Cliff Diving in Mostar

Have you ever gone swimming in a ridiculously cold body of water? I thought I had until I went to Bosnia and Herzegovina.  In the city of Mostar, which I will say was one of my favourite places despite the fact we only stayed there for a few hours, there’s a famous bridge where divers will essentially busk for a dive. Instead of playing music, they will ask for donations for them to jump off the bridge and into the river. It’s deep, but exceptionally cold. Not to mention just how high it is.  For a little info about it,it’s called the Stari Most bridge.  Our Topdeck group, well of course there were those who couldn’t wait to jump off the rock on the side of the bridge and into the depths. Of course this wasn’t as high as the bridge, no where near, but the water was so cold that when I put my feet in the edges they began to ache, really ache after only a few seconds.  There was no way I was going to dive into that water.

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Kelly, Lorna and I went for a walk around the town and found somewhere nice to have lunch. It is very much full of Turkish influence there. We had lunch and ultimately decided we should bite the bullet and do the jump. From the little rock of course. The girls had their togs on but a lot of others went in their underwear. I left my shirt on, but got to my underwear and dived in. The thrill was exhilarating. The water was so cold that when you hit the water you instantly lost your breath. But as you were jumping from a height there was no chance to feel the water and ease your way in from the jumping point. You just had to go. It was incredible. The current drags you down about 20m before you climb out on the shore part, but soon as you’re out it’s fairly warm again.

I can’t explain why the water is so icy but it’s just the region.  Just wow. I jumped in another two times and I think I’m an adrenaline junkie. It’s not something I would have ordinarily done but I thought of my boyfriend. He will go swimming in any kind of conditions. I thought, if he can, I can. It gave me the confidence to do one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced.

 

Don’t Forget the Memories

This is the copy of the essay I had to write for QUT exchange. I thought it was a good summary of this trip!

Overseas. A place many people have ventured, explored and loved. A place many students may not have yet. Being a student gives us such a different view of the world, but what good is that view if we don’t get to use it? Going on exchange was one of the best things I have ever done with my life. I would thoroughly recommend it to anybody wanting to go. To those who think they’ll wait until after their degree has finished, when they’re free to do what they want, remember you don’t get those discounts anymore! All jokes aside, while I was out exploring the world, the education I received while studying abroad was also invaluable. I made friends that I will never forget, and keep forever. I made a second home, and also got to travel all in one trip!
Everybody says that they make friends that they will keep a lifetime on a trip but I was never so sure. I absolutely love my friends and love making new ones too, but I still wasn’t convinced that people would accept me as I am, into their community. It took a little while of adjusting but after a bit I started talking to my classmates and made friends. I suppose this isn’t that different to attending university for the first time. Except you’re sitting in class trying to hold onto the content as you absorb the new classrooms, new people, and most excitingly, their accents! It really makes you realise you’re a long way from home. In fact, I feel quite safe and nostalgic when I hear a British accent nowadays. I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything.
Studying game design means that I’m slightly restricted as to where I could go overseas. There were only two different universities that offered games to their exchange students and it was a close call to get in at all. At first, I wasn’t. But then my luck turned around when two people who had been offered the only two places at Leeds Met, dropped out. I was in! I couldn’t believe that I actually had the opportunity to go and study in England. For me this was a big deal as I had never been overseas before, never been anywhere but Sydney and Melbourne. I was going to make the most of my experience.
I went over a little earlier than other students, because I wanted to work in my travels with one of my favourite things: Harry Potter. I was lucky enough to be in the crowd at the London Premiere of the final Harry Potter instalment. That also was an experience that was merely a bonus of the whole thing! We all know Australia is so remote so the chance of being able to visit different countries within mere hours literally is a foreign concept. From London, I embarked on my Topdeck Tour around Europe. This was completely unrelated to my studies but an opportunity I was determined to seize. The people I met there, the experiences I collected and culture I absorbed isn’t one I can really put into words. Much like my entire experience, it’s better told in many, many pictures! I can only say that I will never see the world the same way again.
Leeds isn’t a place I had heard of prior to researching it for my exchange. After many emails and phone calls sorting out my enrolment at Leeds Metropolitan University, everything was finalised. I was going to be living in student accommodation, which was fairly close by to the university itself, and I was starting to get excited. This was all organised while I was still in Australia. I heard some students wondering whether or not to leave the accommodation until they arrived in their host country. Honestly, it depends. I knew I wanted to try and have that student accommodation experience because here in Australia we don’t really have it, whereas as most of us know, a lot of other countries do. I loved it. I had never lived out of home before let alone in another country, and it was a totally new experience altogether being self-reliant. I suddenly had new roommates for the first time and was completely in control of my own experience. So for me, the student accommodation was the best way to go. They fill up very fast, and I didn’t want to just live in a share house, I wanted to be a part of that student life.
The accommodation I stayed in was called Kirkstall Brewery. It actually is an old brewery which used to brew beer for Australia ironically enough. Now they have turned the grounds into quite quaint little student rooms. There are over 20 different buildings, and about 30 different flats within each. The flats each contain 6 units, and if you pay a little extra can get your own ensuite bathroom which was heaven-sent! The rooms were nice and clean. They were not super modern but outside my windows in my building, Warehouse, was the old canal (which I did get to see freeze over). Every morning I would have our “pet” swan swimming by. Of course he wasn’t ours, but I sort of adopted him as a little mascot. I loved where I stayed, I loved everything about it.
The classes I had picked to enrol into in the UK had similar sounding names to the ones that I was supposed to do back here at home. I only did three classes overseas because I didn’t want to overburden myself and I am so thankful I did. I remember sitting with my old course coordinator, as she was approving my study plan. She questioned some of the titles of what I had picked as electives because they sounded similar to things I had already done. The concept of the class was very similar but the content was not.
The delivery structure at Leeds Met was incredibly different to the way that they offer my games design degree here at QUT. My degree is fairly flexible. In fact, once our core units are done in the first few semesters, we pick our major and minor, and can essentially, in compliance with prerequisites, do our classes in whatever order we choose, which involves a lot of timetabling and working out class structures before our enrolments open up. At LMU, it was an entirely different story. They don’t get general electives like my course here, it’s pretty much set in stone what they do. They’re all doing the same classes at the same time which tie in really nicely together but as I had picked them by class description, not year or semester of what goes with what other class, I was all over the place.
I wouldn’t have changed my classes though. I have never learnt more practical experience anywhere. I undertook a class that I soon discovered I couldn’t have done at home because there were too many prerequisites. They don’t have prerequisites listed over there because it’s not an option, their structure is already laid out. The other students had been working with these programs for years, and here I was fresh to it all. A third year that couldn’t even keep up with the second years! Degrees differ around the world, and I passed my semester. I got through it, and learnt an enormous amount. I went to the UK with a curiosity about how different things were over there; culture, education, life. I experienced it all. The classes I took there are among some of the best I have had throughout my degree. This is why I wanted to venture overseas; to broaden my perspectives and my education. I did exactly that.
The city of Leeds itself is fantastic. I had no idea what to expect from the little town of Leeds before I arrived but I quickly found out, it’s not a small country town or anything of the sort. Essentially, with Leeds Met Uni and Leeds Uni (where most QUT students end up going) in the town, it’s become very student-centred. It’s fairly modern, and is just positively perfect at Christmas time! If you’re over there during the festive season you’ll experience the gorgeous German Markets (everywhere in Europe seems to hold one, including Germany itself) and the astounding array of Christmas scenery and lighting. Technically, I would add snow to that list, because it was supposed to snow, but instead the UK got hit by that giant snowstorm just a mere two days after I landed back in the country. Ordinarily, as I was told, it starts to snow in November to December. It didn’t snow this year, as you may have noticed until February. Just my luck! Regardless, I cannot praise the UK enough. The people I met were just incredible. Laugh at me if you will, but everyone from my roommates to my teachers and even the bus drivers became my friends. It took me back to school, as they have their own university bus service straight from Kirkstall Brewery straight to my campus at Headingley, which is 20 minutes away. Living on the Sunshine Coast I was not used to being right at my class in such a short amount of time! It was fantastic.
All in all I do miss England. I didn’t miss home until about a month before coming home. I became independent, and took my opportunity to explore the world. I embraced everything about their country, from the huge supermarkets to the Christmas festivities, to the old fashioned architecture and the simply charming accents. I must say, it was the best way I could have seen the world first hand, for the first time. I have been now to 19 different countries. I have tasted lots of different food and culture. My outlook has changed on the world and I am so glad that QUT helped me achieve that dream. I am so glad, I got to study abroad.

By Rachel Blom

Smile Mona, Smile

Today was eventful. We had plans to go to the Louvre and intended on getting up early to go. But when you end up staying up to all hours of the night you end up needing a little bit of a sleep in.  We eventually got up and made our way there. During my Europe trip our tour leader Rich, had told us about the “secret entrance” to the Louvre which was around one side and through the flags. Jess and I tried for about half an hour to find it but couldn’t so we just went and tried to find tickets. We found a line for tickets but since we are students of an EU country (yay for exchange) we could get in free. This meant no need to prepurchase a ticket. We had to then line up with the rest of the world outside the Pyramids that you may have heard of. During our walk to the line, seeing as it was already 1pm, I was worried about how long the line would take, when we’d get in etc and Jess likes to stop to take photos. Which is great I’m all for it but the time lapse was making me nervous. She has said herself that she forgets time when she’s taking photos and admiring places. I knew we’d have a long wait in line so I thought then would be better than prior to lining up. She took offence to my hurriedness and we ended up in line hardly talking. Feeling the tension, I made a comment about her being grumpy. Instantly she got crankier and yelled, saying that she didn’t want to be around anyway (she has already seen bits of the Louvre last time she was here). I added the typical “Well go then!” retort, not actually thinking she would go. Say what you mean people say what you mean.  She left. She had promised me she wouldn’t leave me alone in Paris, and I said that as she walked away. She yelled back, “Learn to read a map then!”. I took quite offence to that because I damn well can read a map just last time I was here I was alone. I don’t want her around to look at maps I want someone to share experiences with because I have 3 months of experiences that nobody understands or knows about except my tour group. That is why. It quite upset me and I stood in the rest of the line for the next hour and a half crying. Sounds silly, but we keep having silly arguments and it really gets to me. I have no family over here, few friends, just her. We get on each others nerves but I dislike being hurt. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m emotional. Anyway. By the time I got through the security checks there was another line inside, 8 or so to be in fact, to line up and purchase tickets. As mine were free I still had to line up to get the ticket with my student card.

I’m in!! Finally I got through and asked the security personnel where the Mona Lisa was. Of course I had to see her! I love art, but I was also curious. Making my way through the hoards of people finally after twisting and turning my way through the Louvre, I found the Mona Lisa. Part of me wonders what all the fuss is really about. It’s exactly as you imagine, and because we’ve all seen the picture so many times in our lives it’s not a shock. It takes a bit to realise it’s the original but you would swear she’s a celebrity standing by the wall with how people gather and gawk and take photos of her like she’s still alive. Still, it was a sight to see and I got plenty of pictures. Rich had also told us in July to make sure we pay attention to the picture opposite as it is quite grand as well. Grand isn’t the word for it! It’s massive and quite wonderful. Colourful though not all that different to so many grand paintings I’ve seen. It was still wonderful.

From there, getting out of the crowds, I followed the signs to Venus de Milo, which is the also-famous sculpture of the lady with no arms; Google a picture of her too I’m sure you’d recognise her. It was interesting to see in person. Again crowds around this too but not like the Mona. I wandered a bit around the Louvre for the next hour or so seeing some Egyptian relics, Napoleon and other ancient artefacts. It was really nice. On my way out I grabbed a souvenir booklet as I always do, to really read more about the Louvre later on. There’s no way you could see everything. It takes something like an entire year to go through each and every exhibit they have to offer. It’s something crazy like that.

I walked out into the rain. Prior to entering the building the sun was shining and the weather was great. I made my way up the street parallel to the Louvre and visited many of the souvenir shops there. I didn’t know what I was looking for but I enjoyed looking anyway. I then walked up to the station wondering if I should make my way there, but then decided to keep walking. I made my way to the street bordering the Seine River and walked along it also visiting numerous shops along the way. I had seen some cheap prints of paintings and sketches over near Notre Dam, so I was heading that way. I found quite a few prior to that but still decided to keep walking. Didn’t think I would make it but I did end up. Along the way I bought two souvenir shirts, one for myself and Amy, earrings, painting and backpacks. Who knew I’d do so well and spend way too much money?! I kept walking and soon the odd scatterings of souvenir shops thinned down. I had also purchased a hot dog, which was just a hot dog sausage but it was inside a baguette! You’d be surprised at how great that is. With cheese. And my super duper packed ketchup that gives me proof as to why saving little sachets is awesome! Hahaha. I sat alongside the river (on the road, it’s high up) trying to soak in as much atmosphere as possible, despite the fact hot dogs aren’t very um, European.

I continued walking up the main street and ran into some pet shops. I despise pet shops themselves but the animals inside are just too gorgeous. Puppy mills are horrid, but the animals that come from them are still, well, animals. I went inside the first one (at the time I didn’t know there was more than one) and saw this darling little German Shepard pup. His ears were all floppy like baby Max’s were, and I was seriously wanting to take him home. I sat with him for a little bit through the glass, then took some sneaky photos and moved on. I ended up being lured into 4 more before the string of side-by-side petshops ended. It made me so sad I nearly cried leaving this little pup but he was 880 Euros! Crazy. I walked for another 20 minutes or so and ended up at Hotel de Ville.  At night time, this lavish building which is actually the parliament building, sparkles much like the Eiffel Tower does. Outside they have constructed an ice skating rink and it looks marvellous. I sat there watching the skaters for a while (I can’t skate) before as I was leaving noticed little stalls selling fairy floss. I went and ordered a large (uh oh) and waited. I asked the lady if she knew English, she said a little so I tried to explain that in English, it is “fairy floss”. She didn’t understand and had to call someone over who knew a little more, even he was confused by the name!  He understood what I was implying but didn’t understand how haha. In French it is barbe a papa which literally translates as “Papa’s Beard”.  At least it kind of makes sense!  It made me laugh and I walked away with a fairy floss stick that I swear was at least twice the size of my head. I have photos to prove it!

I made my way across the river now, towards Notre Dame. As I was crossing the bridge, (the roads are so busy around there) I heard a smoosh of metal. At the traffic lights some smart person had hit the person in front and shattered glass everywhere. Causing quite a spectacle I kept moving and heading the back way around Notre Dame to the shops. I wandered the souvenir shops there for a while and after a bit of deliberation picked some paintings. I also ended up with some discounted Paris shirts that will do well as presents for my cousins.  Deciding I was about to fall asleep walking, I made my way back to the Metro, St Michel Notre Dame, to make my way back to our apartment here near the Gare de L’est.

Arriving home safely, Jess still wasn’t. She had been in contact with her Mum though so it was alright and I was worried about the confrontation that lied ahead. I explained what happened to her Mum, she told me not to take it personally and that that’s just her personality sometimes. I heard the doorbell ring and made a dash for the bathroom, taking a nice long soak until I was ready to face Jess! HAhaha. When I did, I found a pair of Eiffel Tower earrings on my computer that she had bought for me as a present. Sometimes we just need a timeout from each other which is all good and well, I just wish she would say it instead of it ended up like this all the time. All is well now and we are packing our suitcases as we head home tomorrow – which is actually two days from this post! This all happened on the 2nd we leave on the 4th. The entry of the 3rd and earlier shall be integrated sometime… but probably from my room back in Leeds. Funny how it feels so much like home there now.

Paris you are wonderful, but it’s time for me to say bonsoir & au revoir.

Christmas

Interesting title. I’m sure it’s thrilling. It gets to that point on Christmas Day, if you only have yourself to worry about, where if you’re not with your family or simply feel a little bit bored, where the sadness sets in. I don’t quite understand it but I do know it’s cause. We get this incredibly wonderful build up to Christmas, and it’s over so soon. I can’t wait for next year for Grandma’s homemade salads, Mum’s homemade dips, all my family, beach weather… There’s so much. Months of build up for one day of the year where we have no excuse but to come together and celebrate Christmas. Does everyone remember to also celebrate family? Or friendship? Health? I think often these simple things are neglected on days like this but it’s pretty important to not let go of that.

I skyped home at about 1:30am, finally everyone was gathered at Aunty Leanne’s house and the webcam didn’t work but I could still hear everyone. It was nice. We talked for a while and by that point I was caught up in being awake. I finally got to sleep at 4:30 only to have to get up at 9 to get ready for Christmas lunch. I have never been out for Christmas and honestly I don’t ever want to do it again. It was okay, a roast dinner. I’m not a fan of roasts. I want Grandma’s pasta salad, potato salad, coleslaw. The cold thick ham slices and fresh green salads. The finger food of cheese cubes and kabana… So Christmas seems fairly stomach oriented but sometimes that’s a great way to bring people together. It ties in the memories of what my family does at Christmas and how we celebrate.

We got home after a nice lunch and really did nothing for the rest of the day. I was so bored, I sat upside down on my bed. I did watch Love Actually which I will admit is a fantastic movie.  I was too tired to motivate myself to do work yet too awake to want to sleep.   I was exhausted. Tried to nap but then I knew I’d wake up grumpy. It was the awkward middle ground. No one at home was awake and Jess was busy watching things and doing things. After a while I went and sat with her. She wanted her family to spend more family time with her seeing as they flew all this way for her at Christmas. We were here alone after we were dropped off after lunch. I didn’t want to leave her on her own although I was supposed to go to Jessie, our roommates place for dinner. I never ended up going because by the time Jess’ friend came over to spend time with her, it was 8:30. Of course I didn’t have to stay with her, but I didn’t want to leave her alone because I know how dull and crazy being alone here can make you, particularly on a day like today.  At 6:30 I wasn’t sure whether it was too late to go over and Jessie had fallen asleep watching movies so she never got back to me til 10 something anyway so it kind of worked out. I ended up watching a few episodes of TV shows and getting quite emotional too.

I can get so attached to TV shows and their characters, storylines… everything. This one episode I watched, had characters having to leave behind their pasts because it was holding them back. I realised I had spent a great deal of my time over the past few years doing just that. The quote was “You can’t live with a ghost forever.”. This was applicable to one character who was seeing the ghost of an ex, and another who was holding onto the memory of what someone used to be. The latter is where I feel the most.  There are people in my life who have come and gone, some I just can’t let go of. I say that and then I go to say… “But I have let them go…” It just hurt a lot to see something say out loud what I had lived with for such a long time. You don’t want to lose who that person was, whether they forgot you or made new friends or just grew up. You don’t want to let go of the “them” that you know.

So I have concluded my Christmas alone, but it is okay. I Skyped Mum and Dad again and now it’s 2:20am. Time for sleep I think. Christmas was what I expected. I just wish I got to spend it the way I would design the perfect day. It’s okay. I’m happy to be in England don’t get me wrong. Sometimes my emotions just weight a thousand tonnes and I carry all the weight on my own, because it’s less complicated. It’s better that way, self sufficient. Not saying that as “woe is me” depression stance, just outright saying.

Once I wake up my head will be clearer, but don’t let me edit this post. It’s what it’s for. It’s my blog, my journal, my diary. Personal things haven’t really been documented but hey, I need to write down things sometimes to clear my head.

Good night Christmas, see you in 2012. 2011 has been fun.

Off to London on Tuesday, then Paris Wednesday. I look forward to what the week shall bring.

Love,

Rachel.xox

 

Cobwebs, gloomy and glorious thoughts.

Being away from family at times you want to be there for them can be a hard thing to accept. Sometimes, things go wrong in our loved ones’ lives that we could indeed fix if we were able to be there. Other things, often cannot be helped. Support always keeps us strong, though it just does not feel like it is as powerful when you feel helpless living a million miles away. There are so many things I’m afraid of, besides spiders.  They are all the same thing. Death. Not my own, no. That I have pondered, that I have wondered about. It’s not that that scares me. The thought of dying perhaps can feel like a ticking time bomb but no, I am not afraid of it. I am afraid though, of it claiming the lives of my loved ones. Before I get too grim here, no one has died, and if all my willpower can help it, no one will be dying any year near now. But eventually it has to happen. I get teary just saying that. I feel my chest start to constrict and my eyes begin to well up with tears. But it is a fact of life. Things do go on.

One thing I learnt from losing someone dear to me a number of years back, was that it never heals. Whatever people say about time healing all is something I believe to be false.  It is entirely though, dependant on what your perception of “healing” is. For me, yes time helps with loss. It’s because your life continues to tick along whether you like it or not, and once someone or something is gone, it generally does not return. You were used to this presence in your life every day perhaps, a semi-regular appearance or even just the knowledge that that person was there for you. They were still there, then suddenly they are not. As time passes, you “reality” begins to take a new form. At first, you are so grief stricken and cannot believe it, because well, it’s not your reality. You familiar reality, or past, was a life where they were around. Until time starts to pass, this will remain your reality.

As time does start to go on however, this new reality takes shape.  You don’t entirely accept their disappearance but reality is without them now. The longer period of time that passes, the more familiar you are with this reality. You don’t move on, you rebuild. It’s not leaving them behind, I wouldn’t like to call it moving on either. Your mind, or rather you, just create this new vision of reality. Without them.

My biggest fear is that of …my parents. Either one. I’m sure I have stated it many times but perhaps never properly.  I would willingly jump off a bridge if they were not here. I wouldn’t do it without them, I refuse to even fathom a reality without them.  My family, both sides of my family, are also crucially important. All of them are always on my mind and if I could be there with any of them any time something happened, I would in a heartbeat.

A new reality I have formed here in England is without my family. They are safe, well and for the most part healthy, but they are not here with me. It’s something different that I have never experienced before, I had never lived out of home or even been away from my parents for even more than a fortnight.  I am doing well. Of course I miss them all. There’s nothing I will ever love more than my parents, but I’m doing quite well for myself I think. Sitting here now in my bed, I take a look around. These walls will soon be someone else’s, my things replaced, my memories left within the walls of 11E.  But for now, it is home. It is my reality. At first, it was too different, but I quickly settled. I feared I would be constantly homesick dreading living here for such a supposedly long time. But it’s not like that at all. I have put my imprint on my room. My style. My emotion. I have my dream catcher to my left, my 101 Dalmations towel as a decoration over the banister. Photographs I had printed months prior to my travels pinned to the notice board. Fairy lights and tinsel winding their way around the banister poles. Stacks and stacks of library books, fiction and theory, all neatly creating some kind of imprint here. I feel it creates some kind of character. It is home, for now, and I love it.

But alas, I shall return to my home, to my country soon enough. I will have to adjust having a big bed again, a private kitchen, proper equipment, a shower with adjustable heat, proper bench space and a big desk. Television, what is this thing you speak of?!  I don’t miss those things though. I really do appreciate just what I have. Here in Kirkstall, I am still very lucky. Without many things I would have called “necessities” prior to this year, I am absolutely fine and dandy without. I am still very well off here. I don’t have money to throw around but I am beyond comfortable. Perspective adds an interesting twist to life.

While I definitely look forward to going home, seeing my parents, my family, my boyfriend, my friends… Leeds has captured a part of my heart.

But I do not wish to stay forever, I am too removed from my family. Too far away. I feel too useless in case of emergency. Mum already had some worries earlier in the year. Grandma had a fall and now Oma’s back in the hospital. No matter where you exist in the world, home is home.  If home is where the heart is, and my heart is always with my family, then I know where I’ll always be drawn back to.

Sometimes you just have to see another perspective to really understand and appreciate things for how they are.

Names and Places

Sometimes the smallest things make me content. I don’t know why, I can’t explain it.  It’s Friday morning here, about 11am and I just got home from uni. I stayed in class a little longer because the rest of the students have further classes, but it’s always good to hang around and get extra help. Help sought, I had forgotten my power adapter, hadn’t had a chance to have breakfast and (still do) needed sleep. Leaving the main building, James Graham Building, the fresh winter air hit me. It’s not quite cold here yet; for those at home it would be so but I think I’m adjusting to these temperatures. It’s about 5 degrees at the moment, not quite cold enough for snow but I’d be happy to sacrifice a few degrees for some fluffy white ice.  Making my way over to the bus stop, which is just next to the building, one bus driver pulls up and lets students off. This bus driver is Alan. He’s got white hair and almost resembles a better looking Steve Martin; rounder face, friendly smile.  I ask if he’s going “home” (back to the Brewery) or just dropping off.

These details seem insignificant to write about but I want to remember this happy feeling, I really appreciate getting to know people and people being consistent in my life.  He informs me it’s time for his break but the bus waiting a couple of hundred meters back will be ready to pick up in a few minutes. I have seen him in the cafeteria before, as you would expect, just grabbing lunch. It’s funny seeing people out of context sometimes, like seeing a teacher out of school. The bus drivers are good friends because well, they’re usually the only two who do our run. I waited around listening to the wind howl for a bit while a few other buses approached and left before mine pulled up. I hadn’t known this man’s name yet, though he is the most talkative usually of the two. He’s possibly a little older, with short brown hair, crooked teeth and such a friendly manner.  He’s always joking to the students, being smart with them but always lovely.  I was the only one to hop on the bus, as there’s one every 40 minutes and it was only 10 to 11 in the morning; I don’t imagine many students actually do go home then unless you’re lucky enough (like me) to finish early. I had a little chat when I got on as we waited to see if there were more people approaching, about when the buses were running over Christmas (they stop same time uni does and resume again, 3 weeks later when uni does) and as I said “Oh good, you do come back!” he adds “Of course! Got to see you don’t I?” (classic example of his comments). I go on to tell him that I leave Kirkstall on the 23rd of January and how fast these few months have gone. He asked, jokingly, to come to Australia too haha. I added well yes it’s warmer that’s for sure. We then left and before leaving campus collected another lady.

This is what I find quite endearing about our bus drivers, even when you’re running late and trying to catch up to the bus, they won’t just drive by and ignore you. They won’t leave you behind, they’ll (usually) stop anywhere just for any one of us! Often, if on my way home at about 1:30pm on Wednesday’s, Alan will ask if I need to get dropped off at Morrisons (grocery store about 7 minute walk down the road). The bus doesn’t go directly past it, but if I ask, if anyone asks, they will take the slight detour to drop us as close as possible. Simple tiny things that I don’t know if other people bother to appreciate. As we arrived home twenty minutes later, I had planned in my head what I had to ask the other bus driver. “What’s your name?” “Pete.” “Pete?” (just to clarify I heard properly through his accent :P) He nods and I add that I had overheard that the other man was Alan, and he confirmed that. I wished him a good weekend and was on my way, as he made his way around the complex to in turn pick up more people waiting in our complex to go to uni.
There’s something special about things like that. You might think it’s ridiculous I read so much into simple things. It’s every day things that I really have learned to value. I haven’t had the same bus drivers since school, and even then some of them weren’t very nice.  I had Jim, in Primary School, from when I was about 5 to 10 years old. I have such memories of him, and actually I think he was Scottish… wait… I think? Anyway he was always joking and being smart with us, and everyone loved him. Now, at home going to uni it’s the Brisbane Transport drivers. It’s never the same drivers, and half the time they really don’t care. Over here though a lot of people don’t say thank you when getting off public transport. Students seem to do so to our drivers sometimes, but on public no. We always do at home, I’m sure we all do it. Different I guess here. I remember when I was going to Woolloongabba once at the end of last year.  It’s a 15 minute bus journey but took a lot longer, I think the cricket was on and it was madness in traffic. I ended up chatting to the driver as my stop was approaching, albeit slowly, and I remembered him. Not what we said, just that he was young, with shoulder length red hair, and was quite friendly. He wore a cap too, both times I saw him. Why I remember little things who knows.  Then about 3 months later I was catching the bus to Jess’ house, which is an entirely different route, different bus stops, everything. There was that man again.  That’s the only time I have ever seen a bus driver twice in Brisbane on public transport.

My Dad’s name is Peter. First thought that struck my mind when our bus driver, who I now know as Pete, told me his name. Even now every time I write Pete I have to correct myself as I type Peter to naturally. I think he was a little bit curious as to why the hell I wanted to know his name but honestly, it’s probably just for the memory.

And now I know their names, I’m going to make them a Christmas card.

Time for a nap, though I’ll probably Skype Mum & Dad first… They’re online now haha.
Love, Rach.xo

End of Assessment Madness

Nothing entirely exciting happened yesterday.  I have never been so stressed out about an assignment before, which in turn meant I was too scared to bother going to the teacher. I should know this stuff, I thought. I shouldn’t have to bother with asking for help or extensions. Sometimes, you just need help.  The games design course here is so different to home. They use Unity 3D in first year, which is pretty much what we were all begging for at home… home gets us to learn Blender which is free animation software which can be used as a game engine but really don’t please, don’t. They also start to get taught how to model objects and characters in 3ds Max which for all of you reading this you may know it’s a modelling tool, a very good expensive industry tool which is really beneficial to learn. I’m learning how to model characters, sculpt their details in another program called ZBrush (which I love) and then putting textures on them and animating the characters. It’s a lot of work when I’ve never done it before, but if I had done the entire degree here I would know how to. Lucky me who picks a third year class in a university that is actually more advanced than my own haha. Anyway I have ended up getting put with the animation students but doing the game design assessment; I’m making a master and creature whereas the animation students are only making one character, but instead of the assignment being due Monday like the rest of the game designers it’s now due when the animation students have theirs due, in January. It is such a relief. So over the Christmas break I have… an interactive website to finish creating in Flash, a character and creature to finish modelling, etc etc (insert animation jargon here) and animating, and a retro top down game to finish creating in Unity. Oh and the advertising for the game also. It’s so great but it’s also so much work. I love it here but it’s so overwhelming being thrown into all this.

I have been going a little stir crazy lately and I do think it’s because I haven’t been doing much but uni, I still have to find time to live too! I did go to Scotland a few weeks ago but I still think I need to get out of the house/the campus a little more often than I do. Oh well, international students Christmas Party tomorrow! Should be good again to get out, but at least two of my international friends can’t go because of other commitments. One’s (my friend Ricardo from Mexico) going to see Coldplay in London, for only 40 pounds!! The other, Stephen, is going to Scotland for the weekend. Jess & I are still intent on going but I can’t seem to locate the people selling tickets *curiously scans library as I’m typing*. It will be fun to go to. It’s in a club called Oceana, which is a very nice place in Leeds. It is also where the Calvin Harris gig was that I went to. Makes it the third time I have seen him and I absolutely love him. It was so packed… that’s for another post though.

I may go to the cinema tonight. I know I’m in Leeds, UK and I’m deciding to go to the movies. But honestly, never have I been somewhere that’s so close to any kind of civilisation hahah except my Grandma’s. We have the freedom of no parents (at least for another week, Jess’ Mum and Mum’s fiancée Richard are coming over soon)  so why not enjoy going out for the hell of it? It’s always a struggle for students wherever you might be in the world, but having a life, and getting work done is one thing… have a job at the same time… well I swear this is the hardest semester I have ever done, so in any case I am thrilled that I don’t have work to worry about!  I miss the people I work with, I miss meeting (the occasional) friendly customers. But I wouldn’t give this experience up for the world.

Love,
Rachel.xo

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