The rest of our IFSA-Butler orientation in Sydney was amazing. The day after wandering the zoo and downtown Sydney, we hit the beach to surf, body board, and paddle board. We were split into two groups; mine was the one to surf first. It turned out that getting the twice-my-size, pink styrofoam surfboard down to the beach was the hardest part. After clumsily half dragging, half carrying my board, I plopped down in a circle to learn the basics of surfing. It was just like in the movies- a very tan, sun-bleached blonde Aussie enthusiastically paddling in the sand, twisting, crouching, and finally standing on his board in a very “kowabunga” like manner. I practiced popping up a couple times before it was time to drag my board into the choppy waters.
Things pretty much went as expected in the beginning. I didn’t paddle hard enough, the board kept slipping out from under me, and I got hit with a few serious waves before my surfing adventure finally turned around. One of the instructors helped me get a wave, and within seconds of feeling the it heave my board toward the shore, I managed to get up into a crouching position! I wobbled a bit and eventually jumped off into the shallow water. From there it only got better; I stood up twice and was even called “graceful” once ashore. Woohoo!
We moved on to body boarding, and after struggling with a heavy, enormous surfboard, the flimsy body board was a breeze to carry as well as ride. The hardest part was launching myself into the wave at just the right time that it would take me all the way into the sand. I eventually got the timing right, and having succeeded at both types of boarding, I felt like a true beach bad-ass. The day’s last beach activity was paddle boarding. On a small, man-made lake set back on the beach, my group and I peacefully paddled around. It was just like I’d read about in numerous health magazines back home- it was mellow and calming, but definitely a full-body workout.
The next day we awoke early to fly to Brisbane, or “Brissie” as the Aussies call it. Sitting in the window seat, I felt totally calm and actually excited, as opposed to the sheer panic I felt as the LA-bound plane launched off from Philadelphia only a few days prior. The plane ride was quick and easy, and as we got close to the city I snagged the most beautiful pictures of the Gold Coast beaches.
As I sit at my big, wooden desk in my single room at Nathan Campus, I have no doubt that I made the right decision in coming here. The major stressor here is money. Everything, and I mean everything, costs money. And lots of it. Internet, bus passes (which you need to go anywhere), and even doggy-bags cost money. I also quickly came to realize, after laughing at my next-door neighbor for bringing two over-sized check bags, that I totally failed in the packing department. I didn’t bring razors, sheets, posters, a shower caddy, a straightener, or rubber flip-flops for the shower. I didn’t even bring enough hot-weather clothes. Sure, buying them here wasn’t a big deal, but some things I could have easily packed, saving some money and trips to Garden City, a local shopping center only a short bus ride away. I also didn’t realize how comforting things from home would be, including mommy-bought high-count sheets, pictures, posters, and some decorative-type stuff. It seemed like junk when I was packing, but when I settled into my new room, and also when I lay down in rough sheets every night, it all seems as important as this laptop, my clothes, and my book of crosswords. Fortunately, Evan and I hit up a campus fair yesterday and stocked up on free posters and stickers. Also, when everything else here costs money, laundry is FREE! And I was able to find organic laundry detergent on sale for $2.50! It’s truly the little things 🙂