A trip to Six Flags and preparing to say goodbye

This week start with a rollercoaster adventure to Six Flags. Six Flags is an American Amusement Park chain (they go there on Glee, you know the episode where Quin is in the wheelchair), anyway, it was a dreary wet day and we headed off on the bus organized by Defoe-Graham to enjoy a day of fun and adventure.

The park is huge with so many rides and being such a horrible day, all the crowd was scared away. We seriously had the majority of the amusement park to ourselves, never waited in any lines and when we felt like going around again we just went around again. Rides included Batman (of course the boys were a bit excited), Superman, Giant Swings, Mr Freeze (my most favourite ride of all time), The Ninja and many more. The park had a variety of new and older rides, so many of them where wooden constructions from the 70s which were totally different to the newer rides. The tracks were longer but still had a great variety of fast and slow. They were just amazing! We spent the afternoon going from ride to ride and I couldn’t even tell you how many we went on. We all decided we were so lucky because if the weather had been nice and the crowd was bigger we might have only been able to go on two or three rides, so putting up with a little bit of rain was worth it. It probably wasn’t the right day to go down the Water rides, but oh well – Yolo! We were all very proud of our friend Daniel who has had a fear of Rollercoasters for a long time. But with a bit of peer pressure we were able to get him onto every ride except two and by the end I think he had conquered his fears and really started to enjoy himself. As someone who loves rides, it was fun to see someone break a long time apprehension to experiencing the rush of the Rollercoaster!!

After our day of fun we headed back to Mizzou. The days are going by way to fast and sadly last week was spent doing lost of farewell activities.

This week after a visit to the International Exchange Office we received some very special letters which the students at Blue Ridge Elementary sent us after our school visits. We had a fantastic time reading about how much they enjoyed our visit and the things they remembered most. One of the most important questions about Football and Soccer though, still seemed to need some clarification. It was really special to receive their gratitude and the letters are something we will treasure forever.

The Internationals farewell barbecue (held inside) was held on Friday afternoon and was a great opportunity to spend time with our new friends, look through photographs taken throughout the year and generally get sad that our time is coming to an end. Renee our International Advisor had organized a special cake for us and then we made little signs with glitter glue and card to hang around Defoe so our new friends do not forget us!

Thursday was the last day of classes for everyone so we headed out down town to enjoy a bit of fun before some of us had to start knuckling down to prepare for exams. It was a great night out downtown and there were so many people around. This night out was a great lead in for the party we attended on Friday night. We started at Jess and Nancy’s for some ‘quiet’ pre-drinks and as everyone had a few more drinks and the flippycup game started and everyone was having a great time we headed to one of the coolest house party’s I have ever been to. It was an International Farewell Party held at the home of one of the long-term French students. Over 22 countries were represented at the party and everyone was in the mood to celebrate their time at Mizzou. With a few Americans scattered amongst the crowd everyone enjoyed spending one last epic night together.

I have now finished all my classes and have two exams tomorrow (well, they are not really exams – one is a breakfast party where I hand in a play I wrote and the other I have to give a three minute presentation and make a poster) and that will be all. I can’t believe I am moving out of my dorm room on Friday! it is going to be so bitter sweet and I am going to miss everything about this place, but I have to look forward to the next part of the adventure!

Nic x

Sports, paint, sunshine and bouncy castles

Our soccer career was kept alive! Even though we are not a very talented team, we were rewarded in the competition for being a nice team, earning ourselves some impressive sportsmanship points. These sportsmanship points took us all the way to the playoffs. So we had the opportunity to play one more game against another team who were very fun and friendly. The best part of the game was when Greg kicked it across to Matty and he scored a goal! And then, just to make things even more amazing, later in the game I kicked the ball to Matty and he scored another goal! Talk about exciting :) we were pretty impressed with ourselves. We still lost 4-2 but we finished the season on a definite high!

It has been a busy and fun week around school. On Sunday night I put on my ECU Ambassador hat and went and spoke to a sorority about the benefits of going on exchange, and gave Perth and ECU a giant promo! It was also a chance to see what it is behind the doors of a chapter meeting.  These are the meetings held weekly by the Sororities and Fraternities. It was like girl world, but they were all so friendly and welcoming and eager to hear about Australia. They even laughed at some of my jokes which was very nice of them.

As a new idea we thought we would try playing Ultimate Frisbee… We are probably better at Frisbee then we are at soccer but I don’t think that is saying much. We started out a bit sluggish, but once we picked up the game plan and improved our catching and throwing we were able to score a few times!

The biggest event we had this week was Day Glow, the Life in Colour Paint party. For all my friends at home the closest thing I would compare it to is a BnS. I got really dirty, colored and muddy, threw my clothes out when I got home and had a few too many drinks. It was an awesome event though, so much fun and I didn’t even notice that it was raining the whole time and my shoes got full of mud, I think the alcohol helped that!

It was sunny for like 3 whole days this week! So we took the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the sunshine! Our friend and local tour guide Jess took Chris, Greg, Emma and myself on an activity afternoon to see some of the amazing local sites of Columbia. We visited the big tree… Which was pretty big, but maybe not as big as expected! It took all of us to join hands to reach around th base which is like 5 people! We then went to the river where we threw rocks in the water of course. Deciding where to go next, Jess remembered the most exciting thing to see in Columbia and she was so right! She took us to a house where they have a Zebra and a massive Camel in their front yard! It was pretty cool. We drove past the houses where the owners of Walmart live and then visited a park near campus where we saw an Eagle and two babies in a nest which was pretty exciting then we scaled the rock face and had a bit of a Bear Grylls moment!

Then the sun went away and the rain came back!

Today a carnival was held by my residential hall so we took the opportunity to jump on the bouncy castle, slide down the slide and feast on some snow cones and popcorn. It was fun and completely free! Of course with all of us in the bouncy castle we were warned once to not be so rough as we chased each other around and tried to tackle each other in the adults playground.

With two weeks left the time at school is coming to an end quickly so we have all been pretty busy trying to finish up our classes and earn as many points possible towards our final grade. It is so hard when you want to spend the end of school hanging out with friends and having fun but know there is so much work to finish and get through and you should really stay home to do it. But we will cope and it will all be over way too quickly.

The fun doesn’t stop though. Tomorrow we are off on an excursion to the Six Flags Amusement Park in St Louis. We have been You tubing the rides and it looks like we are in for a fantastic day! Hopefully the weather is friendly to us!

Nic x

Super party for Daniel’s super birthday

With the end of semester fast approaching we have been enjoying more fun times at Mizzou this week.

Our soccer careers have come to an end. We played our last game on Tuesday and I am sad to report that A: We didn’t win any games and B: We did not score any goals. But they were probably the only two negatives about our soccer experience. We had so much fun and enjoyed the chance to get to know some new friends and team mates. We did also slightly improve, as the weeks went on we started to pass the ball better and generally be more productive soccer players then the crazy lunatics who ran out on the field in the first game. We didn’t provide too much competition for our opponents but we were definitely entertaining. As a first go at playing soccer I was happy to be playing alongside my friends who are so encouraging and supportive of everyone’s efforts and we achieved our main goal which was to have fun.

A special part of this week was dedicating Thursday and Friday to our friend Daniel’s birthday. In celebration of his reaching the 21 milestone we celebrated in style down town on Thursday night, the night of his actual birthday followed by a super hero house party on the Friday night. Both were fantastic events and so much fun. The highlight of the house party was the keg which everyone took turns trying out keg stands, drinking too many beers and guarding the keg from randoms who had arrived at the party. The costumes were quite impressive as well as lots of people embraced their own super hero and the opportunity to wear their undies on the outside!

On Saturday we took what will probably be our only opportunity to visit the Mizzou Football stadium. The Team held a scrimmage match which we were able to attend for free with our student card, so we headed over to soak up some of the atmosphere. The weather was beautiful and although we missed most of the game and the stuff we did see we had no idea what was going on it was a great opportunity to see some American Football live. It is definitely an interesting game. For a start, there are about 100 people on the team! I don’t know what they all do, but I suspect that there are some boys on the team who have never stepped onto the field in a game before.

The weather has been consistently nice for about three days now, and I don’t want to jinx it – but I am hoping this means that spring has finally arrived. With the nice weather it is fantastic to get out and about and enjoy the outdoors. Emma and I have enjoyed a long walk down the trail and an afternoon bike riding. It was much better when we both had a bike each compared to last time when we had three bikes between six people. Some interesting dinky styles where used. We have also been playing Beach Volleyball, Frisbee and post-season practice of our soccer skills. When the weather is so nice you just want to be outside all the time. It makes me feel guilty that we waste so many nice days in Australia.

With the end of semester quickly approaching we are now putting together travel plans for when we all finish school. These plans basically mean us sticking together for as long as possible and trying to get around the USA for as cheap as we can.

But before we kick off we still have to get through the end of school and all the assignments and work which needs to be completed. We also need to party and celebrate with our school friends as much as possible! I know, its a tough life but somebody has to do it!

Chi town – Batman, revolving doors, Cubs and scary pizza

After returning from Mexico I came down with an ear infection which I was convinced might have been a Mexican worm which had lodged itself in my head in an attempt to gain entrance to the US. This left me pretty quiet for the next week and pretty much involved sleeping, taking pills and going back to sleep.

Luckily I overcame my obstacles before our big adventure to Chicago.

We had been organising the trip for a few weeks and we had six of us ready to explore the windy city. The tour party included Map controller – Greg, Google researcher – Chris, Music man – Janks (may I just confirm that he played one song for the entirity of the weekend and him being the music man was not a good thing), Questions asker – Meg, sweets supplier – Emma and me….

With plans to attend class and be good students Meg and Janks delayed there departure until the Friday but Emma, Greg, Chris and I planned to leave Columbia at 1.50pm on the megabus to arrive in Chicago at approx 10.30. The bus company did not agree with this plan though and after an extended wait, a wander down town, garlic breathe from a local eatery and a refund we left the station in Columbia at about 7.30pm. This put our Chicago arrival back to about 3.30am. Luckily we were all able to get some sleep on the bus and when we rolled into Chicago it was the most amazingly quiet city – probably because of the time, but there was not a person in sight and it had a peace to it. We started walking in what I thought (I had acquired some google directions) was the way to our hostel. We ended up heading about 15 minutes in the wrong direction, but a kind taxi driver came to our rescue and picked us up and delivered us safely to the Parthenon, our home for the next 4 nights. Our accommodation was perfect for our group in one room with 3 bunk beds- it was simple but comfortable. After a quick snooze we were up bright and early to step out and explore the city. Our first destination was Millenium Park to see what had gained a bit of pre-trip hype the Giant Bean. I must admit I was a bit apprehensive, how exciting could a Giant Bean really be? Upon arrival at the Giant Bean we were all in complete shock and awe at the amazingness of the structure. It is made completely out of reflective stainless steal (I think – I could just be making that up) but it has the most amazing reflections and is erected next to an amazing cityscape. We had a great time looking at the outside of the bean and then we walked into the bean… It was constructed to create many reflections and we spent a good amount of time looking at ourselves and giving ourselves high fives, knuckle bumps and kisses.  After exploring other sructures within the park we ventured into the city and up what was dubbed the Magnificent Mile. It is called this because of its amazing shopping, but it also provided great views and photo opportunities. Greg and Chris spent most of the day saying ‘look that was on batman’, ‘this is where this happened on batman’, this is where that happened on batman’, Batman, Gotham, Batman, Gotham, Batman. Nearly all of these references went over mine and Emma’s heads. We also walked through many revolving doors. Chicago loves revolving doors, every store front has one and we had a great time going around and around in singles, doubles and triples. We walked for ages and stumbled across a trendy suburb perfect for some lunch. On the way home we ventured into the Subway system and after some slight confusion Map Man Greg, led us to the correct platform to head towards home. On the way home we visited the Willis Tower (more commonly known as the Sears Tower) which has an amazing sky deck 103 stories above the ground. We joined the tour to the Sky deck and enjoyed the 360 degree views of  Chicago. It was an amazing sight and we were able to pin point many of the spots we had and wanted to visit. We also ventured out onto the see-through platform which is off the side of the building. It felt kind of crazy and was such a weird sensation but was a great photo opportunity – the old sitting on top of the world. After the sky tower it was beginning to get late so we headed back to our hostel to discuss a game plan for dinner. After a quick power nap and a wake up call from Chris we ventured back to the train station to go to Chinatown for Dinner. We had a great meal and enjoyed some quality people watching in the small restaurant.

Within about 15 minutes of returning back to our hostel Meg and Janks arrived – very excited to be out of Columbia and in the big city. Janks a music enthusiast could not stop going on about being in the home of Kanye and Lupe. He then played some song by Kanye about Chi-town (I don’t know what it is called) for the rest of the weekend.

After a sleep in our bunk bed paradise, we were up early for another day of adventure. Greg was very excited to visit the Navy Pier, so we ventured down to Lake Michigan, back past the bean of course to share the joy with Meg and Janks. The Navy Pier is a big novelty zone, probably designed for kids but more appreciated by the big kids. We ventured into a Giant Maze, had an intense hit the buttons competition, Chris, Janks, Emma and Meg braved the giant swings after an intense lunch while Greg and I visited an interesting nature room with birds, fountains and just joyful greenness. After we had soaked up all the joy of the peer we set off on foot up the shore of the lake to Lincoln Park. There we visited the giant Lincoln statue and enjoyed looking at the art work and sculptures. On the way home we walked through what is known as Old Town and is a neighbourhood of historic residential homes which have been kept in pristine condition. We then caught the train home visiting some shopping landmarks on the way home. Foot locker is huge – that is all I will say about the shopping. Then it was home again to recuperate from being a tourist and get ready for dinner. For dinner we went to a popular Suburb called Wickerpark, which is notoriously hipster. We found a trendy little restaurant and enjoyed some fine (expensive) dining. But hey, Your only in Chicago Once (YOCO).

The next day, we were up early again and ventured out to see some real Chicago. We went to a local street stall not far from our Hostel. It was a fun experience and great to see some true Chicago characters. After the street stall it was time to don my Cubs hat and head out to the famous Wrigley Field for our afternoon of true American Culture at the Baseball. It was such a fun afternoon as we watched the Chicago Cubs take on the San Francisco Giants. We sat in the bleachers and had beers and hot dogs. We traded in our not so good seats for better seats (which were never claimed by there owners) so we had a fantastic view of the game and the match was actually a little bit exciting. We saw at least three home runs hit, which is amazing and at the end of the match it was a draw which means time on. Unfortunately the Giants hit 3 home runs in the next innings and the Cubs were not able to come back. The highlight of the day was definitely a low level Chicago celebrity singing ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’. She was a terrible singer, but everyone joined in wholeheartedly and it was awesome. I can also say that the dramatic baseball music is played live by a guy on an Organ!!! It was a lot of fun all round and we left with a baseball buzz and went directly across the street to a quality sports store to buy all the Chicago memorabilia we needed!

For dinner that night we went out for what Chicago is famous for – its deep dish pizza! The pictures of deep dish pizza are scary. It is more like a giant pie in the shape of a pizza and is full of cheese. It is pretty hard to describe so please just look at the picture posted. We were all pleasantly surprised that it was not that bad and we enjoyed teaming it with a salad so we didn’t feel too bad after our day of hot dogs and giant pizza!  After dinner we went for a few cheeky drinks at a local bar. We quickly took over the juke box and played all of our favourite classic hits.

My favourite things about travelling with our merry group is the small stuff that happens in between the activities. Our rendition of the Addams family at the train station, follow the leader games through the park when Chris has us all throwing sticks aggressively at trees, ridiculous conversations like why do chickens have wings? and Google fact checking to make sure we know the answers and laughing at each others misfortunes and stupidity (Meg falling out the door, when she thought she was walking towards a toilet but going into some dark back room in the bar). It is really special to experience a new culture and enjoy the company of my amazing friends. Sorry for that piece of sentimental but I was watching the Goodbye episode of Glee today on the bus and am dreading the end of May :(

Anyway, that about brings us back to school as we quickly spiral towards the end of the semester. This week we will be celebrating Daniel’s birthday and laying low to save our money post Chicago blowout!

N xx

Spring Break!! Cancun adventure

Spring Break had finally arrived and we were headed to Mexico to celebrate in Cancun. We had done all the preparation required for a cliche American Spring Break. We had tour singlets, accommodation booked in Cancun, plenty of enthusiasm and very little expectation of what we were going to find - except for what we had seen on the movies and Geordie Shore Cancun of course.

The Spring Break crew was Emma, Daniel, Chris, Kelly, Abby, Meg, Danielle, Michael, Janks and myself and we were ready to party. When we were getting ready to leave Columbia though, it did not feel much like Spring. Panic set in as a snow storm travelled across the state of Missouri and there was a high possibility that A: We would not be able to get our airport transfers to Kansas and B: the plane might be grounded due to the bad weather. With hope in our hearts we woke up at 5am ready to meet the transfer and as the snow started falling we got in the bus to travel to Kansas. The snow got thicker but we kept onwards towards the airport. We arrived very late but luckily the airport is very easy and not very busy so we were able to get to our gate with plenty of time to spare. Whilst this was happening with the group I was travelling with, Kelly and Michael with flight cancellations rushed to Kansas to leave a day early and travelled halfway across the country to get to Cancun on the Sunday. All went smoothly though and the plane took off as planned – luckily cos everyone in the group was in need of an adventure and an escape from school! As I sat on the plane, I made a pact with my two new friends (seat mates on the plane) that none of us would end up in Mexican Prison. I am happy to report that I lived up to my end of the deal.

When we arrived in Cancun, it was absolutely surreal. As we sped through the country side and then the town on the way to our accommodation it was hard to believe that we made it to Mexico. We also realised very quickly that our lack of Spanish may prove a slight obstacle in communicating with the locals. We checked into our hotel rooms using a systematic under-developed method of hand signals and trying to talk slower – us talking slower in English and the desk men talking slower in Spanish. We realised that this method wasnt working and took to writing down numbers! Money is the universal language.

As soon as we were checked in, it was straight down to the pool for Margaritas and Pina Coladas. A great start to our holiday. The view was fantastic, the weather was warm and we were all enjoying what Daniel rightfully declared our inception holiday – the holiday within our big holiday, which is our time abroad. We arrived in various groups but it was decided that we were going to head into town for an authentic Mexican dinner. I had some chicken tacos and we all enjoyed Caronas, cocktails and Tequila shots, actually I am not sure whether we enjoyed the Tequila but hey ‘when in Mexico’!

After dinner we headed back to find the last pair in our party crew. Danielle and Janks had arrived at the accommodation and were excited to check in and get the party started. We all went to our rooms to get ready and then got together for some celebratory holiday drinks. As the drinks started to flow it was decided that we may aswell head into town and find a bar to drink in. A few quiet ones to ease into the week if you will… Be clear, right here, right now – Quiet ones DO NOT EXIST IN MEXICO!! We headed into town not really knowing what to expect. We found a bar which cost $20 to get in and then had open bar all night. Whoever invented the open bar system has a lot to answer for! The drinks flowed and I was constantly in shock and awe at what was going on in the bar. The dance floor was like Saturday Night Fever, staff brought out bags full of giant balloons, glitter fell from the roof, dry ice was sprayed around the room, girls danced on the podium, everyone partied so hard they produced so much sweat it looked like everyone had been swimming and every now and then a kind little Mexican man would tap you on the shoulder to move while he squidgied the combination of sweat, alcohol and party remnents off the fancy dance floor. We stayed out way longer then any of us expected, but it excited us of what was to come for the rest of the week.

The next day was cooler but we ventured into town to look around and find anything that may interest us. We had lunch at a little eatery that I am convinced was owned by a very influential Mexican man ‘Victor’. He clued us is on the ins and outs of dealing in Mexico who to trust and gave us ideas of where we should go. He even ventured across the street to do some wheeling and dealing for some Mexican novelty items with a street stall. After spending some time down town we headed back to discuss a game plan for the night. Some of the girls were very keen to go to another bar called Senor Frogs and as we were early established as a ‘yes gang’ we headed out to see what the Frog had to offer. It did not disappoint. Again there was more open bars but this time as well as confetti they had paint that got everywhere. Midway through the night Chris joined me on the dancefloor and my first question was interesting (for normal standards it was interesting, but not Mexican party standards). I asked ‘ Why are your shorts wet?’ to which the response was: ‘Michael and I found a water slide that goes through the club and ends in the lagoon’. The club also had its own Tattoo artist set up by the toilets – talk about encouraging bad decisions! After Senor Frogs well and truly provided an exciting night out we headed home, looking after each other in a way that only my travel buddies can understand ;) .

The next day we were doing our usual visit to the Supermarket down the street, having inappropriately loud conversations about the night before and how my boogies had turned pink from the paint at Senor Frogs, when some very Australian Accents asked us where we were from. There we welcomed the ‘Matts – Tatt Matt and Dreads Matt’ from Rockingham into our party crew. It was established that they were staying just up the road from us and I invited them to join us for pre-drinks and a night out. Sure enough, being typical Rockingham boys and Aussie’s who have been away from home travelling for an extended amount of time they turned up on our doorstep to join us for drinks. They also joined us for the next two nights until they left Cancun to venture further into Mexico. This is where the nights all kind of mesh together for me. But some highlights: A dance floor which spins around like a lazy susan, dance floor limbo, vodka and coke, meeting other random Australians who insisted they buy us drinks although we all had free wrist bands, bar staff dancing on the bar, interesting people dancing on the bar, footy Dominos and beers after returning home at 4am, piggy backs around the dance floor, more vodka cokes and many blank spots. There are also a few stories which of course do not make my PG rated blog, but for more information inquire within. It was fair to say that we partied and we partied good!! We also went to a beach party where AfroJack performed. It was very ‘Cancun’ and what was described by a ticket seller as ’an amazing one time opportunity that only happens in Cancun like once every 5 months’ as we all had drinks while running around in the sand and introduced the English members of the group to wedging your thongs over your ankles so you dont loose them. It was a fun night out and the weather was fantastic for an outdoors event.

After the intense week it was decided as a group that we needed a tactical night in. We booked tickets for the next day to visit an adventure park and with a 7am start – we needed to be at our best. Our trip to Explor was some of the best ‘clean’ fun I have had in a long time. The park included four-wheel driving, zip lining, cave rafting and swimming and the best buffet you have ever seen. It was so much fun and we all enjoyed the chance to put our Adventure helmets on and have some good honest fun. If you go to Cancun – Go to Explor, it is definitely worth the money. The buffet alone is worth the money!! We then headed out for one last night before having to head home the next day. True to form we had too many drinks and got home too late but it was all in the name of fun.

On the trip home I was well and truly beat and still a little bit drunk. Well played Mexico!!!

Soccer Stars

Well the rain has come and washed away the snow. Just in time to clear the pitch for the rise of the amazing soccer talent. One day, chilling downstairs Emma and I thought it would be a fabulous idea to sign everyone up for the co-ed Defoe-Graham soccer team, it started as a bit of a joke but when we all got the call-up it raised some excitement amongst the group. We are a mainly sporty lot and have missed our friendly (or not so friendly) competitions back home

. Because of the snow, the season started a bit late but we are now underway. It started with a mad-dash to get everyone shin guards – a requirement of the soccer competition and a little briefing on how to kick the ball. The first game, we tried our best but were up against much better competition. Unfortunately we lost 7 – 0 but we all had such a great time playing and running around, even though we did not really know what we were doing. When we played again last night we 150% improved, our passing is getting better and we only lost 2 – 0. This competitive score is mainly because we have Michael who is quite a decent goalie. But what we lack in skills, we make up for with enthusiasm! Running around like lunatics and cheering each other on. There is great team spirit and the opposition thinks we are a bit nuts when we get excited for moments of play that were nearly good. We have said that the day we get a goal is going to be one of the most exciting days on Earth.

Apart from our new passion the Soccer Team, it has been your usual sort of week at Mizzou. I have been to a play festival downtown where we saw some very interesting short plays – some good, some not so good. We also celebrated in honour of the Irish on St Patrick’s Day by donning our green shirts and heading down town for some celebrations.

Leading up to Spring Break we have had a few assignments and mid-term exams. But ticking all these assignments off it is making Spring Break come even faster.

I am so very much looking forward to Spring Break. We are having a total cliché American Experience for Spring Break. We are going to Cancun, Mexico, we have ordered tour singlets with dirty nicknames and we are going for the whole week. So the rest of this week will be preparing ourselves for the week away. It is amazing the things we need to buy that we would just having if we were at home. We all need to buy beach towels, clothes, all sorts of things you need for holidays that we didn’t even think about.

Last Friday, we also had our first proper warm day and it was a glimpse of what was to come when the weather heats up. Everyone emerged out of their rooms, the music outside was playing people were socializing, exercising and playing casual games of sport. It was such a nice day. But we woke up the next morning and it was freezing cold again, and then it rained and now it is still cold. haha, there is just no consistency to the weather.

Well, we will just keep this one short because I got behind and have now been playing blog catch-up. So we will leave it hear for now and the next one will be after Spring Break. Get ready Mexico, the Internationals are coming!!!

Nic x

Basketball groupies and school visit

Another week has passed at Mizzou and it is amazing how quick the time is passing here. Whilst I look forward to spring break and post school travels, I also don’t want them to come because with everyday this experience is getting closer to the end.

The best experience this week was going to another basketball game on Tuesday night. It was such an exciting game because it is the last home game of the season and the last game for the current seniors. Before the game there was a big celebration for senior players Keion Bell, Lawrence Bowers and Alex Oriahki. The game was also exciting because Arkansas coach was the previous coach of Mizzou and left on not very good terms. There was amazing passion in the stands when he entered the stadium… needless to say, I dont think he felt very welcome. The ceremony of the basketball is so amazing and before the game the most powerful singer performed the anthem. Everyone looks towards the flag and the mans voice just gave you goosebumps as he belted out the song. Gives you quite a buzz.

The Tigers won convincingly and everyone was given free pom poms (we all walked out with about 8 sets each). Because it was going to be our last trip to a game at the stadium afterwards we hung around and then moved down onto the court to get photographs. We had a great time borrowing equipment off cheerleaders and getting novelty photos. We also hung around a bit longer to see if we could catch a close up glimpse of the players. A few of the lesser known players came out first and a few of us had given up. But while we waited at the top (still keeping an eye out) the big man himself, my favourite player Oriahki came out of the changerooms. We were back down the steps pretty quickly. As I nestled in under his amazingly big arm for a photograph I could have died a happy woman! He was so friendly and didn’t dissapoint our amazing opinion of him meeting him face to face! Needless to say we left the stadium on a high and hopeful of chance meetings around campus.

On Friday afternoon Michael, Chris and myself visited local School Blue Ridge Elementary. It was the same school we had been to previously but this time we went for a special visit with the Grade 2s who have been studying Australia this term. We had a great time talking to the kids about our country and answering many questions. We also played them six white boomers. The kids had great questions and wanted to know about everything. There was also some classic kids comments to make you smile. In my birthday package, Mum sent me lots of Australian bits and pieces so we handed lots of little goodies out to the students who were very appreciative of our small gifts. It was such a fun afternoon and we enjoyed the opportunity to visit the school.

Apart from these two activities it has been a pretty busy week school wise. I have given a class presentation and handed in an essay as well as having a play I wrote read aloud in class which was a very interesting experience. Of course I set the play in Australia and it took a while to get through my first line of setting as I had to describe what a Jetty and an esky were haha, its the little things!

Next week will be the big debut game of our amazing Internationals Soccer team. We have entered a co-ed competition to play on Tuesday nights which should be quite interesting. A few of us headed out today for a bit of a kick around and I am looking forward to getting out onto the pitch and having a run around… although, I am not expecting my performance to be very good :)

Nic x

Playing tourist and playing in the snow!

It has been another busy week at Mizzou. With snow on the ground and several classes being cancelled we have all taken the opportunity to have a little mini-break, but are all well aware that spring break is approaching and before we can go to the sun for a week and have a great time we have plenty of work to get done.

The week started with a school trip to St. Louis to visit the national history museum and the city museum. We thought the trip may have been cancelled because of the snow but were very pleased to get out of Columbia for the day and collect some culture. The first stop was the History Museum, and although we were a little bit late and our tour was on high speed we got to see many areas of the museum and learn about the history of Missouri, the states involvement in the civil war, the Cardinals Baseball team, industry and much more. After exploring the museum listening to voice recordings and getting some photos it was back on the bus and over to the City Museum which is one of the most amazing places on earth.
The city museum is pretty much an empty warehouse which was transformed into a massive playground for kids and big kids :) we spent the afternoon exploring caves, going down slides, running on the hampster wheel, looking around and a quick trip to the cold outdoor ball pit! We had a fantastic time running around and going back to our childhoods.
After a quick trip to the arch to get souvenir photographs, it was back on the bus to head back to Columbia. Bus trips are always fun with DJ Chris picking songs from the past and present which encourage sing-alongs and interesting looks from fellow passengers.

Back at school, the excitement was rising for the promise of another snow day. Fingers, toes and everything else was crossed that we would be lucky enough to get snow day take two. The snow was forecast to arrive on the Monday night, so all of Monday everyone was constantly checking their emails and the Facebook page waiting for the announcement… It came at about 4pm that class would be cancelled the next day due to bad weather and excitement quickly rose, we decided that because we didn’t have to go to class the next day we may as well head on out to a local hotspot called Campus Bar and celebrate the upcoming day off! As the boys ordered a table full of half price appetizers the drinks started flowing! Needless to stay, snow day was very quiet and we enjoyed napping on the couch and watching movies!

The good thing about having to go back to class on Wednesday was that we were able to go watch our friend Eric play an inter-squad match for the wheelchair basketball team! The game is fast, rough and exciting and the players show amazing talent to whip around the court on their wheels and shoot threes and layups. They are impressive athletes and we enjoyed the opportunity to see them play.

On Friday night I was required to attend another play for my play writers course. I roped in my friend Emma to come along to the performance of The Amen Corner performed by the MU Theatre Department at the Rhynnsburger Theatre. It was such an amazing and moving performance and a lovely night out. The play followed the story of a female minister in the Harlem Renaissance and her struggle with the return of her sick, estranged husband, her son going off the rails and her battles with some members of the church. It was the perfect balance of tragic and funny filled with gospel music and amazing singers. Both Emma and I enjoyed the night immensely and were so impressed with the local talent!

On Saturday, decked out in our black and gold, we enjoyed another afternoon at the basketball watching our mighty Mizzou Tigers. The talent is so impressive and the atmosphere in the stadium is electric. Sitting in the student section is the best fun and the crowd gets so involved! The Tigers enjoyed an 11 point win and we headed back to our dorms with the usual post -basketball buzz!
The game was followed by an interesting activity hosted by our friends Cody and Abby. On the surface it looked like a normal house party but behind the door there was giant bottles and metres and metres gaffer tape. The game is called ‘Edward 40 Hands’ and theRules are to tape two fortys (Giant beers, bit like a king brown) to both your hands and they cannot be removed until you have finished both you bottles. Preferring not to play, I had a great time getting photos of all the participants as they dealt with the highs and lows of not having full hand function, wrapping and unwrapping bottles and just watching the show!

In between all these activities we have enjoyed nights out in town, hanging out, going to class, some little spots of shopping and general college life. Everything is more fun with snow on the ground and we are unable to go anywhere without a spontaneous snowball fight. There are so many impressive snow creations around campus, much better then our disgusting blob of a snowman which was destroyed within hours of its completion haha.

Anyway, the up coming weeks will be spent concentrating on class, with of course some fun in between whilst hitting the gym hard preparing for our spring break trip to Cancun which I am so excited so for! Just can’t wait.

Lots of love

Nic x

Birthday extravaganza and snow day!

It has been a week since I turned 25 and it has been another exciting week of adventure at Mizzou!

My birthday kicked off by heading out on my Australian birthday to a local bar called Field House which is notorious for its Wednesday nights and amazingly cheap deals. We had a great time drinking the cheap jugs of Long Island Ice Tea (which I wasn’t much of a fan of) and jugs of beer before hitting the dance floor. My favourite part of the night was the walk home when it was fully established the rediculousness of the friends I have made here in Missouri. We all had a fantastic time before terrorising Subway and then heading off to bed. The day of my birthday was actually quite lonely, I was pretty tired from the night before but it was weird having to spend the majority of the day by myself with people around me not knowing that it was my birthday… Just a weirdness about being away from home, family and friends on my birthday. Speaking to mum and dad on my birthday was great but also reiterated all the holes that were left in my day. After a bit of a cry to my friend Emma though we were headed out for the night to celebrate. I had rounded up a table of 17 to come along to a local place called Quinton’s for my birthday dinner. Everyone went to a lot of effort to organise a birthday cake, sash, American badge and lovely present which made me feel so lucky to be surrounded by amazing people. My lonely day had completely turned around and I had an amazing time out with my Mizzou family. It was made even more amazing by how cheap the meal was, people were gobsmacked when they were presented with their 3 and 4 dollar bills and the waitresses did pretty well earning a lot of 100% tips, why wouldn’t you when it is sooooooo cheap?? haha. After Quinton’s it was onto my favourite Columbian night spot so far Piano Bar. Entertainment for the night is two guys playing Pianos and people putting in requests. My friends also had a Happy Birthday message put up for me on the notice board. We had a fantastic time requesting songs, dancing and drinking the cheap drinks. I personally think the song of the night was my request of ‘Old Time Rock n Roll’ by Bob Seger, which absolutely went off and the talented Piano Men did it amazing justice!

There was talk all week of a possible storm and how we might get snow, and coming from Perth I tend to think that stories of huge storms will always end up to be an exaggeration. Well this story of snow was no exaggeration. I woke up on Thursday morning and headed to class with my friend Greg there was no snow on the ground but some light flakes falling. Of course we started to doubt the forecasts and promise of what could possibly mean a big long weekend!

While we sat in class trying our best to concentrate, the snow started coming down outside. I had a lot of trouble concentrating on the topic as I stared out the window at the snow falling, to the point where the lecturer had to say, come on Nicolee concentrate, stay with us.. to which I responded, ‘It just doesnt snow where I am from, this is soooooo exciting’ which led to a class discussion of how exciting snow is if you havent seen it, but also how inconvenient it can be haha, I didn’t care about the inconvenience it was so exciting. When we walked back outside an hour later the ground was covered and it continued to fall for most of the day. As classes were cancelled, all of the Australian’s had what is now known as the ‘Snow Glow’ as we went on an expedition across campus in the freezing cold and falling snow. But it was so much fun and such a new and different experience. Along the way we saw a car that couldn’t drive out the carpark because it was bogged and headed that way to see if we could be of assistance. After the boys had helped free the car we looked around at the other people helping and realised we were on a car rescue mission alongside the mighty Mizzou Tigers basketball team including my future husband Oriahki!! haha, we were just a tad excited as they drove off and we started a jumping circle on the path, in the snow!

By the afternoon the snowfall had lightened off and it was time to go seriously play in the snow!! We blew up an air mattress and headed to a slope near the sports field over the back from our dorms. We spent the afternoon running up and down the slope, finding a better sliding tool and going up and down till we were both frozen and exhausted. Our crazy gang also attracted many photographers from local newspapers who were trying to document the lighter side of the storm which was covering Missouri in snow.

When we headed back to have a warm shower, I was so excited when I burst into the lobby of my dorm and when the conversation followed about how I was from Australia and we dont have snow the guy at the front desk gave me the news I have been waiting to hear for about three weeks… my birthday package had arrived!!! As I jumped up and down screaming with excitement in the reception area I gained a few curious looks from passers by but I didn’t care I jumped up and down and screamed with excitement that my birthday presents from home had finally arrived!!!

After a quick shower, I took my package to open it with my friends and introduce some Americans to Australian cuisine, Vegemite and Milo… Milo popular, Vegemite not so popular. After eating it one guy quickly raced to the fountain to wash his mouth out because quote: “it tasted like vomit”! not a very nice way to talk about Australia’s favourite breakfast spread!!!

Well snow day has cancelled school for two days, so I am having a little mini-break. We had booked onto a day trip to St. Louis tomorrow which will probably now be cancelled but we will fill up our time with making snow men, sledding and doing other fun things while the snow is still on the ground, I think it is supposed to heat up pretty quickly so it might not be around for long so we best make the most of it!!

You Only Mardi Gras Once (YOMGO)

This week started with an old American Tradition and as Luke dubbed it ‘America Day’….. SUPERBOWL!!! Chris and I went on a hunt downtown to find something purple with a Raven on it, to show our allegiance to the team, but of course being in Tiger Town you cannot buy anything that isn’t black and gold. But we soldiered on and headed to the Superbowl party hosted by Abby and Cody. There was sooooo much food and everyone made an effort to bring traditionally American food which was much appreciated by us visitors.

So how Superbowl party works, is you fill up your plate with food and then lay on the floor and watch the game. Which goes on and on and on and on. And then it stops and Beyonce did her Sascha Fierce thing. And then the game tried to resume to go on and on but there was a power black out. This made a game, I had little interest in, extend for half an hour. The power blackout did set a spark about the 49ers though and they were coming back, but the Raven’s were able to hold them out until the end. Which was about six hours after the game started haha. I like the Australian way of get the game over and done with so we can concentrate on the drinking haha.

The week was spent keeping busy with school and planning our weekend fiesta to St. Louis. On Tuesday night I went to an event at the Ragtag Theatre downtown for class which was a showing of a local documentary called Battle: Change from Within. It was about an African American man who was involved in the school system when they merged the black and the white schools. It was so interesting and Dr. Battle who the documentary was about was in the theate and answered questions after the viewing. There is so much passion in Columbia for progress and equality and it was exciting to see this first hand in the theatre. Continuing my hunt for culture on Wednesday night I went to a play put on by the MU Theatre department called Bright Ideas. It was a great performance and I enjoyed the chance to see some live theatre and have a bit of a laugh. As part of my playwriting course I have to attend five plays, and from my first outing to the theatre I look forward to going to more.

The partying lifestyle caught up with our crew this week and we all came down with the flu. With our weekend trip planned, of course we got th flu, it is always the way. But we supported each other through our cold and flu medication hazes and soldiered on to leave for St. Louis on Friday afternoon.

We caught the bus to St. Louis and from there caught the Metro Train out to our hotel, near the airport. We made use of the free hotel shuttle all weekend and got lifts to and from the airport to catch the train in and out of town. We went to St. Louis to go to an event called Mardi Gras which is held in the suburb of Soulard. We were not sure what to expect, but we knew there would be a parade and there would be beads. This did not prepare us for the fun and excitement of the day at all. The whole suburb is roped off and filled with party-goers. Every street corner is set up with a stage and a DJ with food and alcohol everywhere. People party in houses, up on balconies and in the streets all day. From the moment we got onto the train the atmosphere was electric. There was so much dancing, craziness and all round fun. Everyone was in a festive mood and from what we saw all the party-goers had the best intentions of having a great time. Also, the locals were very friendly. During the parade they threw out beads and then you would go around drinking, dancing and trading beads. Usually a set of Beads cost a flash but our cheeky accents gained us many beads and allowed us to keep our chests in our tops! The day went way too fast and before long we were on our way out to find somewhere to eat. By the way, someone did get shot at the event but we all made it out alive!
Trying to find a place to eat, the only space we could find in close walking distance with no waiting time was at a reasonably fancy Italian restaurant. The food was delicious, but our dinner table look and conversation was very post day of drinking and partying. Luckily our waiter was very nice, and patient with us. We also told him it as my birthday (it is within the week) and I got a nice piece of birthday cake and a happy birthday song which was a lovely end to the night!

The next day we went to the food court at the train station for lunch before heading home and were treated to a performance from the team who work at the fudge shop and should all have record deals, or a least a regular spot on the Ellen show. They were so much fun and had such great energy.

The bus ride home was very subdued and will always be remembered as the hottest bus trip ever!!

This week, it is time to knuckle down and get some school work done, but it also contains a birthday. We are going to go out and terrorise Valentines Day (as we do at home) and celebrate my coming of age America style!!

Nic x