This is the official blog of my Study Abroad Trip to Australia and New Zealand. I'll be leaving December 26th and returning home February 2nd.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Day 3: How about that ride in? I guess that's why they call it Sin City..

Day Three has come and gone and has been a tiring one but very enjoyable. We woke up bright and early as usual, took our test on the book we had to read for this class and then we started our excursion to the Sydney Olympic Park. We took a bus, rode two trains, and did a little bit of walking to see the astounding architectural structure that hosted the 2000 Summer Olympics. Here's a couple pictures as we were walking in:
ANZ Olympic Stadium

 The stadium is a massive steel and concrete structure that is really cool to see and appreciate the sheer size and the work that went it to making it. Its construction began in 1996 and finished in 1999 with the capacity to hold about 110,000 spectators, making it the largest stadium in Australia. In 2003, designers added to build the coolest part of the stadium in my opinion: adjustable seating that opens up the roof. 
Just standing on a pole. Parkour possibly?

Crazy Fountain
It brought the seating down to 83,500, dropping it to the second largest stadium in Australia, but the amazing engineering feat attracts fans of all kinds. The stadium is used currently for Australian Rugby Matches and Cricket matches (which we will be attending at the end of January).

The Oasis Theme Park/SportsFirst

After the festivities at Olympic Park, we grabbed a little Big Mac snack and headed over to the Sydney Olympic Aquatics Center, which was huge and highly entertaining considering one of my favorite hobbies, people watching. There were what seemed like thousands of people in this SportsFirst/White Water Theme Park/Olympic Diving and Swimming Lanes facility. The number of unnecessary Speedo's was astounding. Check out a couple pictures.

Hot Tub Party! With WAY too many grown men in close space.

The diverse population at this pool was crazy. It seems like 80% of the people I have seen or encountered in Sydney have been of Asian decent. I am having a tough time so far discerning what a true Australian looks like. My mind would typically stray to the stereotypical Crocodile Dundee bloke, with a safari hat and an 18 inch knife in his teeth, but it's obviously much different than that. Sydney is a huge mash-up of all types of cultures and backgrounds and that's one of the reasons I feel so comfortable in this city. It's great.

Finally, towards the end of our day, we hopped on a ferry and observed some of the most beautiful scenery I have experienced in my entire life. We rode the ferry from the Sydney Harbour to Manly Beach on the other side of the bay. Here's a couple shots of the ride there.
View from the back of the Ferry

I'm going to post a daytime shot and nighttime of this view just to show you the dramatic difference of this breathtaking landscape. The boat ride took about twenty minutes and then we explored the Manly Beach wharf where we ate dinner and got to stick our toes in the sand for the first time since we've gotten to Sydney. It was awesome. Didn't see any sharks, yet.

Manly Beach
Manly Beach Harbor

Well, I think I've rambled enough for one day but I'll leave you with the two shots from the Ferry ride back the Sydney Harbour worth all the money, traveling, and preparation so far. Take a look. War Eagle!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Day 2: Australia

Here's some pictures thus far:
Me in Sydney Harbor with the Opera House behind me

Sydney Opera House

Harbor Bridge

Royal Botanical Gardens

Bayside of the Royal Botanical Gardens

Entrance to the Harbor Bridge

Harbor Bridge Again

View from the Pillar Tour of Sydney (Eat your heart out Tour Gift Shop Photos)


Day 2: The A"bridge"d Version

I apologize for the cheesiness. I'm not sure if I'd have to be funny to keep my readers entertained so I thought I'd give it a shot. Today was our first official day of class, which included the group heading over to Sydney Harbor Bridge to explore its massive strength and fascinating construction. On the way we enjoyed one of the more common American pleasures, Starbucks.  We were fortunate enough to have a tour about its assembly and walked up 200 stairs to reach the top of one of the four concrete pillars and see an amazing view of the city of Sydney. Next, we spanned the bridge on foot and gained a true appreciation for the sheer size of the structure. After the bridge exploration we headed over to the Sydney Museum and learned about the history of the city and quite a lot about how Australia had a large part in dictating the development and sport of surfing! We had our first free afternoon where we ate lunch down by the harbor at a fun place called the Pancake House and then hopped a bus over to the Westfield Mall, which is the biggest mall I have ever seen in my life. It has 6 levels of shops and four exits to outdoor strip shopping areas with even more stores. It was extremely packed because apparently most people that live around here take vacation days until the 2nd of January. Well I'm going to grab dinner but I'll upload some photos later tonight before I go to bed. War Eagle!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Day 1: Finally Made It!

Greetings Everyone from Sydney!

After 21 hours of flight time and several more of commuting to our temporary home for the week, Wesley College within the University of Sydney, we have had a great first day. We used the public bus transit system, rode a few trains, explored a few malls cleverly concealed as old commercial buildings, visited Sydney Harbor, enjoyed a street performer contortionist, visited the stunning Royal Botanical Gardens near the Harbor, ate at the Planet Hollywood -esque Star Bar restaurant for dinner, and walked just about EVERYWHERE in this city. I haven't enjoyed a hot shower and a comfortable bed as much as this one in a long time. I'm tired, sore, but extremely excited about the Down Under experience to come! Class starts tomorrow bright and early at 8 am so I'm going to try to get some sleep but I'll let y'all how my first day goes. War Eagle!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

It's been a great day with the family and a wonderful way to remember the States before heading out towards the Outback. I think I've crammed just about everything I can into my carry-on backpack that hopefully will sustain me for the next oh 38 days or so. Can't wait to see everyone at LAX before we head for our little hop over the pond. I'll let everyone know how the traveling goes soon!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Blog Rookie

So I just created my "official" blog for the trip. I've never done anything like this before so bear with me because I've never been great with this social networking stuff but I'll try my best to keep everyone informed with the high points of my trip. It's hard to imagine that we're leaving in less than a month! I fly out of Atlanta on December 26th to LAX and then I'll suffer through my 21 hour flight to Sydney shortly after. I'll try to keep this thing updated every few days with my pre-departure plans. Thanks.