Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I'm so bad at academic writing.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

For the wisdom of the world is foolishness in God's sight.
-1 Corinthians 4:19a

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Picnic, Ninja, and Rugby

Today I went with a couple of people from church to Cockatoo Island for a picnic. Cockatoo Island is an island in the middle of the Sydney harbor area that was used a prison/reformatory/ship building yard/war base/etc and now is just a little tourist attraction. We didn't do much touristy stuff, though we did note that they filmed some of X-men Origins there.

Anyways, we hiked up to the top of the island (it had some cliffs and stuff) and had a picnic with a great view of the bridge and harbor. I like picnics. Just sayin'.

I also tried Vegemite for the first time. Not as bad as I thought it would be, but certainly not delicious. For something made from left over yeast extract from beer breweries, you might say it was dang good.

After lunch we tossed a rugby ball around. It made me really really want to play more sports.

Now for the highlight of the day: I taught everyone how to play ninja. And everyone consists of about 15 Asians (and 1 australian and another American or two). The irony was overwhelming and wonderful.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Quick Confession

Ok everyone, I have something that you will all be upset about, but I have to get it off my chest...

Everyone here calls me 'Ryan'.

It's awful isn't it. I let them call me by my first name. No one calls me 'Boyer'. There's no 'Boy'. And certainly not any 'Boy-toy'.

I know you all are ashamed of me, and I deeply apologize. I am looking forward to regaining my correct name as soon as I return stateside.



Monday, March 21, 2011

Instead of studying, I thought I would blog. Sounds like a great way to procrastinate.

Anyways, here is this weekend's adventure:

I hopped off the city bus and walked to Scubar. (Its funny because...) After waiting a while an unmarked white bus rolled up, and I climbed on. The bus was packed, and everyone was talking, yet I didn't understand anything. Gibberish, thats all I heard. What was I doing? Where was I going? Oh, just surf camp with 56 Norwegians. No big deal. They were just speaking Norwegian.

Anyways, after wondering what the heck I got myself into, we rolled up to surf camp in the tiny town of Gerroa, NSW. Situated along seven mile beach, this was sure to be a good weekend. (Why seven mile? they don't even use miles here....) After unloading the bus, we all piled into our hostel style cabins and hit the hay.

We woke up early the next morning and surfed all day. Surfing is pretty hard, but I loved it. I can get up easily on a longer board, and can surf all the way to shore no problem. Turning is tricky, especially with a longer board, but I am getting there.

I also met some of the Norwegians, who were all doing a semester abroad like me, and learned all about their country. Their currency is crowns, they are not part of the EU, which is a good thing because then they would lose all of their oil money and have a massive immigration influx. Police don't carry guns in Norway, unless they really think they will need them. The capital is Oslo, the total population is around 5 million people. They tend to listen to your standard american hits though they also really like house music. There is surfing in Norway, on the northern coast in the Arctic. They have to wear full wetsuits, with boots, hoods, and gloves. The biggest sports are handball, soccer, and cross country skiing. Anything else you'd like to know about Norway?

Here's a picture of me high-fiving my new Norwegian friend Jorgen.

Anyways, surf camp was a lot of fun. It was a great way to learn and get better, since it was progressive and close together. They conditions weren't great as it rained ALL weekend, but I didn't mind as I didn't get sunburnt, and I was wet anyway.

Now, about the video from the last post. I figured it looked a touch unnatural how I fell, so I thought I would explain.

As many of you know, there comes a point when you are learning things like surfing, skiing, skateboarding, or anything else that requires balance, when you realized you are screwed. Waving "hi to my mum" threw my balance off enough that I knew it. So I had three options:
       1. Face plant on Guy's board (the Aussie filming). Possible concussion, not a cool video memory.
       2. Fall towards beach. Easy to shift weight in that direction, but would result in a nose full of pacific, and a mouth full of sand. I'll pass.
       3. Use my ultra strong core muscles to quickly and accurately rotate my wet suit covered body backwards so that my tightly chiseled butt enters the wonderful ocean first in a pain free manner.

I choose option three.

In other news, my chacos are on their last life. One has a width wise tear across the bottom and squeaks with every step. I can see the strap inside. Hopefully these bad boys can last 3 more months, even without any grip on the bottom left.

Time to study.

Peace and Joy.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

surfing and waving don't go together

Bottom Line: I can't wave and surf.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Digeridoo and Class

So I had to add another class today so I didn't get deported. Thought everyone would appreciate that.

Anyways, I now am in History of Math, which seems easy and interesting (to me at least.)

Here's a video I said I'd upload a while ago, but didn't. I took this during my first week down under.

Just so everyone knows, he said he was doing his impression of a kangaroo, which is what the sound is supposed to signify.

I'd also like to point out that this guys is a boss due to his circular breathing. Just sayin'.

Finally, Clemson won in the tournament. It was the play-in game, but I am counting it.
They play at 3am Friday morning here, so I might be a horrible fan and sleep through it.
Hopefully they win so I can wake my roommates up with a cadence count.

Song of the moment:
Heirloom by Sufjan Stevens

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

1 Month

Today marks a month of my travels. Just though you all would like to know. This means that I have around 3 and 1/2 months left abroad. I am complete unsure whether to feel happy, sad, upset, or excited about this. I just know it is.

As for adventures I really have nothing much to report. If you are interested in a boring recap of my weekend, here you go. I wouldn't read it.

I spent the weekend hanging around and reading. I am currently reading Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (in english of course), and I am finding it very profound and entertaining. It is an excellent story that poses several hard questions like "What is justice?", "What does it mean to love my neighbor?", and "What is right?" It's really good. I haven't seen the movie or the musical, so don't ruin the plot for me.

I also went to Bondi Beach again to see some of the Boost Mobile Surfsho. It was cool, but a surf competition isn't as exciting as I thought it would be. Its repetitive. However, I still find surfing engrossing.

After the surf competition, I took a four mile hike along the coast from Bondi to Coogee. It was beautiful. The coast here is mainly cliffs with scattered beaches, so it feels a world apart from SC beach country. The beaches are also packed with people. Here's some pictures from the hike:

Right now I am just kind of busy. I have a good bit of school work (lots of reading, at least for a Math major) and lots of trip planning that I need to get done before everything gets full or way more expensive. Hopefully everything works out and I get to go to New Zealand over Easter Break.

Here's a passage of scripture I have been thinking of a lot lately.

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
-John 4: 13-14

Jesus seems to promise that our thirst will be filled through him, yet I can't say that I see this promise truly coming to completion in the here and now. This is something that I am trying to unpack.

Friday, March 11, 2011

I don't know if I have ever seen anything with as much brute force as the tsunami in Japan.


I finally feel completely settled in here. Though we are missing an oven mitt which has not bode well for my fingers several times so far. But seriously, I feel safe, comfortable, and relaxed here. I am finally in a good rhythm.

And let me say, it feels really good to be out of transition.

Now a little about frisbee here. If you don't care, skip it.
UNSW Frisbee is very different then playing with everyone back home. I would describe it as extremely technical but not nearly as athletically based as playing with Yeah College!. We have only practiced so far, and there is a ton of people out there. I have been playing with the advanced group though, so there is only like 20 or so of us and we just sub out. No biggie.
Stack is the only offense we run. I don't particularly like stack. The rhythm that is necessary for a team to execute stack effectively does not seem to be here, not yet anyways. It is so clogged. Maybe I just haven't found the rhythm yet.
Defense is also heavily force based. I find this very effective at two specific times, close to the goal line and close to the sideline. However, the rigidity of force doesn't fit my playing style. There are times when I think switching the force is necessary (when on the opposite sideline for instances) and times when I think force is just dumb to do immediately (turnovers close to our end zone, the chance for a long bomb is too great.) Yet I am just doing as I am told. Its very different not being sort of in charge.
Another thing just to emphasis the style difference is foul calls. I haven't heard one. At all. In the three weeks I have been here. I have heard lots of travels and several picks, but no fouls. Totally different game.
But I fit in fine, and I am getting to play a lot. So that is wonderful. Part of me does wish for a America v Australia game though. Yeah College v UNSW would be a lot of fun. Beached Whales would be balling too, but UNSW needs to find 1 or 2 more girls first.
Bottom line, I miss playing move space, make space frisbee. The free flowing-ness of that seems so much more natural. And mainly I miss the people I play with back home. Bahwoo. Foxcroft I am giving you some love too.

Enough about Frisbee. Continue reading.

I went to the Contemporary Art Museum today, and learned two things mainly.
1. Aboriginal art is impressive to look at, but not really aesthetically pleasing. That get's boring real quick.
2. Modern Art can be very good or very bad. If it is good it is really good, as there exists another whole dimension, as you get to figure out what it is talking about.

My favorite piece was a collection of 8 or 10 blue model cars. Made from melted crayons. Crayons. They were driving over an intersection, and all had left tire tracks, made actually from the artist dragging his crayon cars across his highway canvas. But one car was driving on the wall, separate from the intersection. It was too cool.

Alright, I am done for the night. I like it here a lot, though I miss people back home. I hope this blog post was entertaining to someone, as I kinda wrote it because I felt obligated.

Peace and Joy.

Next weekend: Surf Camp.

Song of the Moment: Pagan Angel and a Borrowed Car by Iron and Wine

Sunday, March 6, 2011

More Culture

Some random culture things about Australia:

As everyone knows, they drive on the left side of the road. No biggie. It makes crossing the street difficult, but really its not that bad because I don't drive here. However, walking seems to be different. You'd think drive on the left, walk on the left, keep left on the stairs, right? (its funny because....) But seriously, it seems like all the city is just clueless which side of the sidewalk/hallway to walk on. I try to keep left, and do a good job of it, but there is always someone coming straight at me. 

Just want to bust the myth that toilets flush the opposite direction. Sorry.

"How are you finding it?" - this essentially means either "How are you?" or "How was/is ______?" depending on the context of the situation. This expression always throws me for a loop.

Tonight, I went to a pub called Doncaster's with some people from church. It was awesome because it was cook your own steaks for $12. You tell them what cut of meat you want, and they give it to you. Then there is a big grill that you get to cook it on, however you'd like. It was a lot of fun.

"As we see, he had a strange and peculiar way of judging things. I suspect that he acquired it from the Gospel." -Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Surfing, Forest Gump, and Classes

Over all of my life there have been several things I have always wanted to do, such as swim in the Devils Pool on Victoria Falls, and surfing has always been near the top of that list. Yesterday, after many years of waiting, I finally got to learn.

Everyone says that surfing is really really hard, so I came in prepared to fail miserably. I had a two hour lesson on Bondi Beach, a beautiful, famous, and packed beach in Sydney. We only rode already broken waves (didn't catch any barrels or anything, sorry to disappoint), but i was able to stand up 15 or so times, which is a lot considering we were only out there for 2 hours. And let me tell you, it was great. The ocean is such a strong force, fighting it to get out was hard. But harnessing that power just to ride a wave is freeing. So much fun. Hopefully I will take some more lessons and learn to ride bigger, unbroken waves, and such. 

Oh and my butt is super sore. Not the muscle group I was expecting to get worn out from surfing, but it is what it is.

Later last night I watched Forest Gump on TV. First a little bit of my first impressions on Australian TV. They have a lot of american programs, but none of the ones I really want to watch. Like the Ellen show is on, and Criminal Minds, and other programs that I have never watched. And just about all of the commercials are the quality of your local stores commercial. You know, people yelling, poor visuals, the actual store owners standing around making bad jokes, nothing well produced. I thought this was really interesting.

Anyways, Forest Gump is a brilliant movie. I've seen it multiple times, but I really appreciated last night. The idea of a single man being throughout all of the major cultural events of the 60s and 70s is brilliant. And the way the place him in real videos of real events with real famous people (Lennon, Nixon, Kennedy, ect.) is done exceptionally well. 

Forest's dedication to Jenny also reminded me heavily of God's pursuance.

Finally, for those of you who think I am just on vacation, here are the classes I am taking:
1. Mathematical Computing - an in-depth study of Matlab and its use in solving mathematical problems, especially linear and nonlinear equations and systems of equations.
2. Australia: Representations, Identity and Culture- a study of how Australia is represented in the media, literature, music ect. Deals heavily with Aboriginal peoples history and how they are (or aren't) included in history. Also discuses Australiana and stereotypes
3. Microeconomics 2- standard second microeconomics course
4. Science and Religion- online class that addresses the compatibility of science and religion with each other, asking questions like 'can they coexist?', 'do they support each other?', and  'how do they relate?'. We will be working through topics like evolution, scripture, ect. Should be a blast.

Oh and tonight was Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival. There was a big parade and stuff, and is supposedly lots of parties. But of course I went and saw Bear Grylls talk instead. That was ok. But afterwards, some locals and another study abroad student and I went and got Chinese food then McDonald's (called mackers here) shakes. Such a good night.

Song of the Moment:
Pacific by Sleeping at Last

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Some reflections on scripture. Maybe I will talk about australia afterwards.

Matthew 9: 1-8/ Mark 2: 1-12/ Luke 5: 17-26 -  Jesus heals a paralytic
     Its a story that most have heard. A crippled man is brought by his friends to Jesus when he is teaching, and Jesus notices their faith, has compassion on the man, and heals him. The man then walks away, healthy.
     Thats not why I like this story.
     This is a current favorite due to how Jesus heals him. Originally he "Saw their faith, and he said 'Friend, your sins are forgiven.'" The man is still laying crippled on the mat. But he has just been healed.
     Then all the pharisees think he is blaspheming, and then he heals him physically.

This is a beautiful picture.

Philippians 4: 13- "I can do everything through him who give me strength." (NIV)
     Commonly- "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (dunno which version/NKJV?)

     I always hated this verse. Not because of what it said, but how it is used in the modern world. In my mind, this is the stereotypical verse that athletes use to make themselves believe that they can be the most successful and that God wants them to win the 'ship. This is the verse that people use to justify wants and desires of the physical world. I just hate the fact that it has become almost a cliche that means God is giving his favor to you so you can fulfill the earthly desires of your heart.
    But, over the past couple days I have read the whole of Philippians a couple of times.  Paul is writing this from prison, and is under persecution and living in conditions that I can't imagine. The verse in context reads:

"I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength."

    Spoken from a man in prison, who is encouraging people not to worry about him, this verse means something completely different. It screams of God's sovereignty and of the brokenness of the world. It screams that Jesus is enough. More than enough.

    Now I like this verse. It's encouraging as I deal with all the stress of transition and living in conditions that aren't 100% to my liking. I don't have AC or a clothes dryer, but I do have lots of cockroaches. Paul doesn't necessarily have food. But Jesus is enough for both of us. Even if I am a little bit spoiled back home.

As for Australia, Americans should know that we are not the only people who abused the natives to a ridiculous degree.

Song of the moment:
The Blowers Daughter by Damien Rice