The End of an Eternal Summer

It’s just the beginning of December, but for me, this semester in Brisbane, Australia has come to an end. Looking over my journal on the 25 hour trip home, I had one of the most amazing semesters of my life. I took trips all across Australia and New Zealand, swam with sharks on the Great Barrier Reef, sailed through the Whitsunday Islands, hiked through the outback, toured Sydney, hiked through national forests and visited plenty of beaches. The trips have been amazing, but I’ve also been lucky enough to make some of the best friends I’ve ever met over the past four months. This semester has been easier academically than most and when you add that to the endless sunshine of Australia, I had tons of time to hang out with my new friends. I was lucky enough to live in International House, which is sort of like a fraternity for students from Korea, South Africa, the US, England, China, Australia and many more! When I left to go abroad to Australia, I thought the culture would be almost identical to my experiences in the US (or at least California). Instead, I was surprised by the debates and differences I had with my new friends. Saying goodbye was definitely hard, but I’m happy to know some amazing people who live all around the world. So back to America I go! Time and time again this semester, I found myself saying, “This is amazing, but I can’t wait for _______.” For each trip I went on, I had another one waiting just around the corner. I had a semester of continual adventures, and now I’m off to another one! This time I’ll exchange my tan and sand-filled backpack for a winter coat and Christmas decorations. Compared to the other students abroad this semester, I have a relatively long winter break, and so I’ve planned even more trips to keep me going! Off to ski with my family and visit friends back in Boston, my semester of eternal summer has finally ended. It was amazing, but I can’t wait for the next adventure just around the corner. Cheers mate!

Alyssa Florack

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Does this seriously count as a field trip?

Alyssa Florack here checking in midway through my semester in Brisbane, Australia! Abroad adventures may just be beginning for my friends in the UK, but I’m already two and a half months in! It’s crazy to think that so much of my time here is already gone, and even crazier that I’m currently on spring break! I’ve taken some amazing trips to beach towns like Byron Bay, Moreton Bay and Surfer’s Paradise, so this spring break I decided to go with my terrestrial ecology and marine biology classes and on their 5-day long field trips. On our first field trip, we went to Fraser Island, the biggest sand island in the world. You have to take a ferry to get to the island, and then when you arrive, you drive on beaches in 4WD trucks! We were flying over sand dunes and driving through the rising tide on our very first night, so I knew it was going to be a good trip. We spent the next five days hiking, jumping off of sand dunes, swimming in lakes and doing research in the Eucalyptus forests and rainforests. Once again, Australia has proven itself to combine work and play in all sorts of ways. We spent mornings playing volleyball on the beach and afternoons doing data analysis, so it’s added up to a fun week! Even our tutors (like TAs) seem to be enjoying themselves. They’re always the first in the water, and they race the trucks on the beach (it really is bizarre to be on a beach and see a speed limit sign). Unfortunately we can’t swim in the ocean here because these waters are popular with sharks and jellyfish, but nothing could be more Australian! Right now I’m riding the bus back to our university in Brisbane, and a few hours after we arrive, I’m leaving on the field trip with my marine biology class to Heron Island. It’s five more days of research, night snorkels, diving and reef walking, so I just can’t wait. It’s hard to imagine anything like this happening at BC, so I’ve just got to enjoy it while I can! Cheers!

So… Do Australians Ever Wear Shoes?

Hi everyone! My name is Alyssa Florack, and I’m an Eagle abroad from Green Bay, Wisconsin. To answer your first questions, yes, I like cheese, and yes, I love the Packers. When I told people I was going abroad in Australia, they told me all sorts of things – the need to pack as lightly as possible, the can’t-miss experience of going snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, and (most importantly) my inevitable death by shark or spider attack. No one, however, mentioned that Australians don’t wear shoes. In Brisbane, the motto seems to be “No shoes, no problem.” From laying outside instead of attending lectures to riding skateboards through the streets, this laidback lifestyle follows my new friends everywhere. It’s been a bit odd adjusting to life at such a relaxed pace, especially when we come from a place like BC, where the motto is “Work hard, play hard.” Here, my life is the strangest combination of vacation and school, and the fact that it’s summer break back home just adds to that feeling. Still, we’re finally starting to get into the swing of things. I feel like I just got here, but it’s been six weeks of classes with great new friends and amazing field trips to the beach for my marine biology class. The other exchange students and I have begun planning all the cool trips we hope to take this semester, and I can’t wait for what’s to come!! Now that I’m settled in, I’m off to New Zealand to visit some friends from BC next week. It’s strange to know that those friends are the only ones from Boston I’ll get to visit this semester, but I’m glad that I’ve gotten to know some real Aussies while I’ve been abroad… whether they wear shoes or not. Cheers!