“Everyday, you should do something that scares you. It reminds you you’re still alive.” ~ So. Winter in Cairns…
After departing Sydney, JCU students boarded a flight for Cairns! Everyone dreaded getting on another plane. However, we were very excited to go to a place that had warmer weather. The flight was a quick 4 hours and soon we found ourselves in Cairns!
Our luggage was loaded into a pick up trailer (haha kinda funny) to head to the Cairns Student Lodge. 15 minutes later, we were at the lodge getting our rooms and then dinner. Let me just say- our Sydney Orientation SPOILED us in terms of amazing food! It’s not that the lodge food is bad by any means or there isn’t a variety- it’s just different. For instance, they put bbq sauce next to their hot dogs. I was SO excited because I thought it was ketchup. Well- I was COMPLETELY wrong. Ketchup was nowhere in sight. Plus, I expected to have lot of fresh fruit and vegetables- but that really wasn’t the case. Instead, there was like six different types of pasta dishes. But hey, as our advisor, would say: “food is food, so just eat it.” So, like any cafe food, we have our good days and bad days haha.
So. You’d think that moving into our apartment and everything would allow everyone to settle down and what not. Nope. The next day, my two roommates and I went to find the Smithfield Shopping Center. Unfortunately, we went in the completely wrong direction and instead hiked an hour up the coast. We missed two buses on the way back (one passed us because we weren’t on the right side of the road and the second we barely missed). Finally, we caught the third bus to Smithfield Shopping Center. The mall was way bigger then I expected, with a variety of stores and lots of people. We found a Kmart in the mall and, while we were shopping, we came across an aisle with bikes. That’s when we decided that we were going to buy bikes and, yes, assemble them in the middle of the mall. We didn’t’ really think it through- because we then had to carry all of our stuff back to the lodge while riding our bikes. Now that was tricky. But, we made it! (even in time for dinner). Longest six hour adventure ever, but it’s something we’ll always remember! Sometimes when things go wrong when you’re abroad you just have to laugh it off and keep moving forward.
Our next big adventure was a trip to Trinity Beach! We knew that we could bike it- I had NO idea how long the distance would be. It was about a combined 8 miles round trip (an awesome workout haha) but it was completely worth it! The beach was GORGEOUS with bright blue water and tons of palm trees! I’m sure I’ll be making a lot of trips back to hang out with friends and study (beats the library!).
My time in Cairns is filled with sunny days, cold nights, beach volleyball, biking and tons of beaches. Then- BAM! Reality hits and I remember oh- I actually came here because I’m going to school here. That’s right. And then began…orientation! Yes- it was JUST as awkward as orientation freshmen year. I had no idea where on earth I was going and papers and information was just consistently thrown at me. But I mean it all worked out (it always seems to). During orientation week, a bunch of my friends and I decided to check out Aj Hackett Bungy Jumping. We can literally walk to the place from where we’re staying, and many of us were interested in jumping. The jump is 50 meters (164 feet) and looks SCARY, TERRIFYING – basically any word you can think of. As we were walking up the path to the bungee jump, we kept hearing terrified screams coming from jumpers. The second we got up there, a number of my friends started signing the forms and getting ready. Initially, I decided to wait and see how they faired before signing up. All of them RAVED about it and before I knew it I was signed up and headed up the staircase to the bungee tower.
The funny thing is- I really wasn’t nervous anymore, I wanted to do this and overcome my fear of heights. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. And I did! I was strapped up and ready to go and I jumped. The two-second free fall was probably one of the scariest experiences I have ever had in my life. One second I was on the ledge and the next I was flying toward the pond centered in the middle of the jungle while my friends cheered me on below. But I survived! And actually- I think I would do it again! It was an awesome experience and one of the most memorable things I have ever done in my life. I say this because I was able to overcome my fear of heights, and it’s a great feeling to know that you’re brave enough to be able to overcome your fears and just simply live and experience new things.
As part of our JCU orientation week, we went on a bus tour of Cairns later in the week. And yes, they did in fact rent out the party bus, which was really cool to sit on top of, and so many people were waving and honking their car horns (pretty funny). During our tour, we got to see different parts of the city of Cairns (like the Cairn Esplanade), Crystal Cascades (which was absolutely stunning!), and Palm Grove Beach.
And yes- it is winter here. The only bummer is that it gets dark pretty early (like around 6:30/7ish). The bright side is that the weather is gorgeous and that a bunch of the deadly animals (like the boxed jellyfish and crocodiles) are not as active (but they’re still around haha). So I’m loving it! And each day has its struggles. On and off I find I get homesick and start comparing things to the U.S. and my university at home. Also, there are HUGE spiders here which I am not a big fan of. But, also, with each day, there are numerous rewards. It all balances itself out and I am finding that I am adjusting to life here a lot better then I initially expected. I know that it takes time and I am excited for the next four months here. I’ve already had a lot of great experiences and have met some really interesting and friendly people- I can’t imagine all the fun times to come!
And, with each day, I keep this quote in mind: “Everyday, you should do something that scares you. It reminds you you’re still alive.”