Come to Australia! Seriously, right now!

I will say it again: this trip was worth every minute, every hour, every dime, every dollar, every sunburn, every second without Internet, and every game I missed of the World Cup! The TEAN program really has put together a great trip that I would suggest to anyone. Not only do you get to live in Australia for over five weeks, but you also get to see almost the entire country! Even places many locals have never been to! You get to go on exclusive field trips and tours. You get to meet people from each and every city. You get school credit. You get to bond with a group of dedicated Americans from all over the states. And best of all you get to explore one of the friendliest and most beautiful countries in the world. After this trip, I have even gone as far as seriously looking for jobs in the land down under just so I could spend so more time in this great place!

With that said, so much of my learning came from places that I would have never predicted. Yes, I learned a lot in class. Yes, I learned a lot from the Australians I met. Yes, I learned a lot by visiting some amazing unique places like Kakadu, Darling Harbor, the Great Barrier Reef, etc. Yes, I learned a lot from actually living in Australia. However, the place that I think I learned the most is from the friends I made and their stories and their perspectives and their wisdom and sharing all of those other learning experiences with them. I feel so grateful and fortunate to have met the people I met on this trip and I never could have imagined it better. These people made this study abroad the trip of a lifetime while also taking a part in making me who I am right this second. While some I may never meet again, others have become some of the best friends I will ever have. It’s impossible to put into words just how thankful I am to have met these people and had this experience and is equally impossible to put into words just how life changing (not to be too dramatic) these relationships and experiences have been and will be.

I will never forget these guys! #DCM #MCD

I will never forget these guys! #DCM #MCD

 

With that said, I have decided to make a quick end of the trip wrap up questionnaire that hopefully is helpful for someone one day:

 

Best Advice:

Appreciate what you have when it’s still there. I’ve been back for less than 24 hours and already the cliché phrase “you don’t know what you have ‘til it’s gone” has become overwhelmingly true. One thing I wish I had done more was pause and look at all the things that I was taking for granted, then do those things even more so that I could never say that I didn’t take advantage of every opportunity that was there.

 

Best Purchase:

Food. It is expensive, but so is everything in Australia. I can be very cheap at home, but every meal I had on this trip was amazing and every dime I spent was worth it. I almost wish I ate more and tried even more new places! I am glad that I took the somewhat YOLO path of not focusing too much on the money and just looking at opportunities and not prices, and would suggest that to anyone else if possible.

Also, either an extension cord or power adapter that has multiple ports is a great investment (pretty much so you can charge multiple devices at once)!

 

Worst Regret:

Not meeting even more people. Yes I met a ton of people and got close to everyone I wanted to, but there are always more people and even though I am totally satisfied with my experience, maybe I could have met even more people!

 

Thing You Most Wish You Had Brought:

More Emergen-C. I only got sick once, but others got sick two or three times. I could not find any super high vitamin C supplements, so I could have brought more.

 

Favorite Place:

Meh, this one is hard. Melbourne was the most fun to explore and most artsy. Sydney had the most things to do. The Great Barrier Reef is a must do.

 

Favorite Food:

As I have mentioned way too many times, the Asian food in Australia is fantastic. Thai, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, all of it! And the seafood is also amazing! Get as much fish and chips, sushi, pad thai, etc. as possible!

 

American Word – Aussie Word

Flip Flops – Thongs (now that made some awkward situations)

Detergent – Washing Powder

Sunglasses – Sunnies

Mom – Mum

American Football – Grid Iron

Mosquito – Mozzy

Mall – Arcade

Flashlight – Torch

Gas (like for cars) – Petrol

As you can see, if you can shorten a word, the Aussies have!

 

I will try to add more as I think of more advice, but my biggest advice is DO IT! Go to Australia! If you want to over summer and get some credits, this program is AMAZING! Thank you for reading, and now back to trying to get over this 17 hour jetlag….

Thank you,

-Craig Boman

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Days 31 through 35

Day 31: Presentations and Studying for Final

The title here pretty much explains today. We went through 11 presentations over 3.5 hours, got ramen and gelato after, then studied and got some sleep. The presentations were all really great (everyone in this program is pretty darn smart) and I love learning from my peers. Pretty uneventful day, but this really is the calm before the storm!

 

Day 32: Final, Lagoon, and Finished!

Thank god that after all those four hour classes and 11 presentations yesterday that our final was only an hour! We all went to the final in our bathing suits and went directly afterwards to the lagoon and to get food! We also had our final dinner with the TEAN staff at a really nice restaurant and took some great photos with everyone! It was a great end to class, a nice day in the sun, and tonight we will go out and have a great time!

 

Day 33: White Water Rafting

My friends that have been to Cairns before all said to go white water rafting, and man were they right! We had an amazing tour guide, a really chill group, and rafted through a truly beautiful tropical rain forest! I may have feel in the rapids twice and was pushed in another time, but every second was phenomenal! I could tell many stories from just this one ride through the rapids (actually two because we signed up for a full day), but all I can say is: if you ever go to Cairns, you better go white water rafting!

Afterwards we went out for dinner at one of the many discounted places that the TEAN program has hooked us up with, then went to sleep earlier than usual because tomorrow is the Great Barrier Reef!

 

Day 34: I Totally Understand Why We Need to Save This Place!

The Great Barrier Reef is no question, one of the coolest places I will ever go! I may have gotten sea sick four times throughout the around 8 hour adventure and was not allowed to scuba dive because of my childhood heart surgery (which I was fine with because it would not have been fun to scuba dive while feeling sick), but it was still amazing! I snorkeled as much as I could and must have taken over 200 pictures, but no pictures or words can describe this breathtaking place. The coral like small islands just below the water surface. The uncountable number of fish that are more colorful than you can imagine. The way you can just hover there and see hundreds of fish swimming by so close to you just doing their daily routine. I must have followed 20 different fish, found six different “Nemo’s”, seen a school of at least 100 swimming fish, and all in ten minutes. Then, the next ten minutes you see three new things you never could have imagined. Then another ten minutes, then another, and it continues until you’re back on the boat reminiscing with everyone else about what they saw. It was truly amazing and I never could have imagined it better.

Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef

Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef

Nemo in the Great Barrier Reef

Nemo in the Great Barrier Reef

Fishes everywhere!

Fishes everywhere!

 

Day 35: Last Day 😦

Today we decided to just chill, eat, and do other shenanigans with my best friends from the trip. It was a nice final day, and we will all miss each other’s daily presence, but we will no doubt definitely keep in touch.

I will miss everyone on this trip, but will try my best to see all the cool places they are from, while also hoping some visit me! It’s time for a lengthy nap on this long flight home (I actually land only an hour after I take off because of time changes!), and then its back to normal life. Then again, this trip has taught me so much that I don’t think it will be ‘normal’ life. Maybe it’s only a little or maybe a lot, but I have grown on this trip and I am grateful for every bit of it. My future travels with the friends I have made and traveling to see them again excites me, but also seeing the person I have become because of them is even more exciting.

Gonna miss these guys! #DCM #MCD

Gonna miss these guys! #DCM #MCD

To anyone thinking of doing a trip like this, do not hesitate. It was worth every minute, every hour, every dime, every dollar, every sunburn, every second without Internet, every game I missed of the World Cup…. There is no price I could put on this adventure and I will always be thankful for this experience.

Days 27 through 30

Day 27: Bondi Beach and Last Day in Sydney

We had no class today, which meant sleeping in and exploring. My friend and I took a long walk from school to the beach and up the coast to the world famous Bondi Beach. It is an amazing walk, that I highly suggest, and a nice time to talk with a friend while getting some great pictures! After our walk, we met up with a friend of mine from CMU who lives in Sydney. Too bad that this was our last day because he had some suggestions of things to do, but most everything he suggested we had already done! Getting his perspective was great (plus he is in the same major as me, so we talked about engineering down under) and it was a nice last day in Sydney. We went back, packed up, and went to sleep early before our flight tomorrow (jk we never sleep early, we talked all night at went to bed at a ‘reasonable’ time).

 

Bondi Beach walk with David

Bondi Beach walk with David

Day 28: Cairns and Meeting Other Groups

The flight to Cairns was pretty short (about 4.5 hours) and was a great time to get some sleep and watch a movie. After landing we moved into our dorm, which I guess has a reputation for being a party place (its got a club attached to it!), and went on a tour of the town. Cairns is pretty small, but has a ton of awesome things to do nearby, which is why we end here and have a few extra days to go scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef and/or skydiving and/or white water rafting and/or bungee jumping and/or a bunch of other awesome things! Despite the fact that the beach here is kind of lame (its all mud…), there is a really cool lagoon that we will definitely go to after our final!

Cairns is also the location where TEAN semester programs go for a pre-departure optional trip, so I met some really cool new people and definitely had a truly memorable night. I can’t wait to finish up my finals and go to the Great Barrier Reef and more!

 

Day 29: Sugar Mill, Mission Beach, and Boulders

Instead of class today, we went to a sugar mill that both produces sugar and about nine megawatts of energy. It was a very interesting tour that was only hindered by the fact that it smelled like sweet sugar the whole time and was during lunchtime… We have seen a variety of really cool energy production techniques and this one was a good finisher. After the tour, we got lunch at Mission Beach, which, once again, the seafood was to die for! The beaches here are great not only because they are warm even in winter, but they are also surrounded by both mountains and tropical rain forests. What a place! We then went to a cool park called Boulders where we explored a really phenomenally carved out river valley!

Tonight was another great night of meeting new people and having some great last nights with some truly memorable friends. I’m so fortunate to have met so many amazing people and tonight really made me thankful!

 

Mission Beach with the amazing mountains and rain forests in the background!

Mission Beach with the amazing mountains and rain forests in the background!

Exploring Boulders

Exploring Boulders

Day 30: Last Class and Activities Fair

We finished our classes of today with a class on wind energy. The technology is not only super interesting, but is also a great prospect for our future. Today we reunited with the Tourism group, so we showed them around town, then went to the activities fair where we signed up (with discounts) for all the great activities that are all around Cairns. TEAN set up this sign-up event to show us the most trusted organizations for all these trips and give us those discounted hook ups! It was really great and I signed up for white water rafting (I was told by some friends that it is amazing here) and scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef (because you have to!). A lot of money spent, but it will be so worth it!

Days 23 through 26

Day 23: Kayaking and Watson’s Bay

Another day of waking up early, but this time to kayak the Sydney Harbor! It was a very strenuous workout, but we rowed to a place called Shark Island (for its shape, not aquatic life), which had some amazing view of the city. After kayaking, I went with a friend to Watson’s Bay because she heard of a really great restaurant there. The views were the best I’ve seen of Sydney! We ate some clam chowder along with a few ginger beers and talked about life. It’s great to explore a part of the world I may only be in once while also making a great friend. I did lose my room key on this excursion, but it was so worth it!

View of Sydney from Watson Bay

View of Sydney from Watson Bay 

Day 24: Project Work time and Ramen

Today was the day pretty much every group busted out a bunch of their projects because it was the last Sunday in Sydney. After splitting up the work and discussing our goals, I went out with some friends to get ramen. I never really knew that you could get gourmet ramen; I thought it was just that stuff you buy in packets for 30 cents. I cannot state it more, but Asian food here is ridiculously good! When I get back, I will definitely keep my eye open for ramen now, but I doubt it will be as good as it is here. Tonight I video chatted with some friends back home, which was nice, and seeing that I was a day ahead of most of them was pretty funny!

 

Day 25: World Cup Final

The world cup final in Australia was at 3:00am…. It was a great game that I could analyze for an hour, but of course it went to overtime and therefore I didn’t go back to sleep until around 5:30am then had to wake up for class around 8:30…. Therefore, after class I took a good long nap! I once again had some great Asian food for dinner (I feel like I mention it everyday, but man do I love it!), then we dealt with our first drama of the trip. I’m amazed that 25 days in there has been no real drama and am super thankful that todays was pretty minimal, but it still stinks. We helped our friend that was in the forefront of it, and luckily tomorrow is her birthday, so we also hatched out our plan to make it the best ever!

 

Day 26: Birthday and 360 Bar again

Our friend is a little older than the rest of us and has a daughter, and therefore hasn’t had much of a birthday in a long time. So, of course, we had to make today special for her! After class, my friend and I ran off to buy flowers, Guinness (her favorite beer), purple balloons (her favorite color), and a “21st Birthday” tiara [because today she’s 21 ;)]. We hid everything in her room before she came back from class, and then surprised her with some poppers as she walked in! She loved the gifts and the surprise flowers on her bed and I’m glad because she totally deserves it! After the surprise, we got ready and took her to the 360 Bar, which was just as amazing the second time, then went out to a few other places. All in all, today was a very nice day for all of us and I look forward to sending flowers to our friend every year (we all agreed we would, but she doesn’t know hehe)!

Jen's Surprise Birthday!

Jen’s Surprise Birthday!

Free Birthday Dessert at 360 Bar!

Free Birthday Dessert at 360 Bar!

 

Days 19 through 22

Day 19: A Normal College Day

Once again, we had class from 9am to 1pm, but the teacher today was much better than yesterday’s teacher. We also covered energy storage today, but with more hands-on learning. We spent about 30 minutes of class touring the building we have class in, which is a six star energy rated building (the highest rating in Australia). After the tour we spent about an hour making our own batteries, then the professor showing us how we can make a simple capacitor with just plastic bottles, foil, and salt water.

After class, we played soccer and badminton, and then walked around campus looking for the best places to get a good view of the city. We then attempted to do some of our assignments, but it’s hard when it feels so much like vacation. There really isn’t that much work, but of course the engineering program has more than the other groups who therefore have time to go out and have fun, which makes working even harder…. Either way, it’s a Tuesday night, so not much is going on, so time to finish up some work/blog.

 

View of campus and city from the UNSW library

View of campus and city from the UNSW library

Day 20: Mid-Week Slump

Today we had a really interesting lecture on efficiency that looked into how making the end-use products like light bulbs, heaters, washing machines, etc. more efficient can save potentially more energy than working on the efficiency of a power plant. It is a really interesting concept, and the topic of my project, so I really enjoyed this class. After class was another lazy day of catching up on sleep and homework, but we went to a really good sushi place for dinner. I do have to say: the fish here is not only amazing, but cheap! Salmon rolls cost only as much as California rolls, there are cheap rolls with huge scallops or prawns, and the crab is real! For anyone who comes to Australia, I highly suggest getting as much seafood as possible! With that said, tonight was another lazy night of just chilling with people, but once again it was a cool opportunity of meeting Americans from all over the nation and comparing the cultural differences and challenging social stereotypes. The learning outside of class that I would have never predicted is amazing.

 

Day 21: Darling Harbor

This morning I woke up to watch the world cup semifinal, but with time changes, that means I woke up at 5am…. Thank god I slept in earlier this week and that class was once again on efficiency and was therefore really interesting. Even though I wanted to sleep after class, we went to the botanical garden and planetarium, which was up on this hill that had amazing views. We then continued walking and went to Darling Harbor, which is one of the go to places in Sydney! It has a really cool vibe that reminds me of Fisherman’s Wharf just with less tourists and more lights and sites. Afterwards, we attempted to go to the fish market, but realized it closes early in the day so went back and ate in Darling Harbor. For anyone going to Sydney, make sure you go to the fish market because I hear it is really awesome, but you have to go in the morning!

In general, I think one thing I have done well this trip compare to some others is going out with people and exploring even if I should sleep or do some more work. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I will finish the work and will have time to sleep later. I’m also glad that I have friends that will drag me along if I do make an excuse, and I really haven’t missed out on much thanks to them!

 

Day 22: Field Trips and Olympic Stadium

Today we woke up early to go to two different places: the Ausgrid Education Center and Earth Power. First we explored the Ausgrid center, which is an extremely sustainable building with some interesting features we learned about and a few exhibits that show green building and energy saving tactics. Ausgrid is the company that maintains the power grid in Australia so their perspective on energy savings is really interesting. Again, this fits very well into my degree and interests and therefore was extremely fascinating. I do wish our tour guides were a little more knowledgeable, but I took a Green Buildings class last semester, so it was like seeing what we learned about in class but in real life! Earth Power is a bioenergy plant that uses microbes to digest food waste into methane, which it burns to produce energy. Aside from the horrid smell of the rotting food, the facility was very educational and another great experience of seeing what we are learning in our bioenergy classes.

After the field trips we took an in-bus tour of the Olympic complex, which was pretty cool, but also very much renovated since the Olympic games 14 years ago. We ate at a nearby park that had probably the coolest playground I’ve ever seen. If I were just 10 years younger, I would totally be all over that place!

For dinner, we were once more astounded by the delicious Asian food that is so close to campus, then went out to dance and had a great night!

Days 15 through 18

Day 15: The Beach and College Life Begins
For the next two weeks the only things we have planned is class from 9am to 1pm and a few optional excursions we paid for before coming, like a rugby game, kayaking in the bay, going to an opera and the opera house, etc. This means we get to really explore Sydney!
Today we went to the beach after a class on bioenergy. Class really tied together all of the different biofuels and bioenergy technologies that we currently use and the future of the technology. This isn’t really my major (it’s more ChemE), but it is still interesting stuff. At the beach we just chilled, listened to music, played beach volleyball, and walked around. It was a really nice day (even though some natives would say it was cold), but this beach was smaller than the ones in Byron Bay and therefore was more crowded.
After getting back to campus, we cooked dinner, which is a great option to have seeing that eating out gets really expensive, then we went out to see the city nightlife. Sydney reminds me a lot of a place like LA just with better public transit. By this, I mean that it is really huge, with stuff all over the place but kind of spread out, but there are buses that can get you most places in less than an hour. It will be interesting to continue to explore this city for the next few weeks.

Day 16: Sydney Opera House and Sydney Roosters vs. the Cronulla Sharks
With a bunch of people having tickets to a show at the Opera house, we all went down to check it out and the rest of town. My friend David and I did not have tickets so we wondered around a lot of downtown and got a good idea of where places are and took some great pictures. Sydney has more tall buildings that any of the other cities we have been in, but not as many interesting little districts, like Melbourne’s alleys, Brisbane’s main street, etc.

View of Sydney Harbor from the Opera House

View of Sydney Harbor from the Opera House

Tonight we had tickets to the rugby game, which were not too expensive (only $35). We quickly found out that none of us knew the rules of rugby, but slowly but surely figured it out. Once we knew how it worked, it was a lot more fun to watch, but if anything, listening to the passionate little kids screaming behind us was the best part of the game. In this game, the local Sydney Roosters took a 24-0 lead before halftime, then the Sharks started to rally back. With only a minute left the Sharks took the lead at 28-30, then the Roosters pushed their way all the way down only to score (they call it a ‘try’, not a touchdown) with seconds remaining. After the officials reviewed it though, the try was no good, and the crowd was livid. I later found out that the Sharks are the bottom team in the league and the Roosters near the top, so this really was an exciting game!

The kids behind us at the NRL game were great!

The kids behind us at the NRL game were great!

Day 17: The 360 Bar
Today we all slept in, which was greatly needed, then went downtown to the shopping center. The stores were way too expensive for us, but we came to the mall specifically because we heard about the 360 Bar, which is a bar at the top of the Sky Tower. Normally it costs $26 to go up but we hear that if we spent $20 at the 360 Bar we could go up free. It was awesome! We went up right around sunset and therefore saw the city during the day, sunset, and at night. We sipped our drinks and ate our appetizers as slow as possible so we could take in the views, and it was amazing! To anyone coming to Sydney, this is one of the first things I would suggest going to!

360 Bar in Sydney! Some of the best views of a city you'll ever see!

360 Bar in Sydney! Some of the best views of a city you’ll ever see!

Day 18: Monday, July 7th
Today was a normal Monday, with the normal recovery from staying up late during the weekend, waking up way before you want to for class, and taking a long nap when you get home. Today we covered energy storage, which was really interesting, but this was the first professor we have had that I really disliked. In perspective, that is a good thing, but today’s four hours of class was hard to get through. With that said, we learned about Vanadium batteries, which are really interesting, and the advantages and disadvantages of other batteries. Pretty uneventful day in the end, but a good day to catch up on sleep and homework.

Days 12 through 14

Day 12: CERES and More Melbourne
This morning we went to a place called the Center for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies (CERES). It was a really interesting place filled with wind turbines, solar panels, community gardens, a farmers market, and a bunch of educational buildings. The idea of the center is to education people on what they can do to help the environment and to make people more aware of their environmental impact.
The most interesting things that I saw was the environmental friendly house they built that had a bunch of information inside of it on how to reduce energy consumption and build in a smarter manner. The house was actually a house that was already built somewhere else and was going to be destroyed but they decided to purchase the house and move it on site. This saved both costs and is a 100% recycling of materials. The farmers market was also really interesting because the center prided themselves on selling local foods and therefore saving transportation costs and the detrimental effects that transporting foods create.
For lunch we had sushi, which is one of the few things that is cheaper here! They also have really interesting rolls here, for example for $2.50 you can get a single long roll (almost like a burrito) that is probably equivalent to 6 small rolls. With that said, I’m excited to save money by eating tons of sushi and fish!

Sushi for $2.50!

Sushi for $2.50!

Day 13: Wind Farm and Melbourne-ing
Today we went to the Hepburn Wind Farm, which is a community funded set of two windmills that power around 2,200 homes. The farm itself was a little unexciting because we were all waiting to see a huge array of wind turbines and found only two, but the concept of the farm was really awesome. With around 3,000 people donating an average of $5,000 the farm was created with a few government incentives and the investors all receiving cheaper sustainable energy and a return on their investment. With that said, the new government here is taking a huge fight against renewables, which was really interesting to learn about (and supports why I have heard so many negative comments about the new PM), but also really sad to hear. I hope the government will avoid this devastating cut to renewables, but in the end this farm is really cool and a great tactic that could really help in the energy crisis around the world.
Driving to this farm was also really cool because we drove through the rural farmland, which really reminded me of England (which makes sense seeing that this was an English colony. I also had my first meat pie today, which was super tasty and almost the only food I have had that is kind of native Australian. I am trying to get more Australian food, but sort of like America, the food here is very much determined by its immigrants. Therefore, there is tons of great Asian food and European food!
Today was a great finish to Melbourne, but farewell for now for tomorrow we are off to Sydney!

Wind Farm Field Trip

Wind Farm Field Trip

Day 14: The Start of Sydney
After a short one-hour flight to Sydney, we settled in to our new dorms at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). The dorms here a super nice and it is interesting hearing that college here is very different, with most students living at home and the dorms mainly being for international students. After registering to get a student ID and Internet access (finally!), we went and played soccer, and got some really great Thai food! As I mentioned before, the Asian food here is really good and really abundant. Tonight was kind of a lazy night, with all of us catching up on sleep, but tomorrow the next two weeks of adventures in Sydney begins.

Days 8 through 11

Day 8: Crocodile Jumping and Class
This morning we drove to a place called Crocodile Jumping, which was a boat ride where some trained professionals used bait to get a crocodiles to jump alongside the boat while educating us on the species. Crocodiles are extremely dangerous and are actually a hugely patrolled danger to humans. We were told by one of the tour guides about how her nephew was eating about a crocodile and how dangerous they truly are. We were also told a story about a huge crocodile that would tip over boats and that it was later discovered that the engine noises from the boat’s is what irritated the crocodile to the point of attacking the boats. We also got to hold snakes at the attraction, which was pretty cool.
After going to Crocodile Jump, we moved to our new campsite, which was on a farm that was pretty awesome. There were horses, pony’s, and around a hundred wallabies roaming around. They were super cool to watch, especially the wallabies because it is so interesting to see how they hop around unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
Our tour guide/driver this entire time has also been super cool! His name is Mark and he is one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met. He has taught us a ton about everything ranging from pulling over and picking some local flowers then showing us they were edible to talking to me about Australian politics. Again I love learning about the difference in culture and I am increasingly becoming fond of the Australian lifestyle and would love the idea of living here in the future. Maybe one day I will live here, but either way this trip has been extremely educational and fun!

Jumping Crocodiles!

Jumping Crocodiles!

Croc!

Croc!

Day 9: Waterfalls, Swimming, and Lichfield National Park
This morning/afternoon we went to Lichfield National Park, which is like a smaller version of Kakadu National Park but just as beautiful. We also went to a three different waterfalls and swam in their ‘swimming holes’, which was really fun, especially at the first one where we climbed up the cliff side and dove about 20 feet down into the deep water below.
We ended the day with some class where we learned about bioenergy technology. It was really interesting even if it doesn’t directly link to my major, which is another thing I really love about this course.
Once again, I would like to add some more phrases and things I have learned in Australia:
-Before I forgot to mention the whole driving on the other side of the road thing, which is really interesting especially because of the different in left and right turns
-Yellow lights are actually called amber or orange lights, which kind of makes more sense
-Gas (like for cars) is actually called petrol
-Make sure you bring sunglasses everywhere because the sunlight is super bright here!

Swimming holes with the whole group!

Swimming holes with the whole group!

Day 10: On to Melbourne
Today we flew to Melbourne, which took about 4 hours. We proceeded to check into our hostel then ate dinner at a Korean restaurant and had a really fun chilling night. One thing that I have liked on this trip is both trying to really get to know people while also not forming a click and hanging out with the same people all the time. I also love taking a night off from going out to clubs or bars and instead just talking to people and learning about all the people from all these different places. It’s been a long day because of the traveling so I will go to bed early and invest in some sleep.

Day 11: Discovering Melbourne
Today, we woke up early to go on a tour of the city. Melbourne really is a cool city with its numerous art museums, really vibrant alleys filled with restaurants and shops, and marveling architecture that is extremely abundant. After the tour, some friends and I wandered around town, including the Melbourne Convention Center, which was an extremely large and interesting building.
I have always been a huge fan of architecture and the convention center along with a bunch of other buildings around town really made me appreciate this city. Melbourne seems extremely cool, so I’m excited to see how Sydney matches up.

Street art in Melbourne!

Street art in Melbourne!

Days 4 through 7

Day 4: Brisbane

Today we woke up early to watch the USA soccer game in the hostel lounge then drove to Brisbane where we had class.  Since not a ton happened today here is a quick list of some useful tips/useful knowledge in Australia:

–       Everything is pretty expensive here. The most apparent expenses are foods (because they tax unhealthy foods from what I understand) and beverages (alcohol is really expensive).

–       Australia is really big: about the size of the continental US. This means going from city to city takes quite a while, but it also breeds a lot of diversity throughout the country.

–       Everyone here is super friendly and you can talk to anyone about anything and they will be extremely nice and helpful.

I will add some more tips soon!

 

Day 5: Brisbane Day 2

This morning we had free time so we talked to the botanical garden, which was pretty much a really nice park. Brisbane is a great city for walking around both with its ease and abundance of fun stuff to do. After class today, which it is really getting annoying to have four-hour class, we found a place with cheap food and attempted to find the free riverboat. We accidently got on the wrong boat and had to convince the driver that it was an honest accident so we didn’t have to pay, but ended up pretty far away from our hostel. The walk back further convinced me that Brisbane is a very pedestrian friendly town and a really cool place to live. Tonight was another great bonding time with friends, and once again I love the freedom we are given in this program.

 

Day 6: Darwin and Camping

This morning we flew to the most northern part of Australia: Darwin. The flight took about four hours, which proved to us how large Australia really is. We then drove to Kakadu National Park and our camping site, which took another four hours, showing how huge Kakadu National Park is and the Northern Territory in general. I know it sounds weird, but the park is an interesting mix between a desert and a rainforest. The landscape is extremely green and luscious, but also since it is the dry season, there are small wildfires all over the place. It is extremely beautiful and it really makes me happy that this place is being preserved.

 

It's impossible to capture the beauty of the landscape here in Kakadu

It’s impossible to capture the beauty of the landscape here in Kakadu

Day 7: Kakadu National Park and Uranium Plants

Today, we went to a hilly area where aboriginal wall art covered the hillsides and the sites were breathtaking. It was a very interesting look into the aboriginal culture and the views showed us the range of ecosystems, ranging from mountains to flood plains to billabongs. The sites had to be one of the most beautiful places I will ever see in my life and it sucks that I just accidently deleted half my photos today….

Tip of the day: Try to back-up your photos to make sure you don’t do something stupid like I did…

After the hike, we took a tour of the Uranium mine in Kakadu National Park, which showed me how destructive humans can be to the landscape of a beautiful place. The giant hole in the ground (over 200 meters deep) may have made the country billions of dollars, but the filling process of the site will take over 15 years and hundreds of millions of dollars.

With that said, today was extremely informative and was really fun.

This termite mound is huge!

This termite mound is huge!

Days 1 through 3

It is Day 10 and I am in Melbourne! I apologize for not posting before this, but the lack of internet access at the different hostels and the last 5 days of camping has been my main hindrance. With that said, here is what I have written for each day:

 

Day 1: Flight and Byron Bay

Getting to the airport I was nervous about meeting people, but my favorite part about this trip thus far is that everyone is from different places so almost none of us know anyone and therefore we are meeting everybody!

After 14 hours of flying we took a bus ride for about two hours to Byron Bay, which is a beach town just north of Brisbane. The town reminds me of a smaller version of Santa Cruz, with the beach right there, a lot of surfer people, and a bunch of good-looking places to eat and shop. We then went on a walk after dropping our stuff off at the hostel to the town’s lighthouse. On the way, we passed the eastern most point of Australia, got to walk on the beach, and see a bunch of really cool birds. It was a really awesome start to the trip and was a good way to bond with all the people we met.

That night we had the orientation presentation. Most of us thought it would be a bunch of bonding activities and ice-breakers, but it was just a presentation about the trip, some rules, and about Australian culture. This worked extremely well because everyone has been bonding and meeting each other naturally and before the orientation we were actually dreading the potential of ice-breakers. In the end, it was a really fun day, I met a ton of new people, and I can’t wait for the rest of the trip.

 

First Picture: Byron Bay beach

First Picture: Byron Bay beach

Day 2: Byron Bay and First Day of Class

Today started off with some free time where a bunch of us went to the beach and built sand castles, tanned, and swam in the ocean. We then went to our first day of class, which was very interesting, but also super long: four whole hours… We were introduced to the background of the current energy situation in the world, Australia, and the US, specifically looking at where energy is coming from, being used, and could look like in the future.

That night was another great opportunity to meet new people! A bunch of us went to the beach then a club and I met some really cool people that I am excited to meet some more. Thus far I really like the balance of planned activities, the class time, and the free time that we have had.

 

Day 3: Byron Bay and Meeting Aussies

Today has lived up to potentially be one of the best days of this trip! The day started with kayaking in the bay where we saw dolphins, turtles, and some whales in the distance. Once again this was a great bonding activity and was super fun! We then had class where we continued to solidify our understanding of the current and past energy situation in the world and discussed what we think the future will hold.

We immediately proceeded to go to the beach straight after class, and saw some people spinning fire torches. We went up to see what was going on and they let us attempt to spin the fire torches, introduced themselves, and invited us over for the night! One worry I had about this trip is that I would only get to meet the people on my trip and not any Australians, but this night destroyed that worry. The three guys and two girls were from the Gold Coast and had decided to do the day trip to Byron Bay where the happened to meet us. These guys were hilarious, interesting, and super entertaining! I learned so much about the Australian life style, what Aussies think of Americans, and so much more. I will never forget that night!

Spinning fire on the beach! I'm so glad we met these guys!

Spinning fire on the beach! I’m so glad we met these guys!