Day 27: Farewell, Cairns.

Goodbye, Cairns.

My last day was spent pretty actively.

First the day began with a visit to the wildlife dome & a chance to play with the koalas.

I held a koala named Kiah and, I don’t know, I could die happy. She was beautiful and soft and cuddly and perfect and wonderful and I smelled like eucalyptus afterwards. It was most likely one of the best things I’ve done abroad.

Next we headed over to the ropes course & zip lining. It wasn’t as high as the Elks course we did at mini boot camp (an NJROTC thing), but definitely as tough. It was individual as opposed to with a team so you rely solely on your own. There were 3 zip lines throughout, one right above the crocodile! Definitely worth the money.

Afterwards I spent the afternoon finishing all my packing and just relaxing.

At night we had a study abroad goodbye dinner at one of the top rated restaurants in Cairns, Ochre. There we sampled true Australian cuisine, including kangaroo, wallaby, crocodile and bush feed, which is native plants and fruits. We also had pavlova and ice cream made from bush feed as well!

I’m a huge fan of kangaroo in more ways than I can describe. It’s prepared rare and is very similar to a lean steak. Yum!

I didn’t go to sleep last night, as I knew waking up at 2am to get ready for the airport would be rough. Now I’m downstairs, checked out of my last hotel in Australia and I can’t believe it’s all over and I’m sad and happy and excited and every feeling under the sun.

Study abroad has been the best experience of my life. I am so blessed to be here and to have this amazing opportunity in another country.

I will post more later, but for now, off to flight 1: Brisbane!

-EA

Day 24-Exploration and Cairns at night

G’night, Mates!

I’m posting relatively early/late depending on your life because I’m actually awake at 3am.

Today began with our final day of classes (yay!).

Next a couple of us explored Cairns and did some more shopping (I am so sorry).

Cairns is a very beachy town. The streets are lined with surf shacks, fish and chips eateries or souvenir shops. It’s a great place to walk around & people watch, which is exactly what we did.

I ended up going out to a couple of bars with a large group of Gatorsk which ended up being a whole lot more fun than I imagined.

Now it’s time for bed, a day by the pool awaits me!

-EA

Day 19-Saying Goodbye to the town I love

Sydney, je t’aime. 

I guess that works more so if I was saying “Paris” but we’ll let it slide for now. 

Today was a beautiful goodbye to Sydney. We spent the morning at Paddy’s Market and The Rocks, seeing the Opera House for what I hope and pray won’t be the last time. The hotel put on a movie & dinner for us as a send off and I spent a good amount of time packing.

I can’t believe this is it. 

This is the last night I’ll spend in Sydney.

Tomorrow at 6:30am we fly out to Cairns, Australia. I am so excited to begin the next (and final) chapter of this trip, but I’ll miss Sydney. 

I’ve always thought that I would feel as though study abroad was a long vacation with some assignments thrown in. But it’s so much different than that. 

Not to be “that” study abroad girl, but it’s so much more than visiting Sydney. This isn’t a week long vacation with mom & dad or family where they pay for your meals and plan every moment of every day. This is living in Sydney, eating where the locals eat, learning how to work public transportation, studying culture, navigating the streets. I had to budget everything and live as an Australian. I visited their universities, sat in on their classes and really learned what being Australian was all about.

This trip was nowhere near the experience of those who study abroad for six weeks, a semester or a year. But it was something. I did this. I went to a brand new city where I knew no one and nothing and I did it. I navigated the train and city by myself the second day I was here. I set up meetings with professionals here. I didn’t sit idly by and go to the beach and be a tourist. I went where locals sent me, tried what they liked and didn’t become “that American.”

And I’m pretty proud of myself for it. 

The night before flying out, I got food poisoning and cried for a very long while. And here I am, only a week left, traveling to another city and braving it all. 

This experience is one I’ll absolutely never forget.

If you ever have the chance to go abroad, even if for a week, do it. Please. 

But try not to stay in the Red Light District as I did. It makes going out after 5pm a pretty daunting task. 

Tomorrow: Cairns!

Tuesday: Great Barrier Reef!

-EA

Day 17: Manly Beach and Vivid Sydney

Greetings from Sydney!

Another day in a beautiful city I wish to call my home. 

Another post late because I was actually enjoying nighttime Sydney so don’t judge me. 

Yesterday morning was spent catching up on homework, blogging & packing for Cairns on Monday. 

The afternoon brought us to Manly Beach again for some light shopping (yeah right, “light”) and taking in the beach. 

I’m really sad it’s fall in Sydney, because the beach was breathtaking. This was the first time I actually got to see real surfers riding waves. The waves were huge and the beach was freezing, but they didn’t care one bit. They ran in fearlessly, surfboard in hand, and braved the icy waters. 

Afterwards we headed back to Sydney Harbor for Vivid Sydney. 

Vivid Sydney is a light show they’re doing for the next few weeks. Basically, they project lights onto the opera house and the harbor. Sort of like how they project images on the water jets at Fantasmic! at Hollywood Studios. It was absolutely and positively one of the coolest things I’d seen. We grabbed a quick dinner at a little market set up they had & returned home. 

I grabbed drinks with a couple of the girls on the trip & we played Uno (judgement is allowed). 

I turned in early, as today is to be very busy! Last Saturday in Sydney!

-EA

Day 14 & 15: Blue Mountains & Bridge Climb

Hello!

I’m combining these 2 days & posting extremely late for one reason & one reason alone:

MACHIAVELLI WAS BEING RUDE. 

Let me explain. 

Tuesday night I had a lot of homework, so I decided to wait until the morning to post. 

Except it didn’t happen. 

I guess I should clarify, my laptop’s name is Machiavelli. 

Get it, because it’s a Mac?

MAChiavelli?

Anyway, he was being slow (yes he’s a he, deal with it) & I shut him down. But then he wouldn’t start back up. He would get to the start up screen and just sit there. Pero like I wasn’t impressed. 

All the online forums said to do a “safe boot” which requires you to hold shift while restarting. Problem is, the restart was taking FOREVER & I had to leave to do my Bridge Climb (details to follow). 

So what do I do? 

I create an ingenious device to hold shift while I’m gone. I placed my camera charger on top of the button & used an apple to keep the weight on it. 

Laugh all you want, but I got back & my computer was on again. BOOM SHAKKA LAKKA. 

Except it was running really slow. And wouldn’t recognize my SD card. And had no sound. 

But an “on” laptop is better than anything else so I dealt with is. 

I went to class this a.m. & had an assignment to turn in. But we turn them in on flashdrives & my computer wouldn’t recognize his. So he had me restart it. 

AND AGAIN IT DIDN’T WORK. 

At this point I’m almost crying in class, but I put on my big girl pants & dealt with it. On the way up to my room it just started up again & is working perfectly fine now. 

Thank you, Jesus! I was beginning to freak out!

So now, lovely people, I can fill you in on what’s been going on down under. 

Tuesday we took a trip to the Blue Mountains, sort of. 

First we drove to a wildlife park an hour & a half our of sydney. Not really much to look at

EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT I GOT TO PET A KOALA AND KANGAROO.

Let me make one thing clear: I signed up for study abroad because of koalas. Sure, there were secondary reasons, but really mostly koalas. 

Okay, obviously I’m kidding (kind of ). 

But they were adorable and perfect and I cried a little. 

After that we drove another hour and a half to a little town names Leura. We stopped off for lunch & some quick shopping. It was a small town, similar to downtown Brooksville, but cute. It was still technically in Sydney so it was really interesting to see the differences. 

Then we headed off to the Blue Mountains. We stopped off at a lookout to take some great photos and then took a railway car straight down the mountain to the bottom. It was gorgeous  We got to see the three sisters and hike a bit. 

Like I said before, I had a ton of homework so I grabbed nachos for dinner & went HAM. 

The next day was the day of my laptop’s “fit” of sorts, but I don’t even care BECAUSE IT WAS TIME TO CLIMB THE HARBOR BRIDGE.

Since signing up to study abroad, everyone I’ve spoken to who has ever visite Sydney or lives in Sydney says it is a must do. Granted, it had a high price tag but I really didn’t care. 

A real quick update on weather: 

It’s technically the last week of Autumn here, about to head into Winter. 

So it’s cold. And on top of the bridge it was 12 Celsius (you convert it, I’m not your mom.)

And it rained. THE WHOLE TIME. 

Luckily we had tons of rain gear on. 

But honestly, it was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had in my life. The view was breathtaking, the climb was exhilarating & everything about it was perfect. If you ever visit Sydney or even Australia, make the trip. Do it, you will not regret it. 

And so ends two days in Sydney. We only have 4 days left here before heading off to Cairns!

Sorry for the length of this post and I’m extra sorry I didn’t describe all my food (last night was Pie Face, there you go.)

Gday, mates!

-EA

Day 13: Taronga Zoo & nuggets

Somewhere along the timeline of this blog, my titles changed to always include the food I ate that day. 

At first I believe I did this because I was trying new things & exploring Sydney. 

Tonight I had nuggets. Let’s be real, I’m not trying anything new with nuggets. 

Chicken nuggets are like my family (T1 for life will always get it). 

Anyway, the evolution of my title has no bearing on the blog post.

That was the point of all that, so end rant. 

Today my morning began wonderfully. I had a half hour Skype session with Paulette, which was beyond perfect. Man, I miss my roomie. Our schedules are so reversed it’s hard to even text, let alone Skype. 

Afterwards I headed down to breakfast (hash browns WHAT WHAT) & ethics. 

Oh, ethics. You are the bane of my existence. So difficult. 

Ethics came and gone, tears were shed (it’s really a tough course, guys) & I headed back to the room. A couple of girls from our group had to go film their video subject and would be gone until 3, so my roommate and I decided to hit up Taronga Zoo. 

It’s a small bit aways, located on an island right off the Harbor. Two trains, a ferry & a bus got us there. For $31.50 we were able to see a whole lot. I’m not one for zoos, so I wasn’t very impressed, but it’s world famous & something worth seeing. 

Side note: I got radtastic earrings with a tiger wearing a bowtie for $5. That was worth the whole trip.

We met up with the rest of the group & planned the rest of our week. I’ve got less than a full week left in Sydney and idk I just refuse to leave so yeah. 

I seriously don’t want to go. I’m excited for Cairns, but Sydney is beyond everything I could ever want. 

Exciting events coming up include: 

-Blue Mountains tomorrow

-Harbor Bridge Climb Wednesday

-Visiting ABC (Australian BC, lol) Thursday

-High tea

-Vivid Sydney (really awesome light show where they project stuff on the Sydney Opera House)

There will be tons more, but those are the ones I’m very very excited for. 

We headed to the mall to grab some warm clothes for one of the girls (the Blue Mountains wil be in the 40’s…) & took two trains to the Sydney Aquarium. 

I really just love aquariums of any kind. 

I got to touch a starfish, see Nemo & Dory, sit under a shark and buy a sweatshirt for $19.95. 

Yay another souvenir for Erica?

Shopping is addictive and I must stop. 

Then we headed over to the Sydney Tower, the largest building in Sydney. They take you to the very tip top & have a 360 degree observation deck you can visit. 

Man, Sydney is stunning at night. The harbor lit up, the buildings, the bridge all culminate into this beautiful scene before your eyes. It was breathtaking. 

We grabbed quick dinners and ate in the hotel living room because we all wanted different things. 

I wanted McDonald’s because, well, to be real, I wanted a little slice of home. 

Bonus: cashier flirted with me & I got 11 nuggets instead of 10. SCORE!

Now it’s time for bed, we’ve got to be downstairs by 7:30 am for the Blue Mountains. 

Arrivederci!

-EA

Day 11: Paddington part deux, wine & pizza

So this post is late & I profusely apologize. 

The internet was not up to par last night & I couldn’t post. 

But I have saved the most important details from yesterday & you will be enthralled by my day.

Ready?

Ok, so we began our day at Paddington (again), because, let’s be real, I love shopping. 

Still not done, but Louis, Kelly, Paulette, momma, sassy, Alex & Coral will all be pleased. 

Spent way too much money but everyone will be happy, thus I am happy. 

Afterwards we headed to a local chocolate place highly recommended by everyone in Sydney. 

OH DEAR LORD IT WAS HEAVEN ON EARTH. 

All I got was ice cream & chocolate  but I died. I’m a spirit floating around until I can eat that chocolate again.

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Next we headed to the Pyrmonte wine festival by Darling Harbor. $20 got you a wine glass (to keep, yay souvenirs!) and 5 tickets to sample wines. 

I tried about 7 or 8 (some places let you do 2 “half” tastes) & found that my personal favorite was a Rose Moscato. Normally I don’t enjoy wine too much, but this one was delicious. Very sweet & light. 

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Honorable mentions include the delicious lunch I had. It was Chinese noodles, rice, chicken, a spring roll, potatoes and salad with yoghurt dressing. 

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I seriously think that yesterday was one of the best days I’ve had in Sydney. 

Sitting by the harbor, sipping wine & eating Dutch pastries, Sydney is beautiful. 

Afterwards we headed back to the hotel & I grabbed dinner with some of the girls I hadn’t seen since the beginning of the trip!

A little bit of Glee & I was ready for sleep!

I solemnly swear I will not leave you waiting on another post. 

Until tonight!

-EA

 

Day 10-Paddy’s Market, Video part 2 & PLL

Hello, all!

Two things:

1. French toast is better in America

2. Financial aid dropped today

Now that we’ve established those two very important details, we can begin. 

I slept in today until 7am (score!) & just lounged until I stopped being lazy and grabbed breakfast at 8. 

We headed to Paddy’s Market, an indoor market that is filled with knick knacks and paddiwacks. 

A little cheap for my liking, as I only want to buy things down under that were made here, but I enjoyed walking around and seeing another part of Sydney. 

Afterwards we took a trip to China Town, again a little kitschy for what I’m looking for. 

I took a trip back to the industrial part of Sydney to meet one more time with my video subject. She’s a little bossy but gave me some great shots! She even gave me & the two girls I brought with me free soap! 

We came back to the hotel and relaxed & went to a nearby pub for dinner. 

And, y’all, I need to get real with you. 

I had the best burger tonight. 

Like the best. 

BEST. 

It was at the same place we went our first night here. The first night I got chicken tacos that burned my mouth because they were so spicy. 

But this burger, 

THIS BURGER

was delicious. 

First of all, all Australian burgers come with beetroot. I normally pick it off but there’s always the flavor left behind. It really kicks the burger up a notch. Pair it with some “chips” and their homemade ketchup & Erica is in heaven. 

 

Only four of us from our normal group of 8 are here in Sydney, as the others traveled south to Melbourne for a trip, but we still had a great time. 

Now we’re back at the hotel watching Pretty Little Liars because Sydney is JUST finishing this season. Oh, if only they knew…

Tomorrow will be another trip to Paddington Market to get some more souvenirs (lookin’ atchu, Kelly, Monica & Paulette). 

Besoz! 

-EA

Day 7-Tobruk Sheep Station and Meat Pies

Hello!

I’m starting to run out of ways to start each blog post. You can only say “G’day mate” so many times before it sounds like I’m making fun of the Aussies.

So instead I’ll use an awkward transition like the one above to lead you into the more riveting parts of my post.

Side note before I discuss today: they had french toast at breakfast. It was amazing.

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Today we didn’t have class (yay!)

Instead we were all ready to go at 7:45am to head to Tobruk Sheep Station (yay?)

Yes, we spent our day at a sheep shearing station just about an hour north of Sydney.

I also want to point out relatively quickly that yesterday my post had a spelling error and I said we were going to a sheep searing farm. No sheep were seared (in our presence).

The day began with me getting car sick, to no one’s surprise. I knew I should have taken Dramamine  but I didn’t and it was sad. We arrived on a farm much similar to the one’s I’m used to back home: they smelled of fertilizer & flies flew rampant. Welcome home?

Anyway, we began our day with a whipping demonstration, one that Rihanna would have been proud of.

And no, no one was whipped. Get your minds out of the gutter.

Next we practiced some boomerang throws. As everyone is familiar with, I’m not athletically inclined. I hoped this would be something I excelled in, something I could brag about in the states.

It wasn’t.

Mine sailed about 10 feet forward and didn’t return to me. Oh well, c’est la vie.

Next we met up with our shearer, a wonderful little old man who told us the history of Australia’s wool industry. It was actually pretty interesting.

Next, we learned to make Billy Tea & damper bread, a classic Aussie outback breakfast. Apparently they didn’t have spoons in the old days, so they would heat tea leaves & water in a pail, boil them and spin them around until they cooled & mixed.

Remember when you were 5 & found out if you spun a pail of water quickly enough, none of the water spilled?

I didn’t. And of course he called on me to spin the bucket.

The conversation went as follows:

“Don’t try this at home. Or if you do, spin it the opposite way if you’re in another hemisphere. Give it a try!”

“Uhh…”

“Three spins and stop. It’s like sex: we’re trying to get to the ending!”

“Oh…okay?”

I spun 3 times & stopped as directed & received a round of applause.

When done, I was told this:

“Let’s hope your sexual experiences don’t end that quickly.”

Thanks, sir.

Just, thanks.

After that awkward encounter, we tried our Billy Tea & damper bread. The tea was very similar to un-sweet iced tea, minus the ice, so I enjoyed it. The damper bread is literally flour, yeast & eggs, so it’s very simple. They sweeten it up with golden syrup, a more refined version of molasses. It was pretty good too.

Next was the herding of the sheep. Basically, they have one dog who runs around the sheep and herds them towards the gate. Another dog lines them up to get ready for shearing. The second dog has to line them up, sometimes involving the dog jumping on the sheep to keep them in place.

I’m not one for animals, but the whole thing was pretty hard to watch. The dog was relatively vicious, sometimes biting at the sheep’s legs even while they were in line. If any of them ran away, he would literally attack them back into line. I feel like there has to be a more humane way of doing it, but maybe that’s just me.

After being herded into the fence, we were herded into the shearing shop. There we learned about the history of shearing tools & finally got to see a demonstration. He was pretty gentle with the sheep and it took him about 10 minutes to sheer the whole thing. But he said most shearers do it in about a minute and a half and I think he was being pretty tame. There’s no way you can shear a sheep and be gentle like he was.

Not sure why I was so sensitive about these sheep, but everything they did just wasn’t right with me.

Next was lunch, which was salad, steak & bread. Also some of the most delicious chocolate coconut cake ever.

And last, but certainly not least, we got to try our hand at whipping!

I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I could really crack that whip!

I hope you all said that last part like Devo.

Shame on you if you don’t know Devo.

It was a lot harder than we all imagined, but I was a pro.

Okay, not really. It took me a few tries but I did crack it, promise!

Afterwards we took another trip to Manly Beach. Again, didn’t make it to the beach. Instead I bought frozen yoghurt and a new sweatshirt, yay!

Dinner was a meat pie & the first soda I’ve had in five-ever.

I had a bacon, egg & cheese meat pie and it was delicious. And the coke.

Oh gosh.

I’ve been here for a week and it’s ben an adventure for sure, but it was so nice to have something & know exactly how it was going to taste.

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Now I’m using this god-awful internet to do some work for tomorrow.

This hotel’s wifi<<<<<<<<

Hopefully I’ll be able upload photos soon, but right now the wifi is insanely slow. I can barely check email.

G-night!

-EA