The worldwide Augustana College experience

Making the Most of My Free Time

Being in Australia in January means that I get the opportunity to go to Melbourne to see the Australian Open tennis tournament. It’s not every day that a grand slam tennis event is a quick flight away, so I definitely had to take advantage of the situation. I flew down to Melbourne on Friday and I immediately went to Melbourne Park. We only had ground passes, so we couldn’t get into the big arenas to see players like Federer and Djokovic, but we still watched high quality competition. On the first day, we saw Marion Bartoli lose to Ekaterina Makarova (who just upset the #5 seeded woman), Janko Tipsarevic come from behind to beat Julien Bennetau, and Sam Querry, the last American in the men’s tournament, lose to Stan Wawrinka (who just had the 5 hour match with Djokovic). So all in all, we saw some very good tennis for a cheap price. The next day, we saw a legends doubles match featuring the famous Aussies Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde against Mansour Bahrami and Wayne Ferreira. Bahrami is arguably the most entertaining tennis player ever. He was making fun of all the players, pulling silly trick shots, and even making the head judge laugh on plenty of occasions. It was quite the experience. After that, we saw Elena Vesnina upset Roberta Vinci (Vesnina lost to the #1 seeded woman in her next match), the number 7 seeded Joel-Wilfried Tsonga easily beat Blaz Kavcic, and we saw the beginning of a doubles match with Venus and Serena Williams crushing some random Europeans partners. For paying $80, I got to watch some of the best players in the world on one of the biggest stages in the world, so that experience was definitely worth the price I paid.

After the flying home from Melbourne, I still didn’t get too much time to relax. On Sunday, we had a mixer with another American group staying at our apartments. The mixer was held at the Bat & Ball pub, which I have mentioned in a previous post. I arrived and started mingling with the other group. I liked some people in that group, I didn’t like some people, and I got a few phone numbers. It’s always good to make new friends. But just when I thought the mixer was going to be the highlight of my day, I was proven wrong.

You know the scene in Good Will Hunting when Robin Williams’ character describes how he missed the legendary game 6 of the 1975 World Series because he had to “see about a girl?” Well, I basically did the opposite. I was hanging out with some girls when I met some guys at the bar who were going to the Australia vs. Sri Lanka cricket match, which they were already late for (they had at least one too many alcoholic beverages).  So I began talking to them, and they told me that they had extra tickets, and I was more than welcome to come with them. I know as kids we were told not to take candy from strangers, but I feel that taking tickets from strangers won’t get you into too much trouble.

We walked over to the cricket grounds, but the match was delayed due to rain. My new friends and I stood in the rain and waited for cricket to start up again. During the delay, I witnessed a world record. In Australia, when everyone is too drunk and too bored, they begin to make something called a “beer snake.” Basically, everyone takes their empty beer cups and stacks them together sideways so that it looks like a long, white snake is going through the crowd. I was told the cops usually break up beer snakes early and they end up kicking out the people who started it, but no one interfered with this one. In the end, it broke the world record for the longest beer snake, so even though I didn’t see any cricket up to that point, I was already entertained. After all of that excitement, we were told that the cricket match was abandoned because of the rain (even though it stopped raining hours before they called it off). I didn’t get to see any cricket in action, but I had a great experience that will be tough to forget.

It’s going to be tough to top this weekend, but I still see plenty of good times in my future.

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