So I’m about two weeks in and I am already in love with Australia. It has only been a short time, but I can confidently say that I’ve had some of the most memorable experiences in my life since arriving. Where to begin…
Well my first impression of Australia once stepping off the plane was, HOT. The weather here is something I have never endured before and this isn’t even the hottest part of their summer. After getting through all of the fun airport checkpoints, I was shuttled to my apartment off campus, which is about 40 minutes away. Once I was dropped off, I tossed my bags in my room and went to explore the town with two of my friends from Ole Miss, MK and Madison and our new Aussie mate Clancy. Over the next few days we walked around campus and got acquainted where buildings were and attended our orientations. One day we made the trip to Bondi Beach, which was about a forty-five minute trip. The water at the beach was so blue and clear; it was absolutely breath taking.
A couple of days later MK, Madison and I left Sydney and went on our first adventure to Northern Australia to the Whitsundays Islands. Once we landed, I didn’t feel as though I was even in Australia anymore, more like the Caribbean. The town we based our stay in was Arlie Beach, which was such a cool place. The town has one main road that lies along the beachfront with shops and restaurants and all sorts of activities you could do during your stay. Our first day there, we explored the town and had a picnic on one of the beaches.
After lunch we walked around the open markets along the beach that sold hand made items by the locals. Later that night we stayed in a hostel that slept eight people, which was a first for me!
The next day, we attempted to do the “Honey Eater” hike, which is supposedly the only way to get the best view of Arlie Beach. About half way up the mountain though, we noticed that we were getting eaten alive by the mosquitos so we decided that we had better turn around. By the time we got out of the forest I had about 20 bites on my arms alone! They weren’t kidding when they called the hike the “Honey Eater”! Still we had an amazing view of one of the harbors during the hike.
On Saturday we arranged to go on a snorkeling/beach tour with a local boating company called, “Ocean Rafting,” which I highly recommend because we all had such an amazing time. We went snorkeling first about 30 minutes away from Arlie Beach. There was so much coral on the sea floor and such a variety of beautiful exotic fish! We unfortunately had to wear what the locals call, “Sexy Stinger Suits,” whenever we went into the water. This mandatory precaution is because they have so many jellyfish in the water and supposedly their sting can potentially lead to a helicopter ride to the nearest hospital. So even though they weren’t the most attractive outfits, none of us had any complaints with having to wear them.
After we snorkeled, one of our tour guides took us on a “Bush Walk” that led to the iconic “Look Out.” I have to say that I had no idea what to expect once we got to the top and out of the forest, but what I saw was by far one of the most surreal views I have ever seen. The water had these amazing tidal patterns, with these striking blues and greens swirled in to create the most eye-catching scene. And the sands of Whitehaven beach were the whitest I have ever seen. If I hadn’t had gone, I don’t think I would’ve been able to even imagine how extraordinary they were.
After our walk down to the beach, we walked along the sand bar to our boat and as we were hopping into the boat we got a little visitor. He or she was about a three-foot shark that swam along the shallows and around our boat and gave us all the right to say we saw a shark while at the Great Barrier Reef! The rest of the day we spent at a nearby beach and we had a really nice picnic and a cooling swim. Unfortunately we had to fly back down to Sydney the next day, but I know that I will be back to visit the Whitsundays Islands seeing as I only got to explore only a few of the whole 74 of them!
Once we arrived back in Sydney and to our apartment, we all had to get our school stuff organized because this week was the start of our semester! So unlike Ole Miss, Macquarie University has what they call “Tutorials” and “Lectures.” Tutorials are usually an hour-long class that is a small group of students and more about discussions, which is what we have back in Mississippi. But in addition to our tutorials, we have lectures as well, which usually are two hours long of just listening to the professor teach. What we didn’t know is that during the first week of classes, most tutorials don’t meet, just lectures. So I only had a Marketing and a Management lecture this week, both of which were really interesting. My teachers seem really enthusiastic about their subject, which makes me eager to learn from them during these next few months!
I already feel like I’ve experienced so much in just these first two weeks, but I’m excited to share with you what’s to come in the next couple of months!