Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tomorrow I'll be home

I cannot believe that I’ve been in Australia for 5 months, and tomorrow, that time will come to an end. So this is my last post on this blog. I thought I’d take this blog as a an opportunity to share some new experiences I’ve had (both good and not so good) and some stuff I’ve learned.

· I learned about myself that I live a very unintentionally sheltered life. In some ways that’s good, but in other ways it’s not.

· I learned what and how to play netball (and that I’m a pretty good goal keeper J) It’s something I’m definitely going to miss. Both the game and the girls on my team

o I learned how to define a British Commonwealth state: the presence of netball and cricket, and that there are a lot of them.

· I learned that a wallaby has 3 vaginas and 2 cervixes. And it doesn’t really have a uterus, but it manages to have 2 uterine horns. They can also be pregnant at 2 different stages at the same time, sort of…ask me for further info if you’re interested. OK, so I learned some pretty interesting stuff about marsupials and monotremes (like platypuses secrete milk from their oil glands in their skin) and I could go on, but this is not the time or the place. For more interesting (somewhat gross to some people) reproduction animal facts, check out 2 of my previous posts: “What have I been up to” and “They do what, how?!?!?”

· I learned how to live on a tight budget, but that there is still great value in giving.

· I experienced God opening “up the windows of heaven and pouring out blessings that I didn’t even have room enough to receive (Malachi 3:10).”

o God opened up my eyes to see how faithful He is.

· I led a Bible study for the first time.

· Being here was the first time that I was ever around a drunk person.

· I made sushi for the first time.

· I did kick-boxing for the first time.

· God showed me that I am not as loving and patient as I thought I was, but that I truly need to rely on Him to love and care for others.

· I learned that I still have a lot of growing to do.

· I learned to appreciate the wisdom of my parents

o I learned a new way to scam someone through the use of sketchy checks and the wiring of money ßthat was an interesting one.

· I learned that I am capable of not being afraid of people.

· I learned that I am terrible at goodbyes!

o Granted, I probably should’ve known this one already, as it takes Mo and I like 10 minutes to actually get off of skype after initially saying goodbye.

It’s such a bittersweet time. As much as I’ll miss it here, the surreal scenery (probably due to the cleanness of the air), the people I’ve met, pouring hot custard over desserts and having British style pudding, I miss home. I miss my family, my friends, my food, my country (my unlimited internet and cell phone service! Lol ßI realize that’s spoiled). I’ve made friends here and met some wonderful people, all of whom I’ll miss dearly. I almost feel like my life at this moment, even as I type this, is like that of the series finale of a tv show. Fortunately, it’s not over…this is just the close of another chapter of my life, and even more fortunately, the author of this story has a plan to prosper my life, plans for a hope and a future (Jer 29:11). I’m soooo looking forward to see what He has next.

I guess in this case, since Shalyse is no longer in Australia after tomorrow, say wha...?, then I’ll be signing off in this chapter. I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading. Feel free to check out my other blog:


Monday, June 13, 2011

Weekend with the Prides

So I spent the weekend with a lovely couple from my church. Since I’ve been here, they’ve been kind of like my unofficial host family. This weekend, I didn’t have netball, so my schedule was freed up, and Monday was a public holiday (Queen’s birthday…happy birthday Queen Elizabeth); Australia is known as the land of the long weekend, but I, as usual, digress. On Saturday we went to a footy game (Australia-rules football [AFL]). I didn’t know all of what was going on except that the crows were getting whooped by the eagles (as would be proper in nature if a crow tried to take on an eagle I suppose),but yeah, Adelaide lost. L It was still pretty fun though. The teams colors are black, red, and yellow and since it’s a winter sport everyone was decked out in their black, yellow, and red scarves and knitted caps. The crowd wasn’t nearly as loud as I would have expected (comparing it to our uni’s football games), but I suppose that’s because the crows had already lost 3 games in a row (this was their fourth) so not as many supporters were out to cheer them on. So you’re probably wondering what the difference is between AFL and NFL. Well, looking at the picture above, you can see they don’t have the grid-iron gear, so your follow-up might be, well what’s the difference between AFL and rugby? My answer would be *shrug* because I don’t know the rules to rugby either. I do know that this one time, at band camp, no, this one time, in my house, when I was in Australia, I thought I was watching AFL on TV, but then it turns out the TV guide was completely wrong, as it often is here, and I was actually watching rugby, so I can say that there is a difference, because what I saw on Saturday was not what I saw on TV that day.

But let’s start at the beginning. Adelaide has 2 teams of which there is much rivalry between, from what I’ve heard. There’s the Adelaide Crows, and Port power. Port power doesn’t play much of a role in this story though, as the Crows were playing the West Coast Eagles, as mentioned earlier. Anyway, as goes tradition, and common sense, everyone takes the footy express busses to the games. When I say everyone, I mean a majority of the people, because those who don’t get stuck in the traffic of the people driving because they didn’t take the bus, and then it’s hard to find a parking spot once you get there. The bus from the stop we were taking was scheduled to start at 12:35 and come every 10 minutes until 1:05. We got there at about 12:37 I imagine because we saw the 12:35 bus leaving. So we went to the bus stop and began waiting with this other couple that was there. And we waited…and waited…and waited some more. Then, the guy that was there went to the bus website to find out why it was now 12:50 and the next bus had not yet arrived. And then we discovered that the apparently all the bus schedules had been changed to a half hour earlier, and so the 12:35 bus had become the last instead of the first. And then we found ourselves stuck in that traffic caused by those people who didn’t take the bus. It took quite a while to get there for that reason, and as we rolled in the crawling traffic, we felt even sorrier that we’d missed the bus as we saw the footy expresses cruise past us effortlessly in the bus only lanes. We were only a few minutes late though, so I didn’t miss much. The crows started off playing awesomely, and they were even winning by the end of the first quarter! And then we discovered that they had this unspoken rule that they were only allowed to play well when their goal was on the right side of the field, because the second and last quarters, when they were forced to switch, they pretty much forgot how to play. Or they were just really tired. Anyhow, from what I gathered, it’s like a combo of football, basketball, and just some random aussieness. There are 4 goal sticks, pictured above, and you score 1 point by hitting one, or getting the ball through one of the side ones, but you get 6 points for getting it through the center. If you score 1 point, the other team gets the ball. If you score 6 points it goes back to the center, where there is like a toss up (really more of a bounce up) and the players just basically run up and jump (in the epic moments they can jump off of another teammate…I’ve heard they sometimes get up to like 1.5 meters of the ground, that’s like 5 feet). You also have to really be in shape to a referee (called umpire here for every sport) because you’re running just as much, and when the ball goes out of bounds, it’s your job to do this weird backward over the head bending backwards throw in. It’s all very complicated you see. Oh, and there are 4 30 minute quarters, but instead of a timer, there’s a stopwatch, so most of the quarters went over 30 minutes and seemed to just end at random times. But it was fun. Oh, and I had a footy pie. J

I realize as always, that I have written much too much, so I’ll just say that the next day I went to Mount Lofty (the highest point in Adelaide) and Hahndorf, which is this German village, I had Turkish delight there for the first time, to add to my list of random experiences that are not necessarily Australian that I’ve had since being in Australia, and then today (Monday), I went down south to Port Elliot, then further south to the Prides’ farmland to see their goats (love goats!), and then even further south to Antarctica! Ok, so I didn’t quite go to Antarctica because the whale we hired didn’t show up to ferry us. Not at all…I went to the mouth of the Murray River. The Murray River is this river that travels the entire length of the eastern side of Australia (I think). At least it goes from South Australia to Queensland, which is far. But the irony of it is that compared to the size of the river, the opening to the ocean is quite small. And as Robert and I stood there looking at it, he points out into the ocean and is like, this is as far south as you can go here. This is the south ocean. If you go that way, you’ll reach Antarctica. But that was my weekend and it was quite fun. I guess I skipped Friday, but that was me finishing my breeding program on breeding guinea pigs for milk to make cheese (guinorino). And you wouldn’t want to hear about that…or would you?

Until next time, have a laugh:


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Showering with the millipedes

This is just a bit about the wildlife that seems so intent on staying in my house, and as a result, the subsequent adventures we seem to have. Since I gave them the title, I suppose I’ll start with the millipedes. Also known as crunchies here, these little black skinny bugs are probably the most harmless and least annoying of them all. They just kind of inch along until you touch them and as soon as you do, they swoop themselves into a curly little ball. If your mean and still stomp on it, or if you happen to not see it, or they’re littered all over a path so that you can’t avoid stepping on them, they make a crunch sound (hence the nickname). The most annoying thing is that you find these little buggers (no pun intended, ok, maybe just a bit) pretty much everywhere. I’ve been fortunate enough to not find any in the pots in my house, but I’ve seen them in other people’s. The most unfortunate, for them I suppose, place that they do have a tendency to be is in the shower with me. Through a combination of showering with them, and seeing their dead bodies infest the pool, I can say with much certainty that millipedes can’t swim. They do however put a quite a fight when trying to avoid the water (and the steam) in the shower. The first time this happened, the millipede was doing quite an impressive job of avoiding the flow of the water. Unfortunately for him(/her?), I was taking an exceptionally long shower that day, and so it, like all of his predecessors, suffered the same fate…the DRAIN!!! I guess I don’t know heaps about millipedes (or drainage systems), but I suppose they could somehow survive that…maybe.

The next bug that plagued my house initially, but not so much anymore as the weather is getting quite chilly, is one of my arch nemeses, the MOSQUITO. Evil little things, and these, I know to be female, cause they were eating me alive. At one point I was even convinced that I might have been bit by a spider (suppose that can’t be a hundred percent ruled out as I don’t really know what a spider bite looks like) but they were seemingly biting me in the same place over and over again, and at one point, my calf muscle was so swollen and sore, I couldn’t even shave my legs. Anyhow, that was definitely the most annoying which is what brings me to the pets that I had in my room.

They were two daddy long-leg spiders, which I neglected to name until this moment. They shall now be called and forever remembered as The Enforcer and Julia (that’s a soft J sound btw). The Enforcer was in the corner of my room above the door, while Julia resided in the opposite corner near the head of my bed. I generally have a fear of spiders (even though daddy long-legs are said to be harmless), but I honestly don’t mind them as long as they stay in their corners and don’t come down to Shalyse can touch you level. Plus, I figured they could make a nice addendum to my mosquito repellent that was so epically failing. We chilled harmoniously together for about a week if not more, and then, to my dismay (my nerve-wracking dismay) I lost them. One day, I had to pet spiders and the next day they were gone. Hopefully I didn’t eat them in my sleep, but to this day, I haven’t the foggiest of what happened to The Enforcer and Julia (remember, soft J).

Speaking of spiders, I’d be remiss if I left out the spider wars that I fight each week with the ones that insist on making webs on my clothesline. I take a stick from the mulch a hack away at webs so I can hang my clothes. The next week I go to hang clothes again, and there seems to be double the amount of web. At some points its getting in my face, annoying, and web is always all over the clothespins. They’re ridiculously persistent little creatures, but the war most go on…until I leave, cause I’m pretty sure both of my housemates do their laundry at home on the weekends.

I think that’s it for the wildlife in my house; thankfully we’re free of the mice that are present in the halls, and everywhere else, including the cafeteria…gross!!! We even have a mouse that seems to be regularly attending the the Bible study each week. I assume he lives in the chapel. There are also the ginormous spiders all around the rest of the campus, and the stray cats and foxes. I saw a couple of bats flying around one night, and I finally saw a possum. Just an fyi, Aussie possums are a lot cuter than the American ones…and not all of them are in the form of road kill. This one I saw was chillin in a tree snacking on some leaves. Oh, and lastly, the tree bugs, or at least that’s what I call them. I suppose that these fit in the category of still in my house and getting on my nerves, or IMHaGOMN (pronounce Im-hag-omen) bugs. They’re these little black bugs that somehow fit through the screen, and in smaller amounts manage to get into the house at night even when the windows are shut. They’re just annoying cause they fly around and die on stuff, and land on food, and just annoy you. No one wants involuntary black spotted wallpaper that gives the illusion of crawling…oh wait that’s no illusion, but yeah, they’re kind of gross. I am once again thankful though, for the house in which I live because I’ve seen others that are much worse. And lastly, to end, I thank God that we don’t have bedbugs.

The End

PS: I'd like to give a personal shout-out to Jada-poo!

Until next time, be thankful in all things and find humor in the annoying ones.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Driving a stick in Australia

Down under you can drive hands free!
Did you know that no matter what side of the road you drive on in Australia, you're driving on the right side of the road? If you're driving on the left side of the road, that's the right (correct side to drive on, but if you're driving on the right side, although that is incorrect, and likely to increase your chances of an accident, you're still right.

I guess the weirdest parts were remembering to turn onto the correct side of the road, and the gear changing (manual case you didn't know what a stick is). The turning I suppose is a bit self explanatory in the fact that it's obviously just different, but the gear changing was by far the weirdest. The steering wheel is on the right side of the car which is opposite, but the funny thing is that the ignition is still on the right side of the steering wheel, so it's only half opposite. However, the gear shift is still in the same place and the gears are in the same directions. So now, instead of 1st gear being forward and toward me, it is forward and away from me, so with relation to me, which is how I generally remember the gear directions, 1, 2, 5, and reverse are opposite. 3 and 4 are still the same. Oh, and to top that, I'm switching gears with my left hand. Good thing I'm semi-ambidextrous.

That's it for this post...have I lost my long-windedness?!? No worries, it'll be back.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Life Lessons from Netty

Be surprised! This is actually going to be a normal length, if not fairly short post. Well, anything in comparison to my last post short of a novel would be considered short…unless I wrote a 5 or 6 page post I guess. But anyhow, let me stop rambling and get on with the story.

I know some of you are wondering who Netty is, and what kind of name that is. Well, it’s not a name or a person, so now you are probably wondering why I capitalized it, as it’s not even a proper noun. I am actually wondering that as well, but it’s been done now, so I guess we’ll just deal with it. Anyhow, I had my first netball game on yesterday. Like many things in Australia, people shorten words, and netball proves to be no different. Football=footy, netball=netty, sunglasses=sunnies, and Waldo (the guy in the red and white striped shirt that no one can ever find)=Wally. Anyhow, this blog is about my first netball game.

First, I realize that people from America generally don’t know what netball is because we don’t play it in our country. I’d never heard of it, but with the shrink in campus size, I can’t use my walk to class as sufficient exercise, so I thought I’d join a sport, and this one sounded fun. Basically, it’s kind of like basketball minus the dribbling and backboard. Once you have the ball, you have to pass it before you can run again, and there’s less contact than basketball. Now, for you basketball lovers, you’re probably like, that doesn’t sound like much fun, but really it’s a lot of fun…and it’s quite a different game from basketball, that was just the easiest familiar sport to liken it to. It’d be like trying to describe volleyball to someone who only knows how to play badminton. “It’s like badminton, without the racket and you replace the racket with a ball.” That doesn’t do much justice to either game. So, watch this link, and see what netball is. (rules) (part of a game)

As you may or may not be able to tell, it requires a completely different skill set than basketball. It takes a lot of self-control to not contact someone. That was the first of the two lessons that playing my first game taught me. Going from someone who frequently filed other players in basketball where contact is allowed to an extent, not throwing my hands up to block a pass (which was very instinctive) is a hard thing not to do, as you must be 3 feet away from the person that you’re defending before putting your hands up. The other thing that’s quite difficult is catching the ball while running or jumping through the air, and then stopping…? I got called for stepping so many times. Along with some other broken rules, and that brings me to my other life lesson.

It’s quite humbling to play a game where you don’t know all the rules. Half the time the whistle was blown, I had no clue why, what was happening, who was supposed to have the ball, and where I was supposed to be. I was even getting called on stuff I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed to do. They coach you to hold your opposing player away from where you don’t want them…but apparently, you’re not allowed to physically touch them, even if they don’t have the ball. I found that out when I got called for contact for holding my opponent off with my forearm, as you’d do in basketball when someone’s all up in your space. Old habits die hard, I suppose. It also didn’t help that one of our umpires (same as a referee) was hoarse, the courts were outside next to the train tracks so trains were occasionally passing, there were like 10 other games happening simultaneously, and there were a crap load of corellas (cockatoo-like birds) chirping over head that made it impossible for me to hear a good number of the calls. But it was all good. Although we got slaughtered (56-21 I think?) it was heaps fun, and I’m just thankful that by the time the game started it had stopped raining, cause the courts are outside, and if you know me well enough, you’ll know that I don’t like getting wet in most circumstances.

Well, that’s all for this one. Not short, but reasonable.

May you find ways to grow from life’s random lessons.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Into the Real Middle of Nowhere

I will preface this by saying this is by far the longest post I’ve ever written. It made it to 4 pages in Word)

Way back in the day in England there was a tradition of what a family did when they had three sons. The first son was the heir of the estate, the second went into the military, and the third became a clergyman. So you’re probably wondering, what happened if a family had four or more sons? Well apparently, they were just like, we don’t really have anything to do with you, so usually they moved to either America or Australia. One such family had a fourth son who moved to South Australia and was in the Flinders ranges when he was drowned in a flash flood. His sister then thought him important enough to take a tombstone and travel a bunch of miles and take the tombstone to be placed at the place where her brother was killed (which was essentially the middle of no one). Where was I going with this? Why I am telling this story? Oh yes, travelling. With regards to the wildlife camp that I went on, there were a few people who weren’t from Australia. One came from Hong Kong, which really isn’t that far away. There’s an abundance of Asians in Australia. There was one from California, but essentially, all she did was cross an ocean. There was one from northern Virginia, which was pretty far, but me, I took the cake. I travelled the furthest distance (the absolute other side of the world) to go to essentially… nowhere. Yeah, the outback is pretty much the most of nowhere I’ve been. It’s just desert and some shrubs. This story was told by our professor at the end of camp (very much in that manner with him forgetting why he was telling the story, lol) and I won a mini kit-kat bar for the award for travelling the furthest distance. Yay Jersey!!! Anyhow, now that I’ve told you the end of the story, I suppose we should rewind a bit and start at the beginning.

So I got to have another adventure, and as a result, another chance to grow personally. The courses here are a lot less flexible as to when you can take them here, which is a big difference to my university where you can take pretty much anything in any order after your first year, and definitely after your second (with a few exceptions). Anyhow, I say that to say that most of the people in each year, know one another. The way my courses are set up is that I’m taking two 3rd year courses and two 2nd year courses. The two 2nd year courses that I’m taking are biochemistry and wildlife management, the latter of the two is what this field camp (into the outback) was for. Biochemistry, however, is taught to both the animal sciences and pre-veterinary students and all the friends that I’ve made in that class just happen to be pre-vet, with the exception of one, and because the camp was split into two groups, she went on the first one, and I went on the second. So I was walking into this camp, knowing absolutely no one, and going, once again, to a new place with the preconception that everyone knew each other, or at least knew someone else already…it was like first arriving in Australia all over again.

I boarded the bus, but surprisingly, I was hoping that no one would sit next to me at that point because although it would have been a seemingly easy way to meet someone, I was very tired from having had little sleep the night before, and frankly I was also somewhat emotionally drained from something that I was dealing with in my personal life. Fortunately, the bus was large enough with few enough people that most people could afford their own seats. So I popped in my headphones and very shortly I was in the state of zzzzZ. It was about a 3-3.5 hour ride to Calperum station which was the location of our field camp. I slept for most of the trip, but it still wasn’t quite enough, and in fact, that entire four days was just me digging a deeper hole of sleep deprivation. We had to be ready to leave at 6 am each morning and so for me that meant waking up at 4:30 each morning (only by God’s grace did that happen). To add to that sleep deprivation was people boisterously gallivanting throughout the halls until like 1 am. However, I had a blast, and learned a few things, both about wildlife and people. First I’ll talk about the people, because they’re a lot less interesting and not nearly as exciting.

The main thing I learned about people, which I’ve seen in many to other circumstances as well, is that we’re too hard to please. If you know me, next time I’m complaining around you, call me out on it, and just straight out tell me to get over it! I was so sick of people’s griping and complaining. “We have to wake up too early…” “There’s too much free time…” “It’s (the weather) too hot.” “It’s too cold.” “Blah blah blah blah blah” I felt like I was stuck in the wilderness with the Israelites (I was halfway there with the wilderness part). Don’t get me wrong, not everyone was complaining, but there were quite a few. They just couldn’t enjoy themselves because they weren’t constantly being catered to every moment of the day. But now on to the exciting.

I thought the camp was awesome! Firstly, I got to go to the outback!! So I’ll give you the rundown of what we did. When we first got there, we had to go pick a room, there were rooms that had 3 beds, and some that had 4. Completely by chance, I walk into a room where two other girls were and asked if there was room for me. I introduced myself and asked them what they were studying. One girl was studying biochemistry; she was an exchange student from the University of California. The other was a biology major from (yes Nicole if you’re reading this) William & Mary. (just a sidenote: I feel like there are like 32 people here from W&M, so Nicole, I’ve decided that at some point, you need to visit Adelaide since you didn’t come here when you were a student there, lol) What are the odds that I ended up sharing a room with the only other 2 exchange students on the trip? So I’ll admit it was somewhat likely, since as I mentioned with my preconception of everyone knowing everyone, although it wasn’t completely correct, most of the people there were second year animal science students and did know one another. The only two other people who I’m sure weren’t animal science students were guys, so I wasn’t going to be rooming with them. Anyhow, after finding our rooms and stuff, we had a lecture by the ecologist that worked there, which I pretty much completely slept through (told you I was tired…and frankly, he was pretty boring). After his lecture which felt like hours, we were somehow ahead of schedule or something so our professor, we’ll call him Phil (cause that’s his name), decided to move the lecture planned for the next night, to right then, and I slept through parts of that one as well. I am so thankful that he moved it though, cause had it been the next night, I would have missed the whole thing.

That evening we went out to our field site. We got to ride in 4 wheel drive vehicles that were kind of like army bunkers (where you sit on benches facing one another in the back of the truck). We rode through sand to get to the “main road” which was only paved right at the entrance of the station, and unpaved everywhere else (apparently this was a “highway” that led to Sydney). We then turned off the road onto more sand and there was a fence blocking off the area we were going into with a sign basically saying that “unauthorized visitors would most likely receive no help if something happened to them.” Thought that was pretty funny…and they were serious. Anyhow, the program went as follows: There were two types of traps we were using. The first was called a pitfall trap which was a bucket buried in the ground forming a hole for animals to just fall into. This was used for catching reptiles (hopefully not snakes) and small land mammals. The second was an Elliot box trap which was baited and used only for the small land mammals. So before going out to check the traps for the first time (which were in the bush) we were briefed on the different dangers present. Basically the things to look out for were spider webs (which were more of an annoyance and would be a freak out moment if you walked into one more than a danger), my new arch nemesis spinofex grass, and snakes. The two snakes of the area were brown snakes (which are also present on the campus) which are venomous but have very shallow fangs, and death adders…’nuff said. Ok, I’ll say a bit more. Apparently they bury themselves in the sand and poke their tails out like a little worm to bait birds and other prey. They move slow, but strike fast, and they were the ones to most likely be hidden in a pitfall trap. In the case of coming across a brown snake, we were to make noise (stomping=vibrations to get the snake to leave) and inform our team of the snake’s presence. If the snake was right in front of us, we were to stay still and just wait for the snake to leave. We were instructed to always check the pitfalls with a snake hook for death adders before reaching into it with our hands to take something out. Any questions? Ummm yeah, of course you had me to ask the question which seemed very much obvious but no one else was asking: “What if we find a death adder in the trap?” (personal growth point) You know I’m not getting near it if there was. We were to call Phil or the other dude who’s name I don’t remember, to get the snake out, because they’ve had snake handling experience in the past. So that first evening, we placed our 50 Elliot traps (about 10 meters apart from each other) in a line and 15 meters away on either side of our pitfalls traps which ran in a straight line down the middle. (so there were 25 on each side of the line of pitfalls) There were 4 groups based on direction, I was in the northwest group. Our first night, we found one lizard, and I don’t remember what it was, but I do remember that it was a bit difficult to identify because many lizards are quite minute creatures and you need a microscope to look at many of the features that are in the key for identifying them. To add to that, the guide in the book often had things written like “spots usually (or sometimes) present on the tail” or even better, “eyelids transparent or not transparent.” ßthose 2 are exact opposites if you didn’t notice (cause the writers of the book clearly didn’t. Anyway, that took a while, and then my group went spotlighting. Before going on the trip, I didn’t know what that meant, so I realize that some of my readers may not be familiar with the term. My advice to you if you are that reader, is to Google it. I’m totally kidding! We got in the truck and had these 3 giant lights that we pointed out of the window to look for larger wildlife. You could also do this on foot with a flashlight, but we were covering a larger area of land, so a vehicle was much more useful in this situation. We saw about 8 or 9 kangaroos, a rabbit, some moths and some spider webs. The kangaroos were cool. Most were red kangaroos (which are ironically mostly grey in color and white at the bottom…I think) and there was the western-grey kangaroo (which was red and dark at the bottom). Apparently in past years, there had been a season of drought, so the kangaroos would be highly concentrated in one area. However, since there has been heaps of rain lately (relative to Australia’s aridness…so it really hasn’t been that much) but as a result, there’s more food available, so they were more spread out. I was fortunate to be in the first group so we got back around 10 and Yay! Bed! Unfortunately, my classmates thought it’d be fun to get completely trashed and be extremely loud while I attempted to sleep (sidenote: since I’ve been here, I’ve noticed that I live quite an unintentionally sheltered life…I miss that). I finally got to sleep probably around midnight, and woke up around 5 to one of my roommate’s alarm, since my 4:30 one failed to go off. She snoozed; I went to the disgusting ant infested bathroom. I still can’t figure out why they were attracted to swarming in there; I didn’t take a proper shower the entire time I was there. Anyway, we were gathered to leave at 6 and the staff was quite unhappy about the shenanigans that took place the night before. Phil threatened to send people home if it happened again. We got to our trap site and to our surprise, we caught 12 mammals! At that time we also closed our Elliot traps because they were made of metal and so we didn’t use those to catch lizards during the day because it would be too hot. I guess I should pause here to say that we collected the small mammals in the morning because they are nocturnal, and the lizards in the evening because they would be active and get caught in the traps during the day. We had to identify the animals so within our group we broke down into pairs and triplets to try and get the identifying done quicker. There were three mammals in the area. The house mouse, the Bolam’s mouse, and a carnivorous marsupial called mallee ningaui (I don’t know if I spelled that right, but it’s pronounced mal-lee nin-gow-ee, or at least that’s how we were pronouncing it). The house mice were pains because they smelled bad, they were super hyper and constantly trying to escape by jumping out of the bucket, they refused to be still, and one bit my finger. The bolam’s mouse was super cute and calm. The carnivorous marsupial was somewhat in between behavior-wise but it was cool because it wasn’t a mouse and they were rare to catch; the house mouse of course was always the most commonly caught. We marked their tails with a dry erase marker to avoid double counting them. We measured different features to determine whether there were juveniles present in the population to determine whether there was reproduction occurring. Later that day, we did a habitat assessment, which was basically measuring the density of shrubs and grasses and bare ground, surrounding our pitfalls to determine what type of habitat each animal was most likely to reside in. That evening, after releasing our mammals and collecting our reptiles (we only ever caught reptiles in our 10th pitfall trap for some reason), my group learned how to use the GPS units so that we could record the locations of our Elliot traps.

It was evening and it was morning, the 2nd day. On the 3rd day, we were fortunate enough to only catch 5 animals (at each trap we were hoping not to have something, because 12 took way too long the day before). This morning was bizarre. As we were identifying the small mammals, one of the guys in my group was handling one of the mice and he wasn’t over the bucket and the mouse got dropped and escaped. Then there was me and the girl, Kim who I was working with. She was holding the carnivorous marsupial and I was trying to sex it (determine whether it was male or female), so I was attempting to move its fur and the little bugger bit my finger. As a natural reflex, I jerked my finger away, however, little to my knowledge, it was holding on with its teeth and as a result, I pretty much threw it across the room. Bye-bye little mallee ningaui. So we captured 5 and returned 3. However, we weren’t the only group dropping mice (well, I guess I threw mine, but that was beside the point). Every time you looked around, someone was chasing a mouse across the room or out the door. Some were caught, others escaped. Because it had rained earlier that morning, we had to switch the morning and afternoon activities. We were originally meant to do sand transects in the morning which basically involves smoothing the sand out so that you can see what animals cross the road and whether larger animals, such as foxes, use the road as an easier path than walking through the bush. The purpose was to see whether the road was an interruption of the animals’ habitat or whether they would be willing to cross it. Because the sand was wet in the morning, it would have made for an extremely taxing task, so we waited until the afternoon for the sand to dry out. So in the morning, instead of the sand transect, my group went bird watching which was really cool. I think I might pick that up as a hobby someday. We had a bonfire that night, which I stood by for a few moments, but then someone came and lit a cigarette, and I was tired anyway, so I just went to bed. Finally, on the last day, we released the animals we’d caught the night before as per usual (although that night, we’d caught a bearded dragon and a mallee dragon, the mallee dragon was absolutely adorable), and I don’t know how many we caught but we managed to get 2 mice in one Elliot, and other groups were using our bags I think, so we ended up with like 9 or 10 to identify (one guy was convinced one of the mice he’d found was dead so he stuck it in a plastic bag, but it turned out to be alive…glad it didn’t suffocate), and we had dish duty that morning. So three of the guys stayed behind to do the dishes so we could get a jumpstart on identifying, and we still finished last. We then went and re-released them, and assessed our sand transects. We collected all the traps, and after having lunch, and gathering our things, 4 pages later, we finally return to the beginning of this post.

I thought the camp was a great experience and I had quite a bit of fun, despite my lack of sleep. I slept on the return trip as well. I’ve already mentioned the blissfully sheltered life that I live, and I suppose that may come up at another time in more detail. But the other thing I’ve learned is that I am less afraid to talk to people now. I think I’ve gotten better at more easily finding common ground or topics to talk about, or I’ve just gotten less afraid to do it. The positive is that I’m growing! Until next time,

You can do all things through Christ that strengthens you (Phil 4:13)

Grow…Be BOLD!! (2011)


Friday, April 15, 2011

A new adventure

A new adventure is coming my way
Guess I should prepare
Another adventure? again you say?
I thought I was already there

After all I reason, I took a big step
I jumped across the Pacific
To the other side of the world I traveled
Was that not brave enough?

In an unknown land
A stranger to all
I stepped out of my zone of comfort
For the sake of making new friends

But now I suppose
I've found that place again
Normalcy has set in

But did I come all the way to the other side of the world for normalcy?
Uhhh, I don't think so, nope, that's a definite NO!

So I guess it's time to stretch again
Meet more new people
See more new places
Into an unknown place
With unknown people

Here we go