So it's been about two weeks since I arrived here in Freo, and I can't say it's been easy trying to adapt to the Australian way of life, but it's been fun trying. Since my last post Morgan and I have met a ton of new mates (yes, I just used the word mate), learned how to cook on our own, use public transportation, started to pick up on the Australian lingo and of course started classes.
After a successful but long first week of classes it was finally the weekend and time for an exciting trip! First on our list of trips this weekend was a hiking trail called the Bibbulmun Track in Kalamunda. After getting lost on two bus rides and a long train ride, we finally arrived at our destination, from here we hiked about a 3 mile trail through a desert like terrain (apparently this is called the Australian Bush). I don't think we could of picked a hotter day to hike, it was about 100 degrees fahrenheit, or 38 degrees celsius, but never the less the hike was amazing with many lookout points, beautiful landscapes and was well worth the long travel day.
The next destination on the weekend trip list was Penguin Island! Morgan and I decided to adventure up to Penguin Island in Rockingham, Australia. Once we boarded the ferry to go over to the island we were surrounded by dolphins. Being the tourists we are, and not use to seeing dolphins up close and personal, we took out our cameras and took as many pictures and videos as possible. We were like kids in a candy shop, couldn't be happier! Once we got to the island we were greeted with white sand and crystal, clear water. Along with the amazing views and the warm water, there were also sea lions, penguins, and dolphins swimming around and lounging on the island. Needless to say Morgan and I will be going back.
Another part of our adventure this weekend was going to the Caversham Wildlife Park in Perth. It was here that Morgan and I could fulfill our goals of finally seeing a kangaroo and a koala. Who doesn't come to Australia and want to see either of those animals? I know it was the first thing on my bucket list! Once in the park there was a whole section just full of kangaroos waiting to be fed, petted and played with. Again Morgan and I regressed back to our younger selves and pretty much ran to them, full of excitement. After successfully taking a few selfies with the kangaroos and playing with them for a while, we started to explore the rest of the park. A few of the other features in the park were koalas, wallabies, wombats, dingos, a tasmanian devil, crocodiles, scary reptiles and a ton of very colorful birds.
All in all, I think this weekend was very successful and I cannot wait to see what more adventures lay ahead!
So it's been almost a week here in Fremantle, Australia and no words can describe it other than absolutely amazing. The people, the culture, and the scenery, just everything is new and exciting.
As for the trip over here I can't quite say the same. After 4 plane rides and a bus ride totaling up to about a 30 hour journey, I was exhausted. My friend Morgan and I decided to travel together, all the way from Portland, Maine to Western Australia. Along the way we got quarantined, Morgan had to go see the consulate desk because they didn't think she looked like her passport, sat through a 16 hour flight with a crying baby, the same flight we had a fire alarm go off so we thought we were going down, and then finally got squished between two very large, loud men on our last flight. The upsides to all this was that the airplane food was surprisingly good, there were free movies, and the fact that in just 30 hours we would be in Australia about to start a new chapter in our lives.
But after all that we are finally here and it is better than we had imagined. We are not only meeting people from Australia, but also France, Germany, and Japan. There is so much more to do and see than what we have done in the 5 days we have been here, and we cannot wait to embark on our new lives as students here in Notre Dame Fremantle.
Times been flying by, and today started the 9th week of the semester. Classes may be coming to an end back in the States, but we still have two months left in our semester here in Freo. I’ve really tried to assimilate into Australian culture as best as I can, and over the last few weeks I’ve had so many great opportunities that have helped me appreciate Australia even more then I could have imagined.
Our first break of the semester came over Easter, and with ten days off we were able to take trips which allowed us to travel across the country. The first leg of our trip was in Melbourne which greatly differed from Perth’s laid-back lifestyle, and reminded be much more of Eastern cities back in the states. While the Central Business District is a great place to visit in itself, the uniqueness of Melbourne lied in the surrounding areas.I visted several suburbs but my favorites were Fitzroy which is known for its artistic culture as well as its vibrant nightlife, and St. Kilda which is where the best beaches are located and home to Fairy Penguins who live along the coastline. Although we did do a lot in our four days there, the highlights of my time in Melbourne was a tour of Rod Laver Arena which is home to the Australian Open and also watching a Melbourne Footy Derby between Geelong and Hawthorne at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which is the tenth largest stadium in the world holding over 100,000 people.
After Melbourne we flew to Cairns, Northern Queensland which is one of premier destinations along the Great Barrier Reef. It’s location in the heart of Northern Queensland’s rainforest gives the city a very tropical atmosphere. While in Cairns we spent one full day out on the Reef, making stops at several different locations. I’ve snorkelled in Florida and on different islands in the Caribbean, but none of those places came close to the Great Barrier Reef. In a little over two hours in the water I saw all of the fish from Finding Nemo, a Maori wrasse which was as big as I am, a sea turtle, and even caught a glimpse of a Reef Shark out of the corner of my eye. The next day we went to A.J. Hackett: Cairns, which is one of the most popular bungy jumping sites in the world. A.J. Hackett famously introduced the world to bungy jumping after leaping off of the Eiffel Tower in 1987. While I didn’t really want to bungee jump I did do the MinJing Swing, which takes you up 45 meters (148 feet) and then sends you swinging 77mph over the rainforest’s canopy.
As the week wore down we made it home to Freo and went straight back to classes. We were however off on April 25 for ANZAC Day, which is as Australian as you can get. The Australia-New Zealand Army Corps or ANZAC for short, became famous for their actions during the Battle of Gallipoli during World War I. Nearly 25,000 Australians were killed or wounded during the battle, so in 1916 the first memorial was held for these soldiers a year after the battle was fought. This event has become incredibly important to Australians, as it signifies the first major combat assignment for the newly independent Australian Army. King's Park in Perth holds the largest ANZAC Day memorial service, drawing crowds of over 40,000 people, so I decided with several of my friends in our dorm to take the 12:15am train into Perth in order to attend this event. Although it was cold and we had to camp out in the park until the start of the service at 6:00am, we were able to stand along the front row and get a terriffic view of the ceremony. Aside from being so close to the WWI memorial, we were within arm’s length of Western Australian Governor Malcolm McCusker and Premier Colin Barnett. The ceremony was incredible, but the sunset over the city and the memorial made the trip all worth it.
We have some exciting trips planned for the upcoming weekends and I hope to attend a few more Australian Football games, which I've really taken an interest in, so I hope that the next few weeks continue to treat me well.
It’s been a little over a month since we arrived in Australia, but times been flying by. We just finished Week 4 of the semester, and our Spring Break is right around the corner. I thought that I would have so much free time on my hands only taking four classes and not having any commitments here in Fremantle, but I’ve been able to keep myself extremely busy.
Western Australia is a pretty incredible place. Perth is known for being the most isolated capital city in the world, but there’s still plenty of things to do throughout the region. Transportation is vital for people getting around W.A., so buses and trains are very accessible and cheap. Back home it would cost me $25 for a ten minute train ride into New York City, but here the same ride into Perth costs $1.28.
I’ve been able to make it up to Perth several times now and there’s so much to do. King’s Park overlooks the entire city and has several monuments dedicated to Australian soldiers who fought and died in the Boer War, World War I, and World War II. Perth also has countless numbers of shops, cafes, and restaurants throughout the city that are great to visit during the day or at night. Claremont, Cottesloe, and Subiaco which are in between Fremantle and Perth also have their own great shops, stores, and beaches.
We’ve managed to keep ourselves busy on the weekends as well, and have taken several trips which have helped us explore Western Australia. Our first trip was to Caversham Wildlife Park where we were able to see and pet kangaroos, wallabies, and koalas. There were also dingos, crocodiles, kookaburras, and wombats throughout the park which were also really incredible to see.
For St. Patrick’s Day we went to Rottnest Island or ‘Rotto’ which is a small island eleven miles off the coast of Freo’. The island has an interesting history, as prison for Aboriginals during the 1800’s and then as a German/Austrian-Hungarian prisoner of war camp during World War I, but is a very popular tourist destination today. ‘Rotto’ is very popular for its beaches, snorkelling, and biking trails; which really reminded me of the Bahamas. The island may be best known however for its most famous residents, the Quokkas. I can best describe them as a cross between kangaroos and beavers, who are completely unafraid of humans and will hop right up to you hoping to get food.
Overall though, my first month in Australia was so much better than I ever could have imagined. I’ve been able to make Australian friends in my classes and playing for Notre Dame’s soccer team in the Western Australian Territory Games, and it’ been great getting to go out and experience Australian culture first hand with them. The next few weeks should be equally exciting for us as well, since we’ve booked a spring break trip to Melbourne and the Great Barrier Reef. Once we get back we’ll begin training for the Australian football or ‘footie’ team that we’ve started as international students called the Yankaroos. Once we get a few training sessions under our belts we’ll start playing local teams in the area, while continuing to work with the local South Fremantle Bulldogs club, who are a semi-professional team in Freo.
Things have been incredible though, and I can't wait for what the next few weeks have to offer.
I survived my first two weeks in Australia. After the three different plane rides and twenty-something hours in the air I arrived in Perth and eventually made my way to University of Notre Dame Australia down in Fremantle.
Our first few days here in Fremantle was ‘Orientation Week’ and we were kept incredibly busy. While still trying to adjust to the thirteen-hour time difference we had meetings with members of the university, guest speakers from around town, tours of the campus and city, and even a commencement parade as UNDA kicked off their 2012 academic year. Our best day however came on Friday when we participated in an ‘Amazing Race’ styled scavenger hunt around Perth, which turned out to be a great way to explore the city and meet the other hundred or so study abroad students who are here at the university with us.
This past week we started classes, and began to experience the differences between American and Australian college life. Each class meets twice a week, one lecture and one tutorial/lab depending on the class. The lectures can last anywhere between one to three hours, while the labs/tutorials usually don’t exceed an hour. The assignments have already been given to us and consist of two tests, a paper or two, and one other assignment based on the class. Aside from these assignments we are only expected to read our textbooks and hand in our assignments on time.
Overall though, the first two weeks of this semester have been incredible. Fremantle is one of the few surviving Victorian Era port cities in the world, and Notre Dame has done an incredible job of renovating and encompassing these buildings into their campus. The temperature has consistently been in the nineties, and drops to about seventy-five at night which has been perfect. Being only a block away from the Indian Ocean, we get a great breeze which also cools everything on campus down. The last thing that has been great to experience in our first few days here is the very low-key, laid back lifestyle. Everyone wears sandals, tank tops, and board shorts all day; and looked at me like I was crazy when I was in a collared shirt while trying to pass out resumes to local shops. Once again though, everything here has been incredible so far and I can’t wait to see what the next four months have in store.
Hey everybody, my names Andrew and I’m going to be SHU’s Study Abroad blogger for the semester. Unlike colleges here in the State’s, Australian semesters run during the Summer and Winter which parallels our Spring/Fall schedule. This means that unlike everybody else, I’ve had a few months to get ready for the upcoming semester.
The thing that’s been on my mind the most has been trying to figure out how I am going to pass the nearly 30 hours of flying between the time I leave JFK and arrive in Perth. The days I’ve spent waiting for my trip and semester to start have seemed to fly by, so hopefully thirty hours in a Quantas cabin go by equally as fast. I think I’m fairly prepared with dozens of movies, episodes of LOST, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, and Entourage, and even packed a few books.
Thankfully I’ll have a long layover in California where I’ll be meeting up with a friend who’s also coming to Perth with me, so I’ll be able to get a much needed break between flights and won’t be the only SHU student/American when we finally arrive in Australia. Although we leave tomorrow (Saturday) we don’t officially arrive until Monday, where we’ll jump right into Orientation Week. After figuring out our classes and getting situated in Fremantle which will be our home for the next few months, we start classes on the 27.
I’m extremely excited to leave tomorrow and begin this new adventure. Although I’ve gone to Sacred Heart’s campus in Dingle, Ireland twice for two and a half weeks; studying abroad for an entire semester should be much much different. I’ve only heard incredible things about studying abroad though from my two older cousins and a close friend who recently came back from Australia herself, so I’m more than ready to begin this new adventure and go Down Under.