So it has been almost a week now since we left the states for the land down under, and I have felt every emotion possible in the last 5 days. The flights were long but most of us just slept and watched movies; I watched every available episode of modern family and snoozed for a few hours in between meals. Once we landed we had a long wait to get through customs and I suddenly regretted packing so much into my carry-on as it became extremely heavy. The next challenge was finding our luggage and finding a ride to our “home” for the next two months. After much waiting, confusion and even going to the wrong apartment, we had finally arrived. For me, emotions were running high and I was completely exhausted from the trip. The remainder of the night included setting up internet and phones, finding food and exploring the area. The internet is frustrating but we were prepared ahead of time to have patience with technology here, but it is still a crazy concept that we are able to communicate with people back home when we’re so far away.
Thursday we had an early wake-up call and met Rachel, the student affairs coordinator for CAPA, downstairs the apartment for a day of sight-seeing. We walked to the bus stop and faced our next challenge, public transportation. As of right now, I have a love/hate relationship with public transportation, but it’s better than not being able to get anywhere at all. We took the M20 bus to Central, the train station, and from there we took the train over the bridge to the North Sydney station. The train went straight across the bridge so for many of us, this was our first opportunity to see the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour. The train station empties straight onto Miller Street in North Sydney which was exciting for me because I immediately saw my internship site. The walk to CAPA and Australia Catholic University was not far from Miller Street, and we saw where we will have class on Wednesdays and where to go if we need desperate help throughout the trip. After grabbing a quick bite to eat we explored North Sydney for a few minutes then met up with the rest of the group for a bus tour of Sydney. The trip was a few hours long and along the way we stopped at a beautiful site up on the hill overlooking the ocean, as well as a quiet little park next to the harbour with a view of the opera house. It was fun to see the downtown area and throughout the trip our leaders pointed out different places we are eager to get back to and explore.
Friday morning was another early start as we had a two or so hour journey towards the Blue Mountains. The weather was regrettably chilly and rainy, and extremely foggy. Along the way we stopped at the Olympic park, Featherdale Wildlife Park and the Village of Leura. The stadium was really interesting but after a few group pictures we got back on the bus and continued our journey. As soon as we got off the bus at Featherdale Wildlife Park we were greeted by a man holding some type of creature, and after putting it on a few of the student’s heads, we were free to roam the park. As soon as you walk in you are greeted by animals everywhere and kangaroos hopping around freely. My favorite part was petting the koala bears and feeding the kangaroos, we even were lucky enough to see two kangaroos boxing! I also surprised myself by volunteering to hold a python around my neck and pose for a picture, which is something I never thought I would do, and something I probably never will do again in my lifetime. Next on the trip was a short drive to the Village of Leura where we had a few minutes to try a meat pie and some chocolates (I preferred the chocolates over the meat pies but at least I gave them a try). With the weather being what it was, we were unable to see the Three Sisters, or much of the Blue Mountains. Nevertheless, we hiked down into the Jamison Valley. The hike wasn’t hard but it did require our focus because of the conditions, but the scenery of the tropical nature of the Mountains was something I will never forget. It was unfortunate that the weather did not cooperate, but at the same time, I thoroughly enjoyed how quiet our surroundings were and calming the environment was during our walk. The railway back to the top of the mountains was another story however, but thankfully we all survived the steepest railway ride and we loaded back onto the bus for our trip home where most of us slept but some of us watched the Australian movie Red Dog, which was a good but sad movie.
Saturday morning, the first chance for most of us to sleep in, was spent exploring Sydney and attempting transportation even more. After a few hick-ups we finally found our way to Bondi Beach, which is absolutely beautiful and unlike any beach I’ve ever seen, but I am eager to see the rest of the beaches that Australia has to offer as Bondi is swarming with people and surfers. Sunday was also a free day left for us to wander the city but the weather was again not ideal, so after a wonderful service at Hillsong Church, we ventured to Paddy’s Market in Chinatown. The market was so huge and quite overwhelming for us, so only after a half hour we decided to attempt to head back towards our apartment. We were unsure as to the exact location we were at so we decided to hop on the 555 bus to try and get close to home, which turned out to be a mistake but a learning experience at the same time. The 555 bus is a free shuttle that stops almost every second and is jam packed with tons of people. We eventually got off the 555 and found our way back to the area near our apartment, and after a little shopping and some food we were ready to call it a day.
Today, Monday morning, we met at ACU at 9:30 a.m. sharp for an internship orientation and a travel presentation. Once we all finalized the details for our internship interviews tomorrow, we headed back over the bridge and met at the Australia Hotel for an array of Australian pizzas such as kangaroo, crocodile, and a few known back home like Hawaiian and meatball lovers pizza. Feeling extremely full, the day was once again ours to finish preparing for our interviews and explore the city. At this point I will admit that I am quite homesick, missing my family and friends, but I know how rare this opportunity is that has been given to me, and I am trying my best to take things day by day and not too become too overwhelmed with the changes and stresses of being away and in a new environment. I can only hope that in the next two months I will grow as a person and I know that I am already well on my way as I have felt extremely challenged to step outside of my comfort zone. I will try my very best to take full advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity and I can only pray that God will grant me the strength, courage, and determination needed to get through any challenges along the way.
(I’ve tried so many times now to upload pictures but for now that just isn’t in the cards because of our internet so I will be sure to add pictures next time I’m connected to good internet)