Trip Start Feb 08, 2011
15Trip End Jun 21, 2011
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As of Tuesday, I have been home in Massachusetts for three whole weeks and I think it's finally starting to sink in that I'm no longer in Australia. It took a while, but I am fully unpacked, I no longer expect to hear Australian accents instead of American ones, driving on the right no longer feels weird, and I've pretty much stopped constantly calculating the difference between various time zones in my head.
My final week in Australia was bittersweet. I spent time with many of the good friends I've made in Australia, made final trips into the city, packed up all my worldly possessions, and said goodbye to everyone and everything that surrounded me for the previous five months. Highlights of the last week included: picnicking in the Royal Botanical Gardens, finding it depressingly too cold to sit at night in the living-room set installed in the light pyramid in Fed Square and ending up reading a book about the Olympics in the Melbourne public library, Laura entertaining me from the tiny spot I cleared for her in my room to sit among all the packing clutter as I desperately tried to fit my whole life back into just one suitcase and a duffle bag, going out for dumplings and delicious pumpkin pastries in the city with my floor-mates (the train ride into the city was an adventure in itself!), leaving a present for the next resident of Howitt Hall 1002 in my room's "time capsule" (thanks to Scott and his super-manly pink tool set), Kenny trapping Tali in her own wardrobe, Ariel teaching us how to fold paper cranes and how to say goodbye in Canadian (*see blog entry title), singing American commercial jingles while Charlotte sang British ones, the Malaysian posse and friends taking over my room at 12:30am the night before I left, (for hilarious cultural debates, group photos, and a goodbye card they had all signed), and having all the friends I could find sign the Australian flag that had been hanging on my wall in Howitt all semester - it's now a treasured souvenir
On Saturday, June 18th, I lugged my giant suitcase, my beloved White Sox duffle bag, and my heavy backpack out to meet the airport shuttle before 7am. Dear Tori and Rosie from my floor had woken up early to say goodbye to me before I left, looking quite adorable in their sleepiness, and those were my last Australian goodbyes. The shuttle to the airport was surprisingly entertaining as my friend Mark, (an American) and another American from Monash were also on board, and we regaled each other with some of our craziest Australia stories. We were all headed for different airlines, so we split up at the airport, and I checked in and boarded my old favorite, Virgin Australia, bound for Los Angeles, California. (Amusing Sidenote: my flight left Melbourne on July 18th at 10:45am and, after fifteen hours in the air, arrived in LA on July 18th at 8:00am. I have officially TIME TRAVELED.) My seat this time was an aisle seat in the plane's middle section, right next to a young Australian couple who spent the majority of the flight making out and cooing at each other. A fifteen-hour, international flight in a crowded airplane wouldn't strike me as particularly romantic, but what do I know?
Upon my long-awaited arrival at LAX I was welcomed home to America by stern customs officials, ("You've been out of the country for HOW long?") but even their suspicions of me couldn't wipe the smile off my face. I was about to be reunited with Hannah and spend a few sunny, action-packed, uber-American days with her and her boyfriend Harrison in LA, a city I'd only been to for a less than 24 hours on my way to Australia back in February! Even the announcements made in Spanish over the airport loudspeakers were music to my ears as I had heard many languages commonly spoken in Australia, but never Spanish, which I hear all the time in the US
Having no cell phone, (my Australian one only worked in Australia, and my American one was still shut up in a drawer in my room home back in Massachusetts) I was worried about being able to contact or find Hannah, who was picking me up at the airport, but she was waiting for me right in the international arrivals hall! Hurrah! Excited hugs abound! It was so good to see her again, even though she had only left a week before me. She told me all about her internship for a production company, (the reason why she's living in LA for the summer) while we walked back to her car and headed off for our first destination: Venice Beach. I had absolutely no sense of time, but definitely had a sense of being hungry so muffins and smoothies were in order. I was also loving the fact that I had once again gone semi-instantly from winter to summer! I even got sunburned that first morning in Cali and didn't even mind! Venice Beach was all white sand beaches and tanned muscle-dudes, medical marijuana shops and boardwalk trinket hawkers. Quite an entertaining sight, even through my slight jet-lag fog.
After a few sunny hours at Venice Beach, we headed back to Hannah's apartment in the Miracle Mile, where I finally got to meet her boyfriend Harrison, take a shower, change, and drink a diet coke: all good things
After a bite to eat at a cool rooftop bar nearby, we got in the car again and headed to ... Dodger Stadium for a baseball game! Earlier in the day we had discovered that with a student ID you could get $10 student tickets to any Dodgers game! All you had to do was show up and buy the tickets there. So we did! And furthermore, they were pretty great seats! I was simply overjoyed to be attending a baseball game, The Great American Pastime, my very first day back in America! It's no secret I'm not a big sports person, but I do really love baseball, and after living in a country where baseball doesn't even exist at all, it was the perfect way to be welcomed back to the U.S. of A. (See video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CY5JZ79a2c) Of course Dodger Stadium is no Fenway Park and the Dodgers are no match for my dear Boston Red Sox, but I wasn't complaining. I even ate sushi for dinner there - as Hannah said, only in California would they sell sushi at a baseball stadium.
After the game, (LA Dodgers 0, Houston Astros 7) I was falling asleep in the car on the way home and definitely looking forward to bed, but after dropping Harrison off to meet a friend, Hannah said she wanted to take me to one more place that had to be seen at night
Eventually we headed back to the apartment, where around midnight I gratefully fell asleep, officially ending the longest day of my life: July 18th, 2011 (I spent nearly eleven hours of July 18th in Australia, about fifteen hours of it over international waters, and then another sixteen hours of July 18th in LA ... 11+15+16= 42 hours in one calendar day! Quite an achievement!).
The next morning after breakfast Harrison drove Hannah and I to downtown Hollywood and dropped us of on Hollywood Boulevard, home of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre, and in sight of the Hollywood sign. Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Australia anymore! We walked around squealing over the sidewalk stars, handprints, footprints, and signatures of famous actors, directors, musicians, etc. I was most interested to find that in between the already-designated stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, there are many blank stars just ready and waiting for future celebrities
Around lunchtime, Harrison picked us up again and the three of us drove to downtown Los Angeles, where we ate lunch at a Japanese restaurant, and then continued on our route of tourist destinations to spend the afternoon in Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive! So many fancy stores, so little money. But the area was very pretty and it was another gorgeous California day. Back at the apartment, we debated what to do that night before settling on going to the movies. Within walking distance from the apartment was The Grove, a kind of outdoor mall with little cobbled streets, light-covered trees, stores, and a surprisingly ritzy movie theater. We sat by a delightful fountain in the center of The Grove that had a choreographed water display timed to music that emanated from some mysterious place, (the kind of thing that's inexplicably mesmerizing) before our movie started. The movie was Super 8, which I enjoyed, despite my preconceived notion to despise all alien movies.
After the movie, back at the apartment, the night was spent battling a broken smoke detector into the early hours of Monday morning. Thanks to our Hero of the Night, Harrison, we were finally able to get a few hours sleep. (Although I shouldn't even be complaining because #1 - I didn't have to go to an internship all day Monday, unlike both Hannah and Harrison and #2 - my brain was still very confused time-wise since arriving from Australia.) Anyway, on Monday, while Hannah and Harrison were off doing cool things in cool places for their respective internships, I walked around the neighborhood, when back to The Grove, read parts of three different books in Barnes and Noble, and got sidetracked in Forever 21, where I was overly pleased with the American prices.
My flight out of LA was leaving that night at 12:30am, so when Hannah and Harrison returned that evening, we loaded my stuff back in the car and then went out to dinner at a cute restaurant in Hollywood that clearly used to be someone's house. After dinner we spent some time driving up and around the Hollywood hills, spying on ... I mean, admiring, the mansions and views of the rich and famous. Then they drove me to the airport and we said goodbye. My time in LA was short but very sweet, and Hannah and Harrison were the best hosts I could have asked for!
That night I flew from Los Angeles, CA to my layover in Minneapolis, MN, and then finally arrived in Hartford, CT on Tuesday morning, so I got about two hours of sleep overall. But I was finally home. Homeity, home, home. Reunited with my parents, my dog, my house, my room, my bed... that's as far as I got, I fell asleep for the rest of the day. Which snowballed into a horrible pattern of jet-laggedness, which I guess I had staved off in Cali, where for the next few days I would sleep for only three hours one night and then fifteen the next. It was very bizarre.
Things have been pretty non-stop since I got back. That first weekend I spent away with friends at a music festival in The Berkshires, where we enjoyed two rainy, but fun days attending outdoor concerts at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, (Mass MoCA). While there, I got a call about a job I had applied to way back in May, to work at a kids' day camp in the town next to mine. Turns out they needed someone last minute, to start on Monday. So less than a week after I arrived home, I found myself working full time. It's actually one of the best jobs I've ever had and I will be sad to see it end.
I have also planned a trip down to Washington, DC this summer to see my many dear friends there, and then on to Maryland and Virginia with good old Laura from Australia! I leave in a week for my trip and am overjoyed to be reunited with everyone! In the middle of August, I'll be heading to Maine, where I'll be working at another camp, this one a sleep-away camp for inner city kids. And in between I have the usual art shows to work at on various weekends with my mom, (as much a staple in my summers as anything else!). Of course in September I'll be back in DC at GW for my senior year (SENIOR YEAR OF COLLEGE?! Who am I?) and after that ... who knows?
I find it utterly impossible to sum up my semester abroad. From petting wallabies, to exploring Melbourne, to partying in Howitt, to beaches on the Great Ocean Road, and the grand New Zealand adventure ... new friends, new foods, new places ... I'll never forget it, I miss it already, and I loved it all. There, I guess it wasn't TOO impossible. I am eternally grateful for this opportunity and everyone who helped me get there and make my time abroad what it was: SWEET AS!
This is my last blog post. Thanks so much for reading, mates. It's been a pleasure.