Everyday when I wake up I’m amazed that I’m still here. It’s really TOO good to be true. The little things – the sunshine, the friendly people, the colorful birds – are what keep me obsessed with this country. The few days that it rains act just to remind us of what a beautiful place we’re in. However, being in Australia has also allowed me to appreciate the people and customs of many countries of the world.
For instance, one of the big events in the midst of everyone’s “studying” was Oktoberfest last Wednesday. Believe it or not, there is a bar on campus, called “The Tav.” You’ll see students and professors here at any hour of the day, grabbing a drink after an exam, or long lecture, or just for fun. Oktoberfest was held here – started at noon and lasted well into the night. Unfortunately, I had an important 3 hour tutorial that afternoon, but managed to still make some of the fun, including German sausages and giant Jenga!
If you’re following my blog, I’m sure that you know that I’m studying in Perth, which is the capital of Western Australia. It’s the most isolated big city in the world, and I’ve started to realize that I really haven’t spent much time exploring this gem of a city. So after class last Thursday, Eric and I explored a little. I got to finally see the famous bell tower, and walk around King’s Park without being rushed. One of the best parts of the day was when we started along one of the many trails through King’s Park, and I saw a kookaburra sitting up in a tree, fighting with another bird!! I’ve loved kookaburras since I cared for two at the zoo back at home, and this was my first experience with one in the wild. I took way too many pictures, while the magnificent bird sat still and posed for me.
The following weekend was spent at the beach. Saturday we took the longer route to Scarbourough Beach, which is famous for surfing. The beach was pretty crowded, although the water was pretty cold. We relaxed and got kebabs, enjoying the sun and each other’s company. Sunday I headed out with a bunch of the ladies, and we went to a beach that a few of them had recently found. It’s very easy to get to, and very empty compared to most of the other beaches. What it lacks in people, it has in dogs – I’m pretty certain that we were the only group on the beach without a dog, but we definitely petted as many as we could. Many times I would be near sleep or very engaged with my book, only to have a dog come over and distract me from my relaxation. I didn’t mind at all, and was excited to have some canine love back in my life!
This past week began with a GREAT start. My long-kept secret was finally going to be revealed…on Monday, I was accepted to study abroad in Cape Town, South Africa for Spring 2013! This was something I had been considering after being in Australia for a couple of weeks, and I applied in the middle of September. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out, so the only people that knew of my plans were my Wofford advisors, my parents, and my close friends here in Australia. My parents were of course not thrilled, as they already miss me like crazy. However, they’re awesome people and gave me permission to go, as long as my grades in Australia meet their expectation. I know that going abroad two semesters in a row may seem a little crazy and a little ambitious, but I really don’t know when in my life I’d be able to take these opportunities again. If my plans to go to vet school become reality, I’ll be at vet school in the States for 4 years. Therefore, I need to get my travel cravings out of my system while it’s still a possibility. Cape Town is a big city, but seems to still have a lot of culture, and great opportunities to discover more of the world and more of myself! The hard part was that I now had to tell all of my friends back at Wofford that I was leaving them for another semester. Thankfully, they all supported my decision, and I promised to spend as much time with them in December and January that I could!
Speaking of the world and all it has to offer, Thursday was Murdoch’s Multicultural Day. Students from around the world put together display tables to share their culture, food, and more with the student body. I helped a little with the American table, where we put up a flag and decorations. We also had trays of PB&J’s, ants on a log (celery with PB and raisins), and homemade southern biscuits that some of the girls had made. The other tables allowed me to try Finnish pancakes, German sausages, and much more! Murdoch has so many international students, and it was a great opportunity for them to share their lives with the rest of the campus.
After learning about today’s culture around the world, on Friday our CIEE group learned about ancient Aboriginal culture in Australia. At an event called “Nearer to Nature,” we got to hang out with and learn from an Indigenous man named Zach (originally some way cooler name I could barely pronounce, much less remember). He taught us about his experiences and customs as an Aboriginal man. For example, we learned that he spent over 3 months out in the bush, taking no clothes, no food, no shelter, and no one else with him. I personally think it’s hard enough to live in Australia, watching out for poisonous snakes, spiders, and all else – and that’s with proper shelter and clothing! This man knows how to kill a kangaroo with nothing more than a handmade spear, or ducks with a sharpened boomerang. He also seemed to find something different to eat around each corner that we took when walking through the woods. He would see one shoot of grass sticking up from under the understory, and dig up a carrot; or pick up a green seed that was filled with fruity juiciness. He knew his country as well as he knew himself. Unlike many of the Aboriginal people struggling with poverty or alcoholism, Zach was very well spoken and outgoing. This allows him to work for his people to find ways to help them regain their wellbeing and customs.
Meeting Zach, an indigenous man, was a great opportunity, but at this event we also got to meet some awesome indigenous Australian animals! The first cutie that we encountered was a wombat – who was walking around on a leash! Don’t get too exciting, she wasn’t leash-trained, but she was adorable nonetheless and petting her managed to take my breath away. I also became the luckiest girl in the world when I got to hold not one, but two, baby kangaroos! One was so young that it had barely any fur. We also got to hold a snake, and see many more interesting creatures such as an echidna, that looks kind of like the marsupial version of a porcupine, and a quokka, the inhabitant of Rottnest Island, something that I was looking forward to seeing in the wild the next day. If I don’t come back to Australia for the people, it will definitely be for these animals.