Illinois State Fair–I mean, Sydney Royal Easter Show

They’re basically the same thing.

The day after I got back to Sydney, Ariana, Alicia, Karen and I went to the Sydney Royal Easter Show at Olympic Park. I expected the event to resemble an American state fair–and I was exactly right.

All of the important elements were there: fried everything (including cheesecake–Mmmm), booths selling useless junk, carnival rides, cooking shows, displays of cakes and crops, a lumberjack demonstration, etc. etc. etc.

There were a few uniquely Australian things too, though. I haven’t seen a polo match at any American state fair, and most of them don’t have contests for the best wool either.

Here are some photo highlights from the show:

First-prize winning wool.

Pretty cool display made entirely of natural products.

Poodle grooming at the dog show.

Straight from the Illinois State Fair...

A cow show of some sort.

A giant inflatable cow of some sort.

Meat pie-making demonstration.

Alpaca fashion show.

The showbag hall. Each booth sells themed bags full of useless goodies.

There are always way too many pictures of the Arch entered into the photo competition at fairs near St. Louis. Here, of course, there are way too many pictures of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House.

I'm not sure which is worse, Illinois' SPAM cooking contest or Sydney's fruitcake baking contest.

I haven't seen a calligraphy division at any mid-American fair.

A small afternoon parade featured the Marching Koalas. Aww...


(Temporary) Goodbyes

I’ve found that university life is a constant stream of packing, unpacking, goodbyes, and reunions. At the end of each semester, before each break, we cram our stuff into cars and hug our friends goodbye. At the end of the break, we return, unpack our gear yet again, and joyfully greet friends we haven’t seen for months–or days, depending on the break.

It’s no different for study abroad students. One of the lovely perks (just kidding) of living at DLC is that we have to move out of our rooms for mid-semester break so conference guests can sleep here. Fortunately for me, I only came here with two suitcases of stuff, so packing isn’t a huge ordeal. Still, it’s a little annoying, and I am of course surprised at the number of random items I’ve collected in the last seven weeks. I put some of my stuff into a backpack to take with me and the rest in a couple of suitcases to store in the DLC luggage storage room. I also had to take down my bulletin board, so now my room looks even emptier than usual.

Highlights include photos of people I like, a large and pretentious collection of art gallery maps, a Sydney Opera House ticket stub, a particularly vagina-looking Georgia O'Keefe painting for this month's calendar, and some aesthetically un-pleasing white space (pink space?) in the middle.

Of course, packing inevitably comes with goodbyes. I haven’t written much about them here (“The Social Network” taught me a lesson on blogging about acquaintances), but I’ve met some pretty decent people at DLC. One of them is Canadian, several are Asian, a bunch of them are American, and a few are even–can you believe it?–Australian.

Over the past two months, I’ve tramped around Sydney, had more than a few three-hour-long dinner conversations, and debated everything from healthcare to music with these people. They’ve taught me a lot and even helped me through one particularly lousy weekend when a phone call home just wasn’t going to cut it. I’m extremely blessed to have met them, and even more blessed they put up with my annoying Americanness and unavoidable snarky comments.

Me, Karen, and Ariana at the Royal Botanic Gardens. Photo courtesy Ariana.

Anthony, Sean, Raven, Vincent, Kate and me at a pub in Sydney. Photo courtesy Kate.

Tomorrow we’re having “family” dinner and movie night before we all go our seperate ways this weekend. I’ll miss them, of course, but knowing we’ll be reunited at the Royal Easter Show in two weeks (plus knowing I’ll see Ariana and Alicia in Cairns) makes it a little less painful.

The mid-semester break, fittingly, also represents the halfway point of my time in Sydney. Technically I think the halfway point is next Wednesday, but it’s not worth counting the days out. Anyway, it’s time for the traditional OMG I HAVE TO LEAVE THIS PLACE EVENTUALLY freak-out/reflection.

I’ve done a lot of freakin’ amazing stuff so far in Australia. I have no regrets about my first two months. Yet every time I check something off my Sydney must-do list, I seem to find two more things to add. So when I get back from break, I will definitely not be bored. The “OMG I leave so soon” panic hasn’t set in yet, probably because I still have 67 days here. Of course, 15 of those will be spent in other cities, so we’ll see how I feel when I get back and realise I only have, what, 52 days left in Sydney? For now, I’m operating strictly on a “carpe diem” type of policy.

I’m very excited for this break, obviously. But there’s one thing that makes me a liiittle nervous. My computer will be stored in a super-secret safe location at DLC. That’s right, I’m not taking it with me. This is slightly unsettling because I use it for EVERYTHING: looking up directions, finding public transit schedules, making plans with friends, keeping in touch with my family, and of course updating this blog.

I won’t be totally disconnected from the world: my not-so-smart-phone is equipped with easy access to Gmail and Facebook, and some of the hostels I’m staying in provide internet. Still, it will be interesting to see how many times I get lost without detailed “get on this bus at this time” directions. Thankfully, Amanda gifted me a great guidebook that will hopefully help in this regard. And yes, contrary to popular belief, I can read a map.

As for the blog? Well, I’ll be doing it the old-fashioned way–with a notepad and paper. I’ve got an empty reporter’s notebook for words and an empty SD card for pictures. When I get back to Sydney with both of these things filled up, I’ll try to edit the disorganized jumble into some blog posts you’ll like.

Until then…if you need me, I’ll be off exploring the world. Bye now!