Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pearly Whites

Just walked to one of the nearby health food stores today to buy some hair dye. I was planning to get a new toothbrush from the pharmacy but actually saw some pretty nifty ones at the health food store, Lassens. I was flabbergasted(...well not exactly but isn't that just such a fabulous word?) when I saw a toothbrush made from old dollar bills! You can't get much more american than that- those green papery notes to represent a dollar coin are quite an oddity, especially since I'm used to $1 being in a gold coin form and plus aussie money is plastic. Americans here are amazed that you can't rip up Australian notes(we don't call them bills).

Dollar bills aside, the toothbrush is super eco-friendly as you can replace the head when it gets worn(one extra replacement head is included in the pack). Plus they're manufactured on low-energy machines in the US and the packaging uses vegetable inks and 100% recycled PET plastic.

The bristle heads looks really big too so I'm hoping it'll do a good job. Hopefully I'll also be getting a new tooth polish soon(from here). So I'll have to see whether they turn into a dynamic tooth-cleaning duo...

Check here for availability

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What are your hobbies?

I hate that question. I've had a lot of people ask me it here in the US and I know they mean well but the whole point of this year is for me to try and 'find' myself, as cliche as that may sound. I don't know exactly what I'm passionate about just yet and what if I'm just the kind of person who potters around, flitting between hobbies. For example, I take photographs every now and then but I wouldn't classify it as my hobby.

When people ask me this question I stutter and stumble. In my downtime I watch a lot of television and go on the internet but it's almost embarrassing to call that a hobby. But the thing is, watching tv itself isn't really the 'hobby'. Same thing with the internet- they are both so diverse that people of polar opposite personalities could say their hobbies were watching tv and surfing the internet yet you wouldn't be able to distinguish the individuals in the slightest.

I don't want to lie to people either. I don't want to say I craft because really I'm only putting my toes in the ocean of craft and definitely not on a regular basis.

I like to switch things up and would like to take up new hobbies such as gardening, crocheting, surfing, volunteering and sewing but those things are not always possible when you're on exchange. Maybe if I had opportunities to do those things I would have a more exciting answer to the question but just because I don't doesn't mean I'm boring or have no interest in creating a more well-rounded life for myself.

A question I prefer much more on the other hand is: What are your interests?
Here would be my answer: being environmentally friendly, alternative food lifestyles(ie. veganism, raw food & organic), fashion, eco-aware beauty, organising, business, crafting, self-empowerment, nutrition, fitness, meditation, collecting, travel, writing, blogging, books/magazines, board games, outdoor activities, gadgets, music, disney, jonas brothers, the kardashians, america, live shows/concerts, volunteering, shopping, hanging out with friends, philosophy, growing my own fruits/vegetables, skyping, making music, old children's tv shows, home decor, vintage finds, thrift stores, photography, foreign languages, guys, playing with pets, bike-riding, children, animals, mental fitness, puzzles, dancing......and the list is ever-expanding.

So to answer the other question. No, I don't have hobbies. I have things that interest me and my life is ever-changing and I don't have the desire to dedicate my time to only a handful of 'hobbies'.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Beach Bum


I'm quite fond of the beach now, I must admit. I don't see myself becoming a beach junkie any time soon but I definitely see myself frequenting it more often and just lazing around there. To kick off my summer holidays I spent a couple days down there with two of my foreign exchange student besties- Hannah from Austria(whom I live with) and Ngan from Vietnam as I really needed to spend some quality time with both of them before they'd leave for their home countries. We went to Pismo Beach- a popular tourist attraction as they have lots of little stores selling cute beachy souveneirs such as shells and me and Ngan both bought these $4 canvas drawstring backpacks as I told her we needed to go jogging. I wanted to burn off the pizza her hostmom had fed us and running in the sand means more resistance which means more calories burnt. Of course, we got tired of that  very quickly. Our real mission however on that particular day was to send a message in a bottle. You see I have this little book called '101 to do before you're old and boring'. Whilst I have done many of the tasks I thought it would be a brilliant list to complete in America. I've run up an escalator the opposite way before but not in America. I've sang in front of an audience before but not in America. I've made a paper crane before but not in America. You get my point. So Ngan and I(on this particular day, Hannah was wandering around Hollywood- lucky thing!) ate frozen yogurt(my healthy weakness) at Pismo Yogurt which on my fro-yo scale is very, very close to Pinkberry. Whilst we munched(munched doesn't seem the right word for such a soft food....) on our healthy goodness we wrote our letters, slipped them in zip-lock bags and put them in plastic water bottles along with a shell. For someone whose second language is English, Ngan wrote hers really nicely- better than mine. I kept mine short and sweet but I'm sure if someone finds it they'd be quite pleased all the same:
Dear Stranger,
Congratz bro'! You found a message in a bottle! Please send an email stating who you are and where you found this to:
I'm Shivi, I'm from Australia and I'm 17 years old but I'm sending this from Pismo Beach, California! I'm an exchange student doing high school over here and loving it! The American high schools are epic- the cafeterias, yellow school buses and all-over school spirit are so awesome! I take drama, marketing and US history plus I used to do track and field- although I always came last! I just finished school for the year now and even though I'm a junior they let me participate in the senior graduation and wear a cap/gown! 
 Just so you know, Australians don't ride to school on kangaroos and we don't all surf- me included! I guess I should take some lessons here at Pismo!
I'd love a reply, Shivi xx
Wow. It seemed so much longer when I had it written out. Anyways, Ngan and I went out to the very end of the pier to, well, 'dump' our bottles. We didn't want to get in trouble for littering so we tried to do it very conspicuously although on my first try the wind blew my bottle backwards and hit some woman. It didn't dawn on us til then that the bottles could very easily just drift straight to shore. Sure enough as we walked back down the pier they floated along with us. Eventually we lost sight of them but for all I know I could get an email from someone in Pismo. Fingers crossed it gets to Vietnam or Australia. I think then we just lazed around on the warm sand, went on the swings, watched the kite surfers do their thing and attempted to throw my boomerang although I didn't really know the proper technique. It sort of came back to us but I think that was just because of the strong wind. 

I also spent a couple days down at the beach with Hannah too where we saw three guys in a line rubbing sunscreen into each other's backs-somewhat disturbing. I also attempted to throw my boomerang again as by then I had watched a tutorial on youtube but I embarrassed myself even more as it went straight down into the ground, meters from where I threw it. Ngan had a go herself and although I warned her about throwing it when there were beach-goers nearby she took her luck and almost clipped two groups of people. We also asked a couple to take a picture of the three of us and when they started talking I fell in love- they were British! Accents enthrall me nowadays, especially now that I realise how similar Britain is to Australia(the same cannot be said for the US and Britain though). Oh and we 'munched' on more fro-yo and some green beans and hummus we'd brought from home. Last but not least; it was a perfect windy day for kite-flying!

Ngan tried Vegemite on crackers for the first time
All in all it was quite wonderful and I am pleased to say I didn't get burnt(minus a small ring of red around my thighs where I obviously didn't put as much sunscreen) which was quiet an achievement considering I am so 'white'. I'm actually the palest exchange student in our group which is quite hilarious since I come from such a hot country and all the other students are from cold European nations. The Italian student, Tommy, told me that I was the whitest person he'd ever seen. I shall take that as a compliment. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Get Ready For Summer.

I'm going to be staying in America for the summer holidays which are much longer than Australian summer holidays and I'm going to be moving host families in less than a week so the few plans I did have are kind of up in the air now and I have no idea what my new host family will do over the course of the next three months. I'm sure you're wondering why I'm moving host families. I really can't get into too much detail as I know my hostmom may be reading this but they really didn't think about the consequences of having an exchange student in terms of money/time/thought/heart/energy. It is a big commitment and not everyone is suited to being a host family. I must admit it does anger me that now I have to move because of their poor judgement so I am trying my best to accept it.

So now I just have to get through summer. All the foreign exchange students are leaving now and the next wave won't be arriving til August(who so far all seem to be 2 years younger than me..) so I can't hang out with them and I haven't really made a lot of close friends at the school I was attending.

But in saying that I am going to make the best of this situation and shall chronicle all the fun things I get up to in this blog. It's going to be a summer like no other- that's for sure.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Graduation 2.0

It is now officially summer holidays in America which seems really weird as back in Australia it's winter and they're all still stuck in school. The last day of school went really well as I got to attend graduation with all the seniors along with the other two foreign exchange girls at the school. It felt much more like I was graduating(compared to my graduation in Australia) due to the whole cap and gown ensemble plus I got to wear a pin from doing choir for the semester and us three foriegn dudettes got to wear silver 'honors' cords for getting a good GPA which we were all very proud of. Before all the seniors gathered and got lined up in the gym we had time to spare to say farewell to our teachers.

Me, our drama teacher and Ngan
Our attempts at gang signs...
 I took a drama class this year with the vietnamese foreign exchange student, Ngan so we went into the class and said our final goodbyes to our teacher, Ms Calvert and our class. It was so nice to get such a warm welcome from everyone- we could tell the class had really enjoyed having us that year and that really made my day more than anything. All the seniors then lined up in pairs, with all the girls being given roses to carry with them. All the foreign exchange students got to line up near the front of the queue(<--- apparently some americans don't know what this word means....), there was only four of us though; Ngan paired up with the guy from Finland and I went with my exchange sister, Hannah(who's from Austria). As we walked over to the outdoor stadium, I was paranoid my cap was going to fall off- even though I'd anchored it down with various bobby pins. Just my luck it blew off as everyone was walking in the big long line. After I'd put it back on some guy further back was yelling "Someone lost their tassle! Someone's not gonna graduate!". I soon realised it was my tassle and ran back to grab it, holding onto my cap to make sure it didn't fly off a second time. It was somewhat embarrassing as everyone was laughing as I was running back to try and find my place again in the line.

The ceremony was amazing, people in the stands made signs to congratulate their kid and there were noise makers, confetti, streamers and even a condom someone had blown up. The seniors also snuck in beach balls and were hitting them around. Although whenever the wind carried one out of the seating area for the seniors the security guards would take them away but then 5 minutes later you'd see another one being hit around. My host mom said that when her daughter graduated there were all these blow up penises being bounced around and that the staff were madly trying to gather them all up- I would have killed to see that!


Then at the end of the ceremony all the seniors swapped their tassle from the right to the left side of their cap and threw them in their air. It really is like the movies. Although my cap didn't go very high when I threw it so I tried a second time to no avail but gosh darn it was amazing all the same! After the ceremony, we walked out onto the baseball field where everyone was greeted by their families and heaps of balloons. Lots of photos were taken. We took lots of mid-air photos but it seemed my feet were always on the ground in all of them!

I must admit, my second high school graduation definitely topped my first- it was a lot more entertaining.

Now I just have to tackle'll see what I mean in my forthcoming posts.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Grad Nite

One of the reasons I'm always jealous of Americans is that they have so many cool events, concerts, performances,etc that I wouldn't usually get access to in Australia. So finally I got a chance to participate in something exclusive to American seniors, Grad Nite.  It is literally 'the night of all nights' and I say that because I honestly believe it beat out prom. Actually I can't really judge because I missed my American prom as I had booked to go on a cruise to mexico with my foreign exchange group but attending grad nite definitely made me feel like I hadn't missed out on anything. If you're a little confused about Grad Nite, let me explain. Basically Disneyland gets opened up after hours from midnight til 6am to graduating seniors from California and even from interstate! They do it over the course of several weeks because of the amount of schools attending but this didn't mean that a couple schools had the park to themselves for the night(or should I say morning?). There were approxiamately 30 000 teens jam-packed in there!

Our school was lucky enough to have the Blast Off! pre-party included on our night which meant from 9pm til 12pm the seniors could 'take over' California Adventure(Disneyland's adjoining themepark) and get a free meal. It was just amazing seeing so many different American teenagers, especially since the school I come from has a large majority of Latino students so seeing lots of white/black teens and listening to their stereotypical american accents was pretty darn cool! And I swear, none of these kids had been hit with the ugly stick- the girls were all so beautiful and the guys were all so tall, broad-shouldered, buff and totally swoon-worthy!

You could tell everyone was just brimming with excitement and they started playing songs on the loudspeakers like 'Teenage Dream'(very fitting song I would think) and my group of friends just linked arms, started singing and skipping along. There are not many moments in life where that is appropriate! We only managed to go on one ride, the Tower Of Terror which is a free-fall ride but the queue was definitely worth it, especially when some black guy asked our group where we were from and I got to brag and say 'Australia!' which of course had to be followed up with a "Crikey, mate!". As you do.

At midnight everyone flooded out of California Adventure and over to Disneyland. They aren't kidding when they say that it's the happiest place on earth. The music was pumping loud, there were lights everywhere and this feel good vibe surrounding everyone. They had lots of dance clubs basically dotted around the park so we went to the closest one but it seemed it was just for the 'show-off' dancers. Not that that's a bad thing but basically people just form circles around the kids who can dance like a match has been lit underneath them. Everyone else just kind of stood around. Luckily we found a 'dance music' club that you actually had to queue to get in to and everyone was dancing not just the cool 'shuffle' kids. Every day I'm shuffle-in'.

We basically spent the 'morning' club-hopping. The hip hop club was definitely interesting. For some reason it seems only Americans have embraced the style of dancing known as 'grinding'. Really appealing name. Which as it suggests involves a girl and a guy rubbing up against each other and somehow it's called dancing. A foreign exchange friend of mine, Sophia likes to call it "Sex on the dancefloor". An experience in itself was when towards the end of the event some random attempted to grab my waist and well you know...he soon realised I was not digging it though. The best dance location was right in front of the pink castle and luckily when we first got there it was just before 1am when the fireworks were due to start and that really was spectacular as we got a front-row view and there were professional dancers living it up on stage, some wearing light-up costumes. And the whole time all the seniors were dancing and I learnt a bunch of snazzy dance moves that night. I really just let loose after a while and whilst we were walking around the park I would just bust out a move but I was definitely not the only one. Like a real-life musical where people just burst out into song and dance.


Oh and I can't forget the fashion of the night. Some girls were wearing sky-high stilettos. No idea how they survived the night. Then there were these three guys who took the Pauly D look to a whole new level they had their hair gelled glued straight up in the air, it was about 50cm(20 inches) high! The more sane seniors of the event wore the graduation caps you could buy there that had mickey mouse ears sticking out of them and most bought light-up items so that we were all walking disco balls.

Grad Nite completely made up for skipping prom. No expensive dresses or uncomfortable heels, heaps more seniors from all around the state and beyond, the option to go on rides(although we waited an hour and a half to go on space mountain), more than one DJ and the location being Disneyland- it owns prom any night!