Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tragic Whitsundays Visit

A group of 11 other Americans and I planned a trip to the Whitsunday Islands through STA travel, a travel agency on campus for students. We were suppose to be gone Friday morning through the following Monday night. However, our trip was cut short due to a massive tropical cyclone coming for the Queensland coast. It was predicted to hit Airlie beach hard, and do a lot of damage. Naturally, this was where we were staying.

The Friday we arrived, we had all day to explore and relax. We grabbed lunch and went to the beach lagoons. It was a beautiful day! The next two days we had a sailing excursion and Great Barrier Reef snorkeling trip planned. We were able to go on the sailing excursion that Saturday, although the weather was not the greatest. We went away from Whitehaven beach (tear) to Hook Island to snorkel, while our snorkeling excursion for Sunday was cancelled in advance. The weather progressively got worse throughout our sail and the locals were discussing how bad it was predicted to get, so a few of the other girls and I started to plan our way back to Newcastle. We planned on leaving right when we returned from the sail. However, after calling the airport on the boat, all the flights were already cancelled for the next several days. So, we ended up renting a car and driving all the way back to Newcastle from Whitsundays which was a long, but also exciting 20 hour journey along the East coast. That is, after the first day of driving... because as if it could not have gotten any worse, I got food poisoning on the sail boat and was puking during the first day of the drive. GO ME.

Even though we didn't get to see much of the Whitsunday Islands, it was still a fun trip and exciting drive home (minus the puking)! I was extremely relieved we made it back before Cyclone Debbie hit, because she caused major damage. Including demolishing this restaurant we ate at in the picture below. RIP.

Sailing excursion to Hook Island Reef

All smiles as we began our 20 hour journey down the coast back to Newcastle & before I knew I had food poisoning!

Gold Coast dinner stop!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Classes: half way point

It is now the 7th week of classes at The University of Newcastle, so I am officially half way done with the semester. I am taking 3 courses, Human Pathophysiology, Communication and Discourse, and Aboriginal Studies. The semesters here are 12 weeks long followed by a 3 week period for final exams, rather than 15 weeks with a finals week like most universities in the States. Classes are also much different here in Australia than in the U.S. For each of my classes, the grade is made up of only a few assessments. For example, in my HUBS 2505 course, Human Pathophysiology, we have two mini tests each worth 25% of our grade and a final exam worth 50% of our total grade. In my Aboriginal Studies course, ABOR 1110, the class is made up of 10 weekly modules and a final essay, each 50%. There is not graded homework or busy work, so it is crucial to stay on top of things. It has felt really bizarre because normally 6 weeks into a semester I would have done several assignments and exams, but all I have completed thus far is 1 exam, 1 essay, and 5 modules. Also, the grading system is very different here. Instead of A, B, C, D, F they have High Distinction, Distinction, Credit, Pass, Fail.

I don't have class on Fridays which is super nice, and my Monday class is later in the day so if I do travel over the weekend I can usually make it back in time. If not, all of the lectures here are recorded and put online a few hours later to watch if you missed class.

         My course calendar for the semester

         The Australia grading scale

Sunday, April 9, 2017

When friends visit...Carins, Newcastle, and Sydney

My awesome friends made the journey to Australia for a week and a half. I met them in Cairns, where we stayed about 25 minutes North in Palm Cove. It was a beautiful city along the coast. We stayed in an Airbnb that was only about a 3 minute walk down to the beach. The water along this coast contains a lot of jellyfish and crocodiles, so unfortunately you can't swim wherever you want. There are designated swimming areas that are netted off, with a lifeguard on duty. While in Cairns, we went on a hike in the Daintree Rainforest, hit Port Douglas beach, went scuba diving and snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, and ate amazing food. After 3 days of soaking up the sun, we flew to Newcastle and stayed there for a few days and lastly went down to Sydney.

Daintree Rainforest

Carins scuba & snorkeling excursion

After Cairns we went to Newcastle where I showed them around my campus and we spent a couple days exploring the city. We went to Nobby's and Newcastle beach, Bogey Hole, ate fish and chips at The Queens Wharf, followed by The Depot for a freak shake...YUM. Unfortunately since it was the rainy season, it never failed to rain everyday they were here, but we made the most of it!

We ended their stay with a trip to Sydney for a few days where we explored the city, went on a Blue Mountains hike, and again ate some really delicious food! For lunch during our Blue Mountains hike, we stopped at a cafe that is famous for their kangaroo burgers... and boy was it good! 

Blue Mountains hike- a VERY foggy one

I received the best glut workout of my life from this hike. SO many stairs...Ha.

Three Sisters rock formation