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Journals from James Cook University, Australia

2009-08-11 First Impressions in a Foreign Country

After a long journey of traveling, I was very excited to finally settle in my apartment in Smithfield, Australia, a town just north of Cairns. I had heard wonderful things about this location, but nothing can give justice to this beautiful paradise. Reality sunk in when I landed and saw that I was three quarters surrounded by tropical forest, and a quarter surrounded by the beaches of north Queensland. Upon arrival to my cluster at the Cairns Student Lodge, I was surprised to see that I was accommodated with only the bare minimums, which is what college life is about anyways, so this was exactly what I was used to. I did not do very much unpacking before I decided that I wanted to explore James Cook University and the beaches. It did not take long to get settled into my new home for the next four and a half months, and slowly I started to learn to ins and outs of the Australian life. Unlike back in the states, everyone here has such an easy-going personality which makes it easy to meet people. I had about a week before classes started so I spent most of my days either at the beach or in the city trying to find my way around. I think now after three weeks I am starting to learn that the buses are never on time, they cost a lot, and smell quite awful! After the first weekend I went with some friends on a scuba diving and snorkeling trip out onto the Great Barrier Reef! This was so exciting for me because for one, I have never been scuba diving, and two, it was the Great Barrier Reef! The reef was as magical as I could have imagined. The fish were colorful and some were quite large, and the coral was stretched for as far as I could see. I saw a reef shark, turtles, and a clam that was as tall as me. By far, that was the best experience of my life (minus the sea sickness). I am starting to realize that there is so much to do, so hopefully I can cram as many adventures as possibly into my four month stay here.

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