Kangaroos, red dirt, and scorching sun…I knew I wanted to be a part of this adventure!

This blog is written by Ariel Norris. Ariel, is a Fall 2018 student from North Greenville College. Editor’s note: This post has been lightly edited.

Last semester, when I was deciding where I wanted to study abroad, the fact that ASC offered a trip to the Australian outback was a major draw card for me. Instantly images of kangaroos, red dirt, and scorching sun came to mind and I knew I wanted to be a part of this adventure.

Girl with whip

Having a whip crackin of a time!

Fast forward a few months, I find myself waking at 4am, jumping onto a bus (not entirely sure what direction we were heading) and onto the dusty roads towards the Outback! Though the ASC staff did inform us of what we should basically expect from the trip, I don’t think any of us truly knew what we were getting into.

Girl on dusty road

On the dusty red dirt roads

We were told, sleeping arrangements may include sleeping under the stars or in an old barn! To which a mixture of responses came from my fellow classmates! I, for one was thrilled at the prospect of falling asleep beneath a million stars. Others weren’t too sure.

Understandably, the nerves were not about sleeping in the Outback but more who or what they may be sleeping with? I will admit, the idea of waking up to see a king brown (snake) curled up next to me, or a kangaroo looking down at me did cross my mind once or twice. Thankfully, never once did I wake to find anything except the ranch’s dogs, Marley and Devil, snuggled up next to our group!

Outback sleeping arrangements

Outback sleeping arrangements

In addition to nerves about the sleeping arrangements, we are invited by the ASC staff partake in a “no shower challenge” to understand what drought stricken farmers constantly battle. I decided I would “Go Hard or Go Home!” with this challenge.

You see, it would be easy to come on the Outback trip with the mindset of “we have to do this.” But the experience becomes so much more enriching when we change our mindset from “have to” to “get to”.

Jessica Gurrola (Biola University) and Abby Haas (Montreat  College) making a new friend

Having a good feed

We heard from the ranch owners on how they didn’t choose this lifestyle because of  financial gain but chose it because the Outback is part of who they are.

Me and Lyle the ranch owner

Me and Lyle the ranch owner

Upon reflection, I left behind familiarity of the modern life and jumped into a new reality that I would never have been able to experience outside of the ASC program. We weren’t just in the Outback to have a good time. We were there to learn how challenging life can be in this arid sometimes “unforgiving” land.

Lyle the ranch owner talking about a particular tree local to the area

Lyle, talking about the landscape

The Outback is harsh, yet it is also full of life and richness if you allow yourself to see it. As I returned home to Brisbane, and gazed across the backyard (bursting with green grass and trees) I realized that even though it wasn’t easy experience, I did it! We did it! Our time spent there, I will never forget!

Desert flower

 

PS. Showering never felt better!

Stradbroke Memories

This blog is written by Sarah Reed. It comes from her personal blog “Sarah Reed Down Under“. Sarah is a Fall 2018 student from Messiah College. Editor’s note: This post was first published on the 13th of August, 2018 and has been lightly edited.

A few weekends ago my classmates and I traveled across Moreton Bay to Stradbroke Island for a weekend with our Indigenous worldviews class. The ferry ride was short yet relaxing and upon arrival we were welcomed with a smoking ceremony to cleanse ourselves.

Stradbroke Ferry

Having fun on the ferry on the way to Stradbroke

The morning continued with our ears being filled with stories about local customs of the Indigenous people of the area.  This was followed by dancing, boomerang and spear throwing! Which was really fun!

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Boomerang throwing

See videos of my boomerang throwing and spear throwing activities.

The day finished with a brisk Gorge walk. The scenic trail snaked around cliffs and we were fortunate enough to see whales jumping out of the ocean, sea turtles and other wildlife.

A view from the Gorge walk

The next day, we worked with artist Craig to create sand art on the beach. Each design unique in their expression!

People on beach creating sand art

Working on sand art designs

This was followed by a time of worship at Brown Lake (a historical site where local Indigenous women would bring with their children).

Musicians playing guitars and ukulele at Brown Lake

Worship time at Brown Lake

Now I know this sounds like a nice weekend getaway, but it was much more than that.  Before coming to Australia, I thought Indigenous people were just an ancient group of people that used to live in Australia, little did I know that I was very wrong.  The weekend showed me, this ancient culture is still every much alive! The elders of the community, shared with us the importance of country and showed us ways to utilize plants and the things on the island. We were invited onto sacred grounds which were had been frequented by their ancestors. They also shared with us stories of hardships faced by Aboriginal people today.

Over the weekend, not only did I experience Aboriginal culture and history. I also learnt how an Aboriginal person can be both Christian and still hold on to their cultural values. I have never experienced anything like this and I will forever hold onto the memories I made this weekend.

Using found materials to create sand art

 

 

 

Sushi, Service, Fireworks and Frustrations

Excerpt from Spring 2013 student Fiona Tranquillo’s blog “My Aussieland Adventure”. Reproduced with permission http://myaussielandadventure.blogspot.com.au/

My first week of classes had a very delicious ending… sushi!!! As I mentioned earlier, my host mom is from Singapore, so many of the dinners we have are oriental. On Friday, she told Tarah and me that she was going to teach us how to make sushi! I had mixed feelings. First let me say, I do NOT do raw fish… ew. Just thinking about it gives me the heeby jeebies (I think I just made up that spelling). I was QUITE relieved to see that everything she had for us to use was fully cooked. It was the sweetest thing… Bee-Hoon got everything totally prepped and set up a little sushi rolling station for each of us. She had prepared cucumber, carrots, crab, omelette strips, chicken, and radish. I put everything in every roll and it was SO delicious. Also, good news, I wrote down all of Bee-Hoon’s tricks for the sushi so that I can repeat it at home! This was not easy, however. Bee-Hoon, being quite the thrifty one, told us that taking her recipe AND her being in our blogs was going to require a contract and some major cash. Good news, though, we were able to pull it out of her, free of charge. 😉

Fiona

Fiona and her host mom

I think I may have become a sushaholic.

The best part about the night, however, wasn’t just eating the sushi. More than that, I felt like I really connected with my host family and started to feel “at home” for the first time. I was able to joke with them, laugh with them, and just be myself. I went to bed feeling very thankful.

Saturday started off bright and EARLY. Part of the ASC program is that all participants are required to put in 35 hours of service in a placement of their choosing. I, along with about 7 other ASC students, was placed on the Hillsong Street Team. This is a group of people from Hillsong Church and Hillsong College that go out every Saturday morning to different harder areas of town, knock on doors, and simply build relationships and help in any way they can. If often consists of yard work, but other times is just being good company for people who are often lacking in that area.

It was a really neat experience. Most of my group’s time was spent talking with this older woman named Shirley. We didn’t clean her house, preach the Gospel, or bring radical change… we simply sat and enjoyed chatting with her and listening to whatever she had to say. This was a bit of a challenge for me. So many Americans are engrained with the belief that service means doing. I left feeling like I hadn’t actually DONE anything to help. The more I’ve thought about it, however, the more I am finding value in the simple act of being there for Shirley and building a relationship with her… showing her that we care. I think that being on this team will challenge my view of service and teach me that spreading God’s love and light doesn’t necessarily mean serving a meal or handing out Bibles.

Saturday had a pretty slam-bang finish. I’m not sure what the occasion was or how often it happens, but we had heard that there was going to be fireworks that night. To sum it up… it was magical. Darling Harbor is one of my favourite spots so far, and seeing it lit up with fireworks was incredible. The icing on the cake was some really good conversations with a couple of girls in the group… some serious bonding, which I’m a huge fan of.

There were many wonderful highlights of the weekend, but there was also a lot of frustration. I’ve found myself being frustrated that Australian wifi stinks and that we’re never allowed to use it. I’ve found myself being frustrated with how stinkin’ expensive everything is. I’ve found myself being frustrated with how long public transportation takes. Most of all, I’ve found myself being frustrated with myself for being so darn frustrated all the time! I was expecting everything to be easy and happy-go-lucky, but it hasn’t really been that way a lot of the time. It is in these moments, though, where the Lord is teaching me so much. First of all, the things that are frustrating me are so trivial, and I need to open my eyes to the world around me and to the needs of others. Like seriously… being frustrated about wifi?? Let’s be real, Fiona. Second, when things really are hard… that’s okay! I have been clinging to the words of Psalm 34 that tell us that, as Christians, things are not going to be easy. Our hope is not in a promise of all happy-go-lucky circumstances, but rather, our hope is in a God who will be with us and FOR us no matter what the circumstances are! It is because of that hope that we can “bless the Lord at all times” and “have His praise continually on our lips.”

Praising Him in the good and the hard,

Fiona

A Series of [Un]Fortunate Events

by Ty Tuin

Fortunately, whoever misinterpreted the Mayan calendar was wrong.

Unfortunately, Mondays still exist.

Fortunately, my Monday consisted of landing in Australia.

Unfortunately, someone brought an illness aboard and we sat on the plane while quarantine officers searched it.

Fortunately, in-flight entertainment was still on and I got to finish a good movie.

Unfortunately, I should have slept more on the plane instead of watching movies.

Fortunately, I’ll appreciate sleep so much more tonight.

 

Fortunately, I’m back in Australia for another great semester.

Unfortunately, the style of old men and short shorts hasn’t gone away.

Fortunately, it’s warm enough to wear short shorts.

Unfortunately, there’s no snow to make snow angels.

Fortunately, that means I have time to help prepare for Semester 1 2013.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot yet to be done.

Fortunately, we’re energized and ready to make it the Best Semester it can be.

Here’s to the New Year!

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Botany Bay, the place where colonial Australia began

 

Friday

Friday brought the second class the ASC students will take during the semester, Indigenous Cultures, History and Identity (of Australia and New Zealand). As a former student I can personally say this class alone, taught by Jennifer Newman, is worth the 15 hour flight. The first session of class opened with a history and overview of the Aboriginal Australians, their language groups and regions. Sitting in on the class I noticed an entranced silence. I have never seen college students so unashamedly riveted for almost 2 hours. This is going to be a great class.

An Aboriginal Language Map of Australia

The legacy of the Tower of Babel can be felt across the planet. Anyone who has traveled knows this. But even here in Australia, a well-developed former British colony, the clash of cultures can be witnessed. During the Friday’s session the ASC students engaged in an exercise created to embody this phenomenon. Though it has its roots in antiquity (the late ‘70s), the concept of the game still holds true.

The class is divided into two groups, each representing two different cultures. The two groups learn the rules associated with their cultures and then take turns visiting. The game is good fun but the discussion afterwards shows that this is about more than a game. This is about how people interact with one another, and the students dove into it wholeheartedly sharing experiences and asking insightful questions of their own.

“How powerful is culture?”

“Should we even evaluate culture?”

“Maybe it is important to identify where one comes from in order to understand how to interact with other cultures.”

Asking these sorts of questions and critically looking at one’s own culture are key to growing from a semester abroad.