One day during my stay in Winchester with my friend Gilly, we indulged in the oft-maligned practice of the lazy day, and we definitely felt guilty. I don’t mean like, relaxing in the sun or whatever when you’re in Thailand; I mean wilfully shunning the sights and sounds of the barely explored outside world in order to watch The Breakfast Club and From Dusk Till Dawn on a projector screen in the dark while gormandising pizza, popcorn, wedges, chicken strips, sandwiches, Twixes, and hearty servings of chips, cheese and gravy.
I know, I know: I should’ve been out ogling the London Eye or frolicking in the verdant fields saying things like ‘Oh golly, would you look at that, top drawer!’ But we just didn’t feel like it, okay? No more, this ridiculous sense of guilt. In moderation, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of hedonism. It’s like at Splendour – I enjoyed myself ten times as much once I stopped worrying about going to see every single band just to get my money’s worth. Some of my best memories of that weekend are chilling out in the coconut hut or on the hill next to the pavilion where the John Steel Singers were playing. That kind of thing leaves you well-rested for the things you really want to see, and makes your activity more exciting by contrast. That’s one lesson learned for this trip. I want to see plenty of tourist attractions and monuments, but I’m not dragging myself to them out of a sense of duty, or out of a need to manufacture memories in front of them, that’s for sure.
We tried to make up for our indolence the next day by going to the New Forest and Durdle Door, but a car accident prevented that, so we went shopping instead. I got me an English coat!
We were more successful the next day when we went to this amazing open-air museum where they preserve houses and buildings from the twelfth century onwards.
On the way there we giggled over silly English town names, imagining how they could be made more hilarious by common English town name additions like ‘Little’, ‘Great’, and ‘-ton’ = (Little) Didling(ton) and (Great) Cocking (upon Sea).
So very, very mature.
They also had a duckpond which was frozen over, and a merry time was had by all when I chased the ducks onto the surface in order to watch them skid as they landed. Perhaps less fun was had by the ducks, I don’t know.
The lazy day has slothfully reared its lugubrious head a couple of times since then, and when it casts those doleful, docile eyes upon you, all you can do is bask in its gaze and try to enjoy indulging in some good old fashioned European ennui.
Hi this is Luke Cassar posting once again studying in Switzerland.
Sooo I have been travelling a bit lately and i thought id share my trip to Italy for four days, which was quiet interesting. Ok firstly we had only planned to go to Milan and Venice, (being at Venice during Carnivale). However this did not work out as planned as hostelbookers muddled our accommodation in Venice, thus we had no where to stay for the night. Furthermore being in Venice during carnivale it was impossible to find anywhere else to stay. So we were stuffed. But our initial decision was to catch the train back to the centre of venice and stay in the city centre all night. However whilst looking at the train timetable (around midnight) we noticed a night train to Rome, so we thought what the heck lets do it. Best decision made sooo far, went to Vatican City and the Colosseum and many other magnificent places.
Ok now to Milan, we went to the famous Duoma Cathederal, catching the metro there from Milan train station. The metro escalators lead right to the front of the Cathedral, where straight away you are approached by these people we later found out were from Senegal. They approached us with these string bracelets saying it was a tradition to wear it before going in, and that it would offend people if you didnt wear it, they also said it was free. Looking around me i could see everyone was doing. So i said fine. Unfortunately as soon as they put it on me, they asked for euro’s. All of sudden i had 5 senegal men surronding me. mmm Akward. Furthermore i didnt have any change, only notes. But after complementing the senegal football side they agreed to give me change for a ten. Thank god. After the event it was quite amusing. Our second day in Milan we spent a good hour resting infront of the Duoma watching people get screwed over by these people. Quiet funny when its not happening to you 🙂 Although i was surprised that this was happening in Milan, and people are selling useless stuff everywhere and are quiet pushy.
Ok so now back to Venice, which was so awesome, people dressed everywhere in funky costumes and confetti everywhere. Masks being sold at every shop so i had to buy one! Ill let the photos describe venice though.
I’m not really sure how one goes about blogging to be quite honest, but i’ll give it a shot and include a few little cultural observations of the last three weeks! I’m a macquarie student studying in Graz, Austria this semester, however I spent 1 week in Berlin, and then travelled down to Graz.
A few little things which I find amusing and wonderful! Having got on the plane in 42 degree weather in Sydney, and got off the plane in -5 degree weather in Berlin, I sort of went into shock. I realised how much weather affects your lifestyle, even from the smallest things like the fact that in Sydney, when you get water out the tap, you put ice in it to make it cold, but inevitably, the water goes warm and isn’t as pleasant to drink. In Europe, when you get water from the tap it’s cold but it actually get colder the longer you leave it! Not that this really affects your whole lifestyle, but it’s just an observation. But it got me thinking, as a result of the weather at home, it’s more of a natural state to be outside; at home having meals or just relaxing or reading outside in the backyard, at school everytime you leave a classroom, the corridor is outside. However, here in Austria (in Winter) everything except moving yourself between one centrally heated location (like uni or home) to the next must be conducted inside.
My next observation, is kinda small and silly and probably mostly reflective of the public transport in Sydney in contrast to that in Europe. When you miss a train at home by 1 minute, you’re annoyed because it’s going to mean waiting another 15 minutes at least. Here, you don’t even bother running for the train because there is just going to be another one in 3 minutes anyway!! But again, that could have something to do with the weather as well because waiting 15 minutes in -5 degree weather is much worse than waiting in 25 degree weather.
So there’s my 2 cents for the moment!!
So my reading break begun with my friend and Jasper and i walking to the steet just of campus and sticking our thumbs up. Success only took 10 minutes when a lovely lady picked us up and took us to the highway. Then another 1o minutes an middleaged couple picked us up and took us to the ferry terminal! they had lived in Sidney their whole lives and told us more about the area. Unfortunately you can not hitch a ferry so we had to buy a ticket. We did try and get a ride for the other side but were told “No hitching on MY terminal!!!”
The ferry is massive! it has study area, kids room , massage room, arcade games room! wow. It took to more hitch’s to get us all the way to whistler but in the end it took about 9 hour which is the same as taking the 4 or 5 public transports. We couch surfed on Saturday night with a guy called Scott and his girlfriend Emily. They were great! she showed me beautiful pictures of all of the amazing hikes that you can do around whistler in the summer, and Jasper taught Scott about some computer programing thing i think…
In the morning we woke to “…i came home to strangers on the couch!!” then a slammed door. Scott had forgotten to tell his room mate about us surfing, so he was angry. I have never had this happen before, but Scott was really nice and apologised, but it did mean i was accomondation-less. I just crashed in my friends hotel room on Sunday night.
Oh well! we went snowboarding after that and Jasper taught me how to do it properly and i finally get it! i can turn and stop and all sorts of things!! i was so excited! but i now go faster and stack harder… so much fun. Whistler is a cute town with an awesome village walk.
I love the sign “fire lane” ??? there is snow everywhere. Also the lovely sun beds 🙂 they did have the lovely view of the half frozen river.
next is Banff!
My friends came over thismorning to get me for breakfast. They were wearing jeans and 2 jumpers, beanie’s, scarfs ect and i was wearing my summer dress. They thought i was ridiculous and stated how cold it was outside (today temp is min -1 max 3, current condition 4…?). when i woke up the sun was shining and my room was warm, which hadnt happened in 2 weeks. I was taking advantage of it while it lasted. it was cold outside, which i wasnt supprised. So my point it that I am loving exchange and all of the people on exchange (and locals) and everyhing about my exchange – but the weather.
You know the days where you wake up and it is cold and raining and you just want to snuggle up and drink hot chocolate and watch movies all day? that is what type of day it is everyday. It is always cold, always. Rain is everyother day, but when it isnt raining it is still coudy and grey. and on the rare chance that the sun does decide to bless us with its precence it is even colder because the clouds arnt acting as insulation to keep it slightly warmer.
I miss the sun, the beach, wearing thongs all the time (i still wear thongs, but not everyday). I miss sun baking, never needing a jumper, jacket and beanie. I even miss sunscreen. There is a massive poster up in the dining hall about “sufing in Tofino” – aparently tofino is the place to go surfing and there is going to be a day trip or weekend trip there sometime. It seems so ridiculous to me – all the of the beaches i have seen so far have rocks with brown sand/dirt and logs all over them. Furthermore, they have to wear a dry suit or a wet suit to go surfing, even in summer. I can not wait untill the exchange expo where i get to represent UOW. Oh man i hope UOW is ready for the influx after my advertising. So my only complaint is that i am sick of being cold.
It’s been four months now.
I’ve seen so much of this place. Made a lot of friends, a lot of memories, seen and done things I would never ever have imagined.
This is much like the story of every exchange student, I would imagine, but to me, it feels special.
As I find myself nearing the end of my stay here in Umeå, Sweden, I feel like a little reflection is in order:
Actually, I’ve spent more time on my various trips around Europe than here in Umeå. Just got back from a trip further north at 1am today. I’m writing this blog now rather than later since I’m leaving again for another trip around Europe in a couple of days. Tiredness is no longer a problem, just a fact of life.
So far I have visited a whole lot of Sweden, plus bits of other countries like Poland, Finland (twice), Norway (thrice), Russia, Italy, Switzerland, France and Monaco, with plans to see Spain and Germany as well as Italy and France again before I leave – in a month.
I’ve been roaming around with friends I made here, friends from just about every country in the world (in fact I’m convinced Sweden has more Germans than Swedes). I have a bunch of Swedish friends as well, of course, but they are not so interested in such touristy activities…
One thing that you notice when travelling with non-native English speakers is that many will call just about anywhere “home”. Instead of “let’s go back to the hotel where we are staying for one night”, it’s “let’s go home”. Of course I don’t feel at home in that hotel, it’s just the place we sleep. In this case I usually try to correct people (which some really appreciate, more than others).
There is one case, though, when I don’t feel that this is a mistake; When people say we are going “home” as we return to Umeå, then I am inclined to agree with them. I do feel like I’m coming home. This feels like home.
The snow; the cold; the sun that we never see, and the beautiful skies by which we know it is still there; this tiny little room; my curtains that I found in a dumpster – held open by a coathanger; riding my bike across the frozen lake; cooking my own food in my own shared kitchen; my housemates, about whom I know nothing, not even their names (as is the Swedish way); the times when I find myself thinking “$5 Australian, what’s that in crowns?”; the big dirty factory next door, whose smoky beacon guides me safely home from any place in town at any hour of night…
All of it. It’s home.
Murdoch students, Kyran, Danielle, Sylvie, Amy, Simone, Conor, Luke, Zachary, Ross, Riku, Morgan, Oscar, Julia, pictured here with Carole Rakotonirina, from Murdoch International – preparing to depart shortly for Ireland, the UK, the USA, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Japan, Austria and Greece.