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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 bostonki 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

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!

 

 

 

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.

 

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.