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!