Sunday, April 27, 2014

Bucket Lists are a BAD lifestyle choice

My time here in Australia has been winding down, and I've had a lot of people ask me about what's on my "Australian bucket list".  At 29, I am far from being a wise old woman, but I am really annoyed at how much weight people put on so called "bucket lists".  I am adamantly against bucket  lists - because if you wait until the last minute to do all these great things, what the hell have you been wasting your time on in the interim?  Why are you saving everything for a bucket list?  Get out there and do it, dammit!

There is really only one "bucket list-worthy" item that I'd like to do - visit and experience the Great Barrier Reef.  Now that would be a great trip.  Unfortunately I can't afford the flight/accommodation/etc required to do the trip.  And if I'm going to do the GBR, I'll want at least two weeks to really take it in.  A two-week vacation to the GBR isn't in my "time-budget" here in Australia.  After all, the reason I came here was to study/learn/train at the lab I'm currently at, not to extensively vacation around Australia.

Google (yeah a great source, I know) defines a bucket list as "a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have to accomplish during their lifetime" or in my case "to accomplish during their time in a certain part of the country/world".  You shouldn't make a bucket list 6 months before you die, or 2 months before you leave your location - no, you make your bucket list TODAY.  And tomorrow, you start on it!

The GBR is a long-off trip to be planned.  But everything else - during the first week after my arrival in Australia, I immediately started doing things, going places, attending festivals, trying restaurants.  If you don't start on the things you want to experience on day one, then you'll never give yourself the chance to try it all.  I've done a ton in Victoria, seen lots of the tourist places and historic sites.  I've been to quite a few museums in the area to learn about the culture, as well as made a small number of friends that have helped me with/taught me about local traditions and customs.

Do fun stuff!  Do it!

I've done this before on a smaller scale - I did short 3-week trips around the country during my 4th year of vet school.  My trips were mainly to visit/work in labs around the country, but also to experience the culture in that region.  I got to live in Connecticut for 3 months after first year of vet school, and I did my best to experiences as much as I could during that internship.  I'd make great friends, do fun things, and then have to say my goodbyes.

"Bucket list" items (seriously, I hate this term) don't just include food/locations, they also include people.  For each trip I've taken, I've been lucky to meet great people both at work and outside of work. I was only there for a short time, so I made the most of the time I had with them.  And dammit if there wasn't always that one person who brushed me off for two weeks straight, but then during my last week "Aw!  You're leaving soon!  Let's get coffee together everyday this week and spend the entire weekend together!"  NO... that isn't how it works people.  Spend time with people when you can, and one last hurrah is appropriate for a send-off, but it is completely inappropriate to guilt someone into feeling bad for not spending lots of time with them right before they leave.

I'm not naming people, but this has happened to me four times now: Connecticut, Louisiana, Iowa, and Kansas all had culprits.  Kansas was by far the worst one.  I loved spending time with the people I knew back home - some of them for years.  But seriously, I lived in Manhattan for ten whole years before moving to Australia.  Yet a few individuals couldn't be bothered with me until *just* before I left.  It's insulting.  Enjoy the long weekends with friends when they come.  Go out for dinners/coffees often - do it for no other reason than "just because".

I've had some friends lose friends/parents this year, and I apologize if the following paragraph sounds flippant.  Death is no small matter, and I don't consider it something to be trifled with.  My "leaving" locations was temporary for Kansas, but not really for CT, LA, IA.  I'll likely never see those people again, maybe I will, who knows.  So saying goodbye was semi-final (but not as final as death of course).  PEOPLE LEAVE!  People move, people start new jobs, lives change.  So if they are important to you - SPEND TIME WITH THEM WHILE THEY ARE HERE.  They may move, they may get sick, they may end up in a terrible car accident.  Ok, I'm being dramatic, but really.  Spend time with the people who are important to you.

Ok, back to the traditional "bucket list".  "Oh but M, I have kids, I can't experience all the things going on in my location because I'm busy with kids"  Yeah that's another bucket list you can tick off everyday - each day is a gift, but especially with kids because they grow so fast and in a blink of an eye they're teenagers!  Experience as many activities as you can with your kids, but it doesn't have to be an award-winning restaurant or a huge cultural festival.  Moments during a tea party or playing in the sprinkler in the backyard can be more precious than any event you have to pay for.  Friends with kids - you probably already know this, I'm preaching to the choir.  You know, because I have so much "experience with kids", haha.

In summary.... man this post ended up much longer than anticipated, sorry about that.  I'm not really a fan of editing.

In summary... visit the historic places in the area you live, go to a few cultural festivals, go to that restaurant you've been "dying" to eat at.  Stop waiting to do that "thing" or that "thing" will be closed/over and you'll have missed it!  If you have kids, you can reduce this list as you like, but you're not getting off on the next point.

Spend time with the people who are important to you!!!  For me, that's my family.  Living overseas has been really rough in that respect, but being so far away from my family has made me appreciate how lucky I was to have them nearby when I lived in Kansas.  If it's your buds - spend time with them and don't wait until the week they leave to hang out with them.  (They will end up resenting you if you treat them like that)

If you have enjoyed my post, please comment!  Really, I think I am the only person who visits this blog anymore....

Friday, April 18, 2014

KSU Article about Geelong

I received a bit of an early birthday present this year.  I was contacted by one of the people in the public media department of Kansas State University to talk about my time here in Geelong working at AAHL.  I was excited to be able to share stories with him and even more excited to see the final article come out this past week.  I think it turned out really great, and I've already received a few emails from people commenting on the article and asking more questions.  Have a read below.

Birthday Down Under

I had a birthday!!  My birthdays have always been family-oriented, but that's quite hard while living in a foreign country.  But even still - it was a great birthday spanning about three days (due to Easter scheduling as well as time conversions).

My pseudo-birthday was Wednesday (because things were nutty on Thursday).  I organized a bit of pool and ping pong in the secure area along with Easter sweets to enjoy.  There was a great turnout, about 10 of us enjoyed a long lunch playing pool and other games in the secure area lounge.  Now how many people can say they enjoyed their birthday playing pool in PC3?  It was an awesome way to break up the day, though I'll willingly admit to a terrible stomach ache at 4pm.  Too much fun and sugar, but totally worth the stomach ache.

Later that evening was Dodgeball.  Wednesday was the first evening we all wore coordinating tie-dye shits made by a fellow PhD student's friend.  It dunno if it was the magic of tie-dye or a phase of the moon buy everyone was ON FIRE!  I've never played a better game of Dodgeball.  Not only did we win, but we won honorably with awesome plays and some slick catches/throws.  Bangin' night and great way to end the day of my pseudo-birthday.

Dodgeball Champs in tie-dye!

Thursday came, my actual birthday, but I didn't make any plans because people were leaving for Easter vacations and such so it was too difficult to organize.  Regardless, I had a very peaceful day in the lab and got to leave a bit early (due to the holiday I wasn't the only one).  That evening, I went out for tea with a few PhD-mates at a nearby hotel.  And "going out for tea at a hotel" really means "having dinner at a bar".  Such confusion with nouns at times, but I'm catching on.  It was a terrific end to my real birthday day.

Good Friday was enjoyable as well.  Like I said, birthdays are very family-oriented for me, so I got to Skype with my parents as well as my sister.  When they called it was Thursday evening, my real birthday, in the states.  I had a nice hour-long talk with both my folks via Skype and then with my sister afterwards.  It was really great to hear from home, but it kind of made me more anxious to get home.  I miss my family a lot so it was super great to hear from them on my birthday, as well as motivate me to get things done to organize my travels home.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to head to Bell's Beach for the famous pro-surfing competition held annually at Bell's Beach - we'll see if I can get in or if it's too busy.  All in all, a great birthday week!!