The thing that comes to mind when I think about my first week here down under is wow, I have knocked so many things off my bucket list already. The day I got here, I did miss my connecting flight to Cairns. That was not fun, to say the least, but it only put 5 extra hours on my travel time! In my orientation group, there were 45 students going to colleges and/or internships throughout Australia. The age range was anywhere between 19-24 so I was able to meet a lot of people in different stages of life and background within the states.
The first adventure we took on was going to the Great Barrier Reef to snorkel and scuba dive. I was very grateful to see this destination before climate change and coral bleaching forever changes this reef, which is why it was on my bucket list to begin with. As soon as we arrived I put on my snorkel gear and jumped in the water. I was absolutely amazed at all the colors of coral and fish there were under the surface. After that, I knew I had to go scuba diving. We did a short intro so we knew what to do and expect under the water, and before I knew it, I was touching the seabed. Lucky for me, I was under the water with two other Hope College students, my future housemate, and an instructor, so I had some enjoyable company!
The following day in Cairns, we went to a zoo where I got to see a real-life Crocodile Dundee experience, hold a koala, and pet a kangaroo! Before I came here, I thought all kangaroos were aggressive, so this was a pleasant surprise to pet one.
The next morning, I stepped out of my comfort zone, but it was certainly worth it. After taking a bus 30 minutes out of the city of Cairns, a few other students and I went bungee jumping. I could not wipe the smile off my face the first time I dropped 150 feet out of the air, so I had to relive it once more. This activity is something I would recommend to everyone, especially if you are an adrenaline junky like me.
In addition to this adrenaline rush, later that evening I went white water rafting with a group of 20 students. This boat ride is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, it was very entertaining since I was with many of my friends and the instructor made it even better. Our instructor, Justin, is a two time white water rafting world champion and was only 20 years old, just like us. He made sure that we had a great time as he made us do many tricks with the raft while going over rocks and currents. There were a few moments where I was sure that we were going to flip, but to my surprise, we didn’t.
Overall, my first five days in Australia were ones to remember for the rest of my life. On top of the activities I did, I also learned a lot about the differences between the United States and Australia. For instance, I learned that Aussies drive on the wrong side of the road. I guess I shouldn’t say wrong, on the opposite side of the road. This goes for walking on the sidewalk as well, which has been an odd adjustment. Also, Aussies have many slang words, such as Maccas for McDonald’s, and hard yakka for hard work. They love to shorten as many words as they can.
At the beginning of the trip I tried to pack my days with fun activities to distract myself from feeling homesick. However, on my last night in Cairns, the feeling of being nervous for the unexpected overwhelmed me to a high extent. Also, the fact that if I ever was to need something, I don’t have a place that feels like home to go to. I’m currently still trying to overcome this feeling, but I know I will be able to still make the most of my time here with an open mindset and by finding more fun activities and routines to take up my time.
In next week’s blog, I will talk about my first week at the University of New South Wales and how the orientation week and adjustment to my new living quarters go.
Kassie Lamar 🙂