Friday, December 13, 2013

Final Days

"You get educated by traveling"
                                 Solange Knowles
Well my time in Australia is coming to an end. The last couple weeks were filled with plenty of beach trips, studying, and taking exams. I had three exams and they were to be as expected...hard, felt like we never talked about anything that was on the exam, and hard. However, it was interesting, to say the least, to experience the exams here in Australia. The exams were held in the gymnasium and it sure was transformed. There was carpet placed over the hard gym floor, tables were lined up in rows, and each seat was given a seat and row name. The way I've been describing it is as in the Harry Potter movie when they take their O.W.L.S. No bags, phones, or extra papers are allowed in the examination hall, only clear water bottles were allowed as labels were to be taken off of water bottles, and there was a perusal time of fifteen minutes before the exam (this was actually helpful). Nonetheless, I'm glad its all over with!
I have also been spending my last couple days at the beach and pool, despite some rain that we got earlier in the week. It was bittersweet having to leave the beach yesterday as it was my last day there. I think that's one of the things that I'll miss about Australia...just being able to take a bus to the beach for the day and relax.
I've truly had an amazing time here in Australia and I want to take the time to thank some people who helped me get where I am today. First, I would like to thank my parents who, despite the constant messages and texts to Skype the past four weeks, have continually been there encouraging me to do my best and experience new things. Additionally, their constant support has been tremendous through this entire endeavor and I'm truly blessed to have them. Next, I would like to thank Mr. Miles Qualmann who has been my travel companion for the past four months. I want to thank you for putting up with me, my crazy thoughts and the occasional complaining about my horrible roommate. I'm not sure this trip would have been as much fun without your terrible jokes, but always positive attitude. I would next like to thank the amazing friends and acquaintances I have met while 'down under.' I will definitely miss the American stereotype questions at meals from my med friends. All of those who I've met have truly made my experience here in Australia even better! Finally I would like to thank my family and friends who have supported me in my decision to study abroad. Without all of your constant support and words of encouragement, I'm not sure I would have been able to really commit to going. (Sorry this paragraph was super long, there were just a bunch of people to thank!).

Well, in less than twelve hours I will be on my way back home...and to the cold, so I'm told. I am all packed and ready to wake up at 2am! Thanks for following along with my adventure in Australia and I'm sure I'll see you all soon.

Here are some more pictures from the Great Barrier Reef that I never posted...

Hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!
:-: Katie :-:

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Great Barrier Reef

"In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous"

I had an the opportunity to travel to Cairns, Australia with Miles and Kendall, who is from St. Norbert College. Our weekend consisted of white water rafting, celebrating Kendall's birthday, and seeing the Great Barrier Reef! 

We began the weekend by waking up rather early and drove up the mountains to the Tully River. Here we ventured down a level four river (the largest level is a six). We jumped off rocks and trees, flipped several times, and floated down the river. I think this is the most adrenaline pumping experience I have had thus far in life! We ended the day with an early birthday celebration at 'The Jack' awesome bar/restaurant which had live music. We then hit the hay for our next day.

The next day we travelled down to the Marina and hopped onto a boat which took us out to the Great Barrier Reef!! Here we snorkelled and scuba was my first time ever scuba diving! At first it was terrifying having to breath normally under the water, but eventually I got the hang of it. I guess I was the lucky one because I never had to equalize my ears...go me! We ventured about three stories down into the reef as a little group. The reef truly was breathtaking! Despite the fading colors due to pollution and global warming, I can see why the Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. I would have never imagined in my life that I would have been able to experience what I did. 

In addition to my journey to Cairns, I also surfed for the first time at Broadbeach. It is rather hard to get the hang of, but it was really fun! I was definitely exhausted and sore the next day...I have no idea how professional surfers do it! 

Since then, I have been finishing end of the semester assignments and projects, and attended the end of sem Res Dinner. The res dinner was fun as the residence building I live in won the sports award for Res Wars (a weekly sporting competition between all of the residence facilities on campus). This dinner also counted as out 'Thanksgiving Meal' in Australia!

(Winners of the Sport Award for Res Wars)

Today I finished my photography portfolio! This week is the designated study break which will be filled with some studying for my three finals, but also some souvenir shopping and some beach time before I go home. 

 (Had a little fun while doing the studio session for my photography portfolio)

Before I know it, in a short 14 days I'll be home in cold 'ol Wisconsin once again!


:-: Katie :-:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Study, Study

"It always seems impossible until its done"
                                                     -Nelson Mandela

Due to having two large papers due for my psychology classes, I haven't been able to travel much. Within the past two weeks I spent a total of 30 hours working on these two papers. I am extremely happy I'm done with these papers as they were are the hardest ones I have ever had to do thus far in my college career.

I did submit my first photography portfolio! Despite the technicality associated with the camera and terminology, I really do enjoy this class. My next portfolio has to display an ongoing theme throughout the photographs. I'm thinking about focusing on landscapes, however, I'm still working with some other ideas. Instead of having my lecture, tutorial, and lab for photography the past two weeks, we were split into small groups and were able to get some studio time. We were able to experiment with portraits and light painting. Here are the photos taken during those sessions!

The photo I took of Miles (A true Abercrombie model)

Light painting (Miles did mine and I did his)

This past week I did take a break to celebrate my friend Thomas' birthday (he's from the Netherlands)! We had a small get together and had an amazing BBQ cooked by my friend Jonathan.  The present I gave him was a nice handmade card...from notebook paper. He really did like it though...he said it was so original. It was nice to take a break from the constant studying to spend some time relaxing with friends. 

I also received a little care package from my mom filled with a little taste of America! I requested both the candy corn and Reese's. One, because Australia doesn't have candy corn and two, a big bag of Reese's which normally costs $4 in the States would cost me $11...thanks for a taste of home mom :)

Some of the Australian lingo I've heard:

brekky - breakfast
sem - semester
uni - university
tutes - tutorials
mate - friend
toilet - bathroom
cheers - thanks
lollies - suckers
maccas - McDonalds
chips - fries
crisps - chips
rubbish - garbage
how going? - how are you doing?
jumper - hoodie/sweatshirt
thongs - flip-flops
note - dollar
pre-drink - pre-game
zed - the letter "z"
power point - outlet   

Random things:
  • No I haven't seen a wild kangaroo, but I have seen two wild Wallabies
  • The toilet flushes in the opposite direction as it would in the US
  • I have gotten used to driving and walking on the left's going to be difficult when I go back home to change back to the right side
  • Since Australians don't celebrate Thanksgiving, they go right into Christmas...there are Christmas decorations EVERYWHERE!! This makes me super happy :)
  • Australia is smart and doesn't have a penny so everything is rounded up or down...most of the time in your favour
  • Certain  words are spelled differently...colour, favour, behaviour, realise, is really difficult when writing papers with these words
  • The birds here are in the phase of having baby birds...this makes for sleeping in impossible 
  • AND yes, I have started a countdown (37 days) to go back to the's hard to admit it, but I'm starting to miss my family and friends...HOWEVER, I also made the countdown because Christmas is ten days after I get back in the US (47 days!!!).

Here are the pictures I used for my photography portfolio...

Accentuating Movement

Freezing Movement

 Black on Black

White on White

Shallow Depth of Field

Wide Depth of Field

Portrait Using Ambient Light with the Window in the Photograph
(My Friend Maarit)

Outside Portrait
(My friend Thomas)

Inside Portrait Using Ambient Light
(My friend Jona)



:-: Katie :-:

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Byron Bay and Nimbin

"Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are."
                   -Chinese Proverb

This past weekend I ventured to Byron Bay to de-stress from the many papers and presentations I had. Accompanied by two of my friends, Miles and Maarit, we hopped on a Greyhound bus and were ready for a relaxing weekend.

We arrived in Byron Bay in the late afternoon and decided to walk around town and check out the beach. The town consisted of basically two main streets where there was an array of shops, food, and Australian culture. People walked around barefoot with surfboards and were really chill. We ended the day by relaxing on our hostel porch with two awesome Phillip and Oscar (from Germany and the other from Sweden).

The next day we woke up to a rainy gloomy day. Since we couldn't hang glide like we had plan, due to the weather, we roamed the town and did a bit of shopping. We spent some time just walking down the beach, and even though the rain cleared up towards the afternoon, we were informed that we would not be able to hang glide because conditions were still not okay. Nevertheless, we played some games in the hostel lobby and had a great time relaxing.

Our final day in Byron we decided to venture to Nimbin. Famously known as a hippie community,  Nimbin is home to some amazing Australian culture! We hopped onto The Happy Coach, accompanied by John, our driver. He was so down to earth and a genuine individual. As we listened to Jack Johnson on our ride there, John stopped at a few places along the way to Nimbin to enrich us in Australian culture. Our first stop was at a lookout of Byron was breathtaking!

Next we ventured up the hills to a hidden waterfall. Since the group was so large, we were not able to go to the bottom, however, it was still a neat thing to see. Our next stop was a local pub and it just so happened that it was located next to a Christmas shop...for those of you who know my love for Christmas, I had to give my wallet to Maarit so I wouldn't buy anything. We went back to the pub, grabbed a drink, and were on our way again. About 45 minutes later, we arrived in Nimbin. Since the town was extremely small, we walked the colourful main street in search of souvenirs.

In addition to shopping, we went to the Nimbin Museum. It was incredible to see all of the artifacts collected throughout time in such a small space. John had told us some history of how Nimbin came to be...Nimbin started out as a successful thriving farming community. Eventually, due to cooperations and factories, the farmers moved out of the area. As farmers moved out, individuals could purchase the land for cheap. It was discovered that the land was suitable to grow grasses and thus Nimbin came to be. After about an hour roaming the town, we headed down to the local bowling club where John treated us to an amazing barbecue (I think this was the best burger I have tasted since I've been in Australia!).

Once we arrived back in Byron Bay, with only a few hours of daylight left, we hiked to the Byron Bay lighthouse. We were told that it would take us about twenty minutes to reach the lighthouse, instead it took us about two hours. We eventually realised that we took the longer way, around the coast to get to the lighthouse. On our way, we stopped at the most easterly point of Australia.

As we reached the lighthouse, the sun was was breathtaking! With just a hint of sunlight left, we decided that we needed to head back to town. We walked down a winding road in pitch black with only a light from Miles' phone and to our surprise, it started to rain...and I mean POUR! We walked a few meters and a car had pulled up next to us. A lady had asked us if we needed a ride into town...without hesitation we said YES! It was so kind of her to stop and offer us a America I would probably be scared and wouldn't accept the ride, but here in Australia it's different.

People here are genuine and kind...we definitely saw this while we were in Byron. I'm so glad I made the decision to go to Byron Bay; it finally felt like I was in Australia. I don't think I've been as relaxed as I was for quite some time and it was nice to sit back and not worry about life. Despite the bad weather and not being able to go hang gliding, I think I had the most fun I've had while in Australia.

Here are a few more pictures from my trip:


:-: Katie :-:


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Adventure to Sydney

"If Paris is a city if lights, Sydney is the city of fireworks."
                                                          Baz Luhrmann

This past weekend I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Sydney! It's one of the most beautiful cities I have seen thus far through all of my traveling. From different festivals to sight seeing to a beautiful fireworks display, Sydney had it all! 

After about a two hour flight, we arrived to our hostel in the evening. Accompanied by two others from Bond, Miles and Jayme, we set out and explored the city at night. We had dinner at a pizza place and then found a playground near Darling Harbour. Of course we splashed in the fountains and played on the playground equipment. We then walked around Darling Harbour and ended the night as we had a long day ahead of us. 

The next day our first stop of sight seeing in Sydney Harbour was the Opera House. 

We took an hour tour of the Opera House and learned about the almost 40 years of history behind the magnificent building. The Opera house consisted of some 200 rooms and held about 2,500 performances a year. Even though we were not allowed to take pictures inside the theaters, our guide let us in the largest theater hall at the Opera House. 

The stage was set up for a symphony and we missed the rehearsal by a couple hours...bummer! However, it was such an incredible thing to have seen. After our wonderful tour of the Opera House, we followed our adventurous side and went on a jet boat ride. Being such the adventurous group we were, we sat in the front of the boat next to the driver. I know I was in Sydney, but I think this was the most fun I had on the entire trip. The driver took us out of the Sydney Harbour and did a few tricks with the boat. He swerved side to side, quickly turned the boat so we would whip around and he also stopped the boat quickly so that I would get a mouthful of salt water. Even though I was completely soaked with salt water, it was one of the best things I have ever done! 

After the boat ride, we took the Sydney Ferry to the Taronga Zoo. This famous zoo is home to many animals from across the world, my favorite was the giraffes because they were so beautiful, however, I really enjoyed  one of the rams. 

As I was messing with the functions on my camera, he held this wonderful pose until I had the right shot...he was such a trooper! 

After the zoo we hung around the Sydney Harbour so that Miles and I could get some nice twilight shots of the Opera House for our photography assignment. We ended the day with dinner and headed back to the hostel to sleep for the next day.

The second day we decided to stay near Darling Harbour as we visited the aquarium, wildlife center, and had lunch at the Sydney Hard Rock Cafe. Visiting the aquarium was amazing, as it had been the first aquarium that I have ever been to. To see the different sea creatures which are around Australia was incredible. Of course I saw plenty of the Dory fish (from Finding Nemo)! We came upon a festival in Darling Harbour with had plenty of Spanish dancing, music, and food. It was neat to see that the city is home to a diverse culture! We then headed to the Sydney Eye Tower, which is similar to the Rockefeller Center, however, not as tall. It was incredible to see the city at about sunset with its golden glow. 

After the Eye, we walked through another festival...this time, a food one. Vendors from across the city set up in tents; there was food from Asian to American. The day ended with a fantastic fireworks display in Darling Harbour! It has always been a dream of mine to see fireworks in Sydney, and now it came true!! 

The final day we decided to relax a bit. So we slept in until we needed to checkout of our hostel, grabbed some breakfast from Starbucks (this was the first Starbucks I had encountered since we got the Australia, and boy was I in heaven!!), and then headed on the Sydney Ferry to the famous Manly Beach. It was incredible to finally see this beach as it was in one my favorite movies to watch with my sisters when we were younger (Our Lips are Sealed).We relaxed, well attempted to relax on the beach. The wind was so strong that sand kept blowing on us...this was a bit annoying, but the sun felt great! After about an hour on the beach we headed back on the ferry and hitched a ride to the airport. 

I had an amazing time going to Sydney...but my next adventure will be hang gliding in Byron Bay...stay tuned!

Here are a few more pictures from Sydney....

:-: Katie :-: