End of the Onion

I haven’t been homesick since I was at my first overnight camp circa year 2000, North Carolina. But in fairness to third grade me, that camp was awful. I saw more snakes on that camping trip than I have in my entire stay in Australia, whippersnappers were everywhere. We would swim in this pond-creek type garbage we called a swimming pool, which was where a great deal of water snakes happened to live. I was pretty fed up, as Samuel L Jackson would say, “I’m tired of these mother fudging snakes in our mother fudging swimming pool.”

Now although this isn’t the fondest memory of America, I am still starting to miss my family, kinda. It’s more so their homes cooked meals and free shelter, but never the less their warmth and comfort of almost conditional love will be greatly appreciated upon the next time I see them. There’s nothing like a finals week to make you feel right at home, but the feeling of finals nostalgia is insufficient. I still miss a number of things from back home, my basketball, my automatic car, Mexican food, and the self-portrait that overlies my bed that I made in the second grade. Yup, younger me was really great, being young in general was, when mistakes were nothing more than a funny joke. But now as I head back to American civilization and finish my last quarter I will be entering the real world, where a simple mistake can spark a lifelong mild grudge.

Pete

New Years 2015

This Australian-Cal Poly quarter really snuck up on me. It was about this time last year that I applied to study abroad. While I was busy battling GPA requirements and class prerequisites in order to ensure my seat in an Australian classroom, I lost track of time and was ill prepared for the many new unexpected things I would encounter. I remember holding up my glass in celebration of the New Year alongside my best friend, then suddenly sitting coach in the back of a United Air Bus. The trip had finally begun and my seven weeks in Adelaide began to unfold.

Much like I came to Adelaide, I’m leaving just the same, unprepared. The only difference being that I’m not pissing with excitement about leaving, but unfortunately my personal opinion will not change much as my life is currently confined by airline tickets. These seven weeks though I’ve been rolling with the tides, throwing myself at the world to find out what I will see, who I will meet, and where fate will take me.

It’s really hard to live in the moment. Time flies, and looking back everything is a blur of streaking colors, a vortex of thought. But as I pack my bags to head to the Adelaide Airport one last time, I look back and think of all the memories I’ve made. Because no matter how quick the relative time seemed to go by in Adelaide, my memories of my 2015 Cal Poly Study Abroad in Australia will last forever.

Now this onion is finally peeled. Although I once believed the core to be the best part, I find my views to be inaccurate, because the best part can’t be followed by the worst part—the end. There is no sweetest part of an onion; it’s about the journey, the adventure and enjoying the flavor of each layer along the way. I went through layer upon layer, side by side with fun people and cool teachers, holding onto the many koala souvenirs, friends, photos, and thoughts I’ve acquired along the way. I can’t tell you everything I learned, but I will tell you this: we are all stars, burn bright, but not too bright, no matter what you think, any star can be seen at the right time of night.

Advertisements

Rolling the Dice

IMG_20150211_030034

Bring Money

There’s always been a fascination with 21, as an American it’s the final rite of passage, releasing you from your shackled life and declaring yourself as free as you’ll ever get. A lot of excitement comes from that age, I remember being quite young when I first dreamt of the day I turned the ripeful number. Each birthday leading up to my 21st neared me that much closer, building more eagerness and anticipation with every year. However, now that I’m 22 and my 365 glory days of being 21 have passed, I am constantly reminded of my inferior age when passing Forever 21 stores, 17 Magazines (in the checkout aisle), or even seeing the abundance of tiara, sign-wearing girls downtown. Now that graduation nears and my youth expends, the frontier of anticipated events dwindle. It’s all up to me to make my next birthday and future birthdays exciting; I can no longer count on the predetermined excitement that is catalyzed by American tradition.

Sand Surf

Shark-Free Surfing

But after 21 there’s only one form entertainment you really have, high stakes gambling. Ahh the casinos, where 21 holds a whole new meaning, Black Jack. As I readied to play my first casino hand (ever) I was poised to the poison, breathing in the addictive toxins that would ignite my gambling passion (I’m talking about the atmosphere by the way). I ended up winning $60, just to lose the same $60 the very next night. Although monetary evidence suggests I didn’t even go to a casino, my blood pressure says otherwise. My short lived parlay infused me with excitement and vigor, enthralling me with an enjoyment for spontaneity. I’m not quite up to cliff diving just yet (as I wavered from the opportunity to do so last week), but maybe I’ll jump off something in the near future. Physical injury is one of my steady fears as it struck down my Dad’s professional baseball career and could potentially strike down my nonprofessional basketball career. However, taking risks and engaging in irrational reckless behavior is something that I’ve recently deemed an important part of living. Memorable moments aren’t the product of being well minded. In order to seize the day we must actively adventure outside the confinements of social standards. I’ve been pretty plain in my decision making in all these 22 years, but I’m in the process of turning a new leaf. It’s something I hope to exercise today, and in the day of tomorrow. I should have started this long ago, but better late than never.

Shrinking the Bubble

Living in Australia for a month or so now I’ve come to learn many new things, like how many people enjoy their breakfast food. My last entry might have struck sensitive skin, but confrontation is inescapable. We all have our little bubbles and it’s bubbles
only a matter of time before they collide, you can only brace for the impact. Despite the negative connotation, collision can be beneficial. Criticism inspires improvement. When we consistently glimpse into the world from our first person perspective, it’s apparent some manageable, perhaps unappealing tendencies go unnoticed, like when I grew out my mustache (a crop that’s not bringing in much yield), I was proud of it, but in hindsight, it looked awful. I used to see all the countless individuals as mere background characters to my one man hero-story, individuals that I now realize can be sidekicks on my journey, able to lend yet another lens to put the world a little more in focus. The third person perspective incentivizes utilization as it captures the whole scope of things, giving way to understanding. Provided with the opportunity to instill the knowledge of others, seeking substitute opinions has become a main conductor of my intellectual development in Adelaide. It has been a conscious effort as I move to learn not from the lines and the letters of textbooks but from the surrounding people and places of an unfamiliar city. But it wasn’t easy to put myself out there, opening myself to opposition, attempting to make good impressions, investigating how my American ways are viewed by the rest of the world. But so far my efforts have been an investment worthwhile, because every time I go off and meet someone new, whether I learn something or not, I feel the imaginary bubble around me, imaginarily get smaller.

The bubble consists of unstable beliefs, fears, and insecurity, all which help comprise a field of unwanted negative energy. IMG_20150128_185414It’s a byproduct of life and a nuisance, but in time the notion of bubble reduction is feasible. It’s kind of like curse words. Curse words are words that derive a negative emotional response from an auditory recipient. If curse words didn’t exist then we would have fewer words to get emotional about. Now obviously we can’t ‘unexist’ words, but we can extinguish fears. My public speaking bubble is pretty enormous. Whenever a public speaking opportunity presents itself, I will promptly leave to get some fresh air and never come back. Let’s put it like this, if I had to give these blogs verbally I would have dropped this class a long time ago. The only thing preserving my content with situations like these is the belief that one day public speaking won’t be so bad and that sharpening this skill will provide me with more flexibility and control over countless encounters, like giving a speech at the dinner table of my annual family vacation (which I have yet to participate in).

I’ve learnt a good deal of wisdom from the adventures that I’ve come across here in Adelaide. To finish my thought on confrontation, I would also like to mention how although beneficial, it might not always be the optimal way to address certain situations. Despite what my extensive years of education have taught me, I’ve found sometimes the right answer isn’t necessarily the best answer. Sometimes you just have to call it water under the bridge. And sometimes it’s best not to focusATT_1423144675766_IMG_20150204_184358 on our differences, but rather enjoy our similarities, the common ground and reassurance that refresh our sanity. And as for the breakfast complex, I’ve reached a conclusion that there is no objective truth to food, and that taste buds come in many flavors. And as someone who favors flavor, the concept of acquired tastes is uplifting, and just as I have recently joined (after sufficient sampling) the group of people who enjoy their Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and dry Sparkling Wines, maybe one day I will find myself enjoying breakfast food too. But with all the bickering about insignificant, yet vividly visible discrepancies, it amazes me that we get along at all. Constantly I question my faith in humanity and reevaluate my investment of trust in others. Then it’s times like earlier this week where I was in attendance of the Urbanest Barbeque, attempting to sit down at a table full of 5 complete strangers, the only words between us being my just now spoken “hello.”  Just as I was debating whether the decision would be regretted, I was relieved to find one of them unconsciously sliding an ice cold lager my way as I took a chair. It made me realize that even when halfway across the globe, it’s hard to turn down a free beer.

And the Crowd Goes Silent

IMG_20150130_160438

My Experience in Australia Thus Far

What can I say about Australia that I haven’t already? About one blog’s worth. But in all honestly I believe I will be well stocked in Australian content as the oncoming weeks unravel their adventures. More and more opportunities persist to present themselves and I unhesitatingly comply. The constant outflow of cash is no obstacle; although the remainder of my stay might soon consist of my very own Adelaide street performance routine I am content with my father’s debt as my happiness escalates to new found heights. We’re already half way through and my regrets are only existent in parallel universes. I’ve never before felt saddened about an academic quarter moving too fast, but I don’t count that as a regret.

When introduced to my new home in Adelaide, I was under the impression that I would be a resident for all seven weeks of my stay. However, a spur of the moment had other plans as I was asked to accompany a group of my Cal Poly peers to live it up for three days in Melbourne. One entry of my credit card number and it was set, destination Melbourne via Tiger Air, a highly recommended airline if you enjoy near death experiences. Upon arrival the time had come where inevitably my sunburn began to settle in and an unreachable itch commence. Shunned by my traveling companions, as none of them aided me in the liberation of my irritation, I was prompted to buy a Koala Claw backscratcher, my favorite (and most useful) souvenir to date. The peeling process was rough. But now that I have surpassed my reptilian phase, a nice painless faded pink color is revealed, which means I’m back to taking my usual two showers a day, hot water fully blasted.

Bryans

Scumbag Bryan Twins

Filled with bridges, skyscrapers, street art and sun, Melbourne was a catalyst for a good weekend, but the real kicker was in the seasonal event taking place, the Australian Open, a tennis’ players dream (and in this case a spectator’s as well). I’ve been big on tennis ever since I figured out I could beat my brother in it and having an opportunity to witness a prestigious event such as this was memorable. From the moment of the first serve of the first match (Ferrer v Simon) whenever the ball was in play, the stadium went dead. Not a single sound was circulated other than hearty grunts and the squeaks of white sole tennis shoes. In the second match I became a die-hard Bryans (Bob and Mike Bryan) fan, as they were the number one doubles seed and hailed from the US of A. However, despite their victory, I renounced my status as a loyal follower after they became a trader to their country by giving their game towel not to one of their own (me), but instead a much prettier Australian girl. Damn you Bryans!

Crepe

A real breakfast

We returned to Adelaide on January 26th, Australia day, which included parades and fireworks. The parade was filled with peoples from various nationalities whom inhabit Adelaide, really giving you a feel for how culturally diverse the city is, reminding me of San Francisco and making it my favorite part of the day. Australia day infused me with reflections of my own Nationality (the OG Red, White and Blue). However, as you’ll soon see the reminiscence was not very celebratory. In solitude, I pondered some personally upsetting questions that aim at the heart (or the stomach) of many Americans. Like why is eating bacon about the most American thing you can do? Seriously, I’m surprised Americans don’t go about pigs the way Hindus do cows. It’s served for breakfast, it can’t be that good. And anyone who says “breakfast food” is the best food can go to hell. I’m sick of you people. Nothing but limited options from a subpar menu. Eggs, low quality sausage, various styles of bread (muffins, English muffins, croissants) and let’s not forget the coveted bacon. Hogwash. Earlier this morning at around 8am I was treated to a crepe covered in strawberries, topped with whipped cream and doused in Belgium chocolate. Now god bless the French because that’s a breakfast. I’d have it three meals out of the day if it weren’t for a little thing called diabetes. That’s right, the same meal three times in a row, damned me for my taste buds not completely changing every 4 hours. Shout out to Annelise for humbly having her favorite food be salad. In addition to being hilarious, it is also unpretentious, major kudos Annelise.

Pepperoni’s overrated.

Taming the Wild

Going into Australia I was already big on Koalas. I made the obvious choice of acquiring my very own Koala T-shirt just for the upcoming occasion, to go for that nice touristy look. If you’re wondering, the shirt is my most worn thus far–An unregrettableATT_1421831425874_IMG_20150119_195843_1 decision. But Koalas and I go way back; my Mom tells me I used to remind her of a Koala when I was little, which is odd because I am the only one in my family privileged with the pleasure of actually holding one (*high fives self*). Now I’ve been giving bear hugs all my life, but never quite this literal. They put a jacket on me to protect my body from the Koala, but what they really should done is had a little jacket for the Koala. Let me tell ya, if I died tomorrow, I’d be sad, but definitely a lot less sad now that I’ve clenched one of those Australian balls of fur.  After my encounter with the miniature bear, one thing was known; my Mom had a kickass time raising me. That or she was referring to wild Koalas, who apparently are assholes. It’s up for debate.

The Kangaroos were not very impressive and even more disappointing in hot dog form. Croc dogs, not bad though. The babies/joeys were alright, but unable to justify their rat-faced parents. I should probably mention the soles of my shoes have been continually reinforced with kangaroo droppings for about over a week now, so feel free to excuse my biased (yet appropriate?) hostility. The wombats were pretty IMG_20150119_163638cool, but they must have been watching the yawning Koalas a little too closely because they were pretty tired. When I showed up at wombat cove, really all I saw was one wombat move from one resting area to another nearby resting area. I’ve heard they are night dwellers and prefer the more tepid dark, so I cut the little bear-pigs some slack. Regardless, Koalas still reign supreme as my top animal so far—for reasons unknown, because honestly they don’t really do all that much; the difference between a real Koala and a stuffed Koala is negligible.

Through and through the Cleland wildlife park was a hit. Not only was I able to interact with the wild, but also charmed to share the collective experience with my peers and proctors. It’s interesting because I have crossed paths with one of my professors a few times before; Mrs. Jacky Eshelby was my first Agricultural Business professor at Cal Poly. Back when I was a freshman it felt strange calling Professor Eshelby anything other than, well, Professor Eshelby. Yet now a few years later and three weeks down under it feels weird to call her anything other than Jacky. A pretty cool transformation if you ask me.

Mistakes have been made on this trip, inadvertently falling asleep at the beach was one of them. But as the burns of today heal and skin begins to peel; I look forward to the potential tan of next week.

Entertaining the Fire: Staying in Motion

Motivation is a concept that’s seemingly becoming more difficult for me to turn into reality. In this day and age I find myself surrounded by so many distractions at home I can rarely permit the urge to get up and head to the refrigerator, let alone walk outside. That being said, I am extremely punctual; with the exception of class I am able to arrive prepared on time at ease. Responsibility fuels my ignition, and like the great Sir Isaac Newton once mentioned, what’s in motion stays in motion (shout out to Ms. Crowley). And that’s just what’s going on here in Australia, by being surrounded by things to do yet liberated from the excessive comfort of my bungalow back home, a good mixture is instated for the allowance of new opportunities. I’m able to push my body to its limits, like waking up for breakfast. Breakfast is something that I do not regularly frequent, although am now finding it to be quite enjoyable as it warrants another chance to eat–how naive I was. 

The placebo effect, rising to the occasion, the happiness principle, or however we might label it, is one thing that I IMG_20150115_154954expected from this trip, and the feeling is present. There’s something magical about new beginnings that can drive inspiration deep into a person’s body, reaching depths previously unreached, awakening new found untapped potential. This provides myself with a willingness to explore. This willingness is a necessary quality to have, because in a place without a comfort zone to fall back on, the search to find a new comfort ensues.

Finding a niche can be troublesome, I am still waiting to find mine here in Australia because it sure isn’t cricket. The main approach I am taking to spend my days here is by starting conversations and gaining perspective. In addition to the Aussies, a broad variety of human resides in the city of Adelaide. I have met people from all the following whereabouts, my roommate from Africa, my RA from the UK, people from Malaysia, Hong Kong, Holland, Manchester, Scotland, and let’s not forget South Dakota. I am constantly astounded by the hospitality exuded from the people I meet here. The sincerity in the persona of the foreigners’ words and actions create brilliant incentive to converse. The only frivolous behavior I received was a result of the people from South Dakota, damn Americans. 

The weather here is one thing I didn’t expect, as it has rained for several consecutive days, making my wardrobe choices look rather foolish. But despite the rain, the days spent so far have been bright, metaphorically speaking. Since my time in Australia I have participated in the purchase of a lottery ticket and came out with $5–the best thing that’s happened to me since tag-less underwear, because at this point any source of income is desperately needed. Hopefully this lucky allure will not be short lived as I hope to hit the casinos in due time.

As the rain begins to cease, and the sun beam; I look forward to the potential tan of tomorrow.

Peeling the Onion


What is this, an onion for ants? As a college student and living on my own for the past four years I have slowly begun to develop bearable culinary skills, which I plan to put toIMG_20150108_042944 the test in the next several weeks. Excited to cook myself my first fair Australian meal, I found myself vastly in need of supplies–So I emptied out my sunscreen and hit the town in search of Woolworths, the local market. Upon entry I took the conveyor belt to the bottom floor to find an impressive selection. I was able to fill up my basket with my usual assortment, however there was a lot more room left in my basket due to everything being so damn small! The garlic looked especially deflated, the little white blobs resembled that of something picked from a plant that was hit with baseball bat halfway til harvest. And I was particularly disappointed at the sight of the garlic’s price tag–$20 / kg, which may or may not have been a good deal, because they sure didn’t weight a lot, but purely out of principle I refrained from selecting a single clove; I would recommend they reset pricing based on each item but the variance in inconsistency would be too great. Being an American I have become accustomed to softball sized onions, so these new racquetball ones (The peel’s half the onion!) will take some getting used to. I will mention that they do have Red, White and Yellow onions (seen above), I personally chose to purchase the cheapest variety, the yellow; which agrees with my Australian motto, the cheapest choice is the right choice. In conclusion the Aussie onions might be in the lightweight category in terms of the international commodity, but they still pack a punch–They’re still bitterly-sweet and they’ll still make you cry.

There is still much to do, so far I’ve realized there is an extreme lack of Koala bears, as IMG_20150107_155317 (1)I have yet to see one. But I have managed to get my toes a little wet by classing it up at some vineyards (emphasis on the “up”). It was somewhat nice, although wine isn’t really my fancy. I’d be delighted to tell my parents (and teachers) that I soaked up more than just alcohol at the wineries, as we were given tours and descriptions of the business’ processes of turning water into wine and how they get people to buy that wine. A lot of questions were answered but one for me remained, “Where is the cheese man!?” There’s nothing quite like washing down a tart wine with a really smooth cheese. Cheese.

The adventure down under is turning into a truly great experience, currently meeting my expectations of breathing fresh air into the school year and then some. But the journey is just getting started, I’m only on the outer layer, the sweetest is yet to come.

Baby New Year makes an appearance

As the year 2015 rears its anything but ugly head, a new adventure for the young Kramer unfolds. A pilgrimage in a new found land begins; where one must routinely skirmish the abundance of snakes, spiders, and sun. Yet I come prepared, with ample sunscreen, the journey will not be elementary. Only in due time will I fully understand the difficulties that will arise from the United Airlines, as it is the first hurdle of many. But with my watch set, and cargo ready, I await to set foot into the soils of the sun-kissed city of Adelaide, Australia. Summer’s just a day away.