouch) to see artifacts from this day (ouch).
  17. African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan, where in 1991 they uncovered a grave of former slaves.
  18. Fashion Institute of Technology Museum.  I bet my old Fashion in the Modern West prof would like that.
  19. New York Earth Room.
  20. Federal Reserve Bank with a sneak peek of tons of gold underground.  You’d be foolish to try and rob it, the place is like Gringotts minus the dragon.

Free stuff in New York has me like

Any other suggestions??

 

Sunday
11/12/17

The island that smelled like mashed potatoes and more Crikey! Australia Part 6.

Posted by bostonki on November 12, 2017 in Uncategorized

Hello from Starbucks!  This blog post is brought to you by a solid ten hours of sleep!

We finished off our first two weeks in Mooloolaba with a Saturday trip down the Sunshine Coast.  Sunday morning, we jetted up to Northern Queensland for what would be two amazing weeks.  For our two-week trip, we had a couple parents along: Vince and Kim, both of who were awesome.  Who knew people in their forties would make a great addition to and not dampen the spirit of 28 20-somethings (or 19, in the case of Sam & I) on their own across the world?  I think if my parents were interested in coming, it’d feel like an impossibility to have fun (sorry, guys) but it worked out well.

To save the 15-hour drive, C organized us to fly the 1300 kilometers north to Townsville, from which we would access Magnetic Island.  Organizing a flight for over 30 people, including check-in, security, etc., is probably no easy task, but it could have been accomplished quicker than an hour and a half, C.  Sorry.

The flight was pretty brief, and they gave us an Australian specialty – Bundaberg sodas.  They’re manufactured a couple hours north of Mooloolaba, and they have amazing flavors such as ginger beer, lemon-lime, and sarsaparilla (root beer).  On point.

“Town so small had to walk on the tarmac”.  My take on JayZ and Kanye.

From Townsville, we caught a ferry to Magnetic Island, undoubtedly my least favorite part of the entire six weeks.  The island only had a population of 2,000 and was probably the loneliest place I’ve ever been in my life.  Plus, you couldn’t shake the smell of bad mashed potatoes on the road between our backpacker’s and the main town where the ferry docked.  I wasn’t crazy though, many others made independent comments about the smell.

I’m sorry, HOW many kilometers to Washington DC?  Oh yeah over 15 thousand.

The first day was terrible.  I walked the half an hour into town through the potato smell only to discover a main bakery that didn’t know how to accept credit cards and a resale shop that might not meet building codes.  If they even existed on the island.  The wifi was terrible so I just spent the day in bed with a book, literally wishing I was anywhere but the island.  The backpackers resort was fun though, especially at nighttime.  Their bar and eatery overlooked the beach and was decorated with neon string lights and an enormous Australian flag.  Everyone gathered there for super expensive nachos (the only food I was willing to try at that place) and beverages every night and just hung out.

Beachside featuring the Australian flag.

The second day, I decided to try my hand at actually enjoying the island.  So I walked into town (again) and decided to hop on a shuttle tour of the island (paid an obscene amount but it was better than moping).  It actually ended up being really cool.  He told us a lot about the history of the island and the folks who’d lived there, I saw an abandoned schoolhouse and museum, and we explored all corners of the island.  For the record, they have a school there for primary through year 6, but anyone that goes to the high school has to ferry across to Townsville.  Also got to feed wallabies in the rocks by the dock.

Abandoned schoolhouse turned museum/local shop featuring the stroller of a mom who decided to take her baby to this island for some reason beyond my comprehension.

I grabbed lunch with an older woman on the tour, also from the Sunshine Coast area, and we talked for a bit and I ate really expensive mint gelato.

The next (and last) day, Michelle, Mikaela, and I set out for probably my favorite day of the three.  We started by hiking one of the best paths (I did a heck of a lot of hiking in that six weeks), called so because it was the best place to see wild koalas.  And boy did we see them.  You hike until you spot a group of people craning their necks towards a super tall tree, or until you see an arrow made of sticks on the ground pointing at the tree.  It was wild. The previous day on my tour, I had run into a koala WITH THE JOEY ON HER BACK.  IN A TREE.  IN SOMEONE’S BACKYARD.  I came back to the states with a newfound appreciation for the animal, their cuteness, and a stuffed one brought from a cheap Chinese souvenir store in Cairns.

IN SOMEBODY’S BACKYARD.  Can’t see the Joey unless you look really hard at the grainy picture.

Forest view.  Ignore my back sweat.

Mikaela, me, and Michelle overlooking Horseshoe Bay!

Anyways, the top of the hike afforded us views found nowhere else.  You could see the expansive green of the island, one of the beach bays below us and across the way, the majestic, wonderful, SAFE, NOT LONELY mainland.

The last thing we did before sundown was riding horses.  We trekked out to a horse farm near a bay on the other side of the island from our backpackers, running into a playground along the way where Michelle and I shared a jumbo trampoline swing and just sang our hearts out.  Once we boarded our horses (mine was appropriately named Crikey), we set off through the forest.  The instructor commanded the horses to trot which freaked me out and pretty much convinced me I was going to fall off, get trampled, and die on this terrible island.  I tried signaling Crikey to slow down, to no avail.  Without exaggerating, I can say I held on for dear life.

Down at the bay, we barebacked the horses into the water.  It was amazing, and they loved to stop and take a drink.. until one of the horses relaxed its’ bowel muscles and we were frantically pulling our feet out of the water to avoid floating turds.  I guess feces was just the theme of the entire trip.

Michelle, me, Kristen, and Brooke.  Summer program students unimportant in the eyes of C but we’re clearly making the most of it.

The next morning, we packed up (and I lost a hearing aid, and C made a wonderful public service announcement about said lost hearing aid before I found it buried in the sand just as the bus was about to pull up) and headed for our long drive to the awesome rainforest sector of Queensland and the queen city herself, Cairns.

 

Thursday
05/11/17

Average Joes with a dream and a love for Netflix

Posted by bostonki on May 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

I have to admit, one of the tougher things about going to a university as large and world-altering as UB is that you sometimes are feeling inadequate about your accomplishments.  This is something I’ve been dealing with a lot lately, especially as the school year wraps up and prestigious scholarships and awards are handed out.  I can’t help but feel not only a twinge of jealousy, but also annoyance at the fact that merely keeping up your grades, becoming involved, and working on your mental health every day is not enough.

First it was the round of grad school awards like the Goldwater and Fulbright.  Then it’s the College of Arts and Sciences talking about it’s outstanding students.  Then it’s academic awards, which my own floormates have begun to win.  Everyone around you is suddenly curing Africa’s HIV/AIDS problem and building robots to help disabled children learn.  These are wonderful accomplishments, and these students deserved to be recognized, but what about the average Joes?

I have a good GPA, write this blog, have eased myself into a major/minor combination that I am absolutely in love with, work for the Admissions office, am studying abroad in Australia this summer, and am going to be a research assistant in the fall.  But I’ve also dealt with severe depression, loneliness, feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, anxiety, and barely even became involved until my sophomore year because all of these feelings were too overwhelming for a freshman to handle.  What about the people like me, who have rough starts but ultimately begin to find a path to happiness and success?  What does it matter if I’m not curing HIV/AIDS at age nineteen?  I’ve probably taken a lot more steps than the people that I grew up around.

I’m proud to be a part of such a wonderful university, but the culture needs to change.  We need to stop placing all our glory on the same twenty students who are handpicked and labeled as “able to change the world” while the rest of us just kind of slip under the radar and hope that graduate schools and employers recognize that we too have done important things.  It needs to be more about fostering a culture of personal growth and pathfinding, rather than about what project somebody’s taking on to win the Goldwater.  Good for the kids who are able to do that, but the overwhelming majority of students at this university, including me, are not.  We are just average college students who have a dream and a passion, but love to watch Netflix and take life at our own pace.  We’re not superheroes, and certainly praising those at this university who are is not conducive.

Monday
05/08/17

Frozen in the Song

Posted by bostonki on May 8, 2017 in Uncategorized

For me, time is stuck in songs.  I can listen to a song I’ve heard before and place what time period of my life that song was from, what was going on in my life, who I had a crush on, who my friends were, etc.  For a couple minutes, I can travel back to that time, which depending on the song makes me want to throw up or is quite pleasant.

‘Best Love Song’ by T-Pain and Chris Brown?  I was warming up for volleyball games my junior and senior year of high school.  We’d be running through hitting drills to this song and you got bonus cool points if you smacked the ball particularly effectively the moment the bass dropped.

‘Party in the USA’?  Talk about a middle school throwback.  Everytime my friends and I were at a dance and you heard the beginning guitar riff (correct word?) everybody would scream and conglomerate and as my grandmother puts it, “does that jumping up and down thing”.  Embarrassingly, my friends and I even had a special dance where we made butterflies out of our hands.  Miley Cyrus was legitimately our idol.. repeat, was.

‘Girlfriend’ by Avril Lavigne takes me back even further.  I had a friend in elementary school that was obsessed with Avril and had like the whole wardrobe – pink and black striped knee-high socks, black short skirts, converse, etc.  She’s like so whatever, you can do so much better.  I honestly forgot how fun this song was.  What ever happened to her?  Did she fall off the face of the Earth?

I asked my boyfriend if he thinks of intensely specific time periods or events whenever he hears a song, and he looked at me like I was crazy.  I guess it’s a girl thing?  Music was always how I processed events.  No matter how many songs you have on your iPhone (I have like over 400), the vividness comes back each time you listen to it.  Or maybe I just have a really good memory.  I tend to scare people with the extent I can recall knowledge.  I remember the date and time I last got pukey sick, for example.  January 27th, 2007 at 5:30 AM.

Ooh, Sk8er Boi came on next.

It’s just a blog, I’m just a girl, can I make it any more obvious?  We are in love, haven’t you heard, how we rock each others world?

LOOK AT THIS HISTORICAL ARTIFACT.

 

Tuesday
05/02/17

Rethinking Facebook

Posted by bostonki on May 2, 2017 in Uncategorized

At such a politically turbulent time for our country, I’m rethinking the use of Facebook.

I was reading a Buffalo News story this morning about the anti-Robert Spencer protest last night (which I proudly went to because I believe in things like truth and equality, ya know..) and all the commenters were absolutely destroying liberal college students.  Some even called liberalism a “mental illness”.  I kept reading these all day despite my frustration and anger, and by the time five o’clock rolled around I could feel a punch ready to spring from my arm.

Another article talked about a cop a few weeks back at the Walden Galleria mall who suffered a concussion and infected hand from being assaulted by a 16-year old trying to break up a fight.  Those comments were both racist AND again, generational.

So I angrily texted my aunt some expletives about older adults (thank you, generational divide), but I came to a stunning conclusion.  In a world where a majority of the Facebook users I see are pro-Trump older adults spitting all over our liberal, free, awesome vibes (that’s why we’re all cynical, dad), maybe I should just stay away from Facebook.  What comments I can’t read about me being an uneducated ‘snowflake’ (lol) can’t hurt me.  I think it’s worth noting that for the record many of the folks who call us dumb in fact cannot use their/there/they’re properly and can’t figure out how to turn off the caps lock.

I’m really angry.  I haven’t been able to concentrate since last night’s protest.  All of this political junk has just been weighing on my mind, making me excited to leave the country in a month and enter a Trump-and-religion-free zone (Australia’s atheist population makes up about 25% of the country, versus America’s average of 16%).  For five weeks I can at least pretend to be a citizen of a somewhat mellow country where people aren’t wearing ‘Make America Great Again’ hats.  I feel like an Aussie already!

I’ll probably still post on Facebook, though.

 

Tuesday
04/25/17

She’s a wonderful woman. Fantastic. Great, nice, woman.

Posted by bostonki on April 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

Now that I’m a sophomore, it’s not my job to worry about SAT scores and applications.. but it is my job to help those who have to worry about it.  I took a job answering phones in Admissions a couple of months ago.  I love it!  It’s a relatively easy job with great coworkers, and not to mention it’s a glimpse I’m getting into the education field.

But folks… please.. if you need to call UB for anything, don’t just google ‘UB phone number’ or ask Siri for it.  It will take you right to us and we don’t like sifting through the directory to connect you with John Smith of the Transnational Studies department.

And please, open and read your emails and mail that we send you.  It’s actually quite easy to complete the admissions process start to finish without making a single phone call!  I managed to do it.

Please please don’t call us for recommendations about nearby hotels, airport information, or how to get to Toronto (yes, that happened once).  Google is actually quite proficient in all of these.

And calling every other day to check the status of your application will not only annoy us and those working to process it, but it will not get done any quicker.

On the happier side (now that I’ve scraped all the goo off of my heart), I got to work my first Accepted Students’ Day this past weekend.  I find that I really enjoy talking to prospective students about my experiences, and seeing all the excited students made it surprisingly easy to have a chirpy attitude at 7:15 on a Sunday morning.  I helped students with check in (but still managed to get yelled at by a furious parent who claimed we gave them the “wrong” directions) and stood in the Union for awhile answering questions mostly about where the nearest restroom was.

My boyfriend, who is a College of Arts & Sciences Ambassador, even gave a short speech at their presentation about some of UB’s great opportunities!  And I somehow had the courage to walk up to CAS Dean Schuzle and engage her in a ten-minute conversation about Australia and how she got her start in higher ed.  As Donald Trump would probably say, “She’s a wonderful woman.  Fantastic.  Great, nice, woman”.

I crashed later that day in my room and slept for a blissful three hours.

My only regret was not stepping inside the Victor E. Bull suit.

This pic of Mike is supper blurry but you can tell he’s really revving up the crowd with the Italian hand thing going on.