Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Post Forty: Last Post for this Blog

Hi all readers! First off I want to thank you all for joining me on my trip. I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing about my adventures, I would not have continued without all of you to keep me posting.

As the title says, this is the LAST post for this particular blog. I will not be putting anything else on here and this website and its pages will remain static for the rest of Internet time.

HOWEVER! I would like to let you know that I have enjoyed writing and reading blogs so much  that I am going to attempt to continue blogging on a NEW site. This one much less specific, I hope to write about general thoughts as a college student, exciting events or travels, but mostly I really really want to start cooking and baking and posting recipes and tips and such.

SO! I am going to attempt to join the ranks of regular bloggers. I will hopefully post frequently, sometimes with pictures and funny stories, sometimes with just thoughts or perhaps writing, and hopefully many times with interesting recipes with photos, ingredient lists, origins, etc.

We shall see how it goes, if you want to check it out follow THIS LINK or, I have put at the top of this blog a page that will also lead you to my new blog.

Cheers!!!! Farewell from Australia, and greetings from the next phase of life!


Monday, June 6, 2011

Post Secret Two: Things I have been thinking, experiencing, and doing but was not able to write in order to keep my early return to the United States a surprise

The Feelings:

It has been different now that I know I am going home, the Vivid show in Sydney was the last time that I will ever be there, and it was quite a bittersweet experience. I am so happy and ready to be going home, REALLY happy to be leaving DLC and Macquarie, but I am so sad to be leaving Sydney, Australia, and my friends here. It dawned on me a couple weeks ago exactly what leaving Australia really meant. I am leaving a whole continent! A whole hemisphere! Without any idea when—if ever—I will be able to return. Granted I have had some amazing experiences, I think I made the most of my visit, and, though I did not get to do EVERYTHING I wanted to, I was able to fit most of it in. All the most important bits like the outback, and the reef anyway, I feel like my experience is a good one and as complete as I could have made it. But still, leaving Australia…its just…an odd thought, and yet, totally normal, and yet…its hard to explain.
I will not copy Angie, but she says some stuff about how she feels about coming home (she goes on the 12th) that I think is fairly relevant to me as well. I know I have changed some, become more independent, more capable, more, ‘of the world’, but ALSO I know that home has changed while I have been away, even though in my mind it is in sort of a static state, I know it has changed, and so, going back to all that different-ness will be really weird. My friends have had shared things without me, family too, etc. I am a little scared. Also, I am not exactly sure how I have changed…I just listed some of the obvious, but I guess I don’t know how this will effect me in my life once I return to the States.

The Departure:
Early in the morning.....


So, I woke early the morning of June 2. I had packed everything the night before of course; all that was left was the clothes on my back and my shower stuff. I said my last goodbyes to the early risers, before being accompanied by Angie and Anthony to the Airport. It was really nice of them to come along, Angie supplied Breadtop for us for breakfast and both helped lug my considerable baggage. The train ride was no different from most others I have had. It felt similar to the trainride when I was flying out to Alice Springs. I was aware that yes I was headed to an airport, but not really getting the whole magnitude of the situation. After checking in at the airport, getting a whole extra kilo in my check bag thanks to a friendly agent, it was time to say goodbye. We hugged and got a picture taken, still surreal, still not sinking in that I will not see these people or this country again for a long time if ever. I spent the last few moments waiting in a quiet corner of the departures lounge gazing out at my last time seeing Australia…When the flight began to leave the ground is when it finally hit me a bit harder I think, I felt some sort of wave of emotion so that has to mean something, but again I am still in denial I think.

The flight was really long. It was only one hour more than my trip to Japan, but it felt like a lot longer. I tried to keep myself on Chicago time as much as possible, so for the first few hours I watched a movie that I had really wanted to see (the Mechanic), another that I figured ‘oh why not’ (Never Say Never, actually an interesting movie, though I didn’t really learn anything except Justin Beiber is spoiled and doesn’t listen to direction or rules very well, I must say that he is talented especially for his age when he was younger). Then I attempted to sleep from midnight CH time to around 5am. I think I got a few hours, but certainly not much nor was it very restful. Finally I gave up and pulled out my Jack Reacher book. I was then entertained sufficiently for the rest of the voyage and by the time we landed in Vancouver I was already halfway through. It was so odd to land, there was fog! And, green stuff like pine trees! I had not realized how different the trees look in AU compared to here. It was almost like stepping into a ‘north woods’ postcard or painting or something. My feelings? The weather was so weird and different, and yet not different at all, I was also tired and being on a plane for so long does things to ones head so I was a bit out of it. Ready to be back in the States!!! But sadly I had a loooooooong layover to look forward to before I could get to Chi-town (from 7:30am to 1:30pm). Walking through the Vancouver airport though, there were things like REESES chocolate, and Cinnabun, and whisky, and books about grizzly bears, yep, stereotypical Canada alright! I was excited to see what Chicago was like, this whole in-between stuff where I was not even back in the states yet was weird. Kinda like limbo, it is also how my head felt…floaty and not attached to anything…yep…so began the jetlag!!

Post Secret One: Things I have been thinking, experiencing, and doing but was not able to write in order to keep my early return to the United States a surprise

The Decider:

Ok, so around the beginning of May I made the decision to explore my options for returning home. Since DLC kicks us out by the 25th of June, and my current plane ticket was for the 2nd of July, I needed to make changes regardless of when I decided to come back. I had been considering for awhile the possibility of returning by June 5th so that I could attend Lawrence University's graduation, several of my close Lawrentian friends are graduating this year, not to mention my Brother, so it is a big event this time around.

Not making any solid choice, I gave Continental Airlines a call to see what flights were available from Australia to the U.S. around June 4th, planning to arrive in the States just in time to make it to graduation, but not leave Macquarie before the official end of classes on the 3rd. The first person I talked to barely spoke English, misunderstood most of what I was asking and gave me the information that there were no flights before June 12th that worked with my ticket options. I decided that perhaps it would be good for me to call back and speak to someone else, so I waited a day and again called the Airline. Again I spoke with someone who had fairly poor English (a completely different person though) and she initially told me that there was a flight on the 1st in the early morning, and NO flights on the 12th...hmmm...I decided to call back one more time later that evening, just to be sure, since again, I thought perhaps there had been not so good understanding just based on what I was being given in responses (not because I was told there was nothing free, but, there were some other odd things as well). I called and OH NO! It was the FIRST person I had talked to again!!!! I asked my question and she told me that she would check for flights, she found one leaving on June 1st in the evening going from Sydney to Vancouver, to LA, to Houston, to Chicago. Certainly not optimal, long travel time AND leaving on the 1st I would not have any time to accomplish my exams. So I asked if there was ANYTHING else. I was on hold for a looooooong time and then the call suddenly cut to another line (whether I was transferred or it just jumped I do not know). Anyway, just as I was giving up on the idea of going home early, perhaps it was not 'meant to be' I was thinking, the person who picked up and asked "how can I help you" sounded like a native English speaker. I asked one last time about flights from Sydney to the U.S.

We proceeded to have lovely conversation about flights across the dateline, his impending 49th birthday, and the milestone of turning 50. He saw what had been done by the previous agent and laughed.

"That is not a very direct flight now is it!?" he said "I can get you in WAY better than that!" and within minutes he told me there was a flight from Sydney to Vancouver to Chicago on the 2nd of June. Easy to find, don't know why the other agents had such trouble! Perfect!!! Decision time!!! Should I book the flight? pay the money? If I don't do it it may not be available. At this point I had not yet decided to go home so early, because that was very early...was I done with my Australian experience? I had not yet been to Broome or Tasmania...but then again, I didn't really have the funds did I? What would I choose!? I decided to book. I could always change later if needbe, so I gave it a ‘here goes’ and asked him to switch the ticket for me. He proceeded to do so and I said,
"ok let me get my credit card out" to this he said
"shhh shhh I am concentrating!" I was a bit baffled by this, but ok, then I asked
"ready for the card number yet?" he replied
"nono shush! there you are, you are all booked I have sent the confirmation email."
"so, no credit card?" (I knew from previous calls and checking online that there was undoubtably a fee for changing tickets and airports)
"no Miss, we will collect that from you if you switch again. Thank you for flying with us!"

So, I was gifted a ticket home by a man I have never met, I don't even know his name. Ok Ariana, perhaps going home early was 'meant to be' after all. Also, a week after I booked the ticket I secured a part-time job in Oberlin beginning on the 6th of June, tickets to Broome are really expensive, and I need some reason to come back to Australia someday right? So going home early works out well.