There and Back Again - an Australian Tale

There and Back Again - and Australian Tale

As of Friday, October 1st, 2010 I have officially been accepted to study abroad in Cairns, Australia. This program marks a new page being turned - another new start. I feel like my life is in need of some revamping and by traveling, submitting to my wanderlust, going somewhere new to learn new things in new ways - well, this trip is just billet I've been looking for. Come along and laugh at me, with me, or both as I prepare to tally forth, wander en and return from, the Land of Oz.

Australia's New National Animal

Australia's New National Animal
A Fez ?!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Blizzcon, Birthdays and Boys - oh my!

Just kidding, there are no boys but hey, Happy Halloween! It’s  been an interesting few weeks, and I have had work coming forth from my ears so pardon the tardiness of this post. Went to Blizzcon 2010 out in Anaheim, California last weekend. It  was AMAZING and it was wicked sweet to be surrounded by so many geeks, especially only to find that the majority of them are indeed, bigger geeks than I am. We got to test out the beta for Blizzards newest upcoming release of Diablo III, get some sneak previews at some of the newer gear, world design, dungeons, raids, login screen and data for their soon-to-be-released World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Expansion. I would venture to say that one of the best moments was watching the world’s best raiding guild get STEAMROLLED by beefed up world bosses from years past.

This weekend it was my birthday (I’m finally 20!) We had crazy fun with costume contests, pumpkin smashing (they were our own pumpkins so no judgy-judgy for this one) and house alumni meet-n-greet (or see-n-tackle for those of us who knew the members personally before they graduated). I got to watch two of my good friends sing a duet and beat each other up being that they costumed as matching hero/villan from Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog. It was good laughs, good times and lots of dancing – a very good weekend and while I am MAJORLY unprepared for this week, it was, without a shadow of doubt or question in mind, 100% worth it. Oh well – get life while life is good.

So some suggestions about going abroad.  I feel like at least one or two further bullets are due to be mentioned:

Number 5:

 Make sure after getting in the preliminary round of documentation for your abroad program that you check the next closest due date for any paperwork required. IT WILL SNEAK UP ON YOU (as it is a trixy hobbit).

Number 6:

Start learning about where you are going to be and what kinds of clothing/gear/materials you are going to need to take out there with you. For example – the Aussie dollar is only ever a few decimals off from the US dollar HOWEVER all of their goods cost almost 2x as much and some products can be hard to find. Talk to your travel advisor on campus about Fed-Ex options for your shampoo, conditioner, deodorant and/or whatever else you might want to grab before you get there!


Yay for being useful! So going into this week I’m going to be really busy with all my work but as my preparation for Australia futhers, you will hear more from me and grab some useful tips while you’re at it. This week, for your entertainment, I would like you to go watch the Cataclysm Cinematic. It is a remarkable piece of screenwork.

Adios muchachos,
~ Sienna

P.S. - I posted the link to the 1st part of the 1st act of Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog ... join in the cult-status fun with some of the scifi/geektastic actors from our various favorite nerd series and movies (if you dare, because my friend, there is no going back)

Sneak Peak:

Dr. Horrible: I wanna do great things, you know? I wanna be an achiever, like Bad Horse.
Penny: The Thoroughbred of Sin?
Dr. Horrible: I meant .... Gandhi


Monday, October 11, 2010

Debutante Balls and Portal songs

So this past Friday I went to go see "Debutante Balls" by Scott Turner Schofield which was hosted by my school in our little “Black Box” theater. Here’s the description to a few of his clips online:

"Debutante Balls" is a theatrical stand-up comedy dance through the fascinating culture of the Southern Debutante Ball. Schofield's wicked sense of self-aware humor and poetic sensibility guide us gently (or is that genteel-ly?) through the many ways he "came out" into Southern Society (as a lesbian, radical feminist, and finally, as a transgender man), poking fun at gender roles and sniffing the vapors of nostalgia gone-with-the-wind in these modern times. Applauded by Judith (Jack) Halberstam and the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity alike, this is a generous, insightful, not-to-be-missed solo show.”

Having known a transgender man, a handful of lesbians and two bisexuals (oh the irony of pre-fixes) I found the show to be an amazing, supportive display that hopefully helped some of the students here with questions about their gender AND their identity.

I suppose the identity part of the performance is the real reason I’m writing tonight (being that I’m exhausted from writing a killer paper for my Global Studies class and being sick ALL. DAY. … no fun) and I hope that maybe in some small way you’ll feel the power of relationship as you relate to me (^_^)

So my biggest problem of identity, I would say, is my identification as a conservation biology major, outdoorsy personality, loves to hike and go on camping trips (real ones, with tents and fires you have to start by hand – none of that camper trailer shit)  and my computer science, gamer, general geek and technology side. The problem being that they always find the most inconvenient times to clash and it makes me a bit of an outsider to my friends who are solely a nature child or solely a techie because I’m not hugely one or the other – I would venture to say I’m the equivalent share of both.

I didn’t realize to the full extent of how much this had been bugging me until I went to this show, culminated an ‘identity’ as a conservation biology computer geek, and then looked back over every social issue I’ve had in the past few months. I found, en review, that almost 95% of the clashes I’ve had with friends or people I know (not terrifying all out brawls but times where I’ve been ignored, shunned, etc) are because I cannot wholly relate to any one group or another – nor can I dedicate all of my time and energy to one group or another. So I’m not in on every joke, I haven’t been to every party and I can be in the dark on events I’m suppose to support or attend because I’m simply (physically) not always able to be there.

So I’ve discovered a new test for Australia. I’m going to tone my geekdom down to low and see what happens when I let my adventurous side take over (to some rational degree) … I guess I’m kinda curious to see if this is a true issue of identity or if I’m just strange … because you know, it’s totally possible.

And speaking of being a geek … “Still Alive” from the Portal credits is fun (^_^)

~ Sienna

Monday, October 4, 2010

It's no better to be safe than sorry ... TAAAAAAAKE ONNN MEEEE, TAAAAAAAKE MEEE ONNNN

So – seeing as I hope this blog can be informative, as well as fun to read, I am going to try and outline (in no particularly organized way) some important things that come up as a student studying abroad/specifically in Australia each time I write. I mean, you can read my blog and find out from me and seem REALLY on top of things by copying me (or doing the exact opposite if I document an extreme case of slapping the cactus (define) [[while I have added this term to UD - it is actually the fail child of my dear friend Sarah]] ) … impress your parents and if you really don’t give a hoot about what they think at least it makes your life a little bit easier:

Number 1:

Within 3 days (max) of finding out about your acceptance (this is especially important if your hometown is far away or if your parents work and don’t have time to spend a few days hauling yourself and all your dorm shit home ….) you should find a good storage place nearby to pack your stuff away. I am going to Australia in Queensland … during their fall/winter season – it will NOT be getting cold so I am leaving all my winter clothing, room knick-knacks, desktop, etc at a Uhaul storage center.  It makes getting ready to go home for the winter less daunting because my whole room doesn’t have to be totally picked clean, brought home and stuffed in some musty corner of my house. You may even be able to split the cost with a friend who is also going abroad or who wants to leave their stuff there over the summer.

Number 2:

Write to any students who are abroad now, or at least get their names so you can facebook/email/write them – especially if they are part of your particular program. I had to choose between the Cairns and Townsville campuses of James Cook University so I did this early. It has already been wicked useful. Start asking questions, reach out for their advice and pick their brains about cool/fun/interesting things to do while you’re there – especially ask if they would have done something different if given the chance … learning from mistakes (even if they’re not your own) is a great tool.

Number 3:

 If you get a packet like I did (or even if you’re just instructed to go find it online/pick it up at the office) make sure you skim through it ASAP. There can be further paperwork due in the not very distant future … make sure you get er’ done. It would suck to get into the program only to find you can’t cross international boundaries because you don’t have the right health coverage or Identification Card

Number 4:

Did you have to get letters of reference, recommendation or evaluation from professors/employers/colleagues? If you were able to choose who it was that wrote your letter shoot them a thank you (phone call, email, in person, etc) – not only will they appreciate it but you will now know that these people actually had something good to say about you … graduation soon? Have an internship coming up you’d like to apply for? Now you know who to hit up for a letter (in fact they’ll love it because they already have a template for you that has worked!)

That’s 4 for today! Sweet! (It’s not 1:30 in the morning of a day when I have an 8:30 class)

Today was a pretty chill day … I got a 3.4 on a paper (woot!) and found my damn Global Studies book … Worldly Philosophers anyone? Anyone? No one here LOVES political-economic theory? Too bad, such a fun course (actually, besides the reading, its kinda a useful class … great one to take pre-study abroad if you get a chance – or even one about Race/Culture/Identity)

Its my roommate’s 1 year anniversary with her boyfriend today/tomorrow (5th) and I don’t want to wake her up seeing as she’s finally fallen asleep, having finally overcome her excited, zomg-wtf-santa-came-in-october kinda of energy ….

And speaking of energy, I’m going to need some energy to make tomorrow productive! The song/music video “Take on Me” by A-Ha has been stuck in my head, mercilessly, all day … go listen to it as you watch the video and proceed immediately afterward to do that which you are compelled to do ( laugh/dance/shimmy).

If you do something stupid I am OFFICIALLY stating now – I take no responsibility because I warned you not to … including but not limited to stealing a security gator as the campus rent-a-cops take their nightly rounds, go bungee jumping without a bungee, slap the person to your right ...

Until next time,

Sienna A. Shey

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hey now that you mention it, it kinda does!

Last week was hell. I had a presentation to give Friday to the masses visiting for parent’s weekend, papers due, projects to develop, work to go to … I needed 28 hours in a day just so I could manage to get some sleep and maybe eat a meal other than coffee for breakfast. With little more than a prayer, I managed to get done what I needed to – save for a 500 word essay – but I consider it a successful week. I made it to the presentation at 4:00 and talked about my summer research to anyone who asked until my voice grew hoarse. My vundabar (define) research adviser came by and praised the work I had put into the presentation (even though she had been, not an hour earlier, quite eager to END me) before heading out to drive her mother home. On the way out the door  she asked me if I had received word about the CIIS Program I had applied to – apparently a few of her students who applied to study in Kenya and Costa Rica had heard and she was curious if I was to be added to her list of missing for the Spring of 2011. Now – I had been told we wouldn’t hear back from the committee until early October – but actually having ‘early October’ MEAN October 1st brought to mind the vision of pig flying through the frozen-over landscape of hell.

I replied no, she left, I went on presenting.

But now I was nervous. Would I get the little envelope on the Uni’s letter-head saying “We regret to inform you”, “please re-apply next semester”, “DENIED” … or the marvelously fat, impressive, portfolio like folder unceremoniously stuffed into our tiny mailbox slot telling me I got in, here is the money you owe and MOAR paperwork?

The presentation ended at 5:30 and I gathered up my things, jonesing (define) for some real food and the longest cat-nap in history. I walked out of the presentation with some of the other research students from the summer – chatting about our 3 weeks off before we were back at school and how the semester was going … and then I remembered what my adviser had told me about the application decisions. I quickly made my apologies and flew across the student center (taking out a few freshies and a janitor along the way) and came to a screeching halt by my box.

I would try to make this sound even more dramatic but I have heaps of homework and time is running thin.

I found my swollen, bent, bright-blue, folder-sized envelope just as I had imagined – so stuffed in the damn box I almost fell backward pulling it out – but the concussion would have been worth it. I WAS GOING TO AUSTRALIA!


I phoned home and let them know the good news as I bounced back and forth in the service hallways of the building – stepping in every other tile and avoiding the red ones (LAVA!). As I went to hang up my father told me not to celebrate TOO much, and after a quick “I promise nothing” and a good laugh I hung up and went back to my room in search of some Dr. Pepper and ‘The Kraken’ black-spiced rum.

An evening of A.I.-frivolity (define) ensued, taking a break, watching really old cartoons with some of my housemates and laughing about how we use to subsist by the half-hour slot that certain shows came on. At some point just past midnight-thirty I left and went to visit a close friend to add the cherry to the top of my now-awesome-day sundae. We stayed up until 4 in the morning with one another until we passed out – in a mildly tipsy, comfy and oh-so-smeepy manner as we occasionally do.

I spent the 2nd of October playing video games, watching television shows and generally avoiding looking at any work - really enjoying a day to myself. I think I had earned it – besides, homework could be done on Sunday. After a day of eating my favorite foods and relaxing, sprawled on the futon in my room – I started thinking about what I wanted my semester away to be like, things I wanted to do and places I wanted to see … and then I started thinking about who I wanted to be.

It was the sort of feeling that people get when they go away to college expecting something new and exciting. To make an excessively long and painful story short – I was robbed of having some time to enjoy college with a naive sense of wonder. I made the step to leave home and be 8 hours away from the people I knew and cared about – taking the even bigger step of going nearly half-way around the world seems to fall under the natural progression of things; the next step.

Besides – I deserve a stab at being the person I feel like I am, with all of my facets … not the person everyone seems to see me as (including myself!) So, in a strangely ritualistic sort of way, I took a hot shower, scrubbed the tired and aching away from the week … I was laughing to myself about how I felt like I was ‘cleansing’ away the old me – washing her down the drain to start from a fresh page.

But every time I’ve ever tried to start on a new leaf – something silly happens and it’s ruined. I suppose now is the part where I tell you I had to run though the bathroom naked, sudsy and wet because I only had enough shaving creme for one leg and that when I bent over to continue shaving I managed to head-butt the water lever.

But hey – I’m turning over a new leaf remember? Maybe I’ll be less clumsy now. But somehow I doubt it (^_^)

I finished drying off in my room, realized all my underwear were in the wash so I put on athletic shorts without any, a comfy bra and my new “Australia – It kinda looks like a gorilla wearing a Fez shirt” … I also listened to “Land Down Under” – by Men At Work and watched the video because I’d never seen it before. You know, I bet there are some Australians that hate that song … I mean, I hate “Party in the USA” but I’m also not a fan of the Hannah Montana/Miley Cirus personality-jaded duo.

I’ll have to ask when I get there.

Sincerely Yours,