Bison Abroad | Sunshine, Shores and Snakes

The thought of moving 8,461 miles away from home can be scary. I took a leap of faith with this decision and I’m not regretting it one bit.

Traveling has been the hardest part so far — I left Fargo at 11 a.m. on Feb. 7 and after over a day of traveling, I landed in Brisbane at 7 a.m. on Feb. 9. I had to force myself to stay awake the entire day so that I could get used to the time difference as soon as possible.

PAYTON MARK | PHOTO COURTESY  The entrance to the library at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. It’s almost like NDSU.

I went to the local mall, called the Sunshine Plaza, which is filled with a lot of great food places and shops. I got my SIM card for my phone switched so that I could communicate with locals along with people back home. I also got some things that I needed for my apartment and went to the nearest grocery store.

Unfortunately, I was tired and hadn’t settled in, so nothing felt quite like home.

My first full day here I went to the beach, which was one thing I had been looking forward to since I made the decision to study abroad. The next day I explored Gardener Falls with my friend Vienna and her brother.

Funny story — I actually met Vienna in Grand Forks when she was a foreign exchange student. She happens to live three minutes away from me here. What a small world.

The next few days consisted of exploring new beaches such as Coolum, Alex and Mooloolaba. I also went to Underwater World where I touched starfish, saw a variety of sea life and also watched a seal performance.

The next day a group of us went to Kondalilla National Park where there was supposed to be a waterfall. Unfortunately, it’s been very hot and dry here so there was no waterfall. On the other hand, there was a beautiful rock pool that we got to jump into and swim in.

On the hike back I experienced the Australia everyone talks about. I’m terribly afraid of snakes and as I was my friends how I don’t like them, I noticed one right next to my leg. Thankfully it didn’t bite me, as most snakes in Australia are venomous, but instead just made its way down the path. The snake was about 6-7 feet long. I hope that never happens to me again.

I’m now settled into my apartment and getting a feel for what it’s like to live in Australia. I’ve got a lot of exciting trips and adventures planned that I can’t wait to share.

Payton Mark is an NDSU student studying abroad at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia.

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