Monday, August 24, 2015

Shakas and Surfing Mojo

So to sum up the week, it involved a lot of studying, writing, and surfing.

Monday I had my two lectures and Tuesday I had my tutorials for those lectures. My lab for physiology involved fasting for three hours, jelly beans and pricking my fingers. The purpose, to understand the process of blood glucose levels and the types of food you eat. For my science major friends, why would food with a lower GI be better than food with a high GI? Wednesday I worked all day on a paper for my abnormal psychology class.

Thursday, however, I jumped on a bus to go with a group of USC students to Mojo surf camp. The bus was a small van that had the name of the camp plastered all over it. The bus driver quickly remembered who I was because I ran for the bus thinking it was leaving (it was only moving out of the way). Once the group going to the camp got settled into their seats, we all quickly became acquainted with each other before the bus pulled out of campus and onto the road. With only two breaks, we made it to the camp at 9:00pm. The place was located in a forest area with the beach that was within walking distance from the main area. After a quick tour, we all were assigned to a room with 4 beds.

credit goes to Iva Vi
For our first day at Mojo, we had an 8:00 am lesson where we learned how to judge the ocean, pose with our shaka hand signs while screaming “YEEWW,” and how to get up on the board. Though I have been surfing for years, this lesson actually helped me become more consistent with getting up on the board. We started in the white waves in order to learn how to get up and pose for the camera with the shaka sign. For any of you who see my facebook, the Shaka sign is the hand sign I keep making when I pose for pictures. After the morning lesson, a few of us decided to grab our beach wear and walk down to the beach before lunch. This is where we all got to know each other even more and played a social game of beach volley ball. After lunch and viewing our pictures taken that morning, it was time for the afternoon lesson. This lesson was a bit of a review from the first lesson and I got to try a different board. Since I was still working in the white waves, my goal was to at least smile at the camera. Once we did all that, everyone went back to their rooms to change and hang around before eating dinner. After dinner, a group of us went out to grab drinks for the party that was being put on at the camp. There was a bonfire, music, and a lot of table tennis. We even got a glimpse of a cute Australian Opossum going through the garbage. I was so exhausted from the surfing lesson that day that I went to bed pretty early.

Photo credit goes to Iva Vi
The next morning, one of the girls and I woke up at 5:40 am to go down to the beach to watch the sunrise. It really was a beautiful sight to see despite the fact the clouds were blocking the sun. It looked like the image of heaven and it made me feel so happy to be on the other side of the world. After the sun came up, Jillian and I grabbed some breakfast. As we ate, two Kookaburras were eyeing us. We were told that they like to steal bread from people who are not looking. One was daring enough to fly over to our table just to grab the last piece of toast from Jillian. They showed up a lot during our meals and
even stole Erin’s sandwich off her plate. Though those birds were looking to snack on our food, everyone ate breakfast and headed to our 9:30am surf lesson. This time, we were learning about how to turn the board. I was happy to get a short board and a chance to go to the back waves. The amount of waves I was able to catch was amazing in my eyes. Even a few of the other students were able to catch some waves in the back with me. I really is more fun when you surf with a group. By the end of the lesson, I was exhausted and had water up my nose. I guess you can say it was a great time. Before our afternoon activity, some of us decided to lay on the beach since the sun was completely out compared to the day before. It was the first time I really got to lay in the sun since I came to Australia and boy did it feel great. Sadly all that disappeared when dark storm clouds covered the sun and we all had to take cover from the rain and thunder. Though our ocean rafting plans were pushed back, we eventually made it onto the raft. I have done white water rafting before but never ocean rafting. That was a whole new level of adrenalin rush and everyone I can tell enjoyed being knocked over and riding the waves in a raft. After that crazy adrenalin rush, we had dinner and got ready for our last big party. There was dancing, table tennis and limbo which was a great way to end the last full day.

Even though I was still recovering from the party, I woke up to see the sunrise. Sadly it was really cloudy but a bit of the sun peaked out of a small opening in the clouds showing the pink and orange colors of the morning sky. After the sun disappeared behind the clouds, I went straight back to bed before eating breakfast and packing. At 9:30 am we had our last lesson of learning to catch waves in the back. They were a lot harder to catch since it was a bit choppy but a few of us caught some good ones. I had a pounding headache by the end but I enjoyed every second in the water. Eventually we all had to say goodbye to Spot X beach and Mojo Surf camp to head back to Uni. Before heading back to Uni, we stopped in Byron Bay on the way to shop and eat. The town is very vintage looking (better way of saying hippy) and had a lot of backpackers. I will be there next weekend so I get to see a bit more of the town. Finally we made it back to Uni at 8:00 pm and I tried to go to bed but since I slept on the bus, I did not go to bed till 2:00am

This weekend really was amazing and I feel like I have some arm muscle definition and a tan. I met some awesome people while I was there and I hope that I can surf with some of the USC group I met this weekend. Some of them picked up surfing so quickly and really should keep their surfing game on! I love having new surfing buddies. Though this surf camp was a huge review for me, I felt so refreshed and more confident in my abilities to get up on the board. Sometimes you need to go back to the basics in order to build yourself back up again. Now I have some new things to show off in the water aka my shakas and YEEWS!!!! Already feel like an Aussie surfer!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Learning and Planning

The third week of classes is finally under my belt. Not much had happened this week but I will add the most memorable moments that happened this week

Monday in biomechanics we had another professor lecture us and boy did he have some interesting things to say. The best comment I got from that class was “Sir Isaac Newton was an asshole. Why? Because he was very arrogant and he invented calculus.” Yes I did actually write that in my notes.

Tuesday we did our first motion lab where we had to measure jump height and force using two different kinds of jumping techniques. I had never been in a motion lab before and it looked like the ones you see in documentaries on athletes. I will be working more in those labs through out the semester and it will be an interesting experience.

Wednesday I had both of my psychology classes and learned about mood disorders in abnormal psychology and forming impressions of people in social psychology.

Thursday I had one Tutorial and then I jumped on a bus to go deliver a package to a friend of mine back home. I am hoping it makes it there on time for her birthday cause she will be getting some yummy treats J At night I went to boxfit which was fun when I was punching the pads to “I’ll Make a Man Out of You,” until I pulled something in my arm. As of now I am resting my arm and stretching it so I do not have to miss punching the pads.

Friday I had to go to a new tutorial because my Wednesday tutorial was too small. In the class, we were given real cases of people who had some kind of mental issue (their names were not given to us). From those cases, we had to diagnose the patient in order to give them treatment which was very interesting since it was a good insight into how psychologists figure out what is wrong. I will not be going into this field but that doesn’t mean I cannot find it interesting. After my one class, I went with Louise and Tyler to the school’s social soccer practice. Basically a bunch of people sign up to play a few soccer scrimmages. I got to play defense for a bit but then I eventually played goalie just like high school. I ended up doing better in goalie than in defense so I guess I should just stick to that. After making salmon, spinach and gnocchi for dinner, Dorthea came over to talk about our trip to Melbourne and New Zealand. As of now we have not booked anything but we are probably going to do that soon. Since New Zealand is on my bucket list of places to go, I am really excited to make this trip happen for our small holiday.

Saturday I spent part of my day in my room studying for human physiology. Once I felt like I needed a break, I took Padi to Alexandra for a few hours to catch some waves. Unfortunately, the waves were flat and small so I basically caught nothing, unless you count me falling over. Once I made it back to the apartment, I washed up, made dinner, got dressed and went to Louise’s place for a party before going out to my first club in Australia. Yes this was the first time I went to a club since I have been here and it was fun. I ended up leaving a bit early so the night for me ended around 12:30 am.

This week there was not a lot going on until the weekend hit, but one thing I had been ding was talking to my Elon friends through out this passed week. A few are already getting ready to move in and some are leaving this week to drive down to Elon. All I can say is it feels strange knowing I will not be there when everyone starts. I still don’t feel like I am in school though I have been studying and writing papers non stop. To all my Elon friends, please keep me in the loop of your lives and I promise I will bring back TimTams J

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Labs, Tuts, and Birthdays

The second week went by pretty quickly if you ask me. There is a lot of information I have to ingrain in my head, and a lot of new concepts I need to understand.

For starters, I had my first lab in human physiology. The lab itself had so many students than what I am use to. For the first part of our lab, we needed to learn how to use LabTutor (a website for our subject) and use these finger devices in order to measure heart rate. Needless to say I have a healthy heart rate. After, we learned how to use the pipettes, which was easy since I learned this in Cell Biology back at Elon. For our final task, we had to use a glucose index to measure blood glucose levels. Yes I had to prick my finger in order to do this, which was not bad and now I am the volunteer for our next lab which involves fasting for 3 hours then eating jelly beans. For my biology/exercise science friends back home, I will let you guess what that lab will be about!

For my first tutorial in social psychology, we did an icebreaker activity in order to apply the concepts we learned this week. It was interesting talking to some of the people in my tutorial session because I found people who like a lot of the same things I do. It is always great to meet those people in your class. For my tutorial in abnormal psychology, there were only me and two students who showed up so my professor told us to try and find another tutorial session. So much for no Friday classes L. I already have 2 papers coming up in my psychology classes so it is time to get my writing skills to work.

For interesting things that happened during the week, Thursday after class, Dorthea and I went to Alexandria beach to catch some waves. That was the first time in a long time I felt like a professional on the board! The waves were perfect, the barrels were on point, and I caught about ten waves and rode in the barrels. Eventually Dorthea and I went back to Uni and I decided to go to Johanna’s place for a party. Once midnight hit, I had finally turned 21 in Australia!

Friday I took Dorthea to the sunshine plaza to get my nose pierced (don’t worry its really tiny) and a blue extension in my hair. My reason for that: because I wanted to do something different for turning 21. It is not like drinking alcohol means anything in Australia since the legal drinking age is 18. Also I had always wanted to get a nose piercing and since I was to afraid to actually dye my hair blue, I thought I would do something temporary instead by getting an extension. Needless to say, I love this look! After the Plaza, I went back to my room to clean up and start making some food and sangria for my guests. I made homemade bruschetta and this really interesting cob loaf dip. Basically you get a cob loaf and cut off the top, take out the bread inside, then mix together bacon, cheese, cream and cream cheese before putting it in the cob loaf and cooking it in the oven for 30 minutes. Anyone wants something easy to make for guests, I highly suggest the cob loaf dip! Daniel came over to set up the speakers then the guests started to arrive! It was so great to celebrate this birthday with a small group for friends. This was the first time spending my birthday without the family but I was able to speak with them that morning. Though I was not with family, I had an amazing time with my USC friends! I got some chocolate, a crown and birthday pin, an Australian flag, some chocolate protein powder, a clutch, and some sweet birthday cards! We finished the night with a fun birthday game, and then everyone cleared out.

When I woke up it was 12 in the afternoon which is a first since I haven’t slept that long since I arrived here. Funny enough it was also Tyler’s 20th birthday! It was a big birthday weekend for our
group. So instead of a big party, we all met at Augello’s in Maloolaba to celebrate. Right after we sang happy birthday and ate all of our delicious Italian food, we headed to O’Malley’s, an Irish Pub, to listen to some live music. Sadly by the time they started to set up the live music, everyone was so tired and wanted to catch the last bus to Uni. Either way, the night was a lot of fun as long as you get to hang with friends.

Week three is here and now our assignments and quizzes are starting to come in. Bring it on!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

First week of junior year down under!

I finally started my first week of University in Australia, which is strange since for me, Elon does not start until August. My brain is already having a difficult time adjusting, but it will work out eventually. No matter where you go to school, starting your first semester after a long break is difficult.

The system here in Australia is a bit different from back in the USA so I will explain a bit of how it works at the University. I am taking four classes. Each class has a 2 hour lecture and depending if I have a lab, a 1 hour or 2 hour tutorial. These are scheduled through out the week so I have 8 “classes” in total. In the University, you schedule your tutorials and lectures at different times. With that being said, this is how my first week of classes went.

My first day of class was Monday and I had two lecture classes. One was Biomechanics and the other was Human Physiology. These classes I am taking for my major and so far I love Biomechanics probably because it brings me back to those fun times in high school geometry and trig (the lovely SOHCAHTOA days). That lecture was smaller than my human physiology lecture but both are held in these large lecture halls that I am not use to. Both subjects were 2-hour lectures and strangely enough they went by quickly. We get a break in between the hours so we can all collect our thoughts before diving right back into more material. After my last lecture, I went back to my room to make chicken rollups before I went to Zumba. I have been trying to get back into a work out routine so taking classes at night has become something that motivates me.

Tuesday I had my tutorials for the two lectures on Monday which are smaller classes and more interactive than just listening to someone talk for 2 hours. Through my large time gap between the tutorials, I started my studying to keep up with my human physiology class. My tutorial for Biomechanics was working with Excel, while the other half of the class worked with the problems in the workbook. At the end of the day I went to Boxfit, which was interesting considering I have never in my life used boxing gloves or pads. It was a good work out either way.

Wednesday was abnormal and social psychology, which I need for my minor. Abnormal psychology is an interesting class as well as the professor teaching it. It was a smaller lecture size but very interesting to sit through. I even ended up contacting a friend back home and had a long conversation with them about the phrase “mental illness.” For social psychology, it was the smallest lecture class I had, but I preferred that since the class was more interactive. The professor was very friendly and even sent me an email welcoming me to the class as an international student prior to the lecture. Since my tutorials for my psychology classes do not start until week 2, I had no tutorial for Abnormal Psychology right after my lecture. Instead I went to Zumba before heading back to my room for dinner then bed

Thursday I normally have my social psychology tutorial but because the tutorials do not start until week 2, I had a whole day off. I first did a small bit of studying before I decided to jump on a bus to Alexandria Headlines to buy a second hand surfboard. The board I got is a 6’4 board which is
different than what I am use to. It is never to late to give the short board a go! I even named it. Her name is Padi (Lina picked the name). After I took Padi back to the apartment, I did a bit more work before I got to speak with my Greek brother Fil on skype. The video session was a bit short when the internet decided not to work. I then went to my Boxfit class before heading back to the room. I ended up stopping by Louise’s place when I heard some music coming from the apartment. The rest of the night a few of just hung out on the porch laughed at Tyler trying to read sweetish and enjoyed each other’s company. It was a great way to end my free day.

Friday was another free day for me so I started with going to the store to buy some eggs and explore one of the other shopping centers near by. Once I returned to my room, I did a little bit more studying before deciding to take Padi to Alexandria for a quick test run before the group went to Noosa beach the next day. I forgot how hard it was to surf on a shorter board. Not only is catching a wave harder, but also trying to get up was difficult because the board is a tad bit shaky when you try to jump up. Tyler and Alyssa joined me a little later when I was about to call it a day. On our way back, we decided to do a little BBQ right outside the apartments for dinner so Daniel and Tyler cooked some burgers for us and I made a large bowl of pasta. Needless to say I slept well after that large meal!

Next morning was an early wake up because a group of us decided to take an hour and a half drive to
Noosa. A bunch went in cars and Cara, Dorthea, Johanna, Sofia and I ended up taking the long bus ride there. After a bus ride and a 20 minute walk from the main beach, we made it to Tea Tree Bay which was a small beach right off the path through the Noosa nature reserve. Once we found the others, I put all my stuff down, put my wetsuit on, grabbed Padi and jumped in the water to try and meet with Daniel and Tyler who were surfing near the rocks. It turned out that the waves were specifically for long boards so Daniel was nice enough to let me and Tyler try his board, as well as Dorthea when she wanted to give it a go. All day on the beach we laid in the sun, buried Alyssa in the sand, threw the rugby ball around, chased away these turkeys and surfed. Once we had enough, Dorthea took a few of us to her relatives’ place right near sunrise beach in Noosa. We all had coffee, donuts, little nibbles and strawberries as we all talked about the beauty of this country (minus the sharks and spiders). They were very nice to offer their hospitality to us and it was so nice to meet some people who are familiar with the area. After, our little group walked to the bus stop to catch the next bus back to USC. It was not a full weekend without one little party so we had one last party of the weekend before heading off to bed.

Photo credit goes to Alyssa and Christine
It feels great to finally get into a routine. It is great to have free time but it is even better when you have a bit of structure. Though I have started school earlier than most of my friends, I will be getting out a lot earlier so there is that J I will try to talk about interesting things that will happen in my classes every week so I don’t repeat the same thing. This coming week of classes will be a full week since I will have my psychology tutorials. Side note you will be hearing some of the same names in these blogs (you know who you guys are), since these are the awesome people I have been spending time with. It still hasn’t hit me that I am across the world but I will let you know when that happens. Have a great week everyone!