Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Engaging with Fijian kava ceremonies. Exploring the startling beauty of New Zealand's Milford Sound. Stepping to the edge of the world in Antarctica. This is why many alumni call our programs the single most influential experience of their university careers.
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July 5th, 2016
I can hardly believe that I am about halfway through my time in Australia! The time goes fast while we are here because we have been doing so much, but it also feels like I have been here for months because we have seen so much.
Over the past week or so, we finished our homestay: our bigger group split up into small groups, and each stayed with a host family for two days. My homestay was on a farm with a family with three small children. I loved the experience of the homestay because I feel like I got a better taste of the Australian culture and lifestyle. Maybe it was the family I got or the backpackers I met, but their culture placed a high value on traveling. Job success was important, but traveling was just as important. In America, we work until we retire and then take time off to travel; in Australia, they might work a little longer, but don’t wait to travel. It was interesting to see the differences between our cultures.
We also spent time in Cape Tribulation. Here we learned more about the aboriginal culture and the Daintree Rainforest. Cape Tribulation was beautiful! It is the only place in the world where rainforest meets a coral reef, and it is the oldest rainforest in the world. Cape Tribulation is one of my favorite places that we have traveled to so far because of the activities that we did there. The views we hiked to or drove to were amazing.
We did a night walk in the rainforest and saw all of the nocturnal animals that live in it (mostly spiders, but there were a few other animals, too). We also did a canopy crane tour! The canopy crane is usually open only for scientists and their research, but our group had the opportunity to go up in the crane to look at the rainforest. Seeing the top of the rainforest canopy was breathtaking. Everything looked so green and you could see all the different types of vegetation. While we hiked to various viewing spots, we learned how the rainforest, mangroves, and reef are all connected to each other and effect each other in different ways. We also learned that the vines that run through the canopy are what hold the top together; if a storm comes, the vines allow the trees to sway a little bit, but not to fall down completely.
On our last day in Cape Tribulation, we kayaked around the point of Cape Tribulation and saw yet another different view of the rainforest. We also saw many turtles, fish, stingrays, and even one small shark on our kayaking adventure.
I loved learning about the rainforest while experiencing it in person. The process of seeing what you are learning helps cement what you are learning, and actually seeing this process being carried out cements how it works together. I can not believe that I’m almost done with my time in Australia, and I am excited for our last few weeks and looking forward to snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef.