Erica’s Australian Adventures

Erica Naugle

Hello my fellow Chargers,

Most of you will know me as Ricky Naugle; a small few will recognize me as Erica. Others may identify me as the girl that sits in the front of the class and laughs just a little too loud. However it is that you identify me, I am excited to inform you that I have been lucky enough to spend the Fall 2015 semester halfway around the world studying Marine Science at James Cook University in Australia. This has been an amazing seven weeks so far and I am absolutely thrilled to share my experience with you.

Erica is already exploring the wildlife in Australia (Photo provided by Erica Naugle)
Erica is already exploring the wildlife in Australia (Photo provided by Erica Naugle)

There has been so much that has happened since I arrived in Brisbane in late July. In the first few days here, my study abroad group was taken to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary where the other Americans and I saw kangaroos, Tasmanian Devils, otters, and, of course, koalas. We even had the opportunity to hold them! As a group, we explored the city and began our immersion into the Aussie Cultural Experience.

My first week on campus was a little slow as most students were not back from their winter break (Yes! It’s the beginning of summer here!). The other international students and I spent a lot of time together watching movies and playing cards. Week two was still a little slow, but all the international students had orientation events to attend.

We were shown around the campus and found all the buildings that our classes would be in–it was like freshman year all over again! Some of the local students returned and they showed us around the city. I was really surprised at how openly accepting everyone is of all the internationals.

Week three came out of nowhere and classes started. My roommates moved back in and I was so excited to meet them. I was really lucky with how friendly they are. David told me that I am actually his third American roommate and that I can always ask him for help if I have any problems while I’m here.

My study abroad group took a trip to Crystal Creek, which is a hiking trail along a creek. At some points along the creek, there are rockslides and cliff jumping. Since then, our group has become relatively close and we spend time together outside of our social events.

In week four, I joined the James Cook Students Association and went with them on a trip to the Reef Headquarters (Reef HQ). They have their own reef inside the aquarium! I thought it was a really cool, interactive and educational approach to an aquarium set up. They also had a turtle hospital within the facility and we were able to see some of the turtles in recovery. In the same week we visited Billabong Sanctuary where we had a private tour, held a baby alligator, various snakes, pet a wombat, feed kangaroos, watched a crocodile show, and saw more koalas!

The study abroad group took a weekend excursion during week five to Magnetic Island. The entire experience was incredible. On the first day, we went rock climbing, snorkeling in small coral reefs, and hiking. One of the other members of the group and I sat on the beach in Horseshoe Bay to watch the sunset before heading back to the hostel for a shower before dinner. We met up with the rest of the group and headed over to the island tavern for dinner before being released for the night. Some of us decided to ride to bus around the island to see the rest of it before shuffling off to bed. The morning of the second day began with a camper’s breakfast at the hostel. Along with our large portions of pancakes, chopped ham, toast, and tea with fresh honey, we participated in an animal meet and greet. We each were able to hold a parrot, blue-tongued skinks, and more snakes! That afternoon was spent on a hike to the highest point on the Island in exploration of the military forts from World War II. The hike was followed by stand up paddle boarding with sea turtles off the bay. It is impossible to express the overwhelming joy that comes with being that close to my favorite aquatic animal.

Weeks six and seven were relatively quiet compared to the Magnetic Island trip. I spent a lot of time working on assignments and planning future trips (there are so many exciting adventures in store!). Some of my new Australian friends and I spent some time down on The Strand, which is the tropical version of New Haven Beach. There are some food and ice cream shacks, beach volleyball courts, and a few shops across the street. It’s easy to fall into the laid back lifestyle of the Australian Culture. I am finding myself more and more at home here.

Well, that just about covers everything exciting up until this point. Until next week, Chargers!