Sunday, February 23, 2014

Independent Study Week Adventures

February 13 – 15, 2014 

By Becca Zilk


This week is our independent study week, so everyone has gone off to do their own traveling and research for the contemporary Australia course final projects. I stayed in Brisbane with Jess and Emma and we are currently staying in a hostel together. So far this week, our days have generally consisted of waking up, eating breakfast, heading to the library to do research for several hours, and then doing a bit of exploring in the city during the late afternoon and evening.

One thing that I found interesting about staying in a hostel was talking to other people who were likewise traveling in Australia. It seemed that many of the people who were visiting the country were less educated about its history and culture than our group, and I found myself explaining things and giving mini history lessons to people as we watched Rabbit Proof Fence in the common room. It made me feel very fortunate that I have this opportunity not only to travel to a foreign country, but in that process to engage in deep learning about the history and social fabric of the place that I’m visiting. I think we are getting so much more from this trip than many other people might get visiting Australia, because we are not just doing all of the touristy things, but being educated about each of the sites we are seeing. It makes the trip much more meaningful.

I’m looking forward to learning more about Brisbane, but from what I have seen so far I really like this city. It’s more relaxed than Sydney with a slower pace and less hustle and bustle. When we first arrived in Brisbane I was reminded of Portland: the weather was mildly overcast, the overall feeling of the city was similar to that of Portland, and the river winding through the city seemed reminiscent of the Willamette. The architecture here is very cool and I’m especially fond of the bridges that cross the Brisbane River.

Brisbane CBD Cityscape

There’s not much else to report from this front. It hasn’t been an extremely exciting week in Brisbane, but some of the other students did some pretty cool things for their studies. John went to Rockhampton to visit a crocodile farm. Claire and Katherine both went WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms): Claire worked at a biodynamic farm, and Katherine helped out at a sheep farm. Sierra and Seraphie went to Melbourne and visited Hanging Rock, and Shannon went to Adelaide to continue her studies on women in politics. A handful of people went to Byron Bay for their week off, and Allie stayed with a friend on the other side of Brisbane.

I was surprised to find that I missed the rest of the students quite a bit while they were away. Despite not knowing any of these people before our trip, I found that I have really connected with everyone and that we have become somewhat of an oddball family. I’m excited to have everyone back, to catch up, and get more details about what each person has been up to.

After this week we go to our homestay families. I’m really excited to get to know the people I’m going to be staying with. Stay tuned for more adventures!

Statue Outside the State Library of Queensland
Kurilpa (AKA Toothpick Bridge) from William Jolly Bridge

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