G’day mate! Or as they say in Australia, hey what’s up?!
It’s been about two weeks since classes have started, and I’m already so busy that I’m writing this blog to procrastinate from studying. I’m in four classes: Ecology and Conservation, Marine Invertebrate Biology, Marine Conservation Biology, and Writing for Stage and Screen. Although I’ve wanted to be a marine biologist for as long as I can remember, this is my first experience with marine biology courses at the college level. Invertebrate biology is definitely going to be a lot of memorization though it’s already proven to be a worthwhile course. Last week, we looked at various corals, anemones, and jellies under the microscope. Did you know jellyfish have eyes? Well sort of… they’re called rhopalia. It’s kind of complicated. Actually, don’t worry about it.
Outside of class, I’ve been uncharacteristically active. I joined the ultimate frisbee team which has been a ton of fun so far. Yes, you read me. I, Lauren Langer, am participating in an organized sport. Don’t be alarmed. IT’S THE NEW ME.
I also purchased a slackline which has kept me way too occupied. It’s essentially a flat rope you tie between two trees and then attempt to walk across. (The keyword being “attempt”). It’s surprisingly social and students passing by often stop and give it a try. We even brought it to the beach one day! My friends and I spent hours trying to make it all the way across. The end result? ANOTHER VIDEO! (Check it out somewhere below)(I know, I know, it’s sideways again. Just deal with it)
In other news, Australia is starting to finally feel like home. My dorm, University Hall, is always bustling with activity. Everyone’s doors are usually open, all the rooms have balconies, and nearly all the balconies have hammocks. The vibe is unlike any other dorm I’ve been in. The first week of class was lined with various events: toga parties, bludgers at the Uni Club, barbeques, club fairs, and more trips to the beach.
This past weekend, a group of friends and I decided to plan an impromptu trip to Cairns in Northern Queensland. It’s about 6 hours north of Townsville and has the closest proximity to the Great Barrier Reef. We took a bus early Friday morning and arrived in Cairns in the early afternoon. We spent the afternoon exploring the city, checking out the Cairns JCU campus, and walking along the beach. For better or worse, Cairns is certainly a lot more touristy than Townsville. It’s basically a backpacker’s paradise; the city is bursting with restaurants/cafes, hostels, and bars. Not to mention, there’s a travel agency on nearly every corner advertising some sort of adventure trip. We shared an 8-person room at Gilligans, a loud and youthful hostel. We ate spent the evening there, taking advantage of their nightly live music and drink specials.
The next morning, we set out for the Great Barrier Reef! We booked an all day tour through Tusa dive company, and I couldn’t have been more impressed. They provided accommodation right from our Hostel and then served us breakfast and lunch aboard the ship. It took an hour and a half to reach the reef, but it was well worth the bumpy ride. Three of us went scuba diving with our own instructor, while the rest of the group snorkeled. I have to say, the reef lives up to the hype. We went to three different dive sites, and each was more spectacular than the last. We saw sea turtles, sting rays, and the largest coral structures I’ve ever seen. We even found nemo! I can’t wait to go back to the reef; it was simply magical.
After returning to the city, we went to the night markets where I ate my weight in Thai food and then convinced myself that I needed a 45-minute massage. I mean, I had a long day.
On our last day in Cairns, we decided to take advantage of the lush rainforest surrounding the beaches. We took a tram over the rainforest canopy and then spent the afternoon exploring the small rainforest town of Kuranda. I ate kangaroo pie for lunch and then went on a rainforest hike that culminated in a misty waterfall.
That’s all for this time! I’ll be back with some Magnetic Island stories!