So I made it to Australia! I landed in Townsville, a town located along the northeast coast of Queensland, on July 22nd and have been running rampant since! The town itself is quite large, and fairly busy. James Cook University is not as close to downtown as I had expected. It is a 25 minute bus ride to get to various stores and restaurants, and a 35 minute ride to get to the beach. I am staying on campus in George Roberts Hall, a dorm that in some ways is laid out like a giant Motel 6…but fancier! I have a single room and live in an “apartment” with two other female roommates who I share a bathroom and common room with. Katerine is back from break and is Australian. I have not met the other roommate, but she is supposedly from Lebanon. There are also wallabies living outside my door.
Besides the first two days, the weather has been gorgeous…right now it is 68 F at 10:18 PM. Orientation week, or the Big “O”, started off with a bang Monday. The international office hosted a “sausage sizzle” with live music….I am a big fan of grilling out. Overall, there are a lot more Americans attending James Cook than I expected, but the 10,000 Aussie students are expected to return for the start of classes on August 4th.
In between orientation activities I had time to bus into town and set up a bank account at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. As well, a few of us researched mobile phones and decided to opt for a rechargeable service with Telstra. With our “Freedom” plan we can call and text 5 set numbers with no charge for 30 days…so a bunch of us got the same plan needless to say. Unlike in the States where we buy phone minutes, in Australia they go by dollar amount. So if you paid $30 for a plan you may have $150 credit which you can use to text or call (a text is $.25 and calls are at a rate of $.68/minute). Very different.
Well enough about phones…tomorrow I am checking out the aquarium downtown and Friday a few of us are going to Billabong Sanctuary.
Hope all is well in NY!