After nearly 30 hours of travel, landing in Australia was a feeling unlike anything I’ve experienced.
Relief, excitement and pure happiness are just a few words to describe the way I was feeling. Taking my first few steps on a new continent, and breathing in the fresh Australian air, was one of the best moments of my life.
Although the first day was difficult because of the exhaustion, it was worth it. After forcing myself to stay up the entire day and one good night’s sleep, the salt water and extensive exposure to Vitamin D put my mind at ease.
Now that I’ve been in Australia for nearly a month, I can get into the exciting details of my experiences thus far. Adapting to the Australian culture is something I have thoroughly enjoyed, and will continue to enjoy through out the next four months.
The people here are nothing short of wonderful, and the scenery takes my breath away. Any time I have asked for directions or assistance with something, the locals are more than willing to help. This was a huge sense of relief to know I was surrounded by sincerity.
Coming to Australia, I anticipated meeting many new Australian friends (obviously), but I never anticipated meeting friends from all over the world. Although I’ve met a handful of fellow Americans, we are most definitely outnumbered by the European students. I have met several people from Norway and Sweden, as well as others from France, Germany, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Luxembourg, etc. I’ve also met people from Dubai and Tasmania.
A big part of why I’m in Australia is to study, but I am learning in several other ways as well. It’s very entertaining to have discussions with so many unique people outside of the U.S., and to gain a sense of cultural exposure. I’m even learning a bit of Norwegian.
While the Aussies speak English, their slang largely differs from the U.S. Boxed wine is called “goon,” and friends are called “mates.” Rather than saying “I think,” Aussies say “I reckon.” If you want to ask someone if they’re “down” to do something, you ask them if they’re “keen.”
It’s fun to listen to them talk, and I’m learning new phrases and slang each day. I’m even starting to say “keen” without even realizing it. I’m beyond thankful to learn new things on a daily basis, and I think everyone deserves to experience an expansion of cultural knowledge.
From day three up until now, there has been a new adventure nearly every day. From Alex beach and Mooloolaba beach (absolutely gorgeous), to the rock pool at Kondalilla falls, to Noosa beach and the fairy pools, the discoveries of new places have been continuous.
I’ve seen the sunrise on top of Mt. Coolum (yes, I hiked at 3:30 a.m. to get there) and a mountain top sunrise is something that everyone, in my opinion, should witness at some point in their lives. I’ve also watched the sunset at the beach, which is very satisfying after a long day in the sun.
My favorite part about living here is that no matter the weather, the temperature or the day, there is always something new to do. I never find myself worrying about having to repeat the same activity because the options are endless.
My personal favorite spot as of now is Noosa (a town about 40 minutes away from campus). The beach in Noosa has incredibly clear, bright blue water and nearly white sand. There’s a trail that runs along Noosa beach, which takes you to the fairy pools, secluded sections of ocean water that are a very popular swimming destination.
If you continue on this trail past the fairy pools, there’s a place called Hell’s Gate. Words can’t describe the view from above of cliffs meeting the ocean.
Although I have so much on my list to see and do, I have been thoroughly impressed thus far and I’ve barely even left the Sunshine Coast. In the coming weeks, I will get to travel more widely in Australia and beyond — and share it with you.
Madison Hapka is studying at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, and contributes bi-weekly articles on her adventures.