Friday, June 3, 2011

Crikey! Adventures in Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast, and Other Places

It's been a while since I've written in this blog, I know.  Life moved very slowly at the beginning of this trip, and now my program will be over in hardly any time at all!  I am leaving Brisbane in just over a week, to spend 10 days on another research station, and then that's pretty much it for this academic term.  I have finals this week, and other assignments due as well, so things are at their most busy when I am wishing that I could just have more time to spend with the wonderful people I have met here in Brisbane.

I packed about a week's worth of activities into last weekend.  The first half of the weekend was spent with dancers (the group of friends that I've met here; an interesting mix of Australians and American exchange students).  We had a movie night, where we watched "Hairspray," and then there was salsa dancing, and plenty of good company.  On Sunday and Monday (since we were given a long weekend), I went with two girls from my program to the Sunshine Coast.  We went kayaking on a river, which was amazingly fun, even if we were in about a meter of water, with three people in a 2-person kayak, paddling in a zigzag pattern, and we accidentally crashed into a fisher's line at one point.  Monday, we went to the Australia Zoo, which was founded by the Irwin family (of Crocodile Hunter fame).  It is a wonderful zoo, which seems to have a fair amount of money.  I got to feed an elephant, watch a crocodile show in the "Crocoseum," and pet kangaroos and wallabies.

The croc show.  Crocodiles are amazingly fast animals! 

 Hanging out with the kangaroos!

Sitting on a model of a crocodile, which is theoretically life-sized (though they haven't found any modern crocodiles this big in years)

This week has been filled mostly with lectures and school work, though there was also the last night of UQ dance (the dance club I've been going to).  We went out to karaoke afterwards, as often happens.  I finally got up and sang my first karaoke song ("Don't Stop Believing" as a duet).  I have learned that it is incredibly hard to hear the music/yourself singing while you are on that stage.

Yesterday, my class went on our last Terrestrial Ecology field trip.  We hiked Mount Barney, which is about 2 hours away, towards New South Wales.  It was a nice hike, even though we didn't hike the intended 10 km due to time constraints.  We spent a fair amount of time next to a set of beautiful pools and rapids.  The highlight of the trip, though, was seeing a real live koala in a eucalypt tree!!!  (This is a rare occurrence, and even more rare is the fact that the koala was actually awake and moving around!)

Looking up at Mount Barney from our lunch spot 

 The river - very, very cold!

The KOALA!!!

After the hike, I went back to the UQ campus for one last dance event: the end-of-semester dance party of UQ Dance.  Salsa, swing, and many other dances.  While here, I have learned salsa rueda (including a move called the kangaroo), zouk, the wobble dance, and a few sneaky ninja moves for swing, among other things. I hope to be able to take some of these skills with me back to California, even as I look forward to returning to a place where people waltz, swing, and blues much more frequently.

One dancer makes truly amazing desserts! 

Dancing through life

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