Oz: Rottnest Island Day 2

I woke up to quokkas and peacocks outside my door on Sunday. What a way to start my morning!

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For those who do not know what a quokka is (I did not until I got to Oz), a quokka, in my own definition, is a mixture between a rabbit (because it hops and of its size) and a rat (its body and tail). The island literally got its name from these cute critters with its name meaning “rat’s nest.” Rottnest has successfully marketed quokkas, which only inhabit a few islands off of Perth, as selfie attractions. It took some time, but I got some selfies along with a few kisses.

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Nicole, Sierra, Barry and I biked almost the whole island again Sunday, but it was definitely a more relaxing ride. We stopped at a series of bays, including Parakeet, Little Armstrong, City of York and Stark. We ended the day sitting on a bench in the shade, watching people wipe out on the blow-up course in the water.

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We cut through the middle of the island on the way back to base. To my surprise, we came across a pink lake! I am so happy I finally got to see one up close. In person, it is really just loads and loads of salt that turns into an icy pink color, that eventually mixes with the water. It was an exciting sight to see!

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Rottnest definitely treated me well, and I could not believe that the picturesque piece of land was so close to where I live. With its crystal clear waters and cliffs that lend a phenomenal view, this is a special place that the people of Western Australia are lucky to have.

The perfect weekend turned into the best week of classes yet and was followed by yet another perfect weekend. I could not be more thankful.

Oz: Rottnest Island Day 1

Rottnest Island, or what I like to call a little slice of paradise, is located about 20 kilometers off of Perth and is a huge attraction to the inhabitants of the region. I was lucky enough to spend my weekend at the beautiful playground.

I hopped off the ferry around 10 a.m. on Saturday and was given a bike and helmet. From there, I was left to find my way around the island with Nicole, Barry and Sierra. We really had no idea where we were going, where our accommodation was or what to expect. Barry and I grabbed a map, talked to an information lady and we were on our way.

We were encouraged to visit the West End, which is a piece of land jutting out on the western side of the island and boasts magnificent views of the sea. It was a long trek, and unfortunately Barry and I lost Sierra and Nicole along the way. However, once we finally reached our destination, we were able to relax by eating lunch and taking in the beautiful scenery.

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My view for lunch

Barry and I spent the rest of the day checking our different spots along the coast, such as Strickland Bay, which offers phenomenal surfing and the Wadejemup Lighthouse. The lighthouse is perched on the tallest point of the island, and views of Fremantle and Perth can be seen from it.

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Wadjemup Lighthouse

We returned to Thompson Bay to check into our accommodation, which is done at the information center, and grab some food. I was excited to munch on my very first meat pie, which is a popular food in Australia. I was definitely not disappointed. We then biked a bit to explore one of the nearby beaches and watch the sun give way to night.

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Barry and I finally found our accommodation, which was the Kingstown Barracks, a converted military base. We finished the night by mingling with Nicole, Sierra and a few others at the Rottnest Hotel, which is a hotel and bar with live music and good eats.

It was a great first day, having biked over 25 kilometers and checking out the whole island. I looked forward to the next day, however, which would be a more leisurely.

 

 

 

Oz: The Weekend of Bliss Continued

My weekend of wholesome bliss did not end Saturday night. Something I try to live by is to not let a beach day go to waste. So, of course I went to Leighton to soak in the beautiful sun and warm weather. Despite dropping temperatures, I hopped in the beautiful, clear water and fully enjoyed it.

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After the beach, I worked on some essays and then met my friend Mitch, who drove me to Hillary’s Harbour for some yummy fro-yo. The only other time I had been to Hillary’s was a short visit after a village trip to Floreat Beach. To my surprise, there were some amusement rides set up and plenty of people enjoying the marina.

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From two nights of Embargo and wine-touring around the Swan Valley, to the beach and Hillary’s Harbour, this was a weekend for the books. Thankful and overjoyed is the least I could say, but at this point, it’s all I can do.

 

Oz: Weekend Whereabouts

Another beautiful weekend in Straya is down in the books.

Friday began with of course, a fantastic pancake breakfast. I had a few too many, but I had to eat enough to cover the pancake-less two Fridays that are in my near future. I spent Friday relaxing and chatting by the pool with Nicole and Jordan. It was my first time really spending any time at the pool, and it was actually quite satisfactory.

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Jordan and Nicole by the pool

That night, Brian, Ethan, Sierra, Nicole and I ventured to South Perth to Confluence, which is an art exhibit set up along the water. According to the Facebook event page, it is a “dense network of cone-shaped forms” with responsive lighting that illuminates the path as one approaches a cone. We were warned not to go, and I understand why. It really was not “dense,” nor interactive. The most interactivity I saw was all the little kids punching and jumping on the art, and ignorant parents encouraging the the kids to run wild. The view of Perth lit up at night was worth it, though.

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Sierra, Nicole and I at Confluence

Saturday was another day spent at the beach with Sierra and Nicole. This was the most gorgeous beach day by far. There was a slight breeze, only a few clouds and the temperature was perfect for warming up to go into the water, without dripping sweat. The water was crystal clear and gorgeous. I felt like I was on a tropical island.

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I was excited about the pretty shell I found

We headed back from the beach to go food shopping and to buy some items for our upcoming 10-day trip. Sierra and I made it back to campus in time to participate in a village craft event, where we made dream catchers.

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My masterpiece

To end the already successful day, Sierra, Jordan, Nicole and I headed out for the night to Tiger Lil’s in Perth for a girls’ night out.

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Left to right: Me, Sierra, Nicole, Jordan

Finally, to top off the fantastic weekend, I met up with a nice guy I met on the way to Newport last week to go cliff jumping at Blackwall Reach into the Swan River. It was the highest I had ever jumped; he said it was about 8 meters, although it seemed much higher. Regardless of the height, it was super fun and I also enjoyed climbing up the rocks and wood to get back up.

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View of the Swan River from Blackwell Reach

We ended the night by going to my first casual dining chain restaurant in Australia, Sizzler’s, where I had a steak and calamari combo platter, preceded by great salad, and followed by a delicious apple crisp dessert. We spent some time at City Beach before he dropped me off at Murdoch.

My fourth weekend in Perth turned out to be fantastic. I feel so grateful I was able to spend so much time with my American friends and enjoy a popular local spot with my new Australian friend.

 

Oz: Second Week of Classes

Somehow I have already completed my second week of school here at Murdoch.

I am definitely adjusting to the new style of classes and am much less stressed than last week. I actually switched from my indigenous studies course to a photography course. I did this because neither course will count towards my degree, and I can do much more with some extra photography skills than historical knowledge. It’s not that I am not interested in the history of the indigenous people to Western Australia, I just thought that photography would be much less stressful. This is the first time I have ever switched classes. Usually I would make myself stay, but I am trying to enjoy myself as much as possible here.

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Beaching and studying

Monday night was by far the best night of the week, and most definitely the best night of my time here in Australia so far. Tuesday was awesome because after class I went to a time management workshop. Although I am pretty good with organizing my life, I figured the small workshop could pump up my motivation. Following that was Italian Night put on by the village, and I was fortunate enough to indulge in delicious pasta carbonara with bacon, spinach and mushroom. I wish I took a photo!

Wednesday was another night at Newport in Freo. I had respectfully declined the last two times my friends went out, so I promised them I would. I actually had a fantastic time and it made me look forward to going out again, whenever that will be. Nightlife is not always my scene, but I can always have a really good time dancing the night away.

Finally, Thursday was a low-key day of class and catching up on various things such as ordering an external hard drive and filling out an academic application. I rewarded myself for getting through another week by working out twice and having a huge chocolate ice cream sundae, courtesy of the village.

I am glad I am adjusting to the academics here, and I can say that I am enjoying my classes so far. I am also remembering where my classes are more easily than I expected. Of course, the thing getting me through the week is Pancake Friday, and the fact that I leave for a 10-day trip in one week. Cheers!

Oz: Surf’s Up!

Surf’s up down under! One of the days I was looking forward to the most was here: surf lessons! I have surfed a few times in my life, but I am absolutely horrible at it. I was looking forward to having a lesson with other beginners so I would not feel as ashamed of my poor skills out in the water.

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Surfing actually went very well, and differently than I imagined. The waves were no more than two feet high, and they were crashing one on top of the next. These are not ideal waves to surf by any means, but they worked out better than I expected. There really was no time to paddle into a wave, because they were crashing so frequently, so it was more of catching any wave I could and hoping for the best. Apparently, this worked out for me because one instructor told me I looked like I was brushing invisible dirt off my shoulder when I stood up so casually, and that it looked easy for me. A few other people told me I was better than anyone, so that definitely felt nice. I hope I can come home this summer and have the confidence to try again.

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That night, we planned a surprise birthday party for my roommate, who was turning 20 the next day. It was black-out theme, so we all dressed in black, including her, who had no idea what she was getting herself into. The party ended up being a huge success.

From surfing to a surprise party, it was another eventful and fun Saturday.

Oz: The Beach Life

Luckily I do not have classes on Fridays, so you can guess where I ended up: the beach. That was after the free chocolate chip pancakes I ate for breakfast with Nutella and syrup, of course. It definitely seems like a sweet life, that’s for sure!

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After Nicole, Jordan and I returned from a splendid time at Leighton Beach, I cooked for myself and got ready for the evening’s festivity. The on-campus tavern was finally open after a renovation, and it was holding a beginning of the semester beach-themed party.

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The party was not as happening a I had hoped, but there were free cookies that I indulged in and some pretty good music to dance to. I ended up staying until the end and then spent some time with Brian and fun people he met that night.

A day at the beach, and a beach-themed party. The beach life is the best life!

Australia: Floreat Beach and Hillary’s Harbour

After another beautiful day at the beach, we had yet another planned! Murdoch Village organizes a few trips for students throughout the semester and the one planned for Sunday was a beach and harbor trip.

There was not a cloud in the sky Sunday and the sun was scorching. We only had three hours at the beach, but that is all we needed. I am one to spend as much time as possible laying in the sand, but the Australian sun is intense. Surprisingly, the water is much cooler than one would imagine considering how warm it is. After a few hours of switching between water and land, enjoying a sausage sizzle and napping in the shade, we loaded the buses and headed to Hillary’s Harbour.

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Hillary’s Harbour is the first major marina north of Perth and is full of shops and restaurants. It houses The Aquarium of Western Australia and offers many tourist attractions such as helicopter rides, ferries to Rottnest Island and fishing charters. The area is nice, but we only had about thirty minutes to spend there. That, of course, does not count the almost hour we sat in the parking lot because the other bus broke down.

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The day ended with an outdoor cinema at the village. I am glad it was a movie I had never seen before: How to Be Single. The night was a swell ending to a peachy day.

Australia: My First Beach Trip and Night Out

This week had its ups and downs, but there was nothing but sunshine in sight for Friday.

Instead of all international students, there was a short two-hour orientation solely for study abroad and exchange students at Murdoch. Brodie and Athira, the other woman in charge of exchange students, went over academic information, gave us some general knowledge about the university and then discussed some of the trips planned for just study abroad and exchange students. Brodie met us again today and she gave us our travel cards with $10 loaded onto them. These are formally known as Transperth Smart Rider cards, which is the equivalent to a subway/metro/tube/underground card. The $10 card and the new information that a few of the cheap study abroad and exchange-only trips are already paid for by AIFS was a sweet treat.

Speaking of sweet treats, we had some Tim-Tams, an Australian chocolate cookie that are amazing and lunch before departing for our free trip: Kings Park and Cottesloe Beach. Kings Park is also the Western Australia Botanical Garden. Additionally, it offers a beautiful view of the city of Perth.

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Cottesloe beach was absolutely gorgeous and I was super excited to be on my first Australian beach trip. During the short amount of time there, I laid on the beach, swam in the Indian Ocean and walked on the jetty. The sand was speckled in small white shells, and I loved it.

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After the fun time off campus, we traveled back to Murdoch in our coach buses to find a carnival happening at the pool. There was cotton candy, burgers, blow-ups, a caricaturist, a dunk tank and an extremely fun water slide that I went on a few times. I received a caricature of myself and I absolutely love the finished piece.

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If that day wasn’t enough, there was a planned outing to a club in Perth that night. Everyone here gets much more dressed up to go out than I ever have, so I was a bit shocked when my outfit was nowhere near as nice as everyone else’s. Luckily, Stivia let me borrow her dress and lipstick.

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The first bar we went to was absolutely boring, and luckily, we gained entry to another around the corner from the train. The night was full of awkward dancing, but I sure enjoyed it.

It was a jam-packed day—just how I like it. Next Friday should be just as fun, as I signed up for another international student outing.