Posts from Australia
- The grand finale on December 23rd, 2012
Hey everyone! I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while! It was summer holidays in Australia, and I was busy having adventures, soaking up the sun, and enjoying every last moment of my time there. I just arrived home yesterday, and it’s very strange being in winter again. Here’s the last post to summarise my last months there and my experience in general.
Most of my summer days were spent in the sun. I went to the beach heaps with friends, worked several times a week, surfed, snorkelled, and holidayed. One thing I’m going to miss incredibly about Warrnambool is the beach. The water is so clear there, and in the summer it’s the perfect place to be. One weekend, I even went snorkelling at Kilarney beach near Warrnambool with Mat and some other friends. I had never been snorkelling before outside of a swimming pool, and it was a really great experience! I even found a little starfish that stuck to my hand as I swam along.
In the last month, I went to Melbourne for a few days with Sami. We stayed at her place in one of the Melbourne suburbs, and did some really fun things. I got to go to the Peninsula hot springs, visit Frankston Pier, have coffee and pasta at Pellegrini’s in Melbourne, visit the Old Melbourne Gaol, see the Yarra River, go ballroom dancing and, of course, spend a day at the beach. I’m not a huge city person, but Melbourne is a really nice city. It’s really clean, and people dress nicely but you also see people wearing surfy clothes around.
My second to last week was spent on the famous Gold Coast. I stayed in Coolangatta and enjoyed spending some time at Snapper Rocks and enjoying the beach there. There are surfers in Warrnambool, but the surf culture on the Gold Coast is heaps more intense. It seems like everybody up there surfs! I even got to go to Surfer’s Paradise, which was fantastic. You can look at the shops for hours and then walk right across the street and be on the beach! I even went for a swim myself. While I was on the Gold Coast, I also spent one day at SeaWorld. I’ve wanted to go to SeaWorld for a while, and it was well worth it. I saw the dolphin show and seal show, and I got to see penguins, stingrays, sharks, a polar bear, and other really cool creatures!
In my last week, I spent a lot of time with friends and enjoyed every moment. I helped with the penguin counting on Middle Island and got to count the penguins coming up the “Super Highway”, which was a steep cliffy area where many of the penguins climb up to their burrows. I loved it, and I’d definitely love to do work like that after uni. I also got to lay in the back of a ute (pickup truck) with my friends near the breakwater at night and look at the stars. It was so clear, you could hear the ocean, and there were even some shooting stars. I think that’s what summer’s meant to be like. Friends, beach, and relaxed evenings. What an experience!
I can honestly say that this was the best experience of my life. I’ve become so much more independent, learnt so many things, and met so many people. Now that I’ve been to Warrnambool, I hope to return as soon as I can, and I’m trying to find a job there once I finish uni. To anyone who is even considering studying abroad, I would say that you should definitely do it! There’s absolutely nothing like it, and I am so thankful for this experience. And it may be over for now, but this is only the beginning of my travels.
Have a fantastic holiday season!!
- The start of summer holidays on October 23rd, 2012
Sorry I haven’t written in a while! I finished my exams last week after a busy week of final assignments, then moved into my new house. I’ve been getting adjusted to living close to town, but it’s been fantastic thus far.
I had two exams: Human Impacts and Genetics. Both were fairly straightforward, and I’m glad to have them over with because now it’s summer holidays at long last! On Thursday I moved from Deakin res into a house near town with three of my friends. It’s an easy walk into the heart of town, and it’s not much further to the beach. In fact, I walk with my housemate to the beach almost daily. I even walked took my surfboard on the walk one day, as I now have a bag for it. I’m loving life, and I’ve improved in my surfing ability somewhat. I eagerly grab every opportunity that I have.
There hasn’t been anything particularly eventful other than the day-to-day enjoyment of walking and soaking in everything here (and taking the time to enjoy all the Aussie chocolates that I had not yet tried). But I wrote a list of adventures that I need to have before I leave, and I will be crossing those off very shortly. I can’t wait! Mat told me he has a great snorkeling spot he’s going to show me as well.
Until my next post!
- Surfing Torquay and cleaning the estuary on October 7th, 2012
It’s been such an amazing weekend here in Australia!
Sami (Australian Sam) planned a surf trip to Torquay for my 21st birthday, since I spent my real birthday in Canberra, and we did that yesterday. It wasn’t the sunniest weather, but it was still such an amazing day. We hit the outlets in the morning when we got there. There are so many places to shop: Rip Curl, Billabong, Roxy, just to name a few. After about an hour of shopping with Sami and Sam (my housemate), Mat, Stevo, Ash, Jono, and Hannah met up with us.
I also went to the Strapper Surfboard Company Factory Outlet, which is where I bought my wettie, and asked about surfboards. I ended up buying a brand new epoxy mini mal surfboard for myself, complete with wax, fins, and a leash, for a really great price. I named it Sparky, because my friends kept asking me what I was going to name it.
After we went out to lunch as a group, which was fantastic, then hit the beach. We went to Bells, but the surf there wasn’t great, and we couldn’t see any great way to get to the part of the beach we wanted, so we ended up going to another beach. The surf was choppy, but it wasn’t horrible, and I loved trying out my new board. Overall, it was a fantastic time! I surfed it up while Sam, Mat, and Stevo bodyboarded, Sami waded, and the rest sat on the rocks and watched us.
The day wrapped up with a trip to the spa in Geelong (spa here means hot tub and sauna). It was really fantastic, and we all sat and had a great time relaxing after a wonderful day of shopping and surfing.
This morning, Sami and I went to a volunteer estuary clean-up along the Hopkins Estuary in Warni. We picked up heaps of plastic along the bank, and we even got to go in a boat to various points of the river. It was a fantastic experience, and we got to network some with a fisheries officer and members of Fish Care. I would do it again if I had the opportunity!
Overall, it’s been such a great weekend, and classes have already ended. I have one assignment due this week, which is reading week, and two finals next week. And then summer holidays at last!
- Canberra! on October 2nd, 2012
I am writing from Canberra, where I have had a fantastic week (or almost a week) of holidays! I have been staying with a friend at Australian National University (ANU) where she is studying as a graduate student. Canberra city is a lovely city, especially in the sunshine. It is quite different to Warrnambool, however. It feels almost like a combination of Washington, DC and Chicago, and it isn’t unusual to see people walking around in full business attire. It’s definitely more fast paced than Warni (Warrnambool).
On Wednesday, my friend showed me around the ANU campus, then walked around town. It was warm and very sunny, which was fantastic. We got lunch at a Thai place, one of the many places to eat in Canberra City, and it was quite nice. Most of the day just consisted of walking around town and exploring a bit, then relaxing later on. It was pretty tiring but well worth it.
Thursday was my 21st birthday, and it was another great day. My friend and I walked around town and went into the Canberra Centre shopping mall for a bit. Canberra has many more shops than Warrnambool, and it is definitely a faster-paced, more business-like city. Warrnambool has a much more laid back, beachy feel to it. After lunch, we went to a colourful little cupcake shop. My friend had uni in the late arvo (afternoon), so I walked around town some more and took some photos with my film camera. I tried to capture a bit of the feel of the city, and I can’t wait to see those photos once I get them developed.
That evening, we went out to dinner at a nice Mediterranean restaurant then walked around the city a bit. The fountain outside Canberra Centre was lit in changing colours, and it looked really pretty. I also noticed that there were lights hanging on some of the trees, which made if almost feel Christmas-y.
On Friday, it was rainy, but we still made the best of the day and went to the Parliament House. My friend had a lecture to attend inside, so I went on a tour. I got some background on the history of the Parliament House and what goes on there, and I got to see the House of Representatives and the Senate, though neither were in session. It was an interesting experience. I even got to see the Magna Carta and the document that the queen signed to give Australia its independence!
Saturday we went to Floriade, which is a big annual flower festival that is held in Canberra each year. We were lucky to get some sunshine, which made it very worthwhile. There were all sorts of booths set up selling teas, soaps, jams, and many other things. And the flowers themselves were gorgeous. There were so many different colours, and I’d imagine it took a really long time to set it all up. I’m so glad I got a chance to see it all!
Sunday morning I caught the early coach on a long trip back to Warni. Despite the travel, it was definitely all worth it, but it’s great to be back “home.”
- Another Amazing Week on September 22nd, 2012
This past week was my last week of the semester before the trimester break. After the break, I will have one more week of classes, followed by a reading week and then exam week. I only had two hours of lecture this week, which was pretty nice, I have to say! In those two hours of Freshwater, we watched a video on freshwater and marine birds. It was really interesting, and I am always surprised by the amazing diversity and adaptations amongst birds. They’re really great animals!
During the week, I was hard at work on a Genetics prac report from our chicken sexing experiment. While I wasn’t doing that or working at the kebab shop, I did some pretty great stuff. Sam and I set out a beach towel on the grass and looked at the stars. The constellations are different to what you’d see in America, and I can easily recognise the Southern Cross now. We were laying by the Hopkins River, and we could hear the ocean from where we were. It was amazing.
On Thursday, Sam and I went to Thunder Point. It was a gorgeous day, and spring has definitely come to Victoria at last! I can’t describe how amazing the water looked, and pictures don’t do it full justice. We looked over some cliffs and then we climbed down to an area with heaps of tide pools. The water there was so clear! To make things even better, we saw an echidna in the bush when we were walking back to her car. It was my first echidna!
Friday was another amazing day. After work, I walked with Hannah along the beach and the breakwater. The water was so turquoise, and I couldn’t believe how gorgeous it was. After our walk, I went back to uni, got my wettie, and went bodyboarding with Mat and Stevo. It was heaps of fun!
Today I went to the beach with my friend Michael. We walked from town, and we took a scenic route behind the train tracks and through Lake Pertobe. I tried to swim in just my bathers, but the water was cold as! He seemed to think the same. But once I got my wettie on, I went out almost to my shoulders. There were hardly any waves, and it didn’t get too deep. The water was so clear, too! I could see my feet even when I was far out in the water. It was amazing, and I am stoked as for summer!
This coming week, I will be going to Canberra to see one of my friends who was actually an exchange student at Stony Brook from New Zealand. It’s amazing the friendships these experiences can give you. She’s proof of that! I know that I’ve been bad with posting pictures, as I encounter so many camera moments when I don’t happen to have my camera on me. But I will definitely be taking heaps of pictures when I’m there, and I may even go into Sydney for a day.
Sometimes I still can’t believe that I’m in Australia. It feels so surreal some days because this is a better experience than I ever could have asked for. I’ve grown so much more independent and forged so many relationships that I hope to keep for my whole life. And I’ve realised that this is where I really want to spend the rest of my life as well. I honestly never want to leave! But, seeing as I have three more months, I don’t have to think about that for a while!
- Aussie, Aussie, Aussie on September 16th, 2012
First of all, I realised today that I completely forgot a very important detail of my trip from about two weeks ago. Last Tuesday (I think), after I went to the beach with Sam, I got a text message from Hannah informing me that there were two whales at Logan’s Beach. We went to the lookout and, sure enough, there was a mother and her calf right past the breakers. It was such an amazing sight! I didn’t have my camera with me, and I don’t think I would’ve been able to capture it, but I’m so thankful I got to see some Warrnambool whales!
Now, back to this past week! Classes are definitely finishing up for the semester, and this was my last week of all of my in-person lectures except for Freshwater Biology. Some of my lectures will be i-Lectures from now on, rather than in person. In my Genetics prac this week, we presented journal articles in groups to the rest of the class. My group presented a journal article on the taxonomy of the Western Ground Parrot, which was interesting because it has a lot or relevance in the conservation of that particular species. In my Restoration prac, we modeled species abundance using an ARCMap program, and these maps are going to be integrated into an assignment in which we have to come up with a reserve area.
For the rest of the week, I have mostly been working and piecing together my Genetics prac report on the sexing of chickens using molecular markers. I also have a Freshwater test coming up, which involves reading a journal article and answering some questions regarding that. It’s a different format of test to what I am used to, but it’s great practice for reading journal articles, and I appreciate the challenge.
I realised this week that I am becoming more and more Aussie. I found myself craving toast with Vegemite this week, and I had that two days in a row. Toast with heaps of butter and a teeny bit of Vegemite is actually pretty good. I think it’s something that grows on you. We also got our house jumpers this week, and they have the names of all the people in Wally Crowe Court (my residential unit) on the back. I also have “America” written on mine, which is the nickname my friend Mat came up with. Now I have a special Australian jumper, so I let Sam borrow my Stony Brook jumper. An American representing Australia, and an Australian representing America!
Hopefully next week I will have more exciting adventures to talk about!
- Further Updates on September 8th, 2012
The beginning of this week brought some more fantastic weather! I went to the beach with Sam on Tuesday, and it was warm enough to lay on a towel in my bathers (swimsuit), even though the water was still really cold.
In Freshwater this week, we did some data analysis from our field trip so that we have information to put into our reports. I have also been working on my practical report for Human Impacts. We did a bioassay for that class to assess the ecotoxicity of a cleaning product using brine shrimp as our test organism. It’s really interesting, and it definitely makes you think twice about the environmental impact our everyday products can have.
I also got a job this week at a kebab shop that just opened. Now I have a job and a place to stay for summer, so I changed my flight to December 21. Two more months in paradise! I’m looking forward to being here over summer and hopefully doing some traveling. I definitely feel more independent than I’ve ever felt before, and it’s both exhilarating and terrifying. But it’s such a good experience, and I feel so grown-up!
More updates soon!
- Beachy Week on September 2nd, 2012
This past week was somewhat academically uneventful. The only notable things that happened were that I finished a take-home test for my Restoration class and analysed the invertebrate samples from the Freshwater field trip. For the take-home test, we were given a series of questions and we had to choose five to answer in one to two pages. I wrote about the importance of riparian vegetation, how land use changes can have detrimental effects on marine and freshwater ecosystems, oil spill cleaning procedures, and two other topics which I cannot remember offhand. The sample analysis was actually pretty interesting as well. I identified about eleven different types of invertebrates in my sample, and it’s amazing to see all the interesting things you can find in just one wetland. I also calculated the SWAMP score based on the taxa that I identified, which is a way of analysing the water quality based on the tolerance of the invertebrates that live in it.
Outside of school, I spent a lot of time at the beach this week. Tuesday I went with Sam and my housemate Liz for a jog and a swim, and I went again on Friday just to walk along the beach. Yesterday (Saturday) and today were surfing days. I’m getting over the fear I had after being dumped by a big wave a few weeks back, and I try to paddle out as far as I can. I’m still not fantastic at paddling, and I don’t know how some people get out so quickly. I keep on trying though, and I think I’m already better than I was. It’s so amazing being this close to a beach!
- Frogs, Gumboots, and Whales on August 26th, 2012
Hi everyone! It has been a rather eventful Sunday thus far, and I thought that I would share a little about today.
When I woke up this morning, I had the lovely surprise of finding a frog on my bedroom floor. It was already dead but perfectly in tact, so I put it on a piece of paper and searched through an online database of Victoria frogs to try to identify it. I think it is a striped marsh frog, but I can’t be completely certain, as I know very little about frogs.
This afternoon, Sam and I went to Logan’s Beach to see if any southern right whales decided to show up today. None did, but we put on our gumboots and took a walk along the beach anyway. We walked from the whale watching platform to the estuary and, though it was overcast, it was still a great adventure. It was also interesting seeing how the foam from the waves washed up on shore and stayed there.
Afterward, we went to Thunder Point with Mat. A few weeks ago, a humpback whale had been washed up on shore, and I wanted to see it. He knew where it was, so we took a walk to see it. It doesn’t look much like a whale anymore, especially considering that it’s been fed on by sharks and various other organisms. I still thought it was interesting though, and now I can say I’ve seen a real whale, albeit a dead one!
I will update you more on my adventures as they come!
- Field Trip! on August 23rd, 2012
This week I got to go on my first field trip here. We went to Pallister’s Reserve and did some field work for Freshwater. It’s been rainy lately but the weather cleared up and it was a beautiful day. It was also a really interesting experience, as I have never done anything like it. We took water samples and analysed different variables, including temperature, salinity, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen concentration. We also used quadrates along a transect to assess the vegetation, used a core to assess the sediment composition, and collected invertebrates from random areas throughout the wetland. Next week we will be identifying the invertebrates, some of which are really cool looking, and writing a lab report with all of the data we collected.
Here are some pictures of our study site!