My oh my oh my! Time is just flying at supersonic speeds! I am about three fourths of the way through my time here which is absolutely depressing. Oh so absolutely depressing. I love it here in Australia and in my time here since I last wrote my love for the country has multiplied a bazillion times. Here’s a few of the highlights from the month of September.
Country Life Weekend
As a\part of the IFSA program we got to go to Bathurst for the weekend, stay with a family, and get the full Australian country experience! Man, oh man was it an amazing weekend. We stayed with the sweetest family that sat on 16 acres of land and my favourite new family member, their new puppy Penny. We definitely became best friends for the weekend! Our host family made us amazing meals and were extremely considerate being that one of the girls couldn’t eat gluten and neither could the other in addition to a dairy and sesame allergy. But the food was delicious homemade classic Aussie dishes. Delicious. Our host dad picked us up in the classic Thunderbird and Bathurst is known for its race track so we had a great time with that combination. I felt like I was in the movies! We were also taken to a beautiful lookout then to feed the cows. That was amazing! The cows saw the hay and began a stampede toward the truck. I had never seen a cow close up and these ones were quite adorable and friendly… except for when they accidentally knocked one of the girls on her bottom. We laughed it off, but it was a ton of fun.
We also got to drive around a farm with over 116 acres of land and see wild kangaroos! It became a national geographic episode before our eyes when the farm dog jumped from the truck and chased down a kangaroo who was running for its life! Insane right? Only in Australia. But we had a ton of other farm adventures including feeding chickens, holding a lamb, watched the sunset, classic barbecues, and star gazing. Let me pause and emphasise the stars. THERE WERE SO MANY! And we saw 3, I repeat, THREE shooting stars in one night.
Country Life Weekend was such a nice and relaxing get away. Definitely my favourite of the IFSA programs and events so far!
Church Connections/ celebrations
A huge part of my time here has been with my church at the Sydney Church of Christ. I have spent a huge amount of time with the members there and many of them have become my closest friends. I can say I truly love them and get sad to think that once I’m back in the states I won’t regularly see them.
They have made me feel so welcomed here by taking me to see Sydney, including me in celebration after celebration, or being a place to nurture and grow in my faith. At one point I even lived with the couple of girls for about 2 weeks right before country life weekend. I think getting involved with people who hold your similar beliefs or interest is a key way to make the most of your abroad experience. I can say Australia would have been okay without them, but it has been mind blowingly out of this world amazing with them. Just saying.
During our mid-semester break, we went and spent a week in Cairns. Man. MAN. DUDDDE! There is no way to describe or depict the beauty of this place. The sights, the weather, the people, and even the markets were all just so perfect.
We went snorkeling in the great barrier reef at two different locations. Which was amazing because I have never been snorkeling before and I have never ever ever seen anything so beautiful. The reef was so colorful and it felt like all those pictures from my biology classes came to life before my eyes. it is that moment where you reality blows your mind with how amazing it can be. I touched a giant clam, swam with schools of fish, saw Nemo, saw an eel, and turtles. Just wow.
We also had a day trip in the rainforest and this was just as amazing! We got to see the tree that inspired the Tree of Life from Avatar, do a few treks through the forest, swam in ice cold waterfalls, jumped from trees into lakes, loudly sang musical songs as we rode through the mountains, and saw a Cassowary only a few feet in front of me. Now if you dont know what a Cassowary is maybe the fact that it is the third largest and most deadly bird. I was terrified for my life, but I survived with great pictures too!
The rest of our trip included exploring the city, beaches, islands, and markets. Cairns was a highlight of my time here for sure. One of those things where I am still trying to convince myself it was reality.
Classes? Here comes the academics!
Coming back from Cairns, I was smacked in the face with the realization that I was still here for school. Within this past week was literally the due date of over half of my major assignment. The difference between home and Australian universities is that they have only a few assignments heavily weighted while we may have many smaller ones throughout the semester. In some ways this is nice in that I can feel free to enjoy the majority of the semester without pesky homeworks, but on the otherhand if you are a major procrastinator like myself, you may end up drowning in assignments that are worth 25-50% of your grade a week before. Scary right! Well luckily I had not been as bad of a procrastinator as normal, but I still was not prepared for the massive reminder that we were not here purely on vacation. And now its the final countdown!
Creating New Memories (The Moth, the zoo,)
I also have had a great time just exploring Sydney. My two recent favorites was going to see the Moth, a storytelling podcast I have been a huge fan of for years, at the Sydney Opera House in the huge beautiful concert hall and the other was my trip to the zoo primarily for the GIRAFFES. They are my ultimate favorite animals. I feel like as we get closer and closer to the end of my time here I want to soak up all I can from Sydney, so these excursions have been a great way to do that.