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!