Tasmania!

(ignore the fact that I’m writing this a month and a half after it actually happened… I knew I wasn’t going to be good at this blog thing.)

So I went to Tasmania for “mid-session break” aka- Spring Break for me even though it is Autumn  here.

Let me just say that Tasmania is one of the coolest places I have ever been! It’s probably the most under-rated as well. Australians consider Tasmania the incest-filled island of crazy people, and a lot of my Australian friends were confused as to why I wanted to go visit there. But I’m the one who is confused why more people don’t travel there… because it is beautiful! The landscape and terrain are very similar to New Zealand, so I’ve heard and witnessed via pictures.

I flew in to Hobart, which is on the southern coast of Tasmania, and it is Tasmania’s biggest city. When I landed, I noticed that Tasmania reminded me a lot of Alaska! It was pretty chilly and there were mountains with a lot of evergreen trees… so Alaska is what came to mind. I got there on a Saturday, just in time to visit the popular Saturday markets downtown. Seriously best market ever. So many locally made awesome things and food. Hobart has a really charming downtown area with European looking buildings so I was really loving it.

The next day I went over to Port Arthur, about an hour away, and did a Tasman Island Adventure Boat Tour!!!!! This was the coolest thing ever. A 3 hour boat ride, with a huge red poncho, going really fast over huge waves around huge cliffs in the water. I may have gotten a little seasick… but it didn’t take away from the gorgeous views and the huge pack of dolphins we ran into! They were jumping and diving all around our boat!! After that I ate lunch at this cool little van that sold me the most delicious fish and chips I’ve ever had. Then I went to a Tasmanian Devil Rescue Park and got to see Tasmanian Devils!! They are pretty cute. And very endangered ;(

On Monday, I went to a sheep farm that makes cheese from sheep milk!! I couldn’t resist trying some ice cream made from sheep milk/cream. Pretty cool! After that I got to the top of Mount Wellington that looks out over Hobart… amazing views!

Tuesday we went to Freycinet National Park!!! Absolutely beautiful.

Wednesday we went to a glow worm cave!! We took a tour of the cave and saw glow worms at the end! Super awesome. After that, we went on a brewery tour of James Boag brewery! This was my first beer tour so it was really fun! And they had cheese samples.

Thursday we went to Cradle Mountain National Park! Would have been amazing but it was incredibly rainy and cold… but we did a 3 hour hike anyway and got soaked!! Not ideal but I’d say it was worth it!

So yeah that’s my Tasmania trip!! Really wonderful, I would recommend it to anyone traveling to Australia! :)

 

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Sydney Adventures!

So my favorite part of Australia so far has been being an hour and a half away from one of the coolest cities in the world. (side note- when I typed “favorite” the computer has the dotted red line underneath it like it’s miss-spelled… the Australia computer wants me to spell it “favourite” lol)

So yeah Sydney is so awesome. I’ve been 5 times already. The train station right next to my dorm takes me to Sydney and back for only $8!! And the train ride is mostly along the beautiful coastline so it’s great.

The first time I went to Sydney I went with a group of 6 friends. We went exploring in the morning and in the afternoon we went to the Sydney Aquarium!! It was pretty cool. They had sooooo many sharks!! But other than that, I wasn’t too impressed with the aquarium unfortunately. I would recommend the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta over the Sydney one, surprisingly! But it was still a good outing.

The next time I went to Sydney, I went for a field trip for my Aboriginal Art class. We went to the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Pretty cool art museum… and that’s coming from someone who really doesn’t enjoy art museums. But it was free so I guess that helps.

So here’s the good part of the blog post. The 3rd time I went to Sydney was the day right after my field trip day. It was a spontaneous adventure to Sydney in the hopes of seeing the Ellen DeGeneres show live in Sydney. So here’s a short version of the story:

Friday – in Sydney. chillin at the Opera House. find free wifi. on twitter. see Ellen’s recent post of her and Portia on a boat. right next to the Opera House. we were literally right where she was, just missed her by a few minutes!!! later… more twitter posts from Ellen saying there would be a show in Sydney tomorrow (saturday). we jokingly say “lol we should totally go to that!” little did we know we actualy would.

Friday night, 11 pm – me and my friends discuss… should we actually go to Sydney in the morning? Ellen’s twitter said the line for her show started at 6 am…. so should we YOLO it and actually get there at 6 am? yes. yes we should. So we decided to sleep for 2 hours. wake up at 3 am. to hop on the 3:30 am bus to Sydney.

Saturday morning, 3:30 am – well there we were at the train station getting on the 3:30 am train.

Saturday morning, 5:30 am – arrived in Sydney. walked to the Opera House, no one else around in the city. Got to the Sydney Harbour before the sunrise did.

Saturday morning, 7 am – after waiting in line at the Opera House for about an hour… we hear that we are waiting in the wrong place. how to fix this problem? sprint to the other side of the harbour where the real line was. So what do we and 200 of our Aussie friends do? Literally sprint for about 30 entire minutes around the Royal Botanic Gardens struggling to find the line for the Ellen show.

Saturday morning, 8 am – finally in line. we get pink wristbands. we get to leave the line to get breakfast.

Saturday morning, 9 – 12 – waiting in line to gain entry into the show, not really knowing for sure if we were actually going to get in. In the meantime, we got lots of free promotional stuff, so who doesn’t love that??

Saturday, 12 pm – GOT TICKETS TO THE SHOW. SAT DOWN AT THE THEATER. HAD AWESOME SEATS.

So yeah the show lasted from about 12-3. Ellen was there. Portia was there. Russell Crowe was there. It was a big party. Such a good time. One of the craziest coolest things I’ve ever done!!

Other cool things I’ve done in Sydney have been a tour of the Opera House, ate at the Hard Rock Cafe (still need to buy the shirt to make it official), a dinner cruise around the Sydney Harbour, and a visit to Manly Beach for a surfing competition where we saw Kelly Slater! Pretty cool.

Some things I want to do in Sydney before I leave:

- climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge

- go to the Taronga Zoo

- go to Luna Park

- eat a Bay Bug (cross between lobster/crab/shrimp… look it up! apparently it’s only found in Sydney Harbour!)

- buy lots of souvenirs!!!

This thursday I am going to Sydney to see Cirque de la Symphonie which is a production of Cirque du Soleil to the music from the Sydney Symphony! and it’s in the Opera House!! super exciting!!

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Uni Life

Sorry I haven’t posted recently… I would use the excuse “I’m so busy!!!” but that wouldn’t be true… I actually have a lot of down time, but that time is spent either a.) on the beach or b.) watching movies with my hall mates.

So “Uni” is the Aussie term for college. I’m just now getting used to the lingo… here are some fun translations:

(Aussie term) = (American term)

“Uni” = college

“college” or “campus” = dorm (this one really confuses me)

“chips” = fries (**Generally** usually “hot chips” = french fries and just “chips” = Doritos)

“tomato sauce” = ketchup

“power point” = electrical wall outlet

“bogan” = redneck

“heaps” = a lot

“keen” = excited

So yeah sometimes it’s a struggle. But it’s fine because “yall” comes out of my mouth about every other sentence so all the Australians can immediately tell I’m American and thus keep the slang to a minimum.

So. school. it’s weird. This is going to be a large blog post so if you get bored I’m sorry… but so many people have been asking me about my classes so here are the details! Here’s a breakdown of my classes:

EESC103 – Landscape Change and Climatology

So I was originally in a 200-level environmental class… which I successfully walked out of 20 minutes into the lab because there was no way I could continue when I had never seen the “review material” on the first day. But this class is much better! The first few lectures have been about the shape of the earth, latitude/longitude, time zones, tectonic plates, the atmosphere, etc. Really interesting stuff I think!! We have a ton of assignments for that class so I hope they aren’t too bad. I’m a little worried currently because I haven’t bought the book… it’s $150. I don’t have time for that. So I’m winging it currently. We’ll see how it goes! I have this class 3 times during the week. On Monday there is a 1 hour lecture from 10:30-11:30. On Tuesday there is another 1 hour lecture from 3:30-4:30, then I have the lab from 4:30-7:30. It has never lasted til 7:30 because it is a self-taught lab, and you can leave whenever you are finished. Let’s just say I can whip through them pretty quickly and be out before 6 every time :)

INDS150 – Introduction to Indiginous Australia

So this class literally has about 400 people in it!!! Terrifying considering my biggest class at Wofford was about… 30. But it’s fun to sit there and not have to worry about getting called on and forced to participate. This class is interesting but difficult. It’s hard because I have absolutely no background knowledge of the Indigenous culture… so I don’t know a lot of stuff they talk about when they discuss Australian/Aboriginal history. I have this lecture on Wednesday from 9:30-11:30, then I have my tutorial from 1:30-2:30. Tutorial is like the discussion part of the class, there are only 20 people in this one and it’s all discussion. My favorite….

VISA123 – Aboriginal Art

I took African Art at Wofford last year and LOVED IT. So I decided that Aboriginal Art might be fun! It’s pretty good so far. We haven’t done much. My professor looks like Anthony Bourdain. There are only 20 people in this class, and a lot of study abroad students, so not as intimidating. I  have this class on Friday, lecture and tutorial back-to-back from 8:30-11:30. it’s a struggle. We actually went on a field trip on Friday to The Art Gallery of New South Wales which is in Sydney! It was really cool. I mean art museums aren’t my favorite thing in the whole world but the Aboriginal Art was cool. very tribal and nature-y and colorful. If I had to look at any other kind of art (aka- art that makes no sense and has no bright colors) then I would’ve had a less fun time.

VISA124 – Introduction to Photography

MY FAVORITE CLASS. Not going to lie… it’s a wonderful feeling to take a class and know absolutely everything that is going on. Some of these people have never touched a DSLR camera before. It’s a good feeling. My class last week was focused on portrait photography, and we got to use studio lights!! Like you know… when you get a professional photographer to take your picture and they set up the big bright lights in your face? And when they take the picture it makes a laser-gun sound? Yeah we did that. It was super cool!! The only negative about this class is that we have to be models for everyone else’s pictures… so I have to take a shower before this class on Mondays. so much effort. This class is also from 1:30-5:30 on Mondays. yeah 4 hours……

So those are my classes!! All of them have like 3 assignments for them all semester…. way different from Wofford where we have a test or an essay basically every week. Hopefully I can do well on them! Updates on that when it happens…. in 2 weeks when I have like 5 things due at the same time. Awesome!

 

 

 

 

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Getaway Weekend with CIEE!

So after a week of orientation with the University and my dorm… which consisted of weird get-to-know-people activities… I got to go away to Merry Beach with my CIEE program! There are 15 students in my program, 4 of us are from Wofford, and the rest are from all over the US! Our program directors, Wayne and Tonya, are pretty awesome. I wish we did more trips and things with CIEE because they are a great bunch of people!

Ok so they picked us up from our residence halls on Friday morning. Then we drove South down the coast and stopped at some random scenic places along the way! It was unfortunate that it was so cloudy and rainy but it was still fun! We then stopped at a mall, where they gave us each $50, and we got to buy our food for the weekend! We were going to stay in cabins of 4 people each, so with a combined total of $200, we did some damage at the grocery store. Let’s just say we were thankful we had enough money to include some quality purchases of Mars Bars cookies, cinnamon doughnuts, and a jar of much-needed Nutella.

Farther down the road we stopped and ate at a Subway and a McDonalds. Subway is definitely not as good here! Very disappointing. They didn’t have oil and vinegar, which is necessary for a good subway sandwich to happen. The McDonalds (of which there are like a billion) have these fancy McCafe’s in them… like a nice coffee shop cafe thing. They had a bakery shelf thing… we bought some delicious banana bread. In a McDonalds!! So weird.

So 3 hours of driving down the coast… we finally arrived in Merry Beach! Basically a camping hot spot where Australians spend their holidays. We walked over to this hidden beach called Pretty Beach, and it is definitely more than just pretty!! See my pictures on facebook for full coverage of this place. It’s part of a national park, which is also home to hundreds of KANGAROOS. They were EVERYWHERE!!! Basically a dream come true. They were literally just hopping around everywhere. We fed them some bird seed, apparently they like it. We spent a good couple of hours hopping around on the rocks of the beach and walking back to our cabins on this cliff that overlooks the beach! So cool.

That night we hung out with our group and our super awesome bus driver Scottie grilled us some steaks! Then we went back to our cabins, and my cabin found some very interesting shows on the Australian tv. Just very strange.

The next day we got to drive 2 more hours South down the coast and ended up at this mountain called Gulaga. (**side note** at the base of the mountain, we stopped to use the bathroom at this general store, and I found a cat. his name was possum. he was adorable and I wanted to steal him. only cat I’ve seen so far in Australia.) We were guided by an Aboriginal woman who told us wonderful stories about how the Indiginous people have climbed this mountain since forever, and done ritual initiation ceremonies at the top. It was a trek. Took about 2 hours to get to the top… on a constant incline! Once we got to the top, she led us into the bush, and I felt like I needed a machete to cut through the vegetation. But holy crap… once we got through, we found these awesome rock formations that are on the same level of awesome as like Easter Island or Stonehenge or something. They are arranged in such strange ways. It was so windy at the top I thought we were going to fly away. So cool though!

It took us an hour to walk back down the mountain and our knees were dying.

When we got back to Merry Beach, Wayne ordered us some pizzas. Delish. Then I got to take a shower in the beyond awesome shower in our cabin. It had 2 shower heads.

The next morning we left super early to drive back up the coast. We stopped at 7 Mile Beach where we had our surf lesson!!!!! I have surfed before when I went to Costa Rica, so I thought I would be fine surfing again. I didn’t know that the ocean was so much more INSANE here!! I can now tell you what a rip tide feels like. The current is so strong!! South Carolina beaches are so chill compared to this. It was so hard to get the surf board straight because the current would pull you sideways and make you fall off! It was so tiring but I stood up on my board a good number of times!! It was so fun. I want to go surfing again!!!

So that was my awesome weekend!!!!! Next blog will be about my first week of classes!

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I made it!

I am in Australia!!!! I have to say the culture shock hit me as soon as I landed. It is super hot and humid down here! But it’s awesome, definitely better than the winter weather back home!

So I’ve only been here for 3 days but it feels like I’ve been here for so much longer than that. I think the jet-lag is gone so that’s cool. I am 16 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. So if you really want to know what time it is for me, add 4 hours to EST and switch the am/pm. The first day I got here, I got off the plane at 9 am, and I got to my dorm etc etc and I ended up going to bed at 8 pm and sleeping for 11 hours. Awesome!

***Special Shout Out*** Delta Airlines — you are the best. BEST MOVIE COLLECTION EVER. Ok the flight had the little personal TVs, and the movie list took me 10 minutes to scroll through. AT LEAST LIKE 150 MOVIES TO CHOOSE FROM!!!!!! And there were some gems. I personally watched the following: Finding Nemo (getting in the mood for Australia), Lion King (such a classic), Argo (only the first 15 mins), The Lucky One (I only watched this for Zac Efron), The Sound of Music (I watched this so I could see all the filming locations where I have been to in Salzburg, Austria), and ended with a classic…… The Princess Diaries.

So yeah, there were so many wonderful movies I was freaking out. I didn’t sleep at all on the plane. Maybe I dozed off for an hour? Yeah I’m not surprised at myself so whatevs.

ANYWAY. Australia is super cool. Everyone is super friendly. And has awesome accents… obviously.

I’m living in a University of Wollongong residence hall called the International House. There are students from over 30 countries living here!! It’s crazy. Most of them are from Australia and America, and then there are a ton from Asia. Sooooo the dorm does not have air conditioning. It’s fine. I have my own room so that’s cool, and there are 2 other American girls on my hall who are awesome. Let me just take a minute to say that there are 5 girls on my hall, and 4 guys. And guess what. We all share a hall bathroom. Yep. Co-ed bathrooms. But you know, it’s actually not that bad. No one is in the bathroom at the same time so it works out I guess. Just another thing to get used to!

They serve us breakfast and dinner here at the dorm, and it’s been pretty good so far! I’m planning on trying the infamous Vegemite this morning so I’ll let you know how that goes! Also, Australia loves meat. So good thing I’m not a vegetarian anymore!

There are so many things I could write about but it would take forever so here are some highlights:

-my CIEE study abroad group had orientation monday, and we did super cool stuff like go to this mountain overlook, eat lunch at an Italian restaurant on the beach, and walk around a mall

-the University is super awesome and wonderful and if it was in the US I would’ve gone there. It also has 26,000 students so that is a huge transition compared to Wofford’s 1,500!!

-there is a bird outside my window that sounds like a small child pretending to sound like goat.

-Australia is in a drought, so they encourage 5 minute showers. it’s actually really not that hard! It’s cool to see that everybody in Australia respects the water shortage and really tries to conserve water.

-I constantly get made fun of for saying “y’all”

Well that’s it for now… another update to come soon! Here are some pics:

    My room!!

 

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Leaving Tomorrow!!!

It’s finally here!!! After living at home for 3 weeks after Interim ended, I’ve done nothing but stalk Australia on Google Earth and watch too many episodes of Gossip Girl. I’m so ready to be in Australia! My program starts so late because Australia is currently on their summer break… so they start their Autumn semester on March 4th, which is my “spring” semester. But it’s autumn in Australia. So I’m missing my favorite season – spring. Because when I leave Australia it will be winter there, and I’ll come back to a South Carolina summer. And then back to fall again. I’m kind of upset about it. I’m curious to see how Australians handle Easter… do they do the whole Easter Bunny thing and celebrate the long-awaited day when it’s fashionably acceptable to wear white jeans again? We’ll see.

One important fact about me is that my decision to study abroad in Australia may or may not have been slightly influenced by the classic 2000 straight-to-VHS hit movie Our Lips Are Sealed, starring Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Ok no the movie is not the reason why I’m going to Australia but it played a factor in why I’ve always been really interested in Australia. So the movie features many of my bucket list items for my time in Australia. Here are a few:

1. Walk on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

2. Eat Vegemite

3. Own a pet Kangaroo

4. Visit Luna Park

And another activity I really want to partake in (not featured in the MK & Ash movie)

5. Go on a wine tasting tour!!

And I’m sure I’ll add to the list while I’m on the plane/in airports for about a day.

Oh and fun fact… I am losing a day of my life. I will not exist on February 23rd. Since I leave America the night of the 22nd… I get to Australia on the morning of the 24th…….. so yeah basically I’m time travelling.

So…. welcome to my blog! Look out for an update when I arrive in the land down under!!!!!

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50 days

As of January 3rd, 2013, I do not leave for Wollongong, Australia until February 22nd….. 50 days away!

Stay tuned!

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