Thursday, October 31, 2013

Whale Watching

Since I know I suffer from motion sickness, I took medication before boarding the boat. When you have a history of queasiness and the company writes about it on every correspondence, it's a must. Still, I felt the uneasy feeling in my stomach as I held on to the shiny silver railing of the boat. I focused on the horizon to try and trick my brain into thinking I wasn't rocking on a boat. It worked for a while until I couldn't take my eyes off of the ocean's creatures dipping in and out of the big blue bouncing sea.

I watched as the backs of three humpback whales appeared out of the water, one by one, as if they were taking turns. Then their tails poked out. I imagined them feeling the air with their bodies like we would go to the sea to feel the water on our toes. A little out of our element but loving it all the same.

We found the whales almost as soon as we left the harbor and stayed with them for a couple hours. They were moving slowly, which meant the boat was also moving slowly, which meant it was rocking. The crew kept talking about how flat it was, while my stomach mumbled something entirely different. "If this was flat, I never want to be out on a rough day!" I thought.

I took deep breaths and tried to keep on eye on the whales gliding around in the water. It was very cool to see the whales just doing their thing out in the wild but I was very happy when it was time to put my feet on the sturdy ground.

Monday, October 21, 2013


My first in-person lesson on Australian slang was on the plane ride here with the little girl sitting next to me. She told me she had "heaps of friends" at preschool. She was adorable. 

heaps of - basically, how I would use the word "hella"

How ya goin'? - How's it going?/How are you?

do a wee - go pee (this is what the boys I babysit say when they have to go pee, or to be more exact "I'm doin' a wee")

good on ya - good job, well done, good going you

CBD - stands for Central Business District, what we would call "downtown"

lollies - candy

bogan - redneck

bottle shop - liquor store

mackas - McDonalds

arvo - afternnoon, particularly in text messages we've noticed

prawn - shrimp (You would never actually hear someone say "throw some shrimp on the barbie" They don't say shrimp!)

no dramas - like "no worries"

mate - dude

full on - extreme/very much so/out of control For example: I was in a bar at 9:30pm and overheard two people talking about their friend. Girl: She's already vomited. Guy: Yeah, she's full on.

sweet as - like we would say, "yeah, it was sweet as f***!" Also have heard good as.

Australians like to shorten sayings, words, and most people's names. Nicknames are common among friends, which I find absolutely endearing.

Also, this list just scratches the surface! There are TONS of slang words and things they just call different names. Part of the fun is discovering them yourself, so get on down here and explore the English language!   

Saturday, October 19, 2013


My hands and feet were placed firmly on the grass, my butt was in the air, and my belly button was reaching for my spine. I rocked my weight from one foot to the next, alternately pushing down my heels to stretch my tightened calf muscles.

Running for the first time in eight months calls for some serious stretching. I was running outside in the perfect Sydney spring air and normally would have gone home to stretch. I usually get embarrassed by stretching in public but the air was so fresh I wanted to stay outside and breathe it all in. I ran under a huge gum tree for shade and started doing sun salutations.

This is something I would never do in my hometown. I would never just randomly start doing yoga by myself in a crowded park. But here in Sydney, I felt ok. I didn't feel embarrassed. I didn't feel awkward.

I realized even if people were judging me, I didn't care. Maybe it's because as I get older, I'm becoming more comfortable in my own skin. I'm finding out what I like and don't like and how to lead a balanced life. I'm figuring out what's really best for me and not relying on magazines or other people telling me what I should be doing. It's extremely gratifying and a process I'm sure will last my whole life. Making a conscious effort to be self aware makes me happier, more productive, and less guilty.

A big part of this process has been spending time in foreign countries where I can be anonymous enough to really, truly be myself. The cultural differences make me think in new perspectives about the same issues I had before leaving. The absence of a big support system of extended family and friends makes me feel empowered, accountable, and in control of my decisions.

I don't feel badly when I say no to an invitation to go out when I really need to just stay in and recharge. I feel more confident making life decisions, like where we're going to live after Australia. I'm less self conscious showing people art that I've made and I'm more confident in my writing. 

The power of being anonymous in a new place is strong. It's like starting fresh. You can be who you want to be. You can do what you want to do. And if you don't know who you want to be or what you want to do, it can help you find answers. It did for me. I still don't have all the answers (obviously) but I feel better about not having them when I don't and fulfilled when I do.