Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bond Uni

It seemed like the first time arriving on campus after my stressful day on Sunday. After moving into my room and unpacking a few of my thing I walked over to campus and took care of some administrative business, registering for classes and the like. After this was concluded I took a campus tour.

The campus is gorgeous! The photos on the internet do not do it justice. For a school with approximately the same number of students as the College of St. Scholastica, Bond Uni has easily twice as many buildings. The other amazing thing is that all the buildings are laid out in a precise order because they were all built at the same time. They are all (except the Health Science and Medicine building) built out of large blocks of sandstone. The facilities in this building look like a four star hotel as you walk into the lobby. The entire building is decorated with Aboriginal art.

The campus is built around the central lake/fountain called Lake Orr. The outskirts of campus are lots of pine trees while the interior is palm and eucalyptus trees. As I walk around campus I hear people speaking a multitude of languages, everything from the Asia to Europe is represented.

Over the past week I have been exploring the area as much as possible. On my runs I try to see as much of the surrounding communities as I can. It is a very confusing area. The streets are not laid out in any sort of grid whatsoever. The area of the Gold Coast is more like a county than an actual city. Each of these little areas are governed by the City of the Gold Coast.

Most of the areas on the eastern coast of Australia in Northern New South Whales and southern Queensland are governed by this principal. Brisbane is broken into communities all under the name of Brisbane but if measured by square kilometers it would be one of the largest cities in the World.

I started classes this week. They have been interesting so far. I have one every evening Monday through Thursday from 5-8pm. This is nice because it leaves lots of time for studying and exploring the area. This semester I am taking the following: Psychology of High Performance Sport, Leadership, Communication, and Negotiation in Sport, Project Management in High Performance Sport and Doping and Detection in Sport. The best part about the classes is that they are very usable! Not only will they be extremely helpful in my field but they will also provide useful skills in any aspect of life.

In my program there are only two students, myself and a woman from California. There is also on Australian man that is doing the program part time so he is in a few of our classes. All the professors say the Uni prides itself on small class sizes but this is a little extreme! All of my professors have been very helpful so far and are very knowledgeable in the subjects they are teaching.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Surfer’s Paradise

This excursion to Surfer’s Paradise was quite unplanned! I had expected to arrive at Bond University (Uni) on Sunday, January 10 at about noon. I then got the address of my residence and walked, about 800m, to my housing. There were only two catches, first I had about 150 lbs of luggage and the second they were closed on Sundays! The third party that I booked my room through failed to mention that while we had been talking about my moving in on the tenth that this would not be possible!

Luckily the woman that I spoke with at the Uni on campus accommodation center was extremely helpful! She booked me a room in a hostel in Surfer’s Paradise and called a cab for me. Before I knew it I was off! This hostel was far less desirable than the one I stayed in while I was in Brisbane. It was actually quite a dive but there were some very welcoming people staying there. After I was all checked in I walked about the town. There were some very nice canals that I walked along before I became oriented with the town.

I went to a nice bakery for lunch. It was located in a shopping center that bordered a nice courtyard that showed a movie on a giant screen above it each afternoon. People were sitting on this grassy opening in bean bag chairs just watching the movie.

I then made my way through the maze of shops until I finally came to the beach! It was quite a scene. The beach stretches as far as you can see. There were people swimming and sunbathing. It was neat to watch the Surf Life Savers in action. They made sure that everyone swam between the flags. All of the beaches are marked with red and yellow flags where the beach is safe to swim. Outside of the flags there are dangerous riptides. The Aussies and especially Queenslanders take their surf lifesaving quite seriously. I saw while watching for about fifteen minutes tow custom trucks, a jet ski and a helicopter all patrolling the beach!

After I hung out at the beach I made my back through the shopping centers to the hostel. There I hung out with some of the people staying there and read my book.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

More Wandering

Today I filled the morning finding out when I need to catch my train to the Gold Coast tomorrow morning. After that I went the the Queen Street Mall and wandered around the shops. After that I visited some parkas and museums.

The first point of attraction I saw was the Botanical Garden. It is just outside of the government buildings. There are many ponds and wooded areas. The park runs along the end of a point that is surrounded by the Brisbane River. Other interesting features in the Garden are a very large outdoor theatre and a mooring for sailboats.

The first museum I looked at was the Queensland Maritime Museum. It was quite riveting. The history of Brisbane is directly tied to the water. The museum covered history from the beginning of the cities roots and but revolved for the most part around the dry dock that was built in 1881. There was also a lot of information on Australia and Queensland’s involvement in both World Wars.

This boat was used to sail from Canada to Australia. It is less than two meters long.

On my way from the Maritime Museum farther into South Bank I wandered through a market. It was neat seeing all the different local crafts. There are quite different than the ones found in the USA. After this I walked past the City Beach to the Queensland Museum. I got there just before closing and wasn’t able to see much more that part of one floor. Next time I am in town I will have to go back and see what else there it has to offer.

After the museum closed I went back into South Bank and had an amazing fish sandwich next the City Beach. I don’t have much experience with seafood but it was pretty good!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Getting My Bearings

Today I went on a four hour walking tour of Brisbane. It was quite interesting. The area where my hostel is and the train station nearby are nice but not nearly as clean or as impressive as I had heard Brisbane is. The tour I went on showed the cities beauty and intrigue beyond doubt.
I have been surprised to learn that many people smoke in Brisbane! Especially the people from about 18-25 (those are the ones I have had the most contact with). Today also learned that there are no punitive damages in the Queensland court system and they have no offense that would relate to vehicular manslaughter. I was in a bike shop talking with one of the employees and he had been hit by a car. He said that the police came and did nothing, not even call an ambulance as he was bleeding all over the street. The driver got off scott free! Luckily the cyclist made a full recovery.On my way back to the center of downtown I passed the public man made beach. It looks pretty nice. Tomorrow I hope to have time for a swim.The tour guide said that it wasn't safe to swim in the river because of the sharks that live there! A little past the beach was a large screen that as showing a tennis match being played here in BrisbaneThe finals are tomorrow so I expect to see a large crowd gathered.

After my tour I went to a museum that we passed along the way. It was the Commissariat Store. Here I learned that the city that is now Brisbane was a penal settlement for second offenders, or those that committed an offense once they arrived in Australia. Free settlers were not allowed to live in the area until the convict community was disbanded in 1839. From here I went down the pedestrian mall and looked in various shops including some sporting good shops that had some sweet cricket and football jerseys!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Far Side of the World

24 hours and two days later I have arrived in Australia! It seemed like this day would never come but looking back it happened all too quickly. I don’t think I could ever have fully prepared for this experience; it is much more daunting to be on the opposite side of the world than to talk about it. After the two layovers I had a smooth 14 hour flight from Los Angeles to Brisbane. Upon arrival I breezed through immigration and customs. I then caught a train that dropped me off about 3/4km from my hostel. The last time I had been outside it was about 7 degrees Fahrenheit (negative 14 degrees Celsius). When I arrived it was 27 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit). This was quite shocking to my sweat glands as one might imagine! Luckily for me it was overcast so I didn’t get my first sunburn.

After checking into my hostel (where none of my credit cards worked) I had about 2 hours before my room would be ready so I walked around town. I found a nice park. I thought the layout was very similar to that of a zoo, except there were no caged animals. I did see a lizard with a tail that was about 14 inches long, about twice as long as its body. Hopefully I will get back there with my camera as it was quite pretty. I saw my first Peugeot that was not a bike! That was pretty exciting. While I was walking around town I saw two police cars with body kits pull over drivers on two separate occasions. I have no idea what they did wrong but the police cars looked quite sporty, not like the burly ones in the USA.

When I finally was able to move into my room it was time for a nap. The room is quite nice, sparsely furnished but quite clean. I have WiFi so the Skyping is working out well for communication. I even used it to call Wells Fargo about my credit card issue. I have also been able to text through my email.

I will try to take some pictures tomorrow and show the sights. I can see the river from the hostel and I am going to see if there is a bike path or anything to run on tomorrow.