Feeling the Pressure

Last Saturday, I took a walk with Laura to get bagels in Fitzroy, a much needed excursion. We then checked out the Fitzroy market, a farmer’s market with vintage clothes, food, and all sorts of goodies. Although the weather had been quite dreary, there was even a bit of sun as we strolled along. The market is held in a carpark, covered from head to toe in graffiti, and we had actually visited the area on a past street art tour.

I left the market in a hurry to head to the AFL game with Ryan, Helena and her mother, and Lexie. We sat in the fan section, and were right in the action when people got rowdy and disgruntled; the full experience. We lost, but as I’ve mentioned I feel I am sort of a fan by convenience anyway, so it was ok. The evening finished with green curry (at what is acclaimed to be the #2 thai restaurant in Australia) and friends.

The next day brought a wonderful longer run on which I found quite a nice boulevard runs across the northern side of the city, by Brunswick. I’m not sure when, but I have been thinking of running a half marathon either in Seattle or Walla Walla in the summer or fall. Nothing better seems to clear my brain, and I feel it’s really helped me explore Melbourne in a more intimate way; specific birds, plants, and buildings revealing themselves as one passes on foot.

I finally started to buckle down and study for my finals, of which developmental psychology is the first. In the evening, Helena, her mother, and I had dumplings at a place that had been recommended to me highly, Shandong Mama. I had the zucchini dumplings, which were unexpectedly delicious. Unfortunately, Sunday was Lexie’s last day in Melbourne, as she cleverly planned her semester with no final exams. She had a goodbye celebration at a bar in Brunswick, which was bittersweet. I also met Laura’s boyfriend, visiting from the UK, and it was nice to see how happy they were to be reunited.

Finally, SWOTVAC! (Semester Without Teaching Vacation, or the week off before the week of finals). Lexie leaving and the final goodbye dinner we had the previous week with IFSA served as important reminders that the time I have here in Melbourne is limited, and I began to reference a list I had made of the final things I want to be sure to do before I leave. Meanwhile, with finals on their way, figuring out travel, and remaining unsure of what my summer holds, I found myself feeling an immense amount of pressure this past week. I think that even though my transition to Australia was so neat and tidy, and I’ve been having an amazing time, now I am starting to wear out.

They brought livestock to our apartment so of course I had a goat moment…

I did figure out I could fit in traveling to New Zealand after my finals, so that was an exciting prospect. I finished the day off by going to the Banff film festival (usually screened for free at Whitman). I knew I’d miss it this year, and had kept track of it since before I left home. It was everything I had been hoping for, which seems silly as it is just a collection of short films. They’re all about the outdoors, however, and people doing amazing things all over the world. It is inspiring to remember both the fragility and strength of the human condition, and cool to be in a room of people who want to see a bunch of films about rock climbing and traversing ice and snow.

While Tuesday was spent trying to figure out things and in a pretty bad place, Wednesday things were looking up a little. I took a stroll into Carlton and picked up an almond croissant at my favorite bakery, crispy and layered and with a delicious almondy filling.

I headed to the Melbourne museum, which I had been to once before, but not fully explored. There are so many lovely sections, including on animals, on the brain, on the digestive system, on bugs, on the history of Melbourne, and on design. In addition, there’s a pseudo rainforest the museum has. Not to go without mention is the impressive aboriginal Australian museum section I visited last time, or the section on native New Zealand and Pacific peoples. The stark contrast of the industrialization of Melbourne and the thriving culture of those there before Europeans was not lost on me. I then headed to the State Library downtown, to check out their exhibits, spoken of highly by my grandparents. There were loads of old photos, and old books, some extremely large, on many things including Melbourne’s flora and fauna.

I also bought my tickets to go to New Zealand, which is really exciting! I was sort of resigned to not being able to go, even though I had really wanted to. I’m headed to Christchurch for a night, Queenstown for 4, and Wellington for 2. For Christchurch and the first 3 nights of Queenstown, I’ll be with my friend Helena, at the end of her trip to New Zealand, which starts in the North Island and ends in the South where I start.

Yesterday, I celebrated National Donut Day with Helena and Jaimie by waking up early to get a free donut. We did have to buy one to get a free one, but I am not complaining. Helena’s mother had left, and so I got one more chance to pop up to her airbnb and see Melbourne in the daytime from 40 stories high, which is truly incredible.

I went to both National Galleries of Victoria, to check out some new exhibits and to make the most of the morning. I hadn’t yet been to one of them, closer to town, so it was good to cross it off the list. Both had some really cool exhibits with light, and the Ian Potter NGV (the one new to me) had some really interesting paintings and aboriginal art. The night was finished off with amazing dumplings and quite a late night studying and sending emails I had been procrastinating on.

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