Sunday, January 23, 2011

Long Overdue and Painful First Update

Okay.... I'm going to try to do this.
For those of you who know me (I'm assuming anyone who reads this would), I am the worlds worst procrastinator. I am horrible disorganized and awful at communicating, which is why I have made the pain-stricken decision to start a travel blog. This comes two years after my first major trip sans le famile, in which I lacked almost all communication home and couldn't quite remember where I had been.
 This time it is a bit different, since I am not quite traveling, I am living in Australia and going to school here. I have been here for almost a month and I have documented absolutely nothing! Again..the procrastination thing.
I have been just trying to take in my surroundings for the last little while, and before December 20th I wasn't even sure I was going to make it here. I am actually in Australia on exchange through my school in Canada. The exchange sounded simple and conveinant at first, until I saw the paperwork involved. The exchange program warned us about the paper work and told us that they "only wanted applicant who were committed to doing the exchange program", hence the paper work; it was quite a lot but it was still doable, or so I thought. Just as I thought that I had conquered the massive mound of paperwork that was needed to get me here, the mound miraculously grew in size...substantially. Whether it was acceptance to the program at my school, acceptance to the University in Australia, confirmation of enrollment codes, visas, plane future in Australia seemed very unlikely. My family, assuming I would be in Australia by December, had gone out on a limb and had bought tickets to Australia for December 15th, so that they could be with me at my boyfriends families house for Christmas. As their departure date crept up, my morale depleted. No word from Southern Cross, which meant no Confirmation of Enrollment Code, which meant no Visa, and no plane tickets. The 15th came and went, and after a teary eyed goodbye to my family, I prepared to spend Christmas alone. Luckily, I live in an amazing place, three doors down from my bestfriend Stefanies family, who quickly offered to adopt me for Christmas. While Stef and I planned our drunken and disfunctional Christmas together, I had not given up all hope of a beach Christmas with my family. It all came down to an amazing and rather unlucky employee at Southern Cross University whom, after she informed that all of the people in charge of my file for exchange were unavailable, was bombarded with a sobbing explanation of my lonely Christmas in my empty house. Needless to say, my pathetic performance had some effect on her, she went completely out of her way and possibly above her authority to give me the code needed for my visa. Immediately I launched my visa application (along with another very emotional plea to the Visa Bureau) and was granted the visa overnight, and one week later I was on a highly overpriced and last minute flight to Australia just in time for Christmas Eve Day.
   Let me tell you, there is a lot of very different people flying across the world on Christmas Eve: I met Dale, who after being ran over in a hit and run accident and almost losing both of his legs, decided to drop everything and to travel all over the world. He had just finished a tour of the Australian outback a few months before and was taking the flight to New Zealand with no real plans other than "to putt around" for a year and then off to India. When he said that he had almost lost both legs in the accident, the cynical side of me assumed that he was overreacting, but when he showed me his leg, the one that had been "reattached", it was hugely obvious that there was no overreaction involved. He couldn't actually feel his left leg from the knee down, but here he his, on a plane by himself to New Zealand . It's strange how it takes something so debilitating to force someone to change their life, he said it was the worst and the best thing that had ever happened to him. Like I said, very interesting people travel on Christmas Eve.
     When I switched planes in New Zealand, waved goodbye and good luck to Dale, I met an Australian girl from outside of Sydney who had just returned from a school exchange to Abbotsford which is just outside of Vancouver. Strange coincidence, she was at the end of her journey as I was just at the beginning of mine. Surprising, she loved Abbotsford, said that Canadians were hilarious and the Abbotsford nightlife (which she confided mostly consisted of cow-tipping) was interesting. When we finally got on the plane I had a seat beside a fellow Canadian ,Robert who, along with his partner, were en-route to celebrate Christmas with his partners family in Brisbane. His partner, who was Australian, had traveled to Canada for work with his girlfriend (he didn't know he was gay) when he met Robert. The two fell in love, Roberts partner finally came out to his family and they have now been together for 15 years! I thought long distance was hard enough, these two were unbelievable. The two are married in Canada but when they travel to Australia (where gay marriage is not recognized in all but one state) they are not. He kept joking that as soon as the plane landed that he was a single man. Very cute and amazing how much they went through to be together!
     Finally after 17 hours we finally landed in Sydney! My bags arrived right on time and only a little bit out of sorts. Bryce, my other bestfriend, has decided to send a present along with me for my boyfriend Nick, and this present was the source of a few strange looks flashed my way as I walked through customs. Bryce has sent along gumballs for Nick, since he has a huge sweet tooth and you can't get gumballs in Australia. While the present was innocent enough, the bag of gumballs had been ripped during transport, which led to me, walking through the airport with a literal trail of gumballs falling out behind me. At first I tried to repair the situation, but the gumballs were everywhere, so I gave up and walked on, my balls falling out every which way.
     After the customs officers had a bit of a laugh, they finally let me through and I was met in the arrival gates by my very wonderful boyfriend Nick. It was so weird to be back in Australia, but it felt a bit like being back home. It felt even more so like home once we reached Canberra and my family, Nicks families, and almost all of Nicks moms family were there to greet us. It was a mad house! I was overwhelmed and so thankful to be there for Christmas, but I was also working on an hour of sleep so after I met everyone I snuck away found my bed and slipped into a deep and long awaited coma.
                       The next two weeks were a whirlwind. Christmas was amazing, no turkey for us (which blew my mothers mind), instead seafood lunch and plenty of wine. From there my family and I took off to Melbourne to visit our friends Chrissy and Mike in Torquay. I will update about that tomorrow, I have spent far too much time in front of my computer today!