Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Summer of Love, Peace, New Friends and New Home

I haven't took the time out to reflect my summer. I've been just reminiscing piece by piece but never saw put the puzzle of thought together. To begin, I went on a Dialogue through Northeastern to Australia. I was in a month-long program with 19 other Northeastern students, being with them 24/7 for a month. It can be view as "Real World: Australia" part 2 for something because I know there was one in Sydney? I had the most amazing time over in Australia, learned lots of life lessons and came back with new perspectives on life, etc. Sit back, grab a coffee because this might take a while.

This was the second time I've been out of the country,the only other time was to Montreal so I've haven't been anywhere. I applied for this trip after sitting in class one day and thought "lets go to Australia." This was back in the Fall 2008, so I applied late and got accepted. I had no preparation going into this trip. My mind set was to go with the flow and let things fall into place.


Our first destination in Australia was Melbourne, shout outs to Melbourne CITY! Melbourne has a special place in my heart, I adopted it as my second favorite city in the world next to...I'll let y'all fill that in. Melbourne has that smell in the air where you know you belong to a place. I became fascinated with the Australian government when I was in Melbourne. Australia is a Social Democracy and the more I see how the government works, the more and more I just believe in the system. I've been reading Marx before the trip but seeing how some of the theories put into work was just mind blowing. I've always been a proponent of paying high taxes for the betterment of society. If the streets were to be safer and cleaner, I rather pay that extra 10 dollars of my paycheck to have those commodities. However, the thing that struck me the most was universal health care. I know our country is in the midst of this debate whether it would "kill grandma" as Governor Palin refered to but I saw the system at work and you know what? it works. The people of Australia are more relaxed, and felt more free to do things. In a Social Democracy the centralized government is bigger and had more control, yet the people had more freedom. Isn't that a shocker? There is a trust between the people and their government which our "free" country does not have.

Pause on the politics, Melbourne had this vibe that I feel when I am back home in New York. It was vibrant, yet I feel the quiet and safe atmosphere when I am in Boston. It was a mixture of the two, something I was looking for in a city. We did a lot of the tourist stuff. However, having a Professor who was a Melbourne man himself gave us a lot of insights on what locals do. We had the pleasure of having dinner with local families in a suburb. It was fun times, talking to the kids and learning about their way of life which was not much different from our upbringing except the fact that they don't like poptarts. This reminds me to send them some pictures...

I became a Melbourne Demons fan!

I was in Melbourne for two weeks and I still long for nights where we sat outside in the balcony and just chill. I missed walking the streets of Melbourne at 3am, the delicious crepes, the trams, sausage rolls, meat pies and the overpriced beer. Like I said before, it was just the vibe in the air where you know you are where you want to be. I made a promise to myself that I will go back, and I have a hunch that it will be like going "home."

Goodbye Melbourne

I had the pleasure of going to the Australian Outback for a week. I am a city kid, so camping out in the desert was not something that I do everyday. That week was something that I will almost remember. Before going to the middle of nowhere literally, we stayed in a town called Alice Springs. I've said really nice things about Australia but that town was where I saw the flaws in Australia and in humanity. To give a background, Australia was where the old British empire sent their prisoners. Most of the prison sentences were 7 years and then the convicts have the option of staying afterwards. Long story short, most of them did and that was how Australia came about. Before they "established" the country of course, there were natives called Aboriginals. Much like the Native Americans here in the States, they were pushed to the side and considered two rate citizens. I come from an inner city neighorhood in New York City, so I shouldn't be surprised to see half the things that were happening with the Aboriginals yet I was still shocked. We've heard about all the bad things like alcholism, fighting and povery within that community but its one thing to hear and another thing to see.

I felt kind of strange sitting on the other side of the spectrum. I was sitting in a cafe in Alice Springs, a nice establishment and on the other side of the streets were Aboriginals sitting on the grass trying to sell their art. I felt hopeless not being able to help them. I wanted to buy their art because it is beautiful yet I know if I bought them, they would use the money to buy alcohol. If I bought them at a shop, I know the shop owner ripped the artist off. I was at this crossroad that I was trying to balance what I thought was right. I've always been about equality and justice for all. This was the first time in my life that I've been on other side seeing the struggle. Something I was not used to.

So I went on a 5 day 4 night adventure into the heart of Australia...Centralia if you will. That experience was just unreal. I've saw some of the world's greatest natural treasures. Uluru and Kata Tjuta was simply amazing and breath taking during sunrise. At night time, I've never seen so many stars at night. You look up at the sky and you realized how small you are in this giant world. Yet somehow, you know you are so important to a few individuals. The Outback humbles you in a way that you never felt before. I showered twice during that week and I've felt cleaner. For once, I felt at peace with what I was doing and where I am. I didn't have a worry in the world. I lived IN the moment. Everything was nice, I had my friends that I was with and I had me being me in the Outback.

Sunrise over Uluru

The tour guide on this trip was one of the people that I will never forget in my life. His name was Brad, I called him big brother Brad because that was basically who he was. He took care of us, and even though it was his job...he told us that we were his favorite group. His outlook on life just changed my perspective and made me how I am right now. Brad said "as long as I wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night...everything in between is an added bonus." I go by everyday thinking of that line and I have credit Brad for this thinking. We live in a complex world where not everything is needed. We live on accessories instead of necessities. Brad reminds me that the finer things in life are the simple ones, family and friends. We just needed the camp fire, sing alongs and each other. After the trip, we were family.

We could have ended the trip in the Outback and I would be fine with it. But WAIT...theres more! We went to Sydney for a week. Sydney was cool but I didn't have that attachment like I did with Melbourne. We did a lot of sightseeing in Sydney. I was watching a video posted by Passion the singer when he visited Sydney a couple of days ago. He went to some of the destinations that we went to and it reminded me of good times. Bondi Beach was the most beautiful beach that I've ever been to. We were greeted by a "guest lecutre" who wanted to give us some American opposition talks. However, the beach was still beautiful. The Sydney Harbor was amazing as well. I got to take the ferry rides during sunset so that was cool.

Even though it was not summer in Australia, it was a summer to remember. I couldn't have a better time. It was the perfect trip in a more perfect time in my life. I am three semesters away from graduating, and I felt re-charged and energized to tackle the next three semesters. Even though things are up in the air, the trip taught me how to just let go and enjoy the moment. As long as I am happy, thats all it matters. So long Australia, thanks for the memories, take care. In the words of the terminator, I'll be back.

Opera House/Sydney Bridge

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