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!

the place that calls my heart

This blog is written by Marissa Showalter. It comes from her personal blog “Riss Lynn Takes Brisbane“. Marissa was a Spring 2017 student from Messiah College. Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2017 and has been lightly edited. 

This past week has been a tough one. Every day that passes makes me wish more and more that I was on a plane headed back to the place that calls my heart. There are just too many in completes that I left behind in my sweet Brissy, and I want nothing more than to return to finish what I started under the sweet summer sunshine of Queensland. What do you do when your heart physically aches for somewhere else?

Photo 16-2-18, 11 50 11 am

A Gold Coast Beach

You would think that the more time passes, the more I would settle back into life here. WRONG. Yep. If anything, I feel even more listless than before. People here are talking about taking their GREs and applying to jobs, and I can’t help but feel like a frozen over creek, stagnant and unmoving.

I have been encountering so many well-meaning folks who, upon discovering that it’s my senior year, inquire as most do about what my plans are after college. I fake a smile and start going on about how I plan to go to grad school for counseling. HA. Who am I fooling?? Not that I don’t still feel like counseling is my calling or anything, but now I have bigger dreams and weirdly they look a lot like palm trees swaying on a spotless beaches and kangaroos bouncing across a stretch of barren desert.


A mob of Kangaroos

People are usually rather incredulous when I tell them that I want to move to Australia. They think I’m joking or being dramatic or just exaggerating the impact that my time there had on me. “You would really want to live over there?” they ask me. “But it’s so far! Wouldn’t you miss your family?”

Then they ask me what I would plan to do when I got there and that’s just the kicker, because once again, I have no idea. Like, not a clue. I could go and work odd jobs for a little while, which no one would understand once I have earned my degree. I could do grad school abroad potentially, but of course I don’t know what that would mean financially as an international student or the implications for becoming a licensed counselor in the US. All I know is that I need to find my way back somehow.

So this has been an especially hard week emotionally as I move yet again into my new apartment. In the move, I packed up all of my Australia mementos and carefully tucked them away to be prominently displayed in my new home. I cling to even the smallest item that claims even a little bit of sentimentality. You know what? I still have the packaging for a necklace that I received over there that should’ve gone in the trash long ago. And yet I continue to cling.

If I come to a conclusion about all of this, I’ll keep you updated.

Until then.

xoxo, Riss

Our Giving Tree

By Sarah Omer

“And the boy loved the tree…” The Giving Tree, a Shel Silverstein classic, is a story of the relationship between a boy and a tree. The tree would give the boy anything it could; it provided shade on a hot day, its apples to sell, its branches to build a house, its trunk to make a boat, and in all of this the tree was happy, and the boy loved it. Among many things, such as God’s love for his children, or a parent’s love for their newborn, this story illustrates a selfless giving, one that can be seen as our own environment around us. Some times, as the human race, we can seem to be that boy who takes everything from the tree to make a better life for him. But do we “love the tree?”

Within my first couple of days here in Australia, I could see a difference in how most feel about what they need to do to help their environment. My host family went over the rules more than twice about leaving the lights on, taking faster showers, and drying laundry on a line outside instead of using the dryer. At first I thought it was just my family, but then I noticed Australia as a whole has been cracking down on the environmental issues such as energy consumption, water usage, and recycling. As of the first of July this year, a Carbon tax was put into place that makes the big energy spenders pay a tax for how much Carbon pollution they have. This in turn will increase the prices on some goods and services. Everyone in a way is paying now to help the environment from what they were doing to it with pollution from the beginning. Australia is among the top 20 biggest polluters in the world with about 500 million tons of pollution each year.

Australians in general have a certain connection to their land. They might call it hostile at times but it is a part of them. I can see the efforts of giving back to the environment by the lifestyles and attitudes of Australians. In the United States over the past 20 years you can see a change in environmental concerns. About half of Americans (48%) don’t really know what is in the future for environmental problems but say that their concern for the environment is somewhat serious. Also, in the past 20 years, twice as many Americans recycle and have become more environmentally friendly. However, even with the good number of recyclers, you don’t really find Americans that will take the next step and go without certain conveniences as Australian’s do, such as the use of the dryer. Can it really be that difficult to make a change in your own household in order to give back? As I talked with my host mom, she told me that as a parent, she thinks about the future and what kind of world her children will be in when she is gone. As a Christian, she thinks about how God put us in charge of the earth and how we are to look after it, take care of it, and be good stewards of it. This makes her more aware of her environment and what she and her family can do to help it.

Many people have different views on their environment and how they should treat it. We can see that those views are affected by where someone grows up and lives. Such as the Australians, who are use to the rough land and lack of water, and the Americans who are use to the land of plenty where taking from it is easy and giving back is inconvenient. Personally I think we can learn from the story The Giving Tree, and love the tree (our giving tree) back.




A Green City

By Monika Krahn

Upon arriving in Sydney two months ago I was struck by how green it is. On our first class trip into the heart of the city and with my mind set on seeing the Opera House for the first time, I was pleasantly distracted by the numerous grassy, green parks we walked by. Having grown up in rural Maine and not being much of a city girl I am continually refreshed by how green this city really is.

A few years back the City of Sydney implemented a long-term plan in hopes of making the city a more sustainable place (among other things). This plan, Sydney 2030, is well underway working to make positive changes. Earlier this month energy efficient LED street lights were installed making Sydney the first Australian city to improve their city lighting. Plans of installing these lights in other areas of the city, including parks, are in place for later this year.

Additionally, the City of Sydney runs “Green Villages”, a program that is all about local communities and businesses working to create a more sustainable city. They provide workshops that teach locals about growing their own food, composting, natural cleaning methods, and recycling. It is clear that Sydney is not only going green on a large-scale level, but is working to teach its citizens what it means to go green in everyday life. On May 5th the city is holding a nationwide event called “Garage Sale Trail” advocating reuse and redistribution among neighbors and communities. Its goal is to inform people that even the clothes and household objects they buy have an impact on the environment and that purchasing used items decreases this impact.

My time in Sydney has certainly opened my eyes to many things and its concern for the environment has certainly caused me to take a closer look at my own life.