Thursday, June 10, 2010

The End is Near

I only have about 4 weeks left in Australia. Time has been flying by. Classes ended a week ago and I just got back from my trip to Sydney. During the last week of class, there was an international student farewell event. I got to hold four new Australian animals; a snake, a crocodile, an orange possum, and a sugar glider (see pictures below). After classes we were off to Sydney.

We spent two days downtown, one day in the Blue Mountains, and three days at my friend’s house in Wollongong (suburb of Sydney). We took a three hour walking tour of Sydney on our first day. It was awesome seeing the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge, the two structures that are in nearly every picture of Sydney. It was an interesting afternoon trying to walk around and learn about Australia’s history while avoiding the pouring rain. By the time we finished we were soaked to the bone and threw all our clothes in the dryer. Down in Wollongong, we did some hiking in a national park. We saw and fed wild kangaroos, walked on the beach, and climbed on giant rocks at the edge of the ocean. We spent our last day in the Blue Mountains, about a two hour train ride inland from Sydney. It was amazing because we could see for miles all around us. The only downside of being up in the mountains was the weather. I was the coldest I’ve been since February in the Wisconsin winter. It was about 32 degrees and they said it might snow. I’m looking forward to coming home to the warm weather.

It was nice getting out of Brisbane for a change. Now that I’m back, it’s time to actually study for some exams. My mom and Julie get here in exactly 20 days and I can’t wait to see them. Here are some of my new pictures.

Sugar Glider named Byron

Snake named Zappa

Orange Possum named Amber

Baby croc named Snappy

Me and our tour guide - Harbor Bridge in back

Up in the Blue Mountains

Opera House


Got to touch a baby joey in the pouch!

Exploring the ocean caves

Singing on the Opera House steps

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Living the Good Live

As the end of the semester approaches, I’ve been continuing to travel, relax, and enjoy the weather. Life is far from stressful and the minimal amount of homework I get is hardly disrupting my relaxation. I’ve been keeping busy with running, reading, playing volleyball, and going to the beach. The weather here is slowly getting cooler and I actually have to use a blanket at night! After classes I am spending a week in Sydney with some friends. A few weeks later my mom and sister will be visiting me and I’ll get to show them around Australia before heading home. I can’t wait to see them!

One of the things I was looking forward to most in this trip was to hold a Koala. I finally accomplished this! We took a trip to the zoo and got to play with lots of Australian animals. Here are some pictures from the zoo and around the city.

Me and Violet

Baby Roo!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Keeping Busy

It has been quite some time since my last post and I realized that I need to update before I forget about all the fun things I’ve done. Like the title says, I’ve been keeping busy… not with classes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m doing well in all my classes, they’re just really easy. I’ve been keeping busy with things like jumping out of planes, swimming on the Great Barrier Reef, and working on my tan.

Last week was our mid-semester break. My friend
s and I went to Cairns, the main city by the reef. We had a full week of fun planned out. On Monday, we went bungee jumping from 40 meters, just over 130 feet. We jumped out over a small pond and got to dip our hands and head in the water at the bottom of our jump before we got shot back up in the air. There’s nothing like starting your week off with a little adrenaline! On Tuesday we had a full day of white water rafting. We spent about four hours rafting on the river, not including our barbeque we had half way down. We had a ton of fun and met a lot of cool people. Although Tuesday was fun, Wednesday was the day I was really looking forward to. It was the day that I can officially say I’ve taken off more times in a plane than I have landed. That’s because I got to jump out! My three friends and I all went skydiving from 14,000 feet. It was the adrenaline rush of a lifetime. Everything from the plane ride up, looking straight down for two and half miles, falling at nearly 120 mph, and floating down with the parachute was simply amazing. My favorite part was free falling and being able to see the reef, city, and surrounding mountains. We couldn’t handle much more adrenaline so we spent the next two days relaxing. Thursday was spent fishing (we saw a crocodile!) and lying on the beach. Friday was our trip out to the Great Barrier Reef. We took a boat out to the reef and spent a few hours snorkeling. I didn’t see anything that impressive, no sharks or turtles, just a lot of fish and coral. Also, everything was a lot less colorful that I imagined. I still had a great time and although the reef was a bit of a disappointment, we had fun wearing our fashionable full body “stinger suits”. It was jellyfish season so we had to cover up our whole body, as you can see in the pictures below.

Our week of fun had to come to an end eventually, and so it’s back to the books. We are taking a trip to the coast with the volleyball club this weekend and we are planning a trip to Sydney for some weekend soon. I can’t believe I’m almost half way done with my trip. I’ve done so much already. I’m so excited because my mom and Julie are coming to visit me my last week here. It will be fun showing them around my life in Australia. I’m sure I’ll have more adventures to write about soon!

The stinger suit

Getting ready to skydive

Top of the bungee tower


We found Nemo!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Koalas and Kangaroos with a side of Rugby

I had an exciting weekend, as you can probably guess from the title. On Saturday we took a trip to The Australia Zoo. As previously mentioned, this is the zoo that Steve Irwin, a.k.a. the Crocodile Hunter, worked. There were pictures of him everywhere and a statue out front, not to mention the road is called Steve Irwin Way! The people here really embraced him as an Australian icon. The zoo was about an hour bus ride away. Although the rain put a bit of a damper on our day, we still had a blast. We saw crocodiles, dingoes, wombats, koalas, wallabies, elephants, tigers, lots of kangaroos, and many more. My favorite part was getting to play with the kangaroos. There was just a huge field with trees and park benches where the kangaroos lived. We got to walk around and feed them and pet them and basically just hang out with them. I also got to feed an elephant. There was just a constant line of people circulating in front of the elephant and grabbing a piece of fruit and holding it out for him to grab with his trunk. It was a fun experience.

On Sunday I attended my first rugby game. Our team, the Queensland Reds, took on the Western Force. We ended up winning 50-10, Go Reds! We went with a big group of American students, which was interesting considering none of us understood rugby very well. We just cheered when everyone else did and had fun.

Other than that, classes are going well, the weather is improving (it was raining A LOT), and I am getting excited for Easter break when I get to go sky diving and bungee jumping. I also just found out that my mom and sister are probably going to visit me at the end of my time in Australia! I’m really excited to show them around this side of the world. Check out the pictures from the zoo and rugby match.

Right at the Entrance

Feeding the Elephant

Hanging out with Kangaroos

My roommate and I at the game

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

All Settled In

It is surprising how long it takes to settle in to a new home, at least for me. I was sick last week, my computer screen isn’t working, tuition is due soon, and I was missing home very badly. Thankfully I am feeling better, my computer screen is getting fixed tomorrow, I have my finances organized, and this place is feeling more like home every day. I’m hoping and praying that the most stressful part of my journey is over.

I finished my first week of class and have officially been living in Australia for over two weeks now. My classes seem significantly easier than the classes at Madison. This semester promises to be a breeze. Our apartment is slowly becoming more decorated as we get posters, souvenirs, or whatever we can find on the side of the street. (seriously, we found a cool painting in the garbage!) I have been walking everywhere around town instead of taking the bus. It is about $1.15 per bus ride, even if you’re riding less than a mile. That would add up if I take the bus every day to and from campus, so I’m working on my ‘power walking’ to get to class on time.

There are so many things to do and places to see here, we are constantly trying to find a weekend to do something. This weekend we are going to the Australia Zoo, the zoo that Steve Irwin used to work at. It’s supposed to be unbelievable and I’ll finally get to hold a Koala! I made my plans for Easter break. A few guys and I are going up to the city of Cairns, the main city by the Great Barrier Reef. We have 7 days there, and we are planning on snorkeling on the reef, white water rafting, bungee jumping, and sky diving! I’ve always wanted to sky dive, and now seems like the perfect time. The weekend after that we are going to Byron Bay with the beach volleyball club. Apparently Byron Bay is a great city along the coast south of Brisbane. Later in the semester we will hopefully plan a weekend trip to Sydney and another weekend to take some surfing lessons! I can’t wait.Last Saturday was International Student Day downtown. We all went and got tons of free stuff and got to see some Australian animals. I got to hold a wombat! See pictures below.

That’s all for now, I’ll update in a week or two.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Interesting Australian Differences

I have been in Australia for almost two weeks now. It seems like I've been here forever! I've learned so much already and am constantly finding out something new and interesting about Australian culture. I've been keeping track of all the differences I find. Some are simply a different word or phrase and some are a completely different lifestyle. Here is my list of Australian oddities and interesting differences.

- I do not go to 'College', I go to 'Uni' (short for 'University')

- "How are you going?"/"How'd ya go?" is the same as "How are you doing?"/"How'd ya do?"

- Internet is payed by usage, not by month. When we run out, we have to buy more.

- Eggs are not kept refrigerated, they are just kept down the normal isles at the grocery store.

- Phone numbers are really weird! The area codes are 4 digits, and the number is 6 digits, instead of 3 and 7 in the US. But, unlike in the US where numbers are represented in the 123-4567 form, numbers here can be represented any way you want. Ex: 123456, 12-3456, 12-34-56, 123-456.

- Distances are obviously measured in meters instead of feet or yards. It just takes me a second to think "How far is 50 meters down the road?" when I get directions from someone.

- Students have to pay each time they go to the rec center. You would think we could work out for free if we pay $9000 of tuition!

- There seems to be a stereotype that Americans are stupid. Thanks a lot MTV.

- Speaking of MTV, the cashier at the grocery store told me I "sound like MTV"... thanks?

- I never realized how Americanized the world was! The exact same music is played here. All hip hop/pop/rock music that is popular by US bands and artists is played everywhere here.

- Relating to that, there are Australian versions of lots of American shows. Example: Biggest Loser Australia, So you think you can dance, Australia?

- There are no hot dog buns here. They just use pieces of bread. I actually had someone ask me, "So do you really have special bread for your hot dogs?"

- Cars drive on the left side of the road, which makes scary to cross roads because you need to take a second to think, "Ok now which way will the car come from?" People also walk on the left side down hallways and sidewalks.

- The Australian money is different. First of all there are no pennies. Prices are still listed as $2.99, but you are just charged $3.00. The coins are 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, 1 dollar, and 2 dollars. The cash is $5, $10, $20, $50, $100. Which means anything less than $5 is in coins. I hate carrying change around! Last but certainly not least, the cash is un-rippable! I tried to tear a 50 dollar bill... impossible. Their money is made with some sort of plastic that makes it basically waterproof and tear-proof.

- French fries are called "chips"

- Rent is payed by the week

- Subway advertises their $7 footlongs

- Guys wear short shorts

- No sales tax

That is all I have right now. I'll post more if I come up with another list.

Friday, February 26, 2010

UQ Library - Finally some pictures!

Hostel room that I hope I never see again

View of downtown from our balcony

Walking around campus

Downtown Brisbane

We played lots of beach volleyball

Taking the boat to the next island

The whole gang

Typical island in Fiji