Things I’ve taken for granted:

1) Cooking
While I know the basics of how to cook things and do so at home, it has not been until now that I have really had to cook a lot for myself. I’ve concluded , over the past few weeks, that cooking a good meal can be such a pain!
Take today, for instance. I decided I wanted a meal involving chicken and avocado. So after I got back from school around 7pm, I took out chicken breast from the freezer and started to defrost it. However, the chicken breast I wanted was completely frozen to another piece of chicken breast, so I had to wait for it to defrost slightly before I could pull the two apart and put the other one back in the freezer.
While I was waiting on that, I decided to make a salad so I wouldn’t eat myself before I could cook the chicken. Since two of my housemates, Marieke and Dayal, also decided to cook at this time, I had to wait around to use the limited cutting boards and sharp knives that came with the house.

Finally, I made my salad, ate it and moved on to cooking the chicken which I defrosted in the microwave before frying it a giant pot which I had to use because Dayal was using the only skillet. I also fried up some onions to go with the chicken. As it turned out, the avocado wasn’t ripe so I ended up just having the chicken, seasoned with mustard and curry powder, and the onions.

All of this, hindered slightly by my housemates, took about an hour and half and this does not include to the time I had to spend washing up which I will get to later.

After having to do all this for a yummy and simple meal makes me further appreciate all the people in my life who have ever spent time making me dinner, simple or special, because making dinner can really eat up a lot of time!

So time for the grateful shoutouts to all lovely people who have ever cooked a nice meal for me, in particular: Mom, Dad, Laura, KKy, Mr. & Mrs. G, my aunts and uncles, friends and their families, and of course, Chef Rose Dolly. Thank you sooo much!


2) Dishwashers

We don’t have a dishwasher in the house. This isn’t a problem because it’s very easy to wash dishes by hand. Yet, I don’t think I appreciated the convenience of having a dishwasher and just popping dirty dishes in it and running it as I go about the day instead of having to take extra time out of my morning before I go to school and washing my breakfast dishes. Feel lucky to have one.

3) Laundry Dryers
We also lack a laundry dryer here. For the most part, Townsville is super hot and humid so things dry quite easily on the outside line. But, then we get those cloudy, rainy days when I’ll really need to do laundry and then I will have to hang my things on various chairs and tables inside because we don’t have a portable laundry rack yet and hope that it dries soon. I also miss how clothes feel after they’ve been dried in the dryer versus the air.

4) Car
Like I mentioned in my last post, it gives you so much freedom! Also, having an automatic car, because manuals are a pain to drive!

I have wheels!!!

My friend Marieke just bought a car today so now we can road trip places and not have to spend forever on the bus! Yay!!

One of the things I have missed most since I’ve been here is my car. Townsville is pretty big, “the biggest tropical city in Australia,” and because the public transporatation here is not that great, its hard to go out and do fun things without having your own wheels.

But, now we can actually go out and do things! So excited! 😀

Recap of my first days in Townsville (1)

At last my password has been reset and I can log into this blog again!

In my last blog I left of having already moved into my house here, but I guess I should explain how that all came about.

The day I left Christchurch I spent all day either on a plane or in the airport because I had to go from Christchurch to Auckland to Brisbane to Townsville, with fairly long layovers in Auckand and Brisbane. Finally, I got to Townsville around 9:30 at night, picked up my suitcase and got free transportation (provided by my school) to the hostel I was temporarily staying at until I could find permanent housing.

After about a twenty minute drive, we pulled up to my hostel which had no lights on. There was a sign on the door to call the caretakers, which we did and shortly a man came out with a key to my room which I would be sharing with another girl. She was also an intenational student, from Germany, who happened to be studying at JCU for five months like me.

The caretaker showed me where I would be staying and the first thing I when he opened the door was that this place was kind of like a dorm in set up, with a big kitchen, tables, and a living room area with the rooms off down a corridor. Sitting at one of the tables was a super blonde girl who was to be my roommate. She introduced her self as Marieke, which is pronounced like “Mar-ree-ka”.  But, since I never heard that name before and she didn’t say it slowly, it went completely over my head and I decided to avoid saying it as much as possible.

I unpacked a bit, it was so nice to have an air conditioned room because it was very humid and I was wearing jeans (good for the airplane, not good here) and then I went out to talk to Marieke. It turns out that while she is from Germany, she is actually studying in Holland, and her school and JCU have a partnership program which is why she is here. So not only is she fluent in German and English, but she’s also fluent in Dutch! Makes me wish I was fluent in Spanish!

We hit it off really well and decided that we should maybe try to find housing together, since we knew we would get along and “the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t kind of thing.”

The next day we decided to walk to the nearby shopping mall, Stockland, to pick up some groceries for the next few days. The walk was about 15 minutes and it was one of the worst walks I’ve done in a while. It was disgustingly humid out, two seconds out of the door and already we were dripping with sweat as the sun intensely beat down even though it was only like 9 a.m. Finally, we got out of the sun and into the shopping center only to find/ remember that it was Sunday and Valentine’s Day as well, so none of the shops would be open until 11 am.

We ended up going to McDonalds right next to the shopping center and sitting there in the AC for two hours until Stockland opened. Once it opened, we found out where I could get the cheapest phone to use while in Australia, which turned out to be a $50 unlocked phone I could use anywhere in the world as long as I buy a sim card for whatever country I happen to be in.

After we got some more groceries, we walked back to our hostel before we later caught a bus to the first welcome sessions for international students. They gave us packets of information, like how to log on the different students sites JCU uses eand tips to adapting to life in Australia. Then Marieke and I went home to cook dinner.

Our plan for after dinner was to go to McDonalds and use the free wifi there to look at houses to rent, because we were going to have someone from JCU drive us around to look at places at 1pm the next day. However, we just decided it wasn’t worth the walk in the humidity and we could just wait to do it the next morning.

(Cont in part 2)

Townsville- 3rd Night

First  time I’ve been able to update this blog since I left for New Zealand. Internet in New Zealand is super expensive, $3 or more and hour, so I was using that time to talk to my family and catch up on important emails.

It’s Tues 11pm here in Townsville, which means back home it is 8am Tues morning  back home. Right now I am sitting with my new roommates watching pair figure skating at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. It’s weird to think that many places in the world are innudated with snow, while I am boiling to death here in Townsville, with weather in the 80s and the humidity rate about 90%. It’s horrible; worse than VA in the summer, and I came here to escape the weather in VA.

There is so much to write about, but I have to wake up semi-early tomorrow to go to “Uni” and hopefully get a free bus tour of Townsville (maybe see the beach for the first time!)

Hasta Luego.

Sunset @ Abalone Cove

Ready to Fly

I have about 2 1/2 hours left before I need to be at the LAX airport before my flight to NZ leaves around 11:30pm. I can’t believe that my time in LA is already up and I am about to hop a plane to the other side of the world.

Yesterday was the first gorgeous day since I arrived, so I made the most of it by catching brunch with a family friend, then walking along the marina before hanging out on the marina beach for an hour and a half.  

After that my cousin took me to Abalone Beach, which is a beach that has a lot of tide pools. Unfortunately it was high tide when we went, so no tide pools, but seeing the giant waves was very cool. I did managed to find a starfish andsome sea urchins so the trip wasn’t just about the waves. We stayed to watch a beautiful sunset, though next timhen we are going to check if the tide is coming in or out.

Sunset @ Abalone Cove

Sunset @ Abalone Cove

When we got home, we went out to the Cheesecake Factory with my cousin’s roommate. I was suprised to find that they have valet parking for it, along with many other restaurants along the marina. The food was delicious and we came home soon afterward and hung out for a bit before we went to sleep.

Today was another sunny day and I got lunch with my cousin and another family friend on Abbot Kinney street, which is a bohemian street that has a lot of interesting shops in downtown Venice Beach that. After lunch, we came back to my cousin’s apartment and packed my bags in preparation of the flight. Now I only have a few more things to throw in my backpack before I am ready to go.

I am definitely not looking forward to the 14 hour flight. Luckily, I changed my seat so that instead of a window seat I have an aisle seat and will be able to get up an stretch my legs whenever I want (unless the “fasten seatbelt” sign is on). I hate having a window seat when you are sitting next to strangers because then I feel like it’s a hassle for them when I ask them to get up and move.

I wish that one of my family members or friends could have come to NZ with me, but I know that I should make a fair amount of friends on the tour group I am going with.

Next time I write, I will be either 14hours (NZ) or 16 (hours) ahead of everyone on east coast time!

15 reasons why I love LA

1. The beach. I love the ocean and the sand.

2. Palm Trees, Birds of Paradise, Cacti

3. Murals

4. Houses with interesting architecture, covered in bright paint..

5. In-n-Out Burger, Foster Freeze and Rae’s Restaurant (Cafe).

6. How close everything is to each other.

7. The friendly, laid-back people.

8. The Car Chases they show on TV, because where else would someone drive for two hours while 1o + police cars and helicopters follow them.

9. The Parks.

10. The Billboards. Some people might think it’s trashy, but I think they’re fun.

11. Open Air Courtyards with lots of plants.

12. How Diverse LA is.

13. The weather (for the most part) and lack of gnats and other annoying insects!

14. Disneyland and other assorted Theme Parks.

15. The Sun!

California time

Today, I left Virginia for LA. I had to wake up fairly early, 6:30 am, after going to bed at 4am because I was doing last minute cleaning and packing.

After my dad dropped me off at the airport, I found out that not only does cost $20 to check a bag on United (outrageous!), but that they finally rearranged security at Dulles, in preparation for when the new trains start running. It took some time to get through security because there was a lot of people. Luckily, after I got through security to my gate (which was suprisingly close to the shuttles loading place for a change)  I only had to wait about thirty minutes to board my flight. I got a window seat in the economy class and was right behind the wing of the plane.

The seats seemed smaller than I remember, especially when a rather large guy sat next to me and the woman in front of me put her seat back. I slept on and off the flight, so in a way the six hour flight went by fairly fast, but sleeping in such a cramped condition is never that restful.

It was raining when my plane landed, so the descent down was a little bumpy at times, but it was cool to see the rain whoosh over the wing. Once we landed, I tried turning on my phone to see if my cousin had left me a message about how I was getting into her apartment because she was in class when I landed.

But, my phone wouldn’t turn on and I started worrying that it was “tostitos toast”, because lately it has been shutting off randomly and I had just charged my phone last night. As soon as I got off the plane, I ran over to an outlet and tried plugging my phone in to see if just the battery was dead. Thankfully it turned on, because I didn’t have a written copy of my cousin’s apartment address or her phone number, and without that, I wasn’t sure what I would do.

After retrieving my suitcase from baggage claim, I used an outlet in the women’s bathroom to charge my phone for a bit so it wouldn’t die when I got to my cousin’s apartment and needed to call her roommate to let me in.

The taxi drive was short; Marina del Ray isn’t far away from the airport. It was still raining, but there was a hint of sun behind the clouds and even when it’s raining California is beautiful. I love seeing all the palm trees and love not having to wear a heavy coat in January! My cousin’s roommate let me in the apartment, (the building is so swanky, I want to live here) and we’ve spent the afternoon just relaxing and getting to know each other.

Not sure what we are going to do tonight, but whatever we do it should be fun.

Packing….

Today, I finally tried fitting everything I want to bring with me to New Zeland and Australia in the Giant Backpacker backpack I have. It didn’t all fit, so I went through my clothes, cut out a bunch, tried repacking. Yep, it still doesn’t fit. I think I might have to ship a small box of clothes to Australia.

If only I had a shrink ray, my life would be perfect.