What an exciting past few days I’ve had. Gary and the other advisors took us “camping” at Hillary’s. Not camping with tents, (keep in mind it is the middle of winter here), but camping like when you were little with a bunch of bunk beds in one room. Obviously no five-star accommodation, but it worked out great for our big group of Americans and the advisors.

We arrived there in the afternoon and were given some time to settle in. I was in a room with Mattie, August and Ali and next thing we knew everyone had disappeared and we were the only ones left in the cabin. We decided to find our way to the beach and chose a path through the bush that looked like it was in the direction of the ocean. We ended up trekking all over the camp though the bushes and finally found a sign “to the beach”. What a relief! Everyone had already been there for a while and we found out that they just walked down the road there. Oh well, we had a fun adventure.

We all met back up at the cabins and took the bus to this graveyard called Pinnaroo, where wild kangaroos spend their time. If you’re lucky, you see them eating the flowers off of the graves, but by now people have begun laying out fake flowers instead. The area was really pretty, and we saw kangaroos right away. They were bigger than I expected, but we were told even bigger ones exist. I couldn’t get over how funny it was seeing them jump around. You have to be careful though, because if they feel threatened they will kick you, and they have some strong back legs. They were such funny looking animals, like a combination between a deer and a T-rex dinosaur. We saw a ton of them, all different shapes and sizes. We even saw a few joeys in their pouches. So cute!

After Pinnaroo, we went to dinner by the bay; my first time having fish and chips in Australia. It didn’t taste any different than in the States. It drives me crazy having to pay extra for sauce. $.40 for each pack of ketchup – really? We then made our way back to camp where we did “Australian Olympics”. No, these are not games that you will see on the Olympics, they were games that taught us about a few different Australian foods and whatnot. Our team had fun, but couldn’t seem to win anything.

Day 2 started out pretty mellow. Half of our group woke up early to surf, and the rest of us were taken to this park where we learned about the Aboriginal culture. We were given the opportunity to learn how to throw spears and boomerangs, and we saw koalas for the first time as well as more kangaroos. The koalas were so fuzzy and cuddly looking. Just adorable. I discovered I was not so good at throwing either spears or boomerangs, but traditionally those things were meant for the men anyway. I had a hard time believing that boomerangs actually did come back to you, but believed it after I saw it with my own eyes. They don’t come directly back into your hand, but they travel quite a distance and curve back around in your direction.

After our lessons we had lunch and headed back to camp where we participated in team extreme. I expected to be playing sports, but instead it was team building activities. I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of these activities, but it was entertaining. Afterwards we went on a bike ride along the coast. This was by far my favorite part of the day. I was worried about it because I hadn’t ridden a bike in years! I chose to stay at the back of the pack so I could take my time and enjoy the view of the coast. Surprisingly I did really well and loved it. We made our way to a lookout point which was just beautiful. We biked back just in time to walk to the beach and see the sun set into the water. It was so beautiful!

We had a great dinner that night, prepared by Gary and our advisors, then we set up a campfire. It was nice to just sit around and enjoy everyone’s company. The moon was almost full and incredibly stunning, and I learned how to locate the southern cross. I’m hoping to learn more about the astronomy on this side of the planet. Their moon is different here. At home it is bright and beautiful, but here it seems fluorescent. It is brighter than I ever thought it could be.

I woke up early the next morning to catch the bus to surfing. I was nervous about the temperature of the water. We arrived and pulled on our wetsuits. They are much harder to get on than you would expect. We had a brief lesson on how to catch a wave and stand up, then we jumped right in. It was surprisingly warm in the water, especially once you got moving and working your muscles. Right away I was able to paddle and catch a wave, but I couldn’t seem to get past my knees. I dominated at knee surfing, but I was determined to stand up. I was able to stand for a few seconds a few times but I would just fall right over.  After a few hours we were told to catch our last wave in. I went for it and stood up the entire way to the beach! It was so fun and such a feeling of success. After a few pictures we geared up to head back to campus.

What a few days! I thought the excitement was over until I heard word that everyone wanted to see the new Harry Potter movie. Of course I had to join! There were a ton of us who went. It was fun going to the movies with all my new friends, but I still can’t decide how I felt about the movie. The Harry Potter series is actually over, so weird.

Anyway, tonight is the start up party at The Tav, the on campus pub. It’s time to start getting prepared for the semester to start next week!