Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Den.

One of the things I miss about being with my previous host family is my bedroom there. It was pretty close to my 'ideal' bedroom. I had a double bed, a beautiful wood chest of drawers with pastel-coloured knobs and a pale golden-yellow wall to die for. I would have liked more storage though as my room started to pile up with junk every now and then but when it was tidy, it was a gem and I'd decorated the walls with these butterfly decals and momentos I'd collected from my time in the US. It had so much warmth and character to it. Enjoy.

News article on school track team

My first pennant! I love it to death!

My wardrobe, rubbish bin, recycling bin, mickey hat and statue of liberty head accessory

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Acquiring A Sister

Several weeks back I said 'adios' to my dear friend and exchange sister, Hannah Mathis. She's from Austria(something that always confused people during introductions being that I'm from a very similarly named country) and was a fellow exchange student I lived with for 6 months with my old host family. She was honestly my rock. People always thought we were sisters. We are, just not biologically. Hannah was a very intelligent individual and her english was pretty good right from the start but it improved in leaps and bounds during the course of her half-year stay. Overall we were pretty different people. Hannah is sophisticated, trendy, polite and caring. I'm more....rough around the edges. She's a year younger than me but probably more mature. She put up with all my craziness(like listening to my numerous rants and watching me pose in front of all the mirrors in our house) and my lazy/messy-ness.

But we were very similar at the same time too- we loved all things girly like makeup and fashion. Shared a love of cooking and food and we both thoroughly enjoyed our Desperate Housewives & Keeping Up With The Kardashians marathons. Towards the end of the six months she spent in the US we started to finish each other's sentences and even laughed at the same time. 

The sign I made Hannah for the airport
Finally the day came that Hannah was to go back to Austria and I wondered what school would be like without her by my side and what home life would be without someone in the same situation as me, to chat to. I felt really happy for Hannah as I knew she was ready to go home and excited for life back in Austria. I was kind of jealous to be honest as I, myself felt ready to go back too. I didn't cry when she walked out of the tiny little airport to hop on the plane. I'll admit I did get a tad teary the next day when I saw her room void of all her belongings and replaced with children's games and toys(as the room was previously intended for my hostmom's granddaughters). 

Although we're no longer in the same country, we're still tied together. We're sisters now and forever. And I've told Hannah that she's coming to my wedding- there's no way she's getting rid of me!

Hannah's farewell card

Friday, July 8, 2011

4th of July Weekend


Myself, my host sister, host mother and her boyfriend went to a wedding of a family friends'. I realised it was my first actual wedding(I once went to a vow renewal ceremony) that I've attended. My host mom was quite suprised when they get invited to at least two a year. It was a very traditional ceremony held in a catholic church with a very bold colour pallet of hot pink with the secondary colour being bright lime green. Not what I would choose but I was told it represented the bride perfectly- a very loud and out there woman, full of life. I was absolutely ravenous at the reception waiting for the food to arrive and dove right into the bread basket. Even though I'm not a dessert fan I was fond of the chocolate cake(not the icing or fillings though) and so my host sister, Tiffany and I went round and nabbed a couple more plates of cake from those who had vacated to the dance floor. Stuffed to the brim, Tiffany and I later went and danced off some of our calories and as per grad nite I really went crazy by the end of the night, most obvious when they put on the slow songs....I kid you not. 


I didn't eat a single meal at home. We had breakfast at this award-winning American diner/cafe. The breakfast menu items such as 'biscuits and gravy' as well as 'pork ribs and eggs' scared me into ordering a lunch item- a chicken/pesto/sun-dried tomato wrap. We went to the beach later on in the day which was so so foggy!


My older host brother, Edi likes to make weird faces

My hostmom, Diana and her boyfriend, Jesse

It really was a team effort to get all the food ready for 4th of July as there were eight of us all up that went. My host mom's boyfriend loaded up the esky, my host mom sliced up the salad items and everyone loaded stuff into the cards including tables and more than eight chairs(I think we had 11....). We went up to a little beach shopping strip where people hiring bikes that were all decked out in 4th of July gear. USA flags were everywhere. It was very different to Australia day. People are so proud of their country here. Even though we ended up being way too far away from the actual fireworks that night and the water at the beach was so cold is made my feet numb I think everyone could agree it was a brilliant day spent with close family and friends.

Those are some brave men, the water was so cold my feet were numb!


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Gone Hiking.

Just before I changed host families I was invited to go on a hike by some friends from school. It's quite refreshing  for a group of teenagers to suggest such a thing but then again I didn't go with your average group of teen gang-bangers. I went with my wonderful exchange buddies, Hannah(the Austrian) and Ngan(the Vietnam) plus four other students from my school who all got numerous cords, badges, awards,etc at senior honors night and were all valedictorians and whatnot.

If you're up in the Central Coast of CA, perhaps you've heard of Point Sal? Anyway, I hadn't- but we hiked it. I really had no idea what I was in for, especially since I'd never been hiking before. Nevertheless I equipped myself with aerosol sunscreen and sunnies and managed to barely get sunburnt. My ears and eyelids(?!) were a tad red but I was pleased since I was the palest kid and the others got redder.

The two guys in our group were seasoned hiking pros and led the way. Of course our first obstacle was a ginormous hill which left my legs aching(akin to the feeling one gets when doing lunges). Luckily that was the most difficult part. The walk itself was very fun. I can imagine the same hike with a group of typical adults would have been much less amusing. There was much laughter and silliness. Pranks, swordfights with sticks as well as harmonica playing distracted us all from the hours of walking we endured that day.

Unlike in Australia when you are fairly unlikely to spot animals on a walk, I actually saw many on this American hike: Eagles, crabs, snakes, insects, lizards, rabbits, mice, cows and seagulls. We headed for a secluded beach as our stopping point but had to go off-trail to get to it and my heart stopped when I caught a glimpse of a thick, fat snake in the grassy surroundings. I urged everyone to keep moving forward as quickly as possible. I could breathe again once we got towards the ocean but only momentarily as we then had to embark down a steep cliff-face in order to get to the actual beach.  I could just imagine myself slipping down the crumbing cliff but somehow I made it(very slowly I might add).

" Where's the next step?! "
We were all ravenous by the time we got to the beach which was definitely not your average tourist beach as there were literally hundreds of thousands of white insects jumping about in the sand underneath our feet. You basically had to just block it out unless you wanted to faint from squirming. Lunch was lovely though; there were tomato/pesto/avacado sandwiches, parmesan-garlic puff pastry rounds, bananas, raisins, flaxseed chips, strawberries and mandarins.

Although the water was freezing, our friend Tommy decided to brave the waves. We kicked around a hacky sack(which had the Australian flag printed on it), threw my boomerang(with much more success than last time) and made bracelets out of seaweed with a unique braid that Ngan taught us all. And we buried the guys in the sand-obviously.

Trying to avoid the water as the tide came back in

The walk home was much harder(and definitely felt longer) than the initail hike to the beach and my heart was pounding as we walked past the 'snake territory' as well as climbing back up the beach cliff but much to my delight we were able to celebrate our hard efforts at a frozen yoghurt store afterwards.

The Point Sal hike was definitely a highlight from this year so far but I will never ever do it again.