The worldwide Augustana College experience

Truly Remarkable

As I’m staring out the fourth floor library window right now (bundled up in my winter fleece), the cold draft serves as an unpleasant reminder how far away I am from Sydney, Australia.

The last month has been a blur—containing heaps (a popular Australian word) of exciting adventures, humorous encounters, and sad goodbyes.  The following are some of the highlights–I’ll try to be brief.  

Court, Rob, and I made a trip to Kangaroo Island–the 3rd largest island in Southern Australia. After flying into Adelaide, we ferried to the island and joined a two day safari where we hiked, snorkeled, sand boarded, and laughed a lot.  We traveled around in an over sized, hippy looking van with backpackers from all over the world singing American music (note that the music came from Ganki’s ipod, a kind Japanese guy/kid who turned 27 on the trip….don’t worry we sang Happy Birthday)–everything from Chris Brown to Aretha Franklin.  We spotted a koala, kangaroos, seals, penguins, and eagles over the two days.  The beaches of Kangaroo Island belonged in National Geographic–they were that blue and completely depopulated. Oh! And there were these Remarkable Rocks…Yes, they were called the “Remarkable Rocks.” Ridiculous perhaps, but they were truly remarkable…gigantic structures formed from lava many years ago that now sit on a cliff and overlook the ocean. We climbed on those banchis for a good hour at least!

After the safari we spent Saturday evening (Valentine’s Day) in Adelaide.  The pub recommended to us sported pictures of Elvis, Jesus, and Chairman Mao and contained creepy old men wandering about. . .so we settled for an overrated “dance club” instead.  We occupied ourselves by watching crazy Australians make out with one another…it was a heck of a Valentine’s Day. It only got better when I accidently climbed into the wrong bed at the hostel.  Around 3 in the morning a rather angry and confused backpacker chick woke me up by whisper yelling that I was in her bed…yikes. I deliriously climbed to the top bunk.

The last two weeks in Sydney we tried to cram in as much as we could by making a trip the zoo, going to the beach and botanical gardens, checking out the Opera House, and eating at our favorite restaurants.  At the zoo Court, Rob, Hillary and I took many photographs acting like the animals. I love the lions. A crazy bird eating ice cream went spastic as I was walking by—it flew smack dab into my shin and cut me with its beak.  During the Seal Show a California Sea Lion started “barking” uncontrollably. The trainer/comedian remarked that the seal hasn’t lost his American accent.  Did you know giraffes’ tongues are up to 18 inches and a bluish color to protect it from the sun?

Courtney joined me for a 2 hour night tour of the Sydney Observatory that includes viewing stars through 2 different telescopes.  Of course it was the cloudiest night ever so we settled for the constellations in the planetarium.  However, on this particular evening, comet Lulin was scheduled to pass closer to the Earth than it would in 16 million years…or something like that.  After the tour, a reporter and photographer approached Courtney and I—they knew we were American (we still don’t know how) and wanted to ask us questions predominantly about the comet.  Ha. We took many awkward pictures peering into the telescope and babbled to the reporter about the stars and comet…Unfortunately, I am an idiot and kept referring to the comet as Lu Lu (instead of Lulin) throughout the interview.  After Court nonchalantly corrected me, the reporter laughed and said she just thought I had nicknamed the comet—ha! I don’t know what’s worse…calling the comet by the wrong name while being interviewed or looking like a person who would nickname a comet?

Thursday was my last day at the Observatory.  I conquered writing that brochure a couple weeks back and had started planning the 2009 Festival of the Stars.  I was able to have lovely lunch with my supervisors before I left—the Observatory made for a terrific internship and an excellent experience.  I teared up leaving the museum on the hill and my astrophysics’ friends. 

Thursday night we enjoyed a show in the concert hall of the Opera House—Sydney Orchestra’s rendition of Shakespeare’s Midsummer’s Night Dream.  Court, Rob, and I were underdressed. I guessed we didn’t realize how snazzy you are supposed to look when going to a show in the concert hall of the Opera House.  Luckily we were sitting the 2nd to last row—the black tie and evening gown attendees sat up front.  Halfway through the first Act Court and I had a spontaneous laughing attack…we really tried to contain ourselves, but it was bad/embarrassing. Here we were sitting in the concert hall of the Opera House in Sydney Australia listening to a symphony and talented people bellow in old English…what were we doing? 

After spring breaking in New Zealand—that’s another story in itself—I returned to Australia for one more day. We made one last visit to Angelino’s to eat that delicious chicken penne pesto pasta for the last time.  I had been badgering Soto, the chef, for the recipe for weeks now but he persisted that a chef never tells his secrets….but he finally broke down.  I ended up making my dinner with him in the kitchen and wrote every step down.  I love Italians. 

That night we danced our little hearts out one more time.  Within the first 15 minutes the strap of my dress snapped—it couldn’t handle Beyonce. 

The next day we sadly checked out of the Meriton—about 24 hours later my luggage and I made it back to the windy city and eventually Springfield.

Australia exceeded my expectations. Words and pictures do not do it justice.   

Spring term is officially underway—it’s time to say goodbye to Bronte Beach and summertime in Sydney and say hello to March in the Midwest and Intermediate Microeconomics!  

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