Travel & Culture

The dorm Internet is crap, so here’s everything that’s happened at once.

If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m not a really fluid storyteller. I bounce around a lot because even when I’m talking, I’m thinking about what story I want to tell next and then sometimes I get mixed up and chaos happens. Sometimes I’ll stop one story to start another story, but then I want to go back and finish the first story in the middle of the second story. But I’ll try to keep it together this time.

Sound Bite on Dorm Life & Kitchen Woes

Try to imagine this building: Seven-story white building with a rooftop (which I haven’t been to yet). That is, seven stories above floor 0.

Australia to America Dictionary

  • Ground level = 0 in Australia = 1 in America
  • Basement in America = -1 in Australia

There’s also a floor -2, but who knows what’s there. It might be the place where bad little children wander to and get stuck there. Not funny? Just me? Now I’m laughing because you’re not laughing. There are two doors to pass through before you even enter the building. Walk past the security guard, and there are two elevators, each with their own button, which is annoying because now everybody presses both buttons while waiting so sometimes the door opens and nobody is waiting. (One thing Australia can learn from America: better elevator buttons.)

Each suite has one-and-a-half bathroom. What is a one-and-a-half bathroom? The half bathroom is a toilet-and-sink contraption. To flush, you press the button which also spits out water for you to wash your hands. The water is so strong that when you wash your hands, it sprays all over you and it looks like you peed all over yourself.

The Internet is horrible here. Abhorrent. Ghastly. Horrendous. Dreadful. Horrid. Get the point? I’ll be online for five minutes, and then I’ll be logged out suddenly. Worst part is that I can’t get back on the Internet without restarting my computer. If the Internet were a man, I would have been rejected at least 200 times in the last 7 days. It hurts. It really does. That’s why I’m updating in my downtime at work because this is what I look like when I’m dealing with the Internet at home…

I’ve taken on the role as main cook. Even though I hate the kitchen (seriously, who can cook in this tiny dinky little thing?!), I try my best. Thank goodness my roommates are either kind or not too picky, but they eat everything I’ve been cooking. I accidentally burnt the bottom of a pan when I tried cooking rice on the stove. It was my first time and probably the last as well. The horrors… the trauma… I miss my rice cooker.

We’ve been eating really healthy; I don’t think my family would ever believe them how healthy I’ve been eating. A little background story: I was a very picky eater when I was young. There was a long list of things I hated, and everything had a reasoning. I hated vegetables because it was the cool thing; red, green, and yellow peppers because they looked plastic; greens because they were green. Out of the green things, I hated salads the most because they weren’t cooked and I was worried about bacteria, then I hated cooked greens because they were still green. I was The Child with A Million Excuses. (If I ever have Asian-goddess status, that would be my name.) I ate my first actual bowl of salad when I went to college because they didn’t have cooked greens (or delicious cooked greens). My parents and sister didn’t believe me at first until I had my friend take a video of me eating the salad. And now I’m eating salad every single day.Look who’s growing up!

Interning at The Iconic

The Iconic is an Australian online fashion house that started October 2011. Its equivalent would be Zappos, except that Zappos is older and American. Four of the SMG kids that are studying abroad in Sydney intern here– me, Jimmy, Sheena, and Yae Jin. The office is so diverse, I absolutely love it. English, French, Australian, Swedish… the list goes on. The people at office are fashionable as well, it makes me feel like Plain Jane from Southern California.

The projects that I’ve been working on so far haven’t allowed me to talk as much as I like, and you guys either know or realize by now that I love to talk. During the first week I was here, the project I was working on three days and I could feel myself retreating slowly into depression. When I finished that project, I wanted to run around the office and jump from table to table and say, “Hi! I know I’m only an intern and don’t do as much as you, but I am free of that project! So what are you working on?”

What does help me keep my sanity is music. What nobody at the office knows is that I’m usually singing and dancing my head. Most of the time it’s Loca by Shakira. Makes me sound crazy, doesn’t it? I promise I’m not.

Did I mention there’s free beer and chips on Friday?

Thursday, January 16, 2014 – The Ivy

Since the other students from the Sydney study abroad program arrived on Wednesday (the SMG kids are the only ones that arrived early), some of us decided to hit up The Ivy. It’s a fancy pool club with a rooftop pool and no cover charge on Thursdays, so all the girls put on their pretty dresses and high heels and had a night out. I’m not a huge high heels girl, mainly because the height scares me. I’m suddenly breathing all this fresh air that I haven’t experienced before and it’s too must for little me.

It was pretty nice. I felt dorky in my glasses and a pretty dress, but I had a good time anyways. After several hours of dancing, I was tired of being in my heels, so I sat down next to the water shower because it was where I could still see the people in my group. Plus, there was filming at that time, so they squished the rest of us together. I lock eyes with this guy, who looks at the water shower and then back at me. I give him the hell-no-don’t-you-turn-it-on look, but apparently I wasn’t benchy enough because he turned it on. Water all over me. At that point I was too exhausted to get my excuse-me-bro attitude, so I just went home. But if that man ever reads this… bro, that wasn’t cool. You owe me a drink.

Friday, January 17, 2014 – Harbour Cruise

I didn’t know the cruise was going to be three hours. If I knew it was going to last that long, I might not have went because being stuck on a rocking boat for three hours is not my idea of fun. We passed by the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House, then I just ducked for cover because it was so darn windy and I didn’t want to get any darker than I already was. Did I mention that I’ve gotten three shades darker in 10 days? The Australian sun is sure impressive.

Saturday, January 18, 2014 – Drop Bear Cup (Scavenger Hunt) & Life of Pi

Drop Bear Cup took a good 7 hours to finish, but we finished it! I don’t have any of the pictures because Claire took them, but I will post some on the blog as soon as I get my hands on them. We started from our dorm and just went all Sydney – left, right, up, down. We had to eat Australian things (Vegemite [pictured left], Turkish gozleme, lamington, meat pie, and some other stuff), ask locals trivia about Australia, take photos at certain destinations, and do challenges in order to earn the most points. Some things I learned during this long trek across Sydney:

  • What is a drop bear? If you ask an Australian, they will tell you that is a carnivorous koala that live in treetops and drop dung to scare their prey. The Australians tell this to outsiders to (1) frighten foreigners, and (2) amuse themselves. When the Australian was telling about us, I thought, “Oh wow, I hope I don’t meet a drop bear.” PSYCHED. The drop bear of other cultures include: jackalope of North America (I didn’t know that!); hoop snake of US, Canada, Australia; and wild haggis of Scottish Highlands. Man, people are mean.
  • Wedges [pictured right], no matter which country, are delicious. The extra oomph that makes Australian wedges stand out is their sour cream and sweet chili sauce. Yum.
  • I tried Vegemite. It wasn’t as bad as people said it was, but it won’t be one of the things I’ll be craving while I’m in Australia. Vegemite is really salty, so Australians put a very thin layer of it on bread. I just think it takes too long to get rid of one bottle of Vegemite. Does that mean it doesn’t go bad?
    Aussies have weird slang. Here are a couple:

At night, Sheena, Kyle, and I walked to Darling Harbour to watch the fireworks that go off on Saturday nights. While walking there we passed by a free outdoor movie showing of Life of Pi, so we sat down and watched. There were fireworks going off in the background, so it was like we had both movie and fireworks. It was a wonderful spontaneous night.

Sunday, January 19, 2014 – Sydney Festival & exploring Sydney

Janus, Sheena and I had one mission for the day: explore Sydney. All we knew was that we had to hit Darling Harbour and Hyde Park, but none of us had an exact map of how to get there and back. We first wandered our way into Market City, which reminded us of Southeast Asia because of the bad quality clothing and stalls crammed next to one another and all the funky things you probably wouldn’t find anywhere else.

Then we went down some street and stumbled upon Emperor’s Cream Puffs. They were tiny, but delicious. That’s another thing I’ve realize about Sydney… it’s more expensive than California, holy jeezus!

Then we found our way to Darling Harbour, where they had an installation called the Merchants Store. It looks like an ordinary store, except that it’s on the ground and has a perfectly positioned mirror so it looks as though people can climb the walls or fall out the windows. Sheena has those pictures, so I’ll update later with those.

We then made our way to Hyde Park after lunch. Sydney blows my mind away because there are these gorgeous buildings in public spaces right in the city. You can’t say that about Boston. Sure, there are cemeteries… and…? No, you can’t say the same about Boston.

At Hyde Park, we went to Sacrilege, which was an inflatable Stonehedge that people can jump on for 10 minutes. It was hard work to stay active on it for 10 minutes. We all broke out in sweat after 3 minutes.

Afterwards, we checked out the Village Festival briefly, mainly because Sheena forgot her ID card. Janus and I bought two things from Gelato Messina. On the right is the Yeeeah Dawg, which is a milk chocolate gelato hot dog in a warm bun with passionfruit “mustard” and raspberry “ketchup”. The left is called the Messinaweiner, which is a baton of maple syrup gelato coated in pancake batter, and deep fried. Only awesome people can think of these things, but it was a little crazy for my mouth.

Afterwards, we checked out the Village Festival briefly, mainly because Sheena forgot her ID card. Janus and I bought two things from Gelato Messina. On the right is the Yeeeah Dawg, which is a milk chocolate gelato hot dog in a warm bun with passionfruit “mustard” and raspberry “ketchup”. The left is called the Messinaweiner, which is a baton of maple syrup gelato coated in pancake batter, and deep fried. Only awesome people can think of these things, but it was a little crazy for my mouth.

Afterwards, we went to Din Tai Fung. I was disappointed. If you want to go to Din Tai Fung, go to the one in Arcadia, California (which happens to be where I am from, so you know it’s good). Why? This one is in the Westfield mall, and there are no waiters or waitresses. The portions are tiny… it’s not what Din Tai Fung is supposed to be like. It’s supposed to be loud and bustling. If anybody ever goes to Arcadia for Din Tai Fung, be sure to hit me up! (:

For now, I’m still on the hunt for good Asian food.

Random Things & Thoughts of the Day

  • I created a “Juliets Unite!” playlist on Spotify.
  • Ever since arriving to Sydney, I’ve been shooting emails to my parents more than ever. Sometimes it’s, “MOM THE INTERNET SUCKS SO BAD. Here are my expenses for the week,” or “DAD HI.” It’s interesting to think that I communicate more with them the farther I am from home.

Till next time,

Photos by Juliet, Kaitie & Janus

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