Sunday, January 31, 2010

Koalas, kangaroos, and the Great Barrier Reef oh my!

Hey Everyone! Sorry I haven't written since I have arrived in Australia but I am here safe and having an absolute blast! This past week was spent in Cairns. On Wednesday we went to the Rain forestation Center and walked around and viewed the amazing rain forest. We had an opportunity to fed the kangaroos and also hold a koala. We also watched an aboriginal dance show and learned how to throw a boomerang. There are ants in Australia that have green butts that if you lick the behind of it its tastes kind of like a warhead, so I had to try that out too. We also had the great opportunity of getting a tour through the rain forest on an army duck. The experience was pretty overwhelming and simply amazing. Wednesday afternoon we met up in the park across the street from the hotel and learned how to play cricket. Our Australearn faculty helped explain it to us and we had the opportunity to put our skills, or lack of into action. It was really interesting and fun trying to learn and play a new sport.
On Thursday we had our free day where we had the opportunity to sign up for a tour of some sort or just relax. A group of about 15 or so of my new friends and I decided to take a bus to Palm Cove and go hang out at the beach for the day. The bus ride wasn't too long and the beach was so beautiful and not busy at all. It was a bit overcast at first but quickly cleared up. We played in the ocean, took pictures, and enjoyed our day of relaxation. I made sure to put sunscreen on throughout the day but still managed to head back to the hotel with a sunburn. Thursday evening we met up with the group for dinner at Shannigans and I had a kangaroo burger. It was tasty but hard to describe, similar maybe to beef but not as dense and the meat broke apart a little easier but overall a yummy meal.
Friday was our community day. We traveled to the Kuranda Center and helped plant trees that will produce food for the Cassowary bird. It was so great to have the opportunity to give back to the community and help make a difference. We got a tour around the center including the extensive worm farm. Friday evening was our own time to relax and hang out with our group. We had a little birthday dinner celebration for one of my new friends and then I spent time playing cards. Cards turned into about ten competitive players trying new games. I helped explain Froggy to some of the group and made my family proud with pretty much dominating most of the game with my partner.
Saturday was quite an adventure and definitely unforgettable. We woke up and had a nice breakfast at the hotel, walked a block or so to the marina and loaded up on a boat to go out scuba diving and snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. I had been anxiously anticipating and looking forward to this day all week. I have not tried scuba diving yet and was hoping to on this special day. After loading up the boat, having an introduction and welcome session with the crew and going over some safety tips we were free to move around the boat. We had about a two hour drive out to the reef so most of our group headed to the front of the boat. The waves were quite large and the brave select few, including myself, decided to sit in the netting at the front of the boat. As we held on for dear life it was like an intense roller coaster after every waves. Bouncing up and down and getting your body thrown around. It was a bit scary but also really fun and exhilarating. As we traveled farther and farther away from the shore the worse and worse the weather was getting. Overcast turned into to dark grey angry skies, the rain started as a sprinkle and quickly turned into sidways sleeting rain, and the waves, although fun quite large to start and got even bigger. We were driving through a cyclone and the weather was quite ridiculous. Despite the weather we fought through and got our blue power suits on to protect ourselves from getting stung by a blue bottle, which is a somewhat harmful small jelly fish. We did eventually have a chance to go out and snorkel for a little bit but the visibility wasn't very good because of the storm. They canceled scuba diving which was a big bummer because I was very excited to try that out. Although the weather was a bit crazy, our group really just took the experience for what it was, unforgettable for sure :)
Sunday, we loaded everything up and were off to the airport again. We had to say bye to our friends we had made that are going to different universities. A pretty short flight landed us in Sydney! On our way to our school, we drove by the Opera House and over the Sydney Bridge and it was just like the pictures and movies, but ten times better! The rest of the bus ride and once we arrived on campus, I was just in total shock and awe and amazement. ICMS (International College of Management of Sydney) is so wonderful and totally reminds me of harry potter. Overall I am doing great and honestly living the dream :) More to come now that I am here and getting settled in, Orientation meetings and stuff this week.

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