Sunday, August 9, 2009

B8: Melbournians and their Sport

(Baseball! Hanging out with my "carpool mate", Michael. I went 1-2 with a strikeout, walk and RBI. Steven, that's 2.5 fantasy points. [Loyala Reserve, Watsonia])

(We got there a little early, so those are the Juniors, 21 and under, playing rugby. [Olympic Park Stadium])


For your loyal readers, I’m going to try and make an effort to blog every Sunday night so it should be up by Sunday morning for you guys on the west coast.

Week two was like week one, only a little more organised (I’m going to try and spell like an Australian, so no more zed’s!) because I don’t have to walk around campus with my nose buried in a map, I know my timetable by heart, I know my workout schedule and I have found my study haven in the Eastern Resource Center. I spent much of my spare time working on some research for text mining. Right now, I’m just taking other people’s code and running it on heaps of data in different ways to see if I can get some noun phrases for a corpus (data). I am still lost, but I continue to work hard. Statistics is tough with all the new material, Biology of Australian Flora and Fauna has us learning about the “foreign” prickly pear cacti, and my first essay for Globalisation is coming up.

(Mom, you would love this rose bush thing. Whatever it is. [The Old Quad, University of Melbourne])

Now that the boring uni stuff is out of the way, I can talk about the cool stuff I did.

I went to a couple club meetings and finally settled on my favorites. I joined the Melbourne University Surfriders. All they really do is surf and go to pubs. Next weekend there is a surf trip down to Bancoora and I can’t wait… I’m literally shaking with excitement. My housemate and I also started an indoor soccer league and, thanks to my lovely sister Kimmy, I will have my indoor soccer shoes here in a couple of days. I decided not to join the Mountaineering club because they were a little intense, with their backpacking trips through the snow and their canyoning down waterfalls.

(The field hockey pitch where we are going to have our Campus Sport Soccer games. [Tin Alley, University of Melbourne])

I also (as you can tell from the picture above) joined the Melbourne Uni Baseball team. There are only 3 games left, but I figured I might as well get the Ausball excperience. I practiced with the team and the coach said that it was “obvious that I had played before” and he invited me to the “Uni Games” which are like the Olympics for the Australian unis. The uni games are held on the Gold Coast (in Queensland) in September. Wikipedia has this to say about the Gold Coast:
Gold Coast City is renowned for its sunny subtropical climate, popular surfing beaches, expansive waterway and canal systems, a skyline dominated by high-rise apartment buildings, a peaceful rainforest hinterland in the west of the city, active nightlife and its wide variety of tourist attractions.
We’ll see what my bank account has to say when the time comes (will cost close to $1000). As of right now, I’m just enjoying throwing the ball around again with some truly friendly Australians.

On Friday night I went to the rugby game with my housemate. We sat in the third row and it was $20 (chump change compared to the $80 Petco Park tickets). The Melbourne Storm handled the North Queensland Cowboys by a fair margin (20 – 4) and I got to see Billy Slater, the hometown hero, run circles around Johnathon Thurston, the premier player of the entire rugby league. I probably annoyed my housemate into oblivion with all my questions. The first half we had a couple of trys (kind of like a touchdown) but missed our conversions (like a field goal) so the score was pretty close. We burst onto the scene in the second half and capitalised on some Cowboy mistakes, weak punts, and missed conversions (by Thurston). After the game, the players circled the field and gave high fives to the fans and even got in some pictures with some kids. For me, this was a truly remarkable display of appreciation, and it shows that the Australian athletes know what sport is about: being heroes and role models (even my housemate got a little giddy when his hero came by and gave him a high five). My favourite part was staring at the player’s massive legs, my $5 corndog dipped in sweet sauce and the cheerleaders.

(Thurston is wearing the hat thing. Sorry the picture is so blurry... they run fast. [Olympic Park Stadium])

This week I really experienced the Australian spirit. A guy from the baseball team offered to give me a ride to the game and on the way there, our car broke down. We sat in a 7/11 and a guy came over to help us. He got right into the car and was hitting stuff with a fist and turning nobs and tightening bolts. He sat there for a good 15 minutes trying to helps us out and after he failed, he didn’t stop. He proceeded to go around the entire parking lot and asked other people for help on our behalf! I couldn’t believe it. This was just an example of the Australian way. My carpool “chaffeur” REFUSED to take my money for gas (petrol) even though he had waited in traffic to pick me up. My baseball team captain sent me 15 emails making sure that I had socks and cleats and equipment for the game (and when I didn’t, he arranged for guys to bring equipment for me). People on the trolley helped me figure out how to use my metLink card. Guys in the laundrette offered me advice on how to use a front load washing machine. My housemate even bought me a thirty (30!) dollar cake for my birthday. I thanked him and he said “Ah! No worries!”. The friendliness here blows me away.

I’m having a great time, but I wish that I could have been home for my birthday. I had (for a long time) been looking forward to having a beer with my dad but unfortunately my 21st birthday was today. I know he was looking forward to it was much as I was, but at least he knows that I’m having the time of my life here.

(Remember those cakes in the window from Brunetti? The ones that I thought I'd never I'd get to eat? Well I ate one! This is my housemate Abdul and Michelle, from Berkeley. [Lygon St., Carlton])

Next week is a week of new lecturers (they rotate) and more settling in. I haven’t seen any kangaroos yet… but I think I’m going to buy some kangaroo meet at the market tomorrow… my carpool driver said that it is great on the “barbie”.

Until then,

Mikey Doo

(I love coffee and pastries. [Federation Square, Melbourne CBD])

(My first up close encounter with a marsupial. Abdul has a talent of getting possums to come over to us. [Carlton Gardens])

(Abdul gettin' some love from his hero, Dallas Johnson. [Olympica Park Stadium])

(Corndog. [Olympic Park Stadium])

(Right outside my Globalisation lecture. [Old Arts, University of Melbourne])

(Some funnel thing for the rain in front of the union house. [Tin Alley, University of Melbourne])

(The Union House. [Melbourne University])

(Hanging out on the South Lawn between classes. [University of Melbourne])


  1. Happy 21st bday little brother!

    I love the weekly blog updates...I think its a great idea. I hope you are enjoying the Australian friendlisness, you seem to mention it in every blog. Try to learn from them and bring those lessons back to America.

    Of course you start off your latest blog about your new found "study haven"! Although you are halfway across the world, you are still a nerd. :)

    We miss you dearly and cant wait until you come home. Until then, I will continue to brave the Post Office line and send you boxes of stuff. You should receive one box on Monday and one on Thursday. Love you!

  2. Hi Mikey,
    It is so very good to hear from you. Have a beer for me and we'll have your birthday beer when you get back. The surfriders seem to have it right, surfing and going to pubs. We just got back from Oklahoma City, boy was it hot. Maggie's 18 Gold Softball team tied with 8 teams for 17th place which is the highest showing her club as ever finished. Maggie did very well. Sounds like your studies are going well and it's great that you are widening your sports experiences. Keep those blogg entries coming and we miss you very much.

    Love, Dad

  3. Happy, happy birthday, Michael. Yes, we do miss you, but so glad that you are enjoying yourself and finding everyone so friendly and accommodating. I'll be looking forward to your weekly blogs.
    Love you,
    GMA H

    I came over to the computer to pay some bills on-line, and your blog was up and open to the picture of the U of Melbourne quad area w/ 'rose bush thing'. A cue for me to read and weep... which I did (I do miss you so!). But I also laughed at the fact that you are taking full advantage of your time there! Leave it to you to find a rugby game to watch, a baseball team to join, and a soccer league to start-up. And isn't the Great Barrier Reef up near Queensland? Maybe you can take a side trip there since seeing that was your dream!

    I'm glad you didn't keep your big 21st bday a secret, and satisfied your Murai sweet tooth with that scrumptious looking cake in the company of new found friends!! Yes, we'll celebrate 21 great years of your life when you get back to SD.. dad, Kim and you with a beer, and Mags and me with a fruit smoothie!!

    Thank you for also taking pics that include clock towers, stadiums, landscapes.. things other than food and pubs! Maybe in our next life, you and I can join that Mountaineering club :) Meanwhile, continue exploring Aussie land, and don't forget to go to class!


  5. Hey Nephew!

    Sounds you are taking good care of yourself out there... your mom must be proud! :) I love the idea of weekly blogs... it will be my sunday thing to do!! I read portions of your blogs to duffy as he sits on my couch and watches tv... he wants to know how he can join the Surfriders club. Does he actually have to BE in Australia?? :)

    It's refreshing to hear how everyone there is so kind... and even more to hear that you are having the time of your life! San Diego misses you!

    Happy Birthday again! I hope you had a great day celebrating way over there... and may you be fully recovered and ready for classes in the morning... ;)

    Luv Tissy!

  6. Hey Mikey!
    Happy Belated Birthday! Glad you celebrated with a yummy looking cake and thoughtful people. So neat that you are immersing yourself in the culture there and having such a wonderful time. You are making us ravenous when we read your blogs=) Please send us your address there will you? Keep having fun and let us know how your Surfrider trip goes.

    Love Aunt A,Cuckoo,C-Ryan, & Uncle Mike

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