It has officially been a month since moving to Australia and the time has flown! It feels good to be in the swing of things with school and to have some sort of routine on my hands.However, while starting the semester I found myself with a lot of extra time as a full course load at JCU is only four courses, one course less than I am used to. With classes only on Monday, Tuesdays and Wednesdays I decided to get a job to keep me busy and help with the cash flow. My visa allows me to study and work part time during my stay here so sorting out a bank account was really all I needed to do. I was lucky to have found a job right across the street from the Student Lodge at a coffee shop. I had never worked as a barista but I am learning quickly! My boss and the customers at the coffee shop have been extremely friendly and I am so happy for this opportunity; it is really adding to my experience here. Having to work with Australian money and different coffee preferences while getting used to being asked ‘how you going’ has been so much fun.
I was a bit surprised when I started my classes and realized how small they all were. I now know this is a small campus but having only about 15-28 people in a class seems so foreign to me! Lectures seem like seminars as it is very interactive and the teachers are much more personal (no 2-story lecture halls here!). While having to balance school and working two days a week I still have my weekends free to get out and about for more exploring! Over the past two weeks I have been out to the Botanical Gardens, outlet mall, the Tropical Zoo, the hospital (unfortunately) and Port Douglas.
On Saturday we took the bus to the Botanical Gardens which is free to enter into the beautiful rainforest with hikes and different trails. Along the trails there is information about the different plants and wildlife and some really nice look out points on the hiking trails. We got to see a lot of neat looking trees and animals, including a snake! The snake was super close to us, just slithering away off the path we were walking on. It moved up one of the wooden posts and posed for us before moving away. It was really amazing to be right in the rainforest taking in the beauty of it all. We spent the majority of our day here snacking on our packed lunches. It was an amazing and inexpensive day!
On Sunday we headed to an outlet mall that a bunch of us have heard nothing but good things about. We had to take two buses to get there but it was totally worth the trip! A group of us spent the day there and ended up with some amazing deals. I got a ton of clothing that was pretty much all priced from $5-$10 and I had to stop myself from getting more because I know I am limited in how much I can bring back to Canada with me! During the week a couple of us headed to the Cairns Tropical Zoo which was only about a 10 minute bus ride from the Student Lodge. The zoo was huge, with a ton of different animals and reptiles and allowed for a really hands on experience. We got pictures with the koala, kangaroo, wallabies, and crocodiles and also took a ton of other pictures of colorful birds, reptiles, monkeys and my favorite; the lemurs. We spent a couple of hours here and caught the last bus back to the lodge.
On Wednesday night a group of students headed out to the ‘oval’ (sports field on campus) to play social soccer. It’s a really fun time as anyone is welcome no matter their playing level is. Last week unfortunately didn’t end on such a good note. About 15 minutes into the game a friend did a slide and landed on his foot which caused him to break his Fibula, tear two ligaments and dislocate his ankle. He made it swiftly to the hospital and ended up staying the night. We went to visit him the next day in the hospital and brought him a delicious hamburger from a restaurant down town and our sympathies. As horrible as the situation was, it was great to see how close we have all become during our stay here and what good friends can do to cheer you up. We plan to have lots of movie nights with him and help him out as much as possible as he recovers over the next three months. The weather has really changed for the better and has been nothing but sunny and hot! The timing was perfect as the weekend had finally arrived and a bunch of us were headed to Port Douglas; a touristy/expensive town about an hour drive from Cairns. The drive was entirely along the coast and was absolutely amazing!! When we got into town we headed straight to the sports complex where the JCU team was playing Rugby. We had plans to go to the beach which I have been told is really beautiful but the games ran late and it was dinner time by the time the game had ended. The day was still great though, we got to cheer on the guys and catch some sun rays at the same time. The plan is to go back soon and explore around some more!