Saturday, November 21, 2015

My last blog

This is it. I have finally finished my semester in Australia. It really is bitter sweet to think about since it only feels like yesterday all of us were talking about how much time we had in Australia. Four months really does fly by. Being consistent with the blog the last few weeks was almost impossible since I had to start buckling down for finals. There was not much I had to talk about with everyone so for a brief moment I will recap a few of things that happened after I came back from break.

I guess I will start with small things that happened. This involved many different BBQ’s I went to. I spent some time at the other student housing complex called varsity where I took part in BBQing some food with various international students, some of whom I knew from my trip at Byron Bay and Mojo surf camp. It really was a great way to bond and meet new people. Another BBQ that happened was Alyssa’s birthday where everyone gathered at Maloolaba and cooked some sausages and burgers. It was a great time during the week to de stress and even have a run in with some Elon University alumni who interrupted our festivities to just come by and say hello. One of the guys, who’s name I have sadly forgot, graduated with a major in political science and was part of Model United Nations at Elon, which funny enough I am apart of. They mentioned they all graduated in 2013 and said how much they loved studying at USC during their study abroad experience that they decided to travel Australia. It was an interesting run in that reminded me of the friends I have been missing back at Elon. They also reminded me that my time in Australia was limited.

One fun activity I did was going to Bli Bli aqua park but was a bit different than what you would expect a water park to be. Instead of big slides and tubes to go down on, imagine a lake, and there are a lot of blow up obstacles floating around on the water. Some are climbing walls, some are hamster
wheel type floaties, and some are just walking trails where you can easily slip back into the water. That was where I was. Picture a bunch of little kids playing around on these obstacles and five adults as well. We were only allowed on there for a specific amount of time but it felt like time went by too quickly. You really are never too old to feel like a kid again. After we finished our time there, there was a spot where wake boarders are pulled by a cable around the lake. Normally, I love to wake board so naturally I gave it a go. Just trying to get up was almost impossible. It was very different from being pulled up by a boat. After many failed attempts I was able to get up at least twice and go around the path before bashing my head after the cable changed direction and my board caught an edge. All I could say was, I had a huge headache and had to lie down after all that. It was completely worth having that experience.

That week, Halloween was coming up. Surprisingly enough, Halloween has become popular in Australia so I was able to dress up. The Thursday before Halloween, Daniel took a group of us to Aussie World, an amusement park that was not far from the University. Some of us dressed up and some didn’t. We went on a few rides, were followed by some creepy guy dressed in a creepy clown leotard, and went inside a haunted house where I lost my hat running through a room full of hands hanging from the ceiling. That wasn’t the only thing that scared some of us. There was a creepy lady who had a little crush on Liam and was following our group around as well as that guy with the creepy clown leotard that scared the life out of Dorthea when he popped out during our time in this strange maze of mirrors. Needless to say it was an interesting night for us. Saturday, I held a little Halloween party with some food and blood orange sangria. People came in and out since that was how Halloween works at uni but all in all, it was relaxing and fun. We eventually headed over to Varsity (the other student housing) to join the many students mingling and dancing. By the end of the night, a few of us just went for a walk around the university before heading to bed. Though I was not having an Elon Halloween, I still enjoyed dressing up and spending my Halloween in the land down under.

Before I had my first exam, a friend Raffy and I went to the place I wanted to visit since I arrived in Sunshine Coast, The Australia Zoo. To me, going there was a dream come true because I was visiting the place of my childhood hero Steve Irwin. My brothers and I grew up watching The Crocodile Hunter from the show to the movie that was out in theaters. He was the reason I had taken in interest in wild life and the reason I know too many random facts about animals. The zoo was a lot smaller than I expected but we were able to see everything there. There were Otters just laying around being cute as ever, some large Cassowaries, Koalas chilling,
and Crocs watching. We got to feed some Kangaroos who looked so tired and lazy. Raffy named every single one of them and even made friends with a joey. Once we had our fill of Bindi’s Island and kangaroos, we went over to grab some lunch at the main stadium before heading over to see the big croc feeding. It was a crazy sight to see this saltwater croc named Echo crush the head of a dead pig with just a snap of his jaws. Turns out that Echo was caught by Steve Irwin in 1988, which meant the staff had no idea how old Echo was. Going to the zoo was in general an amazing time before we got rained on. It really was an opportunity that I am glad had a chance to take.

As finals came closer, my stress levels became higher and I ended up spending my last two weeks preparing and taking my four exams. Once I walked out of my Abnormal Psychology exam I finally could breath. That same day I went with Cara to Colondra to walk around and enjoy the beautiful sunshine and heat of summer. We walked along the beach as well as explore the little town and reminisce about the times we have had here at the Sunshine Coast. Flo and his mother were very sweet in taking us back to campus where I said goodbye to him and later Cara. Everyone else that day had left for home so I was one of the few left at UniCentral.

The next day I met with Woody Pelton, the dean of global education at Elon University as well as a bunch of the other Elon students that were studying at University of the Sunshine Coast. We had lunch and talked about our experiences as well as the advice we would give to incoming Elon students that want to travel abroad to this program. It was interesting to hear what everyone else has been up to and how excited everyone was to go back home but sad to leave this place. Along with talking to Woody, we also got to talk to a few USC students who will be joining the Elon community this spring. Two are locals of Queensland Australia and the other is from Norway. Our group was so excited to tell them about how much fun they are going to have when they come to Elon. I even slipped in that they should look into Model UN as one of their club choices. The rest of the day I was cleaning out my room and packing as much as I could.

The next day I woke up at 8:00 so I could make breakfast and meet up with Dorthea one last time before she left for Harvey Bay. We jumped on a bus to Alexandria beach to catch a few waves. It was a bit windy that day but we made the most of it after being knocked over by waves, violated by seaweed and almost running into each other. I caught only three waves but that was enough for me since I wanted to at least catch one before I left. We were at the beach relaxing for a while before returning the boards and heading to grab some lunch. From there we walked back to the bus and headed back to campus. We said goodbye before parting ways. Dorthea if you are reading this, you better come to New York for thanksgiving in the next few years!!!!  Once I made it back to my room, I went to the pool to relax before finishing most of my packing and cleaning up my room.

For my last day, I decided to treat myself to a pedicure as well as a walk around the Sunshine Plaza one last time. I was able to grab some last minute things as well such as a better nose stud and some small gifts as well as a huge collection of TimTams because why not? I even got to see some parts of the mall I had not explored yet which made me a bit mad since the Sunshine Plaza I did not spend as much time at. After I finished getting my toes done, I was not done yet with the general area I was in.
I jumped on a bus and got of near Alexandria Headlines Beach to walk to pathway and check it out before I headed back. There was a kayaking race happening at that time and I felt compelled to watch at least one of the races since they were close to the surf lodge. The waves were ruff and it was windy but seeing those kayakers push through the waves was an amazing sight to see. I even walked up to the hillside of Alexandria where I could watch one more race before walking towards Maloolaba to catch the next bus. I took a detour through the lush green trail around the cliff sides to where we had Alyssa’s birthday party before arriving at the bus stop. I watched Maloolaba disappear as the bus pulled away and felt myself lost in my own thoughts until I made it back to UniCentral. After a dip in the pool I finished my cleaning and packing and had my last meal of noodles in a cup. My roommate Ari was doing laundry while I talked with her and her friend Kristin. It was great to have them as the last uni students I spoke to on my last night. We talked about how fast the time went and how much we did not want it all to come to an end. The two of them are doing some traveling of their own before they head home to Germany, which I am a bit jealous about. I still have that travel bug and it will not go away. All in all, my last night was perfect!

Sadly all great things must come to an end. The time seemed to fly by but I feel like I have done so much even for the four months. I was even able to check a few things off my list
  • ·      I visited Lindsey twice since I came to Australia
  • ·      I scuba dived in the great barrier reef
  • ·      I got a picture with the Steve Irwin Statue
  • ·      I went to New Zealand
  • ·      I tried vegemite and actually liked it
  • ·      I tried so many Aussie treats while I was there
  • ·      I held a Koala
  • ·      My eating habits got a lot better since I was able to cook
  • ·      I caught way more than one wave while I was there

The only things I did not get to do sadly were cage diving with sharks, going to Fiji and riding a sea turtle. I did hang out with a Grouper so I will take that as a check. This was not on my list of things to do but it was on my bucket list and that was skydiving. I can truly say I used my time wisely when I was not locked in my room or Uni studying. One thing I would give advice to any study abroad student is that yes your grades matter, but do not miss out on opportunities when you are abroad because you have to get straight A’s. You would not be using your time wisely. The school system was difficult compared to what I do at Elon but I was able to get by enough. As I write this, I am sitting in the airport waiting for my flight back to the states. It’s going to be a rough flight back but I am happy to see my family once I arrive in New York. I will never forget my experience in Australia and I hope to return one day to this amazing country. Thank you to Elon University for allowing me to have this wonderful opportunity to study abroad and to my family for letting me stay across the world for four months.

Thank you to my friends at Sippy Downs for making this an amazing experience and I hope to see you all in the future! Goodbye Australia and hello New York!