Notes from Australia

One Student. One Semester. One major life experience.
Liberty's Story

Final Entry #9 - July 16

Well it's been 4 months and my time in Australia is done. The semester is over and I'm back in the United States…I'm home. It has been an amazing journey. I've had some of the most incredible experiences, most of which were once in a lifetime. New friends have been made both across the states and across the globe. These people have changed and inspired me. It's crazy to think that just a few months ago we were all strangers and now I can never forget them. But more than the people, I have been inspired by a country. It's blows my mind to believe that a country I knew nothing about back in February can now be so etched in my mind. There's a little piece of my heart missing and it's in the shape of Australia. Yeah, sure that sounds corny but I promise you this, I miss it more than I ever thought I could. Every little detail reminds me of that special place I left behind. Someday I'll return to Australia to revisit those memories. Until then, I'll reflect upon the many wonderful memories made this semester with wonderful people. I hope that at some point you get a chance to visit Australia. It truly is amazing and the experience of a lifetime. Thanks for reading my blog mates! G'day!
Liberty Gallagher

These are the people that I spent my semester with in Australia, I will never forget you all!

- Liberty

Entry #8 - May 31

Wow! So it's been a long and crazy month! It was filled with an amazing weekend, a broken computer, an awkward service placement conversation, a hospital visit, a good grade, and a rockin' iPod design! My amazing weekend happened several weeks ago when my host mom, Gail, took us up to visit her parents in Ulladulla. It's about 4 hours up the coast so my 3 roommates, Gail, and myself hopped in the car for a mini roadtrip. We stopped several exciting places along the way. We saw a really awesome Chinese Temple. It looked like we were walking onto t he set of Kung-Fu Panda. :) Then we visited a little beach where the Kangaroos just hung around and let people pet them. It was a gorgeous day. When we finally made it to her parents house, we were excited to discover that they lived right on the beach! We walked around collecting shells and taking pictures. It was gorgeous. :) Best weekend trip ever. Her parents took us out for a lovely dinner and were so hospitable to us. We LOVE them!!! The next day we roadtripped back to Gail's and stopped in Kangaroo Valley and in a few other towns and shops. The whole way back home we were singing and laughing. It was such a relaxing and wonderful weekend.

Not 2 days after I got back to Gail's, my computer hinge cracked and broke off. I had a chunk of metal sticking out of the side of my computer and my screen wouldn't close. The top was so wobbly and unsteady that I was sure it would break off. I called DELL and of course their customer service is horrible so I got no help. I called and called for 2 weeks an d all I got was frustration. In the meantime, I had huge class projects due and a very fragile computer to do them on. Talk about frustrating!!! Finally after several phone calls and many days later, a serviceman came to the house to fix my computer. He put a brand new cover on that was red instead of pink but I didn't mind. I was just happy to have my computer fixed! Every weekend I have to work at a service placement. This semester I've been assigned to work with the Hillsong Street Teams. We knock on doors and ask if we can help with anything around the house. Sometimes we just sit and talk with people. Well a couple weeks ago, we had such an awkward experience. One of the guys on our team was talking to a resident in the apartment building we visit and got us stuck in the most awkward conversation of my life. April McKay who also attends LETU was in my group too and we were trying our best to keep a straight face and get out of there. Usually our visits with Street Teams are enjoyable but that week was more awkward than anything. On the bright side, it did create a bonding experience for April and I and we still joke about awkward quotes from that day! :) Finally, the most significant event of the last month happened last week. I've been getting severe stomach pains all semester and I don't know why. Every time I go to the doctor, they can't figure out what it is. Usually the pain last 5-6 hours and then goes away. This past Monday night I got the severe pains in my stomach again. Only this time, they were significantly worse and they did not go away. Tuesday morning I was in so much pain that I had to go to the hospital. :( The Australia Hospital was much better than I had anticipated. They had me in a room and hooked up to morphine within an hour of arriving. However, I spent 9 hours in the hospital on Tuesday. They ran several tests and still had no answers for me. They gave me some antibiotics and sent me on my way. The meds didn't help because I spent the entire rest of the week crippled on the couch in pain. Unfortunately whatever I got is getting worse. That week of painfulness caused me to get a little behind and now I'm scrambling to get everything done before I come back to the states. In the midst of my misery, some great news came my way. All semester, I've been worried about my grades. The teachers are merciless over here. But to my surprise, I got my group presentation grade back and found out that we got an A!!! So far that is the highest grade on presentations and we worked really hard to do well. It was great to know that all our hard work paid off. Since that presentation was a good chunk of my grade, finding out I got an A was like the most amazing news I could have gotten this week!
Another great feeling for me came today when I turned in all of my work for my Graphic Design class and finished everything in time. The main project due today was a design we had to draw by hand and crop into an iPod design. I have been working on mine for weeks and I stayed up into the wee hours of the night trying to get it done last night. It came out pretty awesome! We were supposed to draw a design that somehow represented things around us or our day to day life. The inspiration for my design came from the amazing weekend at Gail's parents' house. It was such a great feeling to have finished it and be happy with the result. Overall it's been a crazy month! So many things have happened, some good and some bad. However, it has been an incredible semester. I have a week left before I leave Australia. While I am excited to get home, I am sad to be leaving this beautiful country. It has impacted my life more than you can imagine and will always hold a special place in my heart. Someday, I plan on coming back to Australia. I hope that in the future some of you get the opportunity to visit here as well. :) Australia, I will miss you.

- Liberty

Entry #7 - May 4

So, best day so far! A couple weekends ago, a big group of us went to a wildlife park called Featherdale. IT WAS AWESOME! We finally got to up close and personal with some of Australia's coolest animals! I finally got to see a CASSOWARY!!! It was amazing. :) They are even more impressive in person. I also got to cuddle a koala and pet kangaroos. It was a really awesome set-up. The animals just walked around. They weren't locked behind glass. Kangaroos and Emus would just go wandering past me. The Cassowaries of course had to be enclosed cause they are a little more threatening. I did see a HUGE crocodile. It had to be at least 15-20 feet long. When I first saw it, it was laying in the sun with it's mouth open. It looked so fake, I seriously did not think it was real. My friends had to point out that you could notice its stomach barely moving. Later it moved and I found out it was indeed an alive and breathing massive crocodile.

Our whole group had a blast seeing all the different animals all day. The visit to the wildlife park was definitely one of the highlights so far. We then went to one of the girl's homestays with everyone and watched Hot Rod and feasted on junk food. It was so much fun. We don't usually get big groups together because we are all so busy. It turned out to be a really fun night.
Well it's getting to be crunch time here in Australia. All the projects and papers are coming due at one time! Ahhhhhhh! It's been a stressful couple of weeks since I last posted! Apparently here in Australia, May is stress month. One of my teachers told me it's normal for students to break down! I was thinking, um if this is a recurring theme, perhaps you all should switch around the schedule. Anyways, homework and projects are pretty much my life for the next month. I doubt I will have much wandering around Sydney time. It's about that time of semester that I finally realize, I miss America! Sure, I love Sydney and I think it's great, but I want an ready to be back in America. I miss riding on the right side of the road, shopping after 5pm, having normal technology plans, and eating dairy that tastes normal! I never thought I would say it, but there's a little part of me that wants to be back home. It's not anything overwhelming, but I have a feeling I will not be sad to walk on that plane in just over a month. :) I have loved studying abroad but I think I definitely underestimated how much I love my own country! Well that's about all I have for now. I've got to run along to class and get working on all those projects! I hope all is well for you back in Wonderful America! Until next time, G'day Mates.
Entry #6 - April 21, 2010

So it's been WAY too long since I've updated you all! Sorry about the delay. My schedule has been so crazy the past couple of weeks! After I returned from the Great Barrier Reef, I was home for a day and a half before we headed to the Outback.

Our trip to the Outback was completely turned upside down. Basically we did none of the things we had planned for our trip. On the drive out it was pouring rain. Apparently it's the most rain that has been out there in the past 10 years. All the roads leading to Trilby Station, our destination, were turned to complete mush from the mass amounts of rain. We ended up staying an extra night in a motel in a tiny town called Cobar. There was a mining museum in the town which was pretty much the main attraction. The night we stayed in Cobar I got really sick. It was horrible. I spent the whole night puking my guts out. Thankfully, the next day I woke up feeling much less awful.

After much rearranging of our plans, we ended up going to Mt. Boorithumble which is a location the program used to go to for Outback trips. It was an amazing experience to be out there in the middle of nowhere. The wildlife was obviously incredible. There were emus, goannas, and kangaroos spread over the 30,000 acres of outback farmland we were visiting. There was also other wildlife that was not so incredible, such as the most irritating flies you've ever encountered and locusts that endlessly flung themselves at your face at the most inopportune times. Let's be honest though, when is it ever an acceptable time to have a locust smack you right in the face? I seriously felt like I was getting a glimpse of what the plagues in Egypt were like. At one point, I opened the door and the screen was covered with at least 200 locusts, talk about outnumbered. Other creatures included huge huntsman spiders and a frog that crawled up out of my toilet. Pretty sure I jumped about a foot. Another interesting experience of the Outback was that of no showers. While there were "showers" there, our program director issued a no-shower challenge. We were in the Outback itself for somewhere around 3 days with lots of dirt, bugs, and body grime. Everyone in the group participated so at least we were all grimy together.

There was a constant bonfire going right outside our rooms. Every night our group would gather around and share our life stories. It was incredible to hear where people come from and what has influenced their lives. Each and every person has had a different experience but because of this semester, we are all now part of each other's life stories. It just shows how God has such a bigger plan for my life than just me. The last night in the Outback I noticed that the stars were incredible. It was the most perfect clear sky I'd ever seen and there were a million stars scattered throughout the black night canvas. That sight was the most breath-taking thing I had ever seen. I must have stared uninterrupted for an hour, maybe two. I could not help but just be amazed by the incredible art of God before my eyes. That view of the stars will be etched on my mind for quite a long time. Our God is amazing!

My adventure to the Outback was an experience for sure. I am much more comfortable in inhabited areas. My heart belongs to the city. I am so happy to be back in Sydney! :D My return to the city also meant my return to classes. Back to reality I go. There are so many projects and papers due in the upcoming weeks. It's so hard to believe my semester is rapidly coming to a close. Time is flying by at double the speed it was before. I will update with more interesting news soon I am sure.

Until next time, G'day Mates.

- Liberty

Entry #5 - April 4

I feel like so much has gone on since my last update! I spent a week in Cairns (pronounced Cans), where the Great Barrier Reef is located! It was Amazing! Unfortunately it was rainy and gross most of the week. The group I went with to the GBR consisted of 8 people in total. It was definitely bonding time as we spent the whole week together wandering around in the rain. However, when I took the day cruise out to go snorkeling and scuba diving, it was gorgeous and sunny out on the reef. I got a lot of sun, and by a lot I mean that I came back as a lobster! It was such an incredible experience to see and interact with the fish on the one and only Great Barrier Reef! I also ventured out into one of the oldest rainforests in the world called the Daintree Rainforest. Of course it was a spectacular sight. We took a boat tour along the river to see if we could spot any crocodiles. There were a few small ones hiding in the brush at the edge of the water.

During the little rainforest adventure, I learned about a bird I had never even heard of! It is called a Cassowary. The tour guide told us to use our imaginations and picture a cross between an ostrich, dinosaur, and turkey. Honestly I thought he was insane, however when I saw the picture I saw exactly what he meant. It truly is a combination of all three! Unfortunately I did not get to see a real live Cassowary, but they do inhabit the rainforest as an endangered species. I thought the bird seemed pretty cool so I hope one day I do cross paths with one.

A goal of mine this trip has been to see a show in the Opera House. Well lucky for me that came true this morning. I went to the Sunrise Easter Service inside the Sydney Opera House. My roommates and I definitely had an interesting journey trying to make it to the Opera House for the service. We woke up at 3:30am to walk 35 minutes in the freezing rain to the bus stop. We waited for the bus but it didn't come. As we crossed the street to put Plan B into effect, the bus came down the street and passed us! So we then proceeded to get a taxi to the train station. When we finally made it to the Opera House, we could not figure out where the show was or how to get in. After searching for about 15 minutes, we found our way in and made it in time for the service. Many of my friends were actually in the choir performing in the show. It was pretty awesome to be in there getting to see my friends sing. It was quite the adventure but definitely worth it.

Upcoming adventures include my trip to the Outback which I leave for tomorrow morning! It is a 12 hour bus ride to our destination. It should be a pretty awesome trip despite the ample supply of bugs and dirt. Hey that's part of the fun right? I'm always game to try anything once.

Well I do hope things are going along splendidly for you all! I'll keep in touch. Until next time, G'day mates.

- Liberty

Entry #4 - March 22

Well it is week 4 here! How in the world have I been here for 4 weeks?! That's insane. Time is flying by! My classes are still going along wonderfully. The Wesley atmosphere is amazing. If you have ever seen the movie Fame, it is like that on campus every day. It really is a school of the arts. There are dancers, singers, actors, painters, and designers doing their art everywhere. It's so incredible to see the stuff around campus being done by people the same age as me! Unbelievable talent. I'm so glad to be a part of it all.

I've recently started taking up the habit of walking to school. It's just over a 3 mile walk and it takes me about 50 minutes. Hopefully all this walking will get me into better shape! It's also a great alternative for some of the not so reliable buses. Since I use public transportation to get to school, I've discovered that buses are not always on time. Sometimes they can run 20 minutes late or not show up at all. Walking is a happy solution for the missing bus situations. :)

Tonight, I've put a group outing together to go see WICKED! For those of you who don't know, it is a musical play that serves as a prequel to the Wizard of Oz. I've heard the most marvelous things about it and have yet to see it. Needless to say, I'm incredibly psyched to go see it. It's also gonna be nice to get dolled up and hang out with some of the other Americans. Even though we are all Americans in the BestSemester program, we come from all different parts of the country. We are as much strangers to each other as we are to the Australians. Getting the chance to go out together and see the show should be a lot of fun and a great time to hang out.

This weekend, our group has a class trip to Canberra (pronounced Canbra). I definitely got made fun of by Aussies yesterday for saying CanBERRA. Guess my American accent isn't going anywhere. Haha. Anyhow, we will be visiting the Australian Embassy, New Zealand Embassy, Museums, and whatever else the program director throws in there. It should be a pretty great trip, certainly full of learning. Next weekend I'll be going with the group to see a real live Rugby game. Apparently Rugby is all the rage over here. After next week, we have a 2 week break. The first week I will be with a few Americans at the Great Barrier Reef. The second week the entire group is headed to the Outback. I'm interested to see where we will be staying. There have been rumors of snow showers. Guess I'll be roughing it in the Outback for a week. I'm game for some adventure! I'm sure I'll come back with plenty of stories. Ohhhh which reminds me, I do have a story about a deadly creature.

I saw my first Black Widow spider a few days ago. Over here they are called Redbacks and as you know, the females are extremely poisonous. It was crawling right outside the screen door on the patio. I was close enough to see the red hourglass shape on it's back. Of course my first reaction was to run inside and grab my camera to take a picture. Haha! Meanwhile my roommates are saying, "STOP taking pictures and kill it already!" So I grabbed some bug spray and a flip flop and that was the end of Miss Redback. I can't help but feel like her family is coming for me. If I get bit at some point on this trip by a Black Widow, you know why!

That's about all the news I have for now. Hope all is running smoothly back in the states. I'll keep you posted about my adventures and any other deadly creatures I come up against! Until then, G'day Mates.

- Liberty

Entry #3 - March 8

Hey hey again, So I've successfully made it through 2 weeks of classes! Hooray. It's hard to believe that 2 weeks has flown by already. It seems like just yesterday, I stepped off the plane. My classes here are so incredible. I am in love with art and the whole artistic atmosphere. There are so many creative and talented people in one place. It's amazing to think that God can use so many different skills and talents to glorify Him.

For school, I have to attend 4 different churches: Anglican, Catholic, Uniting, and Assembly of God. So far I've attended a Uniting and Assembly of God. Let's just say they are incredibly different ways of gathering together to worship God. The Uniting was very structured and traditional, even on the edge of boring. The Assembly of God was the very famous Hillsong church and it was very lively and contemporary. I very much liked the worship at Hillsong. It was an incredible experience to be with so many people in touch with God. I am currently working with the Hillsong Street Teams as part of my service placement. We go out every Saturday morning into the community to share God's love and kindness with people. We ask if we can clean or help out in any way. Sometimes we just chat with people and offer a smile. A little kindness goes a long way.

The culture over here is a bit different than I expected. One thing that shocked me is that their stores are only open until 5pm every day. Thursdays are late night shopping so the stores are open til 9pm. I'm so used to being able to run to Walmart at 1am. Not here. It's just odd having to plan when to go to the store because they are not open as conveniently as I am used to. Also everything here is much more expensive than in the states. The mall has incredibly high prices for only mediocre quality. It is definitely hard to shop here when I am thinking in the back of my head, I could get this in the states so much cheaper. Every once in a while I'll discover a cheap store or a good deal and it's like a jackpot! :) Haha, gotta love hidden treasures. The technology here is much different than in the states. Phone plans are by dollar credit not by minutes. Internet is paid by the megabyte. These are just a few examples of how familiar things can be so different. It takes a little getting used to but I am enjoying seeing how they do things.

There are several upcoming events that I am super excited about. In a few weeks, I'll be taking a trip to the Great Barrier Reef to go snorkeling. Yay! I have a feeling it's going to be Gorgeous! Also, we'll be taking a class trip to Canberra. Later in the semester we'll be taking a trip to the Outback. No doubt there will be some awesome stories and pictures to come! I hope you are all doing well. I will keep you posted. Once again, G'day Mates!

- Liberty

Entry #2 - February 23, 2010

Wow so it's been an interesting journey thus far. The day before I left for Australia, I discovered that my passport had completely vanished. It was no where to be found. After some frantic searching of my room (7 times), I decided it was time for Plan B. The only way I could get out of the country was to get a brand new passport. As most of you know, that usually takes forever! So I had to fly out to Los Angeles and actually go to a same-day passport agency and pay lots of money to get a new passport in one day! There were 2 wonderful families that helped me while I was in LA by putting me up for the night and driving me around the next day. It was incredible how God worked so many things out in such a short period of time. Now I can't say I've never seen a miracle! Finally I got the plane. The flight was nice and I slept through most of it. Finally I arrived in Sydney at 8AM. When I got picked up at the airport, there wasn't a moment to spare. I jumped right into my schedule that was jam-packed for the day. We went on a scavenger hunt through Sydney and also took a harbor cruise. It was fantastic. The sun dazzled of the Sydney Opera House and I was in awe. You see it so many times in pictures and think, wow that's amazing. Then you see it in real life and it's so much more incredible! Even though I've seen it almost every day since then, my heart still speeds up every time I see it.

Now I've finally started my art classes! It's a bit different studying business that's for sure but so far I love it! :) I can't wait to see how the semester goes and meet new amazing people! I must run along to class but I'm sure I'll have more updates soon! G'day mates.

- Liberty

Entry #1 - January 27

Hey Everyone,

Well as you might have heard, I am going to be spending the Spring 2010 semester in Sydney, Australia. Yay!!!! It's been quite an experience already up to this point filling out applications, paying fees, and trying to get registered for classes. To put it mildly, there is a lot of paperwork….and quite a few fees. However, I have no doubt it will all be worth it when I'm standing on Australian soil.

The semester in Australia starts about a month later than my regular semester at LETU. So I've had an extended Christmas break. Basically I've been working my eyes out trying to save up a few more dollars for the big adventure. During my semester, I'll be living in a home-stay. I'm assigned along with 3 other girls to be staying with a woman named Gail. She e-mailed all of us to say hello and tell us a little about herself. She seems very sweet and I'm very excited to meet Gail and the girls I'll be staying with. Thanks to Facebook, I can put a face to almost every name on the list of students going to Australia. We started a "BestSemester AU Spring 2010" group and it's been very handy. We've been able to chat about where we'll be staying and answer each other's questions.

One really awesome thing about this semester is there will be 3 LETU students over in Australia!!! There's only about 30 of us going and I know there were tons of applicants. J This is the first semester any LETU students have ever been accepted to the BestSemester AU program and we've got 3!!! Way to go LeTourneau!

Overall I'm starting to get really excited and antsy to go. It has been about 10 months since I started filling out the application for BestSemester, so it's been a long time coming. I'll keep you all posted about my trip and what I'm doing!

Until then, G'day Mates. J

- Liberty