Saturday, August 28, 2010
Greetings friends and family!
Today marks the end of a long and busy week. Friday afternoon I turned in my first major assessment, a 2500 word research paper for my Australian History and Society class. Since almost all of the study abroad students are required to enroll in this class, I was not alone in putting in countless hours of work this week; as they say, “Misery loves company!” The P and O hotel certainly has been low-key for the past fortnight while everyone has been working on their papers, and it all culminated in one hectic, final day of furious typing and frantic scrambling to print off the last pages before the deadline. Thankfully, everyone survived and it appears that this weekend will be one grand celebration for us all to rejoice. In addition to the relief of no longer having our assessment hanging over our heads, this weekend is also a celebration of 5 birthdays (3 this weekend, 2 last weekend) of students within the P and O (meaning it’s only fair that we show them a good time!) so it should surely be a fun-filled weekend of festivities. Thankfully the paper itself really wasn’t too bad as it was surprisingly interesting to research and write, and the class is easily my favorite class that I am taking; the teacher is the typical history professor in that he knows EVERYTHING from dates of obscure events to inner workings of Australian culture. However, he is also very engaging and personable (I went and met with him to discuss my paper and he not only gave me several valuable recommendations, but also was genuinely interested in how my experience in Australia was going and how I was doing). Definitely a great guy.
-Much to the delight of my goofball older brother Michael, I have decided to allow my curly mane of hair to be untamed and uncut while adventuring down under. Time will tell if my new ‘do can match the afro of old, one can only hope! I’ve also attempted to cultivate some form of facial hair to complete the ongoing hippy look, but thus far have only managed to scrounge up a few grungy patches of white/blonde hairs… not sure how much longer I’ll be keeping up the whole no shave thing!
-The nearby market sells lamb brains. To eat. Icky.
-Footy has continued to be something that we look forward to every Wednesday and Friday night. Not only is it a great way to unleash some competitive energy, meet and mingle with the other study abroad students from the different residence halls, and learn and participate in a fantastic part of Australian history, but our coach Tony has established a ritual of post-practice hydration sessions on Friday nights immediately following our footy session. These gatherings promote team bonding, plus it’s always his “shout” (meaning that he buys all the beer. Awesome.)! No better way to rehydrate after running your butt off than guzzling a few free barley pops!
-Another unfortunate but rather comical recurring theme of Footy practices are bizarre injuries suffered by yours truly. I seem to be taking after my basketball playing father in that weekly injuries are now viewed not as unusual but are to be expected (sorry to call you out pops!). My thumb is on the mend but now I have another battered and bruised body part to restore. During a drill today, I collided heads with a fellow teammate. Unfortunately he caught my eye rather than a more durable area, and I immediately had some swelling. I didn’t think too much of it as it wasn’t particularly painful and it didn’t affect my play, but when I began struggling to see out of my eye and started receiving looks of horror from passerby on the walk home I figured it might be worth looking into. I took some lovely, flattering pictures so you can all see how handsome I am.
Later that night, after my eye had continued to swell and began looking like a sweet tie-dye shirt, I went to have a chinwag with my resident supervisor who is studying medicine and attempting to become a doctor. He had a long look at my shiner and told me to wait until morning to see how the eye reacted to more time and make a plan of action then. Welp, sure enough, I woke up the next morning with the eye swollen shut so I decided to make a little trip to the hospital (even though I have a long history of despising hospitals and avoiding them at all costs). When I first arrived, it took approximately a billion hours before they even took me in, and they spent large portions of that time asking me hundreds of questions, some of which seemed to be the first random thing that popped into their heads (i.e. do you have a religion?). It was at this point that I looked around the empty emergency room and thanked God that I did not have a gaping and gushing flesh wound or any excruciatingly painful injury, as I do not think I would have had much patience sitting and waiting for such an infuriatingly extended period of time undergoing such an arbitrary inquisition. After the wait, I was led into a room to wait a little longer to see the doctor. The doctor arrived and asked me another series of questions and conducted a thorough examination on my eye. After what seemed like an eternity, she put on a puzzled/concerned face and informed me that she was going to have to go consult with her superior, the head honcho of the optometrist department. Several minutes later, “Captain Eyeball” walked in with several other doctors who all crowded into our tiny room. At this point my heart began racing a little bit and worst case scenarios started racing through my head… The new doctors began poking and prodding (not so much fun as you can imagine), and conversed in hushed tones about my eyeball as though it were an inanimate object. They then instructed me to take a seat while they applied some local anaesthetic, which also did not feel like a bundle of roses when applied to my pried open eye (which put up an impressive, swollen fight and resisted most attempts to be forced open). After looking for anything further, they decided that more tests were necessary, so they trickled a few drops of this orange substance that dyed my entire eye orange. It was like someone had magically conjured some yellow sunglasses and placed them on my face, because soon as the drops began to take effect my entire field of vision on the right side of my face looked like a crazy LSD trip. (Random NASTY fun fact: later in the day I blew my nose and the entire tissue was stained orange. Gross!) Anyhoo, after some more tense minutes of careful inspection and muted conversations with vocabulary that sounded suspiciously like a foreign language, they told me to return to the hospital in a fortnight (two weeks), said that if anything drastic happened before then to come in immediately, and gave me several prescriptions for drugs to take to help minimize any side-effects of having only one usable eye (dizziness, nausea, headache, inflammation, pain, etc…). Morals of the story: 1) my eye will most likely be fine, although until it heals I will look like a gangster thug who gets in crazy street fights 2) the hospital SUCKS!
One positive that emerged from my prolonged visit to the ER was that I got the chance to walk back home by myself at a leisurely pace and explore parts of Fremantle that I hadn’t really inspected thus far. I stopped at the markets as well as other quaint little shops around Freo and thoroughly enjoyed seeing more of this wonderful place.
Lastly, last night we received V.I.P. entrance to a massive club “Metro Freo” to celebrate multiple birthdays within the P and O hotel, and wild, extravagant shenanigans were had by all during the festivities.
Sorry to belabor and overstress my rather unfortunate trip to the hospital, but rest assured (mom) all is well and life down under continues to be full of fun and frolic!!!
Much love to all the Zags starting up school soon, keep Spocompton classy
Friday, August 20, 2010
My sincerest apologies for the lack of updates about my life recently, I’ll try my best to make up for it with a mondo post this time. Australian life is wonderful, busy, magical, and full of excitement and new experiences!
Yesterday, Cassie and Sam (two study abroad girls) and I traveled to Perth to participate in a mixed basketball tournament with 5 other Universities from the Western coast of Australia. We spent the hour drive (which was a crazy experience by itself! The whole trip I was squeezing the armrest with white knuckles because I kept constantly thinking we were speeding towards a head on collision; I still haven’t gotten used to the whole left side of the road thing. I actually climbed into shotgun and was shocked when the steering wheel was located on the opposite side. Bizarre.) talking to a couple of Australians about all kinds of differences in culture between down under and the states. Anyhoo, the tournament itself was a blast; it felt fantastic to finally run full court 5 on 5 again and fill a serious basketball void in my life since I have left America. We played 5 games, with a variety of results: several close games, one game where we massacred the opposition, and one where we were tied at half time but ended up losing by 15. At the days end, we finished third in the standings, which I thought was pretty impressive. One of the things that everyone on our team found strange and ridiculous was one of the rules implemented during the tournament, which I will try my best to explain (but I will probably fail miserably because the rule is so inexcusably absurd). They divide the court into two halves, one half that has regular rules that are logical and make sense, and one half where only female players can enter the key. While this may sound acceptable on paper, it makes absolutely no sense during game play and completely disrupts the flow and integrity of the sport. What this rule means is that on one side of the court, guys cannot set foot inside the key (also referred to as the “paint,” the large colored area inside the three point line). If one of the male players accidently sets a toe inside the paint, a penalty is called and the other team receives the ball automatically. For instance, if a female player on the other team is on a fast break and I’m on defense, I can’t run into the paint to defend her; instead, she can run into the key unopposed and shoot a wide-open lay-up. Complete and utter bullshit. It basically meant that on one half of the court, the male players helplessly stood around the three point line while the girls battled it out down low. Even the girls on our team hated the rule because it made it so that on one half of the court guy players couldn’t rebound either, which really hurt us because all our girl players, although quite talented (Cassie actually plays for her school back home), all are around 5 foot 4 and point guards, not post players. I apologize to those who do not give a flying flip about basketball and did not understand this paragraph, but to all those who do hopefully you can realize what a silly and illogical rule this is. Other than this incomprehensibly stupid rule, the tournament was so so so much fun and it was great meeting and playing with local Australians (who were all very nice, competitive, and welcoming)! Truly a great experience! My thumb survived the tourney (albeit with quite a bit of athletic tape for support) and is making a solid recovery.
Last weekend, all of the American study abroad students were treated to a truly unbelievable spectacle: our first professional Aussie Rules Footy game! We watched the local heroes the Fremantle Dockers take on the villainous and hated Sydney Swans. In addition to a spectacular display of athleticism and skill in this sport, we were also treated to many rowdy local fans who had no problem drunkenly (at 1 P.M. I might add) cursing the Swans and yelling obscenities with thick Aussie accents. Although the intense game came down to the final seconds, it ended in defeat for the poor Dockers. It was a wildy entertaining day and the game was a great introduction to the sport and gave all of us Yankaroos a chance to better learn the rules and intricate strategies of this complex, strategic, and fun game.
Earlier this week we were able to put our new footy knowledge to the test in our first giant game/scrimmage. Our Resident Supervisor Nick plays for the med school footy team and they needed some extra guys to play so the “Yankaroos” decided to show up and give it a go. Thankfully, we were spared from a vicious and humiliating slaughter of a game because we were integrated into the med school team rather than it simply being our team of wide-eyed American Yankaroos vs. their bulky squad of athletes. However, the Americans certainly did stand out and there were several embarrassing moments for all involved (forgetting the rules, falling/slipping due to lack of cleats…whoops, and simply being wildly out of our league in terms of skill level). Nevertheless, the med team was very complimentary of our effort and play and I would say that for a first attempt it went extremely well. I spent the first half playing defense, which was fun but not as action packed as some of the positions in the midfield. At half-time, I switched positions with a very important player, the Ruck. Every time a team scores, the refs bring the footy back to the center of the oval and have a version of a jump ball, where they toss the ball high into the air and the two Rucks sprint, jump, and collide as they try to tip the footy to their teammates. The Ruck is very similar to the center in basketball, however these jump balls occur dozens of times throughout the game due to the amount of scoring that occurs, making the Ruck an integral part of the team (the advantage that comes from gaining dozens of extra possessions per game on these jump balls is HUGE). I was able to utilize my height and jumping ability to win many of these jump balls and I thoroughly enjoyed playing in the midfield and being more involved in the game (even though it meant getting hit more often and taking more of a beating!). Several of my Australian teammates were very complimentary of my skills as a Ruck; I think I may have found my go to position! In addition to this game and kick-arounds that occur on Mondays, the Yankaroos have started practices on Wednesday and Friday nights and I feel like in addition to having fun playing, we are all improving and are starting to learn the fundamentals of how to play properly.
Other fun tidbits of information from the past couple weeks:
-Inter-hall shield competitions are as fun and exciting as ever! This week we were introduced to continuous cricket and took second place in an intense battle. Last week, I participated in the Chubby Bunny contest. For those who don’t know what the heck “Chubby Bunny” is, allow me to explain. This game involves a tremendous amount of strategy, mental focus, intimidation, coordination, and overall skill. It involves shoving as many marshmallows as you can into your mouth without choking, chewing, swallowing, or vomiting. However, after every ‘mallow you cram into your mouth, you have to yell the words Chubby Bunny! Using a combination of stamina, tremendous talent, and some massive chops, I was able to win the combination with some disgusting amount of marshmallows (I think somewhere between 15-19, at some point I lost track) stuffed and packed into my gaping mouth. Needless to say, this moment will forever be imprinted in my memory and the glory I felt will burn eternally (for those who have any doubt, yes I am employing the infamous Jansa sarcasm).
-Classes are going well, but essays are beginning to have looming due dates and the stress levels amongst the study abroad students has begun rising at alarming levels. Fortunately, I have been able to maintain my true nature of procrastination and my “no worries” attitude, and have thus avoided too much stress.
-A group of P and O-ers, including myself, have all successfully booked a trip to Thailand for our mid-semester break! I could not be more excited!!!
I hope all is well back in the states, I know many friends are taking off for their own study abroad adventures to Italy, Argentina, Etc… and I wish you all the best of luck on your travels! Stay in touch! Others are preparing to go back to Spocandyland for some Gonzaga fun and frolic and I will be there in spirit for the shinanegans that will surely abound. Until next time, cheers!!!
p.s. just a heads up but my email has changed from firstname.lastname@example.org to email@example.com
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Hello all! Here are some updates on my life and fun events that have taken place in the past week:
-Fremantle Prison Tour- We got a guided tour around the supposedly super haunted prison in Freo, with several scares and surprises along the way from the rather odd and frightening prison staff.
-Perth zoo- I took the train to Perth to explore the city and check out the famous zoo. It was a great day full of incredible animals: alligators, rhinos, elephants, giraffes, giant snapping turtles, and many, many more!
-Community Dinner- Team Awesome (aka myself and 3 of my fellow residents) were put in charge of buying and preparing this weeks community dinner to feed all of the P and O hotel (37 people). We decided to make a mouth-watering Brinner (breakfast for dinner) and it was a blast as well as a huge success! We had popcorn as an appetizer (nutella corn, caramel corn, kettle corn, and regular popcorn), and our main course included scrambled eggs, hashed browns, french toast, and Francakes with all the fixins (nutella, peanut butter, jam, yogurt, and syrup yuuuuum). I could never come close to matching my mother’s knack for creating hand-crafted culinary masterpieces but the Francakes received several votes as “THE BEST PANCAKES EVER!!!!!!!!” Needless to say, some P and O-ers were flabbergasted when I informed them of the mountain of cottage cheese they had unknowingly consumed in the delicious treats. For dessert we had a scrumptious fruit salad and some melt-in-your-mouth cinnamon rolls. For 150 bucks, that’s not too shabby if I do say so myself!!!
-Our first inter-house competition sport competition- basketball. Every Thursday night the three residence halls engage in vicious competitions to fight for Notre Dame study abroad supremacy. It’s actually somewhat similar to the house cup in Harry Potter in that one can earn points in other ways (such as team spirit and sportsmanship) except that there are way more sports than just crappy Quidditch. We all dressed in black and put on ninja war paint to intimidate our inferior opponents. Fun times!
Several other important things to note:
-I am now officially an old geezer. 21 years of age. Ugh. I’m counting down the days until my hip replacement. The celebrations and festivities were rambunctious, wild, and crazy and my friends/housemates treated me to more drinks/concoctions than I would care to mention but I survived slash rallied to make it to my 8:30 AM class the next day, albeit with a thunderous hangover and a pounding headache.
-I bought a guitar! WOOOOOHOOOO. It’s a 200 dollar Cort that is very basic but sounds great and plays like a dream. Next on the to-do list: buy a didgeridoo!
-Being too stubborn to go to the doctors and check it I am unsure of the extent of the damage, but I may have broken my thumb playing Aussie Rules Footy. Whoops. Here’s the scenario: The awkwardly shaped ball is dribbling down the field towards the middle two posts (which is 6 points). I sprint towards the end line and extend my hand to stop it from rolling over the line and scoring. At the same time one of the players on the opposite team also scrambles to kick it in before I can stop it. In a freak twist of fate his powerful kick just misses the footy and instead directly jams into my thumb. OUCH.
-Classes are fun, interesting, and not impossible (it helps that I have no class on Mondays and Wednesdays BOOYA). I am enrolled in World Literatures (interesting but with tons of reading), Math for babies (seriously. We are covering adding fractions, order of operations, and exponents. It is truly insultingly easy), Epistemology (3 straight hours of philosophical shinanigans/mumbo jumbo but it is made bearable by an incredibly smart and funny professor who has already made references to Flight of the Conchords and Tenacious D in his lectures), Scripture and Morality (3 hours of torture. The class consists of myself, two other Americans from the P & O, and approximately twenty-five “students” who are all over 50 years old and all studying to obtain a masters degree in Religious Studies. I’m talking about Priests, Monks, and Nuns taking a religion class with me. Wow.), and Australian History and Society (great class, great professor, incredibly interesting to learn about the origins of Australia and get an insiders perspectives on Aussie culture).
-I took my first splash into the Indian Ocean; it certainly feels like a hot tub compared to the old Oregon Coast and the Pacific. I can’t wait until it gets warmer outside (although it has been beautiful the ENTIRE time I’ve been here, holding steady at around 60-65 degrees per day) to partake in some more water playing, especially surfing and snorkelling.
That’s all for now, in case you can’t tell I am having the time of my life and loving my set-up in Australia! I would love to hear from any/all of you so here’s my contact info:
Patrick Jansa (on facebook)
19 Mouat Street
P & O Hotel