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Sunday, June 7, 2015

June 7th: (Not so) Free Day!!

Warning: If you have spent 5 minutes of you time with me, you are well aware that one of my top talents is talking. Unfortunately for all of you, my long-winded nature does not change when I put words on paper. So, grab some coffee because this may take some time to get through. I promise to make it worth your while by ending with pictures!

After a few weeks of waiting, I was gifted the opportunity of blogging on one of our free days! This was a privilege quickly revoked once Lisa remembered that we had a 10:30am tour of the enormous Melbourne Cricket Grounds (MCG), followed by time in their National Sport Museum.  I was far from upset waking up this morning, however, as I remembered being proposed to by Trevor’s handsome little brother last night during a FaceTime with his jaw-dropping mother! Ladies: he’s blonde, confident, just received his kindergarten degree, and he’s getting in the game early. Not only did I have a delightful conversation on my mind to drag myself out of bed (it was a bit of a struggle this morning, I won’t lie), I also had junk food day to look forward to. Yes Mom and Dad, you read that correctly, I ate like a normal human today with a lot of forceful peer pressure from my 16 awesome classmates. After a banana bread breakfast we headed off to the circular tram and into the stadium. Although I started a bit rough after walking past a VERY easily missed boundary sign, Sarah’s blatant laughing during my scolding from a miffed security guard made my red face less embarrassing. Not to worry, our tour began 3 short minutes later.

Our tour guide, Alan, was a peppy and knowledge-filled MCG volunteer with an ever-growing passion for the game of cricket. Facts concerning the MCG flew out of his mouth like an auctioneer at times, but here is what I could catch and get written down quickly enough to share:

-       Built 176 years ago, MCG was one host venue for the 1956 Olympic games.
-       The stadium, home to no specific team but instead acting as a host for Australian Football League (AFL) and the Melbourne Cricket Club, holds 100,000 people at maximum capacity. This splits into 95,000 seats with standing room for an additional 5,000 spectators.
-       Each year approximately 58 AFL games are held between April 1st and the end of September after the conclusion of about 40 cricket games held between October 1st and the end of March.
-       Of the 18 total cricket clubs in Australia, the city of Melbourne is home to 10!
-       After recently replacing the field turf for the first time in 15 years at a cost of $1.7 million, MCG determined they would no longer hold concerts to preserve the integrity of the playing field itself. The large field/pitch is computerized to provide constant feedback concerning temperature and water saturation levels, oil composition details, and various other information that grass fanatics would kill for.  To each their own?
-       Another $7 million was spent on digital advertising boards based on the American concept of selling ad space around sporting venues.
-       There are no imaging systems available on site for use despite rooms in each locker room for physiotherapists and team physicians.
-       The record for largest attendance is 135,000 when Billy Graham took over (before non-sporting events were dismissed from the schedule).

      After our speedy tour we were showed to the Game On center, the interactive portion of the museum. Once our thirty-minute time slot expired we made our way through the fact and stat-filled exhibits until we had our fill of AFL legends, cricket heroes, and other Aussie greats. At 12:30pm we left and split into smaller groups to bounce around town.  

      Our fearless leaders, Linda and Lisa, showed a few group members back to the Queen Victoria Market while two more groups decided to scavenge for food in the laneways Sydney described in her blog yesterday. Sydney, Sarah and I ended up at a burger place called Grill’d that a woman on the tram recommended. My junk food day didn’t start off too strong when I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich, but there was a French fry involved in there somewhere! A quick glare from Sarah and a tongue lashing from Sydney ended in the three of us splitting Dutch pancakes once we made our way back to the Market. After devouring the puffy silver dollar pancakes covered in powdered sugar, icecream, and chocolate syrup, the three of us (and my shoulders) began our treasure hunt for souvenirs, clothes, and anything we could convince ourselves we really needed in the moment. (No, we didn’t let Sarah buy the memory foam Skechers she found, but let me tell you an unpleasant temper tantrum was thrown). Lucky for us, we ran into a few groups of our friends and we all eventually made our way to our hostel for well-deserved rest time…just after I stopped to buy some TimTams, of course.
      At 6:30pm, after some life-changing and revitalizing naps, Leah and Ryan went to church and the rest of us went to Brunswick Street for Italian food. Splitting into multiple groups, Skye, Laura, and Carolyn ate on the opposite side of the same restaurant that Sydney, Bryan, and I ate in, though we didn’t figure this out until we saw our matching take away boxes 40 minutes later. As some groups made their way home after eating, Syd, Bryan, and I looked for those that stayed so we could all gorge ourselves with gelato to follow our delicious pizza (yep, real cheese and everything, what a day! This whole community bathroom situation is about to get interesting…). Finding them in an American-themed bar was humorous with the most random memorabilia plastering the walls. Two of my favorites were the stuffed animal claw machine and the only college flag being from Nebraska, and it should be noted the Yankees emphasis was not appreciated. Coming home and calling it an early night was a great move considering it is currently 11:40pm and I am by myself in the lounge while everyone else is sleeping soundly in their beds listening to one another snore. If you would like to finish your reading expedition here, I completely understand, thanks for sticking with me! I’ll end with this: thank you to Lisa for your immaculate planning and execution, Linda for being forever-calm and reasonable, my parents and family for sending me on this trip, my friends for waiving my monthly dues but still talking to me while I’m away, my classmates for making this an unforgettable and once in a lifetime experience, and all of those that have taken the time to show/explain/teach something to all of us as we expand our capabilities on social, academic, and personal levels. For those of you that would like some pictures and a quick update on your favorite people, see below!

1)   Matt is thriving is this art-filled city where there is always another piece to look at, whether it is a professional painting or amateur street art in a laneway.
2)   Carolyn is still rocking an incredible tan that makes everyone jealous while going with the flow and adding a smile to every situation.
3)   Dad (Trevor) continues to serenade all of us whenever the opportunity presents itself and is even working on incorporating song into his graceful tension-dissipating strategies. Sorry to break it to you, Trevor, but your Mom is the real star of this trip.
4)   Stefani rode a roller coaster of emotions today as she woke up at 4:30am to watch a victorious soccer game, followed by the realization that her all time favorite player is leaving the team. We’re all here for you in this time of need, Stef.
5)   Uncle Dusty (Dustin) and his fully formed frontal lobe are mastering this tram system faster than everyone and it’s working to all of our advantage.
6)   Zack is slaying the ladies 24/7 with his irresistible winking ability, meanwhile mumbling perfectly timed hilarious snippets for only those around him to enjoy.
7)   Ryan is rocking some new soccer gear while always being down to volunteer when the group needs someone to demonstrate anything.
8)   Emma, the unanimous group favorite, is still being offered kids’ menus while sitting at the adult table, but that doesn’t stop her contagious laughter from bubbling out constantly.
9)   Leah has done a fantastic job keeping us all updated on US scores and necessary info while repping X with pride everywhere she goes.
10)  Morgan remains calm, cool, and collected while knowing the details of our schedule whenever needed, since none of us can ever seem to remember.
11)  Skye will never cease to be one full of kind words and a compliment to perk up our days.
12)  Sarah is becoming increasing courteous as the trip goes on. She even napped with her Skechers on today so they wouldn’t stink up our room. Jebby Webby Wechter, you’re too thoughtful!
13) Laura is always looking picture perfect and sets the bar high everyday for every girls’ hair goals. This golfing beauty queen articulates herself incredibly.
14)  Sydney has showed amazing self restraint with shopping on this trip (really Mrs. Maxwell, I swear!) and has only worn a dress two times…that’s unheard of!
15)  Emily, charming accent and all, is always lighting up whatever room she walks into. Somehow this saint is surviving sharing a room with myself, Sarah, and Sydney… I apologize if we send her back a bit traumatized.
16) Last but not least, Bryan breaks our hearts a little bit each day that he leaves Broy (his new beloved hat) locked away in his room. It’ okay, though, Bryan and his sarcasm are usually company enough.

I hope the States are ready for us to be back, even if we aren’t ready to leave this beautiful place. Where else can you find middle aged men in neon vests everywhere you turn?! Bye friends, old and new, thanks for reading! Shoutout to Mrs. Davis, our unwavering reader. I hope you found this chapter of your book satisfyingJ

Linda and Lisa, always ready for action! Thank you again to these two amazing women.

MCG tour group, whirlpools in the locker rooms, and one crowded elevator. (Thank you to Morgan for be willing to be stuffed against the wall for me to take this!)

Interactive Game On center where Stef practiced archery and Matt sized up the competition. Note the small and subtle No Access sign that anyone could have easily walked by without noticing...

Leah continuing her shoe shopping game, Zack warming up to release a new wink, Ryan juggling like a pro, Trevor posing to match his twin in the picture behind him, and Emma soaking in a view of the Melbourne skyline.

Running into friends at the Market, Dustin and Trevor compete for the best reaction time, Bryan attempts cricket and Sydney uses her softball skills to show him how it's really done.

French fries, Skechers, Nebraska fans, gelato, some interesting entertainment, and A $12.50 PINT OF BEN AND JERRY'S (don't take your icecream for granted, people!)

Dutch pancakes, a view of Melbourne's skyline, and Carolyn happily strolling with Sarah


  1. Maura, thank you for such an awesome blog. I can't wait to meet you. Your personality shines, but not as brightly as your wisdom, humor, beauty and love of life! How fortunate your friends and family are to have you in their lives.
    You missed face time the other night, Trevor introduced us to Emily, however Cash was asking for you! :)
    Make sure Trevor is sharing his Michael Jackson impersonations, including the dance moves. He Rocks!!
    Hope you all have a phenomenal last few days and enjoy every moment.
    Love and Blessings to all,
    Mama Robin

  2. Thank you so much, that was all so nice! I can't wait to meet you either. We a just parted to go to our separate terminals now that we're back in the States. We'll all miss your FaceTimes a ton! Enjoy your summer,