Ever since returning from the NorthWest trip, it has been increasingly harder to focus on things like, you know, school, studying, homework, papers. And while this might seem like a personal problem, it’s totally not my fault. Picture this: You get to spend 10 days of absolute bliss on the beautiful coast of the Indian Ocean and in the Outback of Western Australia. Then, you come back to school, and you only have 3 weeks until you leave for the island of Bali in Indonesia for another week of adventure and fun. How are you supposed to think about something like SCHOOL with that going on??
Anyway, I’ve somehow made it through. My uni schedule is much different than my Wofford schedule. Yeah, I’m pretty much busy all the time, but I have more time to do things for me, instead of just meetings and studying. I enjoy running, hanging out, going out, and doing everyday things way more here. At Wofford, a lot of the time I felt like I had no time to do things like I really, truly wanted to do. I felt so dependent on my planner and each of the 50 things written in it for each day. Yeah, I enjoy being so involved and learning so much from our awesome Biology faculty, but it’s nice to focus on myself for a while. Bottom line: Go abroad – you won’t regret it.
However, these three weeks have been pretty productive. I’ve gotten through one paper and two lab reports, and really began studying for my Biochemistry midterm that is the week after Bali. I’m more than extremely scared for this exam, and have no idea what to expect. So somehow, I’m going to have to come back from Bali ready to study hard and get prepared. Hopefully I can handle that. I’ve been in the library most weeknights since I’ve been back. My room just feels too dark and lonely at night. The library is not the best here, as only the half of the bottom floor is open for studying after 9 each night. It’s quite annoying, but we put up with it.
The uni life after the NorthWest trip has been better in one major way: so many more friends! I can’t go too many places without running into one of my fellow travelers, and we all get so excited when we see each other. We really became like a huge family, and have been taking all of our trips to Freo and the city together. Our first trip to the city the Thursday of the week we got back was a success, and it was so nice to see Nick and Craig (our drivers) again so soon! The bar we went to had deer and bull heads on the walls – made me feel like I was back home again!!
The next weekend after the trip, Russ took a group of us to Point Walter, which is a stretch along the Swan River in Perth. The water was bright blue and the sun was warm and bright. Immediately when we arrived, a big group of us went straight to the cliffs. Have I ever mentioned how much I love jumping off of cliffs?! Adrenaline to the max. I think I was the third person to jump, and I also think that almost all of the girls went before any of the boys. True, the jump was pretty high, probably about 35 feet, but really I was surprised at the way the boys held back. My policy has always been, “Don’t think; just jump.” It’ll get you motivated to face your fears in many aspects of life. My first jump was fun, although I did scream like a little girl. Hitting the water didn’t hurt, as I’m pretty used to being smashed into walls of water from all of my water sports back at home, but the icy saltwater wasn’t the most pleasant thing in the world. I’m definitely more of a freshwater kind of girl, and am missing Lake Murray and the Oregon rivers more and more everyday! We hung out watching others jump while sitting on an abandoned boat close to the cliffs, and then went back to jump some more. Although the climb back up the cliffs could be treacherous at places, we were slightly addicted. When we went back to the beach with the others, I wasn’t really feeling like a suntan, so thankfully we only had about an hour left. I was so happy to get my cliff jumping experience knocked off of my bucket list! Plans to go back before I leave must be made.
The following weekend, a group of about 10 or so girls all went to Cottesloe Beach on Saturday. This was my first time, and after not sleeping much the night before, I really enjoyed just soaking up the rays on the sand. We also treated ourselves to some fish and chips, and thanks to the restaurant for getting my order wrong, A LOT of fish and A LOT of chips. Australia is not the best thing for my body right now. There were so many people out enjoying the beach – families, teenagers, volleyball players, and guys handing out FREE green tea. It was a wonderful atmosphere.
I’ve also spent the last two Tuesdays volunteering at the Native Arc. I’m getting used to the bike ride, and am starting to feel a little safer next to the scary cars zooming past me. While there, I work with some pretty cool people, cleaning bird and reptile cages, preparing food for the animals, and any other tasks that need to be done. No, it’s not all playing with animals while you’re there – a lot of maintenance must go into animal care! I definitely do more food preparation for these animals than I do in a week (my roommate asked what I was doing in the kitchen when I was making pasta one night). But without organizations like this, the biodiversity of Australia would be even more threatened, so it’s totally worth it. The worst part of working here isn’t the dirty work, it’s the magpies (black and white birds that are ALL over the place). These guys do not care how close they have to get to you, or how many times you swat or spray them away – they are determined to get some of the other birds’ food. They’re quite scary actually, especially when you have 10 of them zooming right over your head when you’re trying to carry dishes from one aviary to the next. They’re going to do some damage one of these days.
One of the more interesting conversations that I’ve had recently with one of my Australian roommates was when Jessica told me that she thought that peanut butter was “really quite icky.” In this same conversations, the words “I don’t know how we’d get by without Vegemite” were also spoken. Then, last night at dinner, while we were eating some delicious veggie pizza made by Margs, John-O (Ben’s roommate) started talking about how he would eat Vegemite out of the jar if he could. He said he puts it on about everything, and even has a recipe for a gravy made out of it. I tried to eat it on toast with cheese and tomatoes a couple of weeks back, and then I could still taste it the rest of the day. Never making that brave decision for lunch again. These conversations about Vegemite let me know that even though I am in love with Australia, I was born in the right country. On average, every American child will eat 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by the time they’re 18. Proud to be an American.
So today is Friday, and tomorrow starts our second study break!! No, it is not meant to be a break TO study…it’s a break FROM studying – at least that’s what we tell ourselves. Today is also the day that marks two months of being in Australia. I skyped my mom this morning, followed by Meagan, Julia, Hannah, and Caroline (4 of my besties from Wofford). I was almost brought to tears seeing them because I do miss them A TON. I’ll be back before I know it though, and truthfully I’m dreading leaving Australia more than I’m looking forward to being back. Wofford will always be home, but I’m going to be very sad when I leave the home I’ve found in Australia.
Tonight we’re all staying in the village and having a get-together in the TV room. Should be a pretty awesome and chill night with a ton of the coolest people I’ve ever met. And tomorrow at this time I’ll be ON MY WAY TO BALI. This life is too surreal.