Thursday, February 26, 2009

I Have Lain in Heath Ledger's Ashes.

That's right. Heath Ledger's remains were spread across Cottesloe beach in Western Australia, a beach that I have been to twice. This probably explains why my acting skills have increased almost tenfold in the past few weeks. For instance, I can now imagine original scripts in my head and monologue them, simultaneously! I'm sure Heath would be proud. I wish I could get a job with my acting.


I went job hunting today! This is something I would probably not do if I were home, so it's surprising to even me that I'm doing it while I'm abroad. But, when you have two days of class per week and the minimum wage is something like 15 dollars/hour, it starts to seem like a good idea. Plus, it might be a good way to get immersed in the Australian Culture, which so far seems to be very interesting.

HISTORY LESSON: Up until about the 1980's, most Australians have been ashamed to refer to themselves as Australian, as a result of their heritage as England's refuse (criminals). They have also been extremely racist towards the aboriginal people, who have resided peacefully in Australia for tens of thousands of years. At the root of the issue is the concept of what "Australia" actually is, and what it means to be "Australian." When the indigenous people have lived here about 500 times (probably very off) longer than the European settlers, who are the real Australians? Until the 1960's, the Aboriginal people had about the same legal standing as a tree. It's really messed up. Recently, there's been a sort of nationalistic movement and people are starting to be proud of their heritage, and being proud of their nationality. Interesting stuff. I'll find out more. In the meantime, how about a linguistic update?!

boxed wine = goon
sunglasses = sunnies (they don't even know that the word "sunglasses" exists)
breakfast = brekky
how are you doing? = how are you going?
red pepper = capsicum
arugula = rocket
cookies = biscuits
kevin = kev

English 284: Sweet sweet class. Reminiscent of my Comm 410 class last semester, seems to focus on a very intense analysis of the true identity of Australia, and what it means to be Australian, through literature and film. Professor Moody (like from Harry Potter) is a large walrus-like man that excitedly huffs and puffs his way through the lecture, probably on the verge of a heart attack. I'm pumped for it.

Psych 213: Abnormal Psychology, which is like crazy people studies. Will probably be my hardest class, since I'm not a psych major, but should be interesting. Focuses on what "abnormal" actually entails, and if it's even possible to define normality within a cultural context.

Business 339: Advertising Production, taught by a super awesome genius creative director guy who has worked for pretty much everyone and won tons of awards. It's going to be sweet. I don't think that many of my classmates really understand the concept of advertising. On our first tutorial day, we were asked to design a print ad for Burger King that worked through the idea that BK's burgers are bigger than the competition. By the way, Burger King is called "Hungry Jacks" here. Same exact restaurant, different name. Hmm?! Anyways, back to the ad. We were split into groups of two, and since 75% of the class is Asian, there were about 5 Asian groups. Independently, every single one of these groups came up with this as their ad:I have absolutely no idea why. I thought it was hilarious, but sadly had nobody to share my laughter with. I could tell that the professor was dying inside, but he sort of just acknowledged the large burgers with eyes and moved on.

Mine, of course, was brilliant. You should know this.

Tomorrow I'm going back to Cottesloe beach to lay in Heath again. I'll whisper to the sands, tell him of his victory at the Oscars, and of my love for his films (especially A Knight's Tale, first movie I ever cried during, maybe). It will be beautiful, and I will tan, and then I will be beautiful, and maybe then I will find myself an Australian bride.

No worries,

Saturday, February 21, 2009

we're going to the zoo today!

Misleading title! I already went to the zoo. The great thing about having two days of class per week is that I can do things like go the beach, the zoo, downtown, or just hang out by the pool, at times that I would usually be sitting in a classroom. This is not to say that I don't hold my classes in very high priority, but it's a big change of pace going from two day weekends to five day weekends. Anyways, on to the zoo. It was a pretty good zoo, but I was sort of underwhelmed by most of the sections (especially the australian section). I guess in a place like Australia you don't really have to try too hard in your zoo, since the rest of the nation is full of awesome animals that you pretty much see on a daily basis. It was a really hot day, so most of the animals were huge slackers and napping in the shade.

Tricia (score: 7/10): Tricia was quite the independent woman, she escaped from the zoo like twice while we there there, and was also a proficient painter. However, she loses points for leaving poop all over the sidewalks.

Crocodile (score: 9/10): Intimidating, powerful, and probably ready to smash through the glass to attack at a moments notice, the crocodile was one of the fiercer contestants at the zoo. It was able to smell the fear of my friend Maya, who fears crocodiles, and followed her movements with its sinister reptilean eyes.

Penguins! (score: 6/10): Though cute and excellent swimmers, these penguins lack original material. March of the penguins, happy feet, that disney penguin surfing movie, I mean come on. It's been done, penguins.

Long-necked turtle (score: 3/10): Though being well-known for setting certain style trends (turtleneck) popular in certain Swiss villages, this narcissistic guy was too busy checking himself out to notice his visitors. Self absorption is not something I look for in a turtle, sorry.

Monitor Lizard (score: 8/10): Huge lizard, capable of growing up to like 8 feet long, can probably eat people = BOSS. Boss in the connotation of being badass, but also in the manner that this lizard could act as an excellent boss in a video game. High level of difficulty, since it probably shoots fire out of its mouth.

Ghost bats (score: 10/10): GHOST BATS. Name something cooler. TRY. You can't.

Sun bear (score: 7/10): Symbol of purity, beauty, and bears. The sun bear was one of the most active animals at the zoo, because they feed on solar energy. Everyone knows that.

Dingo (score: 5/10): The dingo is essentially an Australian dog. It was not the most fascinating of beasts, from what I could tell. No special abilities, but it is a dingo, so props for that.

Wombat! (score: 10/10): The wombat is just great. I think this is a good time to talk about one of my classes: Australian Film and Literature, taught by PROFESSOR MOODY. Like from harry potter. Same guy, I'm pretty sure. He is very cool, seems to have an interesting view on Australian nationalism. Our first assignment is to bring an object to class that represents something quintessentially "Australian." I wish I could take a wombat. Instead, I'll use my bottle-opener shaped like a kangaroo. Trust me, I'll make it work.

Emu (score: 0/10): EMUS ARE SO ANNOYING. Stupid bird wouldn't let me take a picture of it, kept hiding behind a tree and insulting me in its stupid emu language. You suck, emu.

Echidna? (score: 6/10): Sort of an ambiguous animal, I wasn't entirely sure that it was alive since it was hiding in the sand (keeping cool in the heat, assumedly, but more likely plotting something big), but the spikes were cool. This is not a hedgehog, since it is a marsupial, although it seems to be hiding its pouch so we can't really verify this entirely.

Kangaroo (score: 10/10, of course): Since it is my lifelong goal to ride a kangaroo, I have to give them full points, in case there are any reading my blog. Shout out to all my kangaroo friends! (text me if you're offering rides)

Koala (score: 8/10): Apparently koalas hallucinate from eating like anything, so a day in the life of a koala is like: sleep for 20 hours, wake up eat/trip on acid, do other koalas, sleep again. Pretty unfair for the rest of the animal kingdom. Koalas, have you ever seen march of the penguins? You have it way too easy.

Kevin (score: N/A (bias)): At this point you might be asking yourself, "Why has Kevin been rating all of these animals on a 10 point scale? These are God's creatures, and they were all created equally!" At this point, I think I should tell you. It's been you the whole time. Judging the animals, one by one. It's been you. Now at this point you might say, "But Kevin, it hasn't been me, I've been reading a blog that you yourself wrote!" Ah, but you've forgotten that in this blog, anything can happen. Toilets can flush in the other direction, grown men can relive their childhood days, butterflies can sprout legs and race in a 5k against Roger Rabbit and Batman. At this point, you might be asking, "Is Kevin drunk, or on some kind of controlled substance?" I would respond:

No I am not. I am bored. And making dinner. (my apartment cooking skills are improving!)

Alright, that's it for now. The pasta is cooked.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Rottnest Island / Ratnest Island / Rotto

I just got back from a weekend CIEE (my study abroad program, led by an intrepid and hilarious guy named Paul) trip to Rottnest Island, which is about 30 minutes away from Fremantle on a ferry. Despite not seeing any snakes ANYWHERE, it was awesome. The island is home to a huge population of rat/kangaroo ish creatures named quokkas, but the Dutch settlers thought they were rats (hence Rottsnest / Rat's nest island). They are very very cute and approachable (think chubby mini-kangaroos). We did a lot of biking, snorkelling, swimming, sightseeing, and that sort of thing. Snorkelling was AWESOME. I dove through a reef-enclosed cave and saw some huge colorful fish (like Planet Earth fish) in the reefs. My favorite was a huge white angry looking fish that decided to hang out with us for a few minutes, probably plotting to eat our young. The coolest thing I saw, however, was a 7 foot wide stingray that came within reaching distance of me while I was playing frisbee in the water. 7. foot. stingray. HUGE and within kicking distance. Where else does that happen? Last night I got to see the sun set over the ocean, which was incredibly beautiful. I had an "omg" moment while I was standing there watching the sun gently set, while the warm breeze played with my hair like a mournful lover. Later we went up by a lighthouse where you could see the beams of light in the air for miles because it was so powerful. And we saw the southern cross constellation! Cool! Unrelated, but the other day I got to eat crocodile (kind of fishy but with a thicker texture) and kangaroo (like steak but richer and slightly gamey). Yum! Animals! (sorry Allie)

I start classes tomorrow, and hopefully I'll have everything figured out enough to make it to all my classes in the right places. I may be switching out my Aboriginal studies class for an Australian Film and Literature class that looked more interesting and fit my schedule better. That will bring me up to Advertising Production, Abnormal Psychology, and Australian Film and Literature for a total of 12 credits. Uni is pretty laid back here for international students, which is something you won't find me complaining about. I'll probably be attending an ultimate frisbee meeting tomorrow, thinking of joining the team to meet people and do something athletic. I'm also going to try to join the table tennis club, and hope that there's some competition since I'm so close to Asia, and therefore azns. Also might try to do intramural volleyball - figuring that sports are a good way to meet people. So far my core group of friends extends to the Penn State people, along with a few people from my CIEE group and a group from Wisconsin. I hope to branch out to Australians soon, since they are awesome.

That is it for now. My shoulders are burned, despite putting sunscreen on every 20 minutes this weekend. Stupid ozone layer (or lack thereof). 7 foot stingray. Think about it. Think about me riding it. Underwater. Through underwater princess land. There is a crown on my head. You are my queen. We will live forever. On this stingray of ours.

No worries,

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Kill Teen Angst and the French Rockets

So last night I got to take a bit of a break from intense socializing and went downtown with some people to the Fremantle Film Festival. Although it started about 3 hours after we expected, it turned out to be really really cool. Two bands opened for the festival (for an audience of about 15), the French Rockets (sort of bloc party/helio sequence/whatever i have no idea) and Kill Teen Angst, which were a cool sort of ska ish band. They were Australian, so that was cool. We got to talk to them after the show, since there was nobody really around, and learned a lot about how difficult it is for a band to tour from Western Australia. Since Perth is the most isolated capitol in the WORLD, bands really have to build up a bit of a following in WA before traversing the entire nation to the eastern cities. They said that it's a lot easier to tour and become popular in America, since you can literally string together a thousand cities to play concerts in. Cultural differences!

The film itself was a documentary of the dynamic differences and similarities of The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. It ran a little long, and after a while it felt that there was a repetitive theme of the Dandy Warhols being slightly less gifted but succeeding a lot more than the Jonestown Massacre, who were constantly screwed over by their lead singer/songwriter Anton, who was apparently a musical genius but thought he was God. Interesting stuff, since I had listened to a lot of the dandy warhols and had never heard of the brian jonestown massacre. It was kind of too bad that the documentary had absolutely nothing to do with Australia, but whatever. There was another documentary being advertised that's playing there in about a week, wherein two Australian dudes move to Iowa (WHY) to investigate corn. Yeah, corn. I guess we eat a lot of it, which makes it important.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Nobody actually says g'day

Life here at Murdoch University is truly incredible. I live in a brand new apartment flat in my own room with four other flatmates: Maisey from Manhattan, Katie from Minnesota, Andrew from Singapore, and Liza (I think) from Zambia. Cool lot of people, though I am disappointed that I'm not with any Australians. Australians are awesome people. They are the most laid back people I have ever known. Very very friendly to strangers and Americans. And the accent is hilarious to listen to. I will grin like an idiot in any situation where I'm surrounded by Aussies.

It's going to be really hard to catch up to where I am right now with details, but I'll do my best. This is going to be sort of rapid fire so strap yourselves in plz. Alright: I've been in a flurry of orientation and social activities. A lot of the time I'm with people from my CIEE study abroad program, and other times I'm with a general group of international students. There's another program here from Wisconsin - roommate Katie is in it - and that's mostly a bunch of girls, but we usually end up at the same places. Since there aren't many Australians in the student village now - they move in when classes start next week - it's mostly Americans so far. Which kind of sucks, but hopefully I'll be surrounded by Aussies in the future. I've been going to a lot of clubs and bars for some casual, legal, social interaction (I'm being safe, mom) with these groups of people. During the day when we aren't involved in a bunch of orientation stuff, we go to beaches and go shopping and stuff. I recently found out that I suck at grocery shopping. So I'm going to be eating some pretty interesting meals.

On to some more interesting things! So, I sort of became a small celebrity among the international students recently, as a result of some skills that I gained during sculpture 100 at Penn State. All the international students were at a free dinner doing some silly orientation activities wherein we were all split into small groups doing contest things. One of the contests was to create an aluminum foil sculpture of something inherently "Australian" and present it to the rest of the students. Since we were the kangaroo group, we (I) decided to make a kangaroo family. However, I wasn't paying attention to the other girl doing the sculpting, and she made a cockatoo. What the hell. So, to redeem the situation, I finished the kangaroos and put them on top of the large bird. In presenting this to the rest of the international students, I gave a profoundly poetic explanation (harking back to sculpture 100, where I would give epic bullshit explanations of stupid modern art sculpture things with a straight face) about how the cockatoo represents "the soaring aspirations of our academic dreams" and the kangaroo family represents "the idea that despite we come from background all over the world... (theatrical sigh) we really are one family." This received thunderous applause and we won the contest. So that was really fun. I also danced like a fool (read: incredibly well) last night so my reputation is growing.

That's all for now! I'll try to think of cool things to put here that are more about Australia and not my ego, but I've been in a crazy whirlwind of activity and I haven't even had time to nap!

Also, if anyone has some shopping tips I would love them forever.

This weekend we're going to Rottnest Island, where I will go biking, sunning, and I will meet some small creatures called quokkas. Oh, and as per the title, nobody in Australia says "g'day." "No worries" is used in like every sentence though. So, that's it for now. Hopefully that's a sufficient post. I think I wrote a lot.

Australia is awesome! I do miss everyone though, so try to keep in touch. <3

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Alright, so I just finished packing, and thought I would throw this together, just in case I run into anything interesting/awesome down under. I'll probably post pictures and stuff here as well.

Things you can expect from me: a deeply intense cultural analysis, pictures of cute animals, and epic stories that someday you will tell your grandchildren. Or grandparents. I don't know, I'm not going to tell you who you can and can't talk to about these things. What sort of country would we live in then? Maybe Australia? Which reminds me, I'll have to check my rights before I do anything rash. There are probably a bunch of weird ones, like "the right to resist police only while wearing kitchen utensils." This might actually exist. There's an Australian folk hero named Ned Kelly who was pretty much a lawless bandit who (incoming gross graphics) did things like twisting the balls of policemen until they died of blood loss. Anyway, the police weren't too happy about this and they surrounded him and his gang, whereupon Ned Kelly emerged from his hideout wearing makeshift iron armor, complete with an iron pot as a helmet, and attempted to shoot down the police force a la Ironman. Pretty sure he died, but he is now a fondly remembered legend? Interesting society. I think I'll like it there.