July 2012 Archives

Catch Up Update #5--The Sad Update

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Just a forewarning, this update is a rather sad one....

After breakfast, on my third day in Australia, I called home to tell my parents about my previous day's adventures on the reef. As soon as I finished telling them about all of the things I saw, I got the words, "We have some bad news". I instantly knew that it was in regards to my dog, Sandie, who had not been doing the best these past few months. Despite the fact I hate crying in front of people, there was no stopping the tears at that moment...I couldn't help but to cry being on the opposite side of the world, knowing my dog of the past 12 years won't be there when I return in a few months. I knew she was reaching the end of her years and that there was a good chance she would pass during my time abroad, but I didn't expect to get the news she passed the very day I left. It turns out that even though she was really spunky and followed me around the whole morning of my departure, she must have been putting on an act for me....when my family got home from sending me off, they found her not able to get up and it was her time to go.

Things are definitely going to be a lot different when I return in a few months. It will be hard getting used to walking in the front door and not seeing her waiting at the top of the stairs.

The only picture of Sandie I have with me in Australia...from when she was a puppy.

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My favorite picture I've taken of her.

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One of the last pictures I've taken of her.

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Catch Up Update #4--Reef Day

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This day was the day I was most looking forward to out of the whole orientation week in Cairns, and for good reason! It was the day I was going to dive the Great Barrier Reef!!! I was finally back to the sea, back to the only place I want to be (I hope some of you catch the reference ;) haha)

Anyways....

It was a 2 hour boat ride to get to our dive site, with a company called Passions of Paradise. During the ride out there, we all went through various dive briefings/filled out paperwork and then got to just relax. I loved sitting out on the bow of the boat, even though I got drenched due to the weather not being the best. It was rainy and cold but I could really care less--I hit 30 hours of time spent under the water while on my dive! The only thing that was unfortunate was that we weren't able to do the second dive on the outer reef because of the conditions.

Our dive was about 50 minutes long and even though the visibility was pretty low, we still saw a lot of things. (a turtle, 2 rays, tons of batfish, a puffer, morish idol (Gil from finding nemo), titan trigger, starfish, a bunch of butterfly fish I've never seen, and I even got to play around at a cleaning station (one of my favorite things!!!)). Once back at the surface, we spent the next few hours anchored at the site while people snorkeled, swam, and went to the nearby island. We then made our way back to the marina, all worn out from the day on the water.

The crew from the ship were some of the most entertaining people I've met and and an example of why I love the diving community so much. Anna, the dive leader for my group was a spunky little thing and I loved talking with her about diving (and tattoos). Russell was also really fun to talk to about diving and it was interesting because he was actually a former study abroad student through the same program I am in. He also entertained the boat on the way back by doing magic tricks--ones I still don't understand. Overall, the crew were all just really easy going people who loved the sea and that's the reason they are so much fun to be around.

That's it for reef day update....I really could go overboard on this update if I really wanted to because of my obsessiveness over diving, but I'll spare you. I'll just leave you with photos from under the water, including one with all of my North Scuba dive buddies from back in MN.

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Next Up: The Sad Update
Then: Brisbane
Later: Byron Bay

Catch Up Update #3-- RainforeStation Day

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For our first non-travel day in Australia, we ventured up into the hills near Cairns into a place called Kuranda. Located here was the nature park, RainforeStation. This day was jam packed with so many events that it is almost too hard to describe everything that happened without going on and on and on. The best way to share of my adventures from this day is to show you through photos from my time at the park. Since I don't have pictures from every part of my day there, I will also leave you with a basic list of what we all did....if you want to know more about any of the things listed, just shoot me a message on facebook/email. If I were to talk about every event on here, I could go on for days describing things.

Everything we did while at the sanctuary:
-painted our own aboriginal painting
-outback style buffet lunch
-pet roos
-saw crocodiles, dingoes, a cassowary, wallabies, a wombat, cockatoo, koalas, snakes
-held a snake
-took a photo with a koala
-ate an ant (tasted like a warhead)
-watched an aboriginal dance performance
-threw a boomerang
-attempted the didgeridoo

Now for some photos:
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For more pictures from this day, go here:
RainforeStation Photos

That's it for catch up #3.....Cheers!

Next Up: Reef Day
Then: The Sad Update
Later: Brisbane


Catch Up Update #2--The Hostel/Bridging Cultures

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This update will be shorter than the last, I promise.

Part One: the hostel....
During our orientation week in Cairns we stayed at a place called Gilligans, which was basically a backpacker's hostel meets nightclub. I shared a room with 4 other girls from my orientation group. Our room overlooked the pool/bar area. The hostel was a very lively place to stay at, with events going on pretty much every night.

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Part two: bridging culture sessions...
As part of our bridging cultures program, we had 3 sessions in which we basically learned the dos and don'ts of Australia/cultural things. In simplest terms, do have a good time and be safe, don't be an idiot.

The sessions were led by a guy named Shane (who looked like Richard from Lost for those of you who know the show) and he showed us what to expect during our time here in the land down under....including the proper way to eat vegemite (gross). I'll skip over a lot of boring details about our sessions and rather leave you with this list of words, we got while playing bingo, that are used in Oz and what they mean.....

Ankle Biter-- Toddler/ Small Child
Bludger--Lazy Person
Dodgy--Sketchy
Sanger--Sandwich
Smoko--Smoke Break
Mate--Friend
Cactus--Broke
Ripper--Great/Fntastic
Sunnies--Sun Glasses
Thongs--Sandals/Flip Flops
Esky--Cooler
Tinny--Boat
Bloke--Male
Chunder--Throw Up
Sticky-Beak--Being Nosy
Ear Basher--Someone who talks your ear off
Shout--Round (as in a round of drinks)
Mozzie--Mosquito
Vejjo--Vegetarian
Ute--Truck
Arvo--Afternoon
Brekky--Breakfast
Fairy Floss--Cotton Candy
Chemist--Pharmacy
Whacker--Idiot
Lift--Elevator

Next Up: RainforeStaion
Then: Reef Day
Later: The Sad Update

Catch Up Update #1--Traveling

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I'll start off my catching up of entries with my days of travel--aka days of pure stress. Everything had started out all fine and dandy, but quickly took a turn for the worse. I was all set to go at my gate in Minneapolis when I get news that the plane we were supposed to fly out on was having mechanical problems. After being delayed for about an hour we finally boarded the plane, only to sit on the runway for another hour or more because of the weather conditions in Chicago.

By the time we landed in Chicago, it was already 5 min past the time my flight from Chicago to LA was supposed to leave....luckily for me, that flight too had been delayed. When we finally made it into LA, I only had about 40 minutes until my flight to Sydney was supposed to leave--this was cutting it a bit close compared to the 3 hour layover I was originally supposed to have in LA. I then got the news I was switched flights onto one that was leaving 10 minutes earlier--still confused as to why this happened, but whatever. By this time, it was already 1 or 2 in the morning (Minnesota time) and I'd been in airports or on a plane since around 10:30 that morning....needless to say I was sick of flying/airports.

We all boarded the plane leaving for Sydney, and I really don't remember much of what happened within the next 3 hours or so. I don't remember passing out as soon as I did, but apparently somewhere between waiting for the rest of the plane to board and waiting for the plane to take off, I was out cold. I woke up to eat something since I hadn't eaten since about 11 that morning, but fell right back asleep after. The next time I woke up, we were somewhere over the ocean and I was wide awake while everyone else was passed out. I watched The Vow on the in-flight entertainment, along with episodes of Dr. Who, Sherlock, and listening to a lot of Gotye (they had 3 of his albums on their music station). After getting breakfast a long while later, I took another nap before landing in Sydney...a few hours behind the original landing time.

In Sydney, I was hoping everything would be smooth sailing from there on out--I was wrong. Waiting for my bags in customs, I realize they aren't on the carousel with everyone else. I go to baggage services where they tell me to just go straight onto Cairns and to deal with it there. I get to Cairns and discover my luggage is still at the airport back in LA and wouldn't be in Australia until the next day. At that point I didn't really care too much since I had enough clothes in my carry on...I just wanted to get to the hostel and be done with traveling. After a short bus ride to the hostel, we checked in, dropped off our bags in our rooms, and were on our way to our first learning session of our Bridging Cultures Program......

And on that note, I'll cut off this first update. Sorry it was a bit lengthy, the other ones shouldn't be this long (and they'll actually have pictures)

Next up: The hostel/ learning sessions
Then: RainforeStation
Later: Day on the reef

It's been a while....

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Well, it's been a while since I last updated this thing--a bit too long for my liking, but I've just been too busy to actually sit down and enter my experiences into this blog. No worries though, I've been jotting things down on random scraps of paper and have plenty to fill you all in on....it just may take me a few nights to get all caught up. Stay tuned for many updates within the next few days. Cheers!

Next up: Traveling
Then: Hostel
Later: RainforeStation

Grab your bag and take a chance

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Well it's the 5th of July, which means today is the day I leave for my adventure abroad. In about 5 hours, my first plane ride of this trip will be underway. I first fly from Minneapolis to Chicago, then Chicago to Los Angeles, LA to Sydney, Sydney to Cairns...spend 5 days in Cairns...and finally Cairns to Brisbane. I am going to be very sick of planes for a while.

Like I said before, I spend the first part of my trip in Cairns. This is where the Bridging Cultures Program takes place. During this program, I spend time getting to know other students who are studying abroad through GlobaLinks/AustraLearn, I learn about the culture and ways of life in Australia, and get to participate in various activities that are going to be crazy. All five of my days spent in Cairns should be exciting but one day in particular is what I'm looking forward to. Once again I get to wetsuit up, grab some scuba gear, and take a giant stride into the ocean. It's still hard for me to grasp the idea that one week from now I will have already been diving in the Great Barrier Reef. I don't really know how to put it into words how excited I am to be back diving again, even though it's only been about three weeks since I got back from my dive trip to St. Croix, USVI (which was so incredible that I can't even begin to describe it without getting super excited and my words just jumble all together). I have to admit it will be a bit odd diving with people other than my dive group from my high school...no more Jimmy Buffett filled van rides around the island...but I am bringing them all with me on my dive into the Great Barrier Reef. I have waterproofed the photo below so that I can take it along with on my first dive in Australia and take a picture with all of my fellow divers from MN.

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I should probably stop talking about diving before I get too off track and also get some sleep before my trip later today....let's be honest though, I'm waaaaaaay too excited for sleep (a bit nervous too, but mostly excited).

I'm not too sure how many people will actually be keeping up with this blog, but thank you to those of you who are! This trip is going to be crazy for me with all of the experiences that are to come and I am just glad you are interested enough to check out what I'm up too. I already know some entries will be of me rambling about things that probably aren't all that interesting, so sorry in advance. I'll do my best to keep this thing updated with things that people find interesting/entertaining/intriguing.

Since I'm not too sure what my internet connection will be like during the Bridging Cultures Program, I probably won't have another entry on here until a week from now. When I do update next, it is sure to be filled with many things. I will have updates about all of my adventures in Cairns (I'll probably make one post solely dedicated to my scuba diving) as well as my housing arrangement that I'll be settled into by then.

Thanks again for following along!

Cheers!!!