Friday, September 6, 2013

International Food Fair at Uni

Uni has many International students from various countries.  Last week they had an International week with an International Food Fair.  It was huge and filled with many booths from countries all over the world.  I had samosa and rice from Pakistan.  I am not sure what samosa is, but it was alright.  It had peas in it though.  I had crocodile, kangaroo, and a anzac biscuit at the Australia booth.  Crocodile kind of does taste like chicken. Germany made mushroom and eggs.  The Netherlands had spicy mashed potatoes with carrots and onions, chicken meatballs, and beef meatballs.  Africa had chicken and a spicy rice that was really good.  I did not really like Africa's potato or white rice clumps called mase.  Saudi Arabia had rice with beef.  The Philippines had a rummy egg drop soup, but a nasty rice cake.  Being able to try all of this food in one place was an amazing once in a life time experience.  I wish we would have known in time and got the form in on time to have an American booth.  They gave $700 to each country that wanted to have a booth.

At Bar on the Hill  during the festival, they had different acts from different countries.  This Asian guy beasted at playing the Erhu.  The Erhu is a two string instrument.  It sounds really cool. He played songs from his home country and played "Moves Like Jagger."  Other acts consisted of a Tae Kwon Do and different dances.  The playing of the Erhu was my favorite act.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Weekend in Melbourne = Best Weekend So Far!

This past weekend I went to Melbourne with Caroline, Brittany, Kate, Melissa, Audrie, and Chloe. We traveled in separate groups. Caroline, Brittany,and I left at 8:30 PM on Thursday night to meet up with the others who had left the day before. Due to the train schedule we got to Sydney super early and had to sleep in the International Airport's waiting room.  The domestic airport closes at midnight. Once it was close to our flight we took the train to the domestic airport.  There was a Mackers or McDonald’s near the waiting room.  We ate breakfast here.  They do not have biscuits!

Once arriving in Melbourne, we went to the 7/11 and got a Myki so that we could ride the tram to our Base X hostel.  We chose Base X for the first night because of its great reviews and the fact we could be picked up from there for our tour of the Great Ocean Road and Phillips Island. After checking in, we met the others at Victoria market.  Victoria Market is somewhat like a flea market.  I bought a super cool VW van sign.  They call the VW vans Kombi vans.   After dropping some dollars at the market, we went to the Eureka Skydeck.  Since it was Melbourne day, the Skydeck’s admissions were buy one ticket get one free.  The Skydeck was super high at 88 floors. We saw amazing views of Melbourne and a double rainbow. After the Skydeck we returned to BaseX for dinner and to hangout for the night.  I got a yummy pizza for $5.  A $5 meal is an amazing deal in Australia.  Everyone at Base seemed like family.  The staff joined in on the games and activities for the night.  The only downside to Base was that we got two European guys in our Mixed Ensuite room that slept from 6PM until we left at 7AM.  I think we got on their nerves a lot.  One would not speak to us.  

Double rainbow.
Eureka Sky Tower.

We checked out of Base at 7AM to be picked up by our Wildlife Tours..  We had booked a 2 day tour of the Great Ocean Road and Phillips Island.  This tour was amazing and worth every penny.  It cost $239 AUD.   Our tour guide Ben's love for his job made the tour outstanding.  He has only been working for Wildlife Tours for two months.  Before he worked as an IT man but found it was not making him happy.  I give him mad props for quitting his boring job.
The tour started with the Great Ocean road.  Since it was a two day tour, the tour went backwards from the single day Great Ocean Road tour.  This made each stop not super packed with other tour groups.  The tour started with morning tea and shopping for lunch at Colac Park.  Then we went to the 12 apostles.  There are 8 rocks and not 12 at the 12 apostles.  There never has been 12.  There were 9, but one collapsed in 2005.  Next we went to Loch Ard Gorge.  This was a beautiful stop of limestone cliffs and a cave off the beach.  Ben told us about how there was a shipwreck at Loch Ard Gorge.  Everyone on the ship but two died, a man and a woman.  The man saved the woman by pulling her to shore.  They slept in the cave off the beach.   People told them that they should get married.  The man proposed even though he was engaged back home.  She said no and returned to her home in Ireland.  He continued to sail on ships and survived many more shipwrecks until he met his match and was killed.  After stopping at Loch Ard Gorge, we stopped at Gibson Steps.  After traveling down the 80 some steps we found another gorgeous beach of huge waves and white rolling sand.  Then we drove a bit farther and stopped at Mait’s Rest of the Otway Rainforest.  Ben gave us many facts about the rain forest as we walked along the trail. There are Mountain Ash trees about the size of Redwoods in California.  These trees can reach heights of over a 100 meters tall.  We learned about the Myrtle Beech tree that grows on the tip of fallen trees.  We saw a carnivorous snail.  Thankfully, none bit onto any of us.  After the rainforest, we headed to Apollo Bay.  Apollo is a beautiful seaside town.  I would love to live here.  On our way to our accommodations in Lorne we stopped along Kennett River and saw a wild koala.  The koala even ate for us.  We were lucky to see this, since koalas sleep 20 hours a day.  Once we got to Great Ocean Backpackers in Lorne we were allowed to explore and do whatever before dinner.  We just got settled in and went down to the grocery store to get drinks for dinner.  The grocery store was an independent chain, because no franchises are allowed in Lorne by the government.  The government wants to keep Lorne free from litter and help local businesses thrive there.  Ben fixed us an amazing dinner.  I expected just to have a sausage sizzle, but we had sausage, chicken, kangaroo, and potatoes.  There was, also, lamb chops and salad.  I do not like either one of those.  We decided to crash early for the night, because we were tired.  We all got to sleep in the same room!

12 Apostles

Loch Ard Gorge

The next morning me, Kate, and Melissa got up early to see the sunrise from the beach.  It was gorgeous.  I do wish a cloud was not in the way for part of it.  Our first stop of the day was at the Split Point Lighthouse.  After that we went to Surf Beach and then through Torquay.  Both of these areas had a lot of surfers and great waves for surfing.  After passing through scenic seaside towns of Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove, we took the ferry to Phillips Island.  This ferry was really nice and had an air conditioned place to sit down on the inside.  Brittany, also, learned what a ferry is and that you do not have to ask if you need to bring your backpack because the whole vehicle goes on the ferry.  Our first stop was Koala Maru Park.  Here we got to see koalas, Tasmanian devils, emus, donkey, dingos, wallabies, and kangaroos.  I enjoyed feeding the kangaroos again.  There was an Albino kangaroo named Ice.  After the spending time at the park, we stopped at Penny’s Chocolate Factory to shop for chocolate.  We did not have enough time to take a tour.  I did not buy anything because it was expensive.  My one sample was yummy though.  We then headed to Nobbies.  On our way we took a pit stop and watched a couple of crotch rockets race around the Grand Prix Track.  We would have went to Swan Lake to but the pathways were flooded and the lake was closed.  Nobbies was very windy yet very pretty.  There were sea gulls everywhere because of mating season.  We got to see a bit of action.  Nobbies is known for its seal rocks.  However, it is rare to be able to see a seal with the naked eye.  We did see one, but he was dead an washing up to shore.  We left Nobbies after having an hour to explore the different paths.  On our way out, Ben stopped and let us look at the wild kangaroos and wallabies hopping around.  This is the first time I saw them in the wild.  We then made our way to my highlight of the trip, the Penguin Parade!  Every night Little Penguins or Fairy Penguins swim in from the ocean after sunset and go home to their burrows.  They wait until dark, so that their predators are likely resting.  They are so adorable.  I was so close to one that I could have touched it.  However,  I did not want to contaminate him/her.  Sadly, you were not allowed to take pictures.  Flash blinds the penguins and they normally die if blinded.  I did sneak and take a poor picture without flash.  You can just make out the outline of the penguin.  We sadly had to leave.  I wanted to stay with the penguins forever.  On the way out of the park, we did see more action of two penguins mating.   The penguin parade was a great finale to the tour.

Lorne Sunrise

A Joey came out from its mother's pouch for a visit.
Seagulls of Nobbies

Nobbie's Rocks

World's Smallest Penguins

We did not return to Base after the tour, but stayed at Hotel Discovery.  This hostel was pretty nice.  We all again got to stay together.  Hostelworld said that they have free Wi-Fi, but when we got there this was crossed out on their amenity list.  This was a bummer.  The next morning we woke up to our last complete day left in Melbourne.  We spent this day shopping and exploring.  I spent too much money We all peer pressure each other into buying things.  I did buy a super cute black dress that could work for sorority recruitment. When exploring, we went down an alley way in China Town and saw some pretty cool graffiti.  Graffiti is very popular in Melbourne and is not frowned upon.  We, also, took the free visitor shuttle and got an tour of the city.
While on the free shuttle tour, we learned about Little Italy.  We decided to take Audrie out to Little Italy for her birthday.  We ended up having the best dinner we have had this whole trip at Little Toto’s Pizza House.  I had pizza with prawns or shrimp.  This was a really good combination.  The service was great.   The owner even made Audrie a massive free gelato sampler.  When they brought it to the table, we sang her Happy Birthday.  The whole restaurant including a party of maybe 50 Asians joined in.  This was on her bucket list and made her birthday week.  She deserved all of this, since she bakes for everyone’s birthdays and is just an amazing, caring person.

We all stayed another night at Discovery.  Everyone flew back home in the morning except for Brittany, Caroline, and I.  Since we came later than everyone else and only had lectures on Tuesday, we did not leave until the afternoon.  We went back to the market. After the market, we had iced coffee and went to the Victoria Harbor.  Like most harbors, it was gorgeous.  We saw a lot of cool buildings around it.  The NAB or National Australian Bank building was my favorite.  We took the free city circle tram back to our hostel to pick up our luggage out of the locker we rented since we had to check out at before 11.  We then returned to Southern Cross Station to take our bus back to the airport.  I almost did not make it in the plane with my carry on because I bought so much and it was bulging.  Thankfully, the lady forgot to bring the scales to the gate.  I was well over the maximum 10 kilos.

NAB and Melbourne Bike Share


Since this was a long post and I want my blog to be helpful to future study abroaders, here are some tips to traveling in Melbourne.
1-  Book your flight for the Tullamarine airport and not the Avalon one.
2- You will need transportation from the airport to the city.
a.       Tullamarine: Skybus for about $16
b.      Avalon: Sita for about $22
3- Book the 2 day Great Ocean Road and Phillip Island Tour  Ask for Ben to be your tour guide.
4- Base X is nice and has great food and drink deals along with cool parties.
5- Discovery Hostel is nice too, but has a lot of rules and no party scene.  Also, there is a construction project right beside it.  Expect to be woken up by 7:30.  It is a bit cheaper and near Victoria market.
6-  Bring a towel for the hostels to avoid towel rental charges.
7- Bring a padlock to the hostels too.
8- Shop at Victoria Market
9- Bring a fully charged camera and lots of memory cards
   - Take advantage of the Visitor Shuttle Bus and the free City Circle Tram
1- You can get your cards for the Tram at a 7-11
1- Eat at Toto’s Pizza House
  - Check train times before booking flights.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Intro to Aboriginal: Stolen Generation

       For my Intro to Aboriginal class I had to do a presentation on a topic and a short paper.  I chose to do mine on the Stolen Generation.  I did a prezi for the presentation.  It has clips from a movie I watched called the Rabbit Proof Fence.  The Rabbit Proof fence was about 3 aboriginal children running away to return to their family.

The Stolen Generation was between 1909 and 1969. During the stolen generation between 50,000 to a 100,000 Aboriginal children were taken away from their parents and forced to grow up in homes ran by whites, Christian missions, or homes of a white families (Planet Wissen ). They were never allowed to see their family again and were told that their family did not want them anymore. The Europeans felt that they had justifications for these horrible, scarring actions and took a long time to apologize.  
The Europeans had an ultimate plan to rid Australia from the Aboriginal race.  In three generations if a black aboriginal man had children with a white woman the children would then be white. (Rabbit Proof Fence).   In the camps or homes that the children were kept they were made to line up to do color checks to see if the children were full blooded Aboriginal or mixed.  Confidential Evidence #332 provides some insight into the feelings this caused these young kids“I remember all we children being herded up, like a mob of cattle, and feeling the humiliation of being graded by the colour of our skins for the government records” (Carmel Bird).   If the child was considered only part Aboriginal, then he or she would be sent to school and be forcibly brought up even more in to white society and forced to marry someone of the white race.  The Europeans felt that they were making society stronger and providing the children with a better life of civilization and beliefs (Rabbit Proof Fence).
In camps and homes Aboriginal children were expected to do chores, go to church, go to school, and to not socialize to much with one another.  If they did not successfully do all their hard daily tasks they were punished.  A young aboriginal girl named Millicent who was taken to Sister Kate’s Home in Western Australia was sent off while in high school to work at a farm. At the farm she was raped and one time even cut with a razor blade by the farmer.  When she would tell the matron of Sister Kate’s her mouth would be washed out with soap, she would be forced to kneel at the church altar for hours, would be forced to polish all the floors and brass in the church, and would be stripped naked and whipped with a wet ironing cord (Suite 101). In the movie, the Rabbit Proof Fence, a girl is whipped, locked up, and her hair is chopped off for sneaking off to see her Aboriginal boyfriend after being tracked down by an Aboriginal tracker who worked for the home (Rabbit Proof Fence). The fact that Aboriginal adults sometimes worked with the group made it harder and more confusing for the Stolen Generation children. Aboriginal children generally felt helpless, confused, and abused in the homes that they were placed.
Many children of the stolen generation after becoming of age were either married off or forced to go to work. Generally their lives were still filled with bad situations.  In the Rabbit Proof Fence Molly finds a woman in a bad situation. After growing up in a home, the woman was sent to work as a domestic worker at a farm.  Molly and her sisters see him come in each night and find out that she is likely raped by the farmer every night (Rabbit Proof Fence). Rape and mistreatments were common  after the Stolen Generation children were married off or sent off to the workplace.
Many of the Stolen Generation still go through trauma and confusions today.  Even though Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologized in 2008, the Australian government spends money to help Aboriginals, their story was published in 1997 in Bringing Them Home, and National Sorry Day or Journey of Healing Day has been celebrated annually since May 26, 1998; the hardships are not over (Reconcili Action Network).  Twice as many children of the Stolen Generation are involved in drugs as with those Aboriginals who were not taken from their homes as a child.  One aboriginal man in Confidential Evidence 528 admitted to not being able to love and get attached to others.  He is, also, scared to have children because he is scared that they will be taken away by the welfare system.  This man was removed at 8 years old in the 1970s and suffered sexual abuse in orphanages and foster homes.  In Confidential Evidence 265 a woman talks about her sister killing herself at age 34 (Carmel Bird).  Her sister had been institutionalized since she was ninth month old and put through a lot of cruelty.  Her sister was made to dress up like a boy and her hair was cut short on many occasions (Carmel Bird).  The trauma does not end.  There are many more Confidential Evidence stories and testaments online.
It will still take a lot more time and actions to help the Aboriginals heal.  The first step to make this horrible time somewhat better was to say “Sorry” and try to lend a hand without forcing it upon them.  The next step is to forgive.  This is in progress, but still needs work.  Everyone needs to work on this.  Non-aboriginals need to forgive themselves and their ancestors and the Aboriginals the people and their descendants who led the Stolen Generation.  And the final and most important step is to try and come together to put a stop to things like this happening again. In some third world countries children are sold at a young age to work picking cocoa and coffee beans for chocolates and coffees.  To help stop this people can buy fair trade chocolates and write to different manufacturers to look into where his or her goods are coming from.  In China the Falun Dafa a religious group that focuses on meditation is severely prosecuted when imprisoned for worshipping.  They are tortured in many horrifying ways and their organs are harvested from their bodies while they are alive.  These are just a couple of examples of horrible things that are similar to the Stolen Generation now.  When are people going to come together to try and put a stop to other humans massacring other groups of humans for being different?