week 1 in aussie land!
DISCLAIMER: this post is a long one, but action packed and [hopefully] worth the read! day 1: endless travel
The first day of this trip could easily be named one of the longest days of my life. Leaving on the morning of February 12th, going from JFK to LAX to Brisbane to Cairns was three flights that allowed me to completely skip February 13th, and I arrived to Cairns (pronounced CANS fyi) at around 2 in the afternoon on the 14th. Since my flight to Cairns was a “puddle jumper” we got off the plane the good ole fashion way by walking out into the outdoors on the runway. Walking out of that plane I was then STRUCK with a blanket of heat (that ended up being 98 to be exact) in which my sweat glands triggered automatically (and they haven’t stopped).
Then I met with the group and headed to the hotel and got settled in. I ventured to the pool to cool off, and then was immediately hit with jetlag as I was ready to fall asleep mid swim. Fighting the urge to nap, I showered and went down to our first dinner, and my first meal since the airplane breakfast at 5am. A bunch of us hung out at dinner, while a couple of guys from a company called “#Yolo Down Under” (who will be referred to as the yolo guys for the rest of orientation) tried to promote their clubs and get us all to rally and go out. I chose sleep and was passed out by 9:15
day 2: kangarooooooooooooooooooos
After a solid nights sleep, we started the day at an animal habitat where we immediately got to see some baby kangaroos, and they were so damn cute, I even pet one and it didn’t drop kick me in the face, that’s a W. As we got further in we saw some larger kangaroos that were even cooperating to take selfies and strike some poses, everyone was trying to get one for the snapstory, because #picsoritdidnthappen. There were also other animals, but definitely nothing as cool as the kangaroos.
After our animal park trip, we headed into the rainforest where we were greeted by an aboriginal forest guide who gave us walking sticks and then lead us through the jungle. Of course as we started hiking, it also starting heavily down pouring, only making the experience that much more cool in my opinion. Within minutes we were drenched, luckily most of us were wearing bathing suits under our clothes, but we hiked through. Our guide showed us multiple plants that if touched could kill you, so easy to say I wont be hiking solo any time soon.
After our hike we were supposed to go to Mossman Gorge and go for a swim in the lake, but it was too dangerous due to the rain, lame. So we headed back on the bus for a 2 hour trip back out to the coastline. Skipping the gorge gave us some free time before we went to a group dinner, so we went into town. We explored the Woolworths, which is the Australian Stop n Shop, where we found the most beautiful looking avocados. They were the avocados every basic white girl dreams of, so following in that trend, I took a picture. After Woolworth’s, we headed to the liquor store where I made my first legal purchase of alcohol! Yay, what a rush let me tell you! Although in this liquor store, we discovered that beer and straight liquor is E X T R E M E L Y expensive and wine is dirt cheap, another W for me.
That night we went out to dinner at a bar named the Woolshed, the food was nothing to write home about so I wont bore you with those details, on the bright side the drinks were 2 for $8 so we all took advantage of that deal. After drinking for a bit at the bar, we decided to hit up a club that one of the #yolo guys suggested and boy oh boy was I not prepared.
The club had a large bar and dance floor in one room, then an extremely large outdoor porch with another bar and tables and pool. We mostly stayed inside BECAUSE THE BAR WAS AIR CONDITIONED. THIS WAS LIFECHANGING LET ME TELL YOU. It was actually pleasant and not a freakin sweat fest. As the night wore on and people got more drunk, we got to see an event called “Jelly Wrestling” in which two girls go face to face in a wrestling match in a pool of jelly. I kid you not this was scarring. I luckily got a front row seat and I saw ALLLLLLL the action……
day 3: a day spent inside
Today was our orientation day provided by TEAN (the program I am traveling through) in which we basically sat in a large conference room of the hotel and were lectured (yet again) about how to not be an obnoxious American. Considering the orientation started at 9:30 we all assumed it would be over by lunch time but we were stuck in that damn room until 3.
Since we spent the day inside, we were all itching to get outside so we went into town to this community pool. Fun Australian fact: its jellyfish season in Cairns, so swimming in the ocean is not an option, but Cairns is prepared with a beautiful infinity looking pool right on the ocean. We swam here for a bit and cooled down from the extreme heat that is slowly killing us all (lol just kidding… but actually)
That night we ate dinner at the hotel, drank some wine, and went out on the town for night two. We went to the Woolshed because it was ladies night, so free entry and free champagne, we girls couldn’t say no… Thankfully there was no jelly wrestling, but there was super aggressive guys dancing that made us conclude that Cairns is a basically a Spring Break type town. Glad I can knock that classic crazy college Spring Break off the bucket list now….
day 4: finding nemo!
Today was the big day, we were headed to the Great Barrier Reef. We got on a ferry and headed two hours out into the ocean, although the time flew bye as the crew gave us safety instructions and explained everything we would need to know for snorkeling and diving. Once we arrived at the reef, I started with snorkeling until my scuba group was called. We had to wear these ridiculous jump suits, aka stinger suits, that protect you from the jellyfish, so we literally all looked like a bunch of smurfs walking around this boat (trying to locate a picture of this moment because it is something everyone needs to see). Snorkeling was fun and the reef was absolutely stunning, but when i went to scuba dive, my ears wouldn’t equalize with the pressure change and I couldn’t complete the dive :( very sad. But in the end the reef was amazing, even though you could tell its definitely dying, its incredible to say that I was here and experienced this place.
Once we returned from the reef, I took a quick nap, showered, then took another nap before getting ready for a pub crawl (in which they should most definitely rename a club crawl). It was a long night but a fun night as we rode around on a double decker party bus from bar to bar, even though it was extremely tacky and obnoxious, it was a little fun towards the end of the night. I successfully made it to all five bars and danced my booty off at the last one thanks to all the good music.
day 5: a day on the island
In my opinion, this day ended up being the most fun day of the entire orientation. Although there was a rocky start sweating our eye balls out waiting for a ferry, once it came it took us to a tiny island off the coast. We immediatley got stinger suits and headed for the water in search for sea turtles and other wildlife.
When we got in the water, it was honestly more amazing than the great barrier reef, the colors were more vibrant, there was more activity, it was beautiful. Unfortunatley I didn't have my go pro to document this, but I truly got to live in the moment and experience some really cool things. We snorkeled for about an hour and were about to give up before someone spotted a sea turtle! We then surrounded the poor guy and took so many pics and watched it devour a jellyfish. Felt like I was in a national geographic tv show or something, literally so insane. Then after the photo ops, we hung out with it more, found a jellyfish and fed it to the turtle and just swam with it.
We were heading back to shore, when a friend spotted a small shark. We both started swimming as fast as we could and were following this shark around for a while until we both couldn't keep up. Another Nat Geo moment for me in the books.
Once we were all pruned up, we headed back to shore for good, ate lunch, and then decided to walk over to a different beach on the other side of the island. This walk ended up being a small hike through rocks and trees, but the views were absolutely incredible. Once we got to the beach we were pretty restless, so we ended up going for a walk and climbing over some more rocks to see if we could find a better view. The views were all equally amazing and one little area featured some rock statues (dad I captured this moment just for you).
By the time we headed back to the main beach, I could feel my skin was frying and sat in the water up to my neck until we had to leave just to avoid the sun. The ferry home allowed for a quick nap before a farewell dinner with the entire study abroad group.
day 6: home sweet sydney
Today started at the most unorganized airport ever, but also the most relaxed airport ever. Going through security was a literal D R E A M compared to all the JFK and Newark drama I deal with. I even felt so compelled to take a picture (such a Helen Polise thing to do but I did it). The flight to Sydney I somehow passed out SANS DRAMAMINE, probably a first for me and my sensitive sleeping skills, but I woke up just in time to get an amazing view of the Sydney Harbor. Needless to say, I cannot wait to start exploring this city.
The apartment is pretty luxurious as well, we all got here and our jaws dropped at the type of accommodation we have but eternally #thankful. However, the apartment is barley filled with supplies so we all have to make our way to the mall, which is literally located right below the building, to get all the supplies an apartment needs (for me thats eggs, bread, and chicken nugs).
All my roommates and I spent the night unpacking and relaxing, we are all happy and relieved to finally be settled and not living out of a suitcase anymore.
that's all for now, sorry for the lack of pictures at the end, the internet here is not supporting me to include then, ill have the technical difficulties figured out as time goes on... more details to come as the esplorin continues, subscribe if you want to hear about it on the reg :)