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!

2 Hydrogen + 1 Oxygen = One Big Predicament

by Sarah Herman

Did you know that the average American shower lasts between 8-10 minutes?  What about that the typical shower uses 17.2 gallons of water?  If you answered no to these questions, don’t worry you’re not alone.  When it comes to the environment and the conservation of water most are extremely ill informed.  You may be thinking now, “So what?? I like my shower and I don’t care how much water it uses!”  Well you’re the one to tune in.

Upon arrival in Sydney and meeting our host families, the general rules of the houses were given: each host family has a different set of rules and requirements for the students staying with them.  One rule most of us found utterly shocking was the fact that one family has a strict water usage limit on showers: 5 minutes.  5 minutes?! I just thought a shower was a shower; the water comes from the pipes and we use it whenever we feel like it.  However, Australians have a very different view of water than Americans do.  The reason for this is because Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth, with the least amount of water in rivers, the lowest run-off and the smallest area of permanent wetlands of all the continents.  Conserving water is a way of life, and each Australian state has its own “Water Restriction Levels” that are determined by the amount of rainfall in each year.  As well as shorter showers, Australians barely ever run a dishwasher and use the least amount of water possible to wash dishes.  In our house we have a system: fill the sink half way with water and soap, put each dish in there one by one, clean it off, and stick it in the drying rack.  Notice that rinsing the dishes is not a part of the system.  What’s the reason for this?  All in an attempt to conserve water. 

What does this have to do with me, you ask?  Hopefully this will change your view on water.  When water is bountiful, we take it for granted.  It’s so reliable that it becomes a constant facet of our lives.  There’s a craze hitting the internet right now called the “Shower Challenge.”  It consists of a designated period of time where individuals cut their shower time down to anywhere between 3-5 minutes.  I encourage you to take the shower challenge.  Just for one week, limit each shower to 5 minutes.  Through this act, maybe we all can appreciate water a little bit more, and be grateful for the common gift we so often forget we have.