Week 5: Mildura

Monday morning I woke up still in Colignan, so the clock said 6:30. It was freezing cold that morning, and the first bus was also cold. After two buses in total, we got to the school which was the same as usual. We bought Lunch from the Cafe across the street, but everything else was quite ordinary. We had dinner without Mark, who had stayed in Colignan, and Maaike went back there after dinner. Maddie baked cookies for the three of us, which we ate and went to bed. A very nice and quiet day, which I enjoyed all the little aspects of.

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Today was another school day. I read a book Emma had lent me called “every day”, and it is pretty good. I have already read half of it. Today I was pretty tired, so I pretty much layed on my bed until it was dinnertime. We had a very delicious stew, and me and Emma made chocolate pudding afterwards. I went to bed early.

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Wednesday was yet another school day. I finished the book Emma lent me. For dinner we had pies, which Maaike and I had made. I don’t think I ever mentioned it again, but yes: the moons phases are different in the southern hemisphere! When I last saw the moon, it told me that it was about to be new, but later it was full! So by a little bit of observation, I conclude that the moons phases are opposite down under. Instead of going from D to O to C, it goes from C to O to D – which makes sense to me…

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Today I did not go to school. I woke up a bit before 8 and had my breakfast. A bit later, I did yoga with Maaike and Maddie which was fun (especially when I fell over during a very daring headstand). I did hindbærsnitter once more, and we all had lunch. Afterwards, I made kammerjunkere, which we are going to have tomorrow along with homemade koldskål. Very proud of myself.

Kammerjunkere

Hindbærsnitter

We brought the hindbærsnitter to Venturers, where we had an international night. Everyone brought food from different countries (Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, England, Spain, China, Japan and Turkey) and we ate those in between games. We played a danish game (enlig mor fra Høje Taastrup), and some other games involving languages. It was a very good night, and we all laughed a lot.

International spread

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Emma had no school on Friday, so we went with Maaike to Mildura. We went in a couple of “op shops”, looking for a dress for Emma. We didn’t find one, but we did try on some old-school wedding dresses and had a bit of a laugh. We had a cup of tea and a bagel on a little café, went in a book store, and finally we picked up Maddie from the Arts center. After some afternoon tea, we went to Colignan.

Sunset at Colignan

Rie and her host family came over for dinner, and we sat around the campfire. Ries host mother, Denise, had made something with bread and dip and stuff, and it was really delicious. For dinner we had a lot of different meat cooked on the barbecue, potatoes, couscous and salad. For dessert we had koldskål with kammerjunkere and afterwards we had self-saucing pudding. We went back out to the campfire, and looked at the stars. They pointed out the scorpio, the southern cross, a couple of galaxies that can’t be seen from the northern hemisphere, and some planets. I also saw a shooting star, and was very happy with the ending of that lovely day.

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Before lunch, we went out to see Ries host family’s paddleboat, Impulse. It was build in ’83, but it sank four years ago so now it is being restored.

Afterwards, we went on a little Australian safari. We drove out past the vineyards and citrus trees, to a property belonging to some of the family’s friends. They have a huge area, where they have made the landscape as natural as possible, after having sheep on it for years. We saw a couple more kangaroos, and also a confused emu. Then we went to some sand dunes, a bit into the wild. Maaike showed us all some stones that the indigenous people had been using, so you could see the sharp edges on them. She also said, that if you walked barefoot in the sand dunes, you would be sure to return to Australia. So that is what we did.

Kangaroo

In the afternoon, me and Emma went sailing on the river in a kayak with pedals. We only went for about an hour, but it was a very nice and peaceful trip.

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Sunday the 31st of July was National Tree Planting Day. So after going for a walk with the dog, we planted a tree in the garden. I planted a Gold Dust Wattle. The rest of the day was spent crocheting and making a fire for the camp oven that night.

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International Scarf Day today, so we wore our scarfs to school. The teacher in Enviromental Science is some sort of wildlife saver, so she takes care of little joeys. Because I was there, she went home in the middle of class to get them. She came back with four little ones, and we got to cuddle them. So now I have seen kangaroos in the zoo, in the wild and in a box.

We got lunch at the café again, and it was pretty good. We also got a little raw cake-thing, not really sure what it was but it was very good. We had Dutch pancakes for dinner tonight, some with apple and some with bacon. It is my last night of my entire exchange, and I can’t believe that it is already coming to an end. I am insanely grateful for everything that I have seen and experienced on this trip, and for the people who has made it even more interesting by telling me the stories you wouldn’t normally hear as a tourist.

And now I realize how lucky I have been, to have experienced both the city and the countryside of this fascinating country.

I might do an update on how I am feeling about being home again, but let me know if there is something else I should rather write about. Thanks for reading all of my rambling posts!

Week 4: Mildura

I left Sydney Monday morning at around 12. It was a very small plane, with about 23 people in it. Only a few got of at Mildura, and some continued in the same plane. When I first got out, it was very quiet. My plane was the only one there, and I only had to walk a few meters to get my baggage (which only took a few minutes to get there). I was greeted by Emma (and now it gets confusing. This is another Emma, the one I will be staying with now. From now on she is the Emma I am mentioning) and her parents. We drove over to pick up their guinea pig, because they had just come home from holiday. I got to meet Rie, the other danish scout staying in Mildura. Afterwards we drove to their town house. They have two houses, one in the town and one on the countryside.

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We got up at seven this morning, to catch the bus for school. Emma goes to a school called Mildura Senior College, so I went with her. In her school they don’t wear uniforms, and call the teachers by their first name. This is of course not different from Denmark, but it is quite unusual in Australia. School started at 9 (I think), and first lesson was psychology. It was easy to follow, and I found the topic (operant conditioning) quite interesting. The next lesson was English, where I read a book while the class talked about the book. They had read it beforehand, but obviously I hadn’t. In maths me and Emma were a bit lost, but I feel like it got better with time. I am hoping that I will understand it after a few lessons, because I have had about that particular topic before (logarithms). We ended the day with, a lunch break, and then chemistry. Chemistry was probably the best topic of the day, because 1) the teacher had brought brownies, and 2) we have had about bases and acids dozens of times so I actually knew what was going on.

When we got home, we had “afternoon tea” consisting of fruit, juice and chips. Emma’s little sister, Maddie, came home from camp so I got to meet her.

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Another school day today. A bit longer and not as exciting, but it was okay. I did some grocery shopping with Maaike after school. For dinner we had kangaroo meatballs.

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I am really liking the chemistry classes. I got to read my book a lot today though, because there was a few lessons I couldn’t participate properly in. After school we went back home, and for dinner we had hamburgers. After dinner me and Emma went to the venturer scout meeting. We went on a dump hike, so we got dumped of in the other end of Mildura, and walked back to the scout hall.

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Friday we packed up our bags and went to Colignan, were the family have another house. It is even further away from everything, but it is still a nice place. That night it was very windy and rainy, so we just went inside. After dinner, we all went into the living room, and watched music videos on YouTube.

The farm house

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Saturday morning after breakfast, I walked down to the river with Emma and their dog. Then we started packing our stuff, to go on a camp tonight. Mark gave me a tour of the farm, and we drove around to see all the citrus trees and vineyards.

In the afternoon we packed up our stuff in the car, and went to Kings Billabong to meet the other scouts and go camping. There were only three other scouts and a leader, but it was a nice little crowd. We sat around and made a campfire, and eventually we had our dinner. I tried sleeping in a swag – a tiny “tent” as pictured below.

swag

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The next morning, we got up early (not on purpose) and saw the last bit of the sunrise.

Sunrise

After breakfast, we packed up some of our stuff and went for a hike. We walked out to a place called psyche pumps and back. I don’t really know how far we walked, but I am guessing it was between 10 and 15 kilometers. While walking, we saw a group of about seven kangaroos! They were not far away, and I also saw them jumping (which sounds weird to mention, but it looks really cool). I didn’t manage to get a picture of them, but I thought the experience would be better if I didn’t waste the time looking through my bag for my camera.

River

Back at the farm we had afternoon tea and I had a shower. For dinner we had lamb and vegetables made on a campfire in the garden, which the family does every Sunday. This Sunday was no exception, even though the weather was miserable.

Week 3: Sydney & Kiama

On Monday I went with Emma to Newtown – another of Sydney’s many suburbs. This one is enjoyed by both locals and tourists, as it is home to several stores, café’s and restaurants. We got there by train, and walked down the road to the left. We did a bit of shopping, Emma showed me a couple of nice, authentic stores, and then we went to have lunch. We had our lunch at a place called ‘Italian bowl’, and I had ravioli with pesto. It was very good, and definitely needed after a cold and windy morning. Apparently Newtown has a few alternative restaurants – which we didn’t go to. Emma told me about one where you pay what you think the food is worth, and one where you have to catch your food in your bowl. I would recommend this place, and I would also recommend doing a bit of research to make sure you make the most of it. Because the place is filled with interesting things, some of the best places might hide.

We went back to Central, to get some postcards. Afterwards, we walked through China Town, and got to the Chinese Gardens. It did cost $3 to enter the gardens, but it was a pretty and peaceful place. It would probably be more beautiful in the summer, or if you had a purpose there (such as meditation or drawing).

Chinese Garden

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The next day, I went out with Helen and Emma. We went to Symbio, a wildlife zoo with mostly native animals. I got to pet a kangaroo and feed an emu, so I think it was a pretty successful day! On the way home, we stopped at a café to get lunch, and watch the view (below).

A view

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On Wednesday me and Emma got on a ferry to Manly. It is an island near Sydney, and it took us about half an hour to get there. I was a bit surprised to see that Manly looked very different to the Sydney. It had more of an island-vibe to it, mainly because every other shop sold either swimwear or seafood. The houses reminded me a bit of what you would see along the coast in southern Europe. We had fish & chips at the beach, and afterwards we went for a little walk along the coast. Because of the very windy weather, we got pretty cold. That is when Max Brennner saved us with hot chocolate. If you have never heard of that place – because I hadn’t – it is basically a café that serves chocolate in every possible way. Very good, and very needed. We took the ferry home. After dinner we baked a honey cake (honningkage a’la Christiansfeld, opskrift her). It was really good, and they all liked it.

Manly

Manly

The ferry to Manly

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We got up early Thursday morning, to catch a train to Kiama. We saw a ‘blowhole’, and had a delicious picnic with sandwiches, dip and scones. Afterwards, we went to the beach. We didn’t really do much, but it was a very relaxing and nice day.I collected some shells at the beach, and me and Emma talked about the moon. I was wondering if the phases of the moon would be the same on the other side of the moon, but she didn’t know that. Though she did know, that when you look at the moon in Australia you will see a rabbit, which you can’t in Denmark. That could mean that it is only tilted a bit, but I will definitely keep an eye on it, to see if it does what I want it to do (it is half-moon now, and according to what I learned in physics it will soon be new-moon).

We took the train home, and had soup and lasagna for dinner.

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We walked to Aldi to get food this morning. I had lunch and did washing today as well, but that is not very exciting. I am starting to realize that my stay in Sydney is coming to an end, but I really don’t want it to. At the same time, I am kind of excited about going to Mildura, especially to meet even more new people. I also got my plane tickets today – finally!

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Today is Saturday, and we had a lazy morning. Around lunchtime, Helen, Emma and I went to a farm to pick mandarins. There were a lot of people, and a lot of mandarin trees. They tasted much better than the ones you buy in the store, and I don’t think it was because we picked them ourselves. Not only because of that. Emma and Helen said that they had never properly picked fruit from a tree, which surprised me a bit. I thought most people had done that, because I have done it so many times.

We went to have a late lunch, and had some surprisingly good croissants with avocado and chicken. And of course we had a pear pie to go with that. We went home filled with croissants and pie, and with two bags full of mandarins.

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Today I went out with Helen, James and Emma. We parked the car, and started a hike towards the Figure 8 Pools. The Figure 8 Pools are rock pools shaped as the number 8. To get there, you have to walk down a steep hill until you reach the beach, and from there you have to walk on big rocks along the coast. The last bit can only be done at low tide, because there can be unexpected high waves crashing into the wall on the other side – which leaves you with no way to get away. We didn’t walk the last bit, because we got soaked from a huge wave. All it did was make us wet, but we thought it would be better to turn around. Helen and James had gone another way, so me and Emma headed back to the car. We waited for them for about half an hour, not knowing where they were. But they came back, and we could all drive back home. It was an about 7 km long hike.

Forest

Beach near figure 8 pools

We went out for dinner. When we came home, we had a cake Helen had bought. They put in 19 candles, one for every day I had stayed with them. They were once again so nice, and had also gotten me a gift. I am very thankful. I am very sad to leave now, but I know that I couldn’t stay here forever, so I try to just be glad that I had the time I had. And of course I am also very excited for another adventure, and feel more ready than ever.

Cake