Sunday, February 27, 2011

To the Middle of Nowhere

I stepped off the bus as tumbleweed rolled past. “Shalyse, what have you gotten yourself into this time?”

You may remember from the last post that I mentioned that I would be moving to the animal sciences campus, and I was told it was in the middle of nowhere. The closest town in fact is 12 km away (~7 mi?) For the first time since I’ve been alive, this is really the first time I’ve legitimately seen tumbleweed, but that’s not all I’ve seen since I’ve been here. First of all, I just need to mention that God’s always doing more than I can even ask or imagine…I signed up to live in the campus housing. I didn’t even know there was an option other than the residence halls, but I am living in a 5 person house with only 3 people (myself included in that 3). This house, fully furnished, also came with all the kitchenware needed to cook, and I get 5 meals/week provided. That’s just great in my mind. I wouldn’t have minded living in the residence hall, but I would have had to share a kitchen with the whole building, and I would not have had a mini fridge, so I would’ve had to put stuff in the main fridge/freezer. Only sharing a kitchen/bathroom with 2 other people is not bad at all.

The campus also has a swimming pool, gym (that I won’t be using cause I’d have to pay for a membership), and it’s just altogether pretty. There’s a shuttle that takes you to town a few times throughout the day during the week, but if you need to get to town at a time that the shuttle isn’t running, such as on the weekend, or earlier than the shuttle goes (like me on this past Friday), the university will call and pay a taxi for you, which is totally sweet. The provided meals have been good thusfar. It’s the only time I drink juice, however I’m considering buying some. The server in the dining room is very nice and quite funny. She usually piles way more food on my plate than I could ever eat in one sitting, and then she asks me if that’s enough or if I want more. I say that’s enough, and she’s like, “ya sure? Ok, well if you want more just come up and ask for seconds.” If I finish all that is on my plate, it’s a barely. On the day I arrived to the campus, I took a walk around just to explore, and I got a glimpse of the beauty of God’s creativity. I saw so many different birds of different sizes, shapes, colors, and sounds and it was amazing. I saw a few of these same birds at the wildlife park, so I’m guessing they’re not so common in the city. One cool one was this bird that looks like a pink cockatoo. I think it’s called a galah…I’m probably spelling that wrong, but nevertheless, they’re pretty cool. I stopped and watch these swarms of ants, mostly at first because there were so many I was afraid to cross the path, but as I watched, I was just in awe. An ant can carry like 20 (or 40, can’t quite remember) times its own weight. That’s absolutely insane; it’d be like me carrying close to 3000 pounds! But, as I often am, I’m completely going off on a tangent. I rather like it here so far, and I’ve yet to share two of my favorite parts.

The first has to do with more personal growth points. I believe 2 of the reasons I’m here are two grow personally, and to experience what it’s like to be an international student so that I can better relate. Well, since I’m doing the latter every moment by just existing here, I have to be more intentional about recognizing the former. If you know me well, you may or may not know that I don’t really like asking questions, especially if they’re of the nature of me needing help. I prefer to be rather independent and try to figure things out or do them on my own. Well, my time being here will rather force me to interact with security but fortunately, they’re quite friendly. And don’t worry; this is relevant to my first favorite part. A few of the buildings that are on campus for student use remain locked if they don’t have set hours like say, the library. Two of those buildings include the gym and the chapel. The chapel is open on Thursdays when the chaplain comes to visit, but any other time, it’s locked. When I first moved in, after my Welcome presentation, I was asked if I had any questions. Many times, when asked this, even if I have a question, I usually say no, because I decide that my question isn’t important enough to ask, and I could just figure it out, but this time I actually decided to go for the plunge. I asked if there was a piano on campus. “I don’t know, there might be one in the chapel, but I’m not sure. You can just ask security to open it.” So later on I just walked up to the security office and asked them to open the chapel for me. PSHH! Yeah right. I have to always make stuff more difficult and excruciating then it is in real life. Remember the swarm of ants? This is where I encountered the first bunch. I walked up to the building which seemed like it was probably the chapel because it sort of fit the map location, and it looked “churchy”, but it wasn’t labeled. So I ran past the ants, to the door, to see if maybe it was unlocked. No such luck, so I tried the back door only to come to the same conclusion. “I think now would be a good time to go exploring.” It’s funny how I avoid things. I could have just walked up to the security office, which is literally like right next to the chapel and ask them to open the door. But there were just too many unknowns. Firstly, what if that wasn’t the chapel. I’d look awfully foolish. I’ve decided (just now as I am typing this) that I need to get over the fear of looking foolish, because if you never take that chance, you never learn. But what if I trouble the security officers to open the door and there is no piano? I’d be wasting their time. It’d be such a hassle after all for them to walk all the way next door. It’s funny how silly the excuses we make to ourselves to stop us from doing something beneficial look when we write them on paper. So I after I took my really long walk, I had a decision to make. I could go ask security to open the door or I could wait for Thursday. (This was Monday by the way) In hindsight, I don’t know if I really just missed the piano or if I was afraid that waiting until Thursday would render me an audience of the chaplain. Whichever it was, probably most of one, but a pinch of 2, I finally asked security to open the door. There was a piano!!! It’s terribly out of tune, but on Thursday, the chaplain informed me that it will be getting tuned. However, there was an electric organ. I just have to play on two levels of keys. That made my day even sunnier than it already was.

The second favorite thing is the train. Well, there’s a couple of funny stories surrounding this one, but I’ll come out and say right up front that I get to stay at the church that I went to on the first Sunday I was here!!! Unlike in Jersey where the train costs a different amount depending on where you’re going, here it’s a flat rate of only 1.40 off peak, and I’m one of the furthest stops. However, I accidentally stole a ride I found out. It’s funny, stuff like the train and bus are on the honor system for paying. So I was at the train station and you need to use your ticket to get through the turnstile, I assumed that was the equivalent of paying and the ticket machines that were on the train were for people getting on the train at later stations that did not have turnstiles (b/c many don’t). I found out I’m supposed to swipe my ticket at both when I came back to that station and I needed swipe the ticket to exit the turnstile as well. This is when I decided that this must not be charging me. Whoops. My suspicions were confirmed when I asked a friend I met at church. Guess I’ll have to swipe twice next time I ride. Second funny story has to do with that friend and another, Claire and Winnie. They’re quite hilarious, and awesome people, as they decided to drive me all the way home to the middle of nowhere. I’ve only actually taken the bus from the city once and it was daytime, and so I didn’t really know how to get there. Fortunately, I was actually paying attention when we came, so I knew there were signs that told which way to go. But this time, it was pitch black and there were no street lights because, well, it’s the middle of nowhere. Why would you need streetlights? Lol That was a fun night. After me finding out from Claire that I’m not really American (Later I found out that she’s not really Australian), a bit of wrong side of the road driving, and being misled by a sign that had the name of the campus written really large and 500m on the left really tiny underneath, we finally made it to my house. And I was informed by my new friends yesterday that after they dropped me off, they couldn’t find their way out of the campus. Fortunately, security found them and directed them.

Well, this post has been ridiculously longer than it should’ve been, but as we’ve established, I’m long-winded. Thanks for reading. Until next time, “may He do more than all you ask or imagine” (Eph 3:20).


Friday, February 18, 2011

These adventures, I call them life

So, I blatantly stole the title of this post from the title of my friend Rebekah's blog, but I replaced the question mark with a comma, so now it's original...right? But in all seriousness, I have a valid reason (in my mind) for choosing that title. In my life, everyday adventures and unexpected things just seem to happen, which is fine by me, cause any other way, I think my life would be just dull. Anyhow, I met with the advisor for animal science students, for the Uni where I'm studying and she basically tells me that the campus for animal science is in the middle of nowhere, it's a farm, and the closest town is 12 km away. Come again? Yup, I'm going to be living on a farm. Coming from being raised in a city, and then living in a rural NON-farming area while still maintaining much contact with the city, I thought to myself, "well this should be a new experience." And that's when the phrase popped into my mind: "these adventures, I call them life." I've only met one other international student that studies there, and it's her second year here, so she's not new. However, I did come to Australia to learn about the culture, and I wanted to meet Australian's so I'm guessing that's definately going to happen. I've been told that the school is very well known for animal sciences, so many Australian's from around the country go there, and unlike in the city, many don't just commute to and from school, so this should be some experience. An adventure. I rather like adventures. So on Monday, here we go. I'll keep you informed. But until next time, May you recognize and embrace the small things, that make your life an adventure.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Motivational Gifts and the Body of Christ P2

Toward the end of the last post I said that God always has stuff planned out perfectly. Well, I’m going to go into a bit more detail. Earlier that day (Saturday) I was on my way back to my room from the library, and the hospital chapel happens to be right next to the residential wing of the hospital. For some reason, I decided to just stop by, and up to this point I can only attribute that to the leading of the Holy Spirit, because I really didn’t have a reason. But when I walked up to the door, there was a little paper posted that had a listing of churches in the area. (There’s a sidenote needed here: One of the nicknames of Adelaide is the City of Churches because it used to have so many but apparently many have been closed and turned into other things unfortunately, but there are still quite a few. However, anytime I look at a listing of churches, there’s only like 5-7 listed, and different lists have different churches…the more famous ones like St. Peter’s which is this humongous Catholic church is on most of the lists, but the smaller ones seem to be scattered) Anyhow, on this particular list…which by far was the most helpful of them all because it listed the church, phone number, location and service times, had the words Assemblies of God: Edge church 9am and 11am And so I decide I’ll go to one of those services tomorrow. I looked the street up on the map of the city and it seemed to be not so bad of a walk, so that was good. Now we go back to my dinner drama, fast forward a few hours. After 2 unsuccessful dinner invites, one saying no and the other having no answer, I decided to just go to dinner alone…which I don’t mind so much…I just hate sitting in my room alone with nothing to do and no one to talk to. So I go off to look at the city some. Since I was by myself, I decided, “hey, why don’t I go look for that church just to make sure that I can find it, and I can see relatively how long it will take.” So I did just that, and am so fortunate that I did, because when I went there, I discovered that in the summer, they condense to one service at 10 am. If I had not known that, I might’ve missed what happened the next day. And the other bonus was, I found 4$ pizza in a place where everything seems to be quite expensive. Yay :)
But on to the motivational gifts that I keep seeming to talk about in the title but nowhere else. I suppose since it is the title, I should at least mention it. First, I suppose I will start by saying that I’m an exhorter/prophet, or encourager/perceiver. What this means specifically for me is that I’m quite good at encouraging people who I’m comfortable around and I’ve grown in being welcoming to the outsider in the group, but for me, many things are very black and white, and I’m ok with being a loner, for a while. I’m kind of an introverted extravert because I can be very shy, but being around people, once I get to know them, energizes me. And for most people, it can take up to a year or longer for me to warm up to them. Anyhow, I got to the church on that Sunday around 9:30 because I grossly overestimated the amount of time it would take to get there, but for me, that’s for the best cause I can be bad about time. There weren’t many people there yet, but a woman who was doing the parking validation offered me some tea or coffee and chatted with me for a bit, and told me that she would introduce me to a woman named Zahara. The first impression I got of her was wow she’s rockin’ those heels… I’m pretty sure they were at least 6 inches, lol. She was an absolutely lovely woman and definitely an exhorter …she reminded me a lot of my friend DWoods, because she was everyone’s friend and it took us like 15 minutes to make it up to the second level of the church where the sanctuary was (it used to be a movie a theatre so that was pretty cool) because she kept stopping to talk to people. She was a very cool person. She’s one of the people that helped me get out of that “I made a terrible mistake by coming here alone” mindset because she encouraged me and she didn’t even know that I needed encouragement. She affirmed me and told me how brave I was by coming to a country on the other side of the world, to a city where I didn’t know anyone at all, and then I just walked right into a church to meet people because I had seen it on a list of churches. It’s funny how we are our own worst critics, and I suppose it does take some guts to leave the comforts of home to go to an unknown land. The service was great, and it’s a church whose main goal is to reach the community with the message of Hope, Truth, and Love. Afterward, they had a time of fellowship where they serve snacks and coffee or hot chocolate. The snacks were sushi and these little brownie type cakes…I just thought that was interesting. During this time is when I met Denise and Robert Pride. They’re an older couple, and they were also very nice. I would guess them to be more the giver type. I first met Denise, and she told me about her family, (some of which live in CA) her husband and then they’re goats and alpaca. It’s a good thing I love goats, because she talked about them for a while, and alpacas are just entertaining animals. I think I’d have only been more amused if she’d told me they owned an emu, because those are just hilarious. Anyhow, after talking with them both for a while, they offered to take me around a show me the city which was very kind of them. I will post the pictures on fb, and as soon as I figure out how to post pictures to blogspot, I’ll add a few (if anyone knows, feel free to post a comment and tell me). I told them that I would be living away from the city, and they even offered me a place at their home over the weekends if I still wanted to attend their church. I think I’ve gained a new appreciation for the body of Christ. I realize now that no matter where I go, home to Jersey, Purdue, and even Australia, if the body of Christ is there, I’ll always have family, because with the body of Christ is love. Also, with the Holy Spirit, I’m never alone. If it weren’t for him afterall, leading me to that chapel, I probably would not have found that church. One final note: “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” (Romans 12:6a) Jesus said “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with very much…” (Luke 16:10a) I’ve realized that I haven’t been using the gifts God has given me to maximum potential, so one of my new prayers is that I will be trustworthy with the little He’s given me, and by His grace that I would use that to the max. I sincerely hope that if you’ve not experienced the love of Christ that you will seek it out, because not much compares.
I’ll be continuing to live this adventure, and hopefully I’ll keep growing. A look into the future of this blog, I’ve learned some interesting things about the history and culture, and probably before that, I’ll be writing about the next phase of this journey…moving to Roseworthy.
May you always live to your full potential!

Until next time,

Motivational Gifts and the Body of Christ

Hello all! I hope all is going well for you. I suppose this is sort of like the 2nd part of the last post that I made, although they aren’t really interdependent at all, which is why this one has a separate title. I suppose another consequence of stream of consciousness (SOC) is that (at least in my case), it’s much unplanned. I mean, I have an idea of what I will write about which is how I come up with titles (in the case of titles that I come up with before I write the post), but even if I don’t know the title first, I have a vague idea to begin. For instance, in this post, I titled it before writing it; however in the previous post, I came up with (what I’ve decided to be quite clever) the title after writing the post. But I suppose that all that’s irrelevant. If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering what I’ve learned about myself, amongst other things, if you read the last post, since that is what I said I would write about.
I suppose saying that I learned something about myself, is a bit of a non-truth, I already knew it, it was just reconfirmed, and now I guess I’m going to publicly share it. If you know me well enough, you might already know this, but you might not, and that is that I’m afraid of people, in a sense.
It’s funny really, because I’m only afraid of people in the context of relationship, and that doesn’t really make much sense the way I’m explaining it, so I will use an example. I’m in this group called XA (Chi Alpha) and we do different things for evangelism, one being surveys, and another being praying for people. I have no problem walking up to someone and saying “hey have you taken our survey?” or “hey, do you have any prayer requests?” If they say no, they say no, and I just move on. No problem being rejected there. HOWever, last Saturday, I decided a good way to meet some people (since I didn’t really know anyone) was to just nonchalantly walk up to a fellow new student and ask them if they wanted to go get some food and explore the city a bit. No problem right? WRONG! Picture this: I was standing in my room, literally trembling, and having that argument in my mind that you have when you’re trying to get yourself to do something that you don’t want to do. I looked at my hand, and since it wasn’t noticeably shaking, I figured I must not be that worried. SO, I walked across the hall and knocked on the door of a girl named Rica who I had just happened to meet because we checked into the hospital at the same time (btw, just a sidenote: living in a hospital is weird to Australians, too…not a normal thing). She wasn’t there, so I just went and asked someone else. That’s at least, what I would have done if I were a more logical person…instead I went back into my room to psych myself out some more. “Just go ask someone else, what are you so afraid of? Everyone is new here and no one knows anyone” “Not true. Rica, for example, has a friend here from her university. The two girls I met at the airport were both from W&M…what was I thinking coming here alone? That wasn’t a good idea” (another sidenote: It’s funny. Fast forward to Monday and the lady who did the first orientation session talked about how when you go to a new place you go through phases of being really excited about the new city, and then really unexcited and homesick, and regretting the choice of coming, and then happy you came again. I’m pretty sure I went through most of that on Saturday and got back to the happy to be here phase by Sunday, and the reason for that will come up shortly) “Just go ask someone else! What’s the worst that could happen? They say no, so you move on!” That’s the fear that can break you. REJECTION!!! (oh no) Now that I am 6 whole days wiser (not much) I can say that the fear of rejection stems from the lie that you have nothing to offer. Everyone (including me) has something to offer. (Psalm 139:14) I’ve started talking to people now, although I haven’t initiated many conversations. I have started a few, and I’ve been consciously not finding a corner to sit alone in when there’s a big group of people. Even if you’re afraid to talk to someone outright, if you go up and ask them if you can sit with them, they’ll usually start the conversation if you don’t. I know when that happens to me I do, cause it’s awkward to just have someone sit with you and just look at one another without saying anything. In fact, that’s more uncomfortable than putting yourself out there and possibly having an awkward conversation. I realize this post has gotten a lot longer than I thought it would be, so there truly will be a part 2 to this one, because otherwise, the title just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. But, before I end this, you’re probably wondering two things: what happened with the whole asking people to dinner thing, and two, what happened on Sunday to change my downcast mood. Well, I finally worked up enough nerve to go and ask someone else so I’m like “hey, I’m going to go look around the city and find some dinner. Wanna come?” and they were like “No, sorry” and that was it. I’m absolutely crushed right? No, not really. That’s the other somewhat peculiar thing about me…I have this dreadful fear of being rejected, but when it happens, I don’t really mind so much. This is why fear is irrational. The consequences aren’t usually as bad as what you imagine them to be. This is of course referring to social fears, not healthy ones such as not sticking a knife in a socket for the fear of being electrocuted. But anyhow, I went and ate dinner by myself which turned out to be for the best because God always has stuff planned out really perfectly. And the second thing is the whole Sunday thing…well, that, as you can probably guess, is where the title comes from, and is what you will have to read about in the next post…if you feel so inclined. But fortunately, I’m posting them at the same time, cause I’m tired of postponing writing about it, but if I put them together that would make this too long post even longer, so feel free to just read on. In conclusion, I’m long-winded.

May His truth be your delight! :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Left side of the road and rice krispies

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I’ve been in the city for about 4 days now (btw, I just realized this website is on American time, so just add a day whenever I reference days), and I’ve learned a few things about it, as well as about life in general, and about myself. (this will be in 2 parts, the 2nd part being more personal) So first, a few things about the city, and I guess Australia in general. Well, I’ve only got one thing about Australia in general, so I’ll say that one first. Oh, erase that, two things: Did you know that Australia is the continent closest to the whole in the ozone layer? Bet ya didn’t. I should probably find some sunscreen. The second is just a new slang word I learned: snag=sausage. So you can throw a snag on the barbie…which I will be having at the international student bbq on wed. Ok, so I’ve just decided this is going to be a non-numbered list, because when you write in stream of consciousness, things just come to mind. Even though Australians drive on the left side of the road, you are NOT allowed to make a left turn on red. I was riding in a car yesterday with an absolutely lovely couple (they’ll come up in more detail in the next post) and it was the one question I was dying to ask, so I did. (Personal growth points! I’m always shy about asking questions) It was actually quite funny because one of their sons lives in the US and when they came to visit him, they were freaking out because he turned right on a red light. Just a note, it doesn’t bother me that they drive on the left side of the road (not so sure how I’d fare with it), but 2 things I never thought of until yesterday. The more minor is just an observation: people tend to gravitate in walking on the same side of a path that they drive. Most people here walk to the left side of the path, while my gravitation toward the right can cause collision, so I just think about it now to avoid that. However the other thing is a bit more substantial. It’s one of those things that are common sense if you stop to think about it, but you wouldn’t stop to think about it unless you’re me about to get hit by a car. Since they drive on the other side of the road, I need to look in the opposite direction of what I’m used to. I almost stepped off the curb to meet an oncoming car yesterday, but by the grace of God I didn’t. But I digress (often), so we’ll go back to the few things about the city. The city of Adelaide was a planned city, so it’s very organized, and very hard to get lost in. I can attest to that because I have yet to get lost in the city, however anytime I try to get to the residential wing of the hospital from the main entrance, without fail I get lost and 1 of 2 things happens: I end up having to go outside to find my way, or someone notices me looking lost and they direct me. Anyhow, the city center is surrounded at each corner by a giant park and the main street (King William) goes down the center with streets branching off of it.

This is what I picture it in my head to look like mapically(not sure if you can see that). Of course there are more than 4 streets, however, I purposefully named them 1, 2, 3, and 4 because they are different depending on what side of King William you are on. The other interesting thing is that, unlike other major cities in Australia, Adelaide was not a city for Britain’s prisoners. It was actually planned to be a nice place to live, and from what I can see, it is. It’s also the most affordable city in Australia, which means that I unintentially picked an ideal place for me. They have this great deal at Subway, 7$ footlongs! (sarcasm noted) However compared to the rest of Australia, is it is more affordable from what I’ve been told. The city is very diverse and as a result it’s hard to tell who’s not an Australian, and I’m not really sure what would be considered Australian cuisine, with the exception of kangaroo meat, which I’ve yet to try! However, I did have the WORST chicken burrito of my life that I payed close to 10 bucks for. And I’m pretty sure the lady forgot the chicken. Bright side: the guacamole was good. Note: when in Australia, pizza’s fine, asian food’s fine, fast food is fine, just don’t get Mexican. Something I learned about America, we have a very pretty and colorful passport. “Leave it to the Yanks to be so flashy!” one woman jokingly said.

A few more things about Adelaide/Australia that I’ve found funny/interesting (I’ll be keeping a written log of these in the awesome scrapbook my friend mo gave me, but here are a few): The stores close extremely early! 9pm is the late night, and 7 pm are the extended summer hours. Target closes at 5 pm on most nights, and is strictly a clothing store from what I can tell. Burger King is called Hungry Jacks and they have the equivalent of the McFlurry called the Storm. (the reason I know it’s still Burger King is 3 fold: 1) they have the whopper, 2) the logo is the same, it just says hungry jack’s instead of bk, and 3) even here they had to steal something from mickey d’s…at home it’s the mcmuffin, here it’s the mcflurry, lol) I accidentally bought cranberry juice that was sweetened with splenda (that has nothing to do with Australia whatsoever, cause I’ve totally done that back home too, I just thought I’d mention that it’s just as gross here) The elevator in the residential wing looks like it’s as old as the ones in Lilly Hall, but somehow, it moves like it’s the elevator from Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. By the time I blink, I’m at the 10th floor. But finally, I had to save the best for last: Rice Krispies= Rice Bubbles!!! Snap, crackle and pop

Thanks for reading, hope you had a smile. May you have joy unconditionally J

Friday, February 11, 2011

Post number 1

Creative title huh? Hi everybody! This is the blog that I will keep to log my adventures in this new land. As I have previously done in my other blog, which I have been so diligent in not updating since August, I'll be writing in stream of consciousness, b/c that's how I roll. So, if you're interested, read on, and if not, my bad.

I made it to Adelaide yesterday. And because of the 13.5 hour time difference, it was necessary for me to sleep exactly 13.5 hours. That's kinda weird seeing as that was completely unplanned, but for real, I accidentally fell asleep around 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and woke up at 4:30 this morning. So today, I decided I needed to find free wifi, and I ventured to the library. I hope to see more of the city soon, but so far from what I've seen, it's quite pretty. Although it's summer here, the weather isn't too hot, unless you're directly in the sun. As I walked, the city kind of reminded me of a less crowded, more diverse version of Rome in a way. The buildings are very artistic, although they look a lot less ancient :) (pictures to come soon). The food, from the 1.5 meals I've had thusfar, isn't much different. And something that I didn't know, until Ben told me, is that they, like England, drive on the left side of the road, which I suppose would give an advantage to all the lefties, unlike our vehicles, which favor the right-handed.
Anyhow, (I get sidetracked easily). Orientation is next week, so that should be cool. Oh, and I'm staying in a hospital for the week until I go to my accommodation at the ag campus. I've never been to a hospital where there's a residential area for people to just live in, but there's a first for everything. I guess since I haven't done much besides sleep so far, I don't have much more to say, but I'll be updating this again so until then, May the peace of Christ guard your heart and mind :)