Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Nelson's Bay Cruise + Easy Country Sunday

Here's to frequent blogging!

After posting not-too-long-ago, I've managed to keep myself extremely busy! On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I joined my entire Year 11 Class at the lovely Whitebridge High School on a 'Crossroads' camp on the lake near Swansea. I had a very awesome time. We listened to speakers about 'teen issues' (isn't that term sooo overused?!), and slept under the stars, made food over the campfire, mucked around, etc.! It was perfect timing as it allowed me to make some great friends and meet most of the class, and I now actually enjoy going to school as a social aspect of my life!

It overjoys me to have Australian friends!

After a short sleep on Friday night I went to Nelson Bay with my host family and Sara (Sweden) and Aleah (US) exchange students, and went on a great dolphin cruise! Although it was my second one, it was very spectacular as the dolphins were in abundance all around the ship, AND I was game enough to go into the 'net' (see photos), where I was harassed by my host brother, a theme that continued long after we left the water. But bruising goes away. And revenge is a bitch. Thats right out!

And for the movie review section of my blog, that evening I saw Ghost Rider. Very interesting that Nicolas Cage is in it; never imagined him as the cartoon/action type actor, but an impressive film indeed. It was what it was meant to be, that is a film, human version of the comic (which I have never read), with lots of action and some great effects, and nothing really more. For what it was, I give it 3.9/5 stars.

On Sunday we drove to a town near Kurri Kurri, which is near Cessnock, to visit Mum's sister and her son. The weather was beautiful in it's own way...very overcast, with fog and a slight mist, something that enhanced the relaxed atmosphere of a Sunday in the country. The land in this area is magnificent! Large hills/small mountains covered in fog, green as can be, with little pocket-like valleys dotted with quaint farms and little ponds. In contrast to the layed back day, I learned how to crack a stock whip! A nifty little scare tactic, a great way to make noise, and a very Aussie ability to have.

And now I'm getting ready to go camping on the weekend! I'm so looking forward to this! I'll take lots of pics!

I'd just like to announce that I am having an extremely AWESOME, INCREDIBLE time in Australia!

See ya on the flip side,

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Latest Happening

The month of January and a good chunk of February have gone by and I haven't blogged! The longer I go without, the harder it is to remember everything, but I shall do my best for the sake of memories after my exchange, and for the select few people who read this blog.

A few things have happened since my last post that have helped me to grow as a person. I finished off school holidays at the end of January, the middle two remaining weeks of January being spent with friends and getting to know my host family, the Parkes. I spent quite a bit of time at Newcastle Beach, in and around the CBD (Central Business District), and my exchange student friend Nic from Belgium came down from his host city and stayed in Newie for awhile so we had a good time. There were a few farewell parties I attended, and I had a pretty good time at the Brasilian inbound Livia's party, where I met the Joyner family (her host family at the time). We then all went to Sydney together on the train uber-early in the morning to see her off to the airport, and it was sad and very funny at the same time (i.e. Livia doing strip tease dancing, minus the strip, right in front of the terminal). I got to go to Paddy's Markets and a little around Sydney that day, but it was unbelievably hot (42C!).

And then we come to Australia Day. I watched the fireworks in Newcastle, all was well. We were walking home and got punched by a group of six or seven boys. Nic had to get stitches, it was a big mess, and caused a lot of problems. But, we're both fine now, and we've learned a lot from the experience and are moving on.

I spent a weekend with the Joyners, and had a really fun time with them. And then I started school! Whitebridge High School has been extremely kind, welcoming, and open to accepting me, there's a great mix of kids and teachers, and everyone seems to get along so well. Sure, you have a few groups who would be a bit more exclusive than others, but in general the aura of the group is that of acceptance of everyone.

I was living in Valentine with the Parkes, so my bus commute consisted of two buses, around an hour commute to school, and I had heaps of trouble getting the right buses for the first week or two of school. I actually felt quite foreign at this point :).

I moved in with the Joyner's about two weeks ago now, for various reasons. A new suburb, a new bus schedule :). Three buses and around 1 hour 20 minutes. Yay. I suppose words really can't explain how grand of a time I've been having with them since I moved here. My first weekend living with them I went camping and joined the Hunter Valley Traditional Archery Club; a new sport for Carl! I'm looking forward to the fortnightly meetings. I also went to Blackbutt Reserve (close to Newcastle) and saw the koalas, and me and my host brother Jade have been building a bar and entertainment area in the rumpus room, for the benefit of those who party at this house :). My host mum took me to Redhead Beach....a place so close to my school, but I had never been there before!

And this past weekend we drove down to Tuggerah (Central Coast) to shop and then the Australia Reptile Park (a la Steve Irwin style). Aside from getting charged by a koala (he roared at me!) and put into a threatening position with a kangaroo whilst taking a picture, I had an interesting and exciting time. Of course I was the one chosen to feed the dingos (video proof!). It was an very entertaining way to spend a Sunday!

Other then that, my time has been filled with school. Since my host family is involved in gymnastics and dancing, I've been able to observe these things and even try my hand!

Wow, I'm having a massive brain block!!! It's so hard to remember things!!!

The past three days I've been at Crossroads Camp with my entire year 11 class in Swansea, and its been such an amusing time! I've met a lot of my classmates I hadn't even seen before, and made some more friends, so I feel like a part of my school now!

pass judgement on them. What I can say is that Australia is a beautiful going on. I suppose that this blog doesn't really give a complete view of my exchange. I've left cultural observations out....they're hard to explain in a culture similar to ours in America, and I really don't want toI'll leave it at that for now, I think it brings everyone up to date on what's country, with beautiful, friendly, funny, enthusiastic and open people. What is it like to BE in Australia? The roads in Newcastle particularly are all over the place, not a grid system like America. It's quite confusing to the uninitiated. There are homes and small suburbs scattered all over the place, melding into each other and somehow it all WORKS! It's fabulous. The weather is beautiful. Shorts and t-shirt weather most days. The sun is harsh, but it's so nice to be warm all of the time, when the climate at home at this point is freezing!

The Australian sense of humour has not taken a lot of getting use to personally, as being placed in situations leading up to this exchange where I have had to mix with many different people has given me experience in understanding and interpreting something such as humour in everyday language and life in Australia. But for some, it could seem confronting. I love it!

I'd like to invite those who take an interest in my blog to check out the pictures I take on my Picasa album. The url is I'll continue to post limited pictures on the blog directly, but for additional photos, please refer to the album. Enjoy!

More later. I will blog more often!