Hello once again. I can see it coming – it’s the beginning of the end to my exchange experience. Now I don’t think I’m a terribly sentimental person, but I know there are those who will disagree. I may soon start to agree with them.
This past week was the last week of classes and this meant I was scrambling to throw together final papers and projects I had put off until the last minute. I’m not totally done with my courses however, there is still a study period and then finals over the next 2 and a half weeks or so.
I think everyone is starting to see the end approaching. I’m fortunate that this past week of studying and writing was punctuated with special moments and good friends (and pizza).
Last weekend was the “End of Semester” boat cruise put. I was looking forward to this for a while as it meant I would be able to see old acquaintances from back in Lorne at the beginning of the semester (a lifetime ago!). After a very crowded tram ride we arrived at the Docklands and set sail around the waters of Melbourne. The theme was nautical as indicated by all the stripes. Australians love themed parties.
Last Monday our trusty group of friends planned a trip into the city to take the nausea-inducing elevator all the way to the observation floor on the 88th level of the Eureka Tower. From that vantage we saw the city of Melbourne and adjoining suburbs spread out into a deepening horizon as the sun sank behind the clouds. It was a cool experience to see the city laid out like Legos and to step outside to the caged-in balcony to feel the wind whip your face. Afterwards, we headed to our friend Leo’s home for pizza and games. Pizza always tastes good, but never as good as when you share it with your friends on a cold May night. Holding a koala and dancing it out in the club is fun and all, but these are the memories that will stick with you.
This past week was also big for birthdays. Our friends Maddy and Rachel celebrated their big days this week (although I had to miss Rachel’s celebrations to finish papers). While I live close to campus in Burwood, about an hour away from the city by tram, Maddy lives in the city and therefore knows all the hip things to do. We grabbed dinner at burger joint Grand Trailer Park Taverna and finished the meal with an excessive waffle and ice cream dessert. Leslie Knope would be proud. In food comas, we made our way through the laneways and alleys of Melbourne to Section 8, a very hip outdoor bar located down a laneway near Chinatown. I spent the time admiring the carefree atmosphere and the graffiti decor while warming up with mulled wine.
The next day was Wednesday. Sarah (the only other non-Australian in our residence unit) and I were in charge of unit dinner that night and decided to forego healthy options in order to celebrate her Canadian and my American heritage. While Sarah put the finishing touches on her poutine, I slopped around with a pot of sloppy joe. Because the entree was not artery-filling enough we also made dessert. As a representative of Midwestern heritage abroad I was determined to make authentic Scotcheroos, a favorite of Ames High graduation parties. Sarah and I scoured not one but two grocery stores to find the right ingredients. Not finding corn syrup, I had to substitute with so-called “golden syrup”, which may actually be the same thing. Also, apparently Australia doesn’t have butterscotch anything so in a delicious tragedy I had to make SCOTCHeroos without any butterscotch chips. It worked out fine if I do say so myself.
That’s about it for last week. I know I’ve said it before (and I will definitely say it again), but I cannot believe how quickly this experience is moving by. I’m happy I’ve kept up this blog not only as a way to share with you what I’ve been up to (the interesting bits at least), but also as a time capsule for my thoughts, feelings, and experiences. I hope the weather is better where you are than how it is here (cold). Peace and blessings, y’all, peace and blessings.
Forget the Great White, this week’s creature should have been featured in Jaws. Meet the Bull Shark (Carcharhinus leucas).
The Bull Shark is a widely dispersed species worldwide and lives in a wide range of habitat from coastal marine to estuarine to freshwater. It has been recorded at depths as deep as 150m below the surface and is the ONLY known species of shark to live in freshwater for extended periods of time. Although this shark is not confined to habitat around Australia and the Indo-Pacific, it does have a reputation of viciousness and is probably the culprit for the majority of shark attacks off the coast of Sydney. The Bull Shark is identified by its grey color, short blunt snout, compact body, triangular serrated teeth on the upper jaw, and lack of fin markings. The Bull Shark can grow up to a length of 3.4m, although most are smaller. It is omnivorous and will feed on whatever it can from turtles, mollusks, fishes, and even birds, antelope, cattle, and humans. The Bull Shark is an aggressive species and more dangerous to humans than other sharks due to its habitat in murky waters and indiscriminate habit of biting moving things. It is worth mentioning that sharks are unfairly portrayed in media and in our own minds. Although fearsome looking, shark attacks are very rare and humans kill an estimated 100 million sharks every year. Sharks play incredibly important roles in ecosystems as apex predators regulating the population of mesopredators which helps maintain the populations of primary producers and other small creatures. Worrying about shark attacks is being a little overcautious, but I’d understand if it were the Bull Shark you were worrying about.