Thursday, June 5, 2014

Homeward Bound to the Heartland!

      The day has arrived! The day in which I am beginning my journey back home. It is, as expected, a bittersweet feeling. Over the past few months I have fallen in love with this country and its people. I have learned so many things about not only the Australian way of life, but also many other cultures including my own. I have met people from Australia (obviously), France, Germany, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Nigeria, China, and some fellow Americans! All of us coming together to embark on this experience was incredible and I will miss so many people once I leave. I think that the connections we have all made here could potentially lead to some exciting new adventures in the future!
       In about an hour, I will be leaving campus to the Rockhampton Greyhound bus stop about 12 km away for an 11 hour bus ride back to Brisbane. Once we arrive at the bus depot there, I will have about an hour and a half before my shuttle takes me to the airport to leave on a 10:30 AM flight. I will be flying into LAX (a 13 hour flight yikes) and from there, I will be traveling to Denver, and then finally back to the Sioux Falls airport!! It will take about two days all together to get back home and I'm ready to get started!! I've downloaded some new music, bought a new book, and packed some granola bars- I am ready to go! I have a few more goodbyes to say this afternoon and then I will be on my way back. I can't wait to see mom, Jess, and Dylan at the airport on Saturday. Hopefully the planes will be on time and such so you guys don't have to wait around too long!
       I can not stress enough how lucky I am to have had this experience. I have been so incredibly blessed with an awesome support system back home, at my university, and now here. I would have never been able to travel halfway across the world without this support! Without a doubt, this adventure has had stressful, homesick, and scary moments. But those moments were to be expected and are minimal compared to the numerous overwhelming moments of happiness and excitement!
       Traveling has the potential to show one an incredible amount of possibilities. I firmly believe that the world can be a classroom teaching some of the most important things we will learn throughout our life. Experiencing different cultures and meeting different people first-hand can change your whole perspective on life and hopefully raise some much-needed awareness about global issues that have no borders. A main reason why I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity is because I now know things about other countries that I would have probably never heard while being tucked away in my own little part of the world. I love my home and I have missed it every single day that I've been here! I am so thankful to have been able to study abroad!  

 
**Our last beach trip to Yeppoon- Me, Marina (US), Ben (US), Max (France), and Pauline (France).

 

**Kangaroo family on my last day here in Rockhampton!
 
**This morning, Marina and I decided to watch the sunrise for the last time in Rockhampton!
 
 **Beside our residence college sign the day before I leave
 
      So now I've cuddled a koala, "raced" a kangaroo, hiked a mountain, surfed the sea, enjoyed a real meat pie, while even getting some studying in. How many people can say that?! Now I'm on to my next adventure back in the heartland. I'm very excited for the next chapter in my life. I'm excited to see where life takes me and where I'll end up. One thing is for sure, this Australian adventure won't be the last of my traveling but just the beginning.

Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Tina Tucker

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Getting my Ducks in a Row

        It's my last week in Australia! I have been very busy getting everything ready to go home but yet also enjoying every day that I have left here. On Wednesday, Ben, Marina, Pauline, Max and I travelled to Yeppoon for our last day enjoying the beach. For lunch we had some delicious fish and chips at a shop located on the beach! While we were eating, we were discussing about going for one last swim in the ocean since it was a beautiful day out. Suddenly, Pauline yells something out in French and starts pointing at the water. Then she starts saying "shark, shark, I saw a shark!- right there, it's RIGHT THERE!" And sure enough a little ways out from the shore was this dark grey, black dorsal fin. Yeppoon beach has rarely had any shark sightings and it really isn't shark season around here but, I kid you not, there was a shark in the water! Needless to say, none of us got into the water haha.
  
      Instead of swimming, the rest of our day was spent exploring the little shops located in Yeppoon and picking up some final souvenirs. We left around 4 PM to go back to Rockhampton to get ready for the State of Origin game that night!

      State of Origin is a three-game rugby series in which Australian rugby players in the Australian Rugby League play for the state in which they came from instead of the teams that they were drafted to. The two different states that play in this highly- competitive league is the Maroons (Queensland) and the Blues (New South Wales) with the first State of Origin game being played in 1980. Each year, the crowds get bigger and the hype surrounding the series escalades! I would say that the equivalent to the State of Origin series excitement is equivalent to the Superbowl hype. Since 2006, Queensland has won every series! The Maroon pride was awesome to experience! A large group of us went to The Oxford (a pub located in downtown Rockhampton) to watch the first game that took place on Wednesday night via TV. I believe that the first game took place in Brisbane. Because Rocky is located in the heart of Queensland, you can probably guess who the large majority of Oxford patrons that night were rooting for haha. Although, there were a few brave souls standing by their NSW Blues. The game was so intense! If you haven't seen a rugby match in person or on TV, I strongly recommend seeing what it's like. It took me about half of the game before I could really understand what was going on and it was great! It is both alike but also very VERY different from what we Americans know as football. Surprisingly, QLD ended up losing the first game. Nevertheless, we all had a great time at the pub experiencing this Australian event. The second game will be hosted by Sydney on June 18th and the third game will return to Brisbane on July 9th.

     Thursday was a day of re-cooperating from the previous night and studying hard! It was our last trip to Stocklands as well. Lately, I have been doing quite a bit of studying just because finals start tomorrow! Yikes! I went to the sports center the other day (where we take our exams) and it was this large auditorium- about two basketball courts long- completely filled with rows and rows of individual desks. Scary! I, being the fandom nerd that I am, immediately thought it resembled the Great Hall in Harry Potter when they take their exams haha.

     Well the next time you'll be hearing from me, I'll be completely done with exams and getting ready to board the bus for my first leg of the trip to go home! I will accept any and all prayers for my exams coming up within the next week. :) Thanks for checking up on me!

Toodles,

Tina

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Checking Off the "To-Do" List

       Only 10 more days until I start my journey back to the States! I'm not sure if I should be this excited to leave Australia but I am ready to be HOME! Because the clock is ticking, I'm starting to feel a bit rushed to see and do all that I've been planning on doing here. I was warned about this but I feel like regardless of how many activities I check off my list early on, I've continually added more. Simply put, four months is simply not enough time to fully appreciate and experience this place. I didn't even get to travel very far and I'm still feeling the pinch! I honestly believe I'll make it back here one day. There's still so much to learn here and hopefully I won't be alone next time! Having another person to share my experiences with here would have made this trip even better.
 
      This last week has been pretty busy with various activities. Mostly, I compiled all the information from my lectures into study guides for me to utilize in this upcoming week before finals. I love my study guides! haha- They seem to do the trick anyways. On Tuesday, Marina and I walked to Glenmore and I once again did what I said I would never do again- I ate another large pizza in one sitting. What's the definition of insanity again? This time I wasn't alone as Marina did the same thing! We took the long way home haha. On Thursday, we once again went to Stockland's and I stocked up on groceries as my usual. Most of the other students on the trip loaded up on Ramen noodles and Red Bull to prepare for this week. Red bull here is about $4 per 250 mL can! Too expensive for me- I'll stick with my tap water haha.

       On Friday, we had the opportunity to venture out to Great Keppel again for class. Attendance wasn't required and I was SHOCKED at how many students didn't go. Out of about 20 of us, Ben, Marina, Yibba, Jess, Heather, and I (all from the US) and Pauline from France were the ONLY ones who went! Seven out of 20! Patrick, our teacher, was quite disappointed at the lack of turn out especially because he had to jump through some hoops with the financial office to have this happen again. I just can't believe how many international students decided to sleep in and do nothing during the day instead of going to one of the most beautiful places on earth. I truly do not get it! I just thought it was funny how every single American student went (and one French girl) but no one else. We had a great time! I liked this trip better because of the smaller group. We were able to have more quality/ intimate conversations with the boat owners, Hans and Di, as well as with Patrick. Also, we were able to enjoy and explore the island a bit more this time around because we weren't so busy taking a million pictures! (I still got some though!)

 
 
**The island bar's walls were covered with chalkboard paper. This is one of the quotes/ sayings that covered the walls!
 
 **Jumping into the ocean while anchored! The dark part at the bottom of the picture is part of the reef (The Great Barrier Reef actually)
 

 
    
**Ben (US), me, Marina (US), and Pauline (France)
 
      The trip was a good time! Not many students have the chance to go on a cruise before finals week. :) On Sunday, Pauline and I took part in a 5K here in Rockhampton. It's called the Rocky River Run and it's the major fundraiser for many charities here in Rockhampton. It's completely non-profit and every one of the workers is a volunteer. We did the 5K but other events included a half-marathon, 10K, 5K walk, and a 2K walk/run. About 3,000 people participated this year! It was such an amazing event and the largest race that I've been a part of so far. There were 790 people that completed the 5K. I ranked 215th. Not the best but hey, I'll take it! I was ranked 77 out of the 498 adult females that did the race! (I like that number better haha) My recorded time was 28:36- so that's about a 9 minute mile.
  **At the starting line. If you can tell, it was quite foggy during our race. It started at about 8 AM and was slightly misting throughout the duration of the race. It was actually quite refreshing!
 
       Jim (the older man from previous posts) picked Pauline and I up at around 10 AM and he took us to this little country chapel called St. Christopher's. St. Christopher's was built in 1943 by American soldiers in World War II. Nowadays, the chapel is located out in the bush neighbor only to a farm but back during the war, it was a camp for American troops. Unknown to me, there over 70 thousand U.S. troops stationed in Rockhampton during that time. This site was a place for soldiers preparing for combat or they were sent here to re-cooperate after engaging in action on the islands. After being in Rockhampton for some time, some of the Army chaplains requested that a chapel be built to meet the needs of the men. After it was built, the various chaplains held services in the non-denominational chapel. Today, the church is in remarkable shape with much of the building's original materials. The only upgrades include re-painting, a tin roof, and electricity added some years later. All of the pews/ kneelers are all original as is the stone pulpit and stain-glass window that you'll see in the pictures!
 
 
  **The entrance- the building next to the chapel is a band rotunda. This is where an Army band would play during their time stationed in Rockhampton.  
  
 
*Sorry about the blurry quality! The chapel had quite the Australian feel to it. It is looked after by both Australian and U.S. ex-military who live in Rockhampton. Every year a memorial service is held here on July 4th 
 
 
      That's all I know for now! This upcoming week will consist mainly of studying and preparing for my final exams. On Wednesday, Pauline, Marina, and I are planning on going to Yeppoon to explore downtown and such! It should be a great last full week here in Rocky :) I can't wait to see everyone back home!!
 
See ya soon!-
 
Tina
 
P.S. A couple weeks ago we had a graduation ceremony of sorts for the international students and I was just emailed a group photo! It was a nice ceremony celebrating our time here. One of the students from Nigeria is graduating this term from CQU (he's been here for four years) and gave a great speech about his time here. Also, there was some great food afterwards! That made it all worth it:)
 
 



Sunday, May 18, 2014

Yamakarra

**Waterfall located within the Rockhampton Botanical Gardens
 
            I'll start off this week's post with pictures from last week, as promised! Jim burnt me a disc with lots of photos from our Sunday adventure to the Heritage Village, zoo, and botanical gardens but I'll only include a few today.
 
 **Restored fire engine from the Rockhampton Fire Brigade. It was used from 1925 until the 1940's- it was then used as a farm vehicle for many years until a firefighter "rescued" it and returned the fire engine to it's original glory!
 
 **Jim said that I should try writing my blog using this "modern" technology... I think I'll pass :)
 

**Tea time at the village!
 
 
            So now that we're all caught up, I suppose I'll get started on this week! The title of this post is "yamakarra" which is an aboriginal greeting in this part of Queensland. I thought that this was appropriate because on Friday I visited the Dreamtime Cultural Centre here in Rockhampton! It's about a 10 minute walk from campus along the Bruce Highway so my friend Julie and I made the excursion! (Sidenote: even though it was only a 10 minute walk, I still managed to have my first Australian near-death experience on our way back). But more on that later!
 
           The cultural centre reminded me a lot of the Indian Prehistoric Village in Mitchell, SD. The different buildings/ exhibits were spread out across a couple acres. There was a very natural feel to this place as the buildings were all constructed to look like caves or huts. We started our two hour tour with a video that told of different stories and facts about the Aboriginal tribes that were once prominent in the Rockhampton/ Yeppoon area. Because of archeological findings, we now know that the Aborginal people have been around for around 50,000 years. They are known as the Original People here (hence their name). In the past, there was a very large population of Aboriginals in this area because of the Fitzoy River. Also because it was close to the coast as well. Aboriginal tribes usually consisted of between four and eight families but the tribe located here had 21 families. The Aboriginal culture strongly resembles the Native American culture in terms of their respect of the land as well as other customs.
 
          Next on our tour, we walked to the next cave-like building that was about the size of a small auditorium (like the size of the old Hanson School gym). Here, there were many different displays of cave paintings, art, stories, and the history of invasions on this part of Queensland. After walking around this building, we journeyed to the next one where our tour guide played the didjerido for us! I have a video of this but I'm not sure if videos will work on this blog but I'll add it just in case. The didjerido is a long wooden instrument that basically looks like a large, hallowed out stick. Because that's basically what it is haha. The one he played for us was as long as me almost. A tree branch is first naturally hallowed out by termites and then chopped down. The inside is cleaned out and is smoothed out on both the inside and the outside. Then, they are painted on with traditional designs. It makes the weirdest noises! Apparently it's similar to blowing into a trumpet but also using your voice to make different sounds! Hopefully this video will work on here!  
 
        
 
 
**This was on one of the cave walls and I thought it was something that is worth thinking about!
 
         The tour guide next showed us all how to properly throw a boomerang! This was a pretty fun part of the tour. I don't know what I thought boomerang throwing was supposed to be but it was not what I expected! You throw the boomerang using the same motion as if you were throwing a football almost. The boomerang is supposed to fly straight and then make a wide arc back to where you are. I, of course, didn't do too well on this haha. We each got three tries. My first two were completely awful but my last one at least made a noticeable turn! I had to buy one because I really want to practice it when I get home haha. They're pretty lightweight but larger than I expected. The returning boomerangs that we were using were about a foot and a half long.
 
        Our final stop on the tour took place in a small hut. Inside, a woman from the Torres Strait Islands greeted us and proceeded to tell us about her home, people, and culture! This was my favorite part of the tour because this lady was very personable and had so much knowledge to share! The Torres Strait Islands are located in between the northernmost tip of Queensland and Papua New Guinea. There are over 270 islands that compose the Torres Strait Islands. I forgot what our lady tour guide's name was but she was from the island of Badu. She told us about popular customs on her island and with her family, what they ate/ how they cooked, transitioning from island life to Australian life, as well as many other facts. She got somewhat emotional at times because it had been a few years since she had seen her family and one could tell that she was incredibly homesick.
 
       She also talked about the history of different islands. To this day, there are a few islands where very few people venture to because they are believed to be cursed. Also, up to the 1900's, cannibalism and head-hunting was common practice on most of the major islands. Because of that, I can see how these people have retained so much of their culture and ways of life for thousands of years! If I was an invader, I would stay as far away as possible from people who were notorious for head-hunting! Our tour guide assured us that most of the Torres Strait Islands were now friendly towards newcomers and visitors haha.
**The Torres Strait hut- where our tour concluded!
 
**The traditional/ original names of the largest islands versus the ones given by the British in the late 1700's. The British were so creative, ya?
 
**A traditional shield and spears once used by Torres Strait Islanders. This shield is about four feet tall and made from a sea turtle's shell!
 
 
        Once the tour had concluded, Julie and I explored the grounds a bit and revisited a few of the buildings. Of course we stopped at the gift shop because I simply had to get one of those boomerangs! I think it'll be pretty fun for everyone to try back home!
 
 
      So... my near-death experience... Julie and I were walking along the highway. There were no sidewalks or anything on this stretch of the highway and there was a steep drop-off a few meters away from the edge of the road so we were walking real close to traffic. You know how it's kind of customary, if you're able, to get into the lane that's farthest away from walkers or bicyclists if you come upon them on the road? Yeah, not here. People will not slow down or move away from people on the side of the road so pedestrians have to be 100% aware of their surroundings at all times! Anyway, Julie and I were walking along this road and were passing a sign. Out of the corner of our eyes we see the biggest spider/ tarantula that I have ever seen in my whole life hanging between two sign posts! This thing (legs included) was as long as my forearm with legs that were the width of my thumb! I swear that it was black and white but Julie thought it was brown and white. For those of you that know me well, you know that I am terrified of spiders and I reacted as such. Without thinking, I jumped as far away as I could from it. Right into oncoming traffic :/ Luckily there was only one car and it moved out of the way pretty easily, no worries! But between that and that nasty spider thing, I feel like this whole episode qualifies as a near-death experience! My heart is racing just writing this haha. Also, when I got back to campus, there were animal catchers getting rid of an apparently very dangerous snake. Not sure what kind it is? I'll have to ask around to see if anyone knows what kind it was! Let's just say it's time for Tina to go home now haha.
 
**Photo courtesy of Heather Gosnell

 
          I think that's all I know for now! This week is our last week for classes! After this week, we have a break "study" week before finals and then finals week. And then I'm coming back to the heartland! See you all soon!
 
Ya minyah,
 
Tina
 
 
 




Sunday, May 11, 2014

Winter Wonderland

       GRANDMA KATHY I GOT YOUR CARD! :) Thank you so very much! It was really nice getting that last Monday after a long day of classes and such! Home doesn't seem so far away when I get the chance to read and hear about everyone's day-to-day lives.

     This week has been pretty busy as usual! On Friday for Outdoor Pursuits class, we went canoeing at Coolwater's Caravan Park located a little ways away from Yeppoon. It was in a lagoon type area so we weren't battling the current as much as if we were to canoe right out on the open ocean water. This was very fun! I've been canoeing before but that just consisted of friends and I renting a canoe and leisurely floating across Lake Vermillion haha. Here, we were taught various different strokes and techniques for efficiently maneuvering the canoe. Yea... I'm probably not going to remember any of them but I was pretty good at them at the time! My friend Pauline (from France) and I worked really well together with our canoe! The wind was blowing hard on Friday so we had to work extra hard to get basically nowhere (or so it seemed)! Sadly, it was our last official Outdoor Pursuits class. Patrick (our instructor who's last name also happens to be Tucker) talked the finance office into letting us go on another cruise to the Keppel Islands! He seemed about 95% sure that it was going to happen in two weeks or so but we'll see! I'm very excited to go there again, it was beautiful!

    Yesterday (Saturday), was the Winter Wonderland Ball on campus. It's basically the equivalent of high school prom. I wasn't too sure that I even wanted to go (the tickets were kind of expensive) but then someone told me that it included a catered dinner so.... that was pretty much the deciding factor- I was going to a ball! It was an alright time I suppose! The food was mediocre so that kind of put a damper on my evening! But it was a blast getting ready with the girls and hanging out with everyone. Also, there was a bar so that was nice. :)

**Marina (US) and I
 


**Jessica (US), Kim (Germany), Mika (Japan), Julie (Canada), Me, Kellie (Canada), Yibba (US), Heather (US), Jill (France), Pauline (France), Marina (US), and Ashley (Australia)
 

**Back L to R: Daniel (Australia), Jill (France), Ben (US), Me, Pauline (France), Max (France), Marina (US)- Middle L to R: Yibba (US), Jessica (US), Mika (Japan), Kellie (Canada)- Front L to R: Heather (US) & Dain (Australia)
 

**Part of the buffet
 

**Me, Ben, & Marina

 
        Today was an extremely full day! Pauline asked me if I wanted to join her, her friend Marie (also from France), and Marie's flat-mate Jim for a day of sight-seeing. We first went to the Heritage Village located on the edge of Rockhampton. This place had a multiple of  old, restored historic buildings! Every two weeks they also have a market where vendors sell crafts, antiques, food, and all sorts of other things. There were so many people here! Hundreds and hundreds of people touring all the old buildings and participating in the market. The historic village was absolutely wonderful. Jim took many pictures of us with different buildings and I'll try to post those as soon as I get them. I took some photos with my iPod of various buildings as well.
**The print shop with the peddle bike out front. Inside there were many print machines that men were operating. They were actually producing all the flyers, posters, and pamphlets that were advertising the Heritage Village! They were using print machines from the early 20th century that was producing just as good (if not better) printed goods as modern printers.
 
 
 **St. Peter's Catholic Church- was moved from Gracemere (a suburb of sorts to Rockhampton) to the Heritage Village. Inside, a man and woman told some of the history of the church and also had us choose some hymns that they then performed! The man had a gorgeous opera-style voice and the woman played an old organ.  

 **The top floor of the old school
 
** The chalkboards/ map in front of the classroom, the date reads May, 1917.
 
**You could have a stagecoach ride around the village/ market for $2.50 per person!
 
**The Iron Lung machine used in hospitals in the 1900's.
 
**The courtyard around the teahouse. Inside two elderly women ran a coffee shop where you could buy homemade German desserts, tea, coffee, and ice cream.
 
        After we spent a few hours wandering the village, Jim asked if we maybe wanted to go see the Rockhampton Botanical Gardens and Zoo. Oh! I think I forgot to properly introduce Jim. Jim is a 75 year-old man who is also a student here at CQUniversity. He currently has two masters degrees, three bachelor degrees, and one certification diploma in fields from sociology to business to administration. He's in pursuit of a bachelor degree in psychology. I asked him why he has so many degrees and why he continues to go to school and he replied that a day without purposeful learning is a day wasted. He simply loves learning! Jim is very humble with his accomplishments and is a really nice man. He has rented out rooms in his home to university students for many years. I knew from talking to Marie that he charges basically nothing to her for staying there! At first when I heard that Marie was staying with an old man who was living alone, I was a bit scared for her safety haha. Seemed like a sketchy situation to me! But once I met Jim, all my doubts went away! He was very kind to all of us! Anyways!- back to my day :) 
 
      We had decided to go to the Rockhampton Botanical Gardens and Zoo. If you remember, the ANZAC memorial dawn service was held at the botanical gardens. It was quite different in daylight! It was beautiful! There were so many different exotic trees and plants in this garden. The park/garden spanned a couple city blocks at least. Today just so happened to be Mother's Day-by the way- Happy Mother's Day momma Sue! :) - so there were many families picnicking in the park and gardens! Beautiful! It was a perfect, sunny day for all of the families. The Rockhampton Zoo has free admission so that was a bonus! I couldn't believe that they can operate almost completely on donations because the zoo was so beautiful. There were different lizards, snakes, monkeys, birds, koalas, wallabyes, and so much more animals. I even got to pet two more koalas! My day was made.  
 
        On our way home, we stopped at the Great Western Hotel. This hotel hosts a small rodeo every month or so. The arena is located inside the hotel! They have different tables set up around the arena and people eat dinner while watching the rodeo. The next one is at the end of May and we may possibly go, who knows! It would be very interesting to see the differences between what I know rodeos to be versus an Australian rodeo.
 
      We also stopped at the Fitzroy River barrage. A barrage is a dam of sorts that separates the freshwater from the saltwater. Today, the walls were lowered quite a bit. When it floods, they raise the walls accordingly. It was very interesting to look at!
 
     Well the clock just struck midnight so I think it's time for me to hit the sack! I do not have much planned for this upcoming week but I think I'm okay with that. :) I'll start on my study guides for my finals coming up at the beginning of June. I can't believe I have just a little over three weeks left!!! Wow!! Time sure does fly when you're having fun :) I hope everyone is doing fantastic back home! Have a great week.

Love,

Tina

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Tina the Tourist

         Howdy! This week I've had a few opportunities to be a true tourist so this week's post will be more picture-orientated rather than words. :) My classes on Monday took up most of my time and the rest of it was spent on homework! I like to get my assignments done as soon as they're given to us just so I make sure I don't miss anything! I received feedback on a huge project from my Research Methods class finally and I did not do so well! I'm struggling in that class but hopefully it will all turn around soon! My other classes are going great! Overall, the workload isn't too burdensome. I spend about five hours a week in lectures and about 15 more hours per week doing homework/ studying.

       On Tuesday,  Marina and I walked down to Glenmore (the local shopping center) and I showed her where I get all my fruits, veggies, etc... I didn't need that much at the time so I just bought some watermelon, onions, and bread and we were on our way!

     Wednesday and Thursday consisted of attending lecture and camping out in the library. It wasn't very exciting but I finished what needed to be done!

     Friday was a fun-filled cruise day to the Keppel Islands. We left Rockhampton via city bus at 8 AM to the Yeppoon Harbor where our boat left at about 9:30 or so. We sailed on a boat  called Funtastic. It's owners was an older couple named Hans and Di. They were absolutely wonderful! They had spent four years renovating the cruise boat.

       Fun Fact: in the 1960's 1970's, Hans was a part of a rock group called Shocking Blue. I had no idea who Shocking Blue was but they have a song called "Venus" that was an international chart topper! It even hit #1 in the States for a few weeks. Once Hans started singing a couple lines of it, I recognized it right away. It's the song playing in the background in the commercials for the Venus shaving razors? If you give the song a listen, I'm sure everyone will recognize it as well! :)

      Anyways, it was sprinkling a bit as we left the harbor but the light showers only lasted for an hour or so. It was beautiful! It took us about two hours to get to our first stop. We took a short break at a abandoned conservatory lab that was located about half a mile of the coast of one of the islands. Here is where I had the opportunity to snorkel for the first time! This was a fantastic place to snorkel because the conservatory was mostly located underwater! There was a sunken boat as well as the underground lab where fish and other sea creatures had claimed for their own and made their home! It was breathtaking. Literally. I couldn't breathe haha. Snorkeling was difficult for me at first because when you go underwater, your brain is telling you not to breathe while simultaneously telling you that you can because of the breathing pipe. It took me a couple deep breaths for me to calm down and actually start exploring!
**Yeppoon Harbor
 
 **The abandoned conservatory where we first stopped to snorkel.

 

 
 
**Great Keppel Island!
 

 **Our cruise boat, Funtastic
 
**Sitting on the edge of the boat
 
          Next, we traveled a bit further to Great Keppel Island. We stayed here for about two hours and just explored a bit of the island. They had a few small souvenir shops and a bar/ restaurant. Everything was very expensive here (as to be expected)! A Corona was $8. Extra for a lime or lemon wedge. I bought an ice cream bar for $4 and I was very content! The Keppel Islands are stunning. I was in awe the whole time we were there. Apparently, many people don't live on the islands. There are a fair amount of construction workers because there is a resort that's currently under renovation but other than that, there a few locals to run and maintain the shops and rental properties/ timeshares.
 
        After re-boarding the boat, we sailed to another island to snorkel some more! This spot had a wonderful reef where plenty of sea life called home! It was amazing! This time, the water was very clear and I had the chance to see many beautiful creatures! I actually saw a sea turtle too! Some girls saw a small shark but luckily I was unaware because otherwise I would have gotten out of the water real quick! Apparently it was just a baby one but where there's a baby, there has to be a protective mother near by haha. I wanted no part of that! After snorkeling, we started our journey back home. The way home was quite the bumpy ride! It made for a fun time:)
 
      Saturday was a typically nice and relaxing day under the Aussie sun! Marina and I sat outside and did homework for a while. I'm sure going to miss being able to do that! Because it's autumn here, it's getting considerably cooler. I would compare it to a warm South Dakota spring! In the evening's the temperature drops down quite a bit and I'm starting to have to shut my window now. I'm beginning to realize just how spoiled I have been with this weather:)
 
       Today a group of about 10 of us went and visited Cooberrie Park Wildlife Sanctuary. This is located in the middle of nowhere about 40 minutes north of Rockhampton. It was fantastic! Today, I was able to pet kangaroos, donkey's, dingo's, and peacocks. As well as hold a koala, Eastern Bearded Dragon, a parrot, and a carpet python! Unfortunately, I do not have pictures of me with those animals yet as my friends Marina and Ben were so kind to take them for me! I'll post those pictures as soon as I get them! Today was an amazing day and I learned so much about the different animals native to Australia. I liked this zoo because it primarily focused on the native species rather than a typical zoo that has animals that are found worldwide. Another great part of this place was the fact that it was a sanctuary. A large majority of the animals here are orphans, have injuries/ in recovery, or their homes had been destroyed because of development. All of the proceeds from admissions and animal encounters go to feeding and housing the animals as well as paying for caretakers and vets! The Cooberrie Sanctuary receives no government funding whatsoever and runs on admissions, encounter fees, gift shop profits, and donations! I'll post more pictures of today once I can get my hands on them!
 
**The entrance!
 
**One of the many peacocks roaming around. They ate right out of my hand and have pretty vicious pecks when they grab their food!
 
 **One of the joeys! The full-sized kangaroos came up to my chin when in their resting position!
 
       This past week has been absolutely wonderful! Filled with friends and fun! Not to mention some adorable creatures. :) As usual, I hope that everyone is doing well at home! I can't wait to return! I'm definitely missing South Dakota and my family/ friends!
 
Toodles!
 
Tina
    


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Balancing Act

       Week 10 of my little adventure has just flown by! A huge thank you goes out to my Aunt Angie, Aunt Monica, Uncle Wayne, Rebecca, Justin, Andrea Mayrose, and Bri Breske for taking the time to send letters/ packages! I love hearing about home and how everyone is doing. I appreciate each letter very much and it's just so wonderful getting snail mail! I found out this week that I gave Dylan the wrong address and so we have a package "missing in action". Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever grow out of this whole "blonde thing" but I think I'm beginning to think it has become a part of my personality now! Oh well, it keeps me on my toes.

      Since it was Easter weekend, we didn't have classes on Monday. Luckily, the professors were kind enough to record themselves giving lectures. HA. I have a few major assignments due this week that I have been and will continue to labor over for the next couple of days. Hopefully the work will pay off!

   A lot of people forget to tell high school students the single most amazing thing about college. Naptime. Every day. Regardless of what school you go to or what country you're from, nap time is enjoyed by everyone! It's kind of funny how quiet and deserted campus will get around 2 or 3 PM everyday because we all religiously adhere to our napping schedules. I only mention this because it is a real struggle when homework interferes with naptime. It can throw off my whole day! A bad part about adulthood is that naptime is terminated. It's quite depressing to think about!

      On Thursday, I found out that McDonald's (or Mecca's) sells ice cream cones for 30 cents! What a bargain right!? The cones are a vivid orange color and taste a bit like plastic but I'm not complaining! I love ice cream!

       Friday was another holiday here in Australia called ANZAC Day. ANZAC stands for "Australian and New Zealand Army Corps". ANZAC Day not only a remembrance day marking the start of the first major military action taken by Australia/ New Zealand in WWI, but it is also a remembrance day for all veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice. In communities all over Australia, there are several different events held throughout the day to commemorate the holiday. First, is a dawn service that starts exactly at 4:27 AM on April 25th. That is when military forces first engaged in combat against the Ottoman Empire in 1915. An interesting fact about this holiday is that it originally was only observed by veterans who returned from the war. To honor the men that they had fought with in battle, they would travel to the different military cemeteries where their friends were buried and would hold a dawn vigil. The military didn't organize this or ask soldiers to do this but instead it was small groups of soldiers who independently did this all on their own with no idea that many others were doing the same thing. Of course, as the years went by and the men kept returning to hold these small masses, word spread of what was happening. Soon, widows and families joined. And eventually the dawn vigils kept attracting more and more people who wanted to pay their respects. In 1927, every state in Australia observed ANZAC Day as a national holiday. Today, it has grown to include memorial services, veteran marches, reunions, and games in addition to the dawn services. This year, a few students organized a bus that traveled to the bus stop that would take us to Rockhampton's Botanical Gardens where the dawn service was being held. At first I didn't know why we had to take public transport to the gardens but once we got there I realized exactly why. It's because of how many people attend the dawn services! I was shocked when I saw the hoards of people who had gathered. Hundreds and hundreds. Everyone from veterans to students to just everyday people had come. It seemed like every single person from Rockhampton was there. I tried to take a couple pictures but I wasn't very successful because one, it was 3:30 in the morning when we got there (complete darkness) and two, because no one was on their phones. I can't really describe the feeling in the air. It was a vary somber affair. The only other time that I had felt such a heaviness in the air was when I had visited the Holocaust museum in Washington D.C. It was remarkable. Even though I am not Australian and I know very little about their military, I still felt a sense of mourning during this service/ mass. Because unfortunately, another thing that makes us all alike regardless of nationality, is the effects of war. We all know someone who has died in combat and has made the ultimate sacrifice. We are all bound by the very thing that splits us apart. The sense of unity I felt at that dawn service is something that I'll always keep with me.

**The ANZAC memorial
 
**A small end corner of the crowd. There were people all the way behind the light in the corner.
 
Anyways, on to other news! On campus, we had another sighting of a "red belly black" snake. This one was between 5 to 6 feet long. It was seen right outside Hutton Hall right by our clothesline. Guess who was hanging up their bed sheets 10 minutes before this snake was seen? Yup. This girl. I didn't see anything but I think that's because I wasn't looking for it and our grass hadn't been mowed in a while haha. I don't have a picture for that one but it reminded me of another snake that I saw by the vending machine a month or so ago. This picture was taken by someone else but it was too good not to post!
 
 
Last night, there was another party on campus. This one was themed "The Wild West". It was quite entertaining to see everyone dressed up and such. There was a mechanical bull that kept everyone pretty entertained! Yes, I did give it a try! I'm not sure how long I stayed on but when I eventually fell off, I ended up knocking heads with the thing haha. I'm completely fine but I hit it pretty hard apparently! The party was a lot of fun and afterwards a group of us went clubbing and it's safe to say that going to clubs is not my cup of tea haha. The drinks are expensive, the guys are creepy, and there's no food. It was a fun time but I'm definitely more of a staying in sort of girl!
 
(L to R: Mika (Germany), Ashley (Canada), Julie (Canada), Pauline (France), Dain (Australia), Me, Marina (US), and in the center is Ben (US).
 


       Today has been a lazy day for me! I haven't really done.... anything actually haha. Writing this has been the one and only accomplishment of my day! But with tomorrow being Monday, I'll be right back to the hustle and bustle of every day life! I hope everyone is doing fantastic and that you're enjoying the warmer temps!

Have a wonderful week,

Tina