Sunday, February 28, 2010

Arriving in Sydney

I have been in Sydney for 2 weeks now and Australia for 3! Time flies when you’re having fun. I arrived to Sydney on February 13th. The first few weeks have been full of orientations, scheduling classes, and setting up my life, but I have also already managed to see and experience a lot of the city.

So here is what I have been up to:

School Stuff: The University of Sydney (USYD) campus is beautiful! One building, The Quad, is also known as the Hogwarts building because it looks like it could be right out of a Harry Potter movie. There is also a tunnel that goes underneath some class buildings that is completely covered in graffiti which is pretty neat!  At the edge of campus is a very nice park with an outdoor swimming pool. Tomorrow is the first day of class I am excited to start Uni here but I am also nervous considering I haven’t been in class since the beginning of December. I lucked out and got an awesome schedule with Wednesday’s and Friday’s off. The classes I’m taking are Fitness Training: Theory and Practice, Learning in Outdoor Education (at the end of this class we get to go on a camping trip in the Blue Mountains right outside of Sydney), Statistics and Research Methods for Psych, and Sport and Learning in Australian Culture (with this class I will be taking field trips to watch local sporting events).
Victoria Park on the edge of campus.

People I have met: The first night in Sydney we met a girl named Shona, who invited me and my friends Emma and Michelle, out to a local pub with her and a few of her mates. She has taken us under her wing and been very helpful. She recently made us a “How to Guide” for Sydney. That same night we also met a group of guys who live a few doors down from Shona who are on the water polo team, so the other day we went and watched one of their matches. I got tired just watching them tread water for over an hour! The third night after moving in my friends and I met a guy named Xan who lives in my building and is from the Sydney area. He, his family, and friends have been super kind in showing us around and opening up their homes to us. Along with all of the people I met in Cairns at orientation I have also met tons of other Americans, Australians, and other international students living at the University Village (my apartment complex) and I look forward to meeting even more people when classes start!

The Sites:
One afternoon Xan drove my friends Emma, Michelle, Lindsey, and I all around Sydney. Our tour included a stop at his home in Vaucluse, Watsons Bay, The Gap (a BEAUTIFUL scenic lookout with a view of the city/harbour in one direction and rock cliffs in the other),Bondi and Bondi Beach (where we stopped for some awesome Burritos!), and we finished the tour at Luna Park where we had a night view of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House.
The Gap
  The Gap

 Looking out from Luna park the Harbour Bridge with the Opera House in the background.

Another day Lindsey, Michelle, Emma, and I went on a walking tour from campus down to Darling Harbour. Along the way our tour guide pointed out local parks, cafes, pubs, and where the farmers markets were held every Saturday.

By the end of the first week my friends and I decided we were well over due for a beach trip. So we followed the guide Shona had given us and took a bus then ferry over to Manly Beach. I spent the day swimming in the ocean and napping on the beach. It was a hot, beautiful day and I have never been to a beach with softer sand! On the ferry ride home the harbour was full of sail boats and views from the boat were great!
Manly Beach

Sydney Harbour

Last Wednesday, Xan, Lindsey, Emma, and I went to Coogee beach and met up with Xan’s friend Julian (aka Lardy). It was a windy afternoon so the waves were pretty intense. Emma lost her contacts in the water, we were all getting taken out left and right by the waves, and Lardy got stung by a blue bottle jellyfish (not a deadly jellyfish but their sting can be pretty painful). Needless to stay we didn’t last very long at the beach that day! That same afternoon we drove through Centennial Park. On the park road there is still a blue runners guideline left over from the 2000 Sydney Olympics Marathon. Of course I made Xan stop the car so that we could take picture and run along the line, because I knew it would make my Dad proud!

On Thursday of last week Emma, Lindsey, Ashley, and I decided to make the 8 mile round trip walk down to the Botanical Gardens and Opera House. The gardens were huge and led right up to the Opera House and Harbour. Hanging from the trees were tons and tons of bats that made a creepy shrieking noise. This was our first time seeing the opera house up close...very exciting!! I went picture crazy!
 Emma and I singing Opera

On Saturday morning Michelle, Emma, and I got up bright and early to go to Paddy’s Markets. We ended up getting there before they opened so we went around the corner to a little cafe for breakfast. At the markets we steered away from the clothes and went straight down to the biggest farmers market I have ever seen. I got tons of fresh fruit and vegetables for under $10 it was great!

Greatest Discovery: They have these chocolate wafer cookies here called Tim Tams, they are delicious! But they are the best when you bite the opposite corners of the cookie and then suck tea through the cookie like a straw. The Tim Tam melts and it’s like a gooey chocolate explosion in your mouth! YUM!

Night Life: Some of my favorite nights here in Sydney include: SUV(my apartment) hosted a Fiesta Night and then we went to kareoke at Kelly's Irish Pub, Saturday nights at the Marly Hotel up the road they have a live band and dancing, and last night my friends and I went to watch Xan's friends band perform cover songs of the Beatles and the Doors in Bondi.

These past two posts have been extremely long, but now I am up to date! In the future I plan to post every few days. I hope every one is well at home! I love and miss you all!

Cheers, Betsy

Friday, February 26, 2010


I have been in Australia for almost 3 weeks now and I am finally getting my blog set up! So for my first post I am going to do a highlight run down of what I have been up to so far, starting with the first week in Cairns.

Week 1 Cairns, Australia:

My first week in Australia was an orientation week with my study abroad program, AustraLearn. The first full day in Cairns we went up to the Kuranda Rainforest and held a Koala, pet/fed kangaroos, learned about the native plants, saw both fresh water and salt water crocodiles, watched an aboriginal tribal dance and heard them play the didgeridoo, and threw a boomerang. It was quite a day!

The next day I went on a “Jungle Tour” with a few other people from my program. The tour took us up to the Daintree rainforest where we took a dip in a mountain river gorge and sun bathed on the boulders along the river. After a picnic lunch we headed back down to sea level for a salt water crocodile watch river boat ride. We spotted a baby croc and a humungous spider, nothing too vicious. When we got back on dry land I got to try to play a didgeridoo...which is harder then it looks! On the way to our last stop on the tour, Cape Tribulation, we pulled over to a scenic overlook and our tour guide pointed out the island where Steve Irwin was killed by the sting ray. Once we got to Cape Trib we were advised not to go in the water because it was home to sharks, box and Irukandji jellyfish (two of the most deadly), and salt water crocodiles. Looking at the beach you would never imagine it to be as deadly as it is because it was so beautiful. I risked it and waded into the water a little, it felt like bath water! Its official I love this country!

Day 3 in Cairns AustraLearn had arranged for us to go back up to the Kuranda Rainforest to help a lady name Jax with a environmental conservation project. We spent the morning planting trees and other plants that were vital to the survival of wild life in particular the cassowary bird. Later that day I tried my first Crocodile burger! It was like chicken with a slightly fishy taste...pretty good!

Day 4 in Cairns was by far my favourite. (They use England’s spelling in Australia so I have set my computer to that spell check so words like favourite and colour is spelled with the ou). 4 we went to the Great Barrier Reef. After a two our boat ride to the reef we got off the boat and snorkelled then scuba dived. The reef was beautiful and on my dive I saw a sea turtle, clown fish, and got to put my hand inside a clam the size of a shopping was AMAZING! Scuba diving the reef has definitely been the high light of my trip so far!

Cheers, Betsy