To borrow a statement from my friend Maggie Colson, this week put “study” in “study abroad”. Even with a Tuesday devoid of lectures or tutorials, I found myself in the library for quite a hefty portion of the day. That being said, I’m learning that it’s worth it to get all the work our of the way as early in the week as possible, so that the weekends can be free for all that this wonderful place has to offer. This past weekend is perfect evidence of that, here’s what’s happened since I last chimed in.
Friday – March 21st, 2014
We may be abroad, trying to make the most of our time, but we’re still college students. With an 11am wake up, a few friends and I jumped on a train south to the Gold Coast. Transportation here is wonderful for many reasons. Mainly, because after nine journeys in a week, the rest are free! That means travel to and from school throughout the week (for about AUS$2.00 a trip) then travel down to the Gold Coast or up to Noosa for nothing! It allows for great opportunities in all of Queensland every weekend. From the train station down in the Gold Coast we made our way to a hostel in Coolangatta. After dropping our bags we rushed to the beach and set up shop for the afternoon. We had very simple needs. With music, sun, water, and an empty beach, we had a great time just hanging out for a few hours. Half of our group made their way back to Brisbane that night, and a few of us stayed to check out the area. We ended up pretty beat and stayed in the hostel for the night (I will admit that I went to bed around nine… I lost). But honestly, it’s as good as any other place, simply because of the people you meet. For instance, a man living in our room had been to graduate school twice before joining the military, shipping of for deployment, receiving a bullet wound in the field, recovering, and deciding to take a few years to travel. People have all sorts of incredible stories to tell and wonderful motives for their travels that sometimes it’s nice to just sit and listen.
Saturday – March 22nd, 2014
The next day was just as low key as the first. We made our way along the beach to the central town of “Cooly” and found a long jetty that jutted way out into the water, giving way to an incredible view of both the beach and the ocean, chock full of surfers who made the sport look easy. We stopped by an antique shop where I was surprised to find hotwheels from the early 70’s going for upwards of over $100. I won’t lie I thought about digging up my Beanie Baby collection and getting back to Coolangatta at some point. We had a wonderful lunch at an inexpensive burrito place, then found a gorgeous lookout that provided a wonderful panoramic view of the Gold Coast. Feeling satisfied, we made our way to the Train Station and headed back home, again, for free. That night I did not do anything but rest, as I had a big day coming up.
Sunday – March 23rd, 2014
This was one of the best days of my trip so far. It was a day I’d been worried about for a month, for fear that I might fall apart. Just over one month ago, I signed up to run the Brisbane Twilight Running Festival Half Marathon. Upon signing up, I hadn’t run more than four miles after receiving surgery on a toe on the most recent Christmas Eve. Even when I got to the starting line, the farthest I had run was five miles before resorting to training on a stationary bike due to some foot pains. That being said, I was equally excited for the challenge, and felt great the day of the race. The race expo was massive. There was over 3000 people running in the day’s races, and before the race every person had the opportunity to take part in zorb soccer, rock climbing, or even a bounce house activity. With the nerves and all, I decided to pass on those activities, sit, rest, stretch, and listen to the hilarious man making pre-race announcements.
Knowing that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, I wanted some way to document it. I decided to mount a GoPro on my chest to document the race (video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADybIZmXiFA). I’m not sure if it was the heaps of students in sombreros yelling words of encouragement in Spanish while handing out water, the gorgous sunset, the nerves, or maybe the fact that I new I had to impress those who decided to watch the video, but I ended up crushing my own expectations and finished the race in 1:44:59, easily the fastest I’ve ever run the distance. I didn’t stick around the race much longer afterwards, dinner at home was calling my name.
Unfortunately, the night was occupied with pacing around in my room with stiff legs, preparing for a presentation I had the next day at 8am. When my head hit the pillow that night, it was back to the grind.
I had a truly wonderful weekend. Even with nothing planned at the Gold Coast it was wonderful to travel and just relax in a gorgeous place with wonderful people, which is very encouraging for the weekends to come.
This weekend I’m going to try to head north, this time to Noosa National Park. I’ll be back with more photos and more stories to tell.
Until then, love you all, and I’ll chime in later!