The worldwide Augustana College experience


So we found out this morning that our flight from O’Hare to Dallas was cancelled. As Astin put it “that’s a downer”.  So after a long couple of hours in O’Hare we had our flight rebooked to tomorrow. A few of us decided to stay in Chicago for the night, while others went home. New plan means being at the airport at 3:30am for our 7am flight. Flying to LA, then going to New York, and finally we can get on a flight to Rio. We’ll be in Rio Saturday morning!

I am currently in a hotel room with Marisa, Jadyn, and Hailey, as Jadyn and I are from out of state and Hailey and Marisa are from the Quad Cities so it didn’t make sense for any of us to leave the area. I do have some pictures of us at the airport though as we waited for information.

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Well, that’s a downer

Sadly, the crazy weather of the Midwest won’t let us out! Our flights to Dallas and Rio were cancelled due to severe thunderstorms. Through all the Facebook posts and emails between our group we are awaiting new information from our teachers about when our new flight will be and how it will affect our itinerary.

What I packed…

One of the biggest questions that people have when traveling is what to pack. There are plenty of lists out there on suggestions of what to take on an international trip, but here is a list and pictures of what I am bringing to Brazil in my purse, my suitcase, and my carry-on bag.

In my purse: Read more…

It’s Almost Here!!!

THE DAY IS ALMOST HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

We arrive at the airport at noon tomorrow for our flight to Dallas then to Rio! Yessenia, one of the other girls on the trip is coming over tonight, I doubt we will get any sleep in anticipation for this trip. Our bags are packed and we are ready to go. I can’t wait.

I will keep everyone updated every few days with all the exciting parts of our trip.

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50 hours…

until we leave! Our flight leaves at 3pm on Thursday so we are getting done to the final moments before the trip. I did some last minute shopping today picking up magazines to read on the plane and a cord so I can attach my camera to the tablet. So with that I have a picture of the weaving that I did for class. My piece isn’t nearly as intricate as some of the other pieces that my classmates made, but I am pretty proud of it!

The Navajo-style weaving that I made in Art of the America's

The Navajo-style weaving that I made in Art of the America’s

Brazil 2014!

At this time on Thursday we will be on the plane to Dallas to make our connecting flight to Rio! I can’t believe that we leave this week. Today I finished packing all my bags. My suitcase weighs 27 pounds, so I will have plenty of space for bringing home presents!

Up until this point I’ve already been blogging for the regular Augie Blog page in addition to writing for my own blog, so if you follow me there you might see some similar posts. My goal is to post every 2-3 days and include pictures from the day, so get excited!

Bird Is The Word

Up until the past two days we have been pretty lucky with the weather up here. Although we have had some foggy days we were able to get on the boat soon after we got it in the water. Once we got the boat ready to go, we started to get really busy with trips to nearby islands to process birds and survey nests. Traveling by boat is one of my favorite ways to get around, so I was pretty excited for our first day trip. I quickly learned how unbelievably cold it can get when we’re on the boat! The temperature around base is generally very comfortable, it can get chilly on foggy days, but once you get near the water the temperature gets significantly colder. Then add in the wind from speeding across the water and the spray that occasionally hits you and you’ve got yourself a chilly ride. Thank god for the big survival suite that I wear when we’re on the boat. Its like a snow suite that is bright orange and unfortunately makes me look 60 lbs heavier, but it sure does keep me warm! It’s well worth the trade off. Once you’re bundled up the rides are pretty amazing. It’s sad that most people that stay on the base don’t go anywhere outside of the surrounding areas. There really is so much more to see around here.

Since a majority of our work is done off base we have traveled to a handful of places so far. We’ve made trips to Saunders Island, the Witch’s Tit (an island in the bay), Booth Sound, and other islands in the area. Our time at Saunders Island was spent catching black-legged kittiwakes. Last year geolocaters were placed on a few of the birds so our goal was to recollect them. We were really successful re-catching the birds that had the locaters on them, and we were able to track their movement over the past year. While Kurt and Bridger were on the island catching the birds the rest of us processed the birds on the boat. I wasn’t paying attention when I was holding on to one of the kittiwakes and it ended up biting my face! It left a nice scratch from my nose down to my lip. I think it made me look really tough so I didn’t mind it, but I wasn’t too happy with it biting my hands up! Along with scratches I always ended up leaving the island covered in poop, my favorite natural perfume… I would make sure to take a burning hot shower as soon as I got home! On one of our trips to Saunders Island we went around to the other side of the island and it was like we had traveled to a different part of the world. We pulled up to a beautiful beach, it would have been perfect if the water was about 40 degrees warmer, a small waterfall, and soft green grass. It was like a piece of paradise placed within the arctic land. We ended up collecting most of the samples for my project, so I got to spend a few hours relaxing in the grass while Bridger rappelled down the cliff and collected the eggs. We also had a bit of success at the Witch’s Tit with catching puffins. Last year a handful of puffins were caught and released with geolocaters attached to their legs by Kurt and the High Arctic Institute, and we have been able to re-trap one of them so far. Since we’re stuck on base for the next couple of days due to high winds, we’re hoping to get back out there this week and re-catch as many of the puffins as possible. Unfortunately we weren’t as lucky when we made our trip to Booth Sound.

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Finding Falcons

My first week in Thule really has been an amazing one. I feel like everything I’ve done here has been a completely new experience for me, and I love it. While learning about birds and the area I’m also learning skills that could help me at home. Who knew I would have to come all the way out to Greenland to learn how to change a flat tire or drive stick!

Before the group’s arrival Bridger and I were hiking around the area looking for some of the known falcons nearby, so earlier in the week we took a trip up Dundas. The trail that people have made just goes straight up the side of it, so the hike was a bit of a pain in the butt at times! We made it to the top sweaty and out of breath, but it was worth it. The view on Dundas was incredible. It was a clear day so we could see for miles. We ended up walking around the whole top and after stumbling upon the rocky golf course up there we were able to find another pair of peregrines. We couldn’t see the nest from the edge, but we knew the general region we would have to come back to to find it. We also knew there have been gyrfalcons nesting on the other side of Dundas, but unfortunately we weren’t able to find any. Before we headed back down we sat and watched a seal swimming around in the bay. It was at that moment when it really started to hit me how fortunate I am to be able to spend six weeks in such an incredible place. There really are very few people that get the chance to come up here and its such a special part of the world. Although it’s not the summer weather I prefer, I would give up any summer to be able to come out here. I know there is still so much left for me to see, but I’m amazed by what I’ve already come across.

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Hello Greenland!

After two exhausting days of traveling, I finally arrived at the Thule Air Base in Greenland! Luck definitely wasn’t on my side when it came to flying on Wednesday as both of my flights were delayed, one leaving me stranded in Baltimore for a day. While getting deserted in a city or airport can be a nightmare, it happened at the most perfect time and allowed my sister to stop by my hotel and say goodbye before we both left for different parts of the world. I couldn’t have had a better delay!

Stepping off the plane and seeing the landscape around me was by far one of the most incredible things I’ve experienced. The land is so unlike what I’m used to, it was hard to resist the urge to hike up the closest hill, but that probably would have ended up with me being detained by one of the U.S. officers on the base. Despite the name, Greenland is anything but green. Although the land is mostly covered with snow and rocks, it is a beautiful part of the world, especially when the fog from the bay clears and you can see the area surrounding the base. Not only am I excited to explore the land near the air base, but I can’t wait to get the boat running and to view the area from the sea.

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Last Weekend in Sydney, Australia : Wine and Beaches

Dear Sydney,

It seems both achingly slow and extremely quickly that my time here as led to my final weekend in Sydney, Australia. Missing family, friends, and a significant other has let the time feel as if I’ve been here forever. In contrast, my internship and constant weekend plans and trips have let the slip away to where I’m not sure how I ended up suddenly being able to think, how did I do all of it already? Either way, my last weekend in Sydney has come and gone, and I must say it was a pretty well spent one.

It started with Friday when Lindsey, Ashley, and I woke up relatively early for a Friday (we don’t work Fridays here) and caught the first ferry out of Sydney Harbor to the Manly Wharf. I actually really enjoy taking ferries here even though they move much much slower on water than  I am used to on our boat at home. However, I think that is why I like them, if I am paying for the ride across the harbor, I would kind of like to enjoy the view and water as long as I can. Anyway, the ferry ride took about 30 minutes to get out to Manly Wharf, which is the closest water drop-off to the Manly Beach, which is now my favorite beach that I have seen during my time here. Getting off on the wharf, which is located on a peninsula jutting out into the water, you walk across the peninsula through a pretty touristy main street FULL of shops, seafood cafe’s, and beach rentals. It was very prettily decorated and had decorative fountains by your feet as you walked as well as green palm trees running along the center. Given all of this, it is pretty incredible that I managed to NOT shop along my way to the beach (which I think was the point of their location). When I got to the beach I was in complete wonder as to why this was my first trip to Manly since being here. It was absolutely stunning (pictures below). The beach was 3x the size of any other beach I have yet seen here, which immediately made me happy because I could finally go on legitimate beach walks. We posted up a little to the right of the main beach entrance plopped down in the softest sand I had yet had the pleasure to walk on, and poured on the sunscreen. It was not a blazing hot day by any means, it really doesn’t get that hot here like it does in Illinois because the humidity is never high enough for it to feel that stifling.  However it was the perfectly cloudless day with a nice light breeze. The perfect day to burn your skin off and have no idea it is happening until you get home that evening an attempt to shower (especially since the hole in the ozone layer is near here). So on went round one of sunscreen and we laid out for a solid 2 hours before I decided to move again. I was a little warm and so I dipped into the water for the first time and was pleasantly surprised to find how clear the water was. It was not as clear as Destin, FL where I traveled last year with Austyn’s family, but it was definitely second. I could see my feet 500 feet out and it was really great for swimming because it made it feel cleaner. Anyway, after my swim was walk number one along the beach and it took a full 30 minutes to go end to end which was really nice because I think walking on the beach is a different form of relaxation than laying out on the beach and I really enjoy it. After round 2 of sunscreen there was another hour of laying out during which time I very nearly stole a 6 month old little girl who thought I made funny faces and crawled over to my towel. Her name was Eden and I was extremely tempted to pick her up and play with her, but I figured that was probably frowned upon, especially since her father didn’t speak English. Going on 3:30 PM everyone started heading home because the sun really was strong and all of us knew were going to be fried (or fried even worse) if we didn’t leave soon. I did end up shopping along the way back, but since my shopping was gift oriented, I’ll leave those details out. The return ferry was again a really nice 30 minute chance for me to catch those last minute rays. I loved the smell of water and the wind the kept the heat at bay. Upon arrival back at the Sydney Harbor, Lindsey and I checked the availability of Opera House Tickets for the opera Carmen, and we were disappointed when they were sold out for the night. But we went home anyway to a great meal of steak, potatoes, and corn on the cob that Hailee had made for us. Given the sun had exhausted us all and we were to get up early the next morning for Wine Tasting, that was where the night ended and we all went to bed pretty early.

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