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!