Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Australia Part Two

This is the second in a series of blogs from our intern Kali who is a student at UW-Madison. She has been studying abroad during the spring semester on the eastern coast of Australia and has composed several blogs about her experiences there...

Australia Part Two

My first few weeks down under have been a great experience. I have already learned so much about Australian life, and I know I am going to continue to learn about things I had never dreamed of. The Aussies are friendly, laid back, and from my experience, they love to drink. My second night in Sydney; which did not consist of recovering from jetlag and sleeping like my first day; I decided to take up my roommates offer to join the Aussies on a “pub crawl”. Going into this I had no idea what a pub crawl was, but it sounded like a good first night out on the town. It turned out that pub crawl was basically going to multiple pubs (or as we call them bars) “crawling” to the next more intoxicated each time. I fortunately did not attempt to keep up with their drinking and did not end up having to crawl my way home. It really was a good time, and Australian pubs are full of fun-loving and very musical people. At one point the entire pub burst out in a synchronized song and cheer.

Being a huge nature buff, I have been absolutely loving Sydney for its green surroundings and beautiful scenery. Everywhere I look there are giant tropical trees and plants, including in the main city. Every morning I wake up to numerous exotic birds right outside my window. One morning I was sitting in my bedroom thinking and I swore I heard monkeys in the tree outside. I was so confused until I realized they were birds. Others make baby and goat noises. They are hilarious sounding, some very annoying and loud. The birds are the same big expensive bird you find in exotic pet stores back home, and here I see them outside of my campus buildings and on people’s porches.

Another animal that is common is the lizard. We have had a small lizard living in our house for a couple weeks now, we are thinking of naming him. You see them everywhere, especially when you are walking down sidewalks and they are scurrying away from your feet. I was able to see a large lizard out by some cliffs near campus that looked similar to a very large bearded dragon, which is a pet I have back at home.

Spiders are the one thing to watch out for in your homes in Sydney. One of the deadliest is the funnel-web spider, which hides out in dark cool places, like your shoes. One of the first things I saw walking through the Sydney airport was a sign warning visitors to watch out for these spiders. They can kill you within 15 minutes to an hour from what I have heard. Also I hear to watch out for red-back spiders, which are also deadly. One Aussie told me to kill every spider you see just to be safe, which I did as soon as I found a giant spider hanging out in my bathroom! In case you are wondering how to kill giant spiders, I used hairspray and a shoe. For larger spiders I suggest larger weapons and possibly the help of a friendly Aussie neighbor.

On a lighter note, if there is one place any traveler should go while in Sydney, it is of course the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the Opera House. During my first week I attended a party rock themed cruise around the harbor, which was an absolutely beautiful sight. The sun set over the ocean and the city and Opera House lit up to give a view I have not experienced anywhere in America. Sydney is beautiful and the harbor is a must see. There is also the option to climb the bridge and walk on the very top which I have heard is a beautiful view, and I was told; for you thrill seekers; you can grab a harness and actually climb the bridge to the top.

For those of you who loved the movie Finding Nemo and like me had the idea to jump on a train to Sydney to find P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way Sydney, I have sad news. It does not exist! However that does not mean that you should not venture through the city to see the numerous shops and cuisine that Sydney has to offer. I have gone to the city once now during the day to visit the Mardi Gras gay pride parade, and I do suggest visiting during this time if you would like to see the colorful and lively Mardi Gras goers of Sydney. The city is full of beautiful buildings and artwork, along with endless shops, cuisine, and pubs to suit any person’s needs.

My most recent adventure was ferry ride to Manly beach, one of the most popular to the Australians living in my area. There are multiple beaches that I have been told to visit, and will visit eventually. Manly beach was an incredible sight, and my camera could not capture the beauty of the scenery. The ocean is so clear you can be five feet deep in the water and still see the nearly white sand on your feet.

Not all Aussies are surfers, but the water is filled with more surfers than swimmers. I was unable to surf due to strong winds and large difficult waves, and the current was so strong I could barely stand in one place when swimming. An important thing that the lifeguards constantly stress when in the water is to stay inside the red and yellow flags. The ocean can be dangerous and the current can pull you out too far if you are not careful, and I have heard stories of people getting pulled out to sea and drowning. Listen to the lifeguards and if you are not a strong swimmer, swim with someone who is! If you are careful and stay in the safe zone you will have a great time.

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