2011 Spring Australia Erin Shetron External Programs


As orientation week here at Bellenden Ker, my home for the next four months, dwindles to its final activities, the first week of uni looms just ahead. Starting at 8 a.m. on Monday, my first day of class at Griffith will commence. I have three pens, one folder, and zero notebooks. I haven’t looked at any of the class syllabi or printed my schedule. In short, I’m screwed.

But I just haven’t had the time to prepare for class, and here’s why:

1) Kayaking on the Brisbane River. When Christi, my IFSA-Butler liaison here at Griffith, told us to wear something we wouldn’t mind getting wet, she wasn’t kidding. As I strapped my life-jacket on, I felt the first drop. One by one, fellow IFSA students studying in Brissie and I descended a metal ladder from the dock toward our individual kayaks floating in the muddy, once flooded Brisbane River. By the time I reached my kayak, the seat was filled with water. It was down pouring. I wasn’t worried about getting wet, but I was worried about barely being able to see through the sheets of rain, the ferries continuously causing waves almost big enough to topple my tiny kayak, and the fact that on the bus ride to this little excursion, we were warned by a local to be watchful of the bull sharks, apparently the only shark that will go after humans solely to eat them. And the Brisbane River is infested with them. Great.

Fortunately, this last fear was kept at bay by the promises of our tour guides that there were no sharks in that part of the river. So off I went, fighting against the current in a soaking rain. The rain finally tapered off, and my friend Andy and I were at the head of our group, leading the way toward a small inlet in the river. This is where we all met, flailed and splashed ourselves into a circle, gripped our neighbors’ kayaks, and took turns running (yes, running) along the backs or fronts of the kayaks. Even though I had forgotten all about my fear of the bull sharks, I was careful not to fall into the river like most of the others, and I succeeded! I made it safely back to my kayak to the claps and cheers of my fellow students and our guides.

2) Barefoot Bowls. The start of my residence hall’s O-Week took place at Mt. Gravatt Bowling Lanes, where I ate a barbecued veggie patty and played barefoot bowling, a form of bocce ball. The toughest part was that the balls weren’t spherical, but slightly flattened on two sides. This meant you had to toss the ball perfectly so it didn’t fall to one side and just start wobbling off in another direction. Although I quickly learned barefoot bowling is not my sport, we still had a fun night. Our American friend Andy, who had never played before, ended up dominating every game. Impressive.

ready for the toga party!

3) Toga Party. Tuesday night marked the official end of dry-campus as well as our dorm’s toga party, and with the drinking age set at 18, the entire building (aside from a few under-agers) was ecstatic. Each floor got a different color sheet to create our makeshift togas; I cut, pulled, twisted, and knotted my toga, filled my cup with some goon, or boxed-wine, and headed down to the back deck. There were colored lights, strobe lights, an AWESOME DJ, and a hoppin’ dance floor. Yes, hoppin’. I danced the night away with Evan and also with some friends (including my “Kinsey 4” friend, Patrick). Thankfully we ended our night a bit early, as there was word in the hallway that the dance floor got pretty “seedy” after we left, what with all the first-years puking over the railing and groping each other on the dance floor. Oh, to be so young.

4) Laser Tag. Like barefoot bowling, I have to admit that laser tag is not among my stronger skills. However, that didn’t mean I was kept from having an amazingly fun night. I crouched, scurried, peeked, ducked, and shot my plastic phaser into the blinking neon lights. When the scores showed on the screen after each round, I realized I was probably hit more times than I actually hit other people, but while inside the alien world that is laser tag, I thought I was a force to be reckoned with. I am definitely going again in the near future.

5) Beach Day. The Gold Coast is famous for its beaches and clubs, and is therefore known as the Miami of Australia. We got up early, boarded the bus, and an hour later we were caking on sunscreen with our feet sinking into the white beaches of the Gold Coast. After allowing the lotion to settle into my pasty, freckled skin, I headed straight for the turquoise ocean. The water was warm and clean with no signs of seaweed or trash, an opposite of the Jersey Shore. After swimming for a bit, reapplying sunscreen, walking along the beach, and reapplying sunscreen once again, Katie, Evan, and I wandered to the streets filled with shops and restaurants in search of some shade and lunch. We found both, and after a couple hours of picture-taking and window shopping, we hopped on the bus and napped until pulling onto campus.

father and son playing in the surf
father and son playing in the surf

6) City Tour a.k.a. Pub Crawl. After little sleep and a day in the sun, I was definitely not up for Pub Crawl. In fact, I probably should have signed up for the Cafe Crawl, the non-drinker and under-ager’s option. I didn’t realize I had made the wrong decision until I was on a bus bumping deafening volumes of party music and crammed with people. Oops. But the night didn’t turn out so bad. The first pub (and, for me, the only pub) was set on a fourth-story balcony with a beautiful view of Brisbane City’s skyline. It was mellow, the drinks were cheap, and the bartenders were liberal with their liquor/mixer ratio. When the guys and gals were split up and respectively bussed over to a bar and dance club, Evan and I stayed at The Fox. We chatted over a couple more drinks, rode the bus back to campus, and hit the sack. Just what I needed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: