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New Zealand!!!! KIWIS!

Time May 23rd, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

So basically the semester is winding down and my final assignments are both happening/approaching and I’m starting to realize that the time I have left in this place is winding down. To be honest, it makes me really sad! I absolutely love Sydney and my college and the people I’ve met here. It’s going to be extremely difficult to leave. I don’t even like to think about it.

A few weeks ago was Easter break and my 2 friends and I ventured off to New Zealand for a week. We packed our bags and departed for Auckland. We arrived, sleepy, and went to the hostel. We woke up the next day and boarded a small bus that held about 21 people or so. For the entire week we were on the trip with the same set of  people and they were all, for the most part, lovely. We had people from all over the world traveling in New Zealand with us! The countries represented ranged from Poland, Belgium, England, Germany, the Netherlands, and so on. It was interesting to meet people from all over the world in such a situation.

I’ll give you a breakdown of what I did that week.

Day 1: We went from Auckland to Hahei and we saw beautiful views of Waikato farmland on the way there. Once we arrived in the Coromandel region we took a hike ½ way to Cathedral Cove (the weather the first few days was poor and the conditions were slippery, so we didn’t make it all the way to Cathedral Cove, but we saw stunning scenery nonetheless). Then the girls and I headed back to the cabins. These cabins were probably the worst the entire trip because immediately we were put into close confines with people we didn’t know so it was a little awkward but we managed. We had a BBQ dinner, probably one of the better meals I ate on the trip, we went to a hot water beach (where you can dig your feet into the sand and the water is really hot!), we drank some champagne to celebrate being in NZ, and went to sleep.

Day 2: We woke up extremely early the next day so that we could watch the sun rise on the beach. It was absolutely gorgeous and tranquil and quiet. Then we got ready to head back to the campsite and have breakfast before departing for Rotorura. Rotorura was probably one of my favorite stops on the trip because it is a place so rich in culture and tradition. The Maori people in Whakarewarewa were fantastic. They put on a show for us that enabled us to get a look at what their culture is all about and we had a hangi lunch, which is a lunch cooked from the steam of the natural hot pools that exist there. In Rotorura, there is a lot of geothermal activity, which means that there are natural hot springs that exist all over! The Maori people are very environmentally sound and in touch with nature. They use the hot pools for cooking, bathing, etc. There are also bubbling hot mudpools which would, and I quote “kill you,” if you went into one. Good to know! Unfortuanately, due to poor weather, we couldn’t do some things that we had planned on this day – white water rafting and skydiving. Overall though, Rotorura was phenomenal. We ended the night by eating at a tiny little Mexican restaurant and then heading back to the hostel where we talked, laughed, and passed out.

Day 3: We hopped back on the bus and went from Rotorura to Whakahoro. We stopped at a natural hot river and saw Huka Falls. We then traveled far into the country side to Blue Duck Lodge, which is an environmental award-winning place nestled in between mountains scattered with goats, cows, and horses. It was green and lush and unlike anything I had ever seen before. When people talk about New Zealand, they often describe it as being “magical” and this is when I started to realize what they meant. Here, we went on these quad cars up to the peak of a mountain and we saw gorgeous views of the forest. The quad actually went very fast and it was a blast riding in one! We also got to kayak in a little lagoon with a waterfall. We then went back to the lodge and had goat curry which was made for us by the people who worked at the lodge. What they do there, though, is essentially try to balance the ecosystem. They hunt certain rodents so that more birds can exist in the wild (to be honest I don’t really remember the relationship between rodent and bird but basically they are fixing it – haha). You know what? I change my mind, this had to be one of the best times on the trip. Split between here and Rotorura – definitely. Wait, now I’m thinking about what I am going to tell you next, and that was pretty fantastic too… I guess I’ve come to terms with the fact that there isn’t a favorite part of this trip. I sorta loved everything… Oh yeah and we saw Lake Taupo, a humongous lake, on this day. It was beautiful.

Day 4: On this day we did something crazy. We did a 7 hour hike up a mountain! We traveled to Tongariro National park and we hiked the Tangariro Crossing which is rated as  New Zealand’s best one day walk. It was a difficult process but my 2 friends, Meghan and Katie, made it up to the top of the mountain which overlooked volcanoes. It was probably the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. There was also a turquoise lake at the bottom of one of the mountains, which I believe was formed in the crater of one of the volcanoes. There was also a little hot spring at the bottom of one of the mountain. The amount of different scenery on this walk was gorgeous. From walking in the bush, to a snow covered mountain, to a muddy crater – it was just quite the experience to say the least. My friends and I stopped occasionally (okay, we stopped often – ha!) and ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cookies, and cheese to keep our stamina up. We had a great time but when we finally reached the car park (parking lot) we were more than delighted to sit on the bus and make our way back to The Park, our lodge.   Needless to say, we had a few celebratory WE DID IT drinks that night and went to sleep.

Day 5: On the fifth day we headed off to Wellington, which is a quaint little city set on the shore. It has a reputation for being windy, just like Chicago. There, we went to the Te Papa museum, the museum of New Zealand, and went to our first real Rugby Union game to see the Wellington Hurricanes beat Queensland 28 to 26. It was a fantastic last minute win – very exciting. Then we went to the only Welsh bar in the Southern Hemisphere, the Welsh Dragon Bar, which was pretty neat. After that, we headed off to bed.

Day 6: Went up to Auckland and chased a wild chicken at one of the stops. Said goodbye to our travel buddies and our tour guide who went by the name Gollum. We slept in the airport to save money because we had a ridiculously early flight. Back to Sydney!

 

I’ll post pictures asap!

 

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Blue Mountains

Time April 25th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

A few weekends ago, IFSA-Butler took us on a Blue Mountains trip which, although I was sick, was one of the best things I have done in Australia thus far! We took about a 3.5 -4 hour hike of the great Blue Mountains, which are located about 1.5 hours outside of Sydney. We had a fantastic tour guide who taught us all about the different species of plants in the bush and about some of the animals that inhabit the rainforest. We saw natural springs and waterfalls and got a workout in while having an amazing time. Here are some photos from the trip.

 

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Set Sail

Time April 25th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

On April 15th, my college, Sancta Sophia, had an event called Set Sail. Basically it was this huge party in the quad where we all dressed up as sailors and such. Well, some people dressed as pirates and there was also a turtle, the Titanic, and a shark – but those last three are for clever over-achievers :) Anyway, my 2 friends who live elsewhere in Sydney came along and they had a great time. There was a photobooth and lots of dancing as well as numerous beach balls and beach decorations. Here are just a few photos from the event:

Slideshow – getting fancy now – just click the picture to change the image.

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Melbourne!

Time April 25th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Last weekend I traveled to Melbourne with 7 of my friends. We had a great time. I stayed at a hostel for the first time which was quite the experience. There were people living there from all over the world – France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, etc.  It was extremely warm and friendly. 2 of my friends and I shared a room with two girls from France.  It was called Collingwood Backpackers and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to travel to Melbourne.

The city of Melbourne is much more like New York City than Sydney. It has a grid system and the city is much more square in how it is shaped. Also, you ride on trams as public transport as opposed to buses. The city itself was gorgeous and much more laid back than Sydney, which I wasn’t really expecting as it is the fashion capital of Australia. I wish I could have stayed longer than 2.5 days. In Melbourne, there is a lovely little Chinatown area. There is also Lygon Street which is where all the Italian restaurants are. We ate there the second night and it was pretty delicious if I do say so myself. Afterwards,  we went to a bar called Charlie’s which was picturesque and is well known in Melbourne. Before dinner, however, we strolled around the center of the city where Flinders Station and the Botanical Gardens are. We also stopped at ACCA – the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art which was a building that consisted of numerous shows from different artists – mostly huge  room-sized installations. Very interesting.

But I sort of told you that backwards because all those things took place on our 2nd day in Melbourne. The first day we booked a trip to the Great Ocean Road. On this trip we drove up the coast and had a great tour guide, Peter, tell us all about Melbourne and the surrounding areas. We stopped at numerous lookout points and saw the 12 apostles (now 8 gigantic boulders that sit in the water offshore), took a stroll through a rain forest, and fed some wild, exotic birds.

I sincerely wish I could visit Melbourne again. The stay was all too brief.

1: Standing in front of the Ocean (haha obviously)

2: Feeding exotic birds

3: The rain forest walk

4: The 12 Apostles

5-7: More scenery

8: Hazy view of the Melbourne skyline from a friend’s apartment

9: Flinders Street Station

10: Melbourne gardens

11: Being silly on the tour

12: My friends & Peter our tour guide

13: Flowers at the Botanical Gardens

14-15: Government House

 

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Time April 4th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

These past two weeks have been insane! I can’t even begin to express how lucky I feel to be here sometimes. This past week was such an adventure. It started on  Tuesday. I had to meet up with my Contemporary Indigenous Art class at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in The Domain – a part of the city near Circular Quay which houses the Botanical Gardens and the Art Gallery. We had a guided tour of the Yiribana Gallery, which is the section of the gallery that focuses on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art. It was absolutely amazing. I learned a lot about the art of many Aboriginal artists such as Lin Onus, Rusty Peters, and Judy Watson.

Here the virtual gallery

 

Later that night, I went to see The Barber of Seville at the Sydney Opera House with a few of my friends. It was absolutely spectacular. Everything – the set, the opera itself, the singing – was fantastic. Sitting there, it was hard to believe that I was seeing a performance in the world renowned Opera House! It was surreal.

 

Here is a photo of the Opera from the internet (since photography is prohibited):

the-barber-of-seville-420x0 barber 2

 

On Friday things started to kick up again. I went to Coogee beach with my friends and then we did the Coogee to Bondi walk which takes you up the coast. You walk along the coast and hop from beach to beach. It was the perfect day for the trip because it was hot but not smoldering and I was able to capture some pretty great shots.

 

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( CLICK THESE TO MAKE THEM LARGER!)

After arriving back home, my friends and I went to King Street in Newtown. This street is home to many little boutiques, restaurants, bars and pubs. If there was an equivalent in America, it would be Brooklyn. Very hip and trendy.

 

On Saturday my friends and I headed to Luna Park. We walked over the Sydney Harbor Bridge and went to the amusement park which sits underneath the bridge in North Sydney. It was a lot of fun. Although the park has no huge roller coasters, the rides were still very thrilling and we got the best view of the city from the top of a ferris wheel! There were clowns and people walking on stilts and overall, the four of us, (20 and 21 year olds) were like little kids in paradise. (Fun Fact: They refer to Cotton Candy as Fairy Floss). How cute is that?

(CLICK THESE TO MAKE THEM LARGER!)

After Luna Park we headed back over the bridge and went to the raved-about Pancakes on the Rocks. I had a Monte Cristo Crepe. It was absolutely delicious. One of my friends chose to have a sweet dish rather than a savory one and it was also scrumptious.

Then we came back and headed out to King Street. No surprise there.

Well, today is Sunday and it’s a homework day so… well, that’s no fun to talk about. I’ll update more tomorrow about my trip to the Blue Mountains and what I ate at the Australian Hotel.

 

 

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Some Cultural Differences…

Time April 4th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

Things I’ve Learned in Australia so Far:

  1. People drive on the left side of the street and their steering wheels are on the right side of the car. Almost got hit once or twice.
  2. It is proper to walk on the left side of the sidewalk.
  3. “Goon” is not a term for an idiot. It’s a term for the cheapest of the cheap boxed wine. Golden Oak is a personal favorite. $10 bucks a box.
  4. Z is pronounced “Zed” and H is sometimes pronounced “Haytch.”
  5. The pound symbol #, is called a “Hash.”
  6. Oregano and Aluminum are pronounced differently. Aluminum is actually spelled Aluminium with an extra “I.”
  7. Cockroaches are much more common here. It’s not uncommon to see them on the sidewalk.
  8. Bats are also common here. At the Midnight Cinema there were many flying overhead.
  9. The toilets DO NOT flush the opposite way. When you flush a toilet here there is a massive dumping of water downward.
  10. Australia is very environmentally friendly, even with toilets. There is one button for number 1 and one for number 2 – saving water!
  11. “How are you doing?” is not a phrase used here. “How are you going?” or “How ya going?” is the equivalent of “How are you doing.” People say “You’re orright”  often and “No worries” is the equivalent of “You’re welcome” and is used in many other instances as well.
  12. “Off my face” means “trashed.”
  13. No one tips waiters or waitresses because  minimum wage is approximately 20 dollars!
  14. Vodka, tequila, etc are all extremely expensive. A decent bottle of tequila is approximately 70 dollars!
  15. “Skulling” means “chugging.”
  16. Netball and Cricket are popular sports here. Netball is essentially basketball without dribbling and is popular for women. Field hockey is popular for men, which is weird considering men don’t play field hockey in the states.
  17. University, depending on your major, typically lasts 3 years here, not 4.
  18. The word “heaps” is used often. It means “a lot” or “very.” Ex. It’s heaps hot out.
  19. There is a wrong way to eat Vegemite. Toast bread, spread butter on the bread, then lightly LIGHTLY apply Vegemite. Do NOT eat it like peanut butter – rookie mistake.
  20. “Cordial” is the equivalent of Kool-Aid.
  21. Orange juice is a preferred beverage.
  22. If you order a “Vodka-Lemonade” you are ordering Vodka with Sprite.

 

More to come & heaps more to learn!!!

 

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Long Time No Talk

Time March 10th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

My sincere apologies. This trip has been a whirlwind so far. For a while I did not have access to the internet, then there was O-Week (basically a week of partying, bonding with people who live in your specific college, and getting to know first-year students from all the colleges within the University of Sydney), and then the week after that my power converter sparked and blew a fuse and I could not charge my computer. But now I’m here, ready, with a charged computer, charged camera, and lots to say.

Orientation with IFSA-Butler was absolutely fantastic. The journey to Australia was exhausting, to say the least, but arriving in Australia and having those first 3 days of orientation made the adjustment of being in a new country extremely smooth. I saw indigenous performers and learned about aboriginal history, took surfing/body surfing/paddle gliding lessons, danced to the music of a live folk band, went on bush walks, went to the Taronga zoo and pet a wallaby (aka a small kangaroo),  took pictures of adorable sleeping koalas, met some sassy emus, took a ferry boat to the Sydney Opera House and saw the botanical gardens. At the end of orientation I was dropped off at Sancta Sophia College at the University of Sydney and was left to my own devices in a new city with new people at a new university.

Needless to say, I was a tad nervous but also extremely excited.

I was shown to my room, a lovely yellow single. I put up pictures and unpacked and met some girls within the college. In Australia, a “college” is a small community within the larger University setting. It is basically a dormitory with a dining hall, computer lab, library, and there’s even a chapel here in Sancta. Every Monday night we get dressed up in our academic gowns and have a formal dinner together. Afterwards, a guest speaks to us. It’s really quite lovely and Sancta, as a place itself, is stunning. I am so lucky. I must admit, at first I was not too keen (a word used often here) about living in an all-female college, but the girls here are extremely sweet, welcoming, and unique. Especially after bonding with the girls during O-Week, I felt like I was right at home. It’s like being in a sorority, really. Sancta reminds me of Omega Chi at Ursinus. What more could I ask for?

Where do I even go from here? There’s so much to say. I am taking 4 classes here, just like I would be in America. I am taking Contemporary Indigenous Art, Australian Texts: International Contexts, Narratives of Romance & Adventure, and Ceramics – Wheel Throwing. This semester is going to be eye-opening and I’m glad that I’m not only IN Australia but I’m learning about Australia as well. Now, I won’t lie and say that I haven’t had some troubles adjusting to life here. I definitely have had some setbacks, but I realize that most of these setbacks don’t really involve being in a new country at all! The thing I’m having trouble adjusting to is such a large university! I’m so used to a tiny place and now my lectures are huge and I have to handle my studies quite differently.

 

Going out in Sydney is a blast, except everything here is pretty expensive (but that’s no fun to talk about, so I won’t get into it). It’s nice to be able to go out with my friends and order a drink for once! The first time, it was actually liberating, but also embarrassing. I went up to the bartender (giddy as a kid in a candy store) and asked him, excitedly, for a “beer.” Instead of giving him an actual brand name, I just asked for the beer itself. He looked at me and asked “What kind?.” I just looked dumbfounded considering I didn’t know any of the beers here and said “uhhhh… the best one under 5 dollars.” Needless to say, he was not impressed by me. NOTE: Fosters isn’t popular here.

Last night I went to a midnight cinema and saw “The Social Network.” There were bats flying overhead, it was so eerie but awesome at the same time. Bats are common here.

Well, I have a lot more to say but I think some videos and pictures would be ideal.

 

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On The Way to Taronga Zoo

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And the Journey Begins!

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Kangaroos & Wallabies

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Koala Chow Down!

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Water Show

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View from the Plane

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View of the City

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Chainsaw Juggling!

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Sword Juggling!

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Sydney Opera House!

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Mardi Gras!

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This is Sancta…

Time March 10th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

http://www.sanctasophiacollege.edu.au/

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Family Saying Goodbye!

Time February 14th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by


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Pre-Departure Video!

Time February 11th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Getting ready to go to Australia!


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From Snowy New Jersey…

Time January 18th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hey! Sarah here. I thought it was time to post my 1st blog, considering I will be arriving in Sydney in exactly a month! I am extremely excited about the trip (I still can’t believe it’s actually happening). Most of my friends are heading back to college today for the spring semester, and it’s weird I’m not trekking back myself but I can’t complain. So here is where I am currently- North Caldwell, New Jersey, approximately 30 minutes from Manhattan and 2 blocks away from the house where The Sopranos was filmed (just some fun facts!).

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