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!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Street art around Melbourne

Do you remember seeing the following Google Doodle on the 4th of May?

For some reason, something about this image looked really familiar to me. A few minutes of searching on Google and I figured out why. Check this out!

This mural by Keith Haring is just a 3 minute 37 second walk from where I am currently living. (Yes, I timed myself!)

There is a lot of street art around Melbourne! Near the bottom of my post on the Melbourne Welcome is a picture of me standing in front of a very colorfully-decorated laneway in the city centre. Collingwood, where Haring's Mural is located and where I live, happens to filled with street art. So after the Google Doodle gave me inspiration for this blog entry, I decided to walk around a little bit to take pictures of different ones.

From Haring's mural, you only need to walk a little bit to find another work of art!
Here's a cute cartoon-y one!
And here's another drawing!

There's so much variety in the subject/theme of the art and in the style. I wonder what inspires people to draw all of these. I pass by so much art on the way to Melbourne Uni that I don't really think about it much anymore, but it really gives this area a young and vibrant feel. I like it!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sydney trip: Chinatown

For some reason, I ended up spending a lot of time in Chinatown while I was in Sydney. And I ate a lot of food there.

The first step to eating food in Chinatown is, of course, getting to Chinatown. As Edouard was showing me around Sydney on Friday morning, one of the only places he had not been to was Chinatown. When we were at Darling Harbour, we knew Chinatown was close by so we went to find it. We started passing by a lot of Asian stores and restaurants, but I had been expecting a gate, or something grand, which would tell us "you are now in Chinatown."

Edouard had to leave to take care of other business, and I continued my search for the central part of Chinatown. It turned out we had been circling around it! The main Chinatown area was Dixon Street, which was closed off to cars. Both ends of the street had big gates just like I had pictured in my mind.

One entrance!
And the other entrance!
Dixon Street is very busy!
I ended up eating lunch at a Taiwanese restaurant on Dixon Street.

Noodle soup
After I finished eating, I went back out to Dixon Street, and noticed a lot of food stands being set up outside.

Here's one booth...
... and here's another!
Hmm! I wondered what was going on! It was around 3pm at that time (I had a late lunch), and I thought it was a weird time to be selling food to people. I probably would have tried some of the food, but I was already full. I decided to come back and investigate these food tents another day.

Later that afternoon, I met up with Edouard again, at Circular Quay. And I told him (excitedly) that I had found Chinatown! So after we checked out other parts of Sydney (like the Royal Botanical Gardens), we ended up going back to Dixon Street. And immediately, the food-booth mystery was solved.

There was a night market going on!

And of course, food!
Edouard had to leave again, and since I already had lunch at Chinatown, I thought about whether I should go somewhere else for dinner that night. I decided to stay.

So I went and got food!

"Vegetarian steamed rice rolls"

"Black sticky rice in coconut sauce"

"Pan fried radish cakes with X.O. sauce"
Some time while I was browsing the night market, I learned that the market only took place every Friday. So I felt super lucky, because (1) I wouldn't have returned to Chinatown that night if I wasn't showing Edouard where it was and (2) I had originally thought the night market took place every night. Yay!

I left Chinatown that night pretty full of Chinese food. But then I returned to Chinatown pretty often during my time at Sydney, and I ate there a lot. Maybe I was craving Chinese food. But I think part of it was because of homesickness.

Being in Sydney made me feel a little homesick. I wished my family was with me at the time so they could see how awesome Sydney was. But then being in Chinatown made me super homesick.

This is a bit silly, but I wished my family was in Chinatown with me, partially because I couldn't speak/read Chinese very well and my parents could! Most of the time, I ended up speaking in English when I was ordering food. Once, the worker spoke to me in Chinese when I walked into the restaurant, so I replied in Chinese. But then I  ended up speaking in English after I couldn't read the menu! Once, I almost successfully got by in Chinese while ordering food at the a booth at the night market... but at the end I said "thanks!". Whoops!

There was one small bakery on Dixon Steet that I ended up going to pretty often. During my second time there, the owner came by and said every time I see you, you always seem so happy." Whoa, he remembered me! (And, I would say the same thing about him!) We had a nice little chat, in Chinese! And somehow, he made me feel a little "at home" in the bakery. And even more homesick. The last time I went was right before leaving for the airport. I came by to get some snacks for the flight.

Standing in front of the bakery with a sesame rice ball that I had just bought!
I really do hope I could come back to Sydney with my family in the future. I wonder if that bakery will be there

Friday, May 4, 2012

Sydney trip: After the cube competition!

Despite the competition being over, people still had plenty of energy left! Some of the Melbourne cubers and the organizers from the University of Sydney decided to celebrate the competition at a pub.

I was staying with the Melbourne cubers that night at a hotel we had booked together, so first we went to drop off our stuff. Our hotel was about 1.5 km north of the university. No big deal, in keeping with the spirit of walking everywhere around Sydney, we dragged our suitcases off to the hotel, checked in, and left for the pub. The pub was 1.5 km south of the university.

I didn't mind the walk that much. I was kind of hungry, so I was looking forward to eating dinner at the pub. On our way there, Luke was trying to convince me to drink beer, and I kept saying no.

After a bunch of walking, we finally made it! I happily took a picture of the place.

Unfortunately, there is an hour gap between me taking the picture above, and me actually entering the pub. All the other Melbourne cubers went in, and I followed along. Or tried to. The bouncer stopped me, asking me for ID and telling me "you look too young!" I suppose I could take that as a nice complement, but I had left my ID back in the hotel!

Luke and I walked 3 km all the way back to the hotel. I was tired and hungry, and at that point, didn't really care about thinking before speaking. So naturally I was complaining the whole time. (Luke, thanks for accompanying me and putting up with me, haha!)

We made it back to the hotel. My feet were tired. But we were only half-way there! I got my ID and we headed back on our 3 km journey back to the pub. Urghhh... more complaining!

But somehow we made it there, and I proudly showed the bouncer my ID and went inside.

Luke and I both ordered a warm butternut pumpkin risotto! Yum!

I was tired, but Luke clearly was not:

And by that time, all the Sydney people had been long gone, leaving just the Melbourne cubers:

And... after all that trouble, I gave in to Luke's request, and had a glass of beer! (*gasp!*) First time drinking beer! I think the taste is quite... interesting. I guess I'm not used to it yet. But that was definitely a memorable experience. (Not just the beer itself, but all the trouble I had to go through to drink that glass of beer!)

And guess what happened afterwards? We walked 3 km back to our hotel! I didn't have any trouble sleeping that night!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sydney trip: Cube competition!

Saturday (21/4) was the Rubik's cube competition, which was the reason I chose to go to Sydney on that particular weekend. That day was quite eventful, perhaps a little way too much. In the morning, I checked out of my hostel, and began my 4 km walk to the University of Sydney, where the competition would be taking place.

Along the way, I learned that the Melbourne cubers (who had been planning to fly in to the competition that morning) had their flight delayed. Also, the competition could not start without the official World Cube Association delegate, who was one of the people stuck at the airport in Melbourne. So I decided to take my time on my walk, stopping to some pictures along the way. Somehow, I ended up walking for 2 whole hours!

But eventually, I made it to the university!

The University of Sydney has some really pretty buildings!
(But some of those buildings are under construction!)
I found my way to the competition. (Or rather, someone from the competition found me standing outside the building, lost!) The Melbourne cubers were still stuck at the airport. But everyone else was present, and they seemed to be having a good time! People were hanging out and cubing.

Whoa! Look at all those puzzles!
The organizers of the competition decided to start soon after I got there. The Melbourne cubers were bringing the equipment for the competition (timers and displays), but some of us had brought our timers along, so we could use those.

Without the delegate present, these rounds would not be officially recognized, but having an unofficial round is better than having nothing.

But as it turned out, Edouard could act as the delegate until the official one came, so we were actually all set for the competition! Perfect!

We had a round of 4x4 in the morning, followed by lunch, followed by 3x3 blindfolded afterwards.

The competition seemed to be going pretty smoothly!
Then the Melbourne cubers arrived around 2pm. We set up their equipment, and the competition proceeded in full speed afterwards with a 3x3 round and finishing with a 2x2 round.

Inspecting my cube before starting a solve! (Photo credit: Luke!)
Finishing another solve! (Photo credit: Laurence!)
Picture of me with Edouard during the awards ceremony! (Photo credit: Luke!)
What a great competition! I suppose you could look at it as a disaster, because the Melbourne cubers had been delayed at the airport, and that ruined what was originally planned. But it was very nice seeing everyone in Sydney work together to keep the competition going! I think this made it a very successful competition, not to mention a very unique one!

In the morning when one of the organizers asked me if I had a timer, I thought for a bit, and realized that the answer was... yes! When I was packing in Melbourne, I had spent a few minutes deciding whether to pack my timer. I had been concerned about bringing too many things over. But then I realized I could ask Edouard to sign it! (I already had it signed by two other world record holders at Melbourne Summer 2012.) For that reason alone, I ended up bringing that timer. And we used to it run the competition in the morning! Thank you Edouard for getting me to bring my timer!

The competition ended, but the day was far from over! (However, this blog post is over. Stay tuned!)
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