Saturday, September 21, 2013

Shrimps on the Barbie?

So somehow I've been in Australia for 2 months now, don't ask me how because time has flown by. It's strange actually, it's like I've only been here for a week sometimes, but other times it feels like I've lived here for years. It all really depends on the situation though I've learned, but more often that not it's a strange mix of the two. BUT that's not the point of this post, I tend to get sidetracked and all introspective sometimes incase that wasn't already obvious. Since I've been here for 2 months, I've learned a fair bit about Melbourne, but also Australia and it's culture. And whoever said you don't get culture shock when going to another english-speaking country was completely wrong! We may both speak english but we're definitely both separated by a common language. 

It's been an adventure learning all of the slang (they really can be quite lazy with their language) and different sayings and expressions! I still get funny looks most days for using some "foreigner" expression as they've come to be known, or pronouncing something terribly wrong because of my Canadian accent. So I thought I'd share some, for anyone planning on travelling to Australia it might be helpful, and more so it's just pretty entertaining.

*note: this list is going to keep growing, because I know I've forgotten a ton of things. I need to start writing them down as they actually happen because there's multiple ones a day that I always seem to forget.

-snag: a sausage (uhm?)
-arvo: afternoon (like I said, they really like shortening words...)
-tea: dinner (though not everyone uses this, it depends on the area you're from and your family)
-Craigeburn: Australian pronunciation turns this into CragIEburn, never fails to make me laugh
-Geelong: Australian pronunciation is Gelong, if you say GEElong you will be ridiculed (not that I'm speaking from personal experience or anything)
-touch wood: equivalent to saying "knock on wood"
-Tassie: Tasmania (pretty obvious)
-CBD: the "downtown" of a city (central business district, if you say downtown no one will know what you're talking about...)
-Oz: term for Australia that is only used by tourists/wanna be Australians, no one that's from here would ever actually say that.
-AFL (Australian Rules Football): the centre of the known universe during the winter/spring, especially in Melbourne. It's basically a religion. You will learn it, pick a team, follow it, and love it. More to come about this in a soon to come post about my experience going to a game. 
-as: used commonly after descriptive words, that's cool as, sweet as, crazy as. It adds emphasis, and erases the need to continue with the rest of the sentence. 
-Melbourne will always say they're better than Sydney. Sydney will always say they're better than Melbourne. That's a road that you don't even want to go down haha.
-whitetail spiders: deadly little suckers that are very common in Melbourne. Also known as the spider that was on my kitchen floor the other day. Also have a bite that causes your flesh to eat itself. Yep.
-music festivals: they're massive, everyone goes, and they're epic. They put anything I've ever been to shame, and I'm so stoked for the 2 upcoming ones that I've got tickets for!

AND last but not least
No one will ever ask you to "throw some shrimp on the barbie". I hate to burst that bubble, but not only is it just a tourist stereotype, shrimp here are called prawns. So yes, you might hear throw some prawns on the barbie, but chances are it would be snags instead.

The funny thing is that I've already noticed when I talk to people back at home that I've picked up some of this slang. And apparently my pronunciation of some things is morphing a bit too. So who knows maybe I'll even be saying mate by the time I get home! That should be an interesting mix with the "eh" I've got from home and the "ya'll" I still use from Texas... my poor confused vocabulary seems to be getting more entertaining the more I travel and I love it. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Packing tips and tricks

I've been lucky enough to have grown up in a family that loves to travel almost as much as I do, so we've taken a fair amount of trips since I was little. From ski trips to weeks away at gliding clubs; we've pretty much covered anything from weekends away to trips long enough to needing a suitcase big enough for me to fit into. One thing about my family though is that learning how to pack light and effectively is a must, well actually that's a little bit more my mom's talent (sorry dad!). I however am not the best packer, at all, but I am significantly better then I used to be. Since I'm "all grown up" now I've done quite a few trips on my own, and I've gotten down a pretty good list that will adjust to almost any length of trip that I can throw at it (this trip to Australia being an exception, slightly embarrassed by how much luggage I brought...). So here's my thoughts on what to bring, and a few tricks that have been passed down to me on how to pack a suitcase effectively and save space.

The amount of times this happens is just ridiculous...

1. Always leave extra room in your suitcase! First off stuff will never fit back in the way it did when you got there, don't ask me why but it never does. Second, you will always end up bringing back some extra stuff with you, especially on long trips. If your suitcase it stuffed to the brim when you leave, your doomed.

2. Stuff your shoes with socks and/or anything you don't mind getting a little bunched up and wrinkled. That was all that inside space of the shoes isn't left empty and wasted.

3. Double bag any kind of liquid. There will always be that one bag with a hole in it no matter how well you check them, and hand cream is not an easy thing to get out of clothes.

4. Lay things out flat instead of rolling or bunching the up. It takes up a lot less room and stuff won't get as wrinkled!

5. Put any breakables/liquid items in the middle of your suitcase (double bagged of course) so that they are protected by the clothes around them.

6. If you need a change of clothes at the airport and can't fit them in your carry on, put them at the top. That way at the airport you don't have to lay out your suitcase and dig through it to find what your looking for, you just unzip the top and it's sitting right there.

7. Lay belts around the outside of the suitcase instead of rolling them up. Just learned this one from mom and it takes up so much less room!

8. Pack things in order of what you think you will need from top of the piles to the bottom. That way if there's no where to unpack where you're going you won't have to go rummaging through your suitcase every morning.

9. Pack versatile things. A basic white t-shirt can be worn around a flight line with short and sneakers, jeans and a purse for casual dinner, or put with a skirt, jewelry and heels for a night out. Bring shirts that can be worn with any of the bottoms you have/bring bottoms that can go with everything. You never know what you're going to want to wear and if you pack a bunch of specific outfits you will never end up having the combination that you're looking for.

10. Even if you're going somewhere hot (south western Texas for example), bring a sweater. You will most likely end up wanting it on the plane to cozy up in if you don't have a blanket, but if you plan on going out to dinner or a movie the air conditioning will almost always be turned on way to high to compensate for the heat outside and you're going to freeze. Just make sure that it's something that can dressed up or dress down.

11. Ladies; don't pack all of the makeup/hair products/shower stuff that you own. It takes up more room than you would think and you will never use it all. Bring the basics! Things that can serve multiple purposes are ideal, such as shower gels to double as shaving cream and combination palettes of makeup. Chances are wherever you're going you will be spending way more time enjoying yourself than sitting in your room getting ready.

12. Don't buy massive suitcases unless you're okay with paying more to fly with them. Yes I have a suitcase that I can fit into and yes it's awesome for holding tons of stuff but if I fill it up completely it is always over the weight limit. As in $150 for those few extra things that you really didn't need. Not worth it!

13. Always bring running shoes and workout clothes. You never know where you'll end up going and chances are at some point you will need them. Wether it's for a workout at a hotel on a road trip, an impromptu hike somewhere or just going for a run to watch the sun rise they will always come in handy.

14. Leave a pocket in your carry on to put your passport/ticket/ID all together. Leave this pocket for only those things and always put them back there. Then you avoid being that crazy person tearing apart their bag at the counter trying to find it all!

15. Pack cash. Visa cards are great but they can be a pain depending where you're going. For example small cafes and restaurants often have minimum purchase limits and american gas pumps won't accept Canadian visa's. If you have some cash you can at least survive and pay for things until you figure out what the easiest way to pay is wherever you are. That being said don't carry a lot of cash in one single place. If all of your money and cards are in one purse and it gets stolen things don't look to good.

16. If you're going somewhere that speak a different language, make a translation book your airplane reading. Being able to show up to another country with a few basic sentences in their language will not only make your life easier, but people will also be a lot more welcoming when they see you putting the effort it. If only Australia had a language book for all of their slang!
Now you're packing like a pro!

So as of now, that's all the helpful things I can think of. I'm sure the more I travel the more things I'll have to add to this list! Headed to Tasmania for a week at the end of the month and we didn't want to pay to check baggage so we've got to pack in a backpack carry on. Challenge accepted :D

Phillip Island Adventure

A few weeks back now I had the chance to take a trip out to Phillip Island with a university tour company. It promised to be an adventure packed day full of awesome sights, and it definitely delivered! Despite having to leave the house at a ridiculously early hour to make it to our coach bus on time for the 2 hour drive there, it was more than 100% worth it.

Turns out the 2 hour drive was actually much shorter because of the lack of traffic (yippee!), so we had time to stop at the chocolate factory on the island. Yep definitely worth it! Such good chocolate, oh my goodness. Then it was off to a beach right on the other side of the bridge to the island for a photo stop, some down time, and the opportunity to watch pelicans being fed. During the down time we got to learn how to play with a footy ball (footy being Aussie Rules Football, an epic sport that we need everywhere in the world), and some ever learned how to throw a boomerang! Matt definitely won at that - managed to throw and catch one. It was pretty epic.
One of soon to be many beach stamps (yes, we had to do it)
Pelican feeding (they know exactly where to be at what time for food, pretty impressive)

The it was off to the infamous surf beach, Woolamai beach for some seaside adventures! We walked all the way down the beach (quite a challenge in sand as it turns out) and hiked up to a lookout point that had an absolutely stunning view. Needless to say many photos were taken and jaws dropped along the way. I think everyone had a little quiet moment on the cliff as well to just take in the view, I know I did and that really helped make the fact that yes I live in Australia right now really hit home.
Stunning beach. Can't wait to come here in summer!
Great day with great people :) Beautiful view to top it off!

Then it was the long trek back to the bus where we started off. Took the path through the hills on the cliff this time instead of the beach for something different which turned out to be quite the little hike. From there we went to go do a typical Aussie beach hobby, plan in some sand dunes. Yep, we all felt like little kids again. We were also taught by our wonderful local tour guides how to jump off sand dunes! We all did just regular jumps, they took it to the next level doing backflips and crazy things. Best feeling every flying through the air, and the sand totally breaks your fall, I'll definitely be doing more of that the next times I'm at the beach!
Thanks to Scott I've actually got proof that I did it! Pretty sick picture. 

From there we drove off to a gorgeous lookout point with the sea lion islands. Perfect timing with the sun on it's way down. The drive there also takes you through the underbrush that is home to a very many wallabies which was awesome to see. They hop impressively high! But move way to fast to get pictures of when you're in a moving bus. 
Stunning lookout view on the coast

After that it was off the see the little penguins! Probably what we were the most excited about, as they are one of the main attractions of the island as a whole. They have stands set up along a beach so you can watch these little guys come home every night, and let me say it's every bit as adorable as you'd think. These miniature penguins (known as the fairy penguins) make their way from the ocean up to the sand dunes past the beach every night at sunset, each have their own little family burrows. And while it's a bit of a struggle for them to make it through the surf, once they do it's impressive how fast they waddle across the sand. You're not allowed to take pictures sadly because it interrupts their natural habitat, so here's one from google just so you all can see just how tiny they are!
Eep so cute :D

After that it was pretty late on in the evening so it was time to head home! Compared to the energized and noisy bus ride there, the one home was almost silent because pretty much everyone fell asleep. It's amazing how tired you get after a day outside adventuring. All in all in was a fantastic day though! Definitely a place I need to head back to when the weather gets even better in the summer :)

The Life of a Fine Arts Student

So I'm now almost halfway through my first semester here as a fine arts student (yikes!!), so I figured I'd be able to give a pretty good overview of what that's been like so far. The amount of stuff we've done, and crazy business of this semester is really the only excuse I've got for being so terrible at updating.

As for a basic overview of the classes I'm in so that this all makes sense, here we go:
-Visual Practices Studio: First 6 weeks of the semester spent in a sculpture studio for 4 hours a week, and a jewelry studio 4 hours a week. Second 6 weeks of the semester spent in a painting studio for 4 hours a week, and a glass studio 4 hours a week. Plus a lot of outside the studio work!
-Photography: 4 hours a week in the photography studio. Plus the time spent taking the images for the projects outside of studio time.
-Communications and Creativity: I had to take one "art theory" course to get certain credits back home at Carleton. Pretty interesting class actually, 2 hours of lecture a week looking at the concept of creativity.

Having just gotten past the 6 week mark, that meant having to finish final projects in sculpture and jewelry, a large photography project and an essay in the communications class. SO much to do! But got it all done and quite please with how they came out.

Sculpture was a huge challenge for me! I'm used to working in 2-dimensional mediums like painting and drawing, so thinking in 3-dimensions was a massive creative jump for me. But I really liked having to think outside the box and expanding my limits as an artist, it was a great experience. The studio itself was an awesome place to work, every kind of sculpture tool imaginable (from welding to woodworking to a bronze casting kiln), all put in a massive studio with a solid wall of windows overlooking the racecourse and ocean in clear view.
This is only a tiny part of the studio!

Needless to say it was an inspiring place to work. I started off with the idea of metal, and different types of it and how they interact with each other and took that into my final work. It was a series of sculptures with the theme of expansion, and left up to our own personal take on that theme from there. The works I came up with were abstract to say the least, but I'm pretty impressed that I managed to create some 3-dimensional works! Here's 3 of them, turns out the picture I had of the 4th one tuned out blurry unfortunately. 
First work that inspired the rest. For my gliding friends out there the idea behind it was a thermal :)

Complete fluke that ended up changing drastically from what it was meant to be, and actually turned out pretty cool!
This one was actually done out of card stock, and then spray painted in silver. 

Jewelry on the other hand was a bit more of an adventure. Let's just say the teacher was a little bit...different...and none of us were really clear on what we were meant to do. It was supposed to be about the "process" and not the "end goal", so the stuff that people came up with was definitely creative! Technically what I produced was a neck piece, however nothing made in the class is exactly wearable. Think less jewelry, and more small sculptures that interact with the body somehow.
Final piece sitting on my artist visual journal, the chain lying next to it was made by hand and that's what goes around the neck of a person.

Photography has been a fantastic challenge, and I've learned more in that class about cameras and photoshop in 6 weeks than I've ever been able to teach myself. Having to always shoot in manual mode really hones in your skills on actually creating art with your camera, a challenge that I have readily accepted. We have also learned a fair bit about photoshop and how to non-destructively edit images; it's absolutely amazing how the smallest things can make a photo looks 100 times better! The project that I submitted was 3 different components, each consisting of 5 images. The first theme was people and places, my take on it was Melbourne through the eyes of a tourist. The second theme was the human condition, my take on it was how women use makeup as a mask on themselves. The third theme was the object, my take on it was how everyday objects interact with our own skin and bodies. For fear of loosing control of my images (which I am quite proud of) I won't upload them here. I will try and get an overview shot of the folio however at a later date! 

And that sums up my art classes as of now! I'll do another one of these at the end of the semester to show the work I've done in the new studios :) Absolutely love that I get to make art in class and get university credit for it, I still can't believe this is real life sometimes.