The worldwide Augustana College experience

The Days of Jager and Surf Camp

Dear Sydney,

Thursday: So this past Thursday, February 13, the Brown-Forman office had their monthly brand awareness party in the office.  As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, at the beginning of February I changed all the decorations in the office to Jegarmeister. Apparently that also means that there is a “Building Brand Awareness” party for the brand of the month. I got to start the day festivities by attending lunch at a local New Zealand restaurant with the Jegarmeister team. I got to have a great BBQ pulled pork sandwich with thick cut bacon and the most flavorful mayonnaise.  I even got to try New Zealand Organic Cola, which I actually fell in love with. Best part though? It was free. :) Best word to a broke college student in another country. I learned more about the people on the team, where they came from, what their roles were, and why they were so passionate about the Jagermeister brand. After that, Ashley, Kim, and I got to get the party favors ready for all the guests who were to come late that afternoon. They might have been the coolest gift bags ever because they had 3 Jager branded, smokey double shot glasses and an ice cold Jager bottle (because you should ALWAYS drink Jager ice cold I learned). After that we got to set up the bar area for the Jager ice luge (an ice sculpture that allows you to poor the alcohol through it in order to make it ‘ice cold’), the Jager DJ stand, all the German (Jager is from Germany) finger foods, and the giant Jager game of Jenga. Once we got everything set up, the party started with the ‘Jegarettes” (hott girls in Jager outfits to get people excited and try the brand) rounding up the office and getting everyone into the main area where our fully stocked bar is. Then the head of the brand, Micheal Bouda, gave a 10 minute little speech about the brand, it’s goals for the year, their target market, and their plans for the brand and how they were going to bring it to life this year. It really helped pull the whole atmosphere together and encouraged everyone to try the food, grab a free cocktail, and play Jenga with the Jegarettes. Micheal Bouda played DJ for the day and everyone really had a great time. I got a free bottle of Jager, 3 shot glasses, and German food, was a great day!  (I attached photos below)

Friday: I got to go on a tour of the Sydney Opera House! Finally.. Oh my gosh it took ages to finally get to see the inside, but I wasn’t disappointed. We only got to go into 3 of the 4 main halls because the Concert Hall was being used for practice, but the three we saw were still really neat. (I attached photos of some). I learned a lot more about the Opera House itself too. Like that it was commissioned int he 1960′s by the Queen of England and there was a world wide design competition for the architecture of the building. A man from Switzerland names Jorn Utzon had the winning design and was one of the only architects to submit a design that had the two major halls next to each other on the pier instead of in front and behind each other. They actually began digging the hole and pouring the foundation before they even knew how to build the structure. It took years for them to figure out how to build the sail like shapes that are what distinguish the building most and they ended up at a 7 year project that cost $104 million instead of the budgeted 3 years and $7 million. Only by Utzon’s breakthrough on piecing the ‘shells’ together to form the roof was the project able to be completed. However, all the money and time invested really did pay off. What they learned and created for acoustics had never before been researched to such a level. It was ground breaking and the concepts discovered are continually used today. It was an amazing tour and I am so glad I got to go on it. After the tour ended we went back to the apartment and made a late lunch before we packed for Surf Camp. At 6PM that night we left from the middle of down town Sydney for 3 hours south of the city. We came to a small town of 500 people right on the coast next to our private beach for the weekend, 7 mile beach. We got there pretty late at night and upon arrival we were shown the most stereotypical view of a surf camp ever. (Photos below). We were given the rules of camp, the schedule for the next couple days, and then were shown to our ‘rooms’. There were 6 or 7 of us to a room each and we got to enjoy something I would be flatteringly referring to as a ‘cot’. There was unknown pieces of something on the bed, there were spiders on the ceiling, and there was no heating or cooling. I was off to camp in every sense of the word. Most of the group immediately dropped off their belongings and went to the beach to get drunk. I’m not a huge drinker and I was also exhausted so I attempted to get over my mental block of how dirty the bed I was going to lay down in was and tried to go to bed. Given the blanket grossed me out and most of camp came back hammered, I didn’t get much sleep.

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Home isn’t always a place…

Dear Sydney,

I will apologize upfront. Given my current mood, this is going to be pretty reflective and not so much informational. From last Thursday to today (Wednesday), a few things pretty cool happened, but what really struck me these last few days specifically are the relationships I have in my life. Not just the relationship I have with my boyfriend but all the good, bad, loving, blood, and friendship relationships as well. Through a series of events recently I have learned more about myself and those I choose to appreciate and surround myself with than ever before. My greatest discovery is that home is not always a place. Since I don’t really know how to explain it, I will start at the beginning…

Thursday: If you are a consistent reader you will have noted in my last post that I was to attend a Mardi Gras (Gay/Lesbian Pride) venue tour last Thursday night. As misfortune would have it, we didn’t end up going. Consequentially, lesson number one emerged. While some fellow friends took the lost opportunity for the new opportunity to go out to a beer pong tournament and dance the night away, I chose to stay in. I watched “The Block”, which is an apartment renovation show here in Australia, and then wrote in my personal journal about the week. The next morning Friday:  when my friends were still sleeping off drunk at 10 AM, I made my way to the beach alone. Contrary to the usual, the beach was relatively empty. I could have actually counted how many people were there. The waves were also the highest I have ever seen them. They were easily 2 average size people high and no one was swimming for the dangerous crashes they created. Both aspects added up to this quiet beach with steady and consistent sound of crashing waves. The day was cloudless and the sun was a light touch on the skin as opposed to an intruding force on the body. The light wind was welcome and made breathing come easy and deep. I’m not sure I fully realized it at the time, even though I felt the difference, but I was learning my appreciation for being alone. I’m not saying I hate people and I don’t enjoy communicating and experiencing other people, but I do have an appreciation for being alone now. I have slowly accepted it over my time here, more by situational force to than anything else, but when I had to start experiencing things without anyone from my comfort zone, my acceptance of the need to be alone at times began. The feeling started when I was not afraid to stay in and be with myself that Thursday night instead of staying with the pack, which is everyone’s natural tendency when living on the other side of the world from your home. It continued when I spent 3 hours alone on a beach with only the waves to talk to me. What I came to think about was the metaphorical beauty of it all. I was warmed and comforted by the sun, was romantically touched and relieved by the wind, was continually faced with the unrelenting waves of the ocean, and then there was me laying still among it all. Everything was in balance and it took me laying there and appreciating it alone without all the noise to recognize the need for every aspect. The sun was my family and friends. Their support, encouragement, love, and laughter are what warm me and give me comfort. The wind was my relationship. It  brings me someone to touch and hold as a physical presence as well as being what relieves me from my daily challenges and tames my more extreme characteristics. Without both the sun and the wind there is no balance. Much like the feeling of still air and harsh sun heat, or a hidden sun and the sting of biting wind, I need a balance of forces in my life. My family does not exist separately of my relationship, and my relationship separately of my family. They work together to give me happiness and peace. The waves were quite another character however. They feel like life to me, both expected and unexpected at the same time. Each crashing wave destroyed the still, calm silence in a way that felt like life’s challenges crashing onto the shores of my calm and peace. However, if I had no waves to break on me, I would not want to be there. Who goes to a beach to just lay on sand? Isn’t 50% of the reason you go for the water and waves? Similarly, life would be nothing and worth no journey if there was no excitement, pain, happiness, or sorrow that would break the endless calm. Lastly, there was me. In the middle of all this poetic beauty was silly old me. My towel, my bag, my disturbance of the sand all seemed like I shouldn’t have destroyed the balance at first. But the more I thought about it, I considered that if I wasn’t there, who would the sun warm and comfort? who would the wind caress and cool down? who would hear and experience the waves? Just as I needed all three to stay in balance, they needed me to be in balance as well. The most amazing part of all this, was all it took for me to learn this was that I needed to be alone. Leading to my first lesson; Home can be found in your own heart.

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No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive. -Mahatma Gandhi

Dear Sydney,

You have so much diversity and culture here it is unbelievable. I am honestly so surprised that it has taken me this long to see this side of Sydney. I have gotten and will get to yet experience some of the most amazing cultural traditions and expressions this week and I feel so very blessed to have been exposed to all the opportunities that I have had.

Sunday: So I last talked to you on Sunday, but that was before the Chinese New Year Parade! Around 6 on Sunday evening me and the rest of my CAPA intern group made our way down to the Sydney Chinatown. I studied Chinese for 2 years at Augie in order to pass my major requirements, but I was ill prepared for the language, the people, the atmosphere, and the culture that instantly surrounded me when I got there. From the gorgeous Chinese terrace entrance to the massive line up of Chinese food options, I felt I had been transported to central China in a matter of seconds. I have always thought that the Chinese culture is one that is easily seen, felt, and one of the most observable cultures of our day. It has such strong traditions, beliefs, and practices that it is hard to not almost envy them the experiences and complete commitment they have to their culture at times. Anyway, after what I considered a very authentic Chinese dinner, me and few friends waited along the Chinese New Year Parade route in anxiousness. So many students who had visited a year before had been amendment on our attendance to the parade and our hopes were high. After an hour of standing around and being slowly sucked into a Chinese crowd of oblivion, the parade started shortly after sunset. We were signaled the arrival of the parade to our area of the route by a score of fireworks off of a nearby buildings roof. After that is kind of a blur because I was so overwhelmed with sound, color, and lights. I do remember though that the first thing I saw and was so excited about was the real Chinese dragon costumes with the awesome faces and bodies that people hide underneath and move to realistically. They were white and gold with red accents and it was incredible and I couldn’t stop taking pictures. Other parade items included a lot of Chinese dancers in traditional garb, Chinese drum bands, samurai warriors, large floats in color and light of huge horse (it is the year of the horse in Chinese tradition), and more dragon costumes. (Pictures below). I also saw a LOT of lit up buildings that had moving projected pictures along their outside walls, as if a movie was being projected and played across the outside of the building in the craziest and brightest colors. I loved those and I loved the excitement of the crowd. No one was just excited for the waving people and lights, everyone was truly invigorated and excited for the New Year. You could tell it meant so much to them and they were beyond happy to be experiencing it. I think the most incredible part for me though is that I left this parade and within seconds was back in down town Sydney. A modern place of massive diversity and modern buildings and people. One parade and the millions of people honestly made you believe you were the middle of China celebrating the most amazing old traditional holiday. Anyway, A really great experience and I couldn’t be happier I was blessed enough to witness it.

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So I saw a kangaroo…

Dear Sydney,

Thank you for the beautiful weather you have given me this week. I am a little resentful I had to work through most of it, but I would be lying if the sunlight hasn’t been good food for the soul. While this week wasn’t completely filled with adventure and traveling excitement, I did have some pretty cool experiences both at work in good ol’ Sydney.

Thursday: So I this was my third day of work this week due to the public holiday of Australia Day on Monday. Not too bad of a gig if you ask me. However, Thursday was a long day all the same. I had been given my third project of the internship on Tuesday and had been furiously working through updating the data for the International Wine and Spirits Research. I’m trying to impress my supervisor since he had a phenomenal intern before me apparently. I was able to finish by lunch time on Thursday, but then I spent that whole afternoon validating the data and information with my supervisor’s assistant, Roy. I was a headache and half to say the least and I was so tired of looking at an excel sheet after 5 hours. However, Roy and I made it through the data and I was extremely proud of myself for getting through my third project within 3 weeks. I’m hoping it is enough to keep my supervisor happy. So in combination with my excitement at finishing ahead of schedule and my pounding headache, it was meant to be when my fellow interns’ supervisor, Charlotte, offered to take us out to dinner and drinks at a local pub. We ended up at a place close by called El Loco. It was a pretty cool Mexican atmosphere. We got Jack (obviously) and ginger ale because it was Charlotte’s favorite. She also ordered some Cherizo Quesadillas for us as well. We socialized a bit, learned more about Charlotte, her career path, and what she thought about Sydney and Australia. We also learned more about Brown Forman and some of the back ground and history of they place. It was a really great time and I appreciated her reaching out to us and including us to hang out and talk like equals instead of just interns.

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I Met Nemo!

Dear Sydney,

Wow did you exhaust me this past week! Since this past Monday so much has happened. For starters,

Wednesday: me and the rest of my CAPA group from Augie had our first ‘academic’ class of our time here. The class is taught by a younger lady and it’s mostly to help us work through issues at our internship sites, share our failures  and successes, as well support each other as we feel the pressures of working in another country full time. I won’t lie, the first meeting (and only 1 of 2 that will be in person, the rest are online) was a little redundant. We already had a 5 week program which consisted of 40 hours of internship and cultural research which we took on campus at Augie before leaving the country. Most of the work for the course will probably be pretty reflective and full of our observations though so it can’t be that bad.

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A new side of Sydney

Dear Sydney,

I probably shouldn’t be writing to you today given my mind is not really here. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was jealous of you who are home in the cold, but with your friends, family, and loved ones. I was told by more than one person that time which will really decide if I can handle being alone abroad would come in the third week. After the “honeymoon” stage, after the vacation-feel, after the initial excitement. When it really starts to hit the new world I would be living in. The different food, signs, people, atmospheres, bed, lifestyle, and smells. It has not been the easiest of trips and I am even in an english speaking country. I give so much credit to those who travel for extended periods of time to countries in which they do not speak the language. I already feel as if I am in a different world and I can still communicate with everyone around me.

I will not dwell on the negative however, there has been so much amazing that has happened as well! As of last Tuesday, much has happened at both my internship and this weekend.

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So.. Jack Daniels anyone?

Dear Sydney,

Why must I say goodbye to the Australia Vacation? Do I REALLY have to work full time in the gorgeous place with wonderful weather and no shortage of sunshine? MUST I sit at a computer from 9-5? Yes, I know. I’m going to hell for complaining about working in Australia. But for real, it’s been the next hardest transition of the trip so far. After not working or even going to school for over a month, I’m not just returning to a couple hour long classes, I finally had to enter the world of adulthood and start working full-time (minus Fridays of course :P ). Therefore; my attention span is untrained again and lasts little over 20 minutes at a time, business attire feels suffocating and tedious, actually putting make up on and straightening my hair daily has become a chore worthy to be compared with laundry, and the indoors for 8 hours straight gives me cabin fever.

However, I digress and I admit I really do have an amazing opportunity on my hands. In case you didn’t notice from my earlier posts, yesterday was my unofficial first day and interview with the International Company, Brown Forman. Since a majority of you may not know what that is, Brown Forman is the parent company for a number of name brand liqueurs. These liqueurs include but are not limited to; Jack Daniels (it’s full line including the Winter Jack , 1907, & Gentlemen Jack), Southern Comfort, Canadian Mist, Finlandia Vodkas, Chambord, Jagermeister, and Herradura Tequila. Stop there right? It’s obviously already the coolest place ever to work, especially in Australia where they drink 2x the amount of Jack Daniels than Americans do.

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Blessings from Down Unda

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The day has finally come! For the past year, myself and 48 other Augustana students have been preparing for this day. We’ve written essays, filled out lots of paperwork…I mean lots and lots of paperwork, and learned all there is to know about the Australian culture. I’ve saved every dime, nickel, and penny, and have done my best to avoid my Starbucks cravings and nail polish addiction. For just a short time, I’ve endured the snow, ice and wind, so that on January 2,nd I can really appreciate the 90 degree weather I’ll be living in for 9 weeks.

All of this preparation has left me packing and re-packing for the past week. Two months and two 50lb bags– the struggle, my friends, is real. But, nonetheless, I have done it. Two 50lb bags, a purse, and a backpack, and we’re off!

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Hello Sydney Australia

My amazing Boyfriend, Austyn My loving family! Mom = Kelly; Dad = Steve; Weirdo girl = sister named Sarah First Day in Sydney! First night out in Sydney with some of my Roommates! Amazing rocks to climb on and potentially die if your stupid on.. welcome to carefree Australia Don't judge me.. I look awful More deadly rocks.. and me

 

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