Kelsey down under


Christensen (top row, third from left), a novice rafter, finds white river rafting exhausting and exhilarating.

My name is Kelsey Christensen, a South Puget Sound Community College running start student and Sounds News reporter. I am studying winter quarter in Melbourne, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand on a study abroad trip.

Our final week in Australia is coming to a close and soon all us study abroad students along with our advisor Green River Community College Professor Bruce Haulman will head to Auckland, New Zealand.

Over the course of four weeks in Melbourne we have studied the essence of the country’s history, culture, and biology. The same classes await us in our next destination, now focused around New Zealand and specifically the characteristics of the Maori people.

This past week finals concluded and we separated into smaller groups and ventured out into other parts of Australia for travel week. A larger group of students, including myself, flew to Carins, known as one of the adventure capitals of Australia. In this extremely rainy location you have easy access to the Great Barrier Reef as well as many other thrill-seeking activities.

My time in Carins consisted of white water rafting and snorkeling on the reef. The first day I spent in Carins I traveled with several other students into the tropical rainforest region of Australia to the Tully River for a full day of rafting.

A novice rafter myself, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The day left me exhausted and exhilarated. However, my piece of advice for any first time rafter is to stay more alert than you think you need to be if you fall out of the raft. Speaking from recent experience, the situation can quickly go from funny to very serious as the rapids drag you down the river and quickly pull you under the surface.

The second day of my trip to Carins, in Queensland, a few fellow classmates and I boarded the Kangaroo Explorer to search the reef and stay overnight on the boat.

Snorkeling was another foreign experience for me. It was like nothing else to see the reef and the vast amount of life it harbors. Clownfish, turtles, jellyfish, and many other Finding Nemo characters were seen by students either snorkeling and/or diving on the reef.

One student, who has his diver certification, dove at nighttime and got to see the reef guided only by light from flashlights in the pitch black ocean abyss.

It was truly a whole new experience for me spending almost two days on a boat out at sea. The constant swaying motion started to feel normal, but the moments of severe shaking was the most fun as everyone aboard repeatedly crashed into one side of the boat or the other.

One highlight of the evening on the boat was the whale sighting by a fellow study abroad student. We all looked out into the sunset horizon and spotted a whale diving into the water not far from the boat. Awes came from all around as we watched the usually elusive creature.

Flights to and from Carins went fairly smoothly for all of the students traveling to the adventure capital for their week off.

One interesting thing about airlines in Australia is that they do not care whatsoever about liquids and restricting their size. This made me exceedingly happy as everything from shampoo to soap to toothpaste is two or three times more expensive in the United States. Money instead can be spent on the next exciting study abroad adventure, whether that be bungee jumping, surfing lessons, black water rafting; the possibilities keep adding up.

Now that a whole new country is right around the corner all the students on the study abroad trip are excited and rejuvenated for more travel.

Another point of excitement for most of the students and myself is the small-group apartment style living setup that is arranged in Auckland. I am positive our already close-knit group will spend a great deal of time bonding and start feeling even more like a family.

So many great friends and memories can and have been made on this trip. I hope to make twice as many in New Zealand and am completely enthused to head there in the next couple of days and settle into life Auckland style.

Photo courtesy Kelsey Christensen