Wow, I cannot believe I’ve already been in Cairns for over two weeks, the time has really flown by. I got to the Cairns Student Lodge on the Saturday before Orientation week. It took about a 24 hours of traveling, from Portland to Cairns, so immediately after they showed me my room and helped me get my bags, I made a beeline for the shower. The summer weather is so hot and humid, especially clear and sunny days like when I arrived; imagine walking through a steam room fully clothed. The next day my roommates showed up and they are both first-year dentistry students from Townsville and seemed quite surprised to find themselves living with an American.
Orientation Week is mainly for first-year and international students with most of the seminars and talks being geared toward the first years. It’s a great time to get familiar with the campus, learn how to use the bus schedule, and finalize your schedule. The class system here is very different from Linfield’s. You typically have only one “Lecture Time” for each class every week and then a “Tutorial” or “Practical” which are like a workshop or study time with a smaller section of the class. With the “Tutorial” or “Practical” you’ll have more time slots to choose from, but you have to sign up quickly, as it's first come, first serve.
One of my roommates and I signed up at the Student Association for a Saturday trip the Green Island. It’s an island with a resort facility and is surrounded by a coral reef, just a half-hour boat ride away from Cairns! I was so excited to snorkel for the first time, but the minute our boat docked on the island there was an announcement that someone had unfortunately just been stung by a jellyfish! So the beaches were shut down to snorkelers. My roommate and I spent the day walking around the island beach and I noticed the sand there was much coarser than the sand along the Oregon coast. We met some other students from the Lodge and we all got to go on a glass bottom boat tour over the reefs. I caught a glimpse of a turtle, a clam big enough to hold a soccer ball, and so many different kinds of fish and coral it made my head spin.
On Tuesday of last week there were flyers going around for an attempt to set the Guinness World Record for Most People Doing Zumba at One Time! Needless to say, I joined most of the American students at the Lodge, and we hopped on the bus to downtown Cairns. The park was packed and the line was really long, but we got in and I Zumba-ed for the first time! With over 3,000 other people!