While you’re studying abroad, you’ll likely meet some pretty cool people that come from diverse backgrounds. For my orientation at the University of Canberra, all of the exchange students went through it together with some free activities during the week as well. My first friendships were with the people I met in those first couple of days. It was interesting to learn about people from different countries, why they came to Australia, and what their lives and home universities were like. I also learned that instead of answering the question “where are you from?” by saying “Iowa,” I had to start by saying “the United States.” That was such an odd thing for me having been out of the country only a couple of times on vacation and once on a mission trip to South Africa.
I met people from several different countries, and now I can consider some people from all around the world close friends. Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Hong Kong, and the US are where my closest friends here are from. However, I’ve also gotten to know several people from France, Great Britain, Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, China, Japan, and more. I think I’ll be better at detecting peoples’ country of origin based on their accents when I get back which is neat. One of my close German friends is slowly teaching me German phrases, so I felt pretty awesome when I could ask another German friend what his name was and how he was doing in German. I hope that I can keep learning other languages at least on a basic level because I’ve felt a little strange only knowing one language while English was most of my exchange friends’ second language. I know some Spanish, but I hope to better my language knowledge in the future. Even though I’m studying abroad in Australia where the most common language spoken is English, this experience has made me want to learn more languages and expose myself to different cultures even more.
I think that talking with people from other countries is a unique experience because you have to move past cultural boundaries and be open to how they think differently. I have loved learning about all of the traditions that people have in other countries. I have been convinced by one of my new friends that I need to experience Oktoberfest and Christmas time in Germany sometime in my life, and now I even have a place to stay when I go! It is pretty cool to have friends from all around the world get together because there are so many different perspectives and ideas about things that you might never have thought of. I think it really opens peoples’ minds, and personally, it’s taught me a lot about myself and the world.
In some ways, people from different countries are very different, but in most ways, we’re quite similar. Everyone is unique; some of my new friends are shy, some are extremely sarcastic, some are quiet and sweet, some are always happy, some are extremely thoughtful, and some are always ready for a new adventure. Together, we manage to have a pretty good time. I think the key to making new friends is finding shared values, accepting people, and taking advantage of all the awesome opportunities that come with studying abroad.
I woke up still feeling not the best, and it was raining. It was such a great start to the day. Gardening was cancelled because of the rain, so I tried to get a little more sleep. I had some weird dreams about Thanksgiving, and then I got up in the hopes of being super productive since I wasn’t motivated at all the night before. I wrote quite a bit for my sustainable communities paper which was good to get out of the way. It helped that I had made an outline on the bus to Wet N Wild on Saturday. I also cooked a little, and Kiley and I made our plans for traveling to Melbourne and Tasmania after we’re done with classes. It was a pretty chill day for me just spent in the apartment trying to feel better and get some work done.
I went to the gym for a little bit in the morning and then I came back to the apartment to shower, do a few things, and eat lunch. Then, I walked to campus to study before my sustainability class. The lecture was about personal ecological footprints and how we can reduce our impact on the environment. I thought it was pretty interesting because he talked mostly about the things that he had already changed in his life. After lecture, I went back to the library to finish up my presentation for the next day and read a few articles for another class. The reading never seems to stop here. That night was trivia for “Stone Week.” Trivia was pretty fun. We got free pizza and french fries aka “hot chips” which made everyone pretty happy. Our team didn’t do very well, but we had some fun, so that’s all that matters right? We walked back after and got ready for bed and studied a little.
I woke up feeling much better which was nice. There was a guest lecturer in nutrition who talked about the links between food, disease, and cancer. Then, I talked with my parents and practiced my presentation on community gardens to them. It helped me get a bit of my nerves out before my sustainability class. The presentation went well, so I’m glad that’s over. Then, I worked in the garden for a while planting a few things and weeding more. I got to take home some fresh broccoli, leeks, kale, parsley, and mint leaves. I walked back to the apartment and read some articles before watching the Bachelorette with Kiley and doing some laundry. I ended the night with a few last minute school things and reading my book.
I went to the gym in the morning and then looked at my nutrition presentation for a little bit before eating lunch and then heading to campus. I worked on a few university things, and then my group met up to practice our presentation and make a few changes before our tutorial. We wanted to get our presentation over with, so we decided we wanted to go first or second. Our group ended up going second, and we were glad when we finished. They said that everyone did pretty well, so I’m hoping for the best. When I got back to the apartment, I made some delicious fried rice with chicken, leeks, celery, broccoli, and carrots. It smelled good, and it tasted light and delicious. Kiley and I watched the Bachelorette together and ate dinner. Then, we watched Gaurdians of the Galaxy and colored some pictures to relieve some stress and embrace our inner child.
Well, I was a little tired that morning because I had to register for classes back home at 1am. I didn’t fall asleep before then, and I couldn’t get to sleep until after 2am. Then, for some unknown reason, I woke up at 7:30 and couldn’t get back to sleep. I finally got out of bed and went to the gym. After showering and eating lunch, Kiley and I got chai tea lattes at “Chatterbox” to celebrate getting my presentations and her practical done. We had some good life talks about what it’ll be like when we get home and how this journey has been so far. We also helped proofread some of Nicola’s assignments since she was stressed out. We walked back and finished packing for surf camp! Then, I worked on some school stuff for a little while before we left. The bus ride was longer than expected, but we made it to surf camp around 9:30pm. We had a meeting and split ourselves into rooms, and then we went to bed.
Our group was second, so we ate breakfast and started a little later in the morning. It was pretty rainy and very cold most of the day, but our group got lucky and didn’t have any rain during our surf lessons. We learned the surfing techniques and safety rules on the beach and then headed into the water for the first session. The wetsuits definitely helped to keep us warm, and the water actually felt warmer than being outside. We had around an hour and a half in the water with our boards. At first, all I did was slide off the board on my stomach or not paddle enough to stay in front of the wave. As the session went on, I got a better sense of balance and picking good waves, but surfing was much harder than I was expecting. After our first session, we walked back for our lunch break. We all changed into warm clothes and enjoyed our lunch. It rained a little more during lunch. Putting our wet swimsuits and wetties (of course there’s a shorter version of wetsuits for surfers ;) back on was a little rough, but we pushed through to get better and have fun. Before our second session, they taught us about making sure it was safe to surf and how to tell if the conditions were good. There was a cross wind, so the current kept wanting to push us down the beach. That was pretty tiring to fight while holding a surf board, but it wasn’t too bad. I got up a few times during this session which was a pretty cool feeling. I thought I would be better than I was, but I shouldn’t have expected so much from myself knowing how clumsy I am ;) I wasn’t awful, but I wasn’t great either. I think that surfing takes a while for most people to get the hang of. Hopefully I get the chance to try more in the future and get better. After our second session, we all hurried to shower and get clean and warm. We had dinner which was pretty good. I was so hungry after the fun, tiring day spent in the waves, so I ate a lot of the yummy food. After dinner, everyone hung around before heading to a pub nearby. It was pretty interesting because they said we’d be able to dance and stuff, but there were little kids there when we arrived. After some of them left, some surf instructors showed up, and a live guitar player started singing. We danced and did the limbo. After a little while, we left to get some sleep since we were exhausted.
We were part of the earlier group on Sunday, so we had breakfast sooner. As we got our wet swimsuits and wetsuits on, we had to push through because it was cold. We walked down to the beach, and the second we got out in the open, the sand started hitting us in the face. I shielded my eyes, but it didn’t help much. We walked to get our surf boards and got them back to the beach. The instructors said we could try to surf for 10 minutes to see how the wind affected everything. I tried to surf two waves, and then they yelled for us to get out of the water. They said people could get swept out to sea, and the boards were dangerous because they could get picked up by the wind and hit people. I agree the current was strong, and it was pretty hard to keep control of our boards. However, it was still sad to have to call it quits. We walked our boards back and walked back to camp to shower and change. Some of us went on a walk while others did yoga before lunch since we had extra time. After lunch, we still had a little time before we left, so some people went for another walk. I didn’t feel good because I was still permanently cold from the day before even with all my clothes and 2 blankets on, so I just laid in bed and read a book. It felt nice to relax and try to warm up again. We had a last meeting with everyone and then got on the bus back to Canberra. The ride seemed long again, but Kiley and I played Heads Up. We did the movies and music categories; it was nice to keep our minds off of the ride. When we got back to Canberra, we walked back to Weeden Lodge. I started some laundry right away and unpacked everything else after. We watched some X Factor and then one of the newer Transformers movies while I caught up on my blog and did some school work.
Studying, learning, lectures, grading, and exams are much different here than at ISU. It’s different for every class, but in general, you’ll spend much more time studying than you’re used to. By studying, I guess I mostly mean reading. At Iowa State University, we’re mostly just told to read chapters out of a textbook unless we’re researching for a paper. Here, I only have one textbook that they barely reference, and I have to read many more journal articles than ever before. I like it though because you get to read about what professionals are debating about and trying to educate the world about regarding topics that you’re interested in. It does take a lot of time, but we have more free time here. Each class only has one lecture and maybe a tutorial each week, so we don’t spend nearly as much time in class on a daily basis. For my schedule, I have Mondays and Fridays off which is super nice for traveling and getting school work done.
I think that I’ve learned more while I’ve been here than in a typical semester at ISU. Part of it is the kind of teaching style, part of it is the assignments, and part of it is that I’m getting to the point in my university career where I’m starting to learn more about what I’m specifically interested in because I already took most of my general requirements and introductory classes.
The grading is so much different here. I’m not even sure you can compare the two grading scales, but I’ll try anyway. At ISU, you have an A, B, C, D, or F depending on your percentage. Here, it depends on percentages as well, but they mark much harder. They have a High Distinction (HD), Distinction (D), Credit (C), Pass (P), and No Pass (NP?). I’m not sure if the last one is right, but hopefully I’ll never have to worry about that! To get credit for the classes I’m taking here, I have to get a “Credit (C).” When I got my first graded paper, I had a minor freak out because the percentage was so much lower than I’m used to getting as an honors students who puts forth quite a bit of effort. However, then I had to look at the grading scale and compare it to what most people got. It takes some time to get the hang of how they grade things and what they want you to do, but it hasn’t been too difficult.
Another thing that is way different at UC is the number of total points, homework, papers, quizzes, and tests in the whole class. For example, I have a paper worth 65 points due in the next couple of weeks that is worth 65% of my grade for that class. No pressure right? And I thought a 20% final test was stressful! I actually really enjoy that class, and I’m not too worried, but it’s so weird to get used to. Most of my classes have a total number of points available between 100 and 130 points. I remember at ISU that one of my classes had over 1000 total possible points, so it’s an adjustment. There isn’t any busy work here which is something I really enjoy. At Iowa State, there’s generally some sort of homework or quiz each week worth not very many points that takes not very much time, but when all of your classes have that, it tends to add up. Here, there might be a few weekly or monthly things, but usually they just have big papers, presentations, or discussion posts based on journal articles to prepare for. It allows you to take the time to research more and turn in a good product.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with ISU’s system, and I think I’ll enjoy going back to it. However, it’s nice to gain a new perspective and learn in a different way. It also shows the difference in learning techniques in different countries. I think I’m almost out of motivation to read journal articles all the time, but I guess that’s the life of an Aussie student, so I should just go with the flow. The motto here is “no worries,” so I’m going to take that to heart as I get ready to head to the beach for the weekend and learn how to surf with a bunch of my exchange friends. There’s no reason to let school work stress you out while you can’t do it anyway. That’s all for now.
I woke up to volunteer at the garden for a little while before meeting Kiley and Nicola at Chatterbox (a local coffee shop) for Kiley’s birthday. Kiley and I both got chai tea lattes, and Nicola got hot chocolate. It was very tasty, and there’s something special about just meeting at a coffee shop in the morning. After that, Kiley and Nicola went to campus for class. I left for the mall to get some ice cream so that I could mix up some peanut butter and vanilla ice cream with Tim Tams, Oreos, Peanut Butter Cups, Nutella, and Peanut Butter. I tried a bit of it, and I was quite impressed with myself to be honest. Then, I cleaned up my mess and made lunch before studying a little. We met some friends at Skyzone to jump around and have a blast to celebrate Kiley’s birthday. The boys were late as usual, so we started jumping without them. Then we all jumped and butt bounced and flipped our way around on the trampolines. Kiley even taught a mini jump fitness class! We left after tiring ourselves out and headed back to our apartment for the surprise ice cream. Not going to lie, I think everyone enjoyed it quite a bit. ;) We played Heads Up which was really fun while we finished all the ice cream and ate some chocolates provided by Nicola. Then, some of us walked to campus to give people at Frisbee some chocolate, but no one was there, so that’s too bad for them I guess! We walked back and then Kiley and I watched some of Divergent on her laptop while we ate Peanut M&Ms and Tim Tams to end the night off well.
I woke up and went to the gym despite my lack of motivation for anything since it was the second night in a row I didn’t sleep well at all. I walked to the mall because I needed some orange juice for my sore throat. Then, I ate lunch and got ready to head to campus for my sustainable communities lecture and studying. I spent most of my time researching and watching a little Netflix. I walked back to do some laundry and eat dinner before meeting everyone at the mall. We went to the movie “The Girl on the Train.” When we sat down in those comfy recliner chairs again, it was a lovely feeling. The movie made you think and was pretty interesting. I prefer more funny/lighthearted movies, but it was pretty good for an intense one. After we got back, I got ready for bed and went to sleep pretty early since I was tired. It was a fun night though.
My alarm didn’t wake me up for once because my body woke itself up which is a much nicer way to start the day. I got ready for the day, boiled some eggs, and did a few other things with my extra time. Then, I walked to campus for my nutrition lecture and sustainable communities tutorial. I Facetimed with my parents in between the two classes, and it was kind of hard for me because I miss them a lot. I was getting really stressed out about all of my presentations and papers, but my sustainability class was good which made me feel a little better. It made me more confident about what I’m researching about and how to move forward. After class, I worked in the garden on campus and weeded and mulched some of the garden beds. I left with a little bit of celery, broccoli, and kale. I love getting some fresh food whenever there’s extra. I went to the library to research and work on my presentations. I studied until we met for trivia and free pizza. Trivia was fun, but as usual, we didn’t do very well. Kiley, Nicola, and I hurried back to catch most of the Bachelorette. Don’t you just love those cheesy love shows?
Well, I woke up with the same sore throat and stiff neck as the days before. I decided to skip the gym and focus on what I could do when I wasn’t feeling great physically. I did laundry and, you guessed it, I read more articles for my big projects and presentations to come. Every day it seems like I’m getting nothing done, but I know that even a little progress will make the next 3 weeks a little easier. Then, I walked to campus and studied a bit before meeting my group to work on our nutrition presentation about food security. We got a fair amount done, so I’m feeling better about that class for now. I walked back to the apartment to work on figuring out my schedule for next semester and prepare more for my sustainability presentation next week. Nicola came over to watch the Bachelorette with us again which was fun! We all did some school work while we watched, and then Kiley and I watched Captain America because it was on TV, and we needed a break. Then, it was time for bed which is always welcome after a long day.
I got ready and headed for the mall to get groceries since I was out of orange juice, and my throat was still hurting. I got a few other things while I was there, and then I came back and made broccoli cheese soup with a bunch of yummy things. Unfortunately, being the clumsy person I am, I cut myself while cutting carrots, so I had to deal with that. It wasn’t too bad though. I pretty much spent the day getting ready for going to a waterpark in Sydney the next day, studying, and getting some things in my room cleaned up. We met everyone around 7 to celebrate Coby’s birthday by cooking and eating dinner together. Chicken fried rice with everyone was pretty fun. Once we ate all our delicious food, we had some dessert and played a game with jellybeans where there are 2 flavors for each color of bean. One is good, and one is bad. For example, I got toothpaste instead of Blue Berry, but that wasn’t nearly the worst. There was vomit, booger, and dog food. I stopped participating after the toothpaste, but some of the guys ate quite a few. As it got later, we girls were reminded that we had to get up at 6am the next day, so we walked home and headed for bed.
We woke up bright and early for our trip to a waterpark called Wet N Wild in Sydney. It was kind of weird to bus around 3 hours and be in weather nice enough for swimsuits and pools, but Sydney is much warmer than Canberra. I did a little school work on the way and shut my eyes for a few minutes. When we got there, we tried to get into the wave pool, but it was just too cold. We decided to start it off with a waterslide to force ourselves to get wet. It turns out the wave pool was the coldest water. Kiley, Nicola, and I went around and did almost every waterslide and some of them twice or more. Some of them made me scared I would fall out, but overall they were pretty fun and exhilarating! We were somewhat cold most of the day, but it was much warmer in the sun. I think my favorite things were the wave pool and the racing water slides. The racer slides didn’t have long lines, and I thought they were a blast! We got all changed and prepared to return to Canberra weather after spending a great day in the sun and water. We were all pretty exhausted by that point, so we didn’t mind trying to sleep or just listening to music on the ride home. We got back a little before 9, so I watched some of The Incredible Hulk before going to bed.
I woke up with the plan of going to church and Body Balance again, but my body had other plans. My sore throat was worse, so I was coughing loudly, and I could barely breathe out of my nose. I decided to skip both things and get myself ready for the day. Then, I walked to the mall to use their Wi-Fi to watch a video from a church called Cornerstone at home and then work on some homework. I have 2 presentations this coming week on top of a lot of other work, so I’m trying my best to stay on top of everything. I posted my blog and then walked home. Then I got ready for the famous flower festival in Canberra in the spring called “Floriade.” Kiley’s friend John from swimming at the gym offered to take us with him. We joined him and two of his little neighbor girls. I didn’t know until we left, but it was the last day of Floriade, so I’m glad we went even though I had lots of studying to do. We spent some time walking around and looking at the beautiful flowers. It was mostly tulips and pansies that were still in bloom, and they were super pretty. Each bed of flowers had a different color scheme/design that made up a picture from above. We saw some reptiles and explores some little shopping stalls selling mostly artistic, unique things. Then, we ate some ice cream before leaving. The girls and I skipped across the bridge back to the car, and for a moment I felt like I was their age again. On the way back, we stopped at Mount Ainslie to see a great view of Canberra. We also saw a few old churches and a Greek war memorial with cool mosaics. John told us about lots of things as we passed them which was interesting. When we got back, I really didn’t want to do anything productive. I tried my best to study, but I’m not sure how much it really worked. However, the day was well spent, and I’m super glad we got to see Floriade.
Here are some things to consider before you study abroad. It's beneficial to know what matters the most to you before you leave.
Everyone has different priorities, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you really like spending a night in a fancy hotel, and you can afford it, go ahead! If you’d rather stay in a hostel and use that money to go skydiving, do it! These are just some of the many things to consider before you leave the comfort of your home country. Sometimes traveling can be stressful and complicated, but it’s well worth it with all of the friends and memories you’ll make. Experiencing new things is a great way to change your perspective of the world and make you appreciate all of the blessings that surround you.
Not all community gardens are sustainable, but below are some techniques to make a community garden more environmentally friendly.
We spent the day on buses and planes getting back from the Whitsunday Islands to Canberra. On the way to the airport from Airlie Beach, I had some time to call my parents, so it was nice to catch up with them after the week. We got back around 7:30pm, so we did all of our laundry and unpacked everything before getting back into some school work. I went to bed early because I was quite exhausted from the amazing spring break I just had.
I got up and prepared for the day and left for campus. I had lecture in the afternoon, and I’ll be honest, I wasn’t very productive. I spent most of the day watching Netflix and replaying the previous week in my head. It was really hard to get back into the mindset of studying. In the evening, I cooked some food and read a few articles for my food, health, and nutrition class. I went to bed somewhat early again because I still hadn’t recovered from the crazy break with not much sleep and a jam packed schedule.
I had my nutrition class and my sustainable communities tutorial. They were both pretty interesting. It was still hard for me to focus though. After my tutorial, I worked in the community garden on campus. We removed a lot of things to make room for planting new spring crops. I got to take home some fresh broccoli, parsley, spring onions, and beetroot. When I got back to the apartment, I studied some and made some dinner. Kiley and I watched some TV and then went to bed.
In the morning, I went to the gym, and then I went to the mall because I wanted to get some things for Kiley’s birthday the next week. I went to campus to study after I ate lunch. I got a little bit done, but I still wasn’t too productive. I had my nutrition tutorial in the afternoon where my group decided which parts of the presentation we would research and talk about. After class, I headed home where Kiley and I made some vegetable stew with the fresh garden produce and some other things we already had. It was really tasty, so it inspired me to make more of it later. We invited Nicola over to watch The Bachelorette together. It’s always fun watching those cheesy shows with more people.
I went to Body Pump with Kiley, and it made me realize how out of shape I am. It’s one of those classes where if you don’t do it for a little while, it’s really hard. It was a challenge, but I felt good after I finished it. I showered and read some articles. Then, I wrote a discussion post that was due that evening. Then, I ate lunch and headed to the library to write another post for the same class. I spent quite a bit of time researching some things for other class projects and then headed back. We watched a classic chick flick called “The Other Woman” and enjoyed making fun of it.
We went to Body Attack in the morning to start the day off right. Then, I showered and ate lunch, and Kiley and I walked to campus together. We sat by each other at the library to prevent each other from watching Netflix or getting too distracted. It didn’t work the best, but we both got a fair amount of work done. We also started looking at classes we’re going to take at ISU next semester since registration is coming up. It’s so weird to think about that when we’re here. We headed back after I opened a bunch of articles to read when I don’t have Wi-Fi at the apartment. I realized when I got back from break that all my end of the semester projects are coming up pretty quickly, so I need to start researching and getting some stuff together. We watched the movie “Clueless” which was super cheesy, but we didn’t mind because we have fun laughing at those kinds of movies. I also started watching “Man of Steel,” but it went too late, so I went to bed. I know, I get pretty crazy on the weekends.
We woke up and went to church which was nice. The message was about being thankful for all the little blessings in our lives, and it was refreshing to be reminded of all the things I take for granted. After church, we went to a fitness class called “Body Balance” which is similar to yoga, so we got a nice relaxing start to the day. Then, we had lunch and headed to the mall to use the Wi-Fi and then get groceries. I wrote my blog post about spring break, and then I got the food I needed to make a vegetable stew similar to the one we had earlier in the week. When we got back, we studied a little, and then I made my stew. It had a chicken broth base with carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, five kinds of beans, parsley, spring onions, and rosemary. It was quite delicious, so I decided to share some with Kiley since her birthday was the next day and because it made a lot. We watched part of Kung Fu Panda while we studied a bit, and we watched the beginning of Transformers 2 while we got ready for Monday.
Spring Break in Cairns and the Whitsunday Islands: September 24-October 1
This post only includes some of the highlights from all that I did over spring break. If you want to read about all the awesome stuff, you’ll have to wait for the details later! They arranged a trip to Cairns for a big group of exchange students from the University of Canberra. We spent a lot of time together staying at hostels, jamming out to music on the busses with our awesome drivers, and enjoying all of these crazy fun things.
1. There’s a free lagoon/pool right along the side of the ocean where you can spend the day. Some friends and I spent the majority of a day applying sunscreen, swimming, and relaxing. It was a day well spent in my book.
2. You won’t run out of ice cream shops in Cairns. There are around 15 near the beach to choose from, so we had to try a different one almost every night we were in Cairns. My favorites were “Nitrolate,” “Cold Rock,” and a local shop with a deal on some delicious choices.
3. Cairns is a great place to see the Great Barrier Reef. Let’s just put it this way…everyone should see this marvelous wonder of the world in their lifetime. It’s absolutely incredible, and it was definitely my favorite thing we’ve experienced while in Australia so far. Just to give you a little motivation, you should see it sooner rather than later because climate change and increasing acidity in the oceans is causing coral bleaching. It’s worth the trip to the land down under to snorkel or scuba dive with the hundreds of species of beautiful sea creatures.
4. You could also visit Fitzroy Island, go deep sea scuba diving, or even wear an underwater helmet that allows you to breath without wearing a snorkel. There are plenty of attractions to experience this tropical place in whatever way you like best.
Cape Tribulation area:
1. Port Douglas is a charming town where celebrities often go for some R&R. We spent some time there briefly where we could hike up to get a good view of the famous 4 Mile Beach. We also got to swim in the clear water and enjoy the cool feeling ocean while we soaked in the sun.
2. There are waterfalls and swimming holes galore. We got to see a new waterfall or swim in a creek or jump off a cliff into a swimming hole basically every half an hour. Nothing beats that feeling of falling while you wait to plunge into the water below. Don’t worry, we had a bus driver/guide who knows every safe place to swim and jump in.
3. There are plenty of hikes through the rainforest where you can explore the unique flora and fauna and hope that nothing will kill you ;) The hike we did was pretty hard and steep; I didn’t finish it because I ran out of water, and it was much too hot and humid not to have water. A few from our group finished and said the view was pretty nice.
Fun things around Cairns:
1. The Atherton Tablelands offer incredible views of the land below and have many cool things that surround them. We saw the Cathedral Fig Tree which is a giant tree that’s super old. They have unique characteristics where they work together with other plants to grow.
2. Milla Milla falls is the famous destination for hair product commercials where the girl will flip her hair back, and it makes a circle of water. My friend Kiley and I did it at the same time and made a heart with our hair, so that was pretty cool. We could also go behind the waterfalls and see it from the other side.
3. We were able to spot some platypuses in a creek close to our hostel one evening I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is yes, I’m fairly certain that the correct plural of platypus is platypuses. It was pretty cool to see them in their natural habitat swimming around since they’re only found in eastern Australia.
4. We went mountain biking and canoeing which was pretty awesome. The biking was on a road through the rainforest where volunteers have planted trees and successfully bridged the gap between two big sections of rainforest to protect endangered species. While we canoed, we saw some cool birds and water dragons which look like big lizards.
5. There’s a giant lake that was created by a crater years ago and filled up with pure rain water, so it’s extremely clear and clean. We got to jump in after our bike ride which felt absolutely wonderful. We swam around for a while before we had to move on to the next fun thing.
1. There’s another free lagoon there on Airlie Beach. Kiley and I spent some time there after walking along the beach path for a while. We even saw a beach side wedding on a cliff while we walked, and we found a sand sculpture of a crocodile that was pretty sweet.
2. If you go to the Whitsundays, and you really should, you have to take a boat cruise out to the islands and see the beauty. We sailed past some of the 74 islands on our way to Whitsunday Island. The sunshine and the breeze make for the perfect conditions while you look at the water in hopes of seeing a turtle or some dolphins. We did get to see one huge turtle on our cruise, but we weren’t fast enough with our cameras.
3. We snorkeled near Hook Island, and it was amazing. This part of the Great Barrier Reef had completely different fish and coral. I’m glad we got to see the reef in two different areas to see the differences. We enjoyed our time swimming around and discovering more brightly colored fish or finding ourselves surrounded by so many fish that we felt like we couldn’t move. It was pretty incredible.
4. Some say that Whitehaven beach is the nicest beach in the world, and I would have to agree with them. Its pure white sand feels like sugar on your feet. The sand never gets hot, so you can walk barefoot or lay down for as long as you want. We walked for a while to enjoy the feeling of the sand before we got in the incredibly clear, blue water. That feeling where the beauty of the nature that surrounds you strikes you to the core happened to me in these moments. Swimming on that beach with my best friend talking about life and how blessed we are is something I will never forget.
This may sound like something out of a dream, and sometimes I feel like it didn’t even happen, but it did. I experienced these awesome things, and you can too. Don’t be afraid to go after a dream just because some people think it’s unrealistic.
Today, I started the volunteering I have to do for my sustainable communities class. I’ll be working on the community garden on campus and researching the benefits that community gardens have for the environment and the health of the people around them. I worked with the student in charge of the garden for an hour and a half in the morning. He told about how the garden is set up and what he plans to do with it this spring (it’s spring here now). Then, I did a few things at the library before going back to the apartment to eat lunch and take a nap. I didn’t sleep well, so it was much needed. After my short nap, I felt way more awake, so I worked on a lot of school things.
I went to campus early in the morning hoping to get some stuff done, but I ended up watching some Netflix too, so I wasn’t super focused. I had class at 2:30, and that was interesting. I went home after that to start packing for our trip to Cairns starting this weekend. We had Ultimate Frisbee training that evening where Kiley and I attempted once again to explain why we’re the Cyclones and how universities in the US have mascots. They don’t have anything like that here or a central sport like football that everyone goes to support. Frisbee was pretty fun, but we were pretty tired by the end of the day.
It was raining again when I woke up. Apparently it’s a tradition that every Wednesday it has to rain. I had my nutrition lecture in the morning about public health, and I learned about soft systems methodology in my sustainable communities tutorial. That was pretty interesting because you can apply it to almost any issue. In between the two classes, I talked with my parents on the phone which was nice. It distracted me from how cold I was, and we got to catch up on life. Then, I walked home in the rain and put on some warm clothes. I did some laundry and read some articles and worked on my nutrition paper.
I had a dream where I arrived back home, and my dog came running out to see me with her tongue out and her ears down. Well, she can’t see because she’s blind now, but you get the idea. It was basically the cutest thing ever. Then, I woke up and remembered where I was. Australia. So far from home. It made me kind of sad. However, then, I remembered that I’m leaving for Cairns the next day. I’ll get to see the Great Barrier Reef, the rainforest, and do a ton of other fun activities. Anyway, I got up and went to the gym and then came back to the apartment to get ready for the day. I had to clean a lot because there’s a room inspection next week to make sure we’re not making a mess of the place. I packed some more for the trip and read some articles. After that, I ate lunch and then left for campus to study. I finished my nutrition report due Friday, and I turned it in early so I don’t have to think about it anymore. I also read some articles for food, health, and nutrition while watching some Netflix before I walked back. I watched some TV, made dinner, and tried to finish packing and cleaning.
I woke up early because there was a lot to do before we left for spring break. I cleaned a little more and went to the gym after breakfast. At the gym I recharged my prepaid phone plan so that it doesn’t run out over spring break. I showered, ate lunch, finished packing, and did the last of my laundry before Kiley and I left to catch the bus into the city and then the bus to the Sydney airport. For the rest, you’ll have to wait until after spring break. Here we go…time to see the Great Barrier Reef and have the time of our lives here in Australia! :)