sometimes i hate writing

Particularly papers when you don’t really like the topic or thesis but you have to go with it because you don’t have time to change it. Right now I only have about half of my essay done for my english class. It’s really frustrating though because they are really strict/big on the word count so I am constantly checking, how many words is this paragraph? Am I going to have enough to write on? etc. etc.

I can’t wait to get this paper done with because I have to write another 2,500 word paper and hand it in by thursday morning when Marieke and I leave for our massive two week roadtrip. This is of course, on top of all the things I need to do to get ready to go for the trip, like burn a zillion cds, because an 18+ hour roadtrip without music would be HORRIBLE.

Seriously in need of some motivation right now. I’m so envious of people that can sit down and BS an 8 page paper, and a decent one in that in 5 hours! So not me.

Okay, enough procrastination, must focus!!

Off to the Whitsundays!

Tomorrow I head off with my roommate Marieke and a plethora of other German Studyabroad students to Airlie Beach to go on a two day sailing trip around the whitsundays!

I am very excited about this, as everyone I’ve talked to said the whitsundays are incredibly beautiful.

Too bad I have a lot of work to do now and until Lecture recess (only 14 days, including my whitsunday trip, to write 3 big papers!!!!) so I’m not sure how relaxing this vacation will be.

I find it ironic I am stressed about a vacation. It also feels surreal that tomorrow I will be on a bus to Airlie beach. I packed a bit earlier because if I wait to the last minute, I forget things like PJS, shampoo, or my favorite, the toothbrush.

Right now I am at the school computer lab, looking for as many articles/books about for my english paper in the hopes of possibly brainstorming a bit on my trip. We’ll see how that goes!!

Tonight is also Uni Club night, which means there is a ridiculous amount of drunk people running around on campus and peeing on trees. Unfortunately a bunch of them just came to meet their girlfriends who are studying in here, so I think this is a good incentive to head home; I’m tired as well.

Tomorrow, I also turn in my first draft for my writing class. Hope my teacher likes it!  She’s very subjective, so I don’t know if she’ll like my “horror” piece, slightly inspired the movies I’ve seen in my horror cinema class.

ps. Never watch “Dance of the Dead” unless you want to have weird nightmares of Zombies dancing when prodded with electric cattle rods. :/ (Don’t worry Mom, I’m not traumatized for life!!)

Adios, hasta la vista.

All about (Step)Moms and their (step)kids

While researching articles for my english paper about the portrayal of a blended families in two books, I stumbled across these poems. The second poem was inspired by the first.

Mothers and Daughters’
by David Campbell (1915-1979)

The cruel girls we loved
Are over forty,
Their subtle daughters
Have stolen their beauty;

And with a blue stare
Of cool surprise,
They mock their anxious mothers
With their mothers’ eyes.

“Stepmothers and Stepdaughters”

by: Lesley Walter, 2000


Daughters sit at their fathers’ tables, stare at them with the mothers’ cool blue eyes,

They brush back thick cloned hair, flutter passed-down lashes,

swell from skimpy too-tight tops and slinky low-cut dresses.

and mock their mid-life stepmother with the breast of once loves wives.

A reflection on “Chinese Cinderella”

For my Literature class, we had to read “Chinese Cinderella: The Secret Story of an Unwanted Daughter” by Adeline Yen Mah.
It’s a children’s story based off Mah’s book for adults “Falling Leaves” which is about Mah’s childhood in China during and after the WWII as the fifth child in her family. She was called “Wu Mei” which means fifth daughter.
Wu Mei’s mother died giving birth to her, so Wu-Mei is raised in a household where her full brothers and sister despise her for “killing” their mother and where the Step-Mom hates her step-children. The Step Mom particularly hates Wu-Mei because she does not try to suck up to the Step Mom like Wu Mei’s older sister does. Wu Mei’s father gives into all of his new wife demands, so the Wu-Mei is almost always treated as if she is worthless. The only people who really care about her in the story is her Nei Nei (Gma) who dies early on, her YeYe (Gpa) and her Aunt Baba.

Unfortunately, YeYe and Aunt Baba have practically no power in the household ruled by the Step Mom, so Wu Mei has to deal with her siblings and Step Mom constantly berating her. As a result, Wu Mei turns to school and achieving well there so that her father can be proud of her for once. Despite her numerous academic achievements, her family claims she shows off too much by winning awards; only the Aunt really seems to care about Wu Mei’s good grades.

Halfway through the book, some of Wu Mei’s friends show up at her house to celebrate Wu Mei’s election as class president. However, she is not allowed to have friends over and as a result, her parents flip out, declare she brings “shame” to the family and shuttle her off to boarding schools far away from her friends and family.

Throughout the next four years Wu Mei is trapped at different boarding schools, made fun of for having clothes that don’t fit because her parents won’t give her extra money, all her letters to her aunt and gpa are never delivered and she never receives mail from her family. Her father doesn’t even remember what her legal first names are (Adeline Jun-Ling) or her birthday. Wu Mei herself doesn’t even know her exact birthday because the family deemed only the Step Mother’s children will celebrate their birthday.

I won’t ruin the ending of this book which was kind of bittersweet and instead I will focus on why I am writing this blog post today.

The whole time I was reading this book, I kept feeling incredulous of how much of a “Witch” the Step-mom is and how awful Wu Mei’s family is to her.

For example, one of the things the Step Mom says to Wu Mei is,
“Not only are you are liar and a thief but you are manipulative as well. Nothing will ever come of you. The problem is that you have bad blood from your mother. You don’t deserve to be housed and fed here. Girls like you should be sent away. You don’t belong in this house!”

I can’t even imagine how it would feel as a 10 year old to have your “parent” tell you these things.

Other things happen in the book similar to this where this little girl is treated worse the family dog that not only ripped open her arm, but also killed her only pet, a duck she called “Precious Little Thing.” In fact, at one point the girl said she wished she was the family dog!

When I was reading this, at the end of almost every chapter, I kept thinking how lucky I am to have the awesome, loving parents I have and my sisters who, though we fought a ton when we were younger, were never cruel to me and loved me too.

My heart goes out to this little girl who struggled so much during her childhood to find acceptance from her parents and never really got it.

This books really makes me think a lot about emotionally/physically abusive families and how much children suffer. It makes me want to do something to stop this, because every child deserves to have a family that loves and cares about them. Nobody deserves to be treated like a “worthless”!

I know that what happened in this book was 60 years ago, but still there are children out there with really horrible families, and these children deserve a better life.

So I will end this post with part of Mah’s preface to the book, which is dedicated to those “who were neglected and unloved as children”:
“Mother Teresa once said that ‘loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted are the greatest poverty’. To this I will add: ‘Please believe that one single positive dream is more important than a thousand negative realities.’”

Ps. I also really want to read the adult version of the novel and see how it compares to the children novel because I’m sure there would be more detailed/complex issues brought into play.

No Hurricane in Townsville

After all the fuss to “ready the cyclone kit”, stock up on tin food, and fill the bathtub with water in case the power goes out and we need water, Hurricane Ului did not hit Townsville.

In fact, I woke up yesterday to sun and ended up going on an hour and half walk (there and back) to a public pool before going for a swim in the Ross River for the first time. The Ross River runs by my house, but for some reason my friends and I had only gone to the pool or the beach before.

There apparently are Fresh Water Crocodiles in the River, but as they are smaller and a lot more timid than their cousins, the Salt Water Crocodiles, they never bother the people in the river. Actually, the weekends are very popular for the locals to go swimming in the river, and have a bbq at one of the public bbqs.

Today has absolutely been pouring though! I managed to make it to school without it raining, but ended up getting a ride back from a girl in one of my classes. I’m really lucky; according to the facebook status of one of my roommates, she’s stuck at the school library because she forgot her umbrella and doesn’t want to walk home 25 minutes in a torrential downpour. I hope it stops raining soon so she can come home!

Luckily, I can do all my homework at home tonight, even though I get easily distracted by my lovely roommates!

Here are some pictures of the grocery store leading up to the Hurricane when everyone thought it was going to hit us:

All the bread was gone. Only the super expensive loaves were left.

The Long life milk was gone too.

Our panty was full for once!

Hurricane Ului to hit Townsville tomorrow!

Tomorrow Morning (March 21, my time) a category 3 hurricane is expected to hit the coast of Townsville.

Hopefully there isn’t too much damage, but my roommates and I stocked up on a lot of canned food and water in case we lose power for a few days.

Here’s some links if you want to follow the hurricane’s progress:

Microsoft Excel 2007 is my best friend.

Yes, it’s true. I don’t know where I would be without the trusty Excel programs helping me determine how much money I’ve been spending a week and on what, how much money I have left to do fun trips in Australia in such an easy to read format.

I am also appreciative of the fact that UMW requires Business majors to take a class on how to use Excel and Access because that class showed me a lot of time saving and useful tips on how to take full advantage of these programs. I think they should offer more sections of this class for people to take because it is so useful across all the disciplines.

On a related note, I spent TWO hours today figuring out my finances for Australia. This is mostly because I was backlogged on entering in data for four weeks, so I had to catch up on all of that.
The good thing about spending so much time on this is that I know mostly where I stand in terms of how much money I have for Australia. The bad thing is I’ve realized how much money I have for Australia.

Before my travelling adventures began, I had the optimistic notion of travelling all across Australia: north, south, east, and west. When I was in New Zealand, I also decided I wanted to travel to South Asia to continents like Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand with my friend Kristen from Contiki.

Sadly that dream was shattered when I told my mom about all my grand traveling plans and Mom said, “Sarah, are you finding the money for these trips at the end of the rainbow?”

Yes, being a broke college student with a limited budget is not conducive to grand traveling adventures. I’ve been trying to find a job in Townsville to help finance some OZ trips (Ozzies make bank here! One 21 year old girl working at a grocery store gets $21 an hour!!!!), but it’s nearly impossible for three reasons:
1) I’m only going to be here 4 more months.
2) I need to find a job easy to get to where I live without a car/ with in bus distance
3) I have to fight all the other Uni students who live here more permanently for jobs.

I should probably give up on finding a real job and just rent myself out as an “American Language Tutor” so I can teach all the Ozzie kids American slang like “Whateves” or “For realz?” (Learning this through TV is just not the same as from learning it from a real person)

Until then, I am just going to be more thrifty about spending my money I have and look forward to the day where I will make oodles and oodles of money at a fantastic job so that I can take a two year long break to travel the world.

NZ= top dog

NZ: land of the lost postcards

I sent some postcards from New Zealand in the middle of February and then sent a bunch more from OZ about two weeks later.

However, imagine my surprise when people got the postcards from OZ within in a week while the NZ postcards were yet to show up.

I wondered if this was because I bought $1.50 international stamps through Universal Mail, instead of the $1.80 stamps of the main post office in Australia. My mom joked that the $1.50 postcards were probably going to the U.S. by boat and that we would get them in 3 months.

Feeling annoyed that I spent all this time writing 13 postcards (some of NZ landscape and some of me bungy jumping) to close family members and friends and that they would possibly NEVER get them, I emailed the Universal Mail company.

The company got back to me quickly and said that it was extremely unusual for this to happen and that they would “investigate” what happened. As an additional bonus they would reimburse me for the stamps I paid for.

I am glad that they are going to reimburse me, but I am still feeling aggrieved about my postcards. I want to resend some postcards to these people from Australia, but as I have yet to leave Townsville, I will have to wait until I go to a more happening place.

So if you haven’t gotten a postcard yet, one will come eventually! (And possibly the original one from the lovely land of NZ!)

Here’s an example of one of the postcards I sent; I think it’s really funny!

Driving Manual

Picture This:

March 10th, 2010. It was 11 pm and Marieke wanted a Mcflurry. I needed to practice my manual driving skills, so we hopped into her car and sped off into the night. Okay, not really.

I managed to back out of our long driveway alright, but in the midst of switching from reverse to 1st gear, I killed the engine. It’s so easy to kill the engine driving a manual because you need just the right amount of pressure on the gas pedal before you can completely release the clutch or else it dies. Having driven an automatic for the 3+ years that I have been driving, it seems so strange having to worry about moving both the left and right foot in perfect harmony so the car doesn’t die or make funny sounds.

Once I restarted the engine, we were off down the highway. It was my fourth time actually driving Marieke’s car, and she told me that she was impressed how good I was at manual driving for a beginner because when she started she was really bad. I told her that’s because I actually know how to drive an auto and if it hadn’t known how to drive one, I would be just as bad as she was when she first started driving.

We managed to make it to McDonalds without incident and with me shifting gears most of the time instead of Marieke who in the other lessons did it for me while I got used to pressing the clutch and gas pedals.

When we got there, we met our friend James who said that this McDonalds ran out of ice cream for Mcflurries and he and his crew were going to another McDonalds(aka Mackers in Australia) for some. Marieke and I decided to follow in his car, which made me kind of nervous because it would be the first time driving further than that McDonalds, and I would be driving on major roads no less. Good thing it was so late at night and there was practically no one on the road which made me less nervous.

It actually wasn’t too bad driving there and then home, though for the most part our friend’s car was far ahead of us. Marieke had to help me out more with shifting gears, especially when we were turning in intersections.

The scariest parts were the few times when we were stopped at a red light and then it would go green so I would try to take off, but I took my foot too fast off the clutch and the engine would die, which meant I needed to start the car again. Luckily, in these moments there were no cars behind me otherwise I would have felt a lot more freaked out than I was!

Overall, driving on the left side isn’t that hard because it make sense to drive on the left when you are sitting in the driver’s seat on the right. There’s also a ton of “KEEP LEFT” signs which reminds you to stay on the left. The difficult part is learning how to drive manual and luckily, I’m left handed so switching gears with my left hand doesn’t feel too strange.

I can’t wait until I feel more comfortable driving manual though!

Marieke’s (and my) car!