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).


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