Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” -Confucius ~ Daily Life and Adventures Abroad!

 

It’s hard to believe that it is almost September. In a way, I feel like I have been in Australia forever. Everything in the Smithfield/Cairns area is starting to become highly familiar to me. I know the paths to bike to the beaches. I have my class schedule down. I know how to navigate confidently through the malls and grocery stores. Basically, I’m beginning to discover what really works and what truly doesn’t in my newfound lifestyle.

Just because I am becoming familiar with everything doesn’t mean that I still don’t miss aspects of home. I haven’t gotten incredibly home sick since I’ve been here, but there have been days when I wish that I could be with family and friends that are thousands of miles away, or just go back to my home school for a weekend. But then, there are days here where I’m sitting on the beach surrounded by palm trees and bright blue oceans that I remember- there is never going to be a time in my life again where I will get to do this. Have this time all to myself. And I know, inevitably, I am going to miss this experience when I return to the US.

These past weeks have been great. We’ve all settled in to a sort of schedule trying to get adjusted to schoolwork and what not. We are hoping this weekend to plan spring break (we are flying out to Brisbane) and other trips, like scuba diving, deep sea fishing, and skydiving.

Two weekends ago, we went on our IFSA-Butler Adventure Weekend, which was so much fun! The weekend was exactly what was needed- a chance to get away from our rooms and explore Cairns. We (my entire IFSA-Butler Group) left early Saturday morning on a taxi that was sent to pick us up at the Cairns Student Lodge. My IFSA-Butler group then headed to the Kuranda Skyrail, where we met up with our awesome SSC  (Student Services Coordinator) Lalena. We then boarded the Kuranda Skyrail, which gave us spectacular views of Cairns and the many buildings, fields, and oceans in the distance. We got off of the skrail on two different occasions before reaching Kuranda, which allowed us to hike around in the rainforest and also see Barron Gorge, which was spectacular.

In about 45 minutes, we found ourselves in the village of Kuranda, a cute little town tucked away in the rainforest, filled with people, shops, eateries and a bunch of different little zoos. Our first stop was Birdworld, which was a pretty cool place because the birds actually landed on you and you could feed them and interact with them. Needless, to say, I was pretty excited. We were warned to take off all jewelry because the birds were super curious. My friend Sarah and I came across a very friendly green parrot that liked to sit on our shoulders and climb up and down our arms, and also knew a few select words. However, when we went to put the parrot down because we had to leave, it proceeded to bite both of us and latch on to my backpack until a lady who worked there came over and took the parrot off me. Her only response was “yeah, he doesn’t like goodbyes.” The parrot only gave me a bruise, but he actually drew blood on Sarah’s hand. So, needless to say, I’m not too too fond of parrots anymore.

Then we went to a zoo with a few koalas and wallabies, and had lunch and just explored around Kuranda for the afternoon. We came across some cool places, including a homemade candy and ice cream shop. We also found an opal jeweler who gave us some pretty awesome deals on our purchases and also went in to a twenty-minute conversation on different kinds of opal and what makes certain opal more expensive than others.

Next, we met up with our SSC and walked to our driver’s house (he was going to take us to our next destination- the campground where we were staying for the night). The driver had just gotten a new puppy (Lucy) that he had us meet before we departed. We were all thrilled and insisted that she come in the van with us. So, before we knew it, all twelve of us (and Lucy) were piled into the van and headed for the campground. We made a quick stop at the grocery store on the way and picked up food and supplies for breakfast and lunch the next day.

When we arrived at the campground, we were housed in Kookaburra Lodge. That evening, we went out to dinner at a local restaurant. Of course, we were all completely ecstatic that we could have real food. On the downside, Kuranda was FREEZING. According to our driver, who had lived in Kuranda for most of his life, it was the coldest night he had ever personally experienced. And do you think any of us packed appropriately? Nope. Haha. And, naturally, the restaurant we ate at was half indoors/outdoors so we froze. When we got back to the lodge, we made a campfire and then settled in for a very cold night.

But, like anything, it was an experience. The next morning we woke up and ate breakfast, made our lunches, and set off on a van ride to hike to a swimming hole. The water was freezing, but four of us (including myself) decided that we needed to jump in. ICE COLD. Haha but totally worth it! I also cliff jumped for the first time….probably something I won’t do again because hitting the water hurt like crazy but I’m completely glad I tried it out.

Next, we were off on our rafting tour- suited up in bulky life vests and helmets! We had the craziest tour guide- literally two minutes after we got in the raft he started swaying back and forth to flip it, then proceeded to take us down the first mini waterfall “his way” (not the safe way apparently), which was sideways. We almost flipped- again. Then, at one point, he made us all get out of the raft and float through rapids in the river. There was one part of the river that was almost like a whirlwind under the water and it sucked us in as we floated down. It was kind of scary haha- and we were floating fairly fast. But so much fun! Overall, rafting was one of my favorite activities I have done so far in Cairns. It was very fast-paced at points, and we also got spectacular views.

After rafting was over, we said goodbye to our SSC and headed back to the Cairns Student Lodge to start another week of classes. That Tuesday one of my roommate’s friends from home came to visit for a week and a half, which was awesome! It was a pretty chill week- classes, work, some rain, a few nice beach days, and also my first dinner out at a really nice Brazilian steak house in the city of Cairns. I’ve found that it’s hard for me to realize that I’m actually living here and that I have to do homework and laundry and clean my room. I am almost in constant vacation mode where I think I need to be doing something adventurous every second of the day. But, slowly, I’m getting used to the concept that I’m here for awhile. It’s kind of crazy I’ve almost been here two months- time is truly flying by! It’s incredibly surreal- just looking around and remembering oh….I’m in Australia.

And each day, I tend to remember the quote : “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” –Confucius. I mean, you really do need to commit your whole heart going abroad so you can get the most out of your experience. It’s hard, because you’ll find you’ll have days where your heart just doesn’t feel that into it and you find yourself being torn between the comforts and familiarity of home and the new and unique opportunities of being abroad. I think the moments here, in Australia, when I feel that I am being abroad with all my heart is when I’m out there doing something- whether it be hiking, going to the beach or any sort of activity or trip, and I feel like I am totally immersed in the experience and truly living it up to the fullest. That’s when I feel like I “go” with all my heart. Those moments when I feel like I never want to leave my new home and the temporary lifestyle I have here.

 

 

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