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11/20

It’s only four days until I come home Sunday, but until then I will enjoy Australia.  After Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef I studied for a whole week for my one final exam last Thursday.  Friday came around and it poured all day, as well as Saturday, which was my birthday so some friends and I went to the pub next door.

Left to right: Marissa, Anna, Me, Lucy, Steve, Sol, Maddy, Harlene, and Andrew

Sunday it still rained all day so I just hung around all day.  Monday when I woke up it wasn’t raining so I went to Uni to take pictures along with the Botanic gardens across the street, which is essentially just a huge garden.  As soon as I got back it started raining again for the 5th day in a row, but I still got my pictures.

One of the Campus buildings

A small part of the gardens.

Later on Monday afternoon Andrew Ham, Harlene, and I went to the sea cliff bridge about half an hour away which is just a bridge that runs above/along the shore for a fairly short distance.  It was once again pouring so we got soaked walking along it, but it was still pretty cool to see.  That pretty much sums up Monday.

Tuesday it stopped raining finally! So I spent all day at the beach with CC, Drew, Maddy, and a bunch of other people.  It was actually hot, no clouds, and was just a perfect day to spend doing nothing but enjoying the sun.

Wednesday, today, a bunch of us were supposed to go to the beach for sunrise, but it only ended up being Maddy and I.  I guess the idea of waking up at 4:30am doesn’t appeal to everyone.  We got to the beach around 5:15 and hoped there would even be a sunrise because of all the clouds, but they just added to the awesomeness of the sunrise.  We took a bunch of pictures at the lighthouse and then went to go look for some shells along the beach.  We got back to I-house around 7am.  I then hung around to relax a little in the morning, then went to the beach again this afternoon with Drew and a couple other people.  

Now here I am waiting for dinner to start.  I’ll post once more of my final adventures probably once I’m back home.  Hopefully there’s no more rain and we can just enjoy the weather.

11/7

Well, the days are winding down, but the adventures keep on coming.  Since my last post two and a half weeks ago, I did some pretty fun things.  On Wednesday, October 23rd, our campus had some animals come from the wildlife habitat.  While I was there, there was a koala, snake, and a golden possum.  We got to take pictures with all of them, but for whatever reason it’s illegal to hold a koala in New South Wales, but no where else.  So that was fun.

This past Friday, the first of November, was I-houses formal.  A huge bus came and picked us up at I-house and drove us to Portofino’s restaurant where there we were served a three course meal.  Formal went from about 6:30 to 11:30 and it was fun to hang out with everyone without having to think about the terrible finals that are about to happen.  It was just like a prom all over again, but it was really fun.

Steve Sol and Me

My big adventure of the week was when I went to Cairns to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef.  I went with Steve, but a couple of our other friends, Becca, Chelsie, and Elizabeth, all had the same flight, cruise, hostel, and flight back without planning it together, so we spent a lot of time with them.  Our flight left at 7am this Sunday, so we needed to be at the airport at 5, which meant catching the 3:30 train, which meant getting up at 2:30am, which was pretty miserable, but we slept on the train and plane.  We got to the hostel at around 10am and walked around the city just to see what it was like.  Since there is no beach the town built a pool/lagoon thing in the center so we spent a while there before going to some souvenir shops.  We went to bed super early since we were up early, and had to get up early again the next day.

Monday we got up at 6am to get some breakfast and get to our cruise to the Great Barrier Reef.  It was a really nice boat and the day was beautiful.  It took us just over 2 hours to get all the way out there, but the snorkeling was amazing.  I had an underwater camera to take pictures of the fish with, but I don’t know if I broke it, or it broke on it’s own, but either way I don’t have any underwater pictures.  The reef isn’t as colorful as I thought it was going to be, everything seemed to be a sort of dark green/ brownish color, but seeing all the fish were really cool.  I was hoping to see some sting rays or turtles, but no such luck.  We did see some sharks that were really small though so that was cool.  After about an hour snorkeling, it was lunch time, where the ship had a barbecue lunch for everyone with salads and chicken and sausages.  We then drove out to our next spot where Steve, Becca, and I took a glass bottom boat tour for about 20 minutes.  It wasn’t really worth it since it took away from our snorkel time and we didn’t see anything special, but we did find Nemo, so that was good.  After the tour we snorkeled for about half an hour before it was time to head back to shore; two more hours of travelling.  That night we had dinner and went out to the night markets where stuff is really cheap to find some souvenirs, which was a success.  That was the end of our reef experience.

Some Reef Pics taken from the boat, so they’re not that good, but they’re what I have.

Tuesday was a really lazy day.  Our friends Maddie and Anna also happened to be staying at the same place as us so we went to the shops with them.  Other than that  Steve and I hung around by the pool relaxing before finals week.  We did go for a walk and were swooped by these big yellow birds and that was probably one of the most terrifying things of my life, but it was fun.  We got to bed early again that night.

Wednesday, we had to get up at 5:50 to catch the 6:30 shuttle to the airport.  Our flight left at 9:30 and got back to Sydney at 1:30.  We were back at I-House at 5pm and thus ended one of my final adventures here in Australia.  

10/20

Oi! Now that I have your attention I will tell you about my week.  Well, on Wednesday I went to the lighthouse with Nick, Sol, and Tatsu to watch the whales migrating to the south.  We waited about 45 minutes and not even a sign of one anywhere, so just as we were about to leave we see one jump out of the water and make a huge splash.  A couple minutes later it did it again, and so this happened for about 15 minutes when we decided to go back.  This must’ve been an old or lazy one because it did not seem to be wanting to move all that quickly.  So as we were about to leave the lighthouse we see a huge cloud of smoke coming from behind Mt. Keira.  As it turns out it was a bush fire.  There are plenty all around Australia now and they’re not projected to get any better anytime soon, so I’ll try not to get caught on fire.  

A whale from the lighthouse

Bush fire over Mt. Keira

Friday I went to Jervis Bay with the Arcadia group/program I came here with.  First we stopped at Kiama to see the blowhole which was pretty cool.  As the waves come up to the rocks, they shoot up through a hole up to about 60-70 ft in the air.  Next we made our way down to Bristol Point where we’d be staying.  We got there and we had to set up our tents.  They were six person tents and in mine was myself, Jack, Billy, Edahn, James, and Scott, but only me and Jack go to UOW.  As we were setting up, wallabies came through which were cool to see so close.  They ate grass and just watched us with their babies in their pouches.  We probably saw 8 wallabies and 3 kangaroos up close over the weekend.  So we put up our tents, cots, and sleeping bags, had dinner, and went for a walk on the beach. We later ended up coming back and just hanging around on the beach for a couple hours talking amongst ourselves.  

Kiama Blowhole

Beach Sunset

Wallaby

Saturday morning we had breakfast and then headed out for surfing at the local beach.  We got there and there were probably a thousand dead birds laying on the beach.  Apparently they migrate, but get tired over the ocean, fall in, die, and wash up on shore which is really gross especially considering it’s not a big beach.  So we surfed and it was really awesome because the water was so clear and it wasn’t that cold.  Some of the others and I went out far to see if we could catch some bigger waves but it really didn’t work all that well.  After surfing we had lunch and an indigenous woman named Julie had a bunch of old artifacts like boomerangs, plants, rock spears/ axes and showed us how the Aborigines of the area would use them for many different things like healing and fishing/hunting.  After this we had dinner, and Julie came back to tell us dreamtime stories which are stories about the creation of everything and scary stories that get passed down through Indigenous generations.   We were all beat after the stories so we went to bed.

Sunday morning we packed up and hit the road.  Our first stop was the Cape St. George Lighthouse which has negative spirits around that always cause people to die in weird ways like falling off the cliff and getting eaten by sharks, falling off the cliff and landing on rocks, tripping and accidentally shooting your friend in the head and things of that nature.  Nonetheless it was a cool little lookout and story. Next we stopped at Hyams Beach which supposedly has the whitest sand in the world, which I believe because it was nearly impossible to open your eyes it was so bright.  We moved on to Berry, which I came to with I-house at the beginning, and had lunch, and finally moved on to Wollongong where I studied Management…  More studying awaits me so I’ll go, but I’ll write again soon.  Peace!

Cape St. George Lighthouse

The remains of the lighthouse

Inside the lighthouse

Hyams Beach

10/13

Hello there.  It’s now Sunday October 13th and I have to leave Australia in 6 weeks to the day.  Bittersweet feelings about that but I will enjoy every minute until I go.  This past week involved a lot of homework, baseball, and beach time.  

Thursday I went to the beach with Nick and Courtney since it was about 100 degrees.  The surfing wasn’t all that great but body surfing was pretty fun.  At night we learned about the history of space, UFO sightings, and the future of space travel.  This includes a trip already available to space by Virgin Airlines for the low price of $250,000.  Sounds reasonable to me.  

Anyway, Friday I went back to the beach with Andrew Ham who lives down the hall.  We spent a couple hours there and came back to I-house.  No surfing Friday either.  :(

Saturday was the Harbour Cruise.  This is a cruise for I-house people and their guests that takes you around Sydney Harbour from 6pm-9pm.  We all got the 2:45 train to Sydney and hopped on board where pizza was provided for us.  It was just before dusk as we were leaving so we got to see the Harbour as the sun was setting so it looked nice with the Opera House and the Bridge in the sunset.  It was just a social event for everyone to get dressed up and hang out together on a boat.  As we were coming back in to dock, the weekly Sydney fireworks were going off and we came up close to them.  You could see them right over a bridge and right next to the Australian flag which looked really cool.  We finally came back in at 9 and many people went back to I-house because we were so tired.  After getting back after midnight it was definitely time for bed so I went to sleep. 

Our cruise ship

Steve and I at the Harbour Bridge

Sunset over the Opera House and Bridge

Andrew, me, Iselin, and Katie

Harbour Bridge and Opera House coming back

Opera house at night

Fireworks with the Australian flag

Today I did homework all day and that is what I plan on doing for a while.  I’ll write again next Sunday after our excursion to Jervis Bay!

10/3 New Zealand!

G’day!  Plenty of new adventures from this past week since it was our spring break.  I spent the week in New Zealand with my friend Drew and we had a lot of fun.

Thursday, September 26th, we took the train up to Sydney early in the afternoon and hung around there for a while at the harbor before heading off to the airport.  Our flight that was scheduled to leave at 7pm didn’t end up leaving until 9pm, so we just hung out at the airport trying to keep ourselves entertained.

A harbour in Sydney.

Friday we landed at about 2am NZ time in Auckland.  We spent the night hanging out at the airport until at 6am we grabbed a bus to the center of Auckland.  Turns out this bus only brought us to the domestic terminal so by 7 we had the right bus and were headed off to the city.  This bus ride took an extra half an hour because of a major head on collision on the highway which looked pretty gruesome, but we got there eventually.  After having some breakfast and touring the city our bus to Tongariro National Park left at 9am.  This was not only a good way to see the North Island, but it was also an easy way to catch up on all the sleep we missed.  Eight hours later, at 5pm, we were in our hostel at Tongariro.  Our roommate Cheng, from Shanghai, China, was just getting there and told us a story.  He explained how the Sunday before (5 days prior), he set out to hike and got lost in the woods until Wednesday.  A search & rescue team found him then and he was hospitalized until Friday, which is when we met him.  Hearing that was an interesting way to start off our break.  At this time Friday was over.

Saturday, myself and Drew woke up and made some pretty pathetic pancakes.  Since the mountain we wanted to hike was 10 miles away and a $30 bus ride, we decided we would try to hitch hike our way to the mountain since this is a common form of transportation in New Zealand, and particularly this area.  This failed miserably and it was hailing on us so we packed it in.  Later that afternoon we went to the mountain closer to our hostel which is the one Cheng was lost on, the Fisher Tracks.  We hiked this for about two hours in the hail before calling it a day.

It was raining pretty hard.

Cheng and I at the entrance to the Fisher Tracks

We were soaked at the lookout point.

Sunday, we woke up and it was still raining so Drew and I went to the diner down the street for breakfast.  By the time this was over it had lightened up, so we tried to hitch hike again with a new roommate, Alex from Florida.  This failed hard once again so we went back to the Fisher Tracks and hiked 2 hours in to a huge waterfall.  This was called the Tupapakurua falls and they were awesome.  Out of the lookout you could see the falls and all of the mountain regions around the area.  This is where we stopped for lunch, then finally headed back to the hostel.  The whole trip took four and a half hours so we were all pretty tired by the time it was over so I just read my book and called it a day.

Panoramic view of the falls

Tupapakurua falls close-up.

Drew with the falls.

My pic with the waterfall.

Monday we finally decided we would pay for the bus to Mt. Ruapehu and hike the Whakapapa tracks, and it was totally worth it.  Mt. Ruapehu is where some of the scenes from Mt. Doom in Lord of the Rings were filmed.  We (Alex, Cheng, Drew, and I) were at the mountain by 8:15am and hiked the Taranaki Falls track until about 10:30.  It was another waterfall track, except this time we were really close and could even walk under it if we wanted to.  The path then wound around so we could stand on top of the falls and look down over the whole village.  When we got back to the main road, Cheng and I went to do another walk called the Ridge Tracks where you could see the whole town.  This only took about 40 minutes, but you could see everything from on top.  We made it back to the hostel at noon and packed up.  By 1:30 we were back on the bus up to Auckland again.  I managed to stay awake for the ride back up and I’m glad I did.  Everything in New Zealand is really bright green with all sorts of animals grazing around like tons of sheep, cows, lamb, reindeer, alpacas, horses, donkeys, and miniature horses.  It reminded me a lot of Vermont, except this seemed like it was more bright green and hilly as opposed to dark green and mountainous.  Also, I noticed the names of towns vary from traditional Maori names like Tongariro, Whakapapa, and Turangi, to Cambridge and Hamilton, all in close proximity which I thought was pretty interesting.  By 9pm we had checked into our next hostel in Auckland, had some dinner, then went to bed. 

Taranaki Falls

When Mt. Ruapehu erupts, watch out.

Mt Doom/ Mt Ruapehu

View from the Ridge track

Kiwi crossing sign

Tuesday, Drew and I got up at 8 to start the day.  We began by hiking a ‘volcano’ called Mt. Eden that’s really more of a hill.  It used to be a volcano but is dead now and isn’t really that hard to get up considering it’s paved.  This did give us an awesome view of the whole city, however.  We could see real far in every direction and it all looked over the Harbor.  After being on the volcano for a while Drew wanted to skate since Auckland is famous for its skateboarding so we did that for about an hour.  Around noon we headed off for a 5 mile walk to a memorial that ran along the harbor and from the top could look out over everything.  We were there by 2pm and you could look right out over the harbor, the city, and even see Rangitoto island, which is not too far off the coast.  Back in the hostel by 4:30 we rested for a while and went back out around 7pm.  Walking around the streets we saw a group of street break dancers with whom Drew danced with and was invited to be a part of their crew so that was pretty interesting, it was too bad we were leaving the next day though.  At 8 we met the same Alex from Tongariro for pizza at the place next to our hostel since she lives in Auckland temporarily.  We hung out there until about 10 and headed in for the night.

Rangitoto Island from the Memorial

Auckland Bridge from Mt Eden

On the mouth of the volcano

Auckland Sky Tower

Memorial

 Wednesday, October 2nd was our last day in New Zealand.  We had checked out of our hostel and walked to the harbor where we were to be picked up for bungy jumping.  The bus picked us up at 10:30 and brought us to the site for the jump.  After signing some papers and getting suited up, we walked out to the bridge.  When it was time to jump the instructors sat you in a chair and harnessed your ankles in.  They then led you to the edge of the platform where you hung your toes over the edge, looked into one camera, looked into the next, then your 3 second countdown began.  Having to jump headfirst off of a bridge that is roughly 130 feet high towards water is terrifying to me but I had fun anyway.  It was definitely a one and done.  I thought it was a lot scarier than skydiving because you’re headed head first towards what could be your death with nothing to hold on to hoping a rope keeps you alive.  Anyway, it was a good time. You can watch the video of my jump here, as filmed by Drew.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJBqo5mL7bQ After this, we hung around the city until about 2:30 when we caught the bus back to the airport.  The plane left at 5:30pm and was back in Sydney by 6:30 because of the time difference.  I hopped on board the train and was back in the Gong by 9:30 ready for bed after our long, wonderful adventure to New Zealand.  

Drew’s ready to jump.

Drew’s jump

My jump

9/21

Ok I know this took a long time but really nothing much has been happening in my life here.  I’ll start from last Thursday, the 12th.  Nick Katz and I went to the beach for the afternoon but when we got there the weather was no good.  The waves were non-existent so no surfing was to be done so we thought we could lay on the beach…too cold.  So that was the end of that adventure. 

Saturday, there was an I-house trip to the Bulli Show in Bulli, pronounced bull-i (big surprise).  It was just like a small carnival/festival thing with rides and booths and food.  We got there around 11:45 and by around 1:30 we were all ready to go back because there really wasn’t much to do that we didn’t already.  Instead of being boring and going right back we all walked to the beach to hang around for a while.  It was still not that nice out but we got to all sit around and chill on the beach.  That was really all for that weekend.

The I-House Crew

Max, Nick, Me, Hayden, and Amber

The beach at Bulli

All this week I wrote a paper about the lack of water in Australia so that was fun.  Tuesday, I did get to go out for pizza with Sol, Andrew, Jake, and Lucy which was fun.  I haven’t talked to some of them in a few weeks so it was nice to get together with them again. 

Friday, yesterday, Nick and I tried our luck at the beach again.  It was really nice and sunny on our way to the beach but about 30 minutes in it started to rain out of nowhere.  I had just started attempting to surf since the waves were awful again, and it rained so we went back to I-house.  As soon as we got back it cleared right up, so I think I have bad luck with the weather on beach days.

Today, the 21st, a bunch of people went to Bondi Beach in, you guessed it, Bondi, pronounced Bond-i, not bondy.  We grabbed the 9:50 train and were there by 12 noon.  The sun wasn’t that warm and the wind kept it pretty chilly so I didn’t go in the water, and the waves/ undertow were strong so drowning was a large possibility.  The group consisted of myself, Nick, Max from England, Tatsu from Japan, Amber, Courtney, Steve, Hayden, Camille, Anna, all from America, Harry from Fiji, and Eva the only Australian.  We hung around not really doing much until about 3:30 when we decided we should get back and have dinner before it closes.  There was this really annoying 3ish-year old on the train who kept saying “I like cheese” in the same tone over and over again so that was pretty entertaining for about an hour, although I think some other people didn’t find it as funny as I did.  We got back, I took a shower, and here I am writing this.

Bondi Beach

Amber and Hayden

The “I like cheese” kid’s reflection

The next entry is going to be a while again because I leave for New Zealand on Thursday and don’t come back until Wednesday.  So I’ll probably write again on the 3rd of October.  Talk to y’all then.

AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MICHAEL PASQUALICCHIO WHO TURNS 20 TOMORROW!!!!!! Whoop whoop!

9/11

Hello everyone!  Sorry this week’s entry took so long.  I’m not going to bore you with the details of the weekday last week because literally nothing happened.  So I’ll skip to Saturday. 

Saturday a group of us went to the Blue Mountains in Kotoomba; a two hour train ride inland of Sydney.  The group consisted of me, Steve, Drew, Camille, and one of Drew’s friends Tamera.  We woke up at 6:00am Saturday to catch the 7am bus because the train lines to Sydney were shut down for track work.  We got to Sydney by 9:30 and had to switch to the train that would take us to Kotoomba.  We finally made it to our hostel, The Flying Fox, by 11:30.  We checked in and headed right to the mountain.

We started off by going to three big rocks called the three sisters, which was just as cool as it sounds.  We looked at the rocks and turned around.  Next we took a path that took us into the rainforest.  One of the first things we saw was a waterfall that we could climb up.  We all walked up and that was about it for that.  We kept on walking through the rainforest and eventually stumbled upon some more waterfalls, each one getting bigger and more impressive.  The more we kept walking the farther we walked down into the valley, and more into the forest.  We finally got to the bottom of the valley and realized we had to take all these stairs back up.  By this time we were all so tired that stairs did not sound like a good idea, but there were no other options.  Every time the stairs began to go back down instead of continuing up Steve threw a fit so that kept us pretty entertained.  Finally we made it back to the top of the cliff walk at the entrance to the mountains.  Now we had to figure out how to get out of the mountains with the sun setting.  We found a sign that was split in half and barely readable so we decided it must take us to some sort of civilization.  After following that sign (and Steve who wanted to get out more than anyone) we ended up in some stranger’s backyard and about 3 miles from town. 

Thankfully we had a map so we were able to make our way to town about an hour later.  When we got back we immediately went to a burger place for cheeseburgers and milkshakes.  After dinner it was about 7:30 at night so we all headed back to the hostel and just hung around for the rest of the night.  A day consisting of six hours of hiking was behind us and it was awesome.  Sunday we woke up with no intentions of hiking anymore because we were so tired, which was good because it was so foggy we wouldn’t have been able to see anything anyway.  By 9:30 we were on the train back home and made it back by 1:30.  A well-deserved nap was had after that train ride, and that concludes my story of our Blue Mountains hiking adventure.  

Blue Mountain Painting

Dinner with Steve & the Crew

Cliff Walk View

Drew…

Waterfall 1

Waterfall 2

Waterfall 3

Australian Rainforest Birds

Waterfall 4 from top

9/2

G’Day mates!  Since I last spoke to you all, nothing much has happened as usual.  Monday was class.  Tuesday I-house had an event called soapbox where anyone could get up on a box and speak to I-house about whatever they wanted to as long as it wasn’t religion or politics.  A lot of people got up which was surprising to me and the topics varied from cells, to farming, to environmental issues, to volunteer work.  I did not get up to speak because I hate public speaking, but it was really interesting to hear everyone else give their input on things that matter to them.

Alrighty, nothing happened on Wednesday or Thursday, but Friday was a whole different story as you probably know.  Friday I woke up and went to breakfast as usual, then at 9am we (myself, Amber, and CC) walked to the skydive location.  At 9:30 we started signing papers saying we knew what we were getting ourselves into, and by 10 we had suited up (Barney Stinson reference intended)!  The people working at the desk gave us a quick run through as to what we had to do in order to not get injured, which included tucking our legs under the plane and tilting our heads back right before we jump out.  Then when we land we have to pick up our feet and hold up our legs to prevent them from breaking, which would be awful.  At 10:45 we got in the van to take us to the airport and we were there by roughly 11.  When we arrived we had to wait about another ten minutes for the plane to get ready to take us up.  Then we hopped in the plane and started off.  It took about fifteen minutes to get all the way up to 14,000 feet but we finally did it.  I was the fourth person to jump out of the plane, but I was ready for it.  The instructor pushed me out and we immediately did a flip which was pretty sweet because I really wanted to do one and we began the free fall.  This part was really cool because you’re just plummeting to the Earth’s surface with nothing holding you back.  We free fell for about a minute, and then my instructor, Andy, pulled the parachute.  Once he gained control of it he let me steer it for a while which was super awesome.  About five minutes of falling with the parachute and we were back safely on the ground.  That was pretty much the extent of my skydive.  I can’t wait to come home and do it again with Kyle and Seth.

Amber, CC, and I

Here’s a video of my dive in case you care to watch it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htCtHDD7rrw&feature=c4-overview&list=UU1tHkBGq63JmQxpShxt8c-w

After this I was so tired from the adrenaline rush that I went to the beach and took a nap for a while because it was so nice out.  Whoever said study abroad is not a vacation or a trip is a liar.  There’s schoolwork, but the adventures totally rule that out. 

Saturday I hung around I-house and did some schoolwork that I didn’t do on Friday.

Sunday, I climbed Mt. Keira for the third time this semester.  At 10am Nick from Austria, Harlene from Indiana, and Tatsu from Japan all climbed up the “hard” way.  The way we went used to be a waterfall, but is now dry.  The path is really steep though and it’s all rock so you have to be careful where you step or you could fall back down the mountain.  It took us about an hour to get to the top, and we were there by 11:30 but we found some really cool lookouts along the way that overlook the city.  By 11:45 we headed back down, the easy way with a walking trail, and made it back to I-house by 1:30.  I spent the rest of the day doing homework which is becoming a trend that I don’t like. 

Natural vine swing thing.

Tatsu, Harlene, Nicholas, and I

Anyway, that was my super exciting weekend.  Talk to you soon and keep the mail coming (I love getting letters from home)!

8/25

Good Sunday morning/ evening to you all!  This week is the same as usual; nothing during the week with an adventure on the weekend. 

Monday was just some class, along with Tuesday.  Tuesday night there was a leadership event in I-house where we could learn to be better leaders.  Not too exciting.

Wednesday I had some more class, and Thursday was more of the same.  Thursday night a travel night was put on by the RA’s where they talked about all the awesome places to travel throughout Australia and New Zealand (which is where I’m spending mid-session break).  They talked about Cairns where you can go scuba diving or go to the rainforest.  They also talked about the outback, but I think I want to spend at least four days there so I’ll have to go way later in the session after my final papers are due.  I want to go hiking through the Blue Mountains in two weekends, then maybe up to Cairns for 2 days scuba diving and hiking through the rainforest.  Once it gets warmer I plan to go canyoning, which is jumping off cliffs and down waterfalls, then swimming to the next spot.  I also have plans to go bungee jumping and zip lining through some of New Zealand’s rainforest.  That should be pretty sweet.  More on that once I have solid plans. 

Anyway, Friday I went shopping to buy junk food and was successful in my endeavor.  I wanted to go to the beach but it was windy so I stayed inside and did nothing. 

Saturday myself, Andrew who lives down the hall, and his friend Katie went to the Taronga Zoo in Sydney around 1.  Once you get off the ferry you have to take a gondola up the mountain to the actual zoo which was cool. We got in and went to check out the koalas and some nifty birds as well.  Then we headed off to the reptile exhibit and saw some animals I’d rather not see in the wild.  After that we went and saw a seal show.  I figured out that seals are really smart after they answered some of the trainer’s questions with barks and movements.  We then went to the penguin exhibit which was of course my favorite.  To make this short we saw bears, elephants, lions, zebras, meer cats, mountain goats, and monkeys of all sorts.  We left the zoo early to make it back in time for dinner, but the boat filled up before we got on it so we missed dinner anyway…disappointing.  Once we got back, the movie Finding Nemo was playing in the common room so that ended my day at the zoo.

Today I went to the beach with a bunch of other i-house folks since it was so warm.  Spent a couple hours chilling on the beach and then studied for my management test for the next 3 hours which brings us to now.  That’s the end of my tales for this week.  A whole new exhilarating adventure to tell you about next week, but I’ll keep that a secret.  Until next time…PEACE!

View from the cable car.

Saw this guy in my yard before I left.  Well not this particular one, but one like it

8/19

Hello all!  Some new adventures for this week.  Monday and Tuesday I spent in classes (boring), but Monday night was Jeffrey’s 23rd birthday so we had a little party in our room.  

That’s Jeffrey in the polo.

Tuesday night I-house had International slang night, which was fairly interesting.  We had Steve from Kansas tell us about American slang, Jeffery from the Netherlands give us some Dutch slang, and finally John from Australia followed it up.   Instead of ‘how are you?’ they say ‘heyyagoin?’ which is interesting, and they do in fact say ‘g’day’ and ‘mate’ as you probably imagined.  One thing that was made clear is that Aussies most definitely do not say ‘throw some “shrimp” on the barbie.’ You either put snags (sausages) on the barbie or you just have a barbie, no shrimp involved.

                Anyway, Wednesday I spent in History class and gave blood for the first time afterwards.  It was sort of painful and I didn’t pass out, but got 2 free milkshakes and a lot of biscuits (cookies). 

                Thursday I didn’t have class because the professor was sick, so going to Uni was a huge waste of time, but at night we had a meeting about Australian politics because there is an election coming up on September 7th.  I usually don’t care about politics, but this was still sort of interesting to see the different political parties and what they all stand for and their positions on problems in the upcoming elections. 

                Friday I went surfing again with Drew from Boulder, Colorado.  It was really cold so we didn’t stay that long, but some surf is better than none.  That was the extent of my excitement for Friday.

                Saturday was a whole different story however.  I woke up and grabbed some breakfast before we escaped on our day trip to Sydney.  Myself, Steve, Jeffrey, and Becca from Kentucky, caught the 11:50 train and wound up at the Manly ferry dock by 2:30.  We met a friend who lives there and showed us around the city.  We went shopping at typical surf shops and watched surfers along one of the top 10 beaches in Australia (the same one I surfed at last weekend).  It was cool to see all the people around the shops and the stands that people set up to sell their homemade stuff.  After hanging around Manly until 5:30 we grabbed some food and headed off to the New Zealand All Blacks vs. Qantas (Australia) Wallabies rugby game.  This was played at Olympic stadium where the Sydney Olympics were held with a total of 70,000 people in attendance for the game.  The game was a really good time, although Australia lost by a decent amount.  The game started at 8 and was over by 9:50, which I thought was surprisingly short, but was still a lot of fun to be in that atmosphere.  We couldn’t get a train until 10:45 because everyone in the stadium was trying to go to the same place, but we managed.  A couple of transfers later we were back at Wollongong at 1:30am.  Saturday was a really long day, but we had a great time on our adventure. 

                Sunday and today I did nothing but schoolwork to try to prepare myself for this awful week full of essays, but I don’t mind because I’m in Australia.  Check back next week for more!

8/11

Hello!  This week was just like the others.  Classes during the day and little things to do at night.  Tuesday we had alcohol awareness in I-house and got to play with beer goggles afterwards.  Wednesday was nothing.  Thursday was fun however.  After class I finally got to meet my Australian buddy, Laurelle.  We had lunch at the UniBar, which is an on campus bar, with another I-house resident, Trystan, who is also Laurelle’s buddy.  It was nice to finally get to meet her and hear about her stories around Uni.  At night we had Master Chef, which is an Australian cooking show.  Everyone who signed up was split into groups and we each had to make a cake including an extra ingredient.  My team had oranges so we squeezed the juice out and made an orange-chocolate cake, and used the peels to make hearts… not my idea.  Anyway, we won the competition out of the six groups and won a $10 gift card.

It says I-House in the middle…

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Friday, I went to the Rip Curl store with Steve from Kansas to pick up our free shirt, hat, and use our $20 off coupon.  The shirts huge and the hat looks bad on me, but the shirt I bought looks cool so I guess that’s one good thing.  Around five at night it was finally time to head off to Sydney with Sol and Jake, who lives down the hall.  We made it to his house by 7 and had some amazing pizza with his family who are all really nice.  They have an amazing house with a view that looks over the bay.  We hung out at night and watched “Love Actually” which surprisingly was a really good movie.  After this we went to bed to prepare for our day out on Saturday.

The view from Jake’s kitchen.

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The cliff below is where the scene that Nyah from Mission: Impossible 2 was going to jump from at the end was filmed. I don’t know if that sentence makes sense, but I think you know what I mean.

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Saturday morning we woke up and went surfing on Manly beach.  Jake’s dad came to take pictures and they came out really well.  Unfortunately they didn’t copy to the disc drive so I don’t have them to show you.  Anyway, we came back to the house and went to lunch at a Burger Bar which had really good burgers and fries and stuff.  We proceeded to the ferry that we were taking into Sydney.  About ten minutes in we came around a bend and the Opera House and Harbour Bridge were right in front of me.  It was really nice to see them both for the first time.   Next we went to the Botanical gardens where they have a bunch of neat trees and stuff to look at.  Moving on we went to the markets and looked around then went to the bridge, just to get a closer look at it.  At about 4:30 we went to the oldest bar in Sydney to listen to the music and hang around for a while.  After this we went back to Jake’s house where his mom had prepared dinner for us.  This consisted of sushi, spaghetti and meatballs, steak, chicken, salad, and fruit and ice cream for dessert.  Needless to say, it was amazing and much better than eating at I-house.  We closed the night by watching Casino Royale and went to bed.

Manly beach surfing.

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Myself, Sol, Jake, Jake’s friend Will, and the Harbour Bridge.

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Botanical Gardens

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Sol, Jake, Jake’s brother Josh, and I at our feast.

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Today, we came back to the Gong and I spent all day reading and studying.  Nothing exciting.  I’ll talk to you all next week about the same time!

8/5

Good evening/ morning everybody!  More exciting stories to tell from the last week.  Wednesday I had more classes, nothing exciting.  Thursday… more classes, then at night we had ice breaker games which I usually hate a lot, but these were actually fun and I got to meet plenty of new I-housers, and finished up the night with 21 Jump Street.  

Friday is where the good stuff starts.  I had my Coastal Environments class from 8:30-9:30 and was done for the day.  I took the opportunity to go on an adventure with Sol again, and we headed to the beach.  I haven’t been to the light house before so we set off there.  I got some really nice pictures of the fields and beaches, all of which are on Facebook if you care to see them.  The light house doesn’t look all that big from the distance but close up it’s huge.  They also have cannons surrounding it with a plaque that says they are there for protection of the Harbor. 

At 8:00 Friday night myself and 8 other I-house residents set out for Rip Curl Surf Camp at 7 Mile Beach in Gerroa.  Forty minutes later we had arrived.  We had the introduction speech and headed off to bed.  The rooms were like hostels, with 3 sets of bunk beds that could fit seven people.  It was a tight squeeze but we managed to survive.  Saturday morning we woke up at 8:30 to get ready to surf.  Breakfast, consisting of cereal and toast, was from 9-10, then we put our dry wetsuits on at 10.  By 10:30 we were having our first surf lesson.  All of the people in my group managed to stand up at least once and we all had a lot of fun.  I felt really proud of myself because the instructor, Cody, told me that I should keep surfing because I have a natural born talent for the sport.  Now I have to buy a board because I can’t wait to get back out there.  At 12:30 was lunch time, and by 3:30 we were back in the water until 5:30.  Dinner was fine and they had a slideshow of the day’s events with videos.  I didn’t make this slideshow.  Around 9 we went to the pub and left relatively early because we were all wiped from the days shred session.  

Sunday morning we were back up at the crack of dawn to go surfing again.  Our freezing cold, wet, wetsuits were a good wake up that early in the day.  By 8:30 we were surfing yet again, except this time I had the crap knocked out of me.  Multiple times I did nose dives and was knocked around by the waves.  Just when I was getting really tired, myself and shredder-bro Drew got sucked out in a rip.  It was terrifying because we couldn’t get back in.  We did manage to swim off to the side of it and ride the waves back in, but that was the end of the day for me.  Luckily, before this happened I managed to get a good video in.  I’m in this video below at 0:30-0:40.  We came back and hung around for a while until 2:30 where we watched the day’s slideshow again.  I made this one a couple of times.  We left surf camp and got back around 5:30, just in time for dinner.  After such a long weekend I was wiped out, so the surf camp posse watched the Lion King and went to bed. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkluBGTbnqY&list=FL1tHkBGq63JmQxpShxt8c-w&index=1

Today, Monday, I had 8:30 lecture and woke up feeling really sick.  I think I developed a cold over the weekend from the cold water and air, but it was totally worth it.  Sol gave me some medicine because “she’s so nice and like a mom” in her words.  Now it’s off to bed to wake up and spend all day in class tomorrow.

7/31

Hello there!  Mike wants a shoutout so here it is.  I hope everyone at home is well.  These last couple of days have been pretty interesting.  Thursday after dolphin watching all day we had a campfire behind I-house with smores, which surprisingly are not that famous around here.  This pretty much sums up Thursday. 

Friday I spent at the beach with a couple of friends, which is not as warm as I was hoping it would be since we’re in the middle of Winter.  It was high 50’s, so not really that warm to go swimming.  It was really cool though because there is a skydiving facility right behind the beach so while you’re laying there you can see skydivers jump out of a plane and land behind us. 

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Saturday 25 people from I-house climbed Mt. Keira again, except there were so many people it took a lot longer.  We left at 10:30 and got to the top by 12:45.  Then we had a barbecue lunch consisting of sausages on rolls as we looked over the city.  As we were sitting there eating, four kookaburras came around and sat in the trees to watch.  They’re a lot bigger than I expected so I was surprised when they showed up.    By 2:45 we headed back down the mountain and finally made it back by 4:45.  It was a long and exhausting day after our 6 hour hike.

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Sunday was fairly uneventful aside from the fact that I made my first official purchase of TimTams.  For those Americans who don’t know TimTams, they are the most delicious snacks that have ever been put on this Earth.  They’re like KitKats just 100 times better.  I’ll bring some back for all to try.  You’re welcome in advance. 

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Monday was the first day of Uni.  I had one lecture for English360; Desiring Bodies: Gender and Sexuality in Literature and Film.  We discussed how men have relationships with other men through women, leading to the moral that all men are gay and women are objects.  Needless to say this class is going to have some interesting discussions.  Also, this class is about film, so tomorrow we’re watching Mission: Impossible 2 and talking about it on Monday.  I think I’ll end up liking this class.  At night, the Arcadia group that I flew here with all went out to dinner at a brewery.  It was a really nice time to just catch up with people who live in different areas and see how they’re liking their housing situations so far.  I still think I-house is the best option after hearing their stories.

Tuesday was more of the same classes.  I took Management in the morning which seems like it’ll be really interesting.  In the afternoon I have the History of Water in Australia through video lecture which I’ve never had before.  We all sit in a class and essentially have lecture through Skype.  Also, at night we had speed meeting at I-house.  It was essentially speed dating with all the members of I-house so it was really cool.  I met a bunch of people although I don’t really remember most of their names. 

On an important note if anyone wants to send me mail (which would be greatly appreciated!) you should send it here:

Corey Caron

International House

Hindmarsh Ave.

N. Wollongong, NSW 2500

Finally, to the Ryan, Colin, and the Flanagan family, you can get through this.  I’m thinking about you all the time.  Stay strong boys.  I’ll see you when I get back.

Talk to you all later!         

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