P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney

Hello out there! I know I haven’t written in awhile and I’m long overdue. We had some issues with the Wi-Fi in our apartment when we moved in but everything seems to be working now! I’m also halfway through my third week of “Uni” which has definitely been keeping me busy. I’m now living on the 22nd floor of a smallish flat-style apartment with my three roommates in Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast of Queensland, Australia and we’re all studying at Griffith University, just a short tram ride away in Southport. School is approached pretty differently here — I’m taking four classes and only have class three days a week. Each course holds a lecture once a week and a single workshop or tutorial associated with it. The workshops/tutorials are basically the same as a recitation at UML. Having the spare time makes it so much easier to stay on top of my work (since classes meet less frequently, students have to take more responsibility for their learning and keep up on required readings on their own time) and still have plenty of time for fun and hopefully even get a part time job.

Our apartment is about one minute walking distance from the beach and about ten minutes away from the central business district where most of the shops, cafes, and nightlife can be found in our area. Because it’s a somewhat touristy area, it’s almost like the party never stops down there. Ladies night is a popular tradition in Australia, and many of the bars downtown observe it at least once a week, offering free drinks to ladies. There are some stores in common with the U.S., including H&M and McDonald’s, but most of the others are different, albeit similar. There are also a bunch of surf rental shops in that area and, having learned to surf as a part of my program a few weeks ago, I definitely plan to rent a board a few times before the semester ends.

Two weeks ago now, my roommates and a group of other friends went down to Sydney for Mardi Gras (it’s nothing like Mardi Gras in the U.S.). The city itself was beautiful beyond words and, in some ways, similar to Washington D.C., at least visually. We were taken on a walking tour of the city, passing through Hyde Park towards St. Mary’s Cathedral, and then wandered through a botanical garden before reconvening outside of the world famous Sydney Opera house (I looked, but I didn’t find Nemo or P. Sherman while we were there). From there, we walked over to the Harbor Bridge and climbed the first pylon to take in the views from a better vantage point. After that, our guide set us loose in the city to explore on our own. I walked back through the botanical garden to Macquarie Point to take some photos of the Opera House with the Harbor Bride behind it before visiting a local art museum. We also toured the Blue Mountains the following day, which are basically Australia’s Grand Canyon, and from there we went to the Mardi Gras Parade in downtown Sydney. Unlike what you might see in New Orleans, this is more of a rainbow event — Mardi Gras in Sydney is mainly and LGBTQ+ event and the celebration was a little extra special after the country’s national legalization of gay marriage last year. Plus, Cher was there, so crowds were estimated in the vicinity of 50,000 people. It was an unforgettable, and glitter filled, weekend.

Believe it or not, although I’ve only been in class for three weeks, I’m almost a quarter of the way through the school term. The grade for each course is determined based upon two or three “assessments” as opposed to numerous homework assignments, tests and quizzes. So far, I’ve been loving every minute!

The Wonderful Land of AUS
















Hi everyone! I’ve been in Australia for nearly 2 weeks now and I’m finally settled and ready to write!

This place is like a dream. After nearly 30 hours of travel, I arrived in Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef in tropical North Queensland to meet up with the other study abroad students from the program. Since I arrived 2 days before everyone else, I had a little extra time to conquer jet lag (15 hour time difference people!) and explore the area. I visited Cairns ZOOM at the casino next to my hotel for some ziplining and to meet some local wildlife (marsupials and reptiles galore – I even took a photo with a cuddly Koala named Micro). The real fun didn’t start until the rest of the program arrived tho. As part of our orientation, we traveled north to Port Douglas to visit the Port Douglas Wildlife Habitat and the Mossman Gorge Aboriginal Community. At the wildlife habitat we were able to feed and play with wallabies and kangaroos and see a variety of other local Aussie animals up close – did you know there’s such a thing as a tree kangaroo? Neither did I. After exploring the different habitats of Australia – woodland, savanah, and rainforest – we met back at the cafe for a quick lunch and headed up to the Daintree rainforest from there. Our aboriginal guides were waiting for us there to take us on a light hike through the rainforest their tribe has been calling home for centuries – the rainforest itself is one of the oldest in the world! Our guide pointed out different native plants and animals, including snakes, rainforest dragons, and the Milii Milii plant, which is similar to poison ivy but much MUCH worse (you have to pour urine on the rash to heal it). The rainforest is one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen since I’ve been here – it didn’t even seem real, it seemed more like a movie scene from Avatar or Jurassic Park.

The next day was a free day for program students to make their own plans and explore on their own. Some of my new friends and I opted to go skydiving that afternoon. To anyone that’s ever thought about skydiving and been too scared, all I can say is do it. It’s an incredible experience and the views are to die for. 8 of us went up in a small puddle-jumper and, one after another, jumped out from 15,000 feet – it only took about 5 minutes to reach the ground from there. You don’t even really have time to be scared before you land and want to go again! They also jump without a countdown so you literally can’t over think it. I would absolutely recommend it and go again myself.

You may ask, how can you possibly go up from that? The answer is, you go down. Monday last week we went out to the Great Barrier Reef to snorkel and scuba dive. It truly is one of the 7 wonders of the world. It’s difficult to fathom the amount of life in the Reef – innumerable fish and more variety of coral than you can imagine. We saw a few giant clams, tons of parrot fish and zebra fish, and moon jellyfish (which don’t sting; one of the crewmembers on the boat dropped one in my hand. They’re kind of slimy and gelatinous but they feel really cool). I was in the last group to scuba dive that day – we got to see sea cucumbers, sharks, and cuttlefish. My one complaint is the dive was too short – I could have stayed down there exploring for the rest of time and I don’t think it would be enough.

Just like that, we were going to our farewell dinner to say goodbye and head to our host cities. Most of the program is here at the Gold Coast, but I have a few friends at Sydney, Newcastle, Perth, and Wollongong. Orientation week at my school, Griffith University, starts tomorrow and class starts next week. The adventure has truly begun!!