The first two full days here in Australia were definitely an adjustment. Kacy and I arrived at the Perth airport around 2pm and we were picked up by Paul, our program director. When we wheeled our bags to the car, Paul chuckled as we both walked to the right side of the vehicle and quickly realized our mistake. He said it usually takes a few weeks for US students to get used to seeing cars drive on the wrong side of the rode and enter on the correct side of the vehicle.
Murdoch University is located about 20-30 minutes away from the city- an easy trip by bus. When we arrived, we were given room keys and shown to our Flat (apartment). We had talked to the people in charge of housing before leaving and arranged to be in the same flat with separate bedrooms. That change hadn’t been made yet, so Kacy was assigned to another flat just a couple of buildings away. Paul insisted that the mix up should be fixed in the morning. Kacy and I decided that we might as well just have a sleepover on our first night at the university, especially since there is no central heating in Australia so my room was about 40 degrees F. We were totally exhausted from the 30+ hours of traveling we had done and had to fight to stay awake until 9pm.
The following morning, we knew we needed to go to the nearest grocery store and buy a few things for our rooms and to have on hand for food. We were up around 4am just hanging out and waiting till around 8am to move Kacy into her real room.(We are STILL adjusting to the 15 hour time difference). After we moved all of Kacy’s things into her room (two doors down from mine), we headed off to meet the other girl in our program, Claire, and start our mile long trek to the grocery store.
Cole’s supermarket is located in a mall-like structure that also includes a K-Mart (definitely nicer than the ones back home) and some clothing stores, local food stores, and liquor store, which is appropriately names “Liquor Land”. We walked through K-Mart first and collected the necessary things like shampoo and conditioner, face wash, toilet paper, sunscreen, and other things that we weren’t able to bring on the plane. Yes, we did spend extra money on warm blankets! There were a small amount of familiar American brands everywhere we went. I was able to get all the toiletries that I am used to in the states, and big brand-name foods (in addition to some Australian things of course).
The stores have a cool system where you can wheel the shopping carts back to the university and drop them off at a cart collection place, just like the ones in the store parking lots at home. Once a week, they get collected and brought back to the store. Claire, Kacy, and I wheeled two carts full of food, drinks, and living supplies all the way back to school. That was definitely a workout after sitting around so much in the previous 48 hours!
It was an Open Campus day at school, so we met up again and checked it out. There were games and booths all around with information about the different majors, clubs, and activities offered. We wandered around for a while and ended up at the School of Veterinary Medicine on campus! They had a bunch of different small exotic animals out for people to look at while they learned about the programs offered. In Australia, you can get your DVM degree in two years, because they run it on trimesters that only have three, two week breaks during the year. After that you can specialize in the field, and Murdoch University is known for their Conservation and Wildlife Medicine degree! The lady I was talking to about the program introduced me to the head instructor of that specialization! The things she talked about were amazing. The program here is extensive, but I’ve never heard of a veterinary specialization that interested me so much. I will definitely be researching veterinary studies like that in the states. We met up with Nicole, another girl in our program and she introduced us to her flat-mates and their friends. We all went to their flat and hung out for a while, then went to the movie room and watched Wolf Creek 2.
DO NOT watch Wolf Creek if you’re planning on going to Australia! It’s based on a true story, and is pretty much the Aussie version of “Saw”!!!
This morning we woke up and met our CIEE study abroad group at our directors office, learned more about our program, and then he drove us into the nearby coast town of Freemantle (“Freo” as the Australians call it). On the way we stopped and checked out the river that separates Perth and is a historical aboriginal spot. The first place we went to in Freemantle was this place called “The Round House”, which, built in 1831, is the oldest standing building in Western Australia (used as a jail).
The Round House is where the photo at the top of the page was taken.
In Freo, we got Australian SIM cards for our phones and Paul, the director, then left us to explore the city. We saw some shops, ate some great fish and chips, then took the bus back to Murdoch Uni. After relaxing for a bit, the other CIEE students and I attended a dinner/game night/introduction event for International Students on campus. It’s still strange to think of myself as an international student, but it’s also humbling and interesting to be on this side of things. I met a couple of girls from Singapore and a girl from Whales. We chatted for a while about the similarities and differences of our countries, and bonded over this new Australian experience.
Tomorrow Paul is driving the six of our CIEE students about five hours south of here to a town called Denmark. We will be hiking, swimming in the ocean, and bonding. I’m excited for our first program trip, but also pretty nervous! I will definitely be bringing my go pro (not losing it… I hope.) and posting pictures and another blog post when we return. I can’t wait to share it with you all!