Leah On Foot

Wanderlust

Month: February, 2014

Lillyhammer

Jeg lukker øynene mine. Jeg ser at du drikker en kopp te og mmm den lukter peppermynte. Du har en tykk ullgenser på og de svære tøflene som gjør alle til en lat og kjedelig bjørn om vinteren. Du ser også på Lillyhammer på fjernsyn; men det er jeg som får alltid hjemmelengsel når jeg ser på programmet. Alt det herlige og dårlige med Norge i en genial pakke. Selvironi, som vi alle trenger litt mer av. Et genialt program. Jeg er så glad i Lillyhammer. Men jeg er så utfattelig glad i deg.

Føttene mine er faktisk kalde; det er tross alt februar, man kan jo klage litt da, vel? Burde kanksje ha hatt på meg en genser over kjolen min. En genser liksom. Sokker, hva er de for noe?? I Oslo er det meldt +1C og sikkert har regnet de siste to dagene…det regnet i dag i to minutter og jeg lurte på om jeg skulle la mathandelen være til i morgen. Det gjorde jeg til slutt.

Jeg åpner øynene mine og smiler. Jeg trives skikkelig på skolen og tenker på gårsdagens hendelser. Jeg ler litt i halvsøvne; hvordan klarte jeg TRE år med ren teori ved UiO? Det beste med bacheloren var jo Den Store Bacheloroppgaven. Jeg trivdes så mye at jeg skrev to. Kunne ha vært et tegn, kjære Leah?? Men det går likar nu. Or whatever. 😉

Jeg ser bort mot klokka. Den er bare seks om morgenen, men jeg vet at jeg kommer ikke til å sove noe særlig lenger. Prednisolonen tar så mye ut av kroppen, uten at den gir meg en ordentlig sjanse til å sove bort bekymringene. Det siste jeg vil er å bekymre Mama. Telefonen lyser med meldinger og snapchats. Anette har kjøpt seg en ny pute med en piggsvin på. Ååå jeg har også lyst!

Og med det kryyyyyyper jeg ut av senga og retter min oppmerksomhet mot presskanna. Det er dag Tjueni, og jeg har ennå ikke funnet edderkoppen fra Dag To.

For Mom and Lori’s sake:

I close my eyes. I see that you are drinking a cup of tea and mmm it smells like peppermint. You have a thick wool sweater on and those big slippers that make everyone a lazy and boring bear in winter. You also watch Lillyhammer on television, but it is I who always gets homesick when I watch it. All the lovely things and bad things about Norway in a brilliant package. Self irony; we all need a little more of it. An ingenious program. I love Lillyhammer. But I love you so incredibly much.

My feet are actually cold, after all it is February, surely people can complain a little, right? Should maybe have put a sweater on over my dress. A sweater. Socks, what are those? ? In Oslo it is reported to be 33F and certainly has rained the past two days … it rained today for two minutes and I was wondering if I should let the grocery shopping be until tomorrow. I left it be.

I open my eyes and smile. I really enjoy school and am thinking about yesterday’s events. I laugh a little in my half sleep; how I managed THREE years of pure theory at Uni Oslo?? The best part of the bachelor was writing the thesis. I enjoyed so much that I wrote two. Could have been a sign, dear Leah ?? But I think I’m getting it figured out. Sure 😉

I look over at the clock. It ‘s only six in the morning , but I know I ‘m not going to sleep much longer. Prednisolone takes so much out of the body, without giving me a real chance to sleep away my concerns. The last thing I want is to worry Mama. My phone lights up with messages and snapchats. Anette has bought a new pillow with a hedgehog on it. Ohhhh I want one, too!

And with that I crawl out of bed and drag my attention to the French press. It is Day Twenty Nine and I have not yet found the spider from Day Two.

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White Night

Imagine a city that loves its residents so incredibly much, that it throws a party for them.

From 7pm until 7am, the city shows itself off.

300,000 guests attend to honor its splendor, to discover more, and to bicker with friends over which attraction to prioritize. Melbourne transforms her streets, twisting bland landmarks into a new perspective. Guests cheer Melbourne on, lifting the city to thrive all night long. Everyone is throwing back Red Bulls and meat pies in order to keep the momentum going. Families play alongside university students and synchronized swimming is a popular attraction. Music is hidden in the side streets, and guests float past musicians pounding on five gallon buckets and 70-year-old trumpet players. It is late summer, and the night is so lit up with such joy and color!

This, my friends, is White Night Melbourne.

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Daiso is a Japanese store brand where everything is $2.80. Brilliant, right? Before I explain the photo, let me just bring you into the Daiso world. They have everything you need (sequin eyelashes) and don’t need (fake grass for decorating). They even have pocket-sized ash trays, for when you’re on the go, with Swedish poetry […]

Singing for my Supper

As I commence my studies here in Melbs, I want to underline how amazingly (pathetically?) “Student” I have already become.

Nights out

So Saturday night was my first official night out with friends and it was gloriously weird. We pre-partied with a nice Bailey’s-like liquor called Cowboy and terrible $5 wine (see Aldi section). We hit the Kodiac bar and I had a wild jalapeno whiskey experience. Other adventures include PBR and alcoholic espresso shots. At Naked for Satan (yes, it’s real name), the rooftop view and New Zealand wine allowed us to feel on top of the world. We met random Europeans and danced the night away. Best part? No cover charge for these strange places we entered.  Someone insisted Anna is from London (she is from a rather small place actually, SW of Get Bent, or something). I remember Jenni at one point got some men to say numbers in Finnish. The morning after, us girls had a fantastic brekky and I was so tired it hurt.

This is how I remember the night:

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Laundry

After a hefty night out, there is usually a need to do some laundry . It costs me $4 (AUD) for a load of laundry here. So naturally, I cursed The System and started washing my clothes like it was 1899. Upon telling this to Anette, she said “I did it for three months in Brazil. Trust me, you’re going to get sick of it.”

And guess what? I’m already sick of it.

I think it may get better once I get technique down and do a little bit every other day as opposed to several days’ worth. So far things smell nice and look clean, so I must be doing something right.

Aldi

Aldi gets its own section because Aldi and I go way back. I grew up with this wild&crazy German concept back in Iowa and it seems its reputation is the same worldwide. Either you love it or you loathe it. I love it, maybe because it just has one of whatever you need, but it also sells:

-sketchy but cheap wine.

-organic meats, dairy, etc.

-amazing chocolate. Betchya didn’t know that did ya?

-this coming Wednesday there is a sale on duvet covers.

-here they pronounce it ALE-dee.

–End defence of Aldi–

Shopping

I really should probably say “What shopping?” But an IKEA trip is planned for Friday, and I have a list going. I got some basics already at garage sales in the area. Plus I should mention that they kind of have Target here, so I marveled in its existence and spent a wad of money in interior and bedding. Worth every penny. H&M is opening a store here too. I really lucked out the other day because some Big Fancy Brand Name was closing a store, so I got a $150 sweater for $20 and a $70 summer shirt for $15.

Wait. Back to food.

What did I eat for dinner last night? Oatmeal. What’s for lunch? A bag of cashews someone left behind. I’m almost proud that my fridge contains at the current moment: hot mustard, an apple, alcohol, yoghurt, apple juice, and soy milk.

Student Discounts  

Free concert for a band who has never played live before? Sure, I’ll go! Melbourne, I’ll have you know, is also a sports MAD city, and they like to share this passion with international students. With the Culture Card, I can go for free! I also walk everywhere. Hoping to get a bike soon. oh! and! There is a student clinic for osteopath students on my campus. On my campus! $20 and away I go.

Coupons. Oh the glorious coupon. Cup of coffee if I buy a muffin? I like muffins. Personal pizza delivered with a gluten free crust? I like pizza. Free school events including a light lunch? I like events. I like light lunches.

It has been freakishly easy for me to ease back into student living. I like to play it cheap, and I like to be creative, and I like living on my own. Was this one big advertisement for care packages? Maybe. Was this the last post in a while since I actually have to start studying now? Maybe. Do I wish someone would win the lottery and pay for my family to come visit? Yes. Do I dislike the writing style that poses rhetorical questions? Yes. I’ll end it already.

And um, if you could send candles so that I can cut back on electricity, that’d be great! Thanks.

Dancing with a Diagnosis

Right so many of you know by now that when I was young, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. And well, unfortunately, I’ve been out of remission since about October. During a flare-up, life is planned by the hour. But I relocated because I was reassured it would all be ok and “taken care of.” That’s another story.

So how on Earth do I travel?! And why on Earth am I here?

Basically I have two reasons for this post:

1)      That my fellow diagnosed friends don’t stay home out of fear, which I suspect a few do.

2)      To reassure you and my mother.

Travelling with UC can be a nightmare if I don’t find my balance. Travelling alone is fantastic. The first time it was a bit daunting for this social ladybug, but it frees so much worry. I am picky about who I travel with if I do bring someone along. They have to be laidback and spontaneous, or at least be open to change of plans. Which lucky me, I have surrounded myself with compassionate people, so it’s all good!

The ideal is that I:

  • bring my own food
  • drink nutrition shakes
  • sleep loads
  • plan one thing or attraction for the day
  • stay in one main spot (no day trips)

The rest of the criteria is very typically me. I usually bounce from café to café (toilet: check), chatting up the manager or barista (social: check), and get a massage at the local spa (relax: check). I don’t do anything that I’m not up for and try not to dwell if I haven’t seen everything on my list. Sometimes just being where we are and in the moment is more than enough and perhaps underrated, huh?

Honestly, I swear to you, it only felt natural to move here. I feel like I am exactly where I need to be, and am so grateful to even have the chance to do so. Had I not gone because of the risk of getting a flare-up, I know I would have regretted it.  I am prepared that there will be challenges, lonely days, extra expenses for medicine and treatment, and homesickness for both countries. There already has been some of this.

I am getting quality health care here as part of my tuition and was a factor when considering where to study. Since stress is such a factor in UC, I try not to think too much about how big of a leap of faith I took by moving here. I am exactly where I need to be, how beautiful is that!

I miss you so very much and would love to dance in the streets here with you, bask in the afternoon sun with each our book or magazine, munching on carrots and drinking iced tea. I will be healthy again soon, I will make you laugh and convince you to book a ticket to come and see me.

All I ask is that you buy some wine in duty free (stay tuned for upcoming post).

Queenstown, NZ

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Queenstown, New Zealand.

Stunning first impression of the country.

Everything about this trip was a pleasant surprise. You would think I was sick of flying by now, but I looked forward to the three hour flight, and loved being on the go again. Queenstown is a bit of a tourist city, so I wasn’t expecting it to be much. Tourist cities (or the touristy sections) usually irritate me to some extent and so when I landed, and walked down that airplane’s staircase….the view made me ever-so-slightly teary-eyed. In a word: stunning. In fact that’s really the only word that describes it. I thought I had landed in the countryside of Norway. Fly for so long and you end up back home!

Totally enchanted and head over heels already, I caught a taxi to the airbnb place I was staying at; my host was an expat from England. She showed me to my room…and the view… the view… ! Did I mention the lake was a blue unlike any blue I have ever seen before? Hard to capture; it is elusive, but I tried:

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The city centre had one more surprise in store. The downtown area was crowded…yet not. People were freely drinking in public but it wasn’t rowdy, it wasn’t unsafe in any manner. Young/beautiful/tanned people picnicking alongside young families alongside older couples. I couldn’t stop smiling. I wanted to share it with all of you.

The first photo, of Queenstown Hill, was (yes, I know it’s getting old) stunning. A bit gruesome for a girl who hasn’t exercised in… how many months?? But worth every effort. As you see, I barely made it to the top alive. 😉

Completely lovesick.

Jesus, Leah!

Jesus Leah, I can’t believe you’re gonna die on Day Two!

Said me, to myself, after I walked into my first spiderweb, reaching from above my head to my waist. After sunset.

No suspect has yet been identified. It is now Day Eight, but, after everything I have read on the poisonous/deadly subject before I arrived, I am not going to jump the gun here and say I have survived.

Streets truly glisten with gold for this snow angel coming out of hibernation. It’s summer! The sun’s rays dance along the footpaths, making even the shadows smile. My hair is frizzy and gross. I can order ice coffees. And my skin color is not borderline translucent.  Yup, it must be summer. But my calendar says it’s February? No ya dumbass, it’s summer!

This is all well and good before it hits 30C (87F). When it hits 30C, Melburnians get cranky. In an asphalted world, I completely understand. It’s been charming to compare the cultures I carry with me to this one. In Iowa the cranky mark was 32C (90F). In Norway it was 23C (73F). In Texas, well, anything out of the range 65-75F is a risk.

I signed a lease on a student studio this morning, so I finally have a place to live. It needs some reorganizing and IKEA runs but visitors will be safe, centrally located, and have a bed. Living alone; I may start singing in the shower and cook in my underwear. All this paperwork makes me feel too restless, too committed, too tied down, (wink) so I’m off to New Zealand tomorrow for a long weekend (seriously).

I could use a vacation. 😉