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“When faced with a challenge, look for a way, not a way out.” – David Weatherford ~ Every day abroad has its challenges

Last Saturday, we went on a trip to Green Island as a part of our orientation at JCU. The trip started out with a little over an hour boat ride to the island. The ride was BRUTAL even though it was a pretty large boat. But the island was awesome! The high amounts of tourism were a bit of a negative for me, because I am really not into doing things that are “too touristy” per say and swamped with tons and tons of people taking pictures every second on end. Then again, I say this, and just my luck I went to take a picture of the ocean and dropped my camera into a puddle. That being said, the LCD screen is shot. However, it still takes pictures. So here’s to being surprised every time I upload my photos haha. Despite that minor mishap, I got to go on a glass bottom boat tour, snorkel in parts of the Great Barrier Reef and see awesome neon fish, and simply explore the island and that was incredibly enjoyable. So, overall, it was a worthwhile trip and the colors of the ocean were stunning.

Last Sunday we visited the Cairns Farmers’ Market. It was fabulous! So many stands with various fruits, vegetables, baked goods- basically anything and everything you could want or think of. My favorite purchase- HUMMUS. Best hummus I have ever had! It was delicious! The guy who ran the stand even gave a few of my friends and I a free container and free bread (haha sometimes just mentioning you’re a college student has its benefits). The Monday after, a few of my friends and I decided to go on a jungle hike in Smithfield Conservation Park. The hike wasn’t too challenging (except for the first initial incline up). We were immerged in the jungle for a little over two hours. We saw a few birds, ancient looking trees, and cool Tarzan like vines. I’ve never had the opportunity to hike through this type of biota before, so it was really awesome to follow the footpaths through the palms and massive ferns.

And then it hit- BAM! Class time. Tuesday I had my first class: Ecology and Australian Indigenous Cultures, and then Wednesday I had Human Rights and Social Issues, Cultural Anthropology and Biodiversity of Tropical Australia. And the first week is never that bad. I got my syllabuses and a few assignments.Through the rest of the week, we made a few trips to the beach (one of those trips we met a  dog that was exactly like Air Bud and played soccer with us haha), the city of Cairns, the night markets, and Smithfield Mall. We even had a bus ride home from Cairns where the bus window caved in (apparently kids like to throw rocks at buses here), and we had to wait for a connecting bus. But hey, the more you get out, the more random stuff you see haha.

On Friday we visited Palm Cove Beach. Absolutely stunning. The beach has virtually no waves. The water is a surreal blend of teal and turquoise colored waters, with palm trees lining the beach and two private island lingering on the horizon. The beach is very popular, and it reminds of beaches at home because the general area is filled with resorts and unique restaurants and eclectic shops.

And then it was Saturday, when we decided to hike Mount Whitfield. The hike was a little over two hours in length (the estimated time on the signs was five hours). All I can say is STEPS. Everywhere. Up the mountain. Never ending. To say the least, going uphill was a challenge. But the view was completely worth it. The airport and highways looked so cool below us. Plus, you could see the ocean from the height we were at as well. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Challenge is great. Plus there were bush turkeys…..EVERYWHERE.

And Sunday, it all caught up to me. I was completely exhausted. A day of rest is never a bad thing. And then the next week was filled with more beach days, class, biking, and studying. Highlights included a Domino’s pizza dinner (I caved, we caved- it was grand), going to Gilligan’s in the city of Cairns for the first time, volunteering at YAPS (a local no kill animal shelter) and playing with puppies all morning, and seeing the beach at night. Each day is jam-packed. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve almost been here a month and the time has truly flown by. But it really has been the time of my life and I know I am never going to get this time back. Therefore, I am living up every single second of it.

And yes, there still are the everyday struggles:

1)   Sun Bus has no reliable timing chart. And some days they just all decide to be out of service or something. The forty minute ride to Cairns can get strenuous. Public transportation is a joy haha.

2)   I must have a REALLY strong American accent. Sometimes people from around here can’t understand me. At all. And honestly sometimes I can’t understand them. But I’m working on it haha. Maybe I’ll even pick up a slight Australian accent.

3)   Sometimes you just miss things from home. Even little things. I miss Goldfish of all things. And most of all the people. For me, it’s never the location that matters. It’s the people- they’re the ones that help me feel familiarized and at home.

And the best parts yet:

1)   My friends here are awesome and we have made so many memories together here already. It’s cool how you can bring people together from all over the world and they all connect in a sense. I almost feel like I’m starting freshmen year of college again.

2)   Each day is an adventure. And every day it kind of hits me and I realize, oh wow- I’m actually living in Australia. This is pretty awesome.

3)   I’m challenging myself. Academically, socially, physically- you name it. The classes are different and the material is like nothing I have ever dealt with/ seen before (all brand new knowledge). I am meeting all new people and also people that are from a different culture then I am (and, ye,s they have many different words that I have to get use to. Like they call flip-flops “thongs” here haha). And I have to bike and walk to get everywhere in addition to working out.

In the end, the challenges are great. Because, once I accomplish them, it’s a reward all its own. The challenges here are unique because a lot of them I can’t avoid. I have to face them head on or they won’t get done. Like if I want to go to the beach. Biking it. I don’t want to pay the bus fare all the time. So, anymore for me, it is truly a thought process of “how do I make this work?” versus a “how can I avoid this completely and take the easy way out?” All positive things and all influencing me each and every day while I’m here. I’m quickly understanding why people say that studying abroad makes you grow up and change- it’s all beneficial in the long run and makes you a stronger person overall.


So, to all the challenges to come…. bring it on! haha :)




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