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!