Posted by: nicolejnc | June 11, 2010

heaps fun

After my sister left, I had so much work to do.  The problem was that I lacked the motivation to do any of it!  This last part of the semester – work wise – was fairly painful.  But, as of two nights ago, the semester is now over!  Presentations are done.  Papers are done.  Exams are done.  3L year is finished!  Just one thesis and three classes away from being completely done with law school!  The end is in sight and I couldn’t be happier!

this is how i write papers

Of course, I haven’t just been doing schoolwork these past few weeks.  One of the highlights, in fact, started with the following text message:

Dearest europeans& honorary europeans, im inviting u all 4 dinner @my place on monday 31 May @6. lemme know u can make it!

There are six of us here completing the MCL degree that we began back in Germany.  Ben (German), Maria (Russian, but lives in Germany), John (German and American), Claire (French) and Tiphaine (French) and me (I think I count as an honorary european).  There have been a few people  in our  classes here who will be heading off to Germany next semester to complete the Mannheim portion of the program.  Peter is one of those people.  He’s Australian – born and bred in Adelaide, as he likes to say – and his family background is Greek.

He, along with his parents and sister, hosted all six of us, and Waffle as well, at their home for one of the nicest evenings we’ve had here in Adelaide.  We ate fabulous Greek food, good wine, shared more stories and comparisons, and simply enjoyed each other’s company for one of the last times that we’ll ever be together.  It’s hard to put into words just how wonderful this night was.  As I’m writing this, it just sounds like another night out to dinner – nothing too exciting.  Yet, it really was one of the favorite nights here.  Somehow I never tire of comparing our different countries, languages, food, customs, cultures, politics, etc. etc.  Those conversations are one of the many things that I’m going to miss about this mix of people – my new friends who will soon be scattered across the world.

Canberra

Last weekend, Waffle & I finally made it to Sydney and Canberra.  It poured the whole day that we were in Sydney, aside from the 45 minutes when were at the Opera House.  We got some great photos of it and the bridge and were satisfied enough with our visit.  We then spent the rest of the weekend with Sarah and Keith in Canberra.  Canberra is the capital of Australia – not Sydney or Melbourne.  Canberra was built between Sydney and Melbourne only because no one could decide which of the two cities would be the capital.  As a result, it’s a very small, well-planned city, consisting of mainly of government buildings placed in the middle of the bush.  It’s one of the coldest cities in Australia, but the autumn colors were beautiful and we had a really nice weekend just relaxing with friends.

Sydney Opera House

And now, the flat is pretty much all packed and cleaned.  We’re waiting for the landlord to come check us out and then we’re going to spend the night at Hazel & Maurice’s place (Sarah’s grandparents) again before we fly back  tomorrow morning.

cheers, mates!

One of the craziest adventures of my life is about to come to an end!  I’m so grateful for the opportunities that Waffle & I have had this past year thanks to this program.  We’ve lived in two very different countries – and yes, Australia is different from the US – met so many wonderful people, traveled to exciting places, tried new food (well, at least I have), mastered public transportation, started learning a new language, and so much more.  I’m ready to go back, especially now that my Mom is having surgery tomorrow, but I’m really happy that Waffle & I were naive crazy enough to jump at this unique opportunity.

On to the next adventure!

Posted by: nicolejnc | June 8, 2010

“we read to know we’re not alone” part II

Thanks to so much time on planes, trains, buses and trams, I’ve read a lot more than usual these past few months.  So, as a continuation of my blog post from the end of last semester, here’s a list of what I’ve been reading.  Suggestions for the summer are welcome!

In the US (during the break in between semesters):

The Shack, by William P. Young.  I was a little leery to read this book at first, but I borrowed it from Sarah’s bookshelf when visiting her and the twins and – as the Aussies say – “gave it a fair go” on the train ride to go visit my sister in NY.  I cried.  It was phenomenal.
The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, by Dr. Seuss.  One of the many blessings about going home in between semesters was the ability to spend time with some of my friends’ children.  I read this book over and over to my good friend Esther’s two year old daughter, Jubilee, while babysitting.  Even though I dreaded that one word after finishing the last page every time (again!), it was an absolute joy to spend time with her.
Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born, by Jamie Lee Curtis.  Two other little blessings come with the names Alex and Elia.  Soon after getting back from their visit to us in Germany, Sarah and John’s family doubled.  While visiting over the break, I picked up this adoption book and began reading to the two month old girls.
God Found Us You, by Lisa Tawn Bergren and Laura J. Bryant.  I then picked up this one and read it to the girls.  I couldn’t get it through at first (tears), but managed to finish by the time I left.  I think I was rewarded with Elia spitting up on me…
In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan.  Finally got around to reading this one and I’m hoping to either read or watch Food, Inc. when I get back.  I sent this book off to JBW for safe-keeping before we left.
Committed, by Elizabeth Gilbert.  The sequel (so to speak) of Eat, Pray, Love. It was nowhere near as good as Eat, Pray, Love, but enjoyable and inspired me to buy Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage, by Stephanie Coontz.  That book also is waiting to be read back in CT.  I sent this book off to JBW as well.

On the plane to Australia:

the book thief, by Markus Zusak.  My new favorite author!  Of all the books I’ve read this year, I recommend this one the most.  Zusak is an Australian author and this book is set in Germany during the Nazi era.  It was neat to read this after just having lived in Germany for a few months – I knew where some of the places were and could understand some of the German words as well.  My friend, JBW, sent it to me in the mail before we left the States.  Thus started a bit of a snail mail book exchange.
Slave: My True Story, by Mende Nazer and Damien Lewis.  I’m part of a human rights book club at my “home” law school and this is one of the three books that we chose to read.  Terrible and sobering.  Mende Nazer is around my age and spent most of her formative years as a slave in Sudan.  I cannot call this book a “pleasant” read, but it was an important read.

In Australia:

Stop the Traffik: People Shouldn’t Be Bought & Sold, by Cherie Blair and Steve Chalke.  Another human rights book club.  (Partly chosen because of Cherie Blaire’s plug during her talk at UConn that we all attended last year).
The Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway.  Another human rights book club.  This time, I learned a little bit about the Siege of Sarajevo (1992-1996). There’s so much that I need to learn about…
The God Box, by Alex Sanchez.  Random pick from the Adelaide Public Library (probably my best random pick). It’s a coming-of-age story.  It’s a love story.  And it’s a coming-out story.  Set in the heart of Texas.  I hope you’re intrigued now!
See how much I love you, by Luis Leante.  Random pick from the Adelaide Public Library.
Lost Property, by James Moloney.  Random pick from the Adelaide Public Library.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz.  Another book sent by JBW (to Adelaide).  And yup, we do have those kind of days.  Even in Australia.
the messenger, by Markus Zusak.  Bought in the airport on the way back from the GBR.  Highly recommended by my friend, Penny.
Monster Blood Tattoo: The Foundling, by DM Cornish.  Borrowed from Penny.
The true story of butterfish, by Nick Earls.  Borrowed from Penny.
A perfect partnership, by Maureen Martella.  Fluff reading from the Adelaide Public Library.
The catch, by Marg Vandeleur.  Fluff reading from the Adelaide Public Library.
Lizzie Gordon’s Secret Life, by Chris Manby.  More fluff reading from the Adelaide Public Library. (Around the point in the semester when I really didn’t want to do any work…)
after january, by Nick Earls.  Thought I’d read another Nick Earls book b/c the first one was pretty good.  (Or, as the Aussies might say, “quite good”)
13 Curses, by Michelle Harrison.  More fluff reading from the Adelaide Public Library.
the last summer of you and me, by Ann Brashares.  Author who wrote the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.  This one was a bit more depressing.
the big issue magazines.  We tried to faithfully buy the new “mag” every fortnight.
Waltzing Through Flaws, by Paula Sharp.  Borrowed from the Adelaide Public Library.
the short second life of bree tanner, by Stephanie Meyer.  Bought it in the airport on the way back from Canberra this past weekend.  Just couldn’t help myself…
after you’d gone, by Maggie O’Farrell.  Birthday present from Penny!  I haven’t read it yet. It’s on the agenda for the long flight home on Saturday!

Posted by: nicolejnc | May 29, 2010

autumn in may

It’s been raining a lot here for the past few weeks, even though South Australia is suppose to be the driest state in the driest country in the world – second only to Antarctica.  

The leaves on the trees (those that aren’t palm or gum trees) have changed colors and fallen. 

It gets dark around 5:30pm. 

It’s autumn in May, and it’s really strange!

Posted by: nicolejnc | May 19, 2010

what’s a bloke?

Perhaps as a sign that Waffle & I can now “speak Australian,” we were able to answer one of my sister’s first questions when she arrived here in Adelaide and heard some people talking on the tram.  What’s a bloke, she asked?  She found just as much humor as we did upon first hearing the Aussies speak, and it reminded us of reacting in much the same way when we first arrived – just a few short months ago!

Jenn flew in on a Wednesday and I was so excited about her arrival that I could barely sleep the night before.  (Part of it was excitement to see her and part of it might have been the adrenaline of actually finishing enough work so that I could ignore school while she was visiting).  I kept trying to prepare her for the effects of jet-lag, but she ended up getting so much sleep on her flights over that she was wide awake for her very first day in Oz.  We picked her up at 10:30am, hailed a taxi back to the flat, made french toast and then hopped the tram to show her around Glenelg (the beach area) and then the city of Adelaide.  We filled up on sushi and ice cream (sushi is really cheap here and I’ve never eaten so much of it as a result) and simply enjoyed the day by walking around.  Jet-lag finally started to kick in around the time I had to go class, so we called it an early night and then got up early the next day for our first tour.

Read More…

Posted by: nicolejnc | April 19, 2010

the great barrier reef

As I mentioned in my last post, Australia is a big country.  So, getting to Cairns – our destination at the Great Barrier Reef – involved a 3 hour flight (and a half hour time difference).  Fortunately, we didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to make this one.  Instead, we got to sleep in on Saturday, take our time packing (which we’re pros at by now) and cleaning and then left for the airport around 2:00pm, in order to catch our flight at 5:00pm.  Yah, we had to leave so far ahead of time because instead of living a 10 min walk away from the train station (can you tell that I miss Germany??), we had to catch a bus to the airport.  The airport is really only 3 miles away from us, but it still took us about an hour after waiting for the bus, riding the bus and still having a good distance to walk the rest of the way.  I’ve never walked up to an airport before, so that was kinda cool; but we also decided that we’d happily pay for a taxi to get back home.

We got into Cairns (which the Queenslanders pronounce as “Cans” with a very long a sound (and according to South Australians, Queenslanders “don’t speak good English”)) around 8:30pm, successfully got onto the right shuttle to our hostel and then walked around the beauty that is Cairns at night!  Our hostel was conveniently located across from the boardwalk, or Esplanade as it was called, and a beautiful, large public pool.  There were plenty of touristy shops and restaurants all around us and we spent our first evening in the GBR simply taking in our surroundings.

The Esplanade

Read More…

Posted by: nicolejnc | April 15, 2010

australia is a big country

I don’t think I truly appreciated how easy traveling was in Europe.  Living within walking distance of the train station, being able to get to places like Paris and Prague quickly (and easily), and having plenty of places, such as Worms and Heidelberg, that merely required one day to visit are all things I simply took for granted.

I shouldn’t have taken them for granted because things are much different down here!  Australia is a big country.  It’s much bigger than Germany – bigger than all of Europe combined in fact – and roughly the size of the United States.  As one of my Aussie friends likes to say, Australia is a large biscuit that’s been dipped in tea around the edges.  Trying to “see” Australia is like going to the US and trying to visit Maine (roughly the Great Barrier Reef), South Carolina (roughly Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne), California (Perth), Oregon (Darwin), and Nebraska or Kansas (the Outback) all the while living in Louisiana (Adelaide).  Even the places to visit close to where we live, such as Kangaroo Island and the Barossa Valley require at least a two day visit when taking travel time into account.  Especially without the fantastic public transportation network that Europe has, traveling is just not as easy or as affordable.

So, for the first half of our stay down here in Oz (I never knew Australia also was referred to as Oz, did you?  I’m learning new things every day), Waffle & I have been fairly stationary – enjoying the sights and sounds of Adelaide.  We spent one weekend (the entire weekend) watching the International Rugby Seven’s Tournament hosted in Adelaide and, much to my surprise, I had a great time.  We got our faces painted – mine with the US flag and Waffle’s with the Kenyan flag – cheered for both Kenya and the US and then for France in support of my French classmates and then whichever team we felt like cheering for after that.  Surprisingly, the US made it to the final game (in the best bracket…the details of which I still haven’t quite mastered), but then lost to Samoa (an island in the Pacific).  The atmosphere at this international sporting event was a lot of fun and Waffle almost convinced me to hop to a plane to Hong Kong for the tournament the following weekend.

What's a scrum?

Me, Waffle & John

Where's Waldo? (US) Where's Wally? (Oz) Where's Charlie? (France)

That's a scrum! (Players link arms & go at the ball with their feet. Bear hug?)

Avatar rooting for Kenya (there was a costume contest at the tournament)

We didn’t end up going to Hong Kong (maybe next time), but we’ve spent lots of time at the beach in Glenelg soaking up the sunshine and warm weather before it gets too cool (remember: it’s fall, heading into winter here, not spring heading into summer).  It’s a great place for Waffle to take lots of artsy fartsy photos (see www.dncphoto.org) and for me to read – which is essentially the perfect combination for us.  Other than that, I’ve been busy with some intensive classes (a structure that I strongly dislike) and doing what I came here to do: study.

This is why I haven’t had much to blog about 😉

Glenelg Beach by sunset

Glenelg Beach by day

The Northern Lights

A light show in Adelaide

However, the travels have now begun!  We have some trips coming up in the short amount of time that we have remaining here, and we just got back from a 4 night stay in Cairns, near the Great Barrier Reef.  The details of which, I think, deserve their very own blog post.  Stay tuned!

Posted by: nicolejnc | March 17, 2010

the big issue

Last Saturday, Waffle & I got together with some of my classmates (the ones who were in Germany with us last semester) to visit the Adelaide botanical gardens and zoo.  Before we got to the zoo, however, it started raining and the day just didn’t turn out to be the bright, hot, sunny day that we were hoping for.  We ended up finding a great pizza place to eat at (where, for the very first time, I had pumpkin as a topping on my pizza!) and we hung out there as long as we could.

It was still raining after we were done eating, but because Waffle, John & I weren’t ready to call it a day yet, we decided to go see a movie.  On the way into the theater, we passed a man selling some magazines for $5.  They were the same magazines that I had seen a bunch of other random people selling throughout the city since our time here began.  This time, however, the guy selling the magazines had a sign that said, “Helping the Homeless Help Themselves.”  Dissuaded by the amount of five dollars, I walked past the guy – without making eye contact – and proceeded to pay much more to see Alice in Wonderland. 

After the (trippy) movie, the guy was still there.  I walked by, again, with Waffle & John and asked them, “what do you think that’s for?” (As if they would know something that I didn’t!)  Mad at myself for not making eye contact both times, I went back and asked the guy what he was selling and what it was for.  And, I’m so glad that I did! Read More…

Posted by: nicolejnc | March 8, 2010

how to speak australian

Except, it’s no joke!  Australians might speak the same language that I do, but they sure do speak it differently!  Here are only a few examples of the Aussie vocab and phrases that we’ve picked up on:

bathers, swimmers = bathing suits
tely = tv
mate = friend
g’day mate = hello
how you going? = how are you?
cheers mate = this seems to mean a number of things: hello, goodbye, you’re welcome, etc
ring = call (“I’ll give you a ring this afternoon”)
Uni = university (only Americans don’t seem to use this word)
carpark = parking lot
jumper = sweater
queue = line (“please queue here”)
brekkie = breakfast
veg = vegetables
lavatory = bathroom
schedule = pronounced “shedule”
petrol = gas
Rice Bubbles = Rice Krispies
Maccers = MacDonalds
nappy = diaper bag
depot = pronounce with short “e” instead of long “e”
holiday = vacation or break
flat = apartment
study = for studying  (“I’m going to get some study done”)
sport = sports (“I like to watch sport on the tely”)
pram = stroller
tick = check (“tick the box)
revision = review
mark = grade
heaps = a lot of (“It’ll be heaps of fun”)

AND, my favorite

no worries = you’re welcome (in fact, I have not heard one Australian use the phrase “you’re welcome”  they always say “no worries” or “no problems”)

Posted by: nicolejnc | March 2, 2010

adelaide

We arrived in Adelaide safe & sound, on schedule (pronounce: shedule), last Saturday afternoon.  (Our luggage, however, arrived a day later.  But it’s okay, b/c we now own Qantas apparel (t-shirts & shorts) to hang out in!)   Jet lagged and disoriented, we were really grateful to have a place to go when we first got here.  For a few days, we stayed with Sarah’s grandparents and they not only helped us feel welcome, but also helped us figure things out a bit.  We got the inside scoop on where to buy cell phones, what to do about internet (more on that later), where to buy fresh fruits & veg, how to get around on the buses, etc. etc.  They also were kind enough to refrain from making fun of us for having to go to sleep at 7 p.m. several nights in a row as we struggled to get our body clocks onto local time.

We’re long over jet leg now, and in our own flat outside the city of Adelaide.   Public transportation is not nearly as extensive, or as affordable, as it was in Germany, but we’re only a 5 min walk away from one of the only tram lines that goes into the city.  It’s a bit strange living a suburb without a car, but we can walk to a grocery store and bank, and the tram can take us, in one direction, to the beach, and in the other direction, to the city (and to the Uni).  Considering the fact that we had no idea what we were doing when looking for accommodations, we really lucked out! Read More…

Posted by: nicolejnc | February 18, 2010

time to fly “down under!”

Leaving Feb 18 at 3:30pm (EST)
Weather forecast: 39
º F (4º C)

  • Hartford to Philadelphia
  • Philadelphia to San Francisco
  • San Francisco to Sydney
  • Sydney to Adelaide

Arriving Feb 20 at 12:45pm (CST)
Weather forecast: 98
º F (36º C)

I’m not exactly sure how I’m feeling right now…excited? shocked? nervous? Probably d) all of the above; but I’m mostly in complete awe of the fact that in less than 24 hours, Waffle & I will be flying to live in a place that I never even thought I’d visit.  The constant packing & unpacking, disorganization and slight discomfort all seem worth it again.  The adventure continues.

Australia, here we (finally!) come!

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