Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Bats, Musicals and the Miserable Month

Hello people!

I know. It's been a terribly long time since I've written. My first baby steps exploring Sydney have given way to a steady trot, albeit with much wheezing and panting along the way.

In the last month, I went to Royal National Park, started class, patted koalas, photographed wombats, worked on getting a museum internship, made friends, had sponge baths, attended a stand-up comedy night and a circus festival, hit new emotional highs and lows, and joined a gym. Oh, and I've also been to three of Sydney's major museums: the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Australian Museum and the Rocks Discovery Museum.

Koalas! Since I've come here, I've realized that I really love koalas. They are such cool animals. These two are mother and daughter.

Whhhhat, you say? I know it's confusing, but I really don't have time to explain. I'll try to reminisce as I go.

What I really wanted to say, though, it that things are now actually starting to get tough.

I've had three weeks of non-stop papers- one paper due per week for three weeks in a row. I am tired. What's more, I am starting to have serious doubts about my ability to continue with this program.

That old anxiety issue that's been eating at me for years? It's back, and more powerful than I've ever seen it before. There were a few days there where I wasn't sure I'd make it. I've had nightmares, headaches, stomach problems, unconscious nighttime jaw-clenching (I should really buy a mouth guard), moments of emotional paralysis and despair, and times of extreme exhaustion and forgetfulness. I actually had a scary experience a few weeks ago when I was on my way to school and suddenly couldn't remember where my classroom was. After ten minutes of distress and disorientation I happened to try the correct direction and just barely made it on time.

Of course, thanks to this sort of thing, I'm finding it nearly impossible to concentrate on writing papers, which makes me feel worse.

Anyway, to make things more interesting, I had a period of several days where my apartment had no hot water (that's where the sponge-bathing comes in), and a stretch of about a week and a half when my internet was not working. Of course, both happened to occur in the middle of my assignment-writing.

It was terrible. I spoke to the desk staff at UniLodge and they did take a look at the water. And after many desperate pleas on my part to BigAir, the internet connection was finally repaired.

Nevertheless, the whole experience has made me look into reducing my course load, although it looks like the process is extremely complex and difficult for international students.

Luckily, even during these dark days, I've had good people around me. My family has been listening and supporting me when they can, and so have a couple of friends from home. And I've been able to meet up with friends here at least once a week or so.

I've also been learning a little more about Sydney's bats. There are numerous families of bats in the parks in this area, and they are BIG. Some look almost a meter long. You can see them flying around at twilight. Sometimes they fly quite low over the roads. After a little research, I've figured out that they are actually fruit bats, aka flying foxes. 

And lucky me, I've had some great opportunities to see them. A while ago I went with some friends to a movie in Parramatta. The venue was outdoors on a riverbank, and during the film I actually got to see a bat swoop down and skim the river surface, drinking the water. They are such amazing animals. I love seeing them. I haven't got any photos of them yet, but I'll work on it.

My golden ticket

And... last weekend I went to see Les Miserables the musical!!! I went with a group of friends, most of whom I'd never met before. We saw the play in Chatswood at the Concourse Theatre after bonding over lunch. It was a dream come true to go see it. It was my first time seeing it as a stage musical, although thanks to my sister I am familiar with the songs and I have seen the films. It was incredible, and the singing was fantastic. What an exciting, moving, engaging show! The actors were all fantastic. We sat in the balcony section and had a pretty good view of the stage, which was mostly empty except for a large, tattered French flag as a backdrop. During the intermission the ushers went around handing out rolls of crepe streamers to select people, with the instructions to toss them over the balcony at the right time. And I got a streamer!

A nice collage that one of the other folks put together from our outing. I didn't take these. Check out the actors building a barricade, third picture down.

All the way through the second half, I was waiting anxiously for my cue and worrying about whether or not I'd be able to throw my streamer far enough to reach the stage. Then, at the end- perfection! Joy! As the cast assembled for the final song, the ushers threw, and then we all threw our streamers so that they were raining down on the stage, unraveling as they went in beautiful stripes of blue, white and red. My streamer flowed down beautifully and it made it all the way off the balcony. I was ridiculously proud, and I still am. After all, for that last scene, I participated in a small part of the show.