Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler
I traveled a bit during Easter Break, which commenced today. I flew from Sydney to Adelaide, then to Port Lincoln. At Port Lincoln, located in South Australia, is the home of shark cage diving. Shark cage diving is basically going into a huge cage with open bars under 5-7 ft perhaps of the ocean, and witnessing the Whites first hand. I saw 4 sharks total, one of which was the Bronze. The experience was exhilarating, and my body was full of adrenaline. It was a rush of emotions to see the Great Whites up so close, almost like a dream. The sharks literally come close to your face, and that’s when the reality of it hits you. It was an incredible experience, and I would do over a million times if I could.
Then, after a three night stay at Port Lincoln YHA, I flew to Cairns. Cairns is located in Northern Australia, home to the Great Barrier Reef. I took a Reef tour, and my mind is blown from the experience. I got to scuba dive for the first time, and that too at the Barrier Reef. We went down and saw the coral and the reefs up close, not to mention the beautiful fish and the glowing nature of the ocean itself. The dive was splendid, and afterwards I snorkeled. I ended up seeing a clownfish, a sea snake, some eels, and beautiful fishes that cannot be described in words. It seemed as though the water was glowing, and the experience was life changing.
After the Reef, I went on a Rainforest tour to the Kundra village. The rainforest tour was on a train ride, and the scenery was picturesque. It was a beautiful tour, ending with a trip to the rainforest markets. I also had my first hot dog there, and boy was it delicious!
Who would have thought that I would be seeing an American famous comedian and talk show host in Australia! Any guesses who I saw?
It was Ellen DeGeneres!
On March 21st Ellen DeGeneres tweeted: “All right Sydneysiders, tomorrow’s on! Come to the Opera on the Harbour at the Fleet Steps. The fun starts at noon…If you’re planning on coming tomorrow, and I hope you are, Sydney, you can’t line up over night. The line starts at 6am!”
The next day, I woke at 3:30AM in order to get in the line for Ellen’s planned “fun” that she mentioned on her Twitter. I later found out that this “fun” was The Ellen Show. I took the train from Macquarie Uni to Circular Quay and walked to the Opera House by 6:00AM. By 6:30AM, the hundreds of people I was with and I were told we were in the wrong area to line up for the event. There was then a stampede of people running around the Botanical Gardens to the new destination of the line. My friends and I waited in line for about an hour until a few people from the staff came around to give us pink wristbands. These wristbands meant that we would get tickets for the show! About 1,000 people got tickets in total. A few hours later, we received our tickets and entered the venue.
There was lots of dancing, competitions, and games before the show even began. The “Gangnam Style” dance competition was probably the highlight of the preshow. The people in the competition got SO into it. It was hilarious.
I was extremely excited when Ellen finally appeared on the stage. She has such an energy about her. Portia, Russell Crowe, and Jessica Mauboy also made guest appearances on the show which was pretty cool. Russell Crowe tried showing Ellen how to use a whip. It was SO funny because Ellen wasn’t succeeding in the least.
After the show, a few friends and I walked through the Botanical Gardens to go get lunch near Circular Quay. I got a salmon sandwich and a side salad at a small bar called The Ship Inn. It was delicious. After lunch we went shopping for a short bit and then headed back to Mac Uni. Overall, it was a hectic but absolutely fabulous day. I wish I could experience it all again.
Here’s a video of Ellen dancing! Sorry for the shaking camera. . . I was dancing myself!
I have been in Sydney for about a week now, so here are some updates of my time spent here, some general aussie culture, and my experiences so far!
A beautiful view of the incredible Blue Mountains.
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I have landed in Australia and my past week has been nothing but amazing and surreal. But MAN! have I been a busy bee. Here’s a basic summary of everything I’ve done at IFSA-Butler’s amazingly planned orientation:
Institute for Study Abroad – Butler University
Semester 1, 2013 Orientation
Sydney Harbor YHA – The Rocks
1. Arrive at the Sydney Harbor Youth Hostel (YHA)
2. Welcome Presentation
4. Received our IFSA-Butler mobile phones with a $10 credit.
5. Got a mobile phone plan, in addition to the $10 credit, to text friends from IFSA-Butler’s program for FREE.
6. Sydney Walking Tour – saw all the main sites near The Rocks, including the Opera House, Sydney Harbor Bridge,
Botanical Gardens, Hyde Park shopping centres and more!
7. Free time to freshen up and relax a bit (Yes, we still hadn’t showered since the 11th! YIKES!).
8. Burger and salad dinner at the YHA
9. Travel Presentation for advice, recommendations, and tips!
10. Relax and finally SLEEP! (Got through the day without any naps to fight the jetlag and it surely has paid off!).
1. Breakfast or should I say “Brekkie” at the YHA – pancakes, yogurt, and fruit, YUM!
2. Visited Featherdale Wildlife Park to get introduced to all of the Aussie animals! Pet some wallabies, kangaroos, koalas, and more!
3. Lunch near the famous 3 Sisters and Echo Point. We were given a wrap, a piece of fruit, and an Australian candy bar to try! I had a spicy chicken wrap, a green apple, and an Aero bar. Everything was delicious!
4. Bushwalked (hiked) down into the rainforests of the Blue Mountains (walked down over 1,000 steps!). Luckily, we didn’t have to walk back up. We took the Scenic World railway — the steepest in the southern hemisphere! The views were INCREDIBLE.
5. Next, we went to a Aboriginal Culture center to paint some boomerangs (which tell stories through their symbols), learn about the Aboriginal culture in general, and watch some extremely entertaining performances through music and dance.
6. After falling asleep on the bus home from the Blue Mountains from exhaustion the IFSA-Butler crew went to dinner at The Orient in The Rocks. Dinner options were great and I was able to try kangaroo for my first time. It was served with beetroot relish, rocket, tomato, mustard mayo on sourdough with fries. I would definitely get it again!
7. After going back to the Sydney Harbor YHA to freshen up, a bunch of us decided to go back to The Orient for a few drinks, a live band, and a bit a dancing. It was a blast! And that is exactly why we went back again the following night for the same guaranteed good time!
1. Day 3 of orientation consisted of compulsory information sessions. The sessions focused on academics, health and well-being, and university specific information (Macquarie Uni). I learned a lot and felt one step closer to being prepared for my upcoming semester in Sydney.
2. From noon to 6:45PM we had free time to do whatever we wanted. A group of us decided to take the ferry to Manly beach from Wharf 3 at Circular Quay. I loved the town of Manly with all of the cafes, restaurants, boutiques, and shops. We decided to eat at a small cafe with a beautiful view of Manly beach. Next, we hit the beach and I touched Pacific waters for my very first time!
3. We took the ferry back home and started getting ready for our Sydney Harbor Dinner Cruise in which we were offered chicken, ravioli, salads, and desserts buffet style. There was also a cash bar to buy some drinks. I decided on some white wine with one of my new mates.
4. The cruise had beautiful views, some dancing, and prize drawings. I won an “Australia” flip-flop (or as the Australians say “thong”) keychain!
5. After the cruise, we made our way over to The Orient again for a similar night to the last. The Orient didn’t disappoint.
1. Move-in day finally arrived and after a short bus ride to Marsfield, all of the IFSA-Butler students made their way to the Macquarie Village reception center to check in.
2. After checking in and getting our room assignments, my new roommate Amy and I made our way up the hill to our apartment. We were lucky enough to get a little help with our multiple bags from a German international student.
3. After we put our bags in our rooms, we headed back to reception for our IFSA-Butler advisor Joanna to lead the way to the Macquarie Centre. She showed us the Mac Centre so we could walk through part of campus and buy some things for our new living spaces. It was a bit of a walk (15-20 minutes), but I found everything I needed.
4. Once getting back from the Macquarie Centre, I unpacked some of my things and had a BBQ with some of the IFSA-Butler students. It was a great way to kick off the semester!
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Dublin city is incredible. I absolutely fell in love with it! I have met some wonderful people that were part of my orientation, some of whom were going to Maynooth with me and others going to Limerick. It was really great to build a network of people the way we did through the IFSA Orientation program because we were all coming into a strange country where we knew no one, but we automatically had each other to fall back on. We stopped on our first day at the Guinness Factory and it was too cool. Although it seems cliché, it really is such a staple in Irish culture! The other big drink here that I have noticed has been Bulmer’s Cider, which is much sweeter and lighter than Guinness for sure. If you walk into a pub here, you will see both of these drinks everywhere. This leads me to another observation: the live music. Oh my goodness, it is incredible and everywhere! There are people playing out in the streets, you here it pouring out of pubs when you walk by at night, and if you enter you are in for quite a treat. We heard all different varieties of music but one of my favorites was down in a section of Dublin that they refer to as Temple Bar. It was a little place but filled with lots of people and there were two men playing guitar, tin whistle, and flute and they were great!! They played a lot of traditional folk songs and were very interactive with us calling out and having us all sing along with them. It was a fun loving and warm atmosphere which made me realize why Ireland is so well known for their outings and how going out to a pub with friends was the perfect way for people here to relax. After 3 days in Dublin, we boarded a bus that took us into Maynooth, which although very exciting, it was sad to separate our group which had become very close. We had some school orientation, but adventured around a bit after. Maynooth, from what I can tell so far, really is a college and family town. There are many younger kids running around through the grocery stores after school lets out and up and down the streets you will see parents pushing strollers or people walking their dogs. So far I am really loving it and so excited about the warm welcome the locals have given us. People will stop to talk to us, ask where we are from and how we like it here. They really are very friendly and after only a week, I am feeling pretty good about this.