Heading Over to a Land Down Under
THE JOURNEY: After 20 hours of flying, 5 cups of coffee, 16 rounds of 2048, 2 Nyquils, and 45 minutes of sleep, I arrive at Sydney Airport. Besides having a middle seat, the journey was relatively painless. A four hour layover in LA allowed me to visit my dear friend Jessica from Wesleyan, and after refueling with some nutritious In and Out Burger, I was back on my way. Once I arrived in Sydney, I was quickly greeted by the friendly IFSA Butler staff. Thirty minutes later, I’m on a bus with 45 strangers.
DAY 1: It isn’t until I see the Sydney Opera House in all it’s glory that it hits me: I’m halfway across the world, and I don’t know a soul. It’s only a matter of time, however, before we all get to know one another.
We check into the YHA Sydney Harbor Youth Hostel and I’m placed in a room with five other girls also attending James Cook University in Townsville. The view from the terrace of the hostel overlooks the entire city of Sydney and is simply breathtaking.
The first activity we do as a group is a walking tour of Sydney. We explored the city and walked around the entire Sydney harbor. I believe some scenes in Finding Nemo were filmed there.
We eat dinner at the hostel and soon after the jet lag takes hold, and everyone is sound asleep by 8pm.
DAY 2: Six different alarms go off at 6:30am and we head downstairs for an early breakfast. Awaiting us are breakfast sandwiches, coffee, and cereal. But wait, what’s that next to the bread? Is it Nutella? Is it peanut butter? No, it’s VEGEMITE! Always eager to try new foods, I make myself toast with Vegemite. Now, if you’ve ever taken a sip of water thinking it was sprite and been revoltingly disappointed, you may have an idea of what it’s like to try vegemite. So naturally, I had everyone try it. And obviously, I videotaped it. Check it out somewhere on this page. (The video is sideways so just tilt your head. Apparently iMovie can make your videos slow motion but can’t rotate them 90 degrees)
After breakfast, we visited the Featherdale wildlife park. I pet a koala, held a snake, and fed a kangaroo. Basically, all my dreams came true there.
We hop back on the bus and head out to the blue mountains for a guided bush walk. The mountains are stunning, and I have a great conversation with our tour guide, Jaime, about his travels throughout Australia. 1,000 steps later, we’ve reached the base of the world’s steepest incline train. It was a pretty exhilarating ride to the top of the mountain.
Once we return to Sydney, we go out for dinner in the city. Tonight, we have the energy to explore Sydney’s nightlife. We check out a couple “secret” bars before journeying to a recommended club called Scubar. Any day that ends in singing and dancing is a good day.
DAY 3: After some briefing about university life, we have the rest of the day to explore Sydney and it’s many beaches. My friend Kaitlyn and I decide to separate from the large group and catch a ferry to Manly Beach. Despite it being slightly overcast, the beach is stunning and pretty empty for the most part. We grab some Vietnamese food to go, and eat on the beach. We then venture out for cliffside hike along the water. The views are spectacular.
We spend the afternoon sipping wine at a fancy café and then reunite with the rest of the IFSA Butler crew for a dinner cruise. Tomorrow, I head to Townsville for move-in! All I can say is, thank GOD for the IFSA Butler team! They organized every aspect of orientation/travel/accommodation, and they made sure we were all knew what to expect upon arrival at our respective universities. It’ll be bittersweet saying goodbye to the students going to different universities, but I’m ready to hit the ground running at Townsville!