More Adventures from Jennifer Gross in Australia
In Australia, I have experienced things I never thought I would by going on exchange. Thanks to Sandi Crogan, the other exchanges and I have been able to ride in a hot air balloon, hike the base of Uluru, enjoy a kangaroo sanctuary, spend the day exploring the West MacDonnell ranges, ride a camel, and help out the less fortunate of the Northern Territory. I feel like I have been accepted by everyone here, not only at school, but also by the people who live in Australia.
Waking up at four in the morning was such a hassle. It was cold outside and there was no sign of sunlight. We were picked up at St. Philip’s at 5:00 AM and driven to the outback where we noticed a massive balloon being blown up. We were all awake in anticipation for our hot air balloon ride. From the moment we climbed into the basket, we always felt like we were going to tip over and fall out. Once we got 500 feet in the air and looked out at the Australian outback, we were still a little nervous. When it was time to land, we slid across the tops of trees, bushes, then finally the ground. Because the balloon was still up and the wind was strong, the basket tipped about 60 degrees towards the ground. After we rolled out and packed up the balloon, everyone got a glass of orange juice and we learned about the first hot air balloon rides.
When beginning our weekend long trip to Uluru, the Olgas, and King’s Canyon, I was scared of having to hike so many kilometers each day. On the six-hour bus ride, we made stops at a camel farm and some small towns with convenience stores and gas stations. I was amazed by the camel burgers that most places sold. They taste much better than kangaroo tail. All of the exchanges had quality bonding time on and off the bus. Once we arrived at Uluru, our guide surprised us with a 12 kilometer walk around the base of Uluru. After our road trip all I wanted to do was sleep, but once we got going there was no stopping the fun. It took us just about three hours to complete, but we were able to learn about the rock and the aboriginal history and culture. Soon after, we drove to a lookout to watch the sunset on Uluru and witness the magnificent color of the rock.
Out of my entire experience here so far, I know it would not have been as much fun without getting to hang out with my now life-long friends from India, Nepal, Canada, South Africa, Germany, Colombia, and Mexico. They made every trip and adventure ten times more exciting and memorable. I will miss them all when we go home and I cannot wait to see them again someday!!
Jennifer Gross Arrives in Australia
Hello from Alice Spings, NT, Australia. It has only been two weeks and I have already learned more than I ever thought I would. Not only am I learning about Australia and how they call McDonald’s “Maccers,” but I am also getting to experience cultures from around the world with the other exchanges at St. Phillips. There is a wide variety of people in such a small town that I’m am glad to get to be a part of. So far my exchange experience has been wonderful, and I hope each day will continue to amaze me.
On my first day in school, I mostly hung out with Gabby, my exchange, and met her friends. However, by the end of my third day in school, I had my own group of friends to enjoy. I met people from Alice Springs to Nepal to Germany to Canada and even Texas. Everyone was so welcoming, it was hard not to have a good time. I never thought my exchange would be so easy to settle into, but it’s like I’ve been here all year. Everything is different, but there are similarities to California in every person, place, meal, and experience, except for the Kangaroos and Koalas.
Around two weeks into exchange, my host family took me to the peak of a small mountain. Once we conquered the bumpy ride to the top, we sat for hours taking in all of Alice Springs and the surrounding nature. I got the chance to really get to know my host family. I learned about themselves as individuals and who they are as a family. We watched the sunset and made a campfire to stay warm. It wasn’t necessarily a traditional camp out, we ate chicken from Red Rooster (fast food) and Doritos. But I felt welcomed, like a part of a new family.