the transition

thoughts

March 2nd, 2017 —  (HOW IS IT MARCH ALREADY?)

Today is officially the two week mark of my time here in Townsville. Three if we’re counting the days in Canberra. Honestly, it feels like I’ve been here for so much longer. Maybe it’s because I’ve always felt at home here in Australia, it never feels like I’ve left. That being said, the first few days here in Townsville was rough. And I mean it. As much as Australia is home to me, this was by far the hardest transition. The five days I had spent in Canberra was wonderful. I got to stay with my amazing cousin (she cooks the best meals and makes sure I have enough wine and champagne every night),  and met up with old friends. Oh how much I’ve missed Canberra. Canberra is such a gem- everyone had told me it was going to a boring little government city (perhaps a close comparison to Ottawa, haha), but honestly it is a beautiful city with some incredible people. It’s filled with parks, great food, and fantastic weather. Seeing my friends again that I had met last July was just perfect. We picked up right where we left off- climbing mountains, eating, talking for hours, having a picnic, sharing silly stories, and laughing at the most ridiculous things. I couldn’t have been happier and I didn’t want to leave.

I knew leaving for Townsville was going to be hard. Sure, I’ve traveled to places where I knew nobody, but it was different this time. I’m going to be living here for a year and a half, and meeting so many new faces. What if I don’t make any friends? What if everyone already has their own groups since I missed all of O-week? What if nobody likes me? What if my roommates are crazy? What am I doing?? Did I make the right choice? Can I stay in Canberra longer? Can I just travel for life?

Fortunately, I was lucky to have my new roommate pick me up from the airport, and felt that maybe this was going to work out. Now don’t get me wrong, my roommates are lovely and I feel so incredibly lucky to have such chill, friendly roommates. (I’m going to refer to them as the boys now) The boys are in their final year of med school, and are more than a head taller than me. They’re absolutely hilarious, and love to stay active. To put it short, they work hard, eat healthy, exercise daily on the weekdays, and let loose on the weekend. When I first arrived, they had already invited some friends over and would be heading out to a nearby bar. I reluctantly decided to join- I was tired, and still feeling down about leaving Canberra. But I wanted to make a good first impression , so I tried to be social… but I couldn’t. When their friends came over, I couldn’t make conversation, it’s like I had forgotten how to talk. Everyone always sees me as this social butterfly, but when you’re placed in a situation where everyone else knows each other, I’m the most timid person ever. I start to get anxious and overwhelmed. I start to feel really uncomfortable and start to question what I’m even doing.

When we get to the bar, I feel even more uncomfortable. Everyone here knew each other, and I didn’t know anyone except my roommates who were catching up with all their friends. I stepped outside, and called my friend back in Canberra for some encouragement. It hasn’t even been a day in Townsville and I’ve already fallen apart. Yikes. Am I ever going to make any friends?  After some wise words from my friend, I walked back into the bar with my chin up and told the boys I’ll be heading back home first. I needed the rest.

I spent the next day alone, I needed to recollect my thoughts, I needed to wallow. I tell myself it’s going to get better.. I know it will.

And it did. 

I met some incredible people the next day at an outing to a nearby swimming hole, and couldn’t wait to get to know these people more. They were all studying marine biology as well- turns out, basically everyone here studies marine biology haha, go figure.

The days keep getting better and better, and I can’t wait to see what’s next in store for me! I’m loving my classes so far (it’s so different when you actually take classes you are interested in), I’m taking on every opportunity I get, I’m biking to school, I’m slowly getting use to this high humidity weather (ugh), I’m swimming more, I’m rock climbing outdoors again, I’m more relaxed, and perhaps most importantly, feeling like myself again!

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why I can’t get over my fear of spiders

thoughts

Friend X:
“You’re going to Australia?? You know there are mo-“

Me:
“Yes I know, there are more things that will kill you than anywhere else in the world”

Friend X:
“Yea, so why would you ever want to live in a place where spiders in every dark corner can kill you, where the top ten poisonous snakes in the world live, where the taipan, a snake that carries venom 50 times more deadly than that of the cobra can kill (according to dailymail, one bite can kill 100 adult men and 250 000 mice within 45 minutes),  or where box jellyfishes or the less commonly known Irukandji, a name that literally means “impending doom” and is the size of your thumbnail and is transparent


But I’m not here to go on about all the different creatures that can kill you in Australia, trust me, my friends have tagged me in enough buzzfeed posts and Australian news. What I want to talk about today is why I can’t get over my fear of spiders.

I’m going to break it down into three main reasons

1. If you’re scared, I’m scared too

I’ve never always been afraid of spiders. I blame my family friend who passed his fear of spiders onto me. As a kid, I’ve always looked up to him and so when I saw how terrified he was of spiders, it made me realize how scary spiders truly were. Hence his screams, became my screams as well.

2. Overall physical appearance and movement , i.e. You’re Just Not Cute

I’ve tried so, so hard to find a way to see spiders in a new light. Trying to find the cuteness I see in dogs, in spiders as well. But Nope. Why are they so hairy, why do you have EIGHT GLOSSY EYES, why do you crawl in an unpredictable manner, WHERE DO YOU COME FROM? WHY DO YOU HAVE SO MANY LEGS? Why do you produce silk that I don’t ever try to walk into but do anyways?

3. Movies don’t like you too

  • Aragog in Harry Potter, you have an eighteen-foot leg span, how can I ignore that
  • Shelob in Lord of the Rings- You feast on your own children, you almost killed Frodo, you’re large and immense and just hella ugly (sorry).

So why this rant? There was a daddy longlegs in my room last night, and I was just going to let it go, but it started dangling and dancing along in its web, and I just couldn’t ignore it. And so, I killed it. My punishment? A nightmare of a huntsman spider (which I know aren’t really that toxic) crawling towards me on my bed. I woke up instantly and began to think if I’ll ever get over this fear. Conclusion: Nope.

For the last two times I was in Australia, I’ve been very lucky with spider encounters. My “out of sight, out of mind / ignorance is bliss” was very effective. But it had just hit me that I was going to be living up in the tropics this time- where all things deadly live, where these deadly creatures are much more common.

And now, I panic.
What am I ever going to do?

the flight

travel

How does one arrive at their destination two days after departure?

Upon reading “In a Sunburnt Country” by Bill Bryson (Thanks Tracy!)
there was no better way to put it:
“Each time you fly from North America to Australia, and without anyone asking how you feel about it, a day is taken away from you when you cross the international date line. I left Los Angelos on January 3 and arrived in Sydney fourteen hours later on January 5. For me there was no January 4. None at all. Where it went exactly I couldn’t tell you. All I know is that for one twenty-four-hour period in the history of earth, it appears I had no being.
I find that a little uncanny, to say the least. I mean to say, if you were browsing through your ticket folder and you saw a notice that said “Passengers are advised that on some crossings twenty-four-hour loss of existence may occur”…. “

This time to Australia in particular, I managed to get onto 4 different planes in a matter of about 27 hours. How I survived, I do not ever know. What happened on Friday, February 9th… I do not know. My body is confused, my mind wanders, and all I can think of is the feeling of a shower, some proper food, a change of clean clothes, and some undisturbed sleep.

A little note about food on airlines- 
My flight to LAX with Air Canada, lasting around 5hrs and a half DID NOT come with any food. Sitting next to the kitchen where countless orders of instant noodles ($$) were made did not help at all.

My flight to Brisbane, Australia with Qantas however came with two meals and a snack. At this point, it was 11:20p.m (LA time), and I hadn’t eaten in 12 hours. I was tired, and hangry- a combination you never want to witness. I didn’t think I was going to make it. To distract myself, I ranted out in my journal asking in vain WHEN THE FOOD WILL COME. I managed to fall asleep right after takeoff, but would wake up every 20 minutes or so because I was afraid they would see me sleeping and cut me short on the food I desperately needed. It reached a point where I was going to bib myself with the words “WAKE ME UP WITH FOOD” Thankfully it wasn’t necessary as I woke up shortly after the thought with the smell of butter chicken and rice. To put in short, Qantas is a great airline for food service. They even provided sandwiches and refreshments for my 20 minute flight to Canberra from Sydney. I was ecstatic. It was glorious.