We Made It!

By on 10-05-2012 in Australia 2012

We Made It!

Dobar dan from Croatia (Good day)!
I’m Marilee Long, an unconventional student from Central Penn College, fulfilling my final term requirements by adventuring through Europe. This is my second time taking complete advantage of the Immersion Program here. I traveled to Australia last year with the program. I can’t understand why the entire CPC population doesn’t do the same. Let’s see, I could be sitting in a classroom, or traveling through Europe. Europe, please! I’ll think about my student loans later…
We all met up at the Philadelphia Airport and flew to Frankfort. In Frankfort, the students were all present at the gate for our flight to Zadar, but we had to page our missing professor. It wasn’t his fault, though. The airline changed the gate after our arrival. Luckily one of the students noticed that the next flight out was going to Cairo, and asked the right questions to the right people. We all arrived in Zadar, except my carry-on which the airline offered to check when we left Frankfort. Tomislav and his friends met us at the airport and transported us to our new abode. We were greeted there by a wonderful spread under a kiwi tree canopy. After getting settled into our apartments, we explored the waterfront and rendezvoused for the dinner that Professor Davison touted to us for months. For a good reason. What a feast! Course one-fish/rice soup; course two-garlic mussels; course three-inkfish risotto and shrimp pasta; course four-salmon steak and sautéed spinach and potatoes; course five-custard pie similar to flan. I was so exhausted after our long journey that I fell asleep several times between courses. We took a short tour through Old Town to wet our appetites for more touring and headed back.
I was awoken at 10:58, which was just in time for our first 11:00 daily meeting. We received our weekly food allowances and were shuttled to the supermarket. Phyllis, Christal, Tori, and I were the first group to go. Forty-five minutes later, we were only on the second aisle. A full cart of food only used up half of our allowance! Tori volunteered to make the first dinner of chicken parmesan which we shared with Dwight, Nate, Byron, and Arsenio. We then rushed to catch a bus to Old Town and enjoyed a few beverages al fresco. The social scene in Old Town is quite festive on a Saturday night and we were treated to some great intercultural exchanges. That’s a scholarly way of saying that we had a blast.
Sunday is sort of overcast and drizzly, so we are staying close to home and planning Christal’s birthday extravaganza this evening. Life is good.
I was told while blogging last year to ask questions at the end of the blog. So here goes. Have you ever passed on an opportunity like this program offers?

Second Place is the First Loser- Adventures in Sydney

By on 10-05-2012 in Australia 2012

Second Place is the First Loser- Adventures in Sydney

Before I begin this blog, let me disclose how competitive I am.

I never thought of myself, personally, as a competitive person. I thought I was just supporting a competitive husband and daughter. However, now that I am no longer married and my daughter is grown and gone, I have come to realize that I don’t like to lose, and that I consider most circumstances to be competitions. I hope I have learned to lose gracefully, and take each loss in stride, but I still don’t like it.
While on the Brisbane layover leg of our Sydney excursion, I wandered down to the basement bar/restaurant in our hostel with the promise of a $10.00 two for one meal. I ordered a drink and walked over to order food, only to be told that the kitchen was overwhelmed and food would take an hour. I spotted a pool table in the corner and found a space on the neighboring bench to watch the players.

I was immediately impressed with the level of play and decided that watching would be better than making a fool of myself by challenging the table. However, a young man soon came over and asked if I wanted to join the competition. There was no entry fee to the tournament and the prize was $100.00, so I threw caution to the wind.

I guess I should interject at this point that I know a thing or two about playing pool. My ex-husband was a very good player, but didn’t have the temperament to be a serious competitor. We discovered that our daughter Juliette had an excellent competitive temperament when she picked up a pool stick at the age of nine. In her first tournament she placed fourth, then she won her second. She started shooting with juniors on the national level at age ten. By 14, she was a national champion. I spent at least four nights a week watching pool and coaching my daughter.

I lucked out my first round when my competition vanished. I got the privilege of watching all the other players and judging their skills. I played a very good player my first game, and acted like leaving him without a shot was just dumb luck. At that point, I started chatting with a guy named Justin, who became my cheerleader. I won the next several rounds the same way, by playing smart but acting dumb. Before I knew it, I was in the finals!

I was impressed by my German opponents’ skill, and knew he would probably win. The game came down to the final few balls. I was told earlier about the two shot rule; that fouls resulted in the opposing player getting two shots, even if they missed. They never said that sinking the other player’s ball, even if it was the result of a legal shot, was a foul. My opponent’s ball was sitting in the corner pocket, blocking the path of the eight ball, so I shot my ball into it and left it sitting in the pocket. This is a legal strategic play in America, but a foul in Australia.

He then went on to pocket the rest of the balls on the table, but left the eight ball sitting in the side pocket. I didn’t have a great shot on my only remaining ball, so I played a perfect defensive shot that left my ball between the eight ball and the cue ball. The German boy made a very good kick shot into the end rail and smoothly pocketed the eight.

I hope I left graciously. I gave him a good hand shake with a smile plastered on my face and quickly retreated to my room. I could have used that $100.00, but at least I can say I competed in Australia.

National Champion 2001

National Geographic “World” magazine

Juliette’s High School Senior Picture

 

Sydney Styles

By on 10-05-2012 in Australia 2012

Sydney Styles

Friday Happy Hour at the QuayBar on the Circular Quay

Regretfully, I’m just back from Sydney. If there was ever a place on Earth that suited all my needs it would be Sydney. If I had no strings, I would stay there forever. It has everything; cosmopolitan city-life, culture, and BEACHES! There are gorgeous beaches with  tropical turquoise water in Sydney. The minute I got off the ferry in Manly and walked down the Corso to the Pacific I felt at home.
I try not to dress like a grandma, whatever that means, and keep an eye on the fashion trends from magazines or what the younger people are wearing. While in downtown Sydney, I couldn’t help but admire the way the population dressed there. Sydney was described in the guidebooks as the Australian congregation of ‘beautiful people’. The residents here are known to be very fitness oriented, fashion conscious and regarded as snobby by the rest of Australia. Yes, I got that all from a guidebook. If you ask me, the rest of the country, as well as the rest of the world, could take some cues from them. By the way, the men are gorgeous here; it must be something in the water.

Here are a few fashion trends I noticed. Skinny jeans and ballet flats are almost like a uniform in Sydney for casual dress. And scarves. I’ve been reading about a trend toward sheer tops and color-blocking in the fashion magazines, and I found these trends evident in Sydney. Being a shoe fanatic, I loved the embellished sandals and over-the-top platforms, as well as the low boots.

The men there seem to have no problem dressing in the latest trends without feeling awkward. They also wear the skinny jeans, but with those leather shoes with the long square toes (I don’t know what they’re called), or with low sneakers. Most are seen with well fitted narrow jeans and tailored narrow dress shirts with the tails out. I also saw lots of men in Ralph Lauren Polo shirts with the big horse emblem on the front. Stylish leather man-purses were everywhere.
That being said, I felt frumpy my entire stay there. I wish I had known we were going to the opera, I could have shown the “beautiful people” a thing or two. I own way too many LBD’s (little black dresses). On the bright side, I was dressed comfortably for the miles and miles we walked over the course of our week there. I hope I didn’t stick out too much. I only saw a few of the ‘beautiful people’ pointing and laughing at me….
What is your favorite outfit that you feel the most comfortable in?

Where’s my LBD?

Life Down Under

By on 10-05-2012 in Australia 2012

Life Down Under

My last blog post was rather philosophical, so I’ll keep this one more realistic.
What’s it like in Australia? I’ll try to enlighten you on some of the idiosyncrasies down under.
On the bus ride from the Brisbane Airport to our new digs in Hervey Bay, the first striking thing, of course, is we were driving on the left side of the road. Professor Davison warned us never to say that it’s the wrong side of the road to Australians. As we headed up A1, the main north/south artery on coastal Australia, I was struck by the stark difference to I-95, the main north/south artery in America. After we left the Brisbane area, it was mainly a two-lane road. I then realized none of the houses had shingle roofs. All have metal and sometimes tile roofs. But that’s nothing compared to a trip to the grocery store.
I’m going to rattle off a bunch of different terminology and cultural differences related to food shopping and eating. There’s a whole aisle in the store devoted to nappies(diapers), and the carts all have four swivel wheels. The eggs are not refrigerated. For brekkie (breakfast) they enjoy baked beans, and you can opt for avocado on your Egg McMuffin at Macca’s (McDonalds) which serves lamb burgers for lunch. You can order your fish or prawns (shrimp) crumbled (breaded) or battered. Ice cream cones are called Kebobs and popsicles are Lollies. At the roadside fruit stand the main items for sale are pineapples and mangos. One great thing about Australia is when you go to a restaurant and see a price on the menu, that’s what you pay; no tax, no tips.

 
For my car people; besides driving on the wrong side of the road, there are many differences on four wheels. Most of the cars look familiar but have much different names. The Toyota Altisse we rented says “Welcome Camry” on the display when it’s started. There are very few convertibles, but my favorite, the station wagon, is alive and well in Australia. The SUV’s have Roo-bars on the front to protect front-ends from damage if a kangaroo crosses their path and there is a snorkel up the side of the windshield for underwater driving. The El Camino, which many of us remember as being a car upfront with a pickup bed on the rear, is called a Ute down here and is alive and is found under many different nameplates. If you happen to hit a kangaroo or other object with your vehicle, you don’t take it to the Body Shop, you go to the Smash Repair Shop, where the Panel-beaters will fix it for you. Gas is only $1.40 something a liter, but a liter is .26 of a gallon.  Do the math.  Australian drivers do not have to yield for pedestrians, and the mailmen ride small motorcycles down the sidewalk to deliver the mail.


There is much more emphasis on personal responsibility here. I was in many physically difficult situations in the past week, and realized that if I had gotten hurt and tried to sue, I would be told that I should have been more careful. But, while I am on the other side of the world, I am on the same planet. The plant life is still green, water still reflects the colors around it, and clouds still speckle the sky. People are still people, too. They may talk funny down here, but the message is still the same. “No worries, mate.”

What do you think visitors find strange about where you are or what you call things?

Yes, We Have To Do Homework Down Under

By on 10-05-2012 in Australia 2012

Yes, We Have To Do Homework Down Under

Our time down here is not all fun and games, we have lots of work to do. I am taking 15 credits this semester which means I have to do 4 excursion reports, 3 book reports, 4 interview reports, 2 research papers and a journal. Here is an unofficial version of an excursion report on an unofficial excursion I recently took to Brisbane. The official version would have to be 4-6 pages.

IDS315/405 – Global Cultural Study
Excursion Report and Analysis
Marilee Houtz
18 October, 2012

I. EXCURSION: Brisbane
II. DATES: 13 October to 15 October, 2012
III. LEARNING OBJECTIVES: (this is would be 5 in a normal report)
a. To explore the history of Brisbane and its historic influence on Queensland and Australia
b. To investigate the transportation systems available to Brisbane natives and visitors.
IV. ITINERARY:
Saturday 13 October, 2012
a. Leave Hervey Bay via bus to arrive in Brisbane
b. Check into Banana Benders Hostel
c. Walk to Victoria Bridge and across to South Bank Parklands
d. Queen St Mall
e. Dinner at Happy Jacks (Burger King)
Sunday 14 October, 2012
a. Church service at St John’s Lutheran Church
b. Yoghurt (Australian spelling) at Starbucks
c. Walk from Waterfront Place to Botanical Gardens and the Goodwill Bridge
d. Maritime Museum
e. Markets and City Beach
f. “Portrait of Spain” display at Queensland Museum
Monday 15 October, 2012
a. Bus ride to Hervey Bay
V. PLACES, ACTIVITIES, AND EVENTS: This is where I would gush over all the wonderful exciting places I visited and explored. I’ll give you the synopsis; I had a blast, but by Monday morning my feet and legs were done and I headed back.
VI. PEOPLE: This is where would I talk about the people I met along my journey in Brisbane. But, since this wasn’t a real excursion (the school didn’t pay for it), I did what I love to do when travelling, which is to go entire days sucking in the atmosphere of new places without speaking to anyone. I know that’s not right, but that’s me.
VII. KEY LEARNINGS: This is where we would have to list five things we learned on our excursions and is the most important part of the report.
a. I visited the Maritime Museum with the intent to gather some information for my research paper on transportation in Australia, but I really didn’t gather anything useful. I did learn about the dry dock there, and explored a World War II frigate.
b. After wandering through the beach and the markets, I entered the architecturally and aestetically awesome Queensland Museum and enthralled myself in sixteenth and seventeenth century Spanish art. I stood for long periods of time staring at these masterpieces, examining each brushstroke that was painted centuries ago. Some of these pieces looked like photographs up close, the detail was that impressive.
VIII. RECOMMENDATION: I recommended this inexpensive trip to my fellow students, although I recommended they take others with them. Professor Davison descried me as a “seasoned” traveler, which basically means to me that I love to get lost. I stumble across more interesting things than any map could display. I stumbled across a festival, an open air market and a Max Brenner Chocolate Restaurant on this trip. I can’t wait to see what I stumble across on my real excursions!
What interesting things have you stumbled across in your journey of life?