Well, it’s been quite a last few months, I’ll definitely be the first to admit that one…as my time dwindles in this amazing country, there are a few things that have become clear to me: 1.) Even though it’s taken me awhile to admit it, even though I’ve maintained that I’m still the same guy that I was when I left, it simply isn’t true. Nobody takes a trip like this one and comes back the exact same way that they were before. Maybe it’s only noticeable in subtle ways, maybe there are some clear signs, but the person that I was before I left is gone forever. And it’s not a bad thing; think of me as a new and improved version…Brian Juhl 2.0, as it were. and 2.) As much as I look forward to going home and seeing my friends and family again, I’m going to miss it here. There’s no place that I’ve ever felt so much freedom, no place that has challenged me in so many ways that affect me personally. Just think about it…when was the last time that you were cut off from your world for 5 months? I know that it’s not true that I was literally cut off…the internet is a wonderful thing…but there are plenty of things that I’ve had to live without in the last few months. I came here knowing almost literally no one. I mean, there were some people from my past coming along: Amanda and Caity were in Biology classes with me, Seth and I met on my first weekend at Dickinson, then rarely saw each other the rest of the way, Mikey was in Creative Writing with me, Kim used to live in Longsdorff with me, and Stalker lived in my freshman dorm. So there were people that I knew here, but to be honest, before the trip there were only a few of them that I considered actual friends. So it’s not as though I had a strong base to begin with…I needed to adapt and meet new people and make new friends, which is something that I’ve struggled with my entire life. Overcoming that particular challenge shows me that I’m able to do it in the future, and it makes my leaving here bittersweet.
So is this the last you’ll hear from the blog? I’m not sure. Probably. This was supposed to be a document of my time in Australia, and as of tomorrow, that particular time is at an end. I know that there are a lot of you out there that have been reading, even if the comments section doesn’t indicate it, and I’m glad that you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I’ve loved writing it. It’s nice to know that people have been following along with my various happenings here, whether they were involved in them and recalling them (like Casey and some of the other B tower folks), or if you’re not here at all and just want to see what exactly it is that I’ve been up to. I feel like continuing to write in the blog after the trip will cheapen it a bit, because to be honest, there’s not a whole lot that goes on in my life outside of the school year that anybody would care to read about.
In the interest of not cheapening the blog any more by going and getting all sentimental, I should probably go and recap my last week here, so here it goes:
It’s kind of depressing how much free time I had at the end of finals. Going and finishing exams early really is a double edged sword…and in this case, both ends are cutting me. While it was nice to have a lot of time off at the end of finals, what exactly could I do with that free time? While I was done, there’s literally no one else who was, which meant…a lot of watching television on my computer. Oh yeah, when I have free time, I’m damn productive. So what was I watching? I’m going to let you guess…I’m too ashamed to actually mention what it was that I’ve been captivated by for the last week, so you can draw your own conclusions from that.
A side note: This being the last night that I’m in Australia, I’m doing my best to load my computer up with as many television programs and movies as I possibly can prior to coming home…that ensures that my summer might at the very least be filled with some kind of entertainment. Unless you count going to Cancun, Mexico as a form of entertainment…but seriously, what is there to even do there, except get parasites from drinking the water and watch donkey shows? In all seriousness, though, it’s an underrated thing, having access to the DCC++ network..having it certainly helped me to ease the time by, especially when I was done with finals and no one else was around. I’ve watched more TV than I ever have at home…which may not be such a good thing.
Of course, as with any final week at any particular place, you’re going to have your goodbye parties and the irresponsible drinking that comes with it, but I like to think that I was actually reasonably well-behaved during these particular nights. No blackouts, no passing out on tables, no bizarre protection of female friends. Nope. Just a nice, tame drunkenness that I could remember in the morning. To be honest, its a kind of drunkenness that was all too rare this semester. As much as I hate to say it, though, getting completely obliterated kind of lost its appeal to me as the semester went on. It’s sort of like hearing a song that you love nonstop for like 2 weeks: it’s great for awhile, then it’s good, then it’s okay, and by the end of it, if you hear that damn song one more time, you’ll go beserk. But then, don’t listen to it for 2 months, and then hear it again, and it’ll be like listening to it again for the first time. So it will probably be with drinking. But that doesn’t mean that there was no fun to be had in this last week….on the contrary. The majority of the nights early in the week consisted of me going over to Kings and watching movies with Rob…I got to re-discover the quotability of Spaceballs and watched Transformers for the first time.
Rob ended up getting his tattoo and we all had to make mental note not to slap him on the back, sort of like we had to do with Seth (although I remembered much better with Seth because any missteps could have had fatal results). His is another Aboriginal design, one of a sea eagle flying in front of a mangrove tree…it’s actually pretty impressive, and almost enough to make me feel regret for a second about not getting one. Then I remembered that tattoos are both painful and permanent, and the regret went away. We had our unofficial Dickinson goodbye, after the original one was kind of a dud from a drinking perspective because people had exams and papers to do, and thus attendance was (probably, I wasn’t there) rather poor for the after-dinner drinks. Was there anything terribly memorable about the (un)official goodbye? Not really. I think that I left early was worried about not catching public transportation home, and I remember going to the Embassy, which sucked. Also, when I caught the CityCat back, Doyle was stretched out on a bench, in a drunken stupor (not really. But it would have been funnier if he was). Later in the week, saw Transformers 2, which was essentially what I expected it to be…lots of action, lots of explosions, lots of Megan Fox, and lots of plot holes and bad acting. Michael Bay, everybody…
People don’t really understand the burden of excessive free time. That’s not to say that it’s horrible to have, and that people with it have it worse than people who don’t have any free time at all…it’s just not true. But there’s a good reason why retired people often go stir-crazy after being unemployed for awhile, and the reason is just what do you to fill up the day? It’d likely be different if I actually had any money to spend, but being broke, my options for entertainment were rather limited: I could either watch TV, go into the city and look at stuff I can’t afford, or drink. I chose the first two, with the latter occurring in some select evenings. It’s also the reason that while I’ll miss Australia, by the end I was starting to wish I was home, because being home has the promise of things to fill up my days (traveling, visiting people, actually having my car back, painting the house, etc.). For this reason, I decided to accompany Mikey and Rob into Indroopilly, simply because I frankly, had nothing better to do…I wasn’t going to buy anything, and Indroopilly has nothing but a gigantic mall, but the thought of getting out of my room and actually being able to be out and about was good enough for me.
What we did at the mall wasn’t actually that interesting…mostly it was just walking around, browsing at shops and having man-talk…we bought scratch tickets and lost (except for Rob, the bastard), and inadvertently lost track of the time and ended up staying past dinner. This isn’t really a tragedy because by the end of things, IH food was poisoning my mind and body…I just couldn’t take it any more. You know that things are bad (really, catastrophically bad), when you take a look at the food in front of you and long for the days when you could eat at the Dickinson College cafeteria. That’s the point that I was at, as much as it pains me to say it. So with the fact that the IH food was no longer available as an excuse, we decided to live it up for one last night, and have a nice final meal out on the town.
We decided to go to the Pig ‘N Whistle, the infamous place where Mikey and I, during preweek, had gotten hammered and done karaoke (his song being “Yellow Submarine” and mine being “It’s My Life”). It was an unholy place because of this, but the food was good there, and we were hungry. Since it was the last nice meal that we would be having in Australia, we decided that we might as well make it a good one. This may seem to be a contradiction of the whole “I’m broke, woe is me” speech that I gave at the beginning of the post, but I can explain it. Really, in terms of money that I have available to me to spend on whatever I want, my funds are quite limited. As of writing this, I probably have about $200 to my name. However, I did have a traveling money supply that was left to me by my grandfather, which I am reluctant to use, due to the fact that I am, in fact broke, and will have to be paying rent next year since I’m living off-campus. So as it was a special occasion, I decided to go and buy dinner with that money. But I am still broke, you can be assured of that.
Anyway, so we went and decided to eat well for our last time out in Brisbane, and consequently we all got nice steaks and a side order of king prawns, all of which were delicious, and at the same time got into broversation, as we tend to do when we’re hanging out, just the guys. Mikey and Rob were set on drinking themselves stupid on this particular night, and decided that they wanted to try a pitcher of damn near everything that the bar had to offer, while I merely decided to drink a pint of cider and thought about going to the Casino for the last time (or so I thought at the time). Much of the dinner was spent with them trying to convince me to come out to the bar with them to watch the State Of Origin rugby match, which had started before we’d even left the restaurant. State of Origin, for those who don’t know, is a series of rugby matches between players from the different territories of Australia. The biggest rivalry is the one between Queensland and New South Wales, the two most populous parts of Australia, and it was these teams that were playing on this particular night. I didn’t end up watching the rest of the game, but Queensland won (again), much to the delight of my fellow IH residents.
After paying the bill, Mikey and Rob went off to the Red Room to watch the game, and I ended up at the Casino, trying to see if I could reverse the bad luck trend that I’d had the last two times I’d gone…really I was pretty damn cold, especially after earlier in the semester it seemed like I couldn’t lose and would walk away with at least $100 every time. I was breaking my own rule about not going to the Casino alone, but really, it wasn’t my fault…no one wanted to go with me. I was happy to walk away up $50, and thought that it would be the end of it, that I could finally go and have my gambling habits come to an end, because living in Massachusetts, I don’t have ready access to gambling. It’s probably for the best….while I came out pretty well ahead during my time here, there’s no promise that I would have been able to maintain my success.
The next night was supposed to be a highlighter party at the GPO, and we were all going over to King’s to pre-game for the last time. This is the same GPO that, the last time I was there, ejected me for simply going and talking to a friend while still relatively sober. Most of the time whenever you go to King’s having things to drink really isn’t an issue…there’s usually too much Goon to ever possibly hope of finishing, but with many people leaving and being unprepared, it was one of those rare nights when people were struggling to find something to drink. This led to the poor decision of using liquor and mixed drink in some of the various cups, and led to my near-vomiting on several occasions…Seth, using your Jim Beam in such excess was generous, yes, but also unspeakably cruel to your teammates.
We ended up playing Pong pretty deep into the night, and missed the pre-arranged bus, but weren’t terribly worried about it…we planned to simply take public transportation into the city and then go from there…the cheap drinks would definitely be worth it. Or so we thought, until we heard news that everyone who hadn’t been on the pre-arranged bus would have to pay a $15 cover charge. This was bullshit for two reasons: 1.) It’s quite easy to tell if you’re a university student…we all have these fascinating things called “Student I.D. Cards” that revolutionarily show that we attend the university and 2.) The buses left at 7:30. Which is way, way too early to start a night out, and would mean that people would have to start pre-drinking at like 5:30, which is usually not advised if you want to stay out late and want to live to tell about it. In protest, we decided not to go to the GPO and instead took a bus into the city to go to…well, I don’t know where other people ended up going, probably to the Dunder. I had decided that I didn’t want to drink anymore, and would go to the Casino with Ben and Ian. Fun times ensued on the bus, with three separate fights almost breaking out involving Dickinson boys: Ben and Ian started yelling at each other over something, Seth almost fought Ian because he thought he was antagonizing Ben and being a dick, and then Seth very nearly fought some random guy on the bus who commented on the near Seth-Ian fight, and was just being a douchebag, apparently not knowing the level of dedication drunk Seth has when it comes to fighting people. And then he pulled the awesome, incredibly brave move of going and taunting Seth as he got off of the bus, thus being separated by a door and glass and whatnot…how ballsy. This didn’t stop Seth from almost getting off the bus to fight said douchebag, and Ian and I had to hold him back.
That was probably the most exciting part of the night…the rest was pretty uneventful, other than taking a cab back from the Casino (I won $50 again. Sweet.) and the cabbie either being devious and trying to get extra money out of us (as Seth and Matt thought) or just being a moron and missing our turn, instead taking us and extra 10 minutes to get back. It was a kind of awkward ride back, listening to Seth talk loudly about how the cab driver was blatantly robbing us and was incompetent and whatnot. It was accurate.
My final time out into the city was not, actually, with Dickinson folks. There were Dickinson people there, sure, but the last time out was actually an IH goodbye, and it involved some heavy pre-drinking and a trip out to the Embassy, which is where many of the IH excursions typically led us. I also happened to drink…well, I happened to drink quite a lot. Probably the most I’ve ever drank and didn’t blackout afterwards, which is kind of nice. Predrinking consisted of a game of Kings and a six-pack of Strongbow, all of which was gone in about an hour, right before we caught the bus into the city. I may have been really drunk, but Mikey…Mikey was definitely half-past blackout for the majority of the night, having started drinking early and often. And on a fitting note, for the last time being at the Embassy, it was one of the few times that it didn’t actually suck. I got to say goodbye to everyone, Mikey and I went to the Casino (for someone who said that they were going for the final time like 2 times ago, I gamble a lot), won $25 whilst completely hammered, and cabbed it back to the city for the last time.
Sunday was a packing day. I’d done my best to clean up my room earlier while I had been bored, and I’d gone and shipped home my excess clothing earlier in the week (shipped it as freight…not only was it expensive, but it’s not getting there for…wait for it…wait for it…3 months. Which means that I’m going to have to live for the next three months on one suitcase of clothes. Excellent.). When I had originally packed for Australia, I’d had two things going for me: 1.) I didn’t have any souvenirs to worry about, so everything I packed was everything that I actually needed, and 2.) I had my mom to help me out. Packing for the first time had been my first experience with vacuum bags, and while I wasn’t terribly efficient with them, my mother had somehow managed to make it so that every cubic millimeter of space in my bags was completely full, and I had everything I needed. Now that I was on my own in terms of packing, the challenge before me was pretty immense. Though I had shipped home a lot of clothing, I still needed to have enough room for my clothes and the various souvenirs that I had bought, and though it was difficult, I finally, after several hours, was entirely packed and ready to go. Or so I thought.
Fortunately for me, there was still one challenge remaining: my ticket home. I hadn’t gotten an email, and had thrown out the original packet of information from Dickinson, and thus didn’t know what my reference number was, and hence didn’t have a ticket. After stressing out, trying to figure out how to get on the plane, and calling the airline, I finally got it and checked in online. Only to find out that once you check in online, if you don’t have a printer connected to your computer, you’re pretty much screwed in terms of printing out the e-ticket because you can’t go through the process again. Eventually though, I saved the file for the e-ticket, emailed it to myself, and finally got the peace of mind I needed. I was actually going to make it home.
The last dinner that we had in Australia was actually kind of memorable: a bunch of guys had gone out into the city, and Mikey had bought me a kangaroo steak to go and grill up on the patio of Campus lodge. And so there we all were, the Dickinson boys, hanging out and grilling the animal we all associated with Australia, drinking beers and remembering our time that we’d spent in this amazing country. It seemed like the right way to go out.
And so it was.