Coming Back Down

7 Jul

This week went by sooo quickly! I can’t believe my internship will be over next week, and I feel like I just got here! Boo haha! It’s been such a crazy experience, in all the right ways! If I were to sum up the contents of this week, I would call it coming back down to Earth. I feel like I made a lot of good decisions, and more importantly, I feel like I’m comfortable with who I am again in this foreign place. But, as usual, let me start from the beginning.

Monday I was just not feeling well, so I slept in til like 11am. I came in to the lab around 1pm, ran behavioral tests and read some scientific papers. It was the first day of my online class back at Purdue (Religions of the East), and I was bit upset about it, because it’s not self-paced like they told me it would be (so I have to juggle three classes all at once for the next two weeks, as they overlap), and the first exam is on my birthday (which whatever, isn’t such a big deal, but it certainly doesn’t make me happier about this class). I feel like a failure because I so want to drop it already. I’m going to think about it for a couple of days before I decide, but I want absolutely nothing to get in my way of enjoying my time here in Australia. I have GRE prep I can do if I’m bored. I hardly think I’ll need another class to stimulate my brain as well (plus I need to start researching grad schools and reading scientific papers!).

 Tuesday I went to class. The end. Haha, pretty much I did nothing spectacular today. I had garlic noodles for dinner (pretty much the highlight of my day, and it’ll be my dinner menu for the rest of my time here, as I need to get rid of my groceries, which are limited and specific to the ingredients needed for garlic noodles haha!). I did bs my presentation on religion in Australia, which I so didn’t practice, so that was good. Other than that, I slept a lot and just relaxed! Lovely day.

Wednesday I really started to get an ulcer in my stomach about my online class. I’ve pretty much decided to drop it, even though that means I’ll lose 200 bucks. I’m a bit upset that I couldn’t access the syllabus BEFORE the class began, as I’d be able to tell if I wanted to drop it and have gotten all of my money back. I definitely feel manipulated, but whatever haha. So after I got over myself, I went into the lab today and I got to run the behavioral tests *all by myself*. haha I felt really awesome going solo, and it felt a lot more real and special because *I* was accountable for something, and if I messed up, it would be *my* fault. It’s strange how I feel like that’s a good thing, but idk! It felt like I was really doing something personally rewarding. I wasn’t just mirroring anymore. I was totally DOING it. After work, I went home, cooked dinner, and decided to buy a box of dark chocolate Tim Tams. Okay. So you know I’ve talked about these bars before. There are 11 cookies per box, and they are each 352 kJ per bar, which is about 100 calories each (so 1100 calories per box). Yeah. I ate all of them, totalling my daily caloric intake to around let’s say… 2500. Yeah, this means I should weigh approximately 160 pounds. So in order to cope with my way too full stomach, I decided to take a very VERY long walk in the freezing cold winter’s night, equipped with my iPod for entertainment. It was quite lovely for the first.. eh. Twenty minutes, but then my iPod died (sadly it’s not invincible) and then about an hour’s way into my walk, I had this insane urge to purge haha (those Tim Tams are just asking for it, aren’t they?). So I kinda chilled out in Hyde Park for a bit, and I saw this gorsh ugly street rat rummaging around for food, as I looked like death trying to fight my urges to puke. It was quite an inspiring moment hahahahaha! Finally, my stomach decided to feel better, and I walked home and enjoyed the lovely night. One of the coolest things about my walk, though, turned out to be what I originally felt was bad news. Because my iPod was dead, I was able to maintain my mask that “hey my ears are occupied, please don’t creepily try to initiate a conversation with me or sell me things” AND still have the pleasure of hearing the sounds of the city and the culture of Australian vernacular, etc. It was super cool. I felt like an undercover kickass spy! haha I’m strange :P.

 Thursday I had my last official day of class for the summer. Yes, I’ve decided not to take my online class afterall. Because of my TimTam overindulgence yesterday, I had a raging headache the entire day as I was detoxing, which was silenced when I stuffed myself full of fiber and pasta. I was so sleepy today! We had a talk about instrumental learning today, and all I wanted to do was sleep. It actually concerned me a tad. I’m 80% sure it’s because I was so tired that I had to focus on breathing at a sane rate, but for the 20% that I’m just not interested in the theory being discussed, I’m concerned. Honestly, I don’t think I’m interested in the learning theory as far as my research interests go. I really like personality research, but there is very little neuroscience in that, as it cannot be simulated in rats (maybe apes, though?). I could be mistaken (I need to do some research), but it scares me that I’m not interested in the learning theory, as pretty much everything in neuroscience stems from it. I love dealing with emotions, but I can’t think of how to combine that with rats. Hmm. Something to mull over. What exactly do I like about my internship? I liked the surgeries. I liked the company (had stellar labmates!). I liked the facilities. I liked slicing brains and mounting them. Some of the stuff I did didn’t inspire me so much, because it wasn’t *my* project, and goal-directed behavior, while I appreciate it for what it is, doesn’t interest me nearly as much as personality compatibility or the psychology of emotions. How to combine this, though? Tricky tricky tricky! I’ve decided I’m going to peruse through some scientific abstracts after I write my paper tomorrow and see what’s up with this. Thursday night, I kicked it back and relaxed (and slept!!) because I was so tired for some reason (man I’m always so tired!).

 Friday I went into lab and ran behavioral experiments all by myself yet again (I know, I know.. I’m such a pro ;-D) and spent the arvo writing up a final essay for another class. That night, I made some delicious garlic noodles and headed up to Newcastle for another fantastic weekend! J By the time I got in, it was pretty much time to collapse, so I did, but on Saturday, it was the start to a long line of meetingnewpeopleness. As an introvert, this can be quite scary, but it was surprisingly easy with the company in which I found myself surrounded. While I did have my moments of awkwardness, it really just comes with being born for me, so it really was quite lovely overall (bahaha sometimes I just need to stop talking, methinks). Anyway, we had breakfast with my friend’s sister and her boyfriend, who were up from Melbourne this weekend as well, and then we came back and stormed over Youtube for lovely videos to entertain our youshouldbeconcernedforus minds. I gotta say, I’m never using Youtube again for the purposes of curing my boredom, because the Best of Youtube website is SO MUCH BETTER in terms of removing possibly all of regular Youtube’s less exciting offerings. Afterwards, we pretty much played the most epic Battle of the Sexes game (I believe it lasted like 4+ hours? It was impressive) of EVAR! I had the best team (ahem gender)! Kye’s mom and sister SO know their masculine trivia! I totally did NOT. Haha I think I knew one they didn’t know, and it was about Indiana! Bahaha. Though in my defense, the game WAS mostly about rugby union/league (there’s a stark difference.. don’t talk sport over here unless you actually KNOW it, or you’ll likely be ripped to shreds then laughed at profusely.. haha kidding.. ahem.. kinda :P)/mostly about Australian things, so I can get away with blaming my lack of pop culture knowledge on cultural displacement :P. Or, ya know, I could say I need to get out more. :-DDD For dinner, we had these OH SNAP amazing fish and chips (take out). I LOVE fish over here! I wish we had the good stuff in Indiana (but unfortunately, being far from the coast pretty much annihilates any hopes of that ever coming true *sad face*) as well! Haha. Afterwards, we saw a long track of the Big Bang Theory and a couple of movies and by then it was time to hit the sack again. Sunday was my favorite part of the weekend. We had intended to go to this youth gathering for meeting in the morning, but due to personal constraints, we decided to pull over and watch a bunch of 60+ year olds play cricket in a nearby field instead. I felt really bad about not going to the meeting, because my friend wanted to, and it was my fault that we didn’t, but the decision I think was a positive one, because I finally feel myself again (which I’m sure he’s happy about and I can stop bothering him with my emotions haha :P). I think that, especially in a foreign country, it’s hard to remember what you can’t be when you’re lost in a sea of why nots and what ifs. Fact: I cannot have a stellar Aussie accent no matter how long or how stringently I tried. Also a fact: I cannot uproot my entire life and move to Australia so I never have to leave the Land o’ Smiles. Factfactfact: I cannot change my melancholy personality type to reflect the smiles that surround me here. I tried, and the harder I tried, the more cognitive dissonance I felt. It’s not that I can’t be happy. It’s that I can’t try to be happy (twas wayyy too much pressure, and I felt my behavior was more paranoid than genuinely me), and moving to Australia won’t do anything but exacerbate that dissonance if I move to Australia just because I think it’ll make me happy. In fact, I’ve decided it’s a really bad idea to make any decision when it’s based on the motive that you want to get back to “the way things used to be”. Not to confuse realism with pessimism, but things are never EXACTLY the same. There’s really no evidence I’d have the same experience if I came here to live in the future. Which does have significance, because my lab’s asked me back for next summer (yay!), which I’m excited about, but I’m also a bit insecure about it as well. Anyway, that was kind of a tangent. In a broad sense, my experiences in this country have been so great and the combination of all of the places and people I’ve been blessed to have crossed paths with have really made an impact on me. And because of my affinity and endearment to these people in this place in which I find myself completely submersed, I found myself a bit torn between wanting to change parts of myself to better fit in with these special people. I think, moreso, I aimed to remove some aspects of who I am that I find make me a bit different, or even unideal. Anyway, the conversation made me realize that I needed to reassess some of my expectations. I was trying to change a part of me that just couldn’t be changed, and because of this failure, I was trying to understand what was so strong to be holding me back from doing so. If I could, there’s nothing in the WORLD that would stop me from talking to God about why he made me so emotional. If only I could just get some perspective, as it seems to be the major demon in my life. It pretty much makes or breaks my social experiences with people, and the fear that it is an imposition on those around me is the main motivator for my self-inflicted social isolation. I SO wish living in and around people who always seem to beam such loveliness and utter happiness – as I have this summer – would rub off on me for the rest of my life. But even the hope that it would seems to exacerbate feelings of inadequacy, because if I can’t do what I desire – in this case be the smiles that surround me all of the time, all of the time – then well, what’s the point? Why should what I want to do torture the reality that I cannot do those things? My life would be so much easier – friendships I’ve always cherished would never be broken or wounded because of some impulse of my passionate personality, largely based on irrationality – without shades of grey. Yet it is my shades of grey that I have learned to love the most, because it makes the sun shine even brighter when it rises in my life. Yes, it’s not always constantly shining, but it has more meaning for ME when it comes. It’s like the lovely cheese at the end of a maze, and I’m the rat (orrrr I’ve been in a neuroscience lab for far too long.. << >>… **runs away!**) Anywayzzz. Haha :^] My biggest dilemma was trying to reconcile differences I see between myself and others. I had a debate about the most trivial thing in the world, pretty much, which was blown out of proportion because I fully believe it was some sort of figurative manifestation of this exact dilemma within me. To those who encountered this debate: I apologize for being so stringent about reconciling the disagreement I had, but basically, I suspect the source of my discomfort lay in my disbelief that I couldn’t make sense of it. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the assertion that was made to me that “you don’t even have to understand differences between people”. I think as a psychologist, this is what was totally disconcerting to me. I’m ridiculously stubborn about the fact that I fully believe I can get inside of every single individual’s head in time. Assuming who I am talking to is sane, I believe everything can make sense to anyone from anyone. Finding the link between subjectivity and rationality is like an exhilarating challenge for me. I guess the huuuuge variable I forgot to consider (silly me), is that not everyone would be kind/patient enough to let me try. Some people just DON’T want you to go there (there being whatever threshold they set for any context). I think I was trying too hard to find a mutual understanding about differences I couldn’t intuitively understand. And never is being yourself supposed to be hard. So after I gained some perspective, and the 60+ year olds decided it was time for lunch, we headed back for some more Youtube-ing and a bit of sleepiness (at least for me haha). I will also admit that a significant decision has been made as far as solidifying my platform against the overzealous Twilight obsession that has poisoned the minds of basically the entire globe. Drumroll please. I am sacrificing the stability of my esophagus from being reunited with what I suspect will be my formally ingested food for the sake of establishing higher ethos concerning my opinions of the series. I felt “uh about that” wasn’t really stacking well against inquisitions such as: “so have you actually READ them?” Ahem, so yes. I plan to give updates throughout my investigation. Should be a nice laugh, I’m hoping. Or maybe one of those “I’m in so much pain so I’ll laugh instead” laughs. Haha ;-DDD I jest.. a little 😛 What else what else? Ah, yes. The grand finale of the weekend! There was this ginormous PARRRR-TAAAY (Jhaha) Sunday night. The Weedon family was hosting three Australian Choir guys, the daughter was up, and so they invited a bunch of friends and family members and just had the loveliest feast, just because! It was fantastic! Three different curries (the pumpkin curry was definitely my fav!), tons of barbeque loveliness (these amazing sausages!), and fruit, and I believe like 7 different desserts? Haha, yeah. I had to loosen my belt that night ;-DDD. Sooo good. But you know what else was good? The conversation! It was lovely. I was super on edge because I’m excellent at being awkward and introverted, but I seriously had such a nice time! I met at least 15 different people that night, and I’m 75.4385% sure I forget 75.4385% of them, but I’ll never forget their faces (watch, I do, now that I’ve said that haha :/)! There was this gorgeous older lady with such an uplifting spirit about her. She made me so happy just to try to understand what she was saying! And on the opposite end of the spectrum, an adorable 1.75 year old girl with the cutest laugh and fist pump EVAR. Haha Aw, it was soo good for the soul. I loved every minute of it! J I even had such a good time that I missed all of the trains back into Sydney that night, so I got up early, caught an early train and went straight to work, very smelly and all, Monday morning haha! What an amazingly heart-warming weekend!

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