The Rest of O-Week in Australia

I can’t exactly remember all of the others things we have been doing, which is why I decided that I definitely needed to get started on all this writing that I had wanted to do. I will try to break it down day by day, but I don’t know how much I’ll come up with.

Tuesday January 8th: We went on a campus tour that morning and got a bit of a better feel about where we were. Unfortunately it wasn’t anything like the High Point tours and we didn’t actually learn that much about anything. We also went to a study abroad meeting, which didn’t talk about anything extremely important either. It was just details about how to make an Australian resume and how to file for a tax number and stuff. There was an official class welcome which we went to as well, but that was kind of awkward because it was meant for the freshman. Besides study abroad, they were the only people on campus at that time all week. We got these 2013 class pins, (I guess they consider their class as the year they entered?) but I like it because 2013 is the year I came. I tried my first piece of sushi…not a huge fan and then we took off pretty early. We walked into town and where there is this cute little café called the Hub where we spent a good part of the afternoon. Just to clarify some things. 1) We: this refers to the people from High Point University that came to Bond with me. About 14 of us came, but our group consists of about 9 girls and our one guy friend Dane. 2) Town: there is this adorable little town right next to our school called Varsity Lakes. It is just a small local town around this lake, which has a bunch of little shops and that we frequently visit, when we want to get out. Okay back to Tuesday. That evening the event was a hypnotist that came to campus. If you have seen one before, it is the same basic thing. A guy brings like 20 people to stage and hypnotizes them and makes them do stupid things. Except this guy was unlike any hypnotist in the states…he was extremely sexual and the show was rather inappropriate! I think half the time our group had our jaws dropped and we just kept looking at each other…awkward.

Wednesday January 9th: This morning we had a very early morning that started with a residential hall orientation meeting. Of course nothing that we hadn’t heard before just your typical quiet hours, no alcohol, etc. After this I think that we went to the beach? I’m not sure, but the first beach we went to was Broadbeach. Unfortunately it was extremely windy that day and we didn’t stay for long at all. Instead we walked around the city itself. We got our bus passes at the book store. It is like the only thing that is cheap around here. They give us very nice student discounts and you can get pretty much most places for like a 1.50 each way. At this point we have figured out the bus system quite well and it is pretty much the only way we can get anywhere. I think we had our first BBQ this day as well, which is not like the ones we have at home. They generally only consist of sausages with weird tomato sauce on a piece of bread…weird. That night we tried to go to the trivia night, but we arrived too late and it had already started and was packed. So we just had a bunch of friends get together and hang out in the common room.

Thursday January 10th: I don’t remember much of anything that happened that day. I think we went to the town centre because we decided to open bank accounts the day before. The local bank ANZ set up a deal with our school that we could start bank accounts and they wouldn’t charge us any fees at all. This way we had a debit card and could book larger trips. We had to go to the bank to finalize everything, show our passports, etc. Also at the mall, I went to the local Vodafone shop so I could try and get my phone working. They gave me a free SIM card that I could put directly into my iphone and I went home to start looking at their plans. I found out I couldn’t use an American credit card to buy credit, so I walked into town so that I could buy a Vodafone gift card to use for the month. Basically what you do is buy credit and when it is used up, then you can put more money on it or not. Before this point I could only use my phone when I had wifi, so it was like an ipod. Now my phone was like a real Australian phone with a different phone number. I think that day we tried going to the beach again, but this time we went to Burleigh beach which was so much nicer. It is calmer much more of a small town feel instead of the city. I learned many things that day including that you shouldn’t wear your sunglasses in the water because big waves come and you will lose them. I was very annoyed. That evening was the tight and bright party. This is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, everyone wears tight and bright clothes. We had a lot more fun at that party rather than the toga party, but again my sleepy self went to bed at the end of the party, instead of going into the city to a club for the after party.

Friday January 11th: I’m not sure what exactly happened this day either, but there was another BBQ which was pretty similar to the last one, except that they also had a breakfast BBQ which had eggs you could put with your sausage on your piece of bread haha. I believe that we went to the pool that day, which isn’t anything like Slane pool. It is basically a lap pool with huge concrete steps on one side and like 8 chairs on the other. The water was extremely nice and it was definitely worth it. That evening there was a movie night on the lawn, so Rachael and I stayed and watched the new Batman movie on the big screen outside.

Saturday January 12th: This day the school held a trip to Broadbeach again, but this time it was so much nicer than the first time we went. That was when it felt like we were in the middle of the desert during a sandstorm.

Sunday January 13th: On Sunday we had a lot of fun. Some of our Australian friends decided to take us to the local national park called Springbrook. The section we went to was called the Mount Cougal section. It was quite a drive to get there because we got lost for a little while, but it was definitely worth it. We got to see a lot of the country side and the beautiful mountains and rainforests of Queensland. Once we got there, we were able to swim in the rock pools and jump off the cliffs into the pools. It was one of the scariest things I have ever done, but totally worth it. Ya know jumping off 25 foot high cliffs into rocky water…no problem haha! That evening I chilled out in my room and finally unpacked. I had to because the cleaning ladies come on Monday’s and my room was still absolutely trashed. It is so nice for them to come because they vacuum, take out the trash, and change your sheets each week. So helpful!

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My First Day in Australia!

Wow I have officially landed in the amazing country of Australia! It took some time to get here…25 hours actually, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I started off my crazy day by rushing down to Dover to see Phil, Christi and their beautiful new baby girl. Of course Annalise had to wait until the absolute last moment to enter this world. I barely got the chance to see her before I left. Fortunately I did and it was a great way to start off this endless day. We dropped Grandma off at home so she could get driving and then headed to the Philadelphia airport where I started off the first leg of my journey.
I arrived at the gate without a problem and took off to Atlanta. Once at Atlanta, I got a yucky, expensive hotdog and took off once more to L.A. Pretty much the whole flight, I entertained myself by reading the free magazines and watching the plane on the flight tracker go across the country. I arrived in LA at 8 pm and didn’t take off again until 11, but I definitely appreciated the extra time. I had heard conflicting responses about what I was supposed to do with my luggage once arriving in LA. I had heard that it would be transferred to the international terminal for me and I also heard that I would have to pick it up and take it myself. So I walked down and didn’t see it come out, so I decided just to head over to the international terminal, but the problem came when I had to figure out where exactly that was. I walked around for a while and didn’t see anything, so I went back upstairs to find a security guard. I found a super nice woman who explained where I was supposed to go and we laughed and talked for a while. She told me that if I had the time, then the simplest way to get there was to go outside and just walk left for a very long time. So I began my walk, talking to dad on the phone on and off. Thank goodness I was in California and the weather was mild because it was quite a long walk.
I finally found my way there and decided that I should grab a bite to eat because I didn’t know what the food situation would be on the plane. Unfortunately I made a bad choice on that issue and after having Burger King, I didn’t really feel well the rest of the night. Part of it probably had to do with nerves as well. I found a place to charge my phone and sat down and people watched.
Once my flight started to board, I walked over and waited in line with everyone else. It was very hectic and crazy, but I got an aisle seat on a Virgin Australia airline. The plane was nicer than I was expecting and the people were very sweet. I sat next to an older Australian man and his wife who were on the way home and I chatted with him a bit. I even got a little anxious about my classes in Australia because he talked so fast that I could barely understand him. I was praying I could understand my professors. We quickly got into the air and they served dinner within an hour, but it felt like such a long time, as I was simply exhausted! I didn’t eat much because the BK didn’t make me feel good, but I fell asleep as soon as they took my plate. I slept on and off for most of the flight, but about four hours before we were supposed to land, I woke up and watched Pitch Perfect. What a cute movie and then we got breakfast.
Since I was close to the front of the plane, I got off right away and got to customs before the masses arrived. This allowed me to get my luggage pretty quickly and find the Con-x-ion bus that I took me to school. Since I landed a little early and got off the plane fast, I got on the earlier bus which I was very grateful about. The guy loaded our luggage into a trailer on the back and took about 4 girls to Bond University with me. The whole drive I was fighting to stay awake and look around, when all I wanted to do was fall asleep. Eventually we made it to Bond University at about 8:50 on Monday morning (January 7th) after leaving at 2:15 in the afternoon on Saturday January 5th. I’m still wondering what happened to my Sunday…
We arrived at Bond at the perfect time. After fighting our way to the student accommodation office with all our luggage, we learned that it opened at 9 am. Perfect timing! As I walked through the line to get my keys, the woman pulled out a map and showed me how to get to my dorm. I am not the best with oral directions, so I just kinda nodded through it all and figured I could consult the map as I went. Except then she said thanks and kept the map! So I said bye to the girls I met on the bus and tried walking. All I could remember was: walk towards the lake, around the lake, past the lake, to the left, to the right, over the bridge…..ahhhhh! I looked like an idiot! I was walking around this empty campus with two big suitcases, a small duffle bag, my purse, all in yoga pants, sneakers, and a long sleeve shirt. I felt so helpless. I sat on the side of the road under a tree just to get out from the boiling sun of the Gold Coast for a while.
I saw a map on the side of a building, so I started walking back towards it, when a man in a school truck came up and asked if I was lost. Of course I was, so he loaded my suitcases into the trunk and I got in. He drove me to my building and said that he had seen me walking all around looking helpless. He explained that he was one of the heating/air conditioning techs. Once arriving at my dorm he carried all my stuff into my room and thankfully turned on my air conditioner. We were both very surprised that no one was there to help me out at all! Oh well. I quickly ripped off all my sweaty clothes and happily put on a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, and flip flops and took off.
As I began walking around campus, I found the two girls from my sorority that I already knew. I’m not sure what all we did but got our ID’s, printed out class schedules, ate lunch, and toured the campus a little. Around 3 that afternoon, we had a trip to the Robina Town Centre. This is the closest thing that we have to a local mall. It is absolute huge and has everything one could possibly want. Wikipedia says that it covers 84 acres with over 350 stores, including 3 grocery stores haha. It is very interestingly built as it feels very inside/outside. This is true about most of their town centres. They don’t really have doors but they have tall roofs above the buildings. On the way there, we got into a car accident too! We had a very long train looking bus thing with many segments that was driving on the outside lane of a traffic circle. The driver cut the turn too tightly and literally smashed the car on the inside lane into the “scenic” middle section of the circle. Wow what a way to start our day! It didn’t seem like they thought it was a big deal because he pulled over for like 10 minutes then we just left. After successfully arriving, I picked up some cereal and oatmeal for breakfast and a bowl. This is when I first learned of the horrendous cost of living in Australia. Did you know an average box of cereal is like 5 dollars for the store brand? Seriously!
Later that evening I learned about the Australian love of drinking and partying. The school sold these bags for 50 dollars that had tickets for each of the events over the course of orientation week, a t-shirt, and a water bottle. So we bought them. The first event that night was a Toga Party, held in the school’s tavern/bar called Don’s. Yes the school has it’s own bar on campus. I guess it’s because most of the kids can drink because the drinking age is 18. We received our sheet in our bags and went to the party. I did not last very long because I am not a drinker and I hadn’t been in a bed for like 2 days! After a girl spilled her beer all over my feet, I called it a night. I took my first real hall bathroom shower and went to sleep.