Fixtures & Fixations

Over the years, it appears my sports fanaticism has dramatically dwindled down (how about that rhetoric though). Growing up with a basketball-obsessed family, it was only natural that I could name all the players on the 2000 Indiana Pacers quicker than I could do my time tables. I don’t know what happened, but around 2005 I started getting over the NBA… by 2008, my father and brother yelling at the TV during the playoffs became intolerable. I have a Paul Pierce Jersey somewhere (when he was on Boston before the grandpa days), can’t tell you where it is now. I stopped paying attention, and had absolutely no interest in watching the sport anymore. I can’t really trace what the cause was, but what I can tell you is that the Fifa World Cup of 2006 captured my attention. I was back on the map as a sports fan of sorts, only now the ball my eyes followed was black, white, and smooth. I remember getting so into it… I must have seen every single match, and the ones I missed would replay on the specialty channels my dad ordered for the event LOL. Our TV guide at home has so many lists… it’s all coming back to me now. There was my list, which was had all the channels where reality tv and talk shows would play. My mom’s, all the arabic dramas, as well as christian channels, bless her. Then my father’s lists (plural). He had one list dedicated to basketball, which had all the NBA league pass channels. The World Cup soccer list, the tennis list, the movie list, and miscellaneous. Then you’ve got my brother, the listless, also the only one with an active gym membership, sigh. 

Anyway, after the world cup was over, I went on to be a true fanatic. Following all of my favourite players in their respective clubs, buying all the soccer paraphernalia I could afford. Of course Manchester United was my team… but that lasted until 2010 I believe. Not bad, a 4 year run of playing fantasy league, Facebook status updates and ESPN. Can’t tell you why I got over it either, I guess I just get bored really easily. Same thing happened with bands that I’ve been obsessed with (not naming any because it’s just embarrassing). For the sake of this post, let’s blame my fanatic dwindling on boredom. It’s all very tragic I know, but it seems the time has finally come for my latest sports fixation that calls for a fair bit of zealously. 

When in Australia, do as the Australians do. And what do Australians do? They go crazy for footy! What the hell is footy? It’s basically the umbrella name for all the leagues involving football. This includes AFL (where a bunch of dudes run around in short shorts  and try kicking a ball between two tall goal posts), NRL (rugby league), and A-League (soccer). I know, I know, you think I would’ve chosen the first one to appease my boredom, but I went for the familiar by no fault of my own. Back in March, my awesome cousins came up from Sydney and spent a week on the coast. They sparked my interest when we went to a bar and watched an A-league match, where their team (Western Sydney) was playing. I wasn’t that interested as you may have guessed, but as the match got heated, the yells-insults-at-the-ref-Randa resurfaced.

Two weeks later, I went to Sydney for my mid-semester break, and it happened to be the A-league semifinals. I went with my aunt and cousins to the match, and oh my goodness did they wake the beast. WSW (Western Sydney Wanderers) won, and facing them in the finals was Brisbane’s team, the Brisbane Roar! That game was the next weekend, in Brizzy! Luckily for me, I was back home, and totally keen to watch the final. Sure I live in Queensland, but it was only right that I supported Western Sydney because that’s the team that sparked my curiosity. The match was yesterday and I went solo, as you do, sitting with the crazy WSW fans (10,000 of which flew up to watch the match! Insane!). The boys lost the finals, but they played an awesome match, and the atmosphere was well worth the hour train ride. Though the season doesn’t start up again until later in the year, I’m pretty sure this Randa is here to stay, for a few years at least. It’s so exciting to know how insignificant you are, but feel like you’re part of something major. #goodfeeling #imwandering

Semi-finals in Sydney, at Paramatta Stadium:

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And the finals, at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane + my new amigos

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10 months optimistic

I’m not one to use many cliches, but today you must forgive me this much. So it seems, the mother of all cliches is completely appropriate for my predicament. These past 10 months in Australia have me thinking how much ‘time flies’. It feels like only yesterday that I was drinking Mill St. Organic, and eating poutine like any other day of a Canadian’s life. In retrospect, everything and nothing has been accomplished in this timeframe. I like to think myself an optimistic person, always looking for a silver lining, preferring a glass half full, etc. But if you know me well enough, I’m a pessimistic optimist. Contradiction? Not really. I’m optimistic at heart if that makes any sense, I always want the end result to be wonderful, but my skepticism (passed down from a generation of skeptics) always makes it first in line.

This is the side of me that suggests I have accomplished nothing in the past 10 months. Sure, I’m closer to my goal of graduating, I’ve managed to make a few friends along the way and I’m generally content with life. Bit of a gloomy undertone, right? Well recently, a friend of mine shared the most inspiring post on Facebook about a similar situation, only she skipped the nonsense and took the optimistic approach. The post was about her father approaching her, having the “you’ve accomplished nothing in the last year” talk. And her brilliant response left me encouraged, and stirred something in my heart.

Though that skeptical side of me still exists, I am happy to say it has dulled down immensely in 2014. It would be dishonest to say I am an optimistic person to the core, because let’s face it, I listen to way too much Smiths to be jolly. What I can say with confidence is that my optimism has flourished, and with the help of my dear friend who was brave enough to share her journey in a Facebook status, I can share my accomplishments in these past 10 months with absolute dignity. If you don’t think much of them, that’s perfectly fine. At this moment in my journey, personal reflection matters a fair deal more to me than anything else. Sidenote, if you’re a woman and you’re feeling the same way, I recommend watching Disney’s Mulan, she had similar challenges and she’s an absolute legend/badass/ninja.

Accomplishments since arriving in Australia (all equally fulfilling might I add):

  •  I arrived in Australia unscathed! There were Canadians on Air Malaysia’s Flight 370. I can’t help but count my blessings.
  • Got a tattoo! And a Harry Potter one might I add, truly a fulfilling moment in my life.
  • I’ve survived 3 run-ins with snakes. Australia is dangerous! Apparently they only come out for me, many of my friends who have lived here all their lives have had no such encounters.
  • I joined a netball team. Might I add, I youtubed ‘how to play netball’ an hour before the first game. 15 games later and no wins, but who cares! It’s a ball (pun intended).
  • I’m in the Coffee Master program. For Starbucks die hards, you know what this means. I never managed to get my foot in when I worked for Starbucks in Canada. Only 22 stores in Australia, makes me feel like a valued partner, not another number.
  • I survived a vegemite ambush. My friend sneakily put it in the gravy sauce that she made to accompany our steaks. Thankfully, a few glasses of water and laying down did the trick.
  • Wolfmother has come out of their hiatus. Honestly, I never thought the day would come. Not to mention, their new album is incredible. I count this as an accomplishment of answered prayers.
  • I’ve finally read ‘that’ book. All readers have that one book that changed the game for them. The book that they will always remember, the one that spoke to their hearts, recommend to everyone, etc. Well I can finally say that I read that book during my time in Australia.
  • Australian slang integration. I no longer address customers with my signature “Hiya, how are you?”. I’m all about the “Hey, how ya going?” Who would’ve thought. Also, “far out!” has substituted f***… which is great on a number of levels haha. I’ll let you know when I’ve used fair dinkum properly, gosh that will be a sight.
  • This blog! I’ve wanted to get one up for years, but surely it wasn’t meant to be until I started this incredible journey in Australia. Life in Markham would have eventually turned it into a food & bubble tea blog.

Hmm that’s all for now, I will be sure to follow up with a similar post at the end of the year!

Homey /ˈhəʊmi/ adjective: A place or surroundings comfortable and cosy.

If you think yourself a dear friend of mine, you have been invited to my home at one point or another. If you haven’t, I’d say try harder… you’ll get the invite soon enough! LOL anyway, it’s true that I’m always inviting people over, and if you’re one of those people you know that my room is always BADASS! My amigos in Canada know my walls to be covered in posters bearing images of Joy Division, The Beatles, Manchester United and Muse. Also, photos of people I love are absolutely everywhere, along with some random things like tacky silver tinsel. Point is, I make sure to make it comfortable, or I truly cannot sleep in it!

Being a zillion (8000 in reality) miles away from home, it’s funny to think that my room is more homey than ever. With the help of 200 photos, a few quotes, and a london telephone booth poster (Ebay win!), my room once again looks badass. Though I’m missing my “Love will tear us apart” poster, I’ve managed to make this place feel like home. If you’re studying away from home, I encourage you to take a day and just go for it. Write out a few of your favourite quotes in 18pt font, print photos of good times and good people, get some colorful sheets and be purposeful in your placement of things. My first month here, my room looked like a jail cell. Bare walls, ugly blue sheets and nothing but my purple suitcases to add colour. The struggle was real! Ok enough talk, here are some pics:

Here are the quotes I designed:
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And here’s how I integrated them (not the awesome/cluttered cork board):

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Photo wall +  Badass poster + Awesome sheets:

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Experience Over Packages

So I recently blogged about the negative aspects of travel and tourism in the third world, but I don’t want that post to be the pessimistic be all and end all to my fellow globetrotters. For those interested in responsible travel, you should know that it is attainable, and it’s up to us to pave the future path for tourism in the Global South. I’ve found that a good start is to think of travel in the context of exploration and gaining experiences rather than seeking extravagant packages and possessions.

Sunbathing on a beach does not constitute an authentic attempt of “gaining a new experience” or “seeing something new”. Yes indeed, the sun may be hotter, the beaches cleaner, and the men more attractive, but if these are the only characteristics we look for when traveling, we will lose the richness this world has to offer us because we were too busy fawning over superficial exoticism. Therefore let us be more diligent in distinguishing authentic travel from inauthentic travel.

I define authentic travel as an experience where you connect with the people, the landscape, the culture, the food and the environment. Anything less than this won’t make the cut. The question a lot of you are asking, “why plan out a responsible trip when the $600 all-inclusive package is one click away?”

For a number of reasons, friends:

  • It helps the local community: Tourism can either exploit local people and cultures or assist communities to preserve important traditions. The choices you make as a traveller can affect this.
  • New culture, new perspectives: You will gain an adequate understanding of the culture you visit; and you will help support their preservation.
  • It’s fair trade: Some countries, like Cambodia, have community based tourism networks that help identify ventures that protect the culture and livelihoods of rural people.
  • You’re saving the environment: You can fly less and stay longer, giving you more time to understand the local culture and emit less carbon. Also, you can use public transport to land hop! You will be supporting the economy, engaging with people and reducing your carbon footprint!

Believe it or not, you can travel authentically without the help of Expedia.com. There are tons of eco-tourism and responsible travel sites to assist your next adventure! If you want to do your own research on the matter, the resources are endless. For those interested, I suggest you start with the “Tourism Concern’s Ethical Travel Guide”… It’s a great place start. Safe & responsible travels, friends!

For once, it seems University has left its mark.

I’ve been blessed with the means to travel a fair bit by the age of 23. I’ve traveled through 5 continents. You can call me a true tourist at the core, with a camera in one hand and an itinerary in the other. I’ve been to rich and poor, and sadly I must admit that the best vacations I’ve taken were in the Global South, the third world. For me, the Panamean beaches are unmatched by any other, and the spicy Dominican cuisine is the best in its class. Quite ignorantly, I have been perfectly happy with these lavish vacations, and I have had no issues with such things until I took 301HUM, a globalization and development course.

We had to choose topics which affected the development of the Global South. Of course, the girl who loves to travel had to get tourism as a topic. I have to admit, I was pissed of when I started my research on tourism! What a complete scam! Anyway, without pasting my research essay, here are some things that I discovered:

1. Tourism’s exploitation of the labour force because of its low wages, excessive hours and duties (e.g. in the case of cruise line employees). Also, in many developing countries there is a lack of possibilities for advancement to senior positions. And now that I come to think of it, locals never held senior positions at the resorts I’ve visited.

2. Leakage, which is the foreign and outside control of the industry seeing a high proportion of the economic benefits, rather than it remaining in the destination.

3. The degradation of the environment through unregulated construction, over-use of resources, pollution, and diversion of often scarce water supplies.

4. Lastly, tourism is disruptive of the culture and way of life of local communities.

My investigations had me feeling ignorant and unethical. I understand that I’m not personally disrupting these places by my visits; however, I don’t believe I want to be involved in such an underhanded industry anymore. An hour of research was all it took to completely alter my attitudes toward the travel and tourism industry. So what now you ask? Well, I will encourage every traveller to research both the external and internal affects of their tourism, keeping in mind that these are our brothers and sisters who are getting the short end of the stick.

Side note, the text used for the course is “Development and Social Change” by Philip McMichael. It’s a brilliant, relevant read on the globalization of the Global South! Highly recommended for sociology students!