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By Shivani Shah
It is quite hard to believe that we have almost completed three weeks of our journey, as it feels as if we just arrived yesterday. I must say that this has been the most remarkable and memorable three weeks I could have ever imagined. With all the travelling, Tim-Tam eating, Caramello Koala feasting and much more, this will definitely be a trip I will never forget. On July 31st, all twelve exchange students began our journey into Canberra, the capital of Australia with chaperones Tina Tallack, Yvonne Whalan, and our bus driver Brian Russell. We were in Canberra for two days, and it was one of my favourite parts of this week. We started our trip by stopping at McDonalds, or “Maccas”. I must admit that the McDonalds is much different than ours, and I am not quite used to the small portions. Soon, we headed to Parliament House where we learned all about Australian government. We were also able to see the beautiful War Memorial as well as the wonderful closing ceremony. We ended our day by visiting Telstra Tower, a lookout point, which was a very memorable personal experience for me. The temperature at night had dropped to about freezing, and I have never experienced winds as strong as the ones at the top of the tower. As we American students (Nathan, Bailee, Amber, Sarah, Sandra and I) tried to get pictures while the Japanese stayed in shelter, we found it a challenge to simply stand straight. Being the tiniest person, I had to have my friend hold me down so that I wouldn’t blow away while I attempted to get a picture. Nevertheless, it was a great experience but we were all very happy to reach our warm apartments and eat our yummy takeaway Chinese.
The second day at Canberra was filled with just as much adventure! In the morning we took a quick visit to the Australian National Museum and had our morning tea. Then, we all headed to Questacon, an interactive science museum. This was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip as everything was hands on and a very educational experience. Our final stop was the top of a hill where we took lots of pictures. Just as we were leaving, the weather was so cold that it began to snow! Unfortunately, that was the end of our stay in Canberra, but we headed home excited to see our families.
As the weekend came around, we were able to have free time with our families. On Saturday, I went to our local church’s Fate with my family and their friends. The Fate is like a fair with food and rides, very similar to our Camellia Festival. On Sunday, I decided to relax and my mum, sisters and I chose to go shopping at Rouse Hill. It was really neat being able to compare the shops they have to the ones we have back home. I observed that the prices here for simple things are shockingly high compared to what I am used to back home, but we had a great time!
Monday, August 4th and Tuesday, August 5th were more school days. I personally love going to school and wearing uniforms, so I am always excited for school days. Recently, I have tried the cooking, art, drama, agriculture and physical activities sports science classes at my school, and I continue to try new classes. My school, Bede Polding College, is very different from TCHS in every aspect. I go to a private Catholic school, so we have a daily prayer, there is no cafeteria and we have venue sports where we get to go off campus for P.E, just to name a few differences. All of us are having a blast at all our different schools, and are sad that we only have a few days of school left.
On Wednesday, August 6th, all twelve of us excitedly awaited the excursion to the Blue Mountains. For the first part of our day, we stopped at a lookout point and took lots of pictures. The valley was absolutely stunning and we learned that it looked a hazy blue color because of the oil from the Eucalyptus trees. We soon headed up to Echo Point, where we spent most of our day. After learning the story about the Three Sisters, all six American students chose to embark on an 1800 step trail leading to the base of one of the sisters. Going down the steep steps were a breeze, but coming back up was a nightmare and it killed us all. However, we managed to get through it as a group, and we were later able to relax as we took the scenic cableway over the valley. It was truly a great day and an amazing week!