A Very International Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in Sydney

This post was written as a part of 20 Something Bloggers Blog Carnival about travel adventures. The carnival was sponsored by Livemocha.com, a language learning community.

I did a lot of cool things during my five months in Australia. I snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef, swam with sea turtles and reef sharks, fed kangaroos. I explored Sydney and felt almost like a local. So what stands out from my semester abroad? A very international Thanksgiving.

American holidays in Australia just aren’t the same. No one dresses up for halloween and Christmas decorations are already displayed in September. Thanksgiving was no exception. Two college friends were visit at the time, on the tail end of the their around the world trip, the only gift I received was an advise on how to clean basketball shoes from the shoeadviser.com. We all missed our families and wanted to do what we could to make the day special. They made it unforgettable by jumping out of a plane as I did what I could to share our American tradition with my friends from around the world.

Shopping for Thanksgiving dinner was frustrating to say the least. Turkey was $20 per kg, pumpkin pie was nonexistent, and no one in the store even knew what cornbread was! I ditched the turkey and stuck with my favorite nostalgic dishes – green beans, mashed potatoes, and stuffing (sadly made without cornbread). I got back from the store late and frantically started to cook.

In my family I’m normally only in charge the the mashed potatoes, so three dishes was foreign territory for me. Luckily my amazing friends let me order them around for an hour to help me prepare. I was teaching friends from England, India, and China how to prepare Thanksgiving dinner. It was pretty funny seeing Tomo put on sunglasses so he wouldn’t cry from the onions. My mood quickly took an upward swing.

Once we brought the food to the rooftop common area of our student housing I was amazed to see other American friends with a turkey in the oven and other necessary goods like sweet potatoes and pie. One of my favorite additions was the pot stickers brought by Tomo, which fit perfectly on everyone’s plate along side the turkey and mashed potatoes. We had a ton of food that was enjoyed by close to 30 people with some leftovers to spare.

Thanksgiving in Sydney

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it’s a time when I’m surrounded by people I care about deeply, and everyone works together to make it a special day. No, I wasn’t with my mom, dad, sister, or family friends. I was blessed with amazing friends from California, Texas, England, Turkey, India, Iran, Vietnam, Germany, China, Russia, Poland, and more. It was and I’m sure will continue to be the one of the most memorable Thanksgiving dinners of my life.

Sorry for the Lack of Updates

More blogs coming soon! I know I have fallen a bit behind (ok, more than a bit, over a month), but updates are coming soon!

I have been keeping track of my experiences, and I have a lot of information in my trusty Moleskin notebook that needs to be translated to the web. This includes pictures of the Great Barrier Reef, Cape Tribulation, Whitehaven Beach, Fraser Island…and much more!
After November 6th, I will be done with assignments and concentrating on a few key things:
  1. Updating my blog! (including adding links, tags, photos, and maps)
  2. Keep on learning! (SEO, Google Analytics, social media monitoring, creating MashUps)
  3. FIND A JOB!
Until then, follow my tweets! (I often have to refer to them to remind myself what I do each day)

Day 68: Final Work before Vacation!

Ok, it’s semi-crunch time today. Kristin and I leave tomorrow for our two week adventure, we already have all the essentials from the Survival Cooking site for our camping experience. This means I have to get as much work done as possible on my Database Proposal, considering it is due only hours from when I return. I think I did pretty well. It will be organising the appendix and writing my user scenarios when I get back. I think I can pull this off.

My homework day ended around 5:30pm when I left for a SMCEDU Meeting at Jackson’s on George by Circular Quay. Again it was a small turn out, but the four of us had another wonderful social media conversation. Doug Chapman, partnership director for SMCSYD provided useful insights to the local Social Media Club Chapter. I also got clued in to some other courses using social media, and got a few more names to look up. We concluded by deciding to set a date for a SMCEDU Meetup in three weeks to try to get more students involved. Unfortunately I will be gone for the first 2 weeks leading up to the event, so I hope we can get enough chatter going to recruit students to attend.

While our evening should have consisted of packing, we took a break and walked down to Darling Harbour with some friends. Lovely evening for a walk, but it definitely made me stay up much later than I needed to. Oh well, I have short plane ride to catch up on some sleep. Off to Cairns in the morning for our 2 week adventure!

Day 67: I tried, but mainly a Lazy Sunday

I sent Kristin out on her own today to discover more of Sydney, as I spent my Sunday in the computer lab. I didn’t feel as productive today. I felt like I was running around in circles around the metadata standards. While I found IPTC for the news articles and photos, I was having trouble with videos and audio. I think in the end I will just have to compromise and take few standards from MPEG-7, just not many. I think I am doing a good job so far and I will get myself into trouble if I worry too much about a small portion of the proposal.

For dinner we went to Lansdowne to use a coupon that I had. It turns out the kitchen is closed on Sunday. Luckily for us they had a deal where you if you buy a drink you get free pizza! We took advantage of that, splitting a jug between us and enjoy mass amounts of pizza while listening to a live band and people watching. Pretty much the perfect Sunday night if you ask me.

Day 66: Manly Walk into the Night

Ok, I should have spent today doing schoolwork, I know. But I need to show Kristin what Sydney has to offer! And at the same time, I made sure we did something I haven’t done yet 🙂

After looking through her Lonely Planet book for some local insight, we decided to take the ferry to Manly and take on the Manly Scenic Walkway. It is a 9 km walk fro Manly to to the Spit Bridge, along the coast and through some bush. http://www.openroad.com.au/travel_onfoot_thespittomanly.asp

Instead of telling you all about the gorgeous scenery, I’ll show you with pictures. But I have a few titbits to add. The ferry ride was amazing, as expected. It reminds me of Marin, and makes me appreciate where I am currently and where I came from. Kristin said this was her first time on a ferry, which I couldn’t believe! Once we were on the walk I loved how tranquil it was. At some points it felt like we were way out in the bush, or right on the ocean where there was no land for miles. And then you would turn a corner, and there was the Sydney skyline. Not bad, not bad at all. The natural surroundings were a great addition to our long conversations about life and our future. That seems to be on my mind a lot, and Kristin’s as well since we both just graduated. One thing we concluded was that we better find jobs that we enjoy. Because if you spend 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year working, that is the majority of your time. What good is money if you aren’t happy for most of the year?

So I forgot to mention that we had a late start, not getting to Manly until about 3pm. Now this walk is supposed to take about 3 to 4 hours. We are fast walkers, don’t get be wrong, but we took the road less travelled several times, and took lots of pictures. Basically, it started to get dark, and we some how wound up in someone’s backyard, getting scared out by a possum. Luckily for us, when we made it up to the road a woman had just pulled in. She basically told us we were screwed and it would be impossible for us to find our way back. But right then a man and his son pulled up, asking if we were lost (and if we were tourists). He said this happens a lot, and offered to drive us to the bus stop. Phew, saved by the dad! We eventually made it back safely, happy with our excursion and the stories to go along with it.