I have finally been busy with schoolwork and haven’t been able to commit a second to my blog, but finally I am getting a post finished. The rigor of school slapped us all in the face these last two weeks as we started a new module at Curtin University Sustainability and Policy (CUSP). The new Sustainability course started Tuesday the 10th, and is being taught to us four by two professors. The ratio is great for an informal very interactive class. I have never received attention like this in a class, so I am relishing the opportunity to really get the most out of this course. So far we have covered 10 sections in the book, had guest lectures from PhD students and the Mayor of Fremantle who gave us a talks on global carbon politics and leadership respectively. Over the first week we were assigned a 2000 word essay displaying our knowledge of the first six chapters, relating them to a trip to a community garden that we had to make on our own time. The garden I chose was called City Farms, and was truly a small farm (or big garden) tucked within the concrete jungle that is downtown Perth. We also had another 2000 word essay due that week for our Conservation Biology course that required at least eight credible sources. We had to answer one of two questions, and I chose: How effective are different types of protected areas at conserving biodiversity and providing ecosystem services? The paper took a ton of research and time, but in the end I felt like I produced a good product. On top of the two essays, a trip to City Farms that involved an interview of Garden Manager, Helen, and four hour Sustainability class each day, I have found little time to do much exploring. The rain has been relentless since our return from Southeast Asia, leaving Peyton and I convinced we are the reason Perth is experiencing its highest rainfall in years. On a rare sunny day this past Saturday, Peyton and I made a trip on the train to the nearby Cottesloe Beach. This beautiful beach, right in our backyard, will be visited religiously once the sun comes out I’m sure. Other highlights over the past 12 days since I have last blogged are: field trips to the Water Corporation and Regional Resource Recovery Facility (both with CUSP), a creepy tour of the Fremantle Prison, and the Fremantle Dockers advancing to the Australian Football League (AFL, or Footy) grand final (championship).
For the Water Corporation field trip we took a train to City West, just outside of Perth central, with one of our CUSP professors, Talia. Once there we were taken to a conference room and given a lecture by one of the managers that covered how the water in the Perth area is sanitized and distributed. It was very interesting to see how our water gets to our faucets, and just how much it costs the environment. The Water Corporation was a great example of a company doing their best to leave the world as they found it while still doing their job of distributing millions of gallons of water around Perth. After the lecture we headed into town and ate lunch at a tasty Italian restaurant that was serving half price pizza and pastas. The nights the past couple weeks have been full of writing papers and procrastinating.
The trip to the Regional Resource Recovery Facility, codename for the place where the garbage goes, was really eye opening. We witnessed first hand just how much stuff is thrown away and recycled each day. There was a mountain of trash (only four hours worth) that had to be sorted for a man to hand remove any contaminated objects, things like blankets that couldn’t be broken down. The entire plant was powered by renewable energy and its main goal was to cut down on landfills, only reverting to that to dispose of the items that cant be broken down into compost. We learned how a mountain of trash is eventually broken down and turned to compost after a couple of weeks after going through a giant tumbler, sifted through grates, mixed with mulch, and left to sit and ferment in giant rows indoors. The recycling was cool too, with its maze of conveyor belts and piles of sorted plastics and papers. Overall the trip was great, something I would only read about if I were in school back home.
The Fremantle prison was a highlight as well. On Friday night after a big day of classes that included a lecture from the Fremantle Mayor, we met Paul and the other American CIEE kids outside an Asian market in downtown Freo. He gave us each “purple and blue vouchers” (a ten and a five) and let us have at the several different Asian options. After stuffing our faces we headed up the road a ways to the creepy old Fremantle Prison. The place stopped holding prisoners in 1991, and has been giving tours for several years. It is supposedly haunted, as many suicides and hangings have gone on within its walls. The nine of us grabbed our torches (flashlights), and with about thirty other spook seekers including a group of terrified 11-year-old boys, we set off on the tour. Dark corridors, tiny cells, big courtyards, and a lot of barbed wire summarizes the tour experience. I didn’t see any ghosts, but a human dummy did fall from the ceiling during one of the tour guides ghost stories, which made the 11-year-old boys scream like a bunch of girls. We saw where many men were hanged, and where some men were condemned to months of solitude until they were insane. Overall the place was totally creepy, which means it was totally awesome. After the tour Peyton and I headed to Murdoch Uni to hang out with the other Americans in their flat.
Yesterday was a big day in Freo, as the Fremantle Dockers advanced to their first ever grand final! We watched the footy battle in the Monk restaurant with a huge group of kids from Murdoch, including our American friends. After they won the town went crazy! The bars stayed packed to the brim, the night clubs had lines going down the street, and everyone was in a great mood. Needless to say it was a great Saturday night.
Sunday consisted of absolutely nothing. I did a whole lot of procrastinating, as I have another 1500 word essay due Tuesday. This new course is kicking my butt!
Last bit of news, I recently booked a trip to Lombok, Indonesia with Peyton. I leave this Sunday. Life is good.