The Australia Journals: Feb. 8-10, 2010

The Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge from the Royal Botanic Gardens.

For background on this series of blogs, see this intro post.

Commentary

On the evening of Feb 8, 2010, I met Elizabeth (another meteorology student at OU studying abroad at Monash) at LAX, and we both flew to Sydney together. We were going to spend some time in Sydney before going on to Melbourne.

We had our first moment of culture shock right after getting to Sydney. As we were walking through the airport, we felt like we were going against the flow of foot traffic. We eventually realized that they walk on the left in Australia instead of the right like we do in the U.S.

I then learned a valuable lesson getting to the hostel: terrain can be just as important as walking distance. It wasn’t a very far walk from the train station to the hostel, but there were some decent hills involved, along with some stairs. Trying to do that with two large suitcases and a carry on was an adventure. I’m pretty sure Elizabeth wasn’t too happy with me by the time we go to the hostel. Haha.

But all in all, the trip went smooth, and it was really awesome to step off the train and a short walk later see the Sydney Opera House.

The Journal Entry

(Actually written the evening of Feb. 11, but about Feb. 8-10)

Well, I am currently laying in a hostel bedroom in Sydney, Australia. That’s right, I’m in Australia. I’m participating in the exchange program that the OU School of Meteorology has with Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. Elizabeth is as well. We are both here in Sydney together. I left to come down here the morning of the 8th. Mom and Dad took me to El Paso from Alpine. We did some shopping first and ate lunch and then they took me to the airport. I checked my baggage in at about 1:30 P.M. and found out my flight was delayed until 3:40. It was originally scheduled for 2:50 I think. If not 2:50 it was 2:55. Anyway, I decided to go ahead and stay and go through security and all. We said our goodbyes and then I went through security. My flight ended up leaving at about 4:20 P.M. I just read my Australia guidebook the whole time I was waiting. I read it on the flight to LAX as well. The flight went well. Nothing too interesting happened. My flight got into LAX about 5:30 P.M. if I remember correctly. I got my baggage and then waited in the arrivals part until about 7:30 P.M. I took the shuttle to the international terminal. I checked my baggage in and then went through security. After going through security Elizabeth and I met up. We went and found a place to eat. I got a cheesesteak sandwich, a drink, and chips. It cost me about $18. After that we went and sat by our gate. We boarded the plane at about 9:45 P.M. We left for Sydney on a Qantas A380 at about 10:30 P.M. The flight took about 15 hours. For the first part of it I messed around with the in-flight entertainment. They served a meal a couple hours into the flight. I refused it and went to sleep. I got about 6 hours of decent sleep. Probably about an hour after I got up, they served breakfast. It wasn’t the greatest of breakfasts. The muffin was pretty good though. After breakfast I watched a movie. We landed in Sydney at about 8:30 A.M. Sydney time. We had to go through customs and then get our baggage. Luckily, they didn’t search mine. I didn’t want to have to mess up how I had packed it. After getting through customs and all, we got our transportation ticket. Then we just hung out in the airport by McDonalds until about 1:30 P.M. since we couldn’t check in until 2:00 P.M. We ate lunch from McDonalds. At about 1:30 we caught the train to Circular Quay station and then walked to the hostel. It was a pretty tough walk since a lot of it was uphill and up stairs. We made it though. After we got here, we both got a shower and then called our parents. We then went on a hunt to find a bank to exchange money. We never were really satisfied with any of the exchange rates though, and the one bank we decided to use was closed. After that we went and looked in some gift shops for a while. At about 6:15 we caught a bus and went and ate at Pizza Mario. It wasn’t too bad. We got a pizza without sauce, just a couple different cheeses and spicy salami. Not really a kind I particularly like, but it wasn’t too bad. After that we came back to the hostel and both were in bed by about 8:45.

The Australia Journals: Intro

“Your brain gets too comfortable in your everyday surroundings. You need to make it uncomfortable. You need to spend some time in another land, among people that do things differently than you. Travel makes the world look new, and when the world looks new, our brains work harder.

Austin Kleon, Steal Like An Artist

This time ten years ago I was preparing to leave for a semester of study abroad in Melbourne, Australia. As a kid, I had always wanted to visit Australia. I’m not sure exactly why, but I remember it was always at the top of places I would like to visit. Other than a road trip to Canada as a child, I had never been out of the country. It was hard to imagine I would soon be spending the next few months in the Land Down Under. 

I was in my junior year studying meteorology at the University of Oklahoma, and the School of Meteorology had (and still has) an exchange program with Monash University in Melbourne, Reading University in England, and Hamburg University in Germany. I’m pretty sure I was aware of this leading up to my junior year, but hadn’t given it much thought until the first semester of my junior year. In one of my classes early that semester there were some students who came in and talked about their experiences with study abroad. I decided after that to at least look into doing the exchange program the following semester. And there I was a few months later about to actually take part. 

I still consider those few months to be some of the best months of my life, and I’m now a big advocate of taking part in a study abroad program if you can. Over the last few months, I have spent quite a bit of time typing up all the journal entries I wrote while I was there, and over the next few months, I will be sharing some of these along with some short commentary. It was fun going back through my journal entries and typing them up. It took a lot longer than I realized it would. Haha. There were some things I remember vividly, and other things I don’t remember at all. There were days when I wished it wouldn’t end, and days when I wondered why I had even done it. I look forward to sharing some of these with all of you, and I hope you all enjoy reading about the experience. Hopefully, by sharing this, I can help others decide it is something they want to experience. Be on the lookout for the first journal entry in the next week.

In addition to sharing the journal entries, I will have a couple pictures from Australia on display and available for purchase at all my art shows that occur February through June (the picture at the top of this post being one of them).