22 New Things Before Turning 22

For the first time I’m posting something that has nothing to do with my travel experience. Despite the fact that I’ve kept my blog almost exclusively travel oriented, I can’t be expected to keep it up 52 weeks a year with a new experience.

Some of you may know that the month before my 22nd birthday I decided that trying 22 new things before I turned 22 would be an awesome way to try new things and maybe get to know myself a little bit more. Not all of the things that I consider part of the 22 before 22 will be named here – rather they will be replaced with others as I completed more than 22 new things. This exclusion of some is because of the fact that they may not be internet appropriate and can lead to negative opinions if shown to the wrong people.

I’m very proud of myself for completing so many things on such short notice, I owe it to my friends for awesome ideas.

1. Beerfest – I had never been to the International Beer Festival that takes place in Montreal every year, so I got that one out of the way quick. I even managed to eat kangaroo again once I saw it!

2. Orzo Barley Coffee – A traditional drink that my family consumes on occasion, I always opted for the espresso but it was an easy one out of the way

3.  Cinnamon Challenge – Despite not having completed it, probably due to the alcohol I had already ingested, I did attempt it and kept it in for a solid 10 seconds before coughing it out. With requests I might go as far as to link the video.

4. Cooking a new food – I had made myself useful in the kitchen after having lived alone for 3 years. Coming back home stunted my culinary skill development as an italian household always has food. I made myself a bowl of creole rice – a recipe I found online with an amazing blend of spices.

5. Eating new food – This was directly related to the one above, however I did manage to try out a handful of new things in the past month by being open minded to things most people don’t order!

6. Drinking a new drink – Well this was the easiest one as I have friends who try new beers every time they go buy some. I managed to drink at least 5 new beers in the span of two nights of drinking thanks to my closest friends. I also figured out which beer i enjoy most! Sleeman.

7. Go to Oka beach – I’ve been a Montrealer for way too long to not have gone to Oka. Now I can say I’ve seen it

8. Centurion – I did not become a warrior as it may imply, but I felt like one when I was done. It entails taking one shot of beer per minute for a hundred minutes. This came out to 8 beers in 1h40. I had to take a break from drinking after that one.

9. Start a new book – I had been slacking on my casual reading so I told myself to start a new book. I began (and am still reading) the first of the Hunger Games trilogy, which up to now is so much better than the movie – some characters are so different.

10. Bet 50$ on red and walk – This is simple but hard to do. When people go to the casino they’re ready for at least a good half hour of playing. I walked in with 50$ put it on red and knew I would walk out 30 seconds later regardless of the result. Thankfully I won.

11. Create a LinkedIn profile – Another easy one; business students have been using it for professional reasons so I figured I may as well have one too.

12. Organize casual sports and get more than 10 people – I have been trying to get people together to casually play football or soccer together this summer, this is with hopes to get people to have more fun and obviously burn off the ice cream people eat on hot days!

13. Swim half way across a lake – This is pretty vague as I did more than half the lake. I don’t know how far it was distance wise but it was a decent swim and I plan to do the entire lake next time I visit my best friends cottage.

14.  Plant a tree – My brother is working on creating a self-sustainable community / farm on a piece of land he purchased not too long ago. With the help of his social skills he managed to get numerous shipments of trees to his land. I planted a row of pines and named them after the mountain chain in New Zealand – The Remarkables. Check out his site on my sidebar!

15.  Stop gaming for over 5 days – This is pretty easy in theory, until someone asks you to play. I used to game every day of my life, and with each friend owning a ps3 (or something inferior to it) it’s hard to avoid playing a quick game of whatever it may be.

16. Do over 50 jumps on a pogo stick – It was hard, I wasn’t able to do more than 10 for at least 20 minutes before I got the groove and hit a solid 30 a few times before finally breaking past the goal I set by hitting 68.

17.  See an Albino African American – This is one I did not plan but have always wanted to see in person. Albino people have no melanin (pigmentation) so I’ve always wondered what the Albino gene would look like on an african american. While walking through a mall in Burlington, Vermont, I saw a very pale man with napi hair pushing his child in a stroller. I realized his facial features were that of an african american and felt like this was an experience worth noting. Hate all you want but how many have you seen?

18.  Watch a new movie – Easy one but I hadn’t been to theatres in a good 2 months so it was worth checking Abraham Lincoln smashing vampires with an axe.

19.  Eat yogurt out of a mayo jar in public – This is pretty self explanatory. I thought it’d be funny, it was an idea I got from the internetso I can’t claim it as original. It was definitely fun doing this at Mount Royal, arguably the most touristy spot in Montreal.

20. Get a peticure – This was easy but hurt my dignity a little. I was running out of time and ideas and I love joking around. With the joke of me saying I’d do it my friend took her nail polish and lathered some pink over my toe nails. This lasted all weekend at a cottage as nobody had brought remover. It was an awkward visit to the beach.
21. Write a speech – One of my closest friends over the past 10 years is getting married in less than two weeks. I am the master of ceremonies so I needed to prepare some sort of speech to give at some point. I am not the best man but a close second – to be chosen as the priest I had to respond with a little more than “you may kiss the bride”.
22. Learn some chinese – Now chinese seems pretty hard at first, but once you get the concept of tones down, it’s not that tough to get the pronounciation. This is immediately related to the one above as the wedding is a semi-western chinese wedding. I’ve picked up a couple lines of Cantonese and plan to practice them every day leading up to the wedding.

Well that’s it guys! I don’t have much else to say but sorry for the fillers! I don’t want all the secrets of my actual 22 before 22 making it out to the public so some of those may look a little lame.

Next week I will expand on the idea I’ve decided to take up regarding taking a new picture every day to sum up my day for the coming year. With it I may include a second entry that I’ve already written regarding my travels!

Cheers and here are some pictures!

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Traralgon

As you may know, I’m done my exams!

So I’ll save you guys the big speech about how awesome being done school is and how I smashed those two exams and I’ll get to the goodstuff.

I went to Traralgon to visit my friend Lauren who came on exchange in Canada while I was up there. Traralgon is a little town outside of Melbourne so I wasn’t expecting much. Luckily Lauren welcomed me with a big hug and a Lasagna made by her nonna (grandmother) which was the best thing that could happen to me. I love lasagna, more so than words could explain, it’s my favorite food in the world, and I LOVE FOOD. The lasagna was completely home made, the pasta sheets were home made to the extent that the eggs used were from her nonna’s chickens! I had nothing less than a mouthgasm (use your imagination) while eating that lasagna. We proceeded to catch up on what’s been up since Canada and chilled out until her friends came over for the predrinks. We head out to the local bar and had a pretty sweet night out, although it’s weird being the only foreigner in a small town where everyone knows each other. Regardless, we had a sick night. The next day we drove down to one of the national parks for a walk and chilled out for the majority of the day. We got to eat some leftover lasagna (mouthgasm) and had a sweet barbecue dinner of burgers, sausages and dim sim (small chinese dumplings, they BBQ’ed em!). The dinner was awesome because they treated me to some crackers and genuine Australian cheese beforehand which just had me going crazy. The rest of the night we just chilled out in the shed playing pool.

In general I’d say I probably got the best Traralgon experience that anyone has ever had. Why? Simply Because I got to catch up with an old friend and had a rather relaxed early weekend with awesome food!

I leave for Perth in 5 days and Vietnam 2 days after that, I expect 1 more blog before getting on my flight to Vietnam, but after that it will be about when I get wifi and how much time I will have on it.

Cheers
Coppola

Master Chef

Oi Mates!

I thought that I’ve been talking too much about my travelling and didn’t really get you guys the scoop of what’s going on on campus! Don’t worry, I -DID- come here to study, although travelling is the biggest perk and evidently the one I write about too much 😉

Today I’ll let you know a little bit about student life down under. On Monday we had an awesome little function, or event, that included us picking a recipe from a hat and cooking it, our final results would then be rated for 1st 2nd and 3rd place and prizes were awarded. The idea was to integrate traditional Australian  foods and get everyone cooking something to result in a huge dinner with desert.

Luckily cooking is one of my favorite things to do, coming from an Italian family that landed straight off the boat in Canada; I had some tricks up my sleeves and a good knowledge of what tastes good together. I pulled out Australian Meat Pie, a delicacy that we see almost everywhere in Australia, their meat pies are quite awesome, but this one was different, and much larger. These meat pies are typically small but we decided if we’re going to cook a feast we’ll make it a big one. We had 2.5kg of ground beef to work with, including a recipe that worked with 500g increments. I didn’t quite multiply everything by 5 just because of the beef as I wanted to switch it up.

My colleague, a descendant from and Italian family aswell worked on the barbecue, tomato (ketchup), worchestershire (never know how to spell that word) and vegemite sauce that was to be inside the meat pies. I was cutting everyone’s favorite vegetable, onions. Once I had cut four large onions and had a good cry I was ready to switch up the recipe, we added more vegemite and ketchup to the sauce mix to add some thickness, worked out what other veggies we could throw in for added nutritional value and flavor. We chopped carrots, mushrooms, green onions, some herbs, capsicum (peppers), chili peppers, garlic, and virtually anything we could find and threw it in with our MASSIVE pot cooking 2.5kg of beef and onions. We added the sauce and let the ingredients boil in it for a couple of minutes whilst we prepared the 3 huge pies that the “stew” would be put into. A couple of steps later, we all enjoyed dinner as a family.

The other contestants had: Kangaroo Tacos (yummeh), Pumpkin soup (scrumptious), tim tam cake (wish i liked chocolate) and some other moosey desert dish. After filling our stomachs with the delicious pie and kangaroo tacos, the judges rated our dishes. Everyone agreed that the pie was number one, giving me a good sense of enjoyment as I won a bag of chocolates.

Student life isn’t always as awesome as this function, but there are definitely more perks to living on campus as a student than the alternative. The social life and the events planned keep everyone together and engaging in parties or cooking competitions or even just a coffee night to enjoy each others company. Living with and around everyone makes it pretty easy to stay social, but having your own room allows you to chill out for your studying needs.

School is school; I’ve always had a policy to attend every lecture, it made me feel better about not reading the book. I don’t encourage not doing the readings but everyone has a preferred way of learning and mine was always to learn from the teachers. I’ve really enjoyed the classes I’ve been taking here for so many reasons. My italian class has not only improved my knowledge of the italian culture but also helped me with some verbs and increased my exposure/understanding of the language. I love my criminal minds class, I’ve already read the textbook for another course back at home but the different perspective and the class discussions I’ve had with the lecturer were enough to put a smile on my face every Tuesday. Addiction Studies, well everyone has their addictions and I like the psychology of it, the info can be a little dry, but if you stop to think of your addictions (not substances but hobbies) you can add a renewed interest. I dislike that it focuses almost entirely on drugs because I believe a lot of addictions have no relation to drugs. Video games, nutrition or any sport can be addictive aswell, I’m addicted to snowboarding to the point where I think of it on a daily basis when I pass by something I’d grind. Video games.. lets not get into that.

School here is pretty sweet, I do miss my friends, I miss having the group of guys that are always there for me, but skype always works for the one’s I’ve kept (some) contact with.

Either way, I’d like to wish a very Happy Birthday (although slightly belated) to the lovely Catherine Frégeau who just turned international (21) on October 6th.

Next week I’ll tell you guys a little more about student life, how the barbecues here never stop, oh and I’ll tell you about the Market. The market is awesome because I just found Emu meat there today, so expect a picture of another scrumptious exotic meal!!

Cheers,

Coppola

ps: check out my 50 foot double backflip bungy jump, action starts at 35, they also dunk me waist deep into the water!
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150332961203873

Gotta Love Jumping

Hey guys!

I’m a little late with this blog, don’t hold it to me though! I’ve been on the go for the past couple of days so I valued sleep over telling you guys what I have done, considering I can do that now!

So where I left you last was at Airlie Beach I believe. We chilled out for the rest of that day, head out to the man made lagoon (public pool with a beach) and enjoyed the sun. Made it out to catch our overnight bus to Mission Beach in the morning.

Misson Beach was pretty sweet, we made it in time to catch the sunrise on the beautiful 14km long east coast beach. That backpackers was definitely one of the best too as it had a pool and a bbq. We managed to get ourselves into a little dilemma of a situation because I asked around for nice scenic hikes and ended up getting us stuck a couple hours away from our hostel after a 30 minute hike. The hike was sweet because we saw some ridiculously large spiders (golden orb) and got a decent view of the area. I’ll save the drag, I made up for it by offering to barbecue any food that people bought that night. We marinated the chicken (and kangaroo steak for me) and threw it on the barbie (aussie for barbecue) an hour later. Those who got the chicken were really happy and the night was a great success with the jenga that we played. Next day we chilled out at the pool some more until we grabbed our afternoon bus to Cairns.

Our hostel was a little far from the CBD (aussie for downtown) but we had a pool, a bar that offered free meals with our drinks (4$ beer leads to a meal.. why not?) so the group split up. The ladies went  out to the clubs and had a blast while the guys stayed back to win the poker tournament and enjoy a more relaxed evening. I met a really awesome guy while imitating Arnold Schwarzenegger during poker, lucky for me he worked at the hostel and you’ll see why. I realized we had no plans for Cairns and i had slacked on the Lonely Planet reading I was meaning to do, so I asked him what my options were. Apparently Cairns is the Queenstown (NZ) of Australia, so it’s filled with adrenaline packed activities, and you know how I am. We spoke for a bit and it ends up that he met Sunny (that awesome kid who I went to NZ with) in New Zealand after I left. Thanks to the world being so small, he gave me a free night and two bookings of 2 for 1, one being skydiving and one being bungy jumping.

My good mate Charles, who won the poker tourny joined me with the 2 4 1 skydive, throwing the winnings of the poker to reduce the price even more, making a 14000 foot jump cost a total of 150$ which is a steal. Skydiving was amazing, but on our return was the last night I was going to be with the group of 17 because they were flying back to Melbourne. They played some volleyball while I was figuring out the best way to skateboard into the backpackers pool while jumping onto the bodyboard to make it to the other side in one momentum. After I gave up I found a cool german guy to bungy with me the next day before saying my goodbyes to everyone and calling it a really early night. When I woke up I head out to Cairns to try and solve my unfortunate camera situation, the keyword was try because there’s nothing I can do. I wasted a lot of time and yet learned a lot about cameras with regards to choosing my next one (you know, to keep giving you guys pictures!) which I will grab soon enough. Anyways, we went bungying, I jumped 5 times, first the traditional swan, then backwards where the jump instructor held my life in his hands and definitely tried to scare me, letting me go unexpectedly and making my fingers graze the water of the pond below. Third was the reverse elevator, jumping backwards but not diving, staying vertical to see the tower move quickly, surprisingly he made me go waist deep into the pond without telling me, adding a whole extra feel to the jump. Fourth and fifth were my favorite; flips. I love doing frontflips into pools, I had been doing it at every pool we went to on that trip and definitely abused it off the boat. I got a couple flips in for both front and back flips before needing to let go of the cord, only to get dunked into the water again.

After that we went home soaked and enjoyed a relaxing beer before bed. I head out at 6 am for Adelaide where I was to spend the day with a mate of mine who was on exchange in Canada last semester. He picked me up, showed me around and introduced me to his friends, who I’m very much contemplating to visit again. Managed to bus home in time for class and the test I had studied for.

So that was the rest of my trip, I’m planning to see the Great Ocean Road and Tasmania before leaving Australia so I’ll keep you guys updated!

I also want to thank all of those who are supportive of me and still keeping in touch or at least reading my blog; it means a lot to me that travelling has not made me lose my friends back at home.

I’ll be back soon!

Cheers,
Coppola

Vacances

Oi Maytes!

I found some free internet around airlie beach so I decided to take advantage and tell you guys about my spring break travels.

So, first 2 days were spent in Brisbane, first one being alone, second one being with my group of 17. I did some hiking while i was on my own, saw some awesome wild Australian birds and a handful of lizards. I met some pretty sweet people, finished my essay at night so that I could be homework free by the time my friends showed. I got some awesome news from my neighbour; one of my best friends, while in Brisbane with regards to my future favorite video game, but I’ll blog about that when I get back to Melbourne. We toured around checking out the man made lagoon and botanical gardens, which were both spectacular.

We head out to Hervey Bay for a day in which I managed to pack 7 of us into a 4×4 on Fraser Island. That was probably the best day so far. We got to drive through the rainforest in sandy roads that were just super fun to drive on, made it out to the beach where we could roll at like 80kph. We found two lakes, one being the most touristy and the other which was surrounded by sand dunes. We got to roll down the sand dunes until we fall into the lake, it was nothing less than legendary. Lake Wabby was awesome, but not as clear as lake MacKenzie. Regardless, Fraser Island was a huge success.

A full 11 hour overnight bus later we made it down here to Airlie Beach. Now we just got back from a 2 day Cruise that was nothing less than spectacular. We went out to the first snorkle area, spotting a handfull of wild dolphins on the way. The reef was awesome, unfortunately I can’t post pictures because well, my waterproof camera failed on me, looks like I’m going to have a nice fat expense in the near future. Called it a night after the snorkling, had some awesome food on the boat thanks to the Skipper’s wife. Second day we made it out to whitehaven beach, which is the beach you see pictures of when you type whitsundays in google (i think). It was ridiculously awesome, low tide, the sand was like powder, it was white white, ends up it’s not literal sand but rather crushed quartz. We spent a few hours there, taking advantage of the crystal clear water, seeing a handful of wild sting rays and running into another german guy we know from Melbourne, which was random and cool.

Anyways, I’m going to head out to try and figure out a solution to my camera situation and then take advantage of the rest of today (10:45 am, long bus from 8 pm to 4 am) instead of spending it all on my blog.

Take care guys and keep it real!

Coppola

Vacation

Hey guys,

I’m still in the process of writing my essays, I haven’t had much sleep and don’t have much time before class but I stay true to my weekly blog!

So as you know I’ve been working on essays for about a week now, I have yet to complete two of the three that are due so I’ve been relatively unproductive. Either way, tonight after submitting one of the ones that is due, I will be heading to the airport to spend the night writing up my final one. My flight is at 7:30 am, and I don’t want to spend 100$ on a cab, or risk being late, so I’m leaving at 11:30 pm tonight.

I’m not very excited to pull what seems to be turning into an all nighter finishing my essay in the airport of Melbourne, but I do have a reward waiting for me, a week of vacation! I’m pretty excited for that and everything that me and my 16 other exchange student friends will be doing for that trip.

I also found out my exam schedule, which is more than awesome. I end the 2nd of November, so I’ll have a lot more time to travel around Asia when I’m done exams.

Anyways, I’m going to round up some articles for the night, and figure out some logistics of not paying for residence due to my early check out.

I’ll post again whenever I can, when I’m on the beach taking in all the positive energy of the sun, the positive reinforcement to my week of solitude.

Cheers

Coppola

Blue Mountains

Hey guys!

So I got back from Sydney and I just realized that I’m leaving on a Field Trip with one of my classes for the next few days.
I ensure you that I’m still studying and we have two 12 hour bus rides so this is not entirely leisure time!

 

Other than that I figured I’d give you the run down of Sydney, next post will once again be post-poned until next week due to my field trip and the overload of school work I have to deal with due to my excursions.

 

So day one; I took a bus down to Coogee Beach, did an incredibly scenic walk up to Bondi where I rented a surf without lessons and gave it a shot. On my walk I got to see a whale in the distance slapping his tail on the water which was just sick! Surfing was pretty tough without lessons but the surfers gave me enough tips for me to get up on my board twice in the course of 4 hours. That was enough for me to be super proud of myself and call it a day.

Day two: I headed out to the Blue Mountains (Australia’s Rockies) with two of my hostelmate’s and we hiked for a couple of hours, giving us some ridiculous views and relatively challenging terrains. Luckily we didn’t see any Funnel Web spiders which are apparently present throughout the lower levels of the mountains, such as the forest portion we walked through. That night I made it out to meet up with my Monash University friends at a couple of bars in and around Kings Cross, which was awesome because we hit up a rooftop bar.

Day three: I met up with an ex co-worker of mine, a girl who worked at the same ice cream parlor as me back in Montreal’s amusement park. We met up for lunch then toured the downtown area of Sydney, which I hadn’t done yet. After catching up we met up with her parents, who spoiled me to a delicious dinner of sushi and a double espresso at Guylian for dessert. We then went out for some wine at the Sydney Opera Bar, situated between the Opera house and the Harbour Bridge, probably one of the most scenic spots to enjoy a calm night out.

Day four: I woke up as early as I could, caught a shuttle to Manly, where I browsed the beach area and did some hiking to the North Head of the harbour. I trekked back to start my original goal for the day which was the 4 hour Manly-Spit scenic walk. It was moderately challenging but really scenic, I managed to hit every minor detour for photo-op’s that will be released in the future. I completed the walk pretty quickly (3 hours) giving me enough time for another activity for the day, the Zoo. Upon arrival at the Taronga Zoo I realized that I only had two and a half hours to tour one of the biggest Zoo’s in the world. I started with the Reptiles until I realized that I used up all my camera life during the hike. Luckily I managed to rush to the koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, emu, wombat and tazmanian devil to sneak in some pictures by turning my camera on, taking the shot and then watching it die all over again. Pooped out from being on foot as of 9 in the morning, I ferried back to the hostel and relaxed before going out for some casuals with my Canadian friend for her last night on holiday. (Aussies say holiday rather than vacation)

Day five: I looked around for some souvenirs for my best friends but only came to the realization that souvenir shops are really lame. I ended up going to the Sydney Aquarium, seeing some of the most unique types of fish and sea mammals on the planet. They had 2 of the 6 Dugong’s that are on display anywhere in the world, and man are they MASSIVE. I saw one eat, and I’m telling you as sincerely as sincere can be, that Dugong’s bite took the equivalent of one entire head of lettuce. He was hungry so you could immagine how much that beast ate! After that I walked around some of the harbours in the city area, browsed through the chinese gardens and Chinatown for some crispy noodles before needing to pack for my flight home.

That’s the quick version of Sydney, hopefully I compressed it with enough details to keep you all entertained. I want to thank all of you for reading my blog, I do appreciate the love!

For now I need to begin my laundry and preparation for my next excursion that starts with a 12 hour bus ride at 8 am tomorrow. We’re travelling to Broken Hill, essentially seeing the only part of the Outback that I’ll be exposed to during my travels here in Australia. I’m more that excited for this trip yet really nervous about the short time frame I have to get ready both mentally and physically. Hopefully I get all my stuff together in time. I plan to bring my laptop in the occasion that I get access to a glimpse of Wifi on my trip in the desert, you know, to tease you guys with some pictures and show you that I’m still alive!

Anywho, here are a few more of Sydney. I’ll update again whenever I can.

Cheers

Coppola