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True Life: I Live In a Tropical Paradise

I’ll start with this simple statement: my apartment is fan-tas-tic. As in, I wake up every morning feeling as if I’m living the high life in the jungle.

Why am I living the high life, you ask?

Well, my room looks over a pool and palm trees and a gazebo, and if I turn my head to the left a little I get a view of the mountains. Connecting to my room is a patio sort of thing, with large windows that open up without screens so you can let in all the sunshine and fresh air without going outside into the scorching sun. We’ve got a dishwasher, washer and dryer, our own bathrooms, and nice big closets for all of the stuff we can’t afford to buy. Now that I think I’ve figured out how to add pictures, there should be some of my place in this post.

Our first day in Cairns, we went on the SkyRail, which took us up over the rainforest. At one point, all you could see were clouds, and you could hear the chattering of countless birds around you. The SkyRail stopped twice on our way to Kuranda, and we got to walk right in the heart of the rainforest, while a guide explained about the ancient trees and a funny plant I can’t remember the name of, but if you walk into it its little prickers will cut you.

The SkyRail ended too soon in my opinion, but we were finally in Kuranda, and had hours to ourselves to do whatever we liked. It was the first time since we arrived in Australia that I had time to myself, so I took advantage of it and wandered leisurely through the village.

But there were so many things to buy . . . so many things I knew I would never get a chance to buy back home. At one point, I walked back and forth to the ATM, fighting with myself on whether to extract money for a canvas painting or not. I resisted . . . and then bought a boomerang.

Well, you can’t win every battle. At least the boomerang was three-times cheaper than the tapestry. I also got these really tasty lollies (candies) from a shop there, and have been restricting myself to one or two a day in the hopes of making them last.

Speaking of food, I miss home food. A lot. With the white hot intensity of a thousand suns. Maybe it’s my addiction to sugar that’s rearing its ugly head, but everything tastes so much better back in good ‘ol VT. But even as I force down the Chex-like cereals, I know that the time away from sugary home food will be for the better. I feel healthier . . . but I resent it. It’ll take some time to appreciate the change.

An experience I should probably mention is shopping. The walk to Smithfield, the big shopping plaza, is half an hour. I was dreading the walk when I first heard about it, but maybe that was because it was raining and I ended up walking with no shoes, pushing my shopping cart full of groceries down the sidewalk like a bum. Now I enjoy the walk. Since I haven’t been able to find any good trails to walk yet, that has become my trail. There’s a little student express mart across the highway, maybe a five minute walk, but I braved it this afternoon and felt that crossing through that many lanes of traffic is just a little-to risky to do often.

So, in my opinion, take the walk to Smithfield. The sun is always shining, it’s warm out, and you can appreciate the beautiful day–which it will be, since every day is gorgeous here, even when it’s raining.

Honestly, I wake up in the morning, step out onto my porch, and think: damn, life is good, isn’t it?

So really, this past week has been time to explore for me. I’ve wandered to Smithfield a few times, played chicken-crossing-the-road to get to the expressmart, navigated the JCU campus (which is equally fantastic in terms of natural beauty), and essentially established where my apartment is in regards to most things within a mile radius.

Something I’ve learned in this past week when it comes to scheduling classes is that the Australians have a much different system than we do. You pick classes without knowing when they are, then check out your schedule to see if lectures overlap. If they do, you need to reschedule, but if they don’t, you need to check the (often) five options of tutorial times, and hope that when it comes time to pick your group, you get the one you want. When you first look at it, it seems as if you’re taking fifteen classes in a week, which, for a foreign student like myself, freaks you out. Luckily, I’ve gotten everything straightened away at this point, except I need to ask the registrar back home to approve the new class I had to switch in for one that conflicted with another class. But even if they don’t approve me, I’m taking it.

I mean, how many people can say they took an Indigenous Studies class? On a scale of one-to-ten, Vermont’s cultural variety is about a .2.

Well, now it’s time for dinner, and since necessity has yet to compel me to cook an actual meal, I’m going to make a hearty peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I can only make so much progress in a week.

This week’s updates on my helpful suggestions lists:

Run Run Run As Fast As You Can (List of Things to Stay Away From and/or Avoid)

1. The Scary Biker Chick Smoking on the Side of the Road (You gotta walk that path to get back home with your shopping cart of groceries, so just smile meekly and scurry on your way. Ignore the fact that she might put that cigarette out in your eye.)

Check It Out! (List of Things to . . . Well, Check Out)

1. The Kuranda SkyRail (You’ve never see anything like Barron Falls before, so I also suggest taking the Kuranda Railway back down the mountain after you take the SkyRail up. The rainforest is, as I have mentioned earlier, gorgeous.)

2. Internet (I know, it sounds random, but reception up here is close to zero, so go to a Telstra shop, get one of the Internet USB sticks, and bring your passport, because your Vermont license doesn’t count for squat here, and then the phone number they gave to call you might not work, so you’ll have to trudge back to Smithfield to have them authorize it. . . . Yeah, just get your Internet as soon as possible.)

3. Cairns (The city is about twenty-thirty minutes away from the JCU campus, so take a bus and see the sights. You may not go to most of those places, but at least you’ll have an idea of where they are.)

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