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Published: July 27th 2014
Hey guys! Sorry I havent posted since I left last week. I just now got wifi in my dorm. I will be posting a lot more now that I have easier access to wifi. My first week in Australia was the most incredible week of my life. My flight landed here at 6:30am in Sydney on Sunday, and let me tell you it was the worst flight of my life. My seat did not recline so I did not get to sleep the entire flight. I went almost crazy. I was so relieved when we landed, mostly because I was finally in the place I have been dying to go to my entire life. When I landed in Sydney it was cloudy, rainy and cold. Not exactly what I was expecting. But I was happy any way because I finally made it.
It took an hour to get to my dorm, Weerona, at University of Wollongong (Uni, as they call it here). Australia is a lot more green that I was expecting. It is literally covered in trees. On the drive up to UOW the driver pointed out the second largest national park in the world (next to Yellowstone). It went on forever. When I got to my dorm (in the very middle of the very top floor of my building) I met my roommate who is from the Czech Republic. Her name is Bobi and she is insanely funny. After I unpacked a little, showered and napped, Bobi and I went and played tennis with two Norwegian boys down at the Tennis Club which is right next to my dorm. The tennis club is also the bar that everyone goes to almost every night of the week. It was such a fun way to spend my first day here. Throughout the week there was a mid year orientation called Flood week. There were events like an Australian beach party and a pub crawl. The pub crawl was so much fun. Although we had to wear bright yellow t-shirts so no one would get lost, we managed to have the best time. The last pub we went to doubled as a dance club and our entire group danced the night away to old throwback songs. Everyone was just having a great time. We took a big party bus on this pub crawl and on the way back we all sang along to the "Weerona Song"; Mr. Brightside. It was a very memorable night.
This past weekend (Thursday-Saturday) my CIEE group took a trip to Merry Beach, a caravan resort three hours south of Wollongong. There we were greated by tons of kangaroos and beautiful parots. Not gonna lie, I was kind of intimidated by the kangaroos because they would just bounce right up to us. Ask any one in my group and they will tell you that for the first half an hour I was hiding on the porch or in the van. After a while I warmed up to them and one of my friends persuaded me to pet one. It was such an amazing experience. The parots also came right up to us and ate bird feed out of our hands. At one point my friend had probably ten birds on him and a couple were on his head. This bird take over happened every morning when we walked outside of our cabins.
The second day were were at Merry Beach we drove an our to meet an aboriginal elder named Uncle Max and his grandson and his dance group. We were going to hike a mountain to a sacred aboriginal land at the top. We were not allowed to speak the entire hike up the mountain so we could focus more on the nature around us and how we are feeling during the hike. When we got to the top we ate lunch and the dance group performed some dances for us dressed in aboriginal outfits (red skirts and dresses). After the dances we got our own facial paint, and then we went into the forest to the sacred lands. I really did not know what to expect from the lands, so when I looked up and saw these massive boulders every where, I was really blown away. Each boulder had a story to go with it. We clibed to the top of the teaching rock and had to go around and say what totem we envisioned earlier when we all had our hands on an energy rock. I had envisioned a bird (probably because of the encounters with the birds landing on us at the cabins). Then uncle Max asked if any of us had a fear of heights (the teaching rock is about two stories high). One boy said that he did so uncle Max did something to help him face his fear. The boy sat on the edge of the rock and closed his eyes. Uncle Max told him to scoot back until he was nearly falling off. The boy then stood up and looked over the edge of the rock to the beautiful scenery around us. In the distance there was a lake and beyond that the ocean. Between the lake and us there were hundreds of thousands of trees. My freind says she does not think she has ever seen so many tree tops in her life. It was such an eye opening and beautiful experience that not many Australians will get to experience in their life time. Although the hike up the mountain was long and strenuous, I really felt a sense of accomplishment when I made it to the top. And seeing that view from the teaching rock was incredible because we could see where we started and compare it to where we sat there.
On the way back to Merry Beach we stopped at a cafe called "Hogs Breath". It is an American themed cafe with license plates from all of the different states and posters of Fords all around. It was a nice way to end such a great day.
This morning, (Sunday July 27 so Saturday in America) two of my friends and I ran to the beach (only a mile from my dorm) and explored a little. We found a pool that is right next to the ocean and are planning on swimming there one day. Classes start tomorrow so we are going to look for our class locations today.
I am having such a great time here is the land of Oz. I will try to write more now that I have wifi to keep ya'll updated on my travels!
Miss and love you all!
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