Thursday, February 13, 2014

Back to school

Many of you will think I'm crazy for saying this but being back to school feels super cool. I don't know if it makes ME cool but it sure makes me feel very happy to be learning again & so I couldn't care less about my coolness. And learning something you love doing already, it's a 100% pure bliss.

I don't know how much & how well I will be able to talk about my studies without repeating myself or without actually boring you to death. So let's make a deal. I'll announce my colors right away about the theme of my studies & you'll decide whether you want to read about it or pass onto the next blog.

If you are my friend or a family member, you know already. If you are a random blog surfer - be welcome! Ready for a little riddle? My color is of all colors, my color is of all flavors, my color is of all perfumes, my color is of all origins. Are you confused? Don't be. If you think about it, you know the answer already. It's easy. Need some hints? It is something you need every day. It is something you taste every day. It is something you smell every day. It is spread worldwide. I can just hear you going "is this you spilling the beans (pun intended) right away"? Well, yes & no. But I shall stop teasing you & just write the word "food". That is the answer to all of those unasked questions. So, are you there yet? Do you know the theme of my studies?


I don't know when it became my passion. Nor do I recall what woke it up. But it's been there for a long long while. Something has released the Kraken in me. And so I decided to give it a shape, to discipline it, to get it under control. Learn the terminology, learn the basics, learn as much as possible about the techniques, how to cook & bake, how to dice, slice, grate, peel, mash, whisk, press, roll, squish, clean up in the most correct way. Experience it fully.

Obviously, there is a lot of theory to master somewhere in between. Not my "forte" I would say. Because theory usually needs to be read & tested. I'm not good with tests & there will be plenty of those. They stress me out. But I'll deal with it & I shall do my best, that is for sure. Because basically, I'm doing this for the fun while taking it as seriously as one possibly can. So there is a huge part of pressure that is gone just like that! 

I don't have any particular desire of becoming one of THE worldwide known chefs. All my respect to them! What do I desire? I want to be responsible for the soul of the food I cook. To be a great commis, a great chef de partie, saucier & so much more. I want to be creative, to be inspiring, to be happy with what I cook & make people who eat my meals happy. Truly, madly, deeply. Let my love & passion become theirs. It's as simple as that.

After the first basic cuts
all fingers are still attached!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Orient me or I'll point the direction to you myself

There, there. Did I hear you say "did you (meaning me, of course!) update your blog this week yet?" Yes, you keep insisting? Well, watch out for what you ask for because you might have to be glued to your screens for a (long) while once you get me started!

Today was not like some other regular day. It was indeed the Orientation day for NMIT International Students. And how it all went, you may ask?

Well, for starters, lemme tell you dear darlings - I'm 36 years old & still too restless when it comes to my "first day at school"... Even though - orientation should NOT count as a regular school day. But back to being restless. It was all supposed to start at 9:15am & so I could have had a normal time wake up call (from my lovely phone service!). But no, the internal clock decided otherwise & as soon as the 6am hit the day it was like "Hello, I'm awake!!!".

So did I have a choice? How can you fight one very excited mind & heart? You can not. Nope, not this puppy!

Don't worry, I'll spare you the boring part when I'm getting ready, taking it real easy & ending up by leaving the house without finding the time to actually have my breakfast. And I am NOT, I repeat: I am NOT one of those who spend hours putting the fake face on (no, I don't wear make up - like EVER!) or anything of that girlie stuff girls can do. I know what I'm gonna wear, I know I'm putting my hair up (more comfy!), I know I can be ready in 15min. No sweat. Still. I. Left. Without. Eating. Breakfast. Go & figure.

So, departure time is set to 8am. It is about 8km of bike ride from my "home" campus to my "school" campus. So what do I need 1h15 for? Well, it's a road I haven't taken before & sincerely, even though my mind is confident about my bike skills, my body is (for sure!!!) not the bike material. Meaning, I'm just not fit anymore! Disappointed? I can assure you - not as much as my lazy self!

I was riding with my newly acquired Polish friend Asia (to be pronounced "ashia") & I thank this universe for such a lovely helpful friend! Not even 5 minutes into the ride, the chain of my brand new sexy red bike gets all tangled & stuck. Not a soul to help us at this "early" hour until a Chinese lady comes along & 6 hands later, we succeed putting the chain back on the track! Xiexie & now, good bye 'cause we gotta go! Black oily cut hands 'n all.

There are lots of bike paths that go through the parks here & so the ride is rather pleasant for the eye. It is also hilly. For a lazy, unfit me, it's the worst combo. Even though I keep breathing heavily with my tongue sticking out (yes, very elegant, I know!), I carry on pedaling. Until... Badabooom, the chain gets tangled & stuck again. I mean. Really??? Why? Because I got up too early? Because I wanted to enjoy the view? Now, my brand new sexy red bike is not so sexy to me anymore. Now, I'm not much of a sex symbol either because of it acting up on me! All flushed, sweaty & with disgusting hands on top of it. Again, nobody stops to help. Until my "invisible" (just repeating her words) friend suggests I jump in front of the next biker that comes our way. To ask for help. Which I did. He stopped & he tried. He got all flushed, sweaty & got his hands awfully disgusting too. When the chain was back on, huge smiles spread on 3 flushed faces & we all rushed off into the wild. Pedaling wildly all juiced out.

Thankfully, we made it on time. Registered, sat down & listened & listened & listened (& played a mahjong game but shhhhh, don't tell anybody - it was just one round after all!).

We were welcomed by heaps of different people (well, hello right back atcha!) who all informed us about the school, about the teams that are here to help us in case we need it (will keep it in mind), about Visa, about public transportation (no concession for international students this year!!! that SUCKS big time), about security when going to the beaches (remember the flags & don't swim into the RIP currents!), about culture cards (yay, events for free!), about events with SLAM (yay, more events for free + you can win things by playing!), about our rights (good to know), about how the police is there to protect us (yes, phliiiz)... We were told we should be serious about our studies (is there any other way???) but also that we should go out, party hard (just repeating!) & have fun. I say, count on me!

My first class (theory) starts on Tuesday Feb 11th & obviously I cannot wait. I might not even go to sleep before it does begin. My practical classes will be on Wednesdays & Thursdays. Which means that every week, I will have a 4 day long weekend. How cool is that!!!??? And there you have it dear darling, you have been oriented. Welcome to my school world.
you'll find me in the building "K"

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Heat & hide

I have been in Australia for 6 full days now & the temperature outside has been climbing higher & higher each day. So today, knowing it would get up all the way to 35°C, I decided to stay in my lovely little room & spend my time otherwise than those previous 5 days.

What happened previously? Well well, wouldn’t you want to know?! But I guess you are in luck, because I am one of those who cannot keep it to themselves, one of those who just simply have to share. And so, I am going to tell you.

Day 1
I exchanged my money because currencies such as YEN, Euro & USD wouldn’t do much good to me here. I went to the bank with all that money & opened a bank account. Which was super easy & fast. AND, because I am here as a student, I don’t even have to pay any extra bank fees. How cool is the life of a student???!!!

Then I ordered my new iPhone (publicity much?) along with the yearly contract which was much much MUCH more difficult. Yes, Australia – this is your first black point. Or maybe we are spoiled in Europe & anybody can get a phone for as long as they want & it always will be advantageous to their needs & financial possibilities. No, I do NOT need 500min of talk time per month. I, nevertheless, am the queen of text messaging. No, I do NOT need the internet because honestly, there are so many restrictions to it that no matter how well you understand it, you will always get screwed & then hello tears when the phone bill comes with extra units to pay for!

And I also went to fetch my health insurance card. Let’s hope I never need to use it.

Administration is a bore to me & so I was very happy when my friend took me to Sorrento for a late lunch. No, not the one that is located south of Naples opposite the Isle of Capri. Sorrento is a township in Victoria. The one that is located on the shores of Port Phillip on the Mornington Peninsula. It is about 1h30 car ride south of Melbourne. From what I read, it is a largely upper class, seaside resort area. I dipped my feet in the sea. Yes, I live dangerously from time to time!

Did I say I live dangerously before I actually told you about my trip to Springvale’s IKEA store?  & after that grocery shopping in Fairfield? Yeah, I think I did. My first day was a long one. But exciting & calm at the same time.

Day 2
You all know my passion about food & markets. So it will come like NO SURPRISE at all when I will tell you that I went to Victoria’s Market & the Tea House in Melbourne.

And after that I was taken to my belated birthday gift. A brand new, gorgeous & very sexy red bicycle that was waiting for me impatiently in Brunswick!!!

Day 3
You know what? I’m blanking out here!

Am I Australian yet?
Day 4
I was kidnapped to Phillip Island to celebrate the Australia Day with a bunch of very young & fun Australians. But before that happened, I lost 10g of my weight by cutting a piece of my left thumb off. Yes, that IS my secret of staying fit at my age!!!

Like the name indicates, the place I was kidnapped to is an island. It is about 140km south-southeast of Melbourne. It forms a natural breakwater for the shallow water of Western Port. The island is 26km long & 9km wide, it has 97km of coastline & is part of the Bass Coast Shire. (Thank you Google!) It is known for its wildlife – fairy penguins, wallabies & kangaroos but I didn’t see any of those. The day was about Australia & not about the animals this time!

Dim sum in Chinatown MEL
Day 5
Program of the day? Took my bike for a ride. Enjoyed the greenery of Victoria’s Gardens, walked on the Softbank, had dinner in the Chinatown & watched the sunset at St Kilda.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fairfield Yarra NMIT campus

Fairfield campus today
Everybody will agree with me that mothers & fathers are usually the members of your family that are the most concerned about your well being (no matter your age!). I'm not saying that other members of the family aren't concerned, but these particular 2 actually say it aloud.

And so dear mum & dear daddy, before I start giving slightly more detailed info about my accommodation - I just wanted to let you know... I arrived safely, I have a roof upon my head, I have a bed to sleep in, there are several bathrooms, there is a kitchen where I can prepare my meals, there are game rooms where I can spend time with other students, there are security guards who keep an eye our campus 24/7. If I forgot something, it's probably because there is nothing to report.

When I started looking into schools & where I should be accommodated, I did not look for the information whether the school or the accommodation party had a good reputation like many other people would. I looked at the distances between one & the other & I looked at the weekly rate. Yes, that's all I needed to know. It isn't because I am not concerned about my safety. I just automatically assume that since this is a campus for students of all ages (but mostly half my age!), the safety must be there. Yep, I'm trusting that way.

When I moved in, I found out that this building used to be a hospital. Infectious diseases hospital, to be more precise. It was operated from 1904 & it closed in 1996. If you google it, you will find out that it is perched on the banks of the Yarra river at Yarra Bend in the inner Melbourne suburb of Fairfield. It had an international reputation for the research & treatment of infectious diseases. It was the last specific infectious diseases hospital in Australia.

Some of the students confided in me saying that it felt little spooky to them to be living in a building where people with typhoid, diphtheria, cholera, smallpox, poliomyelitis, scarlet fever, HIV AIDS used to live in. (There is a part of this complex of buildings where the dead bodies were burned.) I myself feel rather intrigued by such fact & I'm curious to find out more! For I find it fascinating how things were, how they changed, evolved.

Since closure in 1996, most of the hospital site has been redeveloped. The northern portion of it (including the majority of the hospital buildings) were sold to NMIT. You don't know who or what NMIT is? Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE. They offer a wide selection of study options in vocational education. They have different campuses. Mine is in Preston. So Fairfield is where I get to live & relax, Preston where I get to learn & grow happier.

Do you think you know it all by now? Well, lemme tell you one more thing (or 2 - naaah well, you know me, I cannot keep it short!!!). From 1956 till 1986, there was HM Prison Fairlea (first all female prison in Victoria) who operated at this location. Prior to that, it was Yarra Bend Lunatic Asylum. Crazy, right?! I mean, literally!!! Then, in 1986 it was rebuilt, expanded, reopened, just to be closed 10 years later. In 2000 a hospital with a very high security forensic mental health opened. It functions as both a prison & a hospital, providing advanced clinical treatments & programs for the patients who are usually admitted from the criminal justice system. Either via prison transfer or from a court order for psychiatric treatment.

And now I ask - do you still remember what I wrote at the beginning of this post?

I love this campus. It has a history, a past & a very interesting present. It is surrounded by nature from & towards all 4 earthly directions. Wherever you look, there is grass, trees, flowers, birds... There are adventure playgrounds (for both kids & adults), a skatepark, public BBQ areas, Westfield reserve, Fairfield park, Fairfield boathouse & tea gardens, Merri Creek waterway runs through here & so does Yarra river, there are bridges. Both Merri creek & Yarra river have a bicycle trail named after them. On the Yarra river you can go for a romantic boat ride (romantic for her, sporty for him) or you can take your bicycle + kayak & get a whole body work out. For the richer there is also a golf park. There are always people walking, riding a bike, running, playing, eating. What is there not to love, right? Oh yeah, I do know of one thing - the flies. But let's leave that for another day.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

But, where is my bed...?

Who said that 24h of flying was going to be long? Especially because, dear me, it was not a direct flight. Well, I actually didn’t see the time pass by. For once. At least not during the first part of my journey. I had an amazing chance to meet with lovely Slovak ladies who were travelling to India. One of my favorite destinations (even though I only went once!). They were kind, they were generous, they were chatty, they were fun. We all waited for our connecting flights at the Doha airport. Exchanging our personal stories, marital/companion statuses, shoe sizes. Dah, we are girls after all!

Life is well made. It puts amazing people onto your path when you least expect it & boy, does it feel uplifting! Obviously, during the second part I had no such luck but I didn’t mind. Greatness comes in small doses & I wouldn’t have been able to handle more anyway.

So instead of socializing with my neighbors, I watched few movies. Despicable 2 was my first choice & what a choice it was! I love “kid” movies. Since I was on the roll, I watched Blue Jasmine. Cate Blanchett is stunning in it! Not that the movie belongs to the happy group but I liked it very much. Third movie was about Steve Jobs. Boy, was he an angry bugger! Even though it was a movie about him (or so I though), I still don’t know much about him. Fourth & last movie – well, I would have watched more as the choice was quite extensive (& appealing) but have you seen the size of the screens on the planes??? – Ain’t them bodies saints with the very gorgeous Casey Affleck & Rooney Mara. But let’s pass, I can’t imagine you would actually be interested in my movie reviews.

Arrived to Melbourne safely, we landed almost on time. In one piece & surprisingly, rather fresh. Oh yeah, I washed my face & brushed my teeth just before the “keep your seat belt attached” went back on for the landing. A friend of mine was expecting me at the airport & I must say, I thank this universe (& HIM, obviously!) for those “little” favors! I’ve done a lot of travelling in my life & I’m sure that I would have found a way of getting to the accommodation on my own if I had to. But it was absolutely lovely to be able to just sit in a very comfy car & be taken to my new home.

Funny thing is – even though I communicated with the people from my accommodation, my room (let alone my bed) was not ready. Nobody actually expected me that night. So we had to wake the manager up.  Who then welcomed me barefoot, in his night gown. Hopefully he shall forgive my indiscretion & for divulging such a private detail from his private night habits. I found it very endearing & amusing. It also probably helped me not to get annoyed. Even though – I wonder what could have annoyed me today. I was so excited to be here after all the plans & preparations!

All right lovely peeps. Not that this hasn’t been fun, but I am supposed to be sleeping. Now that I have a temporary bed for the night, I shall try to take a full advantage of it. Wish me luck, for these people are 10h ahead of my sleeping time. Nite nite!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Day D


This is it friends. Day D is here.

Day D – as in this is THE Day when I put it all in motion. 

Day D – as in the Dream that starts becoming true. Slowly but surely.  But I would rather that than nothing at all. 

Day D – as in the Destination that I’m heading towards to. Yes, it is at the other side of this planet. But lemme tell ya – this planet is smaller than you think!  

Day D – as in Down Under. Well yeah, I did say it was at the other side of the globe from Europe. 

Day D – as in Discover me! And believe me when I say, I sure will do my best to not to let you down. 

Day D – as in Damn, this certainly is exciting!