This summer I had the incredible opportunity to study, and intern, abroad in Sydney Australia! I arrived on a rainy morning to a beautiful apartment in the Sydney suburb of Waterloo where I met my two roommates from Minnesota. We immediately embarked on our day tour around the city to see the Sydney Harbor Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, and the historic Rocks district.
My first week in Australia was hectic, what with starting my internship as a teacher at an elementary school and with politics and government classes three nights per week, but the first weekend was phenomenal! All 50 students on the program took a day trip to the Blue Mountains in the Jamison River Valley where we saw the historic “Three Sisters” mountains and rode on the Katoomba Railway (the steepest railway in the world!). On our way back to Sydney we stopped by the Sydney Olympic Park and the Featherdale Wildlife Park. Here I had an opportunity to pet a koala, feed a kangaroo, and hold a wallaby!
My second trip around Australia took me two hours north of Sydney to Port Douglas, a beautiful port city with white sand beaches and scenic hiking trails. A whale watching boat showed me one-of-a-kind glimpses of humpback whales and dolphins before dropping me off at a beach to go for a camel ride and dune boarding! After riding camels all day our group ended the evening with a shark feeding and swimming with giant sting rays.
Towards the end of my five weeks in Sydney a group of us took a weekend trip to the Daintree Forest, the oldest continuously growing rainforest in the world, and the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns, Australia! We saw giant golden orb spiders, saltwater crocodiles, cassowaries, mangroves, and giant clams! The rainforest has the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen but unfortunately you can’t swim there because there are so many saltwater crocodiles! The last thing I did in Cairns before heading back to Sydney was to go skydiving. I am incredibly afraid of heights but somehow I managed to take the leap and I am so glad that I did!
While the summer was jam-packed full of coursework, weekend trips, intern assignments, and exploring the city of Sydney, a few of us were able to squeeze in a last minute extension trip to Auckland, New Zealand on our way home to Texas. We traveled through downtown Auckland, exploring the harbor and the museums, and we took a few day trips as well. In the town of Rotorua we visited the natural sulfur springs known as the Devil’s Gate and learned about the history and traditions of the Maori people. Our second day trip brought us to the beautiful glow worm caves and we even got to meet a few Kiwi Birds!
The 14 hour flight home was definitely a long one but, as much as I was already missing Australia, by the time we landed in L.A. I was ready to be back in the States. Now, back in Dallas, TX, I am preparing for a great Mustangs Football season and a successful Fall semester of my last year on this gorgeous Hilltop! PONY UP!