It’s been a busy month and it’s not even half way over yet! At this point in the semester, I have about a month left in my program before I return home to the States (so sad). I’m starting to realize there is still so much that I want to explore in Sydney and there’s not enough time to do it all.
The common theme for March is traveling! Out of the 5 weekends in March, there is only one weekend where I am not traveling to another destination. The first weekend I was still in New Zealand, I just came back from a weekend trip to Cairns, this weekend I will be going on a surf retreat, then I have a break before jetting off to Melbourne at the end of March. I feel like I am constantly in a state of either packing or unpacking.
Like I mentioned above, this past weekend I traveled with 3 of my friends to Cairns, which is about a 3 hour flight north of Sydney. Here, we went scuba diving and snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef and also embarked on a waterfall tour that explored the rainforests of Queensland. This trip was probably one of my favorite parts of my study abroad experience thus far. The water at the reef was so clear and warm and the wildlife was insane. There were so many beautiful fish, coral, turtles, sharks, starfish, and more. While I have been snorkeling many times before, snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef was such a unique experience. There were multiple times when I kept asking myself, “Is this real? Am I really doing this right now?”
I also had the opportunity to go scuba diving as well. Since I am not certified, I was attached to my instruction the entire time we went down. Nevertheless, it was incredible to witness all the marine life deep beneath the surface. I have to admit it was a bit of an adjustment to get used to breathing underwater- it just seemed so unnatural. However, once we went down I was quickly sidetracked by all of the cool animals that breathing, even underwater, became second nature to me. I really want to consider getting certified so I can scuba dive again in the future.
As a result of traveling so often, I have learned some tips and tricks that I’ll share below:
- Pack light! Many Australian airlines charge you extra for checking in bags and the weight limit for BOTH your carry-on bag and your carry on suitcase is only 15 pounds (and yes they do weigh your bags at the gate). Therefore, for most of my trips I only brought a backpack.
- Check the weather! While this may seem obvious, I learned this lesson the hard way when I traveled to New Zealand and was completely unprepared for the cold weather. It was 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit the entire trip, which would have been bearable if not for the wind. Being surrounded by water meant it was always windy- and for someone who mainly packed shorts and t-shirts and only one light jacket, this was not a good combination.
- Arrive at the airport extra extra extra early (again another obvious one)! Jetstar, which is a discounted Australian airline, does not offer online check in and they have a policy where you must check in at the counter at least 30 minutes before your flight leaves. My friends and I arrived at the airport an hour early (which in hindsight probably wasn’t enough time) but we were unprepared for the huge line to check in at the counter. Luckily the airline agent let us cut the line but we still had to sprint through the airport to catch our flight. I’ll never make that mistake again, that’s for sure.
And the adventure continues. Next up on my bucket list: surfing! This weekend I will be going to a weekend long surf camp at Bendalong Beach, about a 3 hour drive south of Sydney. Surfing with dolphins, whale watching, bonfires, and feeding stingrays and kangaroos on the beach? Sign me up!
Until next time,