Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My last few days in Australia, in pictures! (part 1)

My last exam was on the 19th of June (Tuesday). A lot has happened since then, and instead of boring you with a bunch of descriptions, I think I'll just post pictures!

Wednesday 20 June

Resting at home in the morning, and cube club in the afternoon! Sorry, no pictures from that day.

Thursday 21 June

A while back at the MUOSS Student Experience Fair, I won a free day tour of the Mornington Peninsula! But I kept putting it off. Well, I couldn't put it off for too much longer after exams, so I finally went on the tour! The weather was not so good that day, but it was still lots of fun.

From Arthur's Point, you're supposed to be able to see the entire peninsula! But as I learned, this is only possible on a sunny day.

A nice view from Point Nepean National Park!

Beach boxes!

Wine tasting! (What a great view from the winery!) I started feeling a little dizzy after tasting a few wines. I was worried that I was becoming drunk!

Trying out some chocolate at a chocolate factory!

Friday 22 June

Checked out the Visitor Information Centre at Federation Square, and found some souvenir Rubik's cubes! I was looking around for tourist information and for things to do around Melbourne.

There was a nice rainbow in sight from Federation Square!

Saturday 23 June

On the way to the Docklands, I had a nice view of a double rainbow!

Interesting shopping centre!

At the end of the centre, Costco! Since I didn't have a membership, I couldn't get in. I was thinking of the "tag-along method" of getting in, but decided that wasn't a good idea.

There's a nice view of the city from the Docklands

Sunday 24 June

I spent my day at St Kilda!

Every Sunday, St Kilda has an arts and crafts market!

The conservatory at the St Kilda Botanical Gardens!

This store gives you a good idea of how crazy Acland St can be!

Yum, the cakes and pastries in all the bakeries on Acland St look so good!

St Kilda community garden!

Went out to the pier at dusk to look for penguins! I saw some hiding in the rocks, but they were impossible to photograph!

Monday 25 June

Stopped by Saint Patrick's Cathedral on the way to the city

I passed by the Parliament House, and decided to go up the steps. When I did, I realized they were giving free tours of the building!

To get in the building, I had to go through an airport-like security screening. Then I had to wear a sticker. (This changed my jacket from "GAP" into "TAP"!)

Pretending to be the speaker of the Legislative Assembly!

The Legislative Council room is also elaborated decorated!

Lunch with Emily. Yum, curry!

Tuesday 26 June

Flinder St Station

Federation Square. The triangular pattern apparently has a tiling pattern that is related to the mathematician John Conway!

There was an exhibit on film and other media at the ACMI!

Playable Mario games!

Visited the Ian Potter Gallery, which is full of art!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Good-bye, bike...

There are so many signs that my time in Melbourne is almost over, unfortunately. One is that I only have one exam left, on Tuesday. (Although, this should be a happy thing!) Another sign is that yesterday, I parted with the bicycle that I had used to commute to and from Melbourne Uni throughout the semester. I sold it to another student. Now I am sad...

One of the biggest differences between here and Princeton is that at Princeton, all the undergraduate students live on campus, so there was never an issue of getting to campus. But here in Melbourne, I've been living 2.5 km away from the university. Quite a big difference!

Back when I got here in February, I had been considering taking the buses and trams to get to the campus each day. Melbourne's public transportation is great, but to get to Uni, I would have to take a rather indirect route. Also, I thought it was a bit expensive. So, I decided to get a bike, even though I had no prior experience with cycling as a way to commute!

And it has been great! In the beginning, I felt super shaky and unbalanced while riding and pedaling. (Actually, I had a hard time just getting onto the bike!) But I quickly got used to riding the bike around, not just to Uni and back, but also around the city! It was fun and healthy, and it saved time and money! I also got a chance to meet a great community of students at Melbourne Uni who also biked to campus! Perfect!

I really would like to bike more from now on. Obviously, I didn't have to come all the way to Melbourne to discover the joys of biking, but I suppose it's just one of the benefits of putting myself in a new environment!

An extra benefit of biking: yummy food! The environment department had free "Ride-to-Uni" breakfasts every Thursday for students who rode their bikes

Here's a closer view of the bike.  (I took this picture to post on advertisements.)

Me with the bike, minutes before the buyer rode off with it. Sad moment for me...
I did consider shipping the bike back to the U.S. That would have been super cool! It would be so nice to have the same bike back at home. But the cost of sending the bike would probably be at least 2/3rds of the price I paid for the bike. Yikes! Oh well... another bike may not be as special, but I'll never forget where I started biking!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Almost done with exams!

Not-so-exciting update: This week, I turned in my linguistics research paper on Tuesday and took my maths final on Wednesday. Since yesterday, I've just been studying for my philosophy exam next Tuesday. Then I will be all done for the semester!

Not-so-exciting pictures from today:

Arriving early to study in the library!

After several hours, some more people arrived!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Mock meat restaurants around Melbourne!

I turned in 3 history essays on Monday, and I have a linguistics research paper due next Wednesday. And I also have some exams coming up! Ahhhh! But I don't want to bore you with all the work that I have. (I'm afraid that I might have already done that!)

During this period of intense busyness, I've saved myself from going insane by remembering to step out of the library every once in a while and do something else. Writing this blog right now is a good example. But I don't have time to write a bunch, so I'll put up a bunch of pictures instead. (Actually... isn't that what I usually do anyways? Haha!)

The theme? Eating at mock meat restaurants around Melbourne! You might think, what's the point of mock meat? I don't know myself. As a vegetarian (well, actually a pescatarian), I used to think of mock meat as things like veggie burgers and veggie sausages, which I feel scare a lot of people away from vegetarianism. But the mock meat at these Buddhist vegetarian restaurants is much better. And really fascinating!

Last Friday (1st of June), some friends I met through the Environment Department decided to have dinner at The White Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant

Group photo!
We ordered a variety of "meat" dishes, and they were all delicious!

The mock duck was very convincing!
That was my yummy introduction to mock meat restaurants in Melbourne! And then this Thursday, the tai-chi club went to dinner after class at Enlightened Cuisine, another mock meat restaurant.

We made it to the restaurant!
Group photo!
Soups and appetizers! (Except the appetizers were mostly eaten by the time I took this photo!)
The first main dish came out: sizzling "beef"!
Yay food!
Closer view of all the dishes. Remember, there's not actual meat!
Fried ice cream for dessert! Probably not something I should have often!
Okay, back to work for me...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

MUMS Trivia Night

Friday (25th of May) was the last day of classes! I still find that kind of hard to believe. I've completed 12 weeks of classes at Melbourne Uni!

But that's not the focus of this entry. It's about what MUMS (Melbourne University Maths and Stats Society) did to celebrate the end of classes. They hosted a trivia night!

My team!
My 4-person team included one person from the Netherlands and one person from America (me!). This was a good thing for us; we had knowledge from different parts of the world! (Or hopefully, that was true.) We had a hard time coming up with a team name, but one of us started to write "Let's get quizzical" after the announcer (person reading the questions) said that. But he never finished writing that, so we became "Let's get quizzi."

Look at all the snacks!
Yay, my first time trying a Tim Tam!
I probably ate too much junk food there, but I had a lot of fun. Some highlights:

  • In Pokemon, what is the legendary fire bird in the Kanto region? Moltres! All my years of playing Pokemon has paid off!
  • Who is the protagonist of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter? Hester Prynne! Yay, thank you 11th grade American literature!
  • Identify the 4 colors of the buttons on a Super Nintendo controller. Umm... aren't they all purple? It turns out the question was asking for the PAL version. Whoops, I am in Australia after all!
So, how did we do?

We're "Let's get quizzi" which is third on the scoreboard. Top three places received prizes, and we came in... fourth... We scored 48.75, and 3rd place scored 49.25. So close! Off by one question!

But that's okay, I already had enough chocolate that night. It was a great way to end my last day of classes at Melbourne. Now, onto final projects and exams!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Weet-Bix breakfast cereal!

As my breakfast buddies back at Princeton know, I love Rice Chex. When I first entered Princeton, I tried many types of breakfast cereal in the dining hall, and eventually settled on this one as my favorite. It's nice and crunchy and not overloaded with sugar. Soon afterwards, I discovered I really liked it with soy milk and fruit! And this combination became my typical breakfast for over a year!

So it's probably not very surprising that I was very disappointed when I couldn't find any Rice Chex in the supermarkets around here. In one of my visits to the city centre, I went to a department store called David Jones that imported products from America. I didn't find any Rice Chex, but I did find Cheerios. But it was $16.95 per box! Yikes! Even if they did import Rice Chex, I highly doubt I would have gotten any there.

I sampled different kinds of cereal that they did have here. Since I avoided sugary kinds of cereal, there weren't many for me to choose from. And it was during this period of exploration that I discovered Weet-Bix!

Rows and rows of Weet-Bix in the supermarket! (An enthusiastic worker saw my trying to take a photo by myself and offered to take one for me!)
As a breakfast cereal, Weet-Bix is so... different! Even before you open the box, you can feel that something is weird. Weet-Bix boxes are so much heavier than other cereal boxes of the same size. It's not hard to figure out why. Most cereal boxes have a bunch of air inside, but Weet-Bix boxes are completely packed with Weet-Bix!

Talk about efficiency! Weet-Bix doesn't like to waste space at all! This box has 7 rows, each containing 12 biscuits.
And as you can see, it doesn't look like other kinds of cereal! Weet-Bix come in giant pieces!

How is this breakfast cereal?
To eat them, I have to add soy milk to soften the biscuits up, and then break them into smaller pieces with my spoon. Of course, Weet-Bix has very little added sugar, so not much of a taste. But I like it with soy milk and fruit.

Pounding up the Weet-Bix with my spoon can be fun!
And this has been my typical breakfast for many weeks now!

I can't say whether Rice Chex or Weet-Bix is better. It would be nice if I could compare them side by side, but I wonder if there's a place that I'll be able to find both of them together! It seems like Weet-Bix is a very distinctively Australian thing. The box even says "Aussie Kids are Weet-Bix kids." (What does that mean though?) I know I will miss Weet-Bix when I go back to America!
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