Yesterday Devin and I adventured out on our bikes to the land of colorful shacks and Asian tourists – aka Brighton Beach. And while the weather was ever changing, it was still nice to feel the sand between my toes. I’m not sure how I feel about the whole biking to the beach to relax for a couple hours and then have to bike home thing though – it’s not fun having to exercise after sun bathing and unwinding for three hours. But it is nicer than being on a tram or a train though, so maybe it is worth it. I for sure will never ever think anything in Bloomington is far away after living here because it takes at least an hour to go into the city, and on the weekend when public transport isn’t as frequent, it usually takes longer than that. I do miss my car, but I’ve realized how accustomed I became to using it for short distances. Living in Melbourne has given me a new perception of distance, in that basically everything in Bloomington is bikeable or walkable. But given that it will be winter when I get home, chances are I’ll go right back to my old habits – I’ll admit it, I have my flaws.

After last night, I can successfully add lasagna to a dish I have learned to make thanks to the informal cooking lessons that Devin and I have been taking in his uncle’s kitchen. Granted we’re only up to three now, but hey it’s a start. It was quite an exciting night of cooking because I actually found something I am better at than Devin – chopping onions. Yes it’s true, I, Maddie Hayford, successfully chopped an onion without crying, while Devin was washing his eyes out in the sink. It is a moment that will forever be written in history. But seriously, this lasagna was da bomb. I hardly ever get seconds but last night I went up for thirds; good thing I had sweatpants on – expandable waistband!

I was able to experience the luxury of Australia’s thrift shops today because one of my gal pals and I had to go theme shopping for Uni Games. After each day of competition, there’s a themed party every night, so of course we have to dress up for the occasions. I’m so bummed I don’t have my AXiD Box O’ Random Articles of Clothing with me, but the stuff I bought today is definitely worthy of being added to the box. Don’t worry there will be plenty of pictures taken so you can see my wonderful taste in clothing. Devin is going to look pretty great too; one of the theme nights is childhood heroes, and he is being Tommy Pickles from Rugrats. His costume: a bald cap, diaper, and too small of a blue shirt. I wouldn’t let him shave his head, hence the bald cap. I'm a little terrified to see the final product.

I’m officially on spring break! Truth is, it doesn’t feel any different though. I mean usually there is this huge rush of relief as I walk out of my last class at IU, but here I feel so nonchalant about my classes all of the time that when I walked out of my last lecture yesterday I completely forgot to celebrate.

Good thing there was plenty of opportunity to celebrate last night though – we had a masquerade ball! It was put on by the student village and for the price of $50 we had free transportation, a three-course meal with enough hors d’oeuvres you could argue Devin had an eight-course meal, and a four-hour open bar. Let me go ahead and break the night down for you because it was actually one of my favorite experiences here in Australia so far.

After all the pre-ball photos were taken, we started to load up on the buses, which we discovered weren’t just any ole’ buses. No, they were Melbourne’s finest because we were riding in a fleet of buses from “The Pole Dance Bus” company. Decorated with silhouettes of respectable women, each bus came equipped with two stripper poles, a disco ball, and flashing lights. I couldn’t help but wonder what everyone on the street would think of all these buses in the middle of rush hour traffic on a Thursday night. Imagine trying to explain that to a little child. “Mommy, why are school buses driving around so late?” “Because Jimmy, strippers have to go to school too.” Luckily all the windows were blacked out as well so I didn’t have to worry about hiding my face.

Anyway, the stripper buses put my standard for the night at a pretty low level so when we walked up on a red carpet to this club, I wasn’t sure whether to take it seriously or not. Well, as soon as I walked in I knew I should take it seriously because oh my gosh this place was beautiful. As we entered the main room where all the festivities were being held, we were handed glasses of wine – classy – and then I was told I was required to keep my heels on all night – classier. We ate, we drank, we danced; it was all so amazing because of two reasons. The first being I had the best date anyone could ever ask for and the second reason being that even though we had to pay beforehand for the ticket, it was like you were getting everything for free, and let me tell you: I could get used to that treatment.  We were there for four hours but it went by so fast, like expected. But make sure to stalk me on Facebook, just so you can see how classy everyone and everything was.

And while I would have enjoyed not setting an alarm for this morning, I had signed up as a volunteer for VU’s biggest volunteer day of the year. I convinced Devin to come with me as well, so it wasn’t as awful getting up this morning knowing he wasn’t getting to sleep in either - hehe. It was an all day event, so everyone got to campus at 8am and then we were all randomly assigned to projects and places around the area for the day. For example, some people were gardening, some people were volunteering with Special Olympics, and Devin and I were painting. We were at a rec center – so like a YMCA basically – and we were helping with an art project entitled “Before I Die I Want To…” I included the link – here – so you can see the inspiration behind the project. Pretty neat, right? The problem was there were 15 of us to about twelve boards and then we had to wait two and a half hours between coats to allow each board to dry, so needless to say we had a lot of down time. That led to Devin and I spending a lot of time making up random games with a deflated soccer ball to pass the time. For example: trying to get the ball in the basketball hoop in the coolest way. Devin won because it was one of those moments that needed to be recorded because he wasn’t even looking at the ball or basket when he kicked it off to his side, but he somehow swished it in. I attempted to recreate such a nonchalant move but of course, it didn’t work. 

Steallower [n]: someone who "borrows" your stuff, without asking permission, so it's pretty much like stealing, and attempts to make it seem like the act never happened; see example below.

For example, if you run out of toothpaste for like the tenth time and you don't want to bother your roommate by asking to borrow their's again, you sneak in a use and return the tube of toothpaste to its original position. 

You may ask why I've provided this definition, and it's because tonight was the second time I’ve noticed someone using my milk in the community kitchen here at the village and I am officially on a manhunt. The first time this happened, I had maybe enough for a glass of milk left in the jug; the next morning I went to the kitchen for breakfast and opened the fridge to grab my milk BUT WAIT, it wasn’t there. Whoever the burglar was decided that after they finished my milk that they might just toss the jug all together, officially making them a thief. I have to admit this person had some gonads to steal the last bit of my milk because if I had, say, half a jug left and someone used a little bit of it, chances are I wouldn’t notice. 

So tonight, I once again opened the fridge and my milk was gone, but the thing that really peeved me about this time was I had just bought my milk yesterday! As my blood pressure skyrocketed, I called Devin to report the atrocity and as I was walking around the kitchen I noticed it was just hanging out on the counter next to a rice cooker. I was baffled, like are you really that lazy to steal someone’s stuff and then just leave it out in plain site? Obviously they have never read the definition for a steallower. So like a paranoid freak, I decided I would wait until the person who was cooking the rice came back into the kitchen to confront them. Now to be fair, I had rice to cook as well so I had about thirty minutes to attempt to conveniently try and catch the culprit. About ten minutes after I arrived in the kitchen, another guy walked in and began to cook his dinner, which consisted of some steak and veggies – TO GO WITH THE RICE HE WAS COOKING. I could feel the adrenaline starting to coarse through my veins and then I asked “Is that your rice that’s cooking?” and he replied “yeah” – nail biting stuff I know – but then, I asked if he put milk in his rice. His eyes widened, darted to his rice cooker, and then replied “no”. I then simply stated that I was just curious because someone had used my milk and not placed it back in the fridge. He stared at the floor and said “oh, weird”. Whether or not I just freaked out a total stranger or actually caught the person who stole my milk, I was proud of myself for sticking up for myself. And while it meant creating a really awkward tension for the next twenty minutes as our food cooked, I felt satisfied. After reading back through this story, I realize that it makes me sound like a crazy person – neat.

On a less crazy note, I found Froot Loops at the grocery store yesterday - hello childhood! Now you may wonder why that is such a glorious find, but Australia does not indulge itself in sugary cereals like we do back home. They like bran, mini wheats without the frosting, and corn flakes. It’s strange and unnatural, so in short their cereal aisles are nothing like they are in the states. There’s been something about munching on my Froot Loops the past two mornings that’s made me feel strangely connected to home, and I can't help but smile because of it. While I could go for more challenging word scrambles on the back of the box, I’ll take what I can get. 
After reading about the mass shooting that happened in Washington yesterday, it made me think about the gun control policy here in Australia. Here’s a bit of Aussie history for you:

In 1996, after a mass shooting in Tasmania, Australia’s government enacted a strict gun control policy and held a massive buyback. It sounds complicated and impossible, but a very short time later they enacted the new policy and in less than a year, over 630,000 guns had been purchased and destroyed. There have been no mass shootings since.

Isn’t that incredible? I’m not going to debate over the internet on what I think should happen in the states, but it’s definitely some food for thought. Just recently, Jon Stewart did a three part mini series on the gun policies here in Australia, and I highly recommend you watch it - here’s the link

Smile, because there are only 77 days until I'm home!
I find it rare in my schedule when I really have nothing to do, because I seem to be good at taking up my spare time by doing something. When I say nothing to do, I mean me time, getting to do whatever I want and not having to worry about anything or anyone else. I don’t like having too much of this time because I feel like a hermit, but this past Friday evening/most of Saturday I had all to myself and it was awesome. Yes, Friday night was one of those times where I was excited to sleep because I honestly had nothing to wake up for. There’s something about not having to set an alarm that instantly makes that night’s sleep instantly ten times better – I know you all know that feeling. So what did I do in this time? After my luxuriously long shower and my hair in pigtails, I treated myself to watching Despicable Me; I painted both my fingernails and toes, which is something that rarely ever happens; I watched too many YouTube videos, and I stalked copious amounts of people on Facebook. The whole point of me time is to not be productive, and in a nutshell, that was my Friday night.

Now to balance out my low-key Friday night, my Saturday night was quite the opposite. Tegan, one of the lovely Aussies on my ultimate team, had her 21st party, and it also happened to be Lesley’s 21st as well; so the night started off at Tegan’s party, which Devin and I went together to. Because I had to leave early to get back to the student village before the crew left for the city to celebrate Lesley’s birthday, I was paranoid about not getting to spend enough time at Tegan’s. So what ended up happening? Devin and I showed up right on time, and we were the first guests, besides Tegan’s immediate family. I understand the whole “fashionably late” thing because people want to avoid the awkwardness that is inevitable at the beginning of every party, but in last night’s situation that just meant that more finger food and comfortable seating was available. We were also in a prime viewing area to watch Tegan’s adorable slideshow of pictures, with the age range covering baby to current day. Since I left early, I missed pretty much everything fun, which was a bummer because Devin told me that there were speeches, lap dances, and even more finger food to enjoy. Alas, my commitments took me into the middle of the city to help ring in Lesley’s big 2-1. It’s funny that even though the drinking age is 18 here, 21st birthdays are still a pretty big deal in Australia. It’s just another American influence on Aussie culture, because there is literally nothing special for your 21st here besides, you know, the whole celebrating your life part. With Lesley adorned in her birthday sash and tiara we went to a club called Anyway. We actually got in this time too, so Maddie got to experience her first dance club in Australia. It was three levels, with different areas for different kinds of music. Despite the variety of music and fun time that was had, it was still hard for me to justify spending twenty dollars for cover because I prefer the activities that fall under the single digits or free category.

And how did I spend my Sunday? After a relaxing bout of morning yoga, I laid out and got my first minor Australian sunburn. Spring break does start this Friday, so I like to think it’s in good preparation for the two weeks I’ll be spending in the sun.  

Even though my shadowing hours at the gym technically ended last week, I was able to find another trainer to shadow; the one whose dog I like to take for walks. This guy, Luke, started his own personal training business when he was 23 years old and has so many clients that love him it’s ridiculous. Obviously I want to be him, but not in a creepy way, just in a “I really look up to you, teach me everything” kind of way. So the fact that I get to follow him around is awesome because I learn heaps of stuff.  Another awesome thing is that I just got hired to make phone calls for their business, which pays me $20 an hour. If you’ve fallen out of your seat from shock, my apologies.

Anyway, one of the things Luke and his staff have gotten really into recently is this kind of therapy practice called dry needling. For people who have a tight muscle or area on their body, to relieve tension and stimulate repair they will get needles stuck into them. It’s kind of like acupuncture, but better. Instead of finding a trigger point and just leaving the needle to hang out for a bit, these needles are capable of being twisted so that they grab onto your muscle and essentially tear it. I know that description might have contorted your face out of horror, but let me calm you back down. The needle width is equivalent big at all. This means that the tearing that is happening to your muscle is actually in an incredibly small area. I know it sounds wonky, but because of the damage each needle creates, it encourages blood flow to the area, which stimulates the healing process. Go ahead and Google an image of dry needling just so you can get the full effect. I think the slogan for the practice should be something along the lines of: it only takes ten minutes to become a pincushion, so try it today!

I’ve been dealing with some hip issues lately and to help out with the pain, the doctor I’ve been seeing suggested I take up swimming. Well, isn’t it just so convenient that my boyfriend happens to be an amazing swimmer? Today was our first training session in the pool and I’m happy to report I didn’t drown. And even though I swallowed copious amounts of water, I am now more confident with my freestyle stroke. I’m not used to participating in something that requires me to restrict my breathing, so that’s why I kept swallowing water. Coordinating my breathing to go along with my strokes and to never forget to stop kicking proved to be a workout just for my brain. In order to reduce the embarrassment I felt from being in a pool, I purchased goggles with dark lenses so that no one could see my eyes; one for disguise and two because I remember the realization I had as a child that goggles made me look like some sort of alien species.

In a completely unrelated note, before I came to Australia I was attempting to change my signature that I’ve had since fourth grade. I couldn’t have picked a more inconvenient time to try and switch my signatures because down here, for any credit card signature they compare it to the one on the back of your card – every single time. I’m talking like even at the self-checkout at the grocery store. Everyone knows the pen pads for electronic signatures make anyone look like they’ve never written before, so the fact that today while checking out, an employee had to come over and verify my signature, stunned me. To be completely honest, I don’t which signature was worse – the electronic one or the one on the back of my card – and I’m ashamed to admit that. In all fairness, I was trying to change, but I’m worried I might get arrested for credit card fraud if I don’t use my old signature. Ah, the struggles. 

I like to think for every bad experience, there should be at least, like, five to even it all out. So while Saturday night was the bad experience, Monday night was one of the good times to lessen the hurt from the weekend. Monday nights are usually when we have our frisbee games, but this week we had a bye so we decided going out was solid alternative. We went to our coach’s house for a BBQ beforehand, and then we headed out to this place called Turf. I had attempted to go there the first week of class, but the line to get in was way too long, so I made sure this time we got there around 9:30 to avoid that issue. When we got there, there was a decent amount of people, but a small enough crowd you could flail your arms around or walk with a drink in your hand without hitting someone; by the time Devin and I left, which was about 11:45, you could barely move because it was so packed. Needless to say, we got there at the right time. We had a blast with the team, and we realized just how crazy Uni Games are going to be with this crowd. It’s no secret Aussies like to drink, but oh my gosh – they really do. One of the guys on the team bought all the boys four rounds of bourbon and coke in the time span of probably 20 minutes. After the first round, we were all like “awe, how nice of the guy – good on yah”. When he came back a second time, and everyone was like “oh, jeez another one? Okay!” The third time, my jaw dropped, and then the forth time I had to blink my eyes just to make sure I was seeing straight. Oh and here’s another Aussie term for you: sculling. It’s the equivalent to chugging, but I think it sounds scarier; so if you don’t do it something bad, could happen to you.

In my times going out and simply just people watching, I've noticed another piece of fashion I don’t understand, and they are the chunky sandals – that’s the best description I could come up with. Now I get platform heels and wedges; those are arguably a little chunky, but not like the sandals here that are all the rage. Maybe since I’ve been gone for a while, these have caught on in the states as well, but I…eek, it’s one trend I won’t be partaking in if they have. I posted a picture of a pair to try and give you an idea of what I’m talking about. They are simply strappy sandals, but instead of being flat on the ground, they are elevated, like, 2 or 3 inches off the ground and most of them look like they could be used to angrily stomp at something. It makes no sense to me and they are everywhere. I’m surprised the guys haven’t picked them up yet, but I guess they are still hooked on their tight capris.

In a completely unrelated note to partying, Australia had their elections this Saturday. Everyone I talked to leading up to the elections seem to equally despise both candidates, so it seemed like they had to pick the lesser of the two evils. Tony Abbott is the new Prime Minister, and like expected a lot of people aren’t too happy about it. I should have followed the policies of each candidate more closely, but I didn’t, however I do know a couple of Abbott’s that I can tell you I don’t support – I won’t get all political on you though. 

In celebration of Frankie, the other guy from IU here, turning 22, we got a huge group together to go out into the city. We even had a Facebook event for it, which just shows you how excited we all were to celebrate a birthday together. Lesley, the other girl from IU here, was awesome and earlier in the week messaged the club we wanted to go asking if there were any birthday specials. It seemed too good to be true because this is what we were told was included: free entry for the birthday guest with two free drink cards and reduced entry cost and VIP entry for all their guests. The people at the club told Lesley all we had to do was walk up to the bouncer and tell them we were on Frankie’s list and we’d get in, no problem.

Oh, but too bad there was a problem – a really big problem. The problem was that the bouncer was a…not a nice person, and he just turned us down as soon as we got there. I debated being professional and not using the club’s name in this post, but I decided I was professional enough by not telling you all what I really thought about the bouncer. The club was Cloud Nine and I don’t think I can put into words just HOW MUCH I HATE CLOUD NINE. I WAS SO ANGRY. FEEL THE EMPHASIS WITH THE CAPS. We had like twenty of us all together, ready to go, buy drinks, and have a great time, and for no reason at all we weren’t let in. I had told Lesley to bring her phone just in case we ran into any issues at the door, and even though she was attempting to show the bouncer the messages on her phone, he still didn’t let us in. The bouncer we were dealing with was clearly enjoying his authority roll, because he told the other bouncers not to talk us. It was one of those situations where you are in shock because of how ridiculous it was. It was maybe 11:30 by the time we got there a.k.a not a long line, which means there wasn’t a capacity issue they had to worry about. We also had plenty of fine lookin’ women ready to mingle and they outnumbered the number of guys we had, so the girl to guy ratio wasn’t an issue either. I know that sounds ridiculous, but clubs won’t let guys in who are either by themselves, in a group with only guys, or if the girl to guy ratio is too small. None of us were being rude, none of us were hammered, and if anyone was, they were hiding it well. We were all convinced that we were just discriminated against for being foreign. And I know that also sounds stupid, but we even tried to just go in the regular line and the bouncer told us to leave. I honestly have never wanted to punch someone in the face so bad as I wanted to last night and it would have been a fair fight too, because the bouncer and I were the same height.  

After all that drama though, the birthday boy got to celebrate his birthday at another establishment that welcomed foreigners, and that is all that matters. I also found out that the Salvation Army walks around at night distributing flip flops to girls whose feet can no longer bear the pain their heels have caused them. You all would have been proud of me though because I lasted all night in my heels, which is quite the accomplishment if I do say so myself. And no falling or twisting my ankles took place either. So for my feet, it was a good night.

Perhaps the only reason I want to remember last night is because of the fact I cut Devin’s hair for the first time. Granted it was with clippers that had a guard on them, but it was still insanely nerve-wracking. I've attempted to cut his hair before but here is the situation that usually unfolds:

I turn on the clippers. 
I half way close my eyes as I near Devin's head with them.
Devin accuses me of running against the curve of his head too softly, which means I'm not cutting any hair at all.
I am overcome with anxiety and run out of the bathroom squealing.

I don’t think I’ve ever met a guy that has as much hair as Devin either. I had him stand in the shower while I was cutting it, and after all was said and done, the collected hair looked like a legitimate wig. 

Last night I went to my first ever fashion show, and it was so neat. There was a whole gaggle of girls who went, and we all got dressed up and went out to eat beforehand. Getting dressed up, having drinks with dinner at a swanky restaurant, navigating the city on our own – the whole night was something I could not experience at home and it instantly made me feel years older. If those are the kind of girls nights that happen as you age, I’m all for it. The show itself was only about an hour long, but it was totally worth it because when else would I see a fashion show in a big city? Fashion shows are pretty sparse in southern Indiana. As expected there were things I would never be caught wearing, or any other sensible woman, but it allowed me to see first hand that the fashion world is definitely catered to an elite class of citizens. To be fair though, there were some amazing dresses that I don’t want to even imagine what the price tag would read because it takes away from the magic of it all.

And the models! Oh my gosh, thin as could be, with legs that seemed to stretch for miles. I found myself holding my breath so many times because I thought for sure one of them would eat it by catching their dress on their heels. Not that I desire to be as thin as all the girls were, but I would like to know what they eat, or probably realistically, what they don’t eat, to look the way they do. Whatever their diet consists of, I’m convinced it stinks. I won’t ever find out though, not only because I will never run into them, but also because if I ever did, they all looked too terrifying to speak to as they strutted their stuff with narrowed eyes down the catwalk.

I almost forgot to mention the music! I kept having to remind myself it was live because it sounded that amazing – I wanted the soundtrack. It was a violinist accompanied by a guy who would either sing or rap depending on the song, and they sounded incredible. It was all so edgy and chic sounding as well that I wish I could hear their music every time I got up to walk somewhere. I’m convinced I would instantly look 10x more amazing because I would want to own every step I was taking. Maybe that’s the models’ secret, because we all know that good music can make you feel sexy.

Today I walked my first dog since I left home. Georgie was her name and while she does not she replace my pooch, she was the best alternative I could have asked for. I borrowed her from one of the trainers I shadow at the gym and took her out for a walk – totally normal right? Anyway, it quickly turned from a walk to a snuggle fest because we both realized that walking was overrated. She’s one of those dogs that will just lean right into you, or try and climb in your lap, and then just stay there. And since I rarely am around animals here, I made sure I gave her the best belly scratches a dog could ask for. I knew being around animals has shown to improve moods and such, but now I am a firm believer in it. My day was so much brighter because of Georgie, so needless to say, I’ll be borrowing her again very soon. 

The weather was absolutely wonderful today, which made for a glorious bike ride to the beach. Minus the 20mph winds, the ride was perfect because it wasn’t too warm, and the sun was out, which allowed my sexy bike tan lines to reappear. In total, it was a little over thirty miles, which is the longest ride I have been on in months, so needless to say I am dead tired right now and typing is quite exhausting.  I think one of the coolest things about biking is how much distance you can travel in a short amount of time. It took about an hour to get down to St. Kilda, which is less than what it takes with public transportation – that blows my mind. It also makes me feel really awesome because I can be like “I’m faster than a bus, train, and a tram”. Well, not really, but you get my point. Riding with Devin is always a good challenge because he is obviously an amazing athlete, and that means he can ride basically forever at very high speeds if he decides that is what he wants to do. However, staying on his wheel in an attempt not face the headwind by my lonesome self was very important, and that is where the challenge came in. I’ve been told that if you draft behind someone close enough, you can save about 30% of your energy, which was totally true for today. As soon as I fell off Devin’s wheel it was like I had deployed a parachute. 

Once we arrived along the main beach road at St. Kilda we continued down to Brighton Beach, which is famous for these brightly colored huts that line the shoreline. Being the tourists that we are, we made sure to take plenty of pictures – like the one I posted with this entry. Look at how strong I am! Actually this picture took a while to get right, and in the end it still isn’t perfect because my eyes are closed. Because the wind was so strong, and maybe because my muscles are not the strongest, I had trouble situating the bike over my head. In my first attempt to hold it without Devin’s help, my arms buckled and my head went right through the frame. But whatever, it looks cool and makes me feel empowered.

In addition to our amazing ride, we also saw our first marine wildlife since we’ve been here: a dead jellyfish. Neat, right? I’m hoping that is the extent of animals I encounter in the ocean while I’m here, unless it’s something that can’t kill me, like a sea turtle or dolphin.  

It’s actually ridiculous how fast time is flying by. Like, it’s already September and I’ve almost been here two months. THAT’S SO WEIRD. As the eve of my two-month anniversary approaches, I’ve taken a few moments to reflect. I’ve realized that Australia has already given me everything I wanted to get out of my studying abroad experience. I have proven to myself that I am a lot stronger than I believed I was and that I am truly the only person in charge of my happiness. I was convinced that my parents had made a mistake and misjudged my ability to survive on my own. I thought for sure I would never really like it here because I missed everything familiar back home. I stressed myself out beyond normal limits thinking I wouldn’t make any friends or find anything to be a part of here. Now, looking back on all those negative thoughts and worries, I realize that they were normal and expected, but I’m so glad I have made it out on the other side. My bed, my friends, my classes, my home are all things I knew were great when I was there in Bloomington. However, having been completely stripped of anything that reminds me of home, besides Devin, has made me realize just how great everything and everyone is. Thinking about everything I have to return home to fills me with such a happiness I truly can’t describe. I feel like a completely new person and it’s exciting. Before I came here I had always believed that in order to grow, a person needed to experience change – hence why I moved half way across the world – but now, I can fully understand why that change is necessary. While I don’t want any of my friends to leave me after I get home, I do want them to be able experience the same life changing experience Australia has given me. But maybe instead of going far away, just, like, go to Indy. And instead of it being for a semester, make it, like, a month. I think those are reasonable requests, and I’m sure all of you do too.

While Australia has given me many things, free water has not been one of them. Water fountains are not a thing here and it’s really inconvenient. I’ve only been able to locate one water fountain on campus, and in places like the mall and movie theatre, they simply do not exist. I’ve decided that if you are going to attempt to find a water fountain, you better make sure the bottle you have with you is decently filled, as you’ll be thirsty from your search efforts. Another thing Australia doesn’t have here is the letter ‘z’. For example, the word ‘realization’ transforms to realisation here. Don’t worry, my autocorrect isn’t happy with it either.

However, while water fountains and the letter ‘z’ are sparse here down under, double rainbows are a plenty. I’ve seen three since I’ve been here and each time I treat it like it’s my first time ever seeing one. I’m absolutely captivated by them and I find myself daydreaming for as long as I let myself to, and on Friday it was the whole 15-minute bus ride to campus. Even though I’m almost twenty-one, I still spend my time thinking thoughts such as “I wonder if I could ever run to the end of it”, which then sends me into an even deeper daydream – sprinting off into the distance to find my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Yesterday afternoon was spent at the beach, attempting to make my freckles reappear across my face. It was a beautiful day, the beach was packed, and we were soaking up the sun. Even though the last day of winter was a couple days ago, I somehow believed that the water would be at least decently warm. Wrong. As I tiptoed into the Aussie ocean for my first time, I turned right back around once the water reached my anklebone; in total I would say it was about a four second experience. Even though the beach was filled with people, the only other people that were in their bathing suits were little children. It’s become pretty clear that people here are used to it being a lot warmer before they break out the shorts, because even though I find it decently warm, for the most part, people are still in hoodies and pants. But for me, and the other Americans I was with, once it got above 70 degrees, bathing suits were fair game.