Friday, June 26, 2009

Goodbye Sydney

Today is my last day in Australia and therefore this will be my last blog entry. It has been a great four and half months and I will be sad to leave tomorrow. On the bright side, I am very excited to see everyone at home! As much as I love Sydney, it was hard being away. Thankfully, I had my blog, skype, email, etc. to keep in touch with everyone. It made it a little easier being able to share my stories and hear about everything going on back in States.

I have certainly learned a lot over the past several months. A lot of what I learned was in the classroom. I really think I will benefit from my HR classes in my future career and my religion classes were very interesting. However, I believe the bulk of what I learned occurred outside of the classroom. I learned what it is like not having access to a car and having to rely on public transportation. I learned what it is like to travel internationally. I learned Australian slang, sports, money, and more. I'm sure there are many more things I learned and didn't even realize it!

On top of all the things I learned, I got to see so many amazing places. Sydney by itself is an incredible place, but I am so grateful I got to travel and see so much of Australia. From Melbourne to the Outback to the Great Barrier Reef, it has been a great adventure. Not to mention New Zealand which was also amazing! I've been able to sleep under the stars in the middle of the Outback, visit the iconic Uluru, go to the top of the highest buildings in Australia, climb the Harbour Bridge, attend performances at the famous Sydney Opera House, snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef, go skydiving, hike a glacier in New Zealand, spend a night on Milford Sound, and so much more.

Thanks to everyone who read my blog while I was's nice to know that people at home were thinking about me. I'm looking forward to this summer spending time with family and friends in Transfer, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and at Lambec! It will be a big adjustment from life in Sydney, but I can't wait to see everyone! Thanks again and I will see everyone very soon!


Monday, June 15, 2009

Beautiful Sydney

The last couple of weeks in Sydney have been lots of fun. With classes ending, I've had more time to enjoy the city. Although the weather has been getting colder, it has been nice to get out and enjoy all the beautiful things Sydney has to offer.

One of the big events that has been going on the past couple of weeks is a festival called Vivid Sydney. As part of the festival, they have been lighting up the Opera House in a display called 'Luminous'. We went to Circular Quay the first night of the display on May 26th to check it out and eat some gelato.

Another event of recent weeks was the jazz and blues festival in Darling Harbour the weekend of June 5th through the 7th. It was a free event with live concerts all weekend. I went to a couple of the performance on Saturday night. Also that day, Becky, Nate, and I visited the Art Gallery of New South Wales. It had exhibits of Aboriginal, Asian, contemporary, and European art. It was a nice relaxing Saturday.

After returning from Cairns, this past weekend has been pretty eventful. Friday night I went to see the Sydney Symphony perform in the Concert Hall of the Opera House. Before the performance, Becky and I got dinner in Circular Quay and enjoyed some more of the 'Luminous' display. Afterward, we met up with Nate and one of his friends to head to the Opera House. The concert was titled 'Romantic Perfection' and included Berlioz's Roman Carnival - Overture, Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor, and Beethoven's 6th Symphony. The selections were a lovely combination of beauty, emotion, and virtuosity. I really enjoyed the experience.

The next evening was our farewell cruise of the Harbour with IES. It was nice to visit and eat some h'dourves while sailing around on a beautiful night. The next night we returned to Circular Quay for the third time to see the last night of Vivid Sydney and a show called 'Fire Water' in the Rocks. The show was a reenactment of a convict ship that caught fire in the 1800's. After the show, we sat in our favorite spot in front of the Opera House to take some final pictures of 'Luminous'.

Yesterday was a gorgeous day outside, so Becky and I decided to take advantage of the weather and take a day trip to Watson's Bay. Watson's Bay is a short ferry ride from Sydney and has great views of the city and the ocean. We did a couple trials and saw some beaches, old forts, a lighthouse, and amazing scenery. We made it back to Circular Quay for sunset, which was a great way to end the day.

Here is the link to some more pictures:


Friday, June 12, 2009

Cairns & the Great Barrier Reef

My last trip in Australia was definitely a memorable one. From seeing wild crocodiles to snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef to skydiving, I had many experiences I am sure I will never forget!

We arrived in Cairns last Monday. It is about a three and a half hour plane ride north of Sydney, and it was much warmer there. Cairns is right on the ocean, but unfortunately does not have a beach. However, they have a giant pool so we relaxed there for the afternoon. We met up with some of friends from the University of Sydney and enjoyed the sun. That night, we all went out to dinner and walked along the marina and the boardwalk.

The next day, Becky and I went on a day tour of the Daintree Rainforest. We started our morning at a Rainforest habitat where we saw lots of birds, koalas, wallabies, kangaroos, crocodiles, and other animals. Our next stop was Mossman Gorge, part of Daintree National Park. It was a nice little hike through the forest and along a creek. After that we went to a restaurant for a buffet lunch. It was right on the beach and we had a chance to hang out for a while and enjoy the scenery. After lunch we went on a walk through the Daintree Rainforest. Our last activity of the day was a cruise along the Daintree River. We saw several crocodiles along with birds, snakes, and crabs.

Wednesday we took a trip out to the Great Barrier Reef. It took about an hour and half to get out to the reef, and it was a pretty rough ride. However, once we arrived it got a lot better. After getting our wetsuits, googles, snorkels, flippers, and noodles, we were ready to see the reef. At first, it took me a while to get used to being in the water. I had never been snokeling before, so it was a little scary! Also, I was frightened of the fish and coral...they were so close! After my initial fear subsided, I was able to enjoy the reef. It is an amazingly beautiful place. It felt like we were swimming in a tropical aqaurium! The fish were so vibrant and the coral, although not quite as colorful during the day, was also very pretty. We spent several hours snorkeling and then headed back for Cairns.

Thursday was another very exciting day....I went skydiving! Skydiving was unlike any other feeling. It's not particulary scary because you are attached to a professional who knows how to pull the parachute, land, etc. It is a very fun and exciting experience. I jumped from 11,000 feet, which is about a 40 second freefall. I screamed when we first jumped out of the plane, but the rest of the freefall was such a rush. After the parachute is pulled, it takes about 5 more minutes to float down to the ground, which gave me time to enjoy the beautiful scenery. We were right over the ocean, so I could see parts of the reef, islands, beaches, and mountains in the distance. It was a great location to skydive! The landing was smooth and the I got to spend some time in the afternoon hanging out on the beach.

Here is the link to some more pictures from my trip:

Now I have to focus on school for a while. I have three finals so I should do some studying. Two more weeks until I am home!


Monday, May 25, 2009

Mike's visit

A little over two weeks ago now, Mike came the whole way from Ohio to visit me in Sydney. It was great to see him and we had a lot of fun during the 10 days he was here.

When he arrived in Sydney, I went to the airport to meet him. However, I went to the wrong terminal! After about a half hour of anxious waiting, Mike came and found me. I was very excited to finally see him! The first day I showed him around the University of Sydney campus and Newtown, the suburb where I live.

Friday, we went downtown and saw the highlights of Sydney. We went to Circular Quay to see the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge then over to the Botanical Gardens. We also went to the Rocks, Hyde Park, and ended our day at Sydney Tower.

Saturday night we went to an Aussie rules football game at Olympic Stadium. It was cool to see such a unique Australian sport being played at the famous Olympic Stadium. Sunday we did a walk from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach. It was a beautiful day and it was great to spend some time at the Ocean.

Monday, my weekend was over and sadly, I had to go back to class. Monday night Mike joined our trivia team then Tuesday night we went to the movies to see Angels and Demons. Wednesday night, Mike and I got dressed up and had a nice dinner in Circular Quay. Thursday we did some shopping at Paddy's market and then went to Darling Harbour for the night.

Friday, we took a nice day trip out to Featherdale Wildlife Reserve and the Blue Mountains. Featherdale was definitley a highlight. I had previously been there, but Mike got to fulfill his dream of petting koalas and kangaroos. We also saw dingos, little penguins, wallabies, wombats, emus, and many other animals.

After Featherdale, we took the train out to the Blue Mountains. Unfortunately, it started raining on our way there and continued raining the rest of the day. But we still had a great time! We went to scenic world, we were road a cable car across the mountains, a scenic railway down the mountain, and another cable car back up. We bought ponchos to keep us somewhat dry and hiked around in the woods for a while too. The other site we visited was the Leura Cascades. We got soaked, but we got to see some really amazing rapids and waterfalls!

Saturday was Mike's last full day in Sydney. We went to Paddy's again to pick up a few more things and walked around Sydney for the afternoon. Sunday morning we said our goodbyes and he headed back to Columbus.

Here is the link to some of the other pictures from his trip:

Some other updates since Mike left...Team Charity got first place in trivia! Sadly, it was the last one of the semester, but we went out in style. Also this week, Becky, Nate, and I went to see Luminous at the Opera House. They light up the Opera House different colors which change every few minutes. The event is part of Vivid Sydney, which lasts until June 21st.

Only one more month left in Australia! It's hard to believe I've been here for 3 and 1/2 months. It will be hard to go, but I'm looking forward to seeing everyone at home.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

New Zealand

I just got back from an incredible week in New Zealand! The scenery there was spectacular. Everywhere we went there were beautiful mountains, lakes, forests, and beaches. There were also a lot of fun activities to do along the way. We packed a lot into our 7 day tour of the South Island!

Our trip started last Saturday when Becky and I flew from Sydney to Christchurch. We wandered around the city that afternoon, visiting Cathedral Square and the Christchurch Botanical Gardens.

Sunday morning was when our tour started. Our tour group was about 35 people, coming from all over the world including England, Korea, Scotland, Denmark, Australia, and the U.S. It was great to meet people from so many different nationalities.

The first stop of our tour was the beautiful Lake Tekapo and the Church of the Good Shepherd. This was our first taste of the fantastic scenery of New Zealand. The snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps provided a stunning backdrop to the lake. Next we traveled to Lake Pukaki. There we could see Mt. Cook, New Zealand's tallest mountain, in the distance. We then continued on to Mt. Cook village where we did a hike to Kea Point. That night, we stayed at a ski resort by Lake Ohau. That night was one of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen. We ended the night by spending some time hot tubing under the stars.

The next day we left Lake Ohau to continue towards Milford Sound. Along the way, we stopped at Mirror Lake and The Chasm. We then arrived at Milford Sound (which is actually a fjord) where we boarded the Milford Mariner, the boat for our overnight cruise. That night we journeyed out to the Tasman Sea and then back into Milford where we anchored for the night. It rained overnight, which meant when we woke up there were waterfalls everywhere! Although the weather was not very pleasant, it was awesome to see. We also did a tour around the sound on a smaller boat that morning. Towards the beginning of our ride, we got caught in a hail storm! Luckily the hail stopped and we continued. We got to see some wild seals which was really cool!

After leaving Milford, we drove down to Queenstown where we spent two days. The first night we went out for dinner with our tour group to Lonestar (not the same as the one in the U.S.) and then to Minus 5 Ice bar. The next morning Becky and I planned on sky diving, but it was too cloudy. Instead, we rode the gondola (not the boat, more like a ski lift) up the mountain. There were some incredible views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. We even saw a rainbow! We also did the skyline loop hike further up the mountain which had some beautiful views as well. Later that night we walked around Queenstown Botanical Gardens and saw the sunset.

Thursday we left Queenstown to head for Fox Glacier. Our first stop of the day was at the Kawarau River and the site of the world's first bungy. Also on the way, we stopped at Thunder Creek Falls and a couple places along the Tasman Sea.

Friday morning we woke up bright and early to hike Fox Glacier. We walked up 700 stairs and along the side of a mountain in order to reach the glacier, but it was definitely worth the hike to see it! It's not everyday you get to hike on a glacier. That afternoon we traveled on to Hokitka where we visited a jade factory and the beach. That night we arrived at Flock Hill Sheep station, where we spent the night.

Saturday morning we got to see some of what goes on at a sheep station. Some of the workers showed us how the dogs round up the sheep and then how to catch sheep to sheer. After having morning tea, we drove back to Christchurch where our tour was ending. That afternoon we took a nice relaxing boat ride down the Avon River and visited a museum. Finally, Saturday night we had one last dinner with the group and said our goodbyes.

Our last day in New Zealand, we visited the Kiwi House and Aquarium. The kiwi we saw was adorable! After some souvenir shopping, we were on our way to the airport and then back to Sydney.

Here are the links to some of the pictures I took:

After such a nice break, I'm back to class tomorrow. I have a few days to cram in my homework and then Mike is coming to Sydney on Thursday! It should be lots of fun!


Friday, April 17, 2009


Last week, I spent my spring break in the Australian Outback. After spending a couple of months in Sydney, it was great to see another side of Australia. The "Red Centre" is an amazing place, and I'm sure I'll never forget my time in Central Australia.

On Sunday, we flew into Ayers Rock Airport. Ayers Rock (also know by its aboriginal name, Uluru) is one of Australia's icons. Uluru rises 348 meters above the surrounding desert, making it a highly visible landmark. Iron minerals in the rock give it a red color, although the shades of red change throughout the day based on the position of the sun.

The first night, we went to a sunset dinner. Our bus took us out in the desert where the was a three course meal awaiting. After champagne and h'doeuvres at sunset, we had a buffet including kangaroo steak and barramundi and then a yummy desert bar. There was also a speaker who explained some of the stars and constellations. She pointed out the Southern Cross (which is on Australia's flag), Orion, and approximately half of the Zodiac signs. The other half are currently visible in the Northern hemisphere. Then we got to look through a telescope to see the rings on Saturn.

Monday morning we drove to Uluru. We did the Liru walk along the base led by two aboriginal guides and two translators. Along the way, they shared dreaming stories, taught us how to build a fire, showed us how some traditional tools were created, and even let us try spear throwing. Later that afternoon we did the Valley of the Winds hike at Kata Tjuta, also known as the Olgas. After a long day of hiking, we went to Mount Connor Bush Camp, where we were spent the night. After relaxing around the campfire, we literally slept out under the stars. The night sky was beautiful and we even saw a few shooting stars.

Tuesday morning we hiked to watch the sunrise. Even though we had to wake up at 6:30, it was definitely worth it!

Later that day we went to Kings Canyon where we did yet another hike around the rim of the canyon and down to a waterhole known as the Garden of Eden. That night we stayed in Safari tents and made s'mores around the campfire. Australia doesn't have graham crackers, but we made do with some cookies and of course chocolate and marshmallows.

Wednesday we had a pretty long drive from Kings Creek Station down to Alice Springs. Once we arrived in Alice Springs, we checked into the Desert Palms Resort, where we stayed for two nights. Also that night, we rode a camel to dinner. The camel ride was a lot of fun! For dinner, I had kangaroo steak again and I also tried some camel.

Our last day of the trip, we explored Alice Springs. We did some shopping and climbed Anzac Hill and Billy Goat Hill. Then we spent some time relaxing at the pool. Thursday night we had dinner and attended a digeridoo concert. For dinner, I had kangaroo steak again! The digeridoo concert was interesting, although it's not music I would listen to everyday. Finally, we went to the casino near the resort where I lost $2 playing slots.

I am very glad I got to make a trip to the Outback. It was really hot, there were flies everywhere, all of my stuff got covered in red dust, and I was exhausted from so much hiking, but I loved it. Seeing Uluru, sleeping under the stars, watching the sunrise, and many other experiences were simply incredible.

Now I am back in Sydney and the city life. It was weird coming back to Sydney, it was almost like being home. However, Sydney will never be able to compete with Transfer! Yesterday, Becky and I went to the Surry Hills Festival in one of Sydney's suburbs. There was live music and stalls with jewelry, art, clothes, food, and much more. Last night we met up with Wesley Buckwalter, a friend from PA. We went to see the Opera House and Bridge and the went out for dinner and drinks in the Rocks.

The next couple of weeks I have a lot of school work to do, but I also have another trip to look forward to...New Zealand! Becky and I leave in under two weeks for a 9 day trip.

Last, but not least, here are the links to some of my pictures from the Outback:


Monday, March 30, 2009

Taronga Zoo and Ghost Tour

Last Saturday, Becky and I spent the day at the amazing Taronga Zoo. It was a gorgeous day and we had a great time pretending to be little kids again! The first thing we did when we arrived was attend the bird show. It featured owls, eagles, a condor, and cockatoos, all of which flew right over our heads.

Next we went through the wild Asia section where we saw langurs, a tapir, a biturong, and elephants. After that, we trekked to the African waterhole where there were zebras, ostriches, and giraffes. Next was the seal show, definitely a highlight of the day! They had some adorable tricks. It made me feel like I was back at Sea World. Some other highlights from the zoo include the koalas, meerkats, gorillas, and, of course, kangaroos.

After a long day at the zoo, we met up with our friend Nate and had dinner at a cafe in the Rocks. After that we got milkshakes in Circular Quay and watched the lights go out for Earth Hour. Earth Hour is a global movement where major cities turn off lights to raise awareness about global warming. For instance San Francisco turned off the lights to the Golden Gate Bridge and New York turned off the Coca Cola sign in Times Square. Here in Sydney, they turned off the lights to the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Additionally, they encourage residents to turn off lights and appliances in their homes. It was a cool event to witness and be a part of! Here is the link to pictures I took at the zoo and Earth Hour:

Sunday we spent the day at the beach, again taking advantage of the amazing weather. The waves were enormous and I refused to go in the water. However, I took a lovely nap and actually did some homework!

This weekend, Becky and I took part in a ghost tour of the Rocks. We did the "Dark North" tour led by Ghost Host James. Along the way, he told us stories that combined the history of the area with the supernatural. We heard about the bubonic plague, a vicious gang, someone who jumped off the Harbour Bridge, someone who was entombed in the concrete of the Bridge, and many more. It was not all that scary, but I think I prefer it that way!

After our tour, we went to dinner at a restaurant called Pancakes on the Rocks. They had amazing pancakes! I ordered Bavarian apple pancakes which came with baked apples, cinnamon sugar, and ice cream on top. I love that they come with ice cream! I'm looking forward to going back tonight for my friend Nate's birthday.

In exactly one week I leave for the outback. Be sure to check for updates after that trip!


Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Last Friday, Becky and I left our apartments at 5:25 AM to head to Melbourne for the weekend. The next couple of days were jam packed. Friday we explored the city, Saturday we did a tour of the Great Ocean Road, and Sunday we tried to do anything we missed on Friday. By the time we got back Sunday night, we were both exhausted!

When we arrived Friday morning, the first place we visited was Federation Square. We went to the Ian Potter Center (part of the National Gallery of Victoria) where we saw some awesome Australian art. We also saw St. Paul's Cathedral and Flinder's Street Station. After that we walked up to the Botanical Gardens and the Shrine of Remembrance, a memorial commemorating those who fought in WWI. Next we walked through Chinatown then went to check into our hostel. That night we had some delicious Italian food (including gelato) in Little Italy and walked around the University of Melbourne.

Saturday was the Great Ocean Road tour, definitely the hightlight of the trip. There was so much to see along the beautiful coastline of southern Australia. Our first couple of stops were Bell's Beach, Split Point Lighthouse, and the Memorial Arch for those who built the Great Ocean Road. After that, we stopped in a town called Lorne for some morning tea along the beach. Next we stopped to see some wild koalas and parrots. After that we did a short walk through the rainforest.

The next stop was the most famous landmark along the Great Ocean Road, the 12 Apostles. They are limestone rock formations out in the ocean. Due to erosion, only 8 are left standing, but they are still magnificent. After the 12 Apostles, we saw Loch Ard Gorge, the Razorback, and the fallen London Bridge. These were also beautiful sites to visit. After that we stopped for a quick dinner and headed back to the city.

Sunday we went up 88 floors to the top of Eureka Tower. There was an observation deck where we could see amazing views of the city. We also did "the edge experience" where we went out in a glass block that extended about 9 feet from the building. We even laid down on the glass so we could see straight down. It was scary but really fun!

Here is the link to some more of the pictures I took:

Finally, I need to make a correction to the address I posted in my blog originally. I had the wrong zip code! Here is the correct address:

Sydney University Village
90 Carillon Avenue
Newtown, NSW 2042

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Opera House and More

This weekend got off to a great start with a trip to Coogee Beach. Since Becky and I do not have Friday classes, we figured we should use the opportunity to spend some quality time with the sun and sand. Unfortunately, the weather worsened as the day went on, but we had a couple hours of beach time before the rain came.

Yesterday our study abroad group took a tour of the Opera House and attended a play called "Floating". The tour was about an hour long and provided lots of great information about the building. Contrary to popular belief, opera is not the only genre performed at the Opera House. It is a performing arts center which means the types of performances range from ballet to chamber music to comedy. The theaters inside are similar to other modern performance venues around the world. Although they lack the architectural grandeur of the outside of the building, they provide a wonderful venue for any type of performance. The play we attended, "Floating", was in one of the smaller theaters, seating only about 400 people. It was a British play that forced the audience to think about what "theater" really is. The entire first half of the play was based on audience participation and a rapport between the actors and the audience. There was not a story until the second half, and even then it was not a story in the traditional sense. It included the use of many types of media and effects not often seen on stage such as a slide show, objects being passed around the audience, a projector, a bowl of water, and maps among other things. Although it was not at all what I was expecting, I really enjoyed the show. It's nice to be forced to think about things that are often taken for granted and come away with a deeper understanding of one's perceptions.

Today was another eventful day. First, we went to the St. Patrick's parade downtown. There were bagpipers, floats, and even a tractor (which made me feel like I was back in Transfer!). Afterward, we went to a picnic in the botanical gardens with member from SUMS, the choir I joined. It was a beautiful day to relax and visit. Finally, we went to the Southern Pylon of the Harbour Bridge, which includes a museum and a lookout tower. The views were incredible!

Here is the link to some of the pictures I took this weekend:

Next weekend...Melbourne!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mardi Gras

This Saturday was the annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade in downtown Sydney. It was unlike any parade I've ever been to before, and it was a great experience. There were so many different organizations involved. Everything from activist groups to churches to the zoo! Lots of people were dressed in costumes and there was lots of energy and dancing. I'm very glad I was able to attend such a fun event. Here is the link to some more pictures I took at the parade:

One of the other events I attended recently was buddy club trivia night. The buddy club is an organization set up so international students can meet Australian students and other international students. At trivia night, I met students from France, Denmark, Austria, and Germany. It's great to be able to meet people from such a variety of places.

This week I also attended a Purim service at the synagogue with my friend Nate. Purim is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the story of Esther. It's a fun holiday, and some people even dress up in costumes. The rabbi read the story in Hebrew, but I was able to follow along with an English version. Every time the name Haman was read, people stomped and booed. It was quite interactive!

I have been lucky to have some great cultural and religious experiences during my time here, and I look forward to many more!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

First Week of Class

This week was my first week of class at the University of Sydney. I am taking four classes this semester. Each consists of a two hour lecture and a one hour tutorial every week. The lectures are much larger than I am used to at Case, but the tutorials are much smaller and provide ample opportunity for questions and discussions. For my business classes, I am taking Foundations of Management and Human Resource Processes. I really enjoyed the lectures this week, and look forward to learning more about HR. For fun electives, I am taking Paths to Enlightenment and Religion in Multicultural Australia. I think that both of these religion classes will be extremely interesting. They even involve field trips to various religious communities in Sydney.

This week, I was also able to meet lots of other students and Australians inside and outside the classroom. Sunday, I went to a church that is within walking distance of my apartment. I really enjoyed the service, especially the contemporary music. In the future, I plan on attending the Sunday night service geared specifically towards students. After church, one of the families invited me to their house for lunch. It was great to feel so welcomed, and spend some time getting to know an Australian family.

Today, I attended several events. First was a large group meeting of the evangelical union. It was great to meet so many other Christians on campus! I also went to a meeting for Vision Generation, a campus organization run by World Vision. This semester they are doing events to raise awareness about slavery and human trafficking. I learned that their group also does the Famine for World Vision, but they do 40 hours instead of just 30 like we do! Luckily, their Famine is in August, so I will not be participating. Finally, I went to a BBQ and rehearsal for SUMS. The choir sounded great, and I met a lot of really nice people. Afterwards, we went to the pub for a drink. It was a fun way to end an eventful day!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bridge Climb and Bondi Beach

I did it! I climbed over 1,300 stairs and made it to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. After getting equipped with special suits, hats, and headsets, our group started out across the bridge. Along the way, our guide shared its history and other noteworthy facts. It was built during the Great Depression which is why so many workers were willing to risk their lives working in such dangerous conditions. The massive design and steel that was used during the project resulted in tax payers shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars. Another interesting fact is that the bridge contains over 6 million rivets that were each individually put in place. That being said, the best part of the climb was definitely the spectacular views of the city and the Harbour. The view from the top of the bridge was unforgettable, and by far my favorite part of the experience.

Today Becky and I went with a group of students to Bondi Beach, one of Sydney's most famous beaches. It has been in the news a lot due to a recent shark attack, but no worries, I didn't go in the water! After spending a while at Bondi, our group started out on the Bondi to Coogee walk. It was a little longer than anticipated, but it was definitely worth it. Around each bend there was another beautiful bay or beach to discover. It took us about an hour and a half to get to Coogee, but it was a great way to spend the afternoon. We relaxed at Coogee Beach for a while, taking a well deserved break after our journey.

Also this week at the University, I was able to attend the activities fair. There I signed up for several different clubs and societies. I am very excited to get involved and meet more people. One of the groups I joined is the Sydney University Musical Society, which is Australia's oldest undergraduate choir. This semester, they are working on Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana", and I hope to be part of their concert in May. Another group I joined is the Evangelical Union. They are a Christian group on campus that holds large meetings and small group Bible studies. I also joined the Darcy Society, which is the period drama society. They watch period dramas such as Pride and Prejudice and Gone with the Wind and hold champagne lunches about once a month. Finally, I joined the Work and Organizational Studies society to network and learn more about Human Resources in Australia.

Tomorrow I am going with other students from my study abroad program on a cruise of the Harbour. It should be lots of fun. Unfortunately, on Monday classes start and I have to start doing some work. However, I am sure there will still be plenty to do and see even with classes! No worries!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Exploring Sydney II

Over the past couple of days, I was able to see even more of Sydney. Saturday Becky and I ventured to Chinatown and Sydney's famous Paddy's Market. It was a bustling place with lots to see, buy, and eat.

Sunday, I took a bus downtown to church. Australia is much more secular than the States, so it is a little more difficult to find churches. The church I attended was actually the oldest Presbyterian church in Australia. It was a small congregation, which made me feel very at home. Also, they were very friendly. At least half of the congregation said hi to me!

Later that day there was a Bar-B-Q at the Village, which was the start of many orientation events. Monday I made a mask for a Masquerade Ball that's being held later this week. I also went to trivia night. Our team didn't win trivia, but it is held every Monday, so you can bet I'll be going back. Today I participated in a walking tour of downtown. It highlighted many of the places I've already visited, but it was a beautiful day and I enjoyed the walk. Just a little bit ago, I took a cooking class where I learned how to make a duck salad, stuffed chicken wrapped in bacon, and lamb burgers. We also learned some knife skills and techniques. I probably won't be using much of what I learned, but it was a lot of fun!

Other exciting news is that Becky and I booked our trips for this semester. Here are the major trips and events we are doing over the next couple of months:

February 25th (tomorrow!): Harbour bridge climb

March 14th: Opera House tour and performance

March 20th-22nd: Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road tour

April 12th-17th: Spring break in the Outback which includes visiting Uluru, the Olgas, Kings Canyon, and Alice Springs

May 2nd-10th: A tour of the South Island of New Zealand including Fox Glacier, Fiordland, Milford Sound, and Lake Ohau

May 16th: Aussie Rules football game at the Olympic Stadium

June 8th-11th: Cairns, the rainforest, and the Great Barrier Reef

June 13th: Farewell cruise on Sydney Harbour

Needless to say, I am extremely excited about all the traveling I'm doing over the next couple of months. I figure that while I'm here, I might as well do as much as I can! It should be heaps of fun.

Last but not least, here is a link to some of the new pictures I posted:


Friday, February 20, 2009

Exploring Sydney

Thursday, Becky and I took advantage of the gorgeous weather and took a trip up to Manly Beach. I put on a bunch of 80 spf sunblock and spent a few hours laying in the sun. We also walked to another beach nearby, Shelley Beach. We continued our trek up a cliff and saw some amazing views of the Pacific Ocean.

Another highlight of the day was the ferry ride back to Sydney. Coming into the Harbour, we were able to see the Bridge and the Opera House lit up at night. It was incredibly beautiful. We walked around Circular Quay for a bit so we could get some pictures with these two icons of Sydney.

Yesterday, we saw two more of Sydney's attractions, the Botanical Gardens and the Aquarium. I especially enjoyed the rose garden at the Botanical Gardens. We also did the rainforest walk, made a wish at the wishing tree, and relaxed by the pond. At the Aquarium, we saw everything from sharks to penguins to eels. It was a great place to visit, but the sharks made me a little scared to go scuba diving or snorkeling!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


I made it! It was quite a long trip, but it was definitely worth it. The first day I arrived, we went to our hotel at Coogee Beach for program orientation. Over the next three days we did a tour of downtown Sydney, a jet boat tour of the harbour, went to the top of Sydney Tower and did the Skywalk, visited Featherdale Wildlife Reserve, took a trip out to the Blue Mountains, and spent some time at Coogee Beach. Unfortunately, the weather was unusually cold and rainy. Luckily cold to Sydneysiders is about 70 degrees! Here is the link to some of the pictures I took from orientation:

Yesterday, I moved into my apartment at the Sydney University Village. I am very excited about my room. It came with my own desk, bed, wardrobe, microwave, mini-fridge, and best of all my own bathroom and shower. Just in case anyone wants to send me anything, my address is:

Sydney University Village, 90 Carillon Ave
Newtown, NSW 4240

Class start here on March 2nd, so I still have about a week and a half until I have to start doing any work. Tomorrow, we're going to Manly Beach for the day and this weekend we hope to visit Chinatown and Paddy's market, the aquarium, Taronga Zoo, and perhaps a few other things around town. Next week orientation starts, so there will be loads of activities happening on campus. It should be an exciting time!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hello All

After months of planning and preperation, it's finally here. I leave for Sydney in a little over a week! From Febuary 14th to June 28th, I'll be living in the land down under. I've been asked a million times in the past couple of weeks whether I am excited or nervous, but I don't think either of those are good descriptors of how I feel. If you know me, you know one of my mottos is "don't kill the chill". I feel this little adage applies to my trip to Australia, too. Of course I am a little nervous and very excited, but mostly I am ready to learn a lot, experience a new continent, and have a good time.

One of the reasons I feel so ready for this adventure is the support I have from my friends and family. It's hard to say goodbye, but with email, skype, blogging, etc, I know I'll be able to stay close with those I love. And if anyone wants a postcard, be sure to let me know!

I'll try to update my blog regularly with pictures and stories of my time in Australia, so keep checking over the next couple of months. Again, thanks to all my family, friends, sisters, co-workers, bosses, and anyway else who has supported me. Stay in touch, and I'll see you in July!