February 27, 2010

The way it is.

It’s been brought to my attention that I haven’t blogged in a while. It think it’s actually been two weeks, which is crazy! The thing is, I’m not even sure what to write about. We’ve entered a new phase of life over here. It’s something I haven’t had for a few months, but it’s a familiar old friend. We call him routine. Sundays, we attend Christ Church Presbyterian in Currumbin and sometimes have lunch with our new church friends. We usually go to our favorite spot for drinks on Tuesday nights called CBD (I think it stands for Central Business District, not to be confused with Christian Book Distributors). We go grocery shopping Thursdays at 3PM. And every night, we work out together, make family dinner, clean up, and do homework/watch a movie. Fridays is typically “family night” where Nat, Lyndsay, Kat and I do something just the four of us, and Saturdays we open our home to friends. Nothing is really a surprise anymore, and this is just the way it is.

I think that’s why Lyndsay was craving an adventure this week. On Tuesday, she was itching to get out and go somewhere. She wanted to make a plan for today to go to Brisbane or to Mt. Tambourine, but both of those ideas fell through due to a lack of initiative in planning on our parts and poor weather. We just finished week six of our academic calendar, and all of us were feeling the hit of schoolwork for the first time since being here. Since things have become routine, it’s almost like the novelty has worn off. We’re not off gallivanting in a foreign country anymore. We go to school here. We live here. This is life.

But strangely enough, this is only life for about eight more weeks. We’re almost halfway through.

With that being said, here are some random tidbits I have to share from my not-as-exciting life lately…

-  My friend Paige and I are working together on our broadcasting projects, and for hers, we needed to conduct an interview in Brizzy (Brisbane) on Wednesday afternoon. It was such an adventure -- taking the train for an hour and a half to a strange major city in a foreign land, lugging around camera equipment in our high heels! We left Robina at 9 and didn’t get home until after 5, so it was a long full day, but we had a blast. And the interview was a huge success. Maybe I can post our final story so you can see our broadcasting skills. It’s due this Thursday. Her story is the one we’re working on first, and it’s about the hot political issue of shark nets. Are they useful? Are they humane? I have opinions, but I’ll keep them to myself for now.

-  We rented 500 Days of Summer for family movie night. It was fantastic. While we were watching it, I said, “I’m loving this movie” maybe four to five times. I recommend it.

-  In between our apartment and Lyndsay’s is the home to those who we affectionately call “The Swiss.” These boys aren’t here for uni, but they’re golfers here escaping the Switzerland winter to do some training. They’re up and heading to the green every morning before 8AM. Flavio (20), Laslo (19) and Edouard (19) are bundles of fun and we had them over for dinner last week. They were sick of going out to eat or making pasta, so the ladies cooked them a nice meal. They brought us wine and beer, and we fed them a big hearty meal consisting of marinated chicken, salad, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, and an apple pie with ice cream. Then we played cards for hours and it was a grand ol’ time. Oh, the Swiss. They are too funny. Their English is good, but you have to fight through these ridiculous accents and decipher; it just makes everything so much funnier. They are total goofballs, but they’re fun to have around. And they don’t have friends from uni like we do, so they definitely appreciate our company. Today, Nat, Lynds, Flavio, Ed and I went to the beach. It wasn’t quite the Saturday adventure Lyndsay was hoping for, but it was nice to get out of the house. We also have great nicknames for them: Flavio can be Flava Flav, Flapjack, Flappy or Pancake. Laslo is almost always Laserbeam, sometimes just Laser. And Edouard is either Ed, Queen, or Pretty Pretty Princess. He’s a sick golfer, sponsored by Titlist, but he can be such a girl, haha. So those are the Swiss.

- After a cloudy morning at the beach, it started raining when we got home. Nat and I showered, cleaned the apartment for a bit, then I ate grilled cheese and tomato soup as it poured on our metal roof. I was a happy girl :) And now I’m curled up with some tea, listening to Amos Lee with Lyndsay. I’ve been aching for a day like this. Everyday, you need to leave the house with two key items: sunglasses and an umbrella. You need both almost everyday, usually in very close succession. It’ll downpour at the drop of a hat, but only last ten minutes or so. Then you get a sunburn. Such is life in the tropics. Can’t complain. Grandma and Grandpa, thanks for the zebra-striped umbrella. I love it and it travels with me daily.

-  I think you can tell that you’ve been somewhere a long time when enough time has passed to get a haircut. I got a trim yesterday. It made this whole experience feel more like home, because it had been weeks and weeks since my last cut. So now I’m fresh and clean.

-  My Mom makes the most epic macaroni salad, and I’m going to attempt to make it tonight. It’s a big day! I’m a first-timer. I’ll try not to let you down, Momma.

-  Australia is a big fan of the double-letter combo, and the letter G. Here are the names of some towns I’ve been to, or some around in this area: Coolangatta, Nerang, Currumbin, Mudgeeraba, Arrawarra, Tweed Heads, Burleigh, Toowoomba, Woogoolga, Bundaberg… I think you see what I’m getting at here. It’s comical. I feel like I live in a Dr. Seuss book sometimes.

-  In honor of the John Mayer concert that many of my dear friends attended the other night, here’s a quote from the man himself that I heard on the plane to from Cairns to Brisbane. He’s a funny dude…

“I really feel like you should use the spelling of the country you’re in. So ‘behavior.’ Okay, I’ll throw a ‘u’ in there for ya. But it’ll be at the beginning, and it’ll be silent.”
-- John Mayer, Qantas Air Radio

-  For those who have asked, “Life in Technicolor” is a song by the best band ever - Coldplay. It’s just instrumental and doesn’t have any words, but it’s an amazing way to kick off their newest album Viva la Vida. Loving Coldplay isn’t the only reason I chose to title my blog after this song. “Technicolor” is a term used in cinematography. It occurs when you string together different slices of film, each of a different solid color, and the end result is a movie in full color. It’s vivid, it’s bright, it’s bold, it’s new. I like to think that this time here in Australia is just one more color in my movie. I’m not sure what color it would be yet… maybe orange or purple, the typical colors of the Australian sky. But Coldplay was clever to coin the phrase “Life in Technicolor.” It’s really what our lives are like-- different colorful experiences strung together to make one full-length feature. I hope you feel as though your life has color.

I’d say that’s all I have for now, just some obscure ramblings as life here goes on. Over and out.

PS: I can’t believe the mayhem that the weather is causing back home! Please continue to send me stories of the storm! I hope you all are safe and warm. Love.

February 14, 2010

Workin' Girl.

After much delay, I will finally tell you all about my new job! Are you exploding with anticipation about what it is? Am I working at Bond University’s “CET”? Have I been signed as a pro surfer, practicing for the Quicksilver Pro next month? Am I serving fries at Macca’s? (What is Macca’s you ask? See my mate Natalie's blog to find out.)
No. While I’m still working toward the Quicksilver Pro, my job is of a slightly different variety. 


Welcome to Skilled Park, home of the Gold Coast Titans rugby team and the Gold Coast United soccer team. Brand new and beautiful, it opened in March 2008 and can hold almost 28,000 screaming fans. I work for Michael O’Brien Catering as a steward up in the corporate suites. Pretty sweet, huh? No pun intended. Well, maybe.
But my first shift was last night, February 13th for the most anticipated season opener! It commenced with an All Star game, which was interesting because our All Star games are usually in the middle of a season. And also because the teams were divided by… race? Yes. Very strange. 
It was the Indigenous All Stars vs. The NRL (National Rugby League) All Stars and this confused the heck out of me. I was like, “So Kat, you’re trying to tell me that the aboriginals can’t even play in the same league as the rest of Australian rugby players? And she said, “No they do play in the same league, they just segregate for this All Star game.” My mouth was gaping. She’s like, “It’s not a big deal. It’s just like if the rest of a league played a game against an all Native American team.” Nat responded with, “Yeah, except that would never happen. That’s pretty racist.” I guess Australians seem to think it celebrates diversity. We just couldn’t wrap our heads around it.

Regardless, the turn out was HUGE and everyone had an awesome time - including me! I was in charge of my own suite that can hold up to twenty people. I was pretty nervous, but I knew that I’d be fine as long as I was polite and charming. I was just hoping that my clients were nice. And for the past two seasons, Suite 10 has been inhabited by ABC Brick Sales, a corporate sponsor of the Gold Coast Titans. So donned in black pants, black flats, white button-down, skinny black neck tie, black vest and black apron, I served and befriended a suite of fifteen to twenty men over the age of 35 for about five hours. Hate to brag, but they loved me. I was a big hit.
At first, I felt like my job was pretty awkward. As long as everyone had their drinks and was content, I kind of just stood there. I felt as though my job was to be invisible. However, I came to discover throughout the evening that that is not the case. 
My number one responsibility is to be the refrigerator warden. No one is to open that door except for me. They aren’t allowed to even open a bottle of water on their own. So I stood my post by the fridge, bottle opener in hand, ready and eager to serve. I would list off the beers, wines, spirits and sodas we had available for them, and I was to serve it to them on a fancy tray. Now there’s a trick I need to get used to. I did fine, I didn’t spill red wine on anyone, but it’ll definitely take practice! Someone who isn’t even allowed to drink in the states yet was in charge of all alcohol in the room. Not all of the married men with children. How’s that for a power trip? That’s right gentlemen. I run this show, thank you very much. 
As the night went on, I served them their burgers, their fries, and their halftime snacks, and they all loosened up a bit. Then it was, “Cassandra, love, can you bring me another Bourbon and Coke please darlin’? You’re the best. Isn’t she the best? Where would we be without her?” I don’t know, Darby. A lot more sober, I suppose? But in all seriousness, no one was out of control. I have my RSA license for the state of Queensland (Responsible Service of Alcohol) so I was trained not to serve to anyone who is “unduly intoxicated, disorderly or under 18” and also trained how to cut them off if they’ve crossed the line. And in all honesty, they were a sports crowd. I’m not at all threatened or uncomfortable around gruff men like that (have you met Paul Soucy?) so I know that when they start goofing off, you need to just toss it right back. We had a ball.
They asked all about Boston, about Uni, about surfing, about school back home, about my friends, my family, if I abandoned a boyfriend back in the states, what I’d do if I fell in love in Australia… you know. The usual. I informed them that I’m on strict orders by my parents not to fall in love in Australia, so that wouldn’t be happening. Then one of them (late twenties) said he would convince me otherwise. Then I took his drink away and he begged for forgiveness. Problem solved. I’ve got this under control. 

Also, something funny about working up in the corporate suites is that there are tons of famous people around evidently. So they tell me. Because I don't know who any of them are, which is quite funny. After a gentleman left our suite, one of the guys turned to me and asked, "Do you know who that was?" And I said, "Nope, not a clue. Is he a big deal?" And they said, "Uhh, yeah, that was Bernard Fanning, the lead singer of the band Powerfinger." Ooooh good. Good to know. I had heard Powderfinger on the inflight radio on my way to this fair nation, and the band has gone platinum a few times over. I Wiki'd them when I got home. But I'm sure that he appreciated me treating him just like everyone else, right? I'm sure it will be interesting being oblivious to rock stars in my midst.
All in all, I was initially nervous but by the end of the night, I considered those guys to be good mates. I hope that I am permanently assigned to Suite 10 for the whole season and they hope so too :) They were singing my praises all night and said they “appreciated their Bostonian who mixes them a good strong Scotch.” Well, I am to please. Responsibly, that is.
Shift number one was a big success, and I take in a whopping $18.31 an hour to befriend these wealthy blokes. Not too shabby, hey? Minimum wage over here is $17/hr so I’m doing quite well for myself. Massachusetts, make note.
Here’s a little taste of the action.

To see more (which you definitely want to, these pictures are great) click here.

February 10, 2010

Talent that I wish I had...

It really is wise to be friends with photographers. They will make your life so much easier.

With that being said, here's a link to a bunch of photos that I stole from the blossoming amateur photographer, Lyndsay Harwood. They span from Bond Uni, to Burleigh Beach, to our first surf lesson, to Australia Day, and finally to our weekend away with the Mojo Surf crew.


Adopt a pet!

Two afternoons in the past week, I found myself relaxing on the couch in our living room, either reading or trying to catch a late afternoon snooze.

Both times, I was awoken or interrupted by a faint scratching at our back door. I heard a small tap on the sliding glass, and noticed that there was a little friend outside trying to make his presence known. The first day, I stood up and addressed him, telling him that he couldn't come inside no matter how cozy our home looked. I shut the door, drew the blinds, and angrily resumed my nap.

But he's a persistent little bugger. I heard him also yesterday and he once again wished to come in and snuggle up with me on the couch. I said, "Listen, you. I said no. It's not gonna happen. It's not in the cards for you." I tapped the glass to try and shoo him away. He was stubborn though, and sat perched outside the door staring in.

Since he was posing ever so delicately, I took some photos. Would you like to meet him?

I now refer to him as our puppy.

February 8, 2010

Australia Day

One quick post about something great that I was able to participate in... Australia Day!

On January 26th, Australia celebrates their Independence day. And as some of you know, the 4th of July is my favorite holiday, so I pretty much got to have it twice this year! You really can't go wrong - cook outs, swimming, fireworks.. it has everything that a holiday should have!

But Australia Day has some unique elements: it's a day of sausage sizzles (BBQ, no one actually says "shrimp on the barbie" just so you know), lamingtons, and "beah". Lamingtons are these lovely little pound cakes dipped in chocolate and coconut and there was a bit of alcohol consumed as well. No worries, I was safe and smart.

So my household had a party and it was great! After our classes were out (because Bond doesn't give you public holidays off... weird) we had maybe 25 people over and it was such a good time! Here's just a small taste... Australia, we love you!

It was a happy day, indeed.

February 7, 2010

What I do when I'm not at the beach...

Here it is. The moment you’ve all been waiting for and the blog I’ve been avoiding writing - the entry about my classes. Honestly, classes are fine and I have no idea why it’s taken me so long to get around to writing this. But they’re a pretty crucial reason as to why I’m here and everyone keeps asking about them, so here goes…

For starters, the setup of classes is much different than in the states. Each class has a lecture of 30+ people, and a tutorial which has 10-15 people. The lectures are more flexible (but obviously, you should go), but the tutorials are compulsory. Compulsory - that’s a word used frequently over here. Things aren’t mandatory or required, they’re compulsory.

Film Analysis - Style & Genre: I have this lecture from 8-10AM on Monday mornings, so I definitely wasn’t able to ease into classes at Bond. I hate to say it, but I think this may be my least favorite class. Even though it’s the class where I have a good amount of Aussie friends, it’s very elementary. It’s annoying because if you read the chapter, you show up to class and the lecture is based off of a very strict Powerpoint that I could have written - it’s a play-by-play of the chapter you read the night before. It pretty much gives me no reason to want to read. I definitely enjoy the material, but it’s frustrating because it’s not really challenging… does that make sense? And we were given three weeks to write a 400 word essay (2 pages double spaced) and everyone was stressing over it… really? So many people were like, “What are you writing your essay on?” Dudes! It’s 2 pages! I wrote it on the lighting in Lost in Translation, but come on folks! Not too tough. Pick and element of film style from the movie and say what you want about it. Not quantum physics.

And also, the class consists of film people. You know. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. The film people who always tend to come across a bit pretentious and want to flaunt their knowledge about directors and producers and techniques. Blah. Gag me please. I also felt a bit weird in the beginning because they know so much more about American film then I do. They are rambling off the names of directors and have very strong opinions about their works and I’m like, “Uhhh, yeah I like Jim Carrey. He’s my favorite. Funny guy.” I don’t know much about the movie industry. However, I do redeem myself because I can analyze lighting, camera angles and editing with the big dogs. But I’m sorry that I didn’t know who Michael Bay was until the first class was over.

This lecture is also nothing like Gordon, because there are 53 people and maybe 14 of them are females. Wow! Yeah, caught me off guard. And these boys love to hear themselves talk. The girls just kind of sit back and chill. I participate when I can, but the tutorial is where I’m able to shine. Mine meets Mondays from 2-3PM and there’s about nine people in mine I think. One other American and four other girls, so I feel a lot more comfortable participating. I had plenty to say about the film from the 80’s we watched where a woman had an affair on her husband with an octopus. And I was one of the only people who knew who Zidane was when we watched that documentary. But I’m sorry, Lost in Translation is so not my type of movie. I liken it to Garden State - the “plotless wanderings” category. Ben Morrow, I think you’d enjoy it if you haven't already seen it.

Finally, on Monday evenings from 7-9PM, we meet in the theatre (like Barrington) to watch our next film. The first week was Lost in Translation and week two was Raging Bull, which kicked LiT’s butt. A Scorsese film featuring boxing and Robert DeNiro - I’m sold. And it was a tragedy of sorts, which made it more engaging to me. And week three was Citizen Kane. Professor Cobbey, if you’re reading, I’m sorry. I just couldn’t do it. A friend of mine from class and I decided to hire it out from the library (you don’t borrow/rent things here, you hire them) instead of watching it in the theatre, and we put it on three times and couldn’t get through it. Maybe I’ll be able to do it before the semester ends, but it took a lot to get through about forty minutes. It’s supposed to be one of the greatest films of all time so I genuinely want to invest in it, but it was somewhat painful. Now he and I just faintly whisper “rosebud” to each other from time to time and have a good laugh. That’s pretty much all we gathered from it.

Love, Sex & Relationships: Yes, can you believe it? I am enrolled in this course. This is not a joke. It’s actually quite enjoyable. It’s the only class that I have on Tuesdays - the lecture is from 12-2PM and there’s about 250 of us. Maybe the size of an Old Testament class except the content is far racier. We’re starting with the anatomical details of sex, learning about scientific research in the field, famous sexologists, discussing gender studies, and then moving on the the topics of love and relationships after the midterm. Honestly, it’s extremely eye-opening. It’s so interesting to be learning about sex from a scientific stand point. We’ve watched so many fascinating documentaries, although they can be a little awkward at times. You know, with the nakedness and the sex. But hey, it’s all in the name of science, right? And it’s tasteful… mostly. Also, my professor is the Australian Cameron Diaz. It’s ironic and the similarities are uncanny - body type, facial structure, smile, hair. Sure Cameron, you would teach Love, Sex and Relationships. Of course.

My tutorial for this class is on Wednesday mornings 9-10 and it’s 15 females - thank heavens! I can’t even imagine if I was in one of the mixed-gender tutorials. God was really looking out for me, because this class is also when that’s like 90% Americans, and those guys are so immature so I’d wring my neck if they were in my tutorial. Two girls from my high school are in this lecture with me also - My Tran and Stephanie Pratti! Do these names ring any bells to my readers? Maybe. I didn’t know My very well in high school, but Steph and I were close because we had tons of classes together and were both in band. It’s so cool to sit with them and have someone to make jokes with and keep the mood light while we watch weird documentaries. And My is in my tutorial and we’ll be leading an activity on love together during week seven. Good times. It’s nice to have a little bit of Haverhill down under. And there are about six girls in my tutorial from Northeastern University, and one girl who wore a T-shirt that said Billerica. Makes me feel a little closer to Boston. I’ll keep you posted on this class - there are always interesting stories… maybe not all blog appropriate though. Just be comforted that it is academic in nature and I’m learning :)

Foundations of Broadcast Journalism: I have this lecture on Wednesdays 10-12PM, right after my LSR tutorial and I enjoy it. However, it’s different than I thought it would be. I was expecting it to be focused on what it’s like to be the broadcaster, with specific speech techniques and stuff, which it is, but I kind of overlooked the “journalism” part. With that incorporated, it actually becomes a lot like a course I’ve already taken - Writing for the Media. A huge part of it is going out and finding your stories, gathering the info, collecting the shots you want, and writing your scripts. We did a bit of this in Writing for the Media, so that’s a bit repetitive for me.

Then the tutorial is a combination of other skills I have as well - the class Digital Video Production and working at CET. The tutorial meets Thursdays 8-10AM only for the first seven weeks, and our lecture of 24 people is split into two sections, so it’s nice and small. But on day one, we spent a good long time learning all about the different camera shots (wide, close-up, long, medium, cut-ins etc..) learning about some lighting techniques (three point, the key light, what tungsten is), and everyone voraciously took notes on the rules of thirds and the 180 degree rule. I was bored during this hour, because I already knew these skills from my sophomore year at Gordon, but it got worse.

We spent the second hour learning how to set up and use video cameras and mics. I didn’t want to seem snobby at all, but when my group of three was working on setting up our camera, I told them that I have a ton of experience with equipment like this, so they could set it up to become more familiar. They were like, “Oh my gosh, you know how to do this already?” Um, yes. I don’t want to be rude, but I help people fix problems with cameras 10x as complicated over the phone, without even seeing the problem. I didn’t say that, but I certainly thought it. So as they spent five minutes trying to open and level out the tripod, I just hung back. Then they asked me for help with the wired lapel mic after struggling for a bit. I think the most that I’ll get out of the tutorial is learning more in-depth about Final Cut Pro. I’ve always wanted to be good with it, but I haven’t had a ton of exposure and as of right now, it’s over my head. I think the toughest part of this class will be finding a relevant story to capture in an environment that I’m so unfamiliar with. That’ll stretch me and push me outside of my comfort zone, so we’ll see!

Event Management: And finally, the class that robs me of the long weekend my roommates get to enjoy - Event Management, Fridays 11-2PM, always compulsory. Figures. The lecture is 11-12:30ish, then our adorable Greek professor gives us a half hour break for lunch and, we need to be back for tutorial 1-2PM. This class is actually not too bad, I really enjoy the subject matter. I feel like I’m learning a lot about Australian history and culture in this course. No joke, the 2000 Sydney Olympics literally breathed life back into this country and took them out of somewhat of a depression. It’s so cool to study how events and festivals can shape a society. I made a good friend in this class. Her name is Julia and she’s a very sweet German girl who kisses me on the cheek with she sees me. It makes me feel loved, even though she’s European and I shouldn’t be surprised. But everyone loves a hug from a new friend, right?

Anyway, for tutorial, we split into two groups - one who strictly wanted to host a sports-related event and one who was more flexible. I chose the sports group, but I’m so impressed and excited about the event that we chose! We narrowed it down to either a backyard cricket match/cookout/social, a mock summer olympics tournament (since our university or “uni” is so diverse, teams would represent their respective countries) or a fancy James Bond/Casino Royale-like poker tournament. And the winner is…. Poker! I bet you didn’t think that’d be the one that I voted for, but it actually makes the most sense to me. Here’s my logic: Instead of watching the NFL playoffs a few weeks back, I spent my Sunday afternoon eating lunch and watching cricket. I was studying this sport and asking Kat tons of questions, because heads up - it’s nothing like baseball. But I like it! Mostly because it’s still a pretty slow-paced sport to watch like baseball and that doesn’t bore me. But the truth it, a lot of people are bored by cricket. While I didn’t think the backyard cricket game was a bad idea, I also didn’t think that it’d get the largest demographic group involved. Some people might want to play, some people would just grab some food and peace out, and others might hang and watch. But overall, not a huge crowd would stay for hours on end. Cricket is a terribly long game.

Secondly, the summer olympics idea was great, but I think you couldn’t really have many more than 8-10 people on a team, so that’s really limiting. Would that mean only 8-10 Americans, Aussies, Japanese etc... can participate? That’s not what we want. And would people come and gather to be spectators? I wasn’t entirely convinced. However, poker’s got it all. Not only would we get the jock/athlete people to play, but smart, nerdy, less athletic people play cards as well. I feel like it’s a universal tongue of sorts, especially at our diverse uni. And then, make it a dress up event that serves alcohol and finger snacks kind of like cocktail party? BOOM - females. Done. Women will come out to an event where boys are dressed up playing cards, if they get to dress up, be their dates and work the room. Widest demographic reached, tickets are only like $10, prizes are donated from local sponsors, it’s held at the classy bar behind uni that everyone goes to already anyway, money raised goes to charity, and the 15 of us planning the event become hugely popular celebs on campus because everyone loves it and thinks we’re awesome. Perfect.

So it’s a lengthy entry and it’s long overdue, but there’s the much anticipated update on my classes! Hope you enjoyed! More to come later this week. Like, at least four more entries… buckle up, folks.

PS: I’m skipping my film lecture in the morning to watch the Superbowl at Varsity Lakes Tavern at 9:30AM with a bunch of friends. Awesome. Something’s gotta give, right? My mom said, “Is she skipping class to watch football?” and my dad’s response was, “Of course she is. I’d be disappointed if she didn’t.” Father’s orders :) I’m introducing some Aussies so their first Superbowl event. Boy, do I wish the Pats were playing. That’d be legendary. Oh well. Go Saints!
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