Friday, September 25, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Today we Today we had an excursion for my Australian Studies class at the Perth Mint. So far it was my favorite excursion for many reasons. One, they had a lot of jewelry there, which actually surprised me a lot but after thinking about it made sense. They do a lot with gold and what is good to do with gold? Make it into jewelry of course! Two, it was the most visual thing we went to that I haven’t ever seen anything similar to before. Three, I learned the most at this excursion than I have anywhere else.
The best thing about the Mint was that we got to see a gold melting!! It was something I will definitely never forget! They had to heat the gold up to 1300 degrees Celsuis, even though it melts at 1064 degrees, because it cools rapidly and they need it in a liquid form for a while to be able to do anything with it. After about 20 seconds of taking the pot of gold (I forget what the pot was made of!) out of the furnace it dropped 100 degrees. After taking it out of the furnace and talking to us about how he has to work quickly, which he definitely wasn’t moving quickly, or the gold will solidfy, he poured it into a holder to make it into a block form. Watching him pout the liquid gold into that holder is something I will hopefully never forget. I’ve heard the term liquid gold before and I always think of it as a thick liquid, something similar to honey but I was very mistaken. This gold was beautiful. That’s really the best word to describe it. It was a very bright yellow, it was actually a neon yellow and it almost hurt my eyes to took at. And it’s definitely not thick; it looked like water jumping around in the holder. If it were clear and not neon yellow it would have been easy to mistake it for water. As soon as I saw him tip to holder back to stop pouring into the block holder, the gold moved around in the holder and the word Water popped into my head. After getting it all into the block form it started to cool and fast. As gold cools it turns from a neon yellow into a vibrant, neon orange and we got to watch this transformation take place within a matter of a minute. It was the coolest thing! I never would have thought it would cool that fast. I mean I serious saw it turn from a watery substance to something that was thrown out of its container onto the table in less than two minutes. Using special gloves he held the block up to us to see. It was a complete solid! No dripping off the sides, it didn’t bend or give at all, it was a complete solid. Using his gloves he then ran it back and forth across the face of the block and fire shot out of the block wherever his finger was. Seriously! And he did it repeatedly and his glove never caught on fire (probably because they were fire proof) but it was spectacular. I don’t know why that happens or how it can possibly happen but it was one of the coolest, unique things I’ve ever seen in my life. He then threw it into a huge tube of water, which by the sounds it was making, made the tube boil and when it pulled it out, the block had transformed into the metallic looking gold you are used to seeing. He also touched it with his bare hands because by this point it was cool enough to touch. Definitely one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen in my life!
Also at the Mint I found out that is you took my weight in gold and went to turn it in for money I would be …. Priceless. Haha sorry I just had to say that because I thought it was funny. I would really be worth approximately $2,690,000! That’s a lot of money.
One of the rooms in the building had an actual gold cube, block (the real name escapes me at the moment) bill maybe?, that you could touch. Well of course it was enclosed and had steel bars around it so no one could steal it but it was still neat to touch. I tried to pick it up because it looked like you could but I couldn’t do it so I thought that my eyes were playing tricks on me and that the steel bars were really holding it down on top. Well after I touched it a man touched it and then picked it up and commented on how heavy it was! I was like What?! It can’t be that heavy it’s just a block, it was a little bit smaller than a water bottle without the top drinking part. So I just thought I was being wimpy and not really trying to first time so I tried again and no I wasn’t being wimpy, it was HEAVY. I’m pretty sure I almost pulled a muscle in my arm but I picked it up for a couple of seconds :) That little block weighed 13 kilos (if I’m not mistaken), was worth $220,000 AUS dollars and was 13 times denser than water. The density had to be why it was so heavy!
At this Mint they have gold that is 99.9% pure gold. The purest gold you can find in the world. You know in the stores when they say something is 24 karat gold, that usually means it’s about 99.5% pure gold. I thought that was an interesting fact. And when you see big chunks of gold together and not just little bits at a time, it really shines. I mean it’s beautiful. It really looked purely gold not rusty gold. I couldn’t do anything but stare.
In their gift shop they had a lot of jewelry. I definitely wasn’t expecting that from a Mint place but there were bundles of it, and it was definitely expensive. Probably some of the most expensive jewelry I’ve ever seen in my life but by far the prettiest. I’ve seriously never seen more exquisite jewelry in my life and even though I haven’t been around that long to see tons of it yet, I think I know when I’m looking at some beautiful stuff. It made all of the other jewelry stores look average; even Tiffany’s didn’t seem as great. They had everything too. Engagement rings, pearls, crystals, opals, you name it. To say the least - I was in heaven.
Ok last thing about the Mint and then I’m promise I’m done talking about it. The Olympic games were in Sydney in 2000, well of course they made some of the medals at this Mint! The bronze medals were made of a combination of things, the silver were obviously all silver, but the gold wasn’t all gold. In order for all the medals they make to be pure gold, they wouldn’t have any gold left basically. So they gave silver medals a gold coat and those were the gold medals. Sounds like the gold medal winners get jipped huh? Oh well they said, had to do it. Haha
Just so this whole post isn’t completely about the Mint I will throw in another Laura story. The other night Laura was explaining to me that her teacher wouldn’t give the students the answers to an assignment they did that day, but she normally does. When I asked why, she explained that the teacher knows they are giving their answers to the students in the classes later in the week. In other words, they got caught cheating. Laura gave me the lecture that their teacher gave them about how it makes her grade look worse because the other students have all the right answers and so their grades are better. She was pretty concerned/confused about why the teacher decided not to give them the right answers anymore.
All I could say was, “Well ya Laura, you don’t want them to have a better grade then you because you gave them the answers. And it’s called cheating. That’s not allowed.”
Her answer, “Ya but in China we do this all the time.”
Laura, “Ya, students give each other answers all the time and the teachers don’t care. It’s common practice in China.”
Me, stunned into silence with my mouth hanging open.
Laura, “We do it all the time. At school when we take tests if you look over at other students paper, it’s ok. The teacher won’t say anything.”
Me, “You can just look off of someone else’s test and you won’t get in trouble?!”
Laura, “Yes, but not the whole test. If you look over maybe just a couple of times not for the whole thing.”
I knew China was different, but damn!
She then explained how big of a pain it was that you had to reference every resource you use in a paper because they apparently don’t do that either. Whenever they write papers and essays or whatnot for class, they never have to reference like we do. So she was very annoyed that she had to reference things here haha. Welcome to the world Laura.
That’s all I got for now. Love you all <3
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Another update! Yay! Currently I am sitting outside on our porch looking at the think, gray clouds that aren’t letting any sun pass through. Despite the gloomy weather though, I’m in a fabulous mood! The weather here changes about as much as you change a baby’s diaper. Yesterday was hot and sunny, then it started to drizzle and then at night it became freezing cold. I went on a run yesterday right before dinner and walking back to my flat I slowed down because something caught my eye. I looked up and there was a rainbow! I looked even closer and there was another one starting to form right next to it. It was so pretty. I started looking at the different colors of the rainbow running them all through my head. I saw red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, and then I stopped because I was sure my eyes were playing with me, but they weren’t. It was a double rainbow. I’ve never seen one before but the colors started over again on the other side. It was as if two rainbows merged to make one massive rainbow. It was b-e-a-utiful! Something I will never forget! The rainbow didn’t last long enough for me to take a picture and show you though, that was the only bad part about the situation.
Wow. I already have so much to say and throughout the day I am always trying to remind myself write that in your blog. And now I can’t remember for the life of me what any of those were! Maybe if I back track I will remember. Ok so yesterday Laura and I were eating dinner together and we started really comparing America to China. It was fun because it was as if all borders were dropped because we were asking whatever questions came to mind. She asked me what boys and I think are pretty on women and I asked her the same of course. Amongst other fashion/appearance gossip we talked a lot about eating/dining habits. In China, when you are dining and you are the guest, you always say you are full, even if you aren’t. She says you lie. It is then the job of the host to trying and “convince” you to eat more. If you say that you are not full and would like more it is considered very rude. She told me, and I confirmed, that in America you don’t usually lie like that and we take what you mean seriously. [Although even if you are full, you will still be persuaded to eat more, (and don’t pretend that isn’t true, Yiayia!)]
Tuesday my Australia Studies class consisted of us talking about everyday Australian Life and watching a movie. While we watch the movie our teacher leaves the room, like she does every time. But what we talked about was really neat. I guess they have an obesity problem here? That’s news to me because everyone I’ve seen (well not everyone) but most of the people I’ve seen are far more fit than the majority of people I see in the States. Every once in a while I will see someone who is particularly very large but I didn’t think it was as often as in the States. I guess though a lot of them are more in the city and we don’t live THAT close to the downtown part of the city. I don’t know it confused and shocked me all together. Some of the stores here though are still very prejudice. They won’t let aboriginals into their stores or they will follow them around the store to make sure they don’t steal anything. We also talking about how Australia is like America about 20 years ago. Which is basically true. I mean there are signs of it. Like the prejudice thing and just the way they are starting to realize important issues that we have lately. I don’t know it just seems that they are starting things like what we have now. I know we had apartment style building long ago but they are just now starting to get those and I didn’t even realize it until it was pointed out to me. It’s strange that they don’t have them here but really they don’t have many, unless I’m just not seeing them. And I think this is only in WA because I’m sure Sydney has them all over the place.
One thing I noticed a lot about the Australian accent, and the Chinese who are tring to learn English, is that they add unnecessary r’s ino words. Much like a southerner would do, where they say something like warsher instead of washer. It really bothers me! I want to correct someone every time I hear it. My teacher even says Aurstralia or Aurstralur instead of Australia. Laura, my flat mate, says idier instead of idea. When you greet someone goodbye too they always say “see you later” or “see you”, never “goodbye” or “bye” or even “see ya”. They are polite and I like it better than bye, because even though you probably won’t ever see that person again in your life, it’s more friendly and less formal. Keeps positivity in the air.
Oh I remember some of what I was going to talk about. My friend Molly just turned 20 this weekend. Sara, Patrick and I made her cupcakes for her birthday and surprised her with them! When then all made fajitas and guacamole together for dinner and it was delicious! Saturday we then went down to Fremantle (Freo for short, the Aussie’s love to shorten things) and walked around all the shops there and ate dinner at a really good, small town feel, Italian restaurant. It was scrumptious and I’m definitely going back to Freo since we didn’t have enough time to look at all of the stores. They all close down at 5 on Saturdays, ridiculous isn’t it? And they don’t open on Sundays. Aussie business hours are so different than back home. It’s like here they have to cram everything into the week so you are forced to do absolutely nothing on the weekends but relax. Very interesting, and relaxing lifestyle I guess you could say.
They also have a lot of cafes here. It’s great :) They have the same the same names for some things but they are different. Like they have a latte and cappuccino but I’ve been told by Molly, that they are slightly different. I don’t know how but I will find out when I get back to America.
Well I can’t remember what else I was going to say. Love you all <3
I remember one of the things I forgot to say! A miracle, seriously. Anyways, I asked Laura why in a lot of Chinese pictures they aren't smiling. She told me that for her it seems rude to show your teeth while you are smiling so she doesn't. She said though that people in China do smile but I don't know how many of them do. She said that they might be smiling with their mouth closed too and so slightly that you might not be able to tell the difference. I believe this because in America we are expected to show teeth, if not at least smile big enough to tell, that we wouldn't notice just a slight smile on someone's face. I also asked her what the peace sign means (but I didn't say the peace sign I showed her what I was talking about with my fingers.) She said it means Victory and she does it because she doesn't know how else to pose in her pictures. She said for all Asian countries it means Victory and it's very common to use in pictures. She was shocked with a told her it was the peace sign. She said "but it doesn't look like a peace sign," which she's right it doesn't. I don't know how that became known as the peace sign but I think it's sensible that it means Victory for them because as she explains it "it looks like a V." I didn't ask because I didn't think about it till later, but it's funny that they use a sign that represents an English word. I'm not sure but I don't think the word for victory starts with the letter V, actually it can't since they use characters, but I wonder if it sounds like it. It's common amongst all of Asia too so even the Japanese use it. Really made me think about how popular the English language is. I mean I knew it was the common language for the word but I didn't think they incorporated it that much into their cultures.
Laura also explained that in China they have professors from America come over to teach classes in English so they can improve their English. I don't know if it was an English speaking class but other exchange students in my program went to other countries and they all have classes in English. I wonder if most countries offer regular classes in English? That would be something interesting to find out because no college that I know of offers any class in another language, except to learn the language of course.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
So these days are really flying by and I really don’t have an explanation as to why. I don’t feel like I do much and yet I thought I updated my blog just a few days ago, not almost a week ago. And last night I realized I am half way through my semester here. Amazing. The time is really flying by because it doesn’t feel like I have almost been here two months. I’m about half way through my trip (approx. 2.5 months left) and it’s so weird to think about! Sometimes honestly I do get pretty homesick. I miss seeing people I know well and am comfortable with. However, I think the time alone is probably good for me. It’s teaching me how to be even more independent and kind of putting things in order for me. So I can’t complain. Not that I would want to.
Well these past few days I really don’t know what has been keeping me so busy. I’m continuing to cook, which is good for me and Laura is continuing to eat her cake. Haha. The other day I was cooking dinner and asked her if she had eaten dinner yet and she simply replied, “Yes I bought a cake at Coles”. I don’t think, and I hope!, she didn’t eat the whole cake for her dinner but I thought it was really funny that that was her main course. She amazes me. She will eat doughnuts and just sweets constantly. And even though I think she might have gained weight, she’s not 500 pounds!
In my Planetary Science class, my teacher distributed back our grades for our first assignment. Well we had to turn in a hard copy for the assignment and then he printed off individual notes with the grade and just set them in the front of the class for you to pick up. I thought it was strange at first and I couldn’t figure out why. Then when he pulled up the excel spreadsheet he keeps of everyone’s grades up on the projector for the whole class (of roughly 75 students) to see, I understood. That would NEVER happen in the US. A teacher would never dare to let anyone else see your grade but you. To put up everyone’s grades up on the projector? That’s amazing. I’m guessing that it’s ok here because I turned to my friend and I said, “I’ve never had a teacher do this before” with shock on my face and she didn’t think it was a big deal. She really just didn’t say anything about it at all. This teacher has been teaching for the past 27 years too so I’m sure he knows what he was doing. I looked around the room too and no one else was looking around to see other student’s reactions like I was. So I knew it had to have be normal. Well the reason he pulled them up was because he couldn’t remember who had gotten good grades and we wanted to call the students out in front of the class. Probably to recognize them and so he knew who his good students were. Yes, I was one of them :) I received a 30/30 and at first I thought it wasn’t something hard to achieve. My friend, who got her grade before me, also got a 30/30. But when he was telling us about the grades, I guess we were 2 of 3 or 4 people to get 30s! He said that if he didn’t see anywhere to take off he didn’t. I did my paper on global warming and I guess he thought it was interesting because that was one of the requirements for the assignment. So that completely made my day on Tuesday. :D
Monday in my International Management class I had my facilitation, which I think went pretty well. My partner and I got a group together and we just had to lead the discussion of the case study that was assigned for that week. Pretty sure we got good marks. My International Management class is truly fascinating though. I now completely understand why I picked this as my major. Because I am absolutely in love with it! I leave this class every time thinking that I could seriously have that class everyday and not get sick of it. I would gladly do the work for it and it wouldn’t bother me at all. I don’t know if it’s because we just learn so many cool things or if it’s because of the people in the class. We do at least about an hour of group discussions and then the rest of the time we usually do something related to another country so it’s interesting. And we do fun stuff, like on Monday some of the students had to do a skit of a business meeting between a Japanese company and an American company. These nationalities do business COMPLETELY different and we had to identify the differences and how to overcome those differences. It was so cool! I definitely picked the right major. And not only it is fun we learn cool things! Like the fact that Coca-Cola has a different website design for every single country it’s in. Which makes complete sense when you think about it because not ever country is going to think the same thing is attractive. For example, the Japanese (I think) think that black is the color of bad luck so there aren’t black borders on their website. They also like a lot of options so there is stuff to look at, read, and click all over the place and is scrollable. Ours you can see the whole thing on one screen and is very simple. Argentina’s was really colorful and had a lot more groovy looking pictures and designs on it. We also learn that some things that are normal for us are insults in other countries. We were shown some advertisements and promotions ads that completely busted because they were utterly offensive to the targeted country. Poor management is what that was. Haha
Well I just finished my paper for my Australian Studies class. It was just a reaction to one of the excursions we went on. Simple. But now I can’t think of what else I was going to say and I think I need to head to bed. I hope everyone is doing wonderfully! Love you all <3
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Wow now I feel awful. Laura came into my room because she wanted to see pictures of my two sisters, since she doesn’t have brothers or sisters she was really excited that I did. Well she saw how many shoes I have and was flabbergasted. I counted and I have 14 pairs of shoes. Even to me this is a surprise because I’m not a big shoe person. Of the 14 I’m pretty sure I’ve bought about 6 here. Well guess how many Laura has?..... 3. Ya. When she said that I felt awful. And to rub it in at the end as she was leaving she points at my pile of shoes and goes “that’s how many I’ve had about my whole life”.
Laura told me all about Chinese holidays. I guess in China they do celebrate Christmas but not like we do. They go shopping and maybe have food but nothing really big. Their big thing is either during the month of January or February, they celebrate the end of the Lunar calendar. And I guess because of this they sometimes end up having to January months, which doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t think she explained that part right but I thought it was interesting. They have about one celebration a month. They celebrate things like “women’s day” where all the women get the day off work. Teachers day, were no one goes to school. Children’s day, which they just have a celebration for I think. Their school semesters are also evenly spaced. Like their summer holiday isn’t longer than their winter one. They are the same amount of time. They don’t get off for Christmas either. They get off for the end of the Lunar Calendar. Most of their population (according to Laura) is non-religious, but those that are, are Buddhist. They also read the same way we do. From left to right. Not right to left or upside down.
Yesterday though my friends and I went to the bar by the shopping center near Erica (where I live) and it was a lot of fun. They had Bogan Bingo night and the two guys that were in charge of the event were HALARIOUS. They made jokes for certain numbers like 55 were two wheelchairs racing. And then they pretended like they were on wheelchairs and started racing. There were a bunch of good lines that they came up with. If you got bingo using the middle square you got a free beer! As long as you were one of the first two to get it that is. Molly got a free beer and we thought it would be a little pint but no, they gave her like a whole pitcher. So the whole table ended up getting a free beer. Then Sara won the air guitar contest and got us another pitcher. It was fun because we played bingo and got a bunch of free beer. At the end the guy came up and talked to us. He was about 40 and verrry nice. He was chatting with us about why he loves Americans (because we will talk Politics unlike people our age here I guess) and how he was just over in Vegas. Oh and if you don’t know what bogan is (because I didn’t), its basically like a redneck.
I really don’t have much else to update. I have to facilitate a group discussion for my International Management class on Monday and I am typing this update instead of preparing for that. But that’s ok because I work better under pressure. I will probably do it tomorrow. Even though it might not sound like I’m doing good in my classes, no worries, I definitely am! ;)
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
My apologizes for not updating sooner. I didn’t feel like it in Sydney and then I had a paper to do, since I didn’t do it in Sydney, and I’ve finally gotten around to it.
Where do I even start with Sydney. I regret now not updating about it ever couple of days because I so much happening and I discovered so much that I’m probably going to leave out a lot and forget to mention a lot because I don’t think anyone is going to want to read a book about it. Lol
Well I will start off by saying that Sydney was simply amazing. Not only because I had my parents there with me, but because it was so cool to actually be there and experience everything that I’ve always wanted to. I’ve been seeing the Sydney Harbor and the Opera house for years, always wanting to see them for myself and I finally got to! We even went to go see some comedians, The Umbilical Brothers, at the Opera house and I think that about made my year. We took a tour of the opera house too, which was really neat. We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the inside of the stages and the performance rooms and such because of copyright laws. But I got some great pictures of the outside and the hallways haha.
There were so many shops there with high heels EVERYWHERE. I’m not kidding. I’ve never seen so many stores sell so many different high heels in my life. I guess I can’t compare to like New York because I don’t remember if they had that many there, but it literally blew me out of the water. It makes sense too because it’s mostly warm there throughout the year. They’re so lucky. The weather there was about the same as it is here in Perth. (Their winter isn’t really a winter at all.) Luckily, it only lightly rained a couple of days and even though some of the days were a little chilly, for the most part it was nice outside. The shopping was great because there were so many shops. And all of their stores seemed really nice. Not run down and one mall-ish area even looked Victorian looking and was beautiful!
We stayed in the business district and everyone there wore black. Black on black on black. With a little white of course. It was really funny. But according to my friend Molly, that’s exactly how DC is. It didn’t surprise me so much but it really surprised my parents how much black they wore. I really honestly liked the black though. And of course the other people there not working or just being tourists like us were very colorful.
We came to find out too that Sydney is one of the most expensive places in the world to live. No joke. Everything there was about 3 times the price of what it should be. For the three of us we couldn’t find a meal for under $95 when we would sit down at a restaurant. On the up side, we did discover a really great beer though. It’s called Pure Blonde and it’s excellent. It’s low carb too but you can’t tell. We didn’t even realize it until we read the bottle. I liked it, both of my parents did (Dad even wants to see if he can get it at the restaurant), and everywhere we went there was always heaps of tables drinking it. Needless to say, it’s a good beer and it’s Aussie made. ;)
I went to a Casino for the first time ever, and found that I love it! Haha I had beginners luck and won $150 the first night I was there. The other two days we went I lost but not a lot. I had a lot of fun though and it really made me want to go to Vegas when I get back in the states. See what you started mom and dad? Haha
We went to a zoo and a water museum (I forget what they are called right now). But we saw kangaroos and koalas, which are both adorable. The koalas amazed me with how they can sleep with there whole body barely attached to this tiny tree limb. They were hanging on literally by their fingernails and slept just fine. We saw a bunch of cool animals and fish. There was a tube tank and we saw HUGE sharks and fish. I saw the most poisonous snake in the world and sea horses. Australia has I think 6 of the top 8 or 10 poisonous snakes in the world. There was just so much.. OH and penguins. They were sooooo cute! I never imagined they would be that cute in person but I wanted to snatch one and take it home with me!
They had these cool markets that sold a bunch of homemade jewelry. In Australia they have a jewel called Opal, which I guess you might only be able to find here. Anyways, they were beautiful and some of the shops sold them in the jewelry they made. They also made food right there, which was really good. One stand made these shoes with patterns that the aboriginals put together. They were all unique and very original. Very fascinating.
Well, I had a WONDERFUL trip and I was so glad that my parents came down to see me. It really made my whole trip to Australia and I came back to Perth in better spirits. Everything is great here. I hope all is well in the States!