Thursday, 5 December 2013
At last the day had arrived and it was time to leave for Vic Falls! This wasn't part of our original itinerary so we were even more excited to hit the road. We took the first of many group photos and then Kirsten got a bloody nose, which set us back a bit, but before long we were off. Bob was once again our driver (he drove us to Kruger) and he was accompanied by Mpho, as the second driver and Nosipho. Nosipho was essential as she is originally from Victoria falls and knows the area better than anyone. After hours of driving, 4 more stamps in everyone's passports and some complaining we finally reached Camp Itumela, Palapye, Botswana at about 7pm with just enough time to organise our rooms and get settled for dinner. The food was a traditional meal and enabled most of us to have the opportunity to try a new dish, Crocodile casserole! As soon as someone took the first bite and didn't start frothing at the mouth, everyone else that was game enough gave it a go. After sitting around the camp fire and playing a few games of ping pong we all headed to bed as we had a 5am start looming in the distance.
Our next stop was in Kasane right on the Chobe river. Whilst there we had the opportunity to go on a river cruise. Kirsten, Aimée, Rebecca, Zoe and Matt had decided to do the river safari and were rewarded with some amazing views and lots of Elephants playing in the water. Dinner was a traditional slow cooked beef stew that everyone thoroughly enjoyed. We didn't have as early of a morning because everyone needed to get some US dollars but the banks didn't open until 9am. Nosipho and Bob had been to the bank the day before to make sure that they had enough USD for all of us so we were a bit worried when they told us that they didn't have any at that morning. Luckily it turned out they did, but they would only change our money in one transaction, so in the end this took even longer than it should've and due to our tight schedule we couldn't afford any slip ups.
After another border crossing we had finally made it to Zimbabwe. We quickly had lunch and settled into our new lodge, Shoestrings Backpackers, before rushing to the Zambian border to be able to make it to our Devils Pools adventure on time. Once through the border everyone split into different taxis with Alice, Madi, Louisa, and Zoe heading off in the first one they saw. When the last people arrived at the Royal Livingstone Hotel we realised that the girls were no where to be seen so we all started to worry. The guide was annoyed at us for not being on time but there was simply nothing we could have done to be there earlier. When it came time to get on the first boat out to Livingstone Island there was still no sign of the girls. When the second boat arrived the girls had still not shown up and there was nothing else we could do.
We were shown around Livingstone Island then were directed to where the Devils pool was. It was an incredible experience! Each of us were able to hang over the edge of the falls and peer down at the falling water beneath us. After a delicious high tea on the island we headed back in to find the 4 very unhappy girls. Unfortunately they had some very bad luck with a clueless taxi driver and were taken everywhere other than where they needed to be. Once we were back at Shoestrings we realised it was actually quite a lively place that also included small mini markets stalls, a large pool and many dorms. The bar was open to the public so we got a chance to meet some of the locals. The group had a great night of singing, dancing and a few drinks to relax after the very long and stressful day of travelling and panic.
The next morning a small group of us - James, Rebecca, Fe, Tash, Harry, Kirsten and Mon - were up at the crack of dawn (6.30am) to get ready for the Lion Encounter. Each individual was able to pat and walk with two 12 month old lionesses. It was an incredible feeling being so close to the famous African Lion. They were a part of a breeding program to hopefully one day be released back into the wild with the aim of aiding population growth. At about 12.30pm Louisa, Zoe, Alice, Tash, Aimèe, Matt, and Kirsten all took part in a helicopter flight over Victoria Falls. Everyone had mixed reviews as the falls were only at 10% capacity and although it was a marvellous view, it was not what they expected. While at the lodge everyone found ways to relax and escape the heat as it about 40 degrees. Once everyone was back together we ate lunch and then made our way out to the Victoria Falls National Park where the whole group was able to walk our way along the falls, viewing points across the gorge on the Zambian side. Everyone was glad to have been able to finally get a greater view of what the falls actually looked like. Back at Shoestrings many of us wanted to get an early night as almost the entire group was taking part in whitewater rafting the next day.
While most made their way to sleep battling the loud music from the bar, others joined the locals in a few drinks, dances, and many pool games.
Finally the time had come to go WHITEWATER RAFTING!! With a 6.30am start the whole group, minus Aimée, James and Kirstin headed off. Everyone was assigned a life jacket and a helmet and lead down the mountain with an ore in hand as well. We were broken off into two groups and set out in the boats. Each boat was given a debriefing and then headed out onto the rapids. Emotions were running high throughout the day as one boat was absolutely loving the experience and powering through each rapid, whilst the other was very unfortunate and experienced the first capsize of many. This quickly shocked people into realising just how dangerous rafting is. The day consisted of laughs, tears, chants, yelling, injuries, and a lot of hard work from everyone in the boats.
By halfway some people wanted to continue whilst others were ready to call in a helicopter to pick them up. Unfortunately for Mon she was unable to walk up to the top of the gorge and was then strapped to a stretcher board and carried up the gorge. Once gathering everyone together at Shoestrings, some headed off for more adventures such as the Gorge Swing and Bungee jump. James, Rebecca, Louisa, Zoe, Alice, Madi, Fe and Mon all took part in the gorge swing while Kirstin, Harry and Tarun watched on. James and Rebecca were brave and jumped by themselves with Rebecca taking it one step further by going head first. Everyone else was able to strap themselves to each other and take the step off the edge as a tandem. Unfortunately for James he did not make it in time for his bungee jump and missed out, but as compensation he said would simply do the bigger bungee on the way to Cape Town, twice. The day did not end there, everyone showered and got ready quickly as we were all heading out to the Boma dinner.
This is a traditional African experience with food, music, art, and culture. Everyone started to release the days adrenaline and help themselves to the exotic foods available at the open buffet. The main meat platters were prepared in front of us which included choices such as chicken, warthog steak, Kudo and for those who were brave enough to try it - the famous Mopani Worm. Those that were brave enough ended up with a certificate to prove it. We also had our fortunes told by a witch doctor, had our faces painted and joined in the music activities which included playing drums under instruction from the band. The night came to a close and so did our final and biggest day in Victoria falls as we were starting the long journey home in the morning.
The drive home was long and tiring for everyone but even more so for Alice and Matt who had picked up a stomach bug making the long drives between pit stops even harder than they should've been. We finally arrived at our stop for the night, Great Zimbabwe, just after 8pm ready to go to sleep and to forget about all the travelling still to come. In the morning the group was able to do a tour of the Great Zimbabwe Ancient Civilisation, whilst those who didn't go struggled to fight off monkeys from stealing our bags and our food.
The next stop on the way home was the Blyde River Canyon - the 3rd largest canyon in the world. Unfortunately we lucked out with the weather as it was raining and foggy so we didn't really get to see much. Finally we were on the home stretch! Which, after one more border crossing, become a race back to Lidwala. Everyone was glad to be home although it was only for two more nights, Lidwala Lodge had become our Swazi home and it felt good to be back.
Our last day in Swaziland consisted of final visits to the markets and frantically packing our bags as we would not be returning to Lidwala like many times before.
When it came time to leave it was very difficult to say goodbye to everyone as they had become our African family. Nosipho gathered us all together to tell us that she had given everyone an African name. African names all have meanings and through getting to know everyone during our time in Victoria falls she gave us names according to what she felt suited best.
Alice - Naudi (Zulu princess)
Louisa - Thandiwe (the loved one)
Zoe - Nothando (mother of love)
Kiki - Rudo (love)
Aimée - Muntin (baby)
Fe - Lungile (beautiful/good heart)
Rebecca - Nombuso (ruler of adrenaline)
Natasha - Nomathemba (mother of hope)
Madi - Nobuhle (mother of beauty)
Mon - Naufundo (mother of intelligence/wisdom)
Tee - Tendai (thanked)
James - Butho (hero/brave)
Harry - Mandla (brother and strength)
Matt - Memcoba (conquer)
After that, saying goodbye to our Swazi family became even harder ending in many hugs, photos and tears. But it was time to head off for our final road trip! We made a quick stop off to exchange money and before long we left Swaziland for the last time. Our first stop along the coastal tour was St Lucia. This was a small town with a beach and lake. Our time here was spent playing pool games and for those interested, a Hippo Boat Cruise which Alice, Zoe, Madi and Louisa took part in.
After two nights in St. Lucia our trip continued into Durban where we all wanted to go 'SHOOOPPPPIIINNNGGGG!!!!!' All the boys thought we would only need about an hour to check out the shops. We finally helped them see sense and agreed on 3 hours then would meet back at the car. Ironically, 3 hours had past and the two people we were left waiting for was Tarun and Mpho, the two people who complained in the first place! Eventually we reached the Happy Hippo which was home for the next couple of days, and settled in. A few people from the group decided to go out for dinner as Durban is known for its Indian food while the others stayed behind and played multiple games of pool with other backpackers staying at the lodge.
The next day we had the option of going to Ushaka Marine World which was an aquarium and water amusement park combined. For those who did not wish to take part in that, they were able to head into town and look around the shops and markets.
We were once again on the road and heading down the Wild Coast, to the Bucanneers Backpackers Lodge. Unfortunately, upon arriving we were informed that the activities such as the cheetah interaction, were not available due to the cheetahs being sick. The two days spent at Bucanneers consisted of relaxing and not doing much apart from a few who found an extra activity to take part in. Rebecca and Aimée went on an elephant encounter where they were able to pat and feed two juvenile elephants. James, Tarun and Mon on the other hand, all went quad-biking throughout the nature reserve. Tarun proved to be entertaining as he often lost control over the bike and drove into the trees.
The next stop along the way was Port Elizabeth. This was a one night stop but everyone was able to enjoy the free wifi or take a stroll along the beach to make the most of our time there. That night there was a sleepover in one of the rooms which began the marathon of watching the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. In true sleepover style all the mattresses were thrown on the floor with multiple pillows and blankets for anyone who wished to join.
Our last stop before reaching Cape Town was the lovely Tsitsikamma. The first day at the Tsitsikamma Backpackers a couple of us were able to play on the Segway's while others relaxed or, you guessed it, played pool. The next morning was the big day, deciding if to bungee or if not to bungee. Alice, James, Tarun, Mon, Natasha, Fe, Madi and Rebecca were joined by Harry on the bridge to prepare themselves for the biggest bridge bungee jump in the world with a hight of 216m. Everyone was alive with adrenaline and would have loved to have a second chance to jump, or in James' case, to jump three times! Once forwards, second backwards and lastly having a run-up and jump! The afternoon was filled with packing and relaxing at the lodge. James, Tash and Fe took part in the Forest Canopy Tour and Rebecca had loved the Segway's so much that she went on a guided Segway tour around the neighbouring native forests. With one night left until our arrival in Cape Town, the group had come to the realisation that our African adventure would soon be coming to a close. The drive to Cape Town was long but it was broken up by a stop off in Mossel Bay 5 hours out of Cape Town.
This was where we had the opportunity to go Great White shark cage diving. Matt, Mon, Kirsten, Rebecca, Louisa, Zoe, Madi and Alice were the brave ones in the group who headed out to seal island ready to come face to face with the king of the sea! We were briefed about what to do and how to keep all our fingers and toes. The first group to go in the cage was Mon, Matt, Kirsten and Rebecca. After only a few squeals and minor cardiac distress, it was time for a swap to let the others have a go. By this stage the guides had got back into the swing of things and used the bait to pull the sharks right up to the cage. As the first group weren't as lucky they got to get back in for a second go. We must have started to intrude in their space (or looked tasty!) because the sharks soon stopped going for the bait, and started going for the cage! 4 hours later and it was time to get back on the road. Our time of long road trips was finally coming to a close when we all saw the flickering lights of Cape Town at night. Fe, being the DJ, very cleverly played Paradise by Coldplay whilst watching Cape Town come closer and closer into view. We arrived at Hout Bay Backpackers at around 8pm which concluded our last road trip. We calculated it and realised that all of our drives over the course of the trip totalled 6 days worth of sitting in a car. We are all eager to start our volunteer placements in Hout Bay and see what our last few weeks will bring.
PROGRAM: UniBreak Groups
WRITTEN BY: Central Queensland University Nursing Group
As nursing students due to conduct a health clinic on 22nd November 2013 in the rural village of Gilung, we were aware of the brief to continue the positive work the CQU team had achieved in Gilung in 2012.
Getting to Gilung was no easy matter, and a convoy of jeeps negotiated the rough terrain for nearly 5 hours to transport our team to Gilung village where we were billeted in pairs with homestay families for 2 nights.
Our team consisted of Lion’s club representatives including Mr. Sonam Sangpo, and Dr. Pradeep Ghimire together with several doctors from Fishtail hospital and a cohort of CQUni nursing students and their lecturers. We arrived to a warm welcome from villagers who generously provided local foods prepared in the newly built monastery kitchen and cultural dances and other entertainment for our enjoyment. In this regard, CQU nursing students had worked extensively in their own communities to fundraise monies donated towards the
extension of the monastery.
Against the backdrop of the magnificent Annapurna Himalayan ranges, the students made their way to the Gilung School armed with their stethoscopes and thermometers, but uncertain of the challenges that lay ahead.
The biggest challenge previously identified by the students in providing care to the villagers was the language barrier, however we soon found that a bit of creativity combined with a sense of humor became the recipe for effective communication resulting in about 380 locals receiving a thorough health assessment and consequently provided with health education, referrals and medications as required.
The gratitude expressed by the villagers left us feeling somewhat overwhelmed, but at the same time privileged to have had the opportunity to practice our nursing skills benefitting all involved.
Immersing ourselves in the Nepalese culture has helped us to appreciate our differences, but more importantly our similarities. This cultural awareness is the foundation to continue building trusting relationships between Australia and Nepal.
As nursing students, we recognize the need for the provision of primary health care particularly in isolated communities such as Gilung village and we look forward to preparing the 2014 contingent of nursing students for their return to Nepal.
Monday, 2 December 2013
PROGRAM: UniBreak Groups
PROJECT: Notre Dame Nursing Placement
WRITTEN BY: Isabel Cullen, Notre Dame University
So the journey continues on...
Step one: leaving the city! First Stop: Mai Chau! We had a 4 hour bus ride to get there and I think we were all very excited to get out and see the countryside. Stopping at a scenic view of the surrounding mountains I took it upon myself to buy one of every type of food being sold at the side of the road. So I ended up thoroughly enjoying a corn on the cob, sticky rice cooked in bamboo and my new favourite snack food- sugar cane, all for just $2 or $3!! The sugar cane was lots of fun as it is literally lumps of sugar cane you chew on and out comes juicy sugary goodness and then you spit out the cane part! Lots of fun! Arriving in Mai Chau I found it really
peaceful and it was a nice change from the chaos of Hanoi! We were staying in this amazing homestay which was a bamboo house on stilts and we all slept upstairs on the floor under a big communal mozzie net, the fun was just starting! Arriving there we had some time to get sorted and then we headed to Mai Chau Hospital to meet the director.
He was very friendly and welcoming and we were all looking forward to the next day. Walking to the hospital we got a great view of the local surroundings. Mai Chau is this lovely little town surrounded by farmland and all these adorable bamboo stilt houses, and lots of
markets selling traditional items, I finally felt like I was in Vietnam!
The next day we got up bright and early and headed to the hospitalagain. The day was mostly about starting to get used to working with our interpreters as well as practicing our health assessment skills.Splitting up into a few groups we visited different wards and began toput our skills into practice. My favourite thing about the day was beginning to chat with the people. I really enjoy getting to know people and beginning to understand their culture. I also learnt a few sentences from our amazing interpreters. Let me introduce them.firstly we have Thung: our head guide and the mechanics of the trip.Then we have Lan, Tang and Tuan. They taught me how to say "Ten toi laIsabel" (My name is Isabel. *Obviously spelt wrong, I have no idea how to spell in Vietnamese!) and "Ban ten la zii?" (What is your name?)And so I just started practicing it on all the Vietnamese people I met, so about 20 poor people had me come up to them and attempt to introduce myself.
But everyone was very friendly and smiled and laughed :) We also all got the amazing honour of observing the director perform surgery. Having never seen surgery at all I was in absolute awe. A few students had done their surgical rotations already and they had this great opportunity to compare the two systems. We finished off the day with the notorious 1200 steps! This is a rickety stone staircase in the side of the mountain with 1200 steps leading to a cave at the top. So we all attempted it (except our teachers... and Adam...) singing along to The Sound of Music as we climbed! Oh it was tiring, but the view made it so worth it! Stunning mountains and looking down into the valley of Mai Chau. The next day was pretty similar and we were all attempting to use ISOBAR under Kylie's instruction, we definitely got better as the day progressed. To finish off we had a farewell chat with the director and passed on some gifts we had purchased in Australia. And again to finish the day a few brave souls did the stairs, this time more for the exercise, and a few crazy members of our group decided to do situps at each level!
And onto the next place! Hang Kia here we come! An hour and a half later we arrived in a tiny remote village surrounded by misty
mountains! It was just breathtaking. First thing we did was go to the Primary School for our first education session on handwashing and teethbrushing! We were all really excited about seeing the kids and it was so much fun! Setting up bowls in the courtyard we split up into 4 groups, each having about 15 kids to teach. We explained how important it was and then gave a demonstration and then the kids had a turn. All these little grubby kids jumping for joy to wash their hands and show us they could do it was just amazing! And they were so happy to get their free soap, brush, paste and cup it was wonderful.
I really felt that maybe we had begun to make a difference. After all, every year a Notre Dame group comes and teaches the kids the same thing, it's got to stick eventually! the people of Hang Kia are very poor and belong to the H'mong minority in Vietnam and speak H'mong, no Vietnamese.The H'mong people all wear their traditional skirts and it really brings a little bit of extra colour to what is a very cold little village. We spent the next 2 days doing free health clinics for these beautiful people with the assistance of our interpreters and H'mong translators as well! Working with 2 interpreters is like playing a game of Chinese Whispers, where you don't really know if the full message has gotten
through, but we persevered all the same. The clinic days were where everything really started. This was the main purpose of our trip and all the medications we had with us were thanks to all the fundraising we did back in Perth! All together I think we saw about 200 patients over the two days, which was very pleasing. It was definately a learning experience to do health assessments in such a different environment. It's a balancing act between not having the equipment to be as thorough as we would at home and that understanding that even if we can diagnose them, we may not be able to help with everything, but we can help with the little things. As Kylie said before we left: "We're not going to save the world, but we can make someone's day a little bit better." And at the end of the that's what counts. The message I really took away from our Hang Kia experience was
'From little things; big things grow" :) Hang Kia is so tranquil, there's pretty much nothing to do except enjoy nature and each other's company! Whilst in Hang Kia we got the news of the typhoon that had hit the Phillipines and was heading to Vietnam. Although, we knew we were out of harm's way, we were concerned for the family's of our guides back in Hanoi and we also received the backlash of some of the weather. Thankfully everyone's family's were ok as the typhoon downgraded to a tropical storm as it went through Hanoi, however we were to expect a week of heavy rain. With the weather forecast we had to cancel our trek to Van! Oh no! We all understood that safety came first, but I was still so disappointed!! And onto our final destination: Van!
We had to drive back through Mai Chau to get there as we couldn't do the trek and so it was another day of traveling. Arriving in Van I really liked it. It was very farmy and reminded me of a farm back home with lots of pigs and chickens oh and buffalos too.. We were back in another stilt house and it was finally warm enough to shower! Oh I
forgot to mention that nobody showered for 3 days in Hang Kia as it was freezing cold and there was no hot water!
We did 3 days of clinics in Van and they were soo busy! People came from here, there and everywhere to receive health care and medication from us! It was really astounding and people knew who we were as a group as Notre Dame visits every year and everyone gets so excited! The health assessments got more complex in Van and we were pushed to
the next level of problem solving and critical thinking as we had to figure out our diagnoses. It was the kind of challenge that really pushes you to learn and I really feel we've all come out of this as better students and one day soon we will be better nurses because of it. This is not the kind of challenge and experience you can get at home, you need to get out there and push yourself to the limits, as we all did time and time again! In Van the days got quite draining, but that's part of the challenge, of course the rooster and dogs waking us up at 2am didn't help with energy levels, but at least we were all thoroughly well fed by our wonderful cooks (we often got pancakes for breakfast!). The thing I really noticed in Van, and hang Kia as well, was the amount of lifestyle related injuries/health conditions. Nearly everyone we've seen has been a farmer and always will be a farmer. But the amount of nerve injuries and back pain that we've seen really brings that into reality. At home we have the luxury of being able to
change professions, but for most people here they don't have that luxury. It really makes you realise how lucky we are and being in that place of priviledge we can hopefully help others. My favourie part of Van and probably the trip was going to visit a young girl at home to bring her a year's supple of a nutrition/protein supplement. She had some form of muscle degeneration and her and her family were so appreciative of our support, it really made me feel like we had made a
difference to someone's life!
After our 3 days of clinics we prepared for our farewell festivities. Firstly we enjoyed a dinner with the homestay family where people (not me, I'm vegetarian) tried crickets and pig on a spit as well as intestines and blood and bone. And Thung organised a suprise birthday cake for Darren (Happy 39th!) which we all greedily dug into. Kylie had told us a few days earlier that we had to prepare a performance for the local people! Ahhh! So we put our heads together and came up with jumbled versions of "We are Australian" "Happy Little Vegemites" "I still call Australia home" and for the grand finale "Give me a home among the gumtrees" all with actions included!!! A few members of our group could sing, but most of us could sqwawk and tried to make up for it with our kangaroo imitations! But everyone had a jolly old time and had a great laugh! We also had the honour of watching some local traditional dances and songs before singing together "Vietnam, Hoh Chi Minh!" After that we joined in with the locals in what I'm going to call the "Bamboo Dance." A dangerous dance where you jump over bamboo poles and try to dodge getting hit in the ankles! Lots of fun!
And then back to Hanoi. We got back last night and enjoyed a farewell dinner with our tour guides. After that a few of us thought we'd have one last Fanny's Icecream and got lost again!!! After another hour long search we finally found it and indulged! Mmmmm :) Today was a beautiful way to finish off the trip. We went to Halong
Bay! It is amazing, absolutely stunning and one of the modern 7 natural wonders of the world. We spent the day well driving for most
of it (4hours each way!) and then lying on the top deck of a Junk Boat enjoying the view! What a way to spend the day!
Tomorrow morning we fly home. I think most people are ready to go home and we've really got the most out of this trip. I'd just like to thank all the people who made this
possible, but especially our Vietnam team including Phuong, Thung, Lan, Tang, Tuan and our cooks. Without them we could not have provided the health care that we did and they had such amazing patience with us they deserve a round of applause. Of course there's everyone at home including Fiona and Antipodeans as well as Kylie, Darren and the Notre Dame crew. But for now we're concentrating on getting home safely and
then I'll update you all on the end of our journey!
PROGRAM: UniBreak Groups
WRITTEN BY: Heidi Stokes, Flinders University
NEPAL = Never Ending Peace And Love :)
To all our loved ones at home who are wandering how we are going, we are great. Aside from the odd sickness here and there, we are travelling along nicely. Our host families along with Sonam, Kalden and Kerry are being more than accommodating. We truly feel at home!
We have already learnt so much, both educationally and culturally. Tibetans have many reasons to be bitter about what has happened to their country, but instead they stay positive and welcoming to all. Nepal has been known in the past & present as the land of possibility.
We are living in Tashi Ling Tibetan settlement which is one of four Tibetan settlements in Pokhara. These camps allow the Tibetans to keep their traditions and culture alive. We have been learning some more Nepalese in preparation for school, which we are all super excited for.
Fact of the day- Nepal is one of the richest countries in biodiversity, culture and natural beauties, holding 8 out of the 10 worlds highest mountains including the famous Mount Everest
Friday, 29 November 2013
PROJECT: Teaching & Care Work
WRITTEN BY: Roxanne Vuurman
Hola! With two weeks left of our time here in Ecuador for 4 of us, things are becoming a little bit of a mad rush. Today we sadly had to bid farewell to Emma, the next two weeks will not be the same without her.
Volunteering has been going fantastically. The children participated in a play depicting stories and the traditions of All souls day, and it was incredible to see the way in which this culture celebrates their dead, and how vastly different their view of mortality is when compared to that of Australia. In addition to their small celebrations and plays, normal class time has been going well, however witnessing Emma’s farewell just reminded us that our time here is rapidly coming to an end. None of us are really ready to stop travelling, but fear not parents (of Katharine and I at least), we will be returning soon, not extending our return flights.
Our weekend travel saw us once again returning to the beach town of Montañita for Halloween. There was never a boring moment!
For three of our volunteers (as mentioned many times before) the appeal of the beach was much too great, and they remained there for the entire weekend. For Katharine and I however the town of Baños was still calling, and we made our way from the coast to the Andes for more thrills. While 60% of our volunteers made the most of the surf the other 40% spent their time cycling the route of the waterfalls, and getting their water bottles stolen by cunning small shop owners.
The following weekend, Emma’s last in Ecuador, allowed us to see the stunning Mt Cotopaxi, as well as Lake Quilotoa, the crater of a dormant volcano that filled with water and minerals from the volcano, resulting in its stunning blue colour. The diversity of Ecuador never fails to astound, one day you could be surfing on the coast, the next cycling towards an enormous waterfall, whilst in other parts of the country it is snowing too much for climbers to see the glacier topped mountain, and yet you would only need to drive for 2 hours to see the sun shine across a volcanic crater lake. This country is so rich in beauty; it is nearly impossible not to fall in love with it.
With our remaining time here there is so much still to see and do, it is going to be so hard to say goodbye. This trip has given all of us so much more than we could have ever imagined, and although this trip has already ended for one of us, those of us remaining will continue to make the most of the time we have left.
On December 9th, 52 students from around Australia will wave goodbye to their families and jump on a flight to either France and Germany, the beginning of their 5-7 week language immersion abroad.
The Language Immersion program is unique home-stay program, where Year 10 and 11 students are able to sharpen their language skills while soaking up the European culture in a community abroad.
This year, students will be living together in Offenburg, Germany and split between three historic towns of Lyon, Vannes and Rouen in France.
Chaperones from Australia who are fluent in French and German will accompany the students for the duration of their stay, helping them feel settled with their new host brothers, sisters and families.
Along with attending school with their host brothers and sisters, the students will experience a true European Christmas and exciting city tours as a group in Paris, Berlin, Munich and even Switzerland!
Language Immersion Manager Maureen Carpenter says an immersion abroad ‘provides the opportunity for students to practice a second language with native speakers, while being totally immersed in another culture. It teaches them independence while also broadening their views on the world around them.’
Asked what she was looking forward to the most Monte St Angelo student Elysia Stow said she was excited about 'meeting my exchange host sister after talking to her on Facebook and Skype for so long! I'm also really excited to spend Christmas with her family as it will be a very different experience compared to what I am used to.' Elysia believes the experience will be 'character building' and hopes she'll learn a lot from it.
To all our Language Immersion students we say Au revoir et bonne chance / Auf wiedersehen unde viel!
Find out more about the Antipodeans Abroad Language program here.
Thursday, 28 November 2013
PROGRAM: UniBreak Groups
WRITTEN BY: Geena Lawn, Central Queensland University
Wow! Words cannot explain how wonderful it feels to finally be in Nepal.
It has been a fantastic start to our trip starting by meeting everybody at the Brisbane airport where we unpacked and re-packed 200kgs of donated items together. It was lovely to meet everybody, there was an immediate sense of being one together.
Thai airways were fabulous! We had a fantastic trip from Brisbane to Bangkok where we stayed overnight in a amazing hotel. Thai airways continued to be our air transport until we reached Kathmandu. The service on Thai airways was impeccable with lovely smiling faces, regular refreshments and amazing food! On board entertainment was also great to keep us occupied for the long long trips. When we finally reached Kathmandu the group was on such a high, full of excitement as our final destination was only moments away. The domestic flight to Pokhara was frightful as the plane was so tiny but once we hit ground in Pokhara we were so relieved!
Our first night in pokhara was very interesting. Our hotel is amazing with fantastic bed and bathroom services. Sonam was so lovely to take us out to dinner at Moondance which delivered fantastic food and great service. We also experienced the night life of Pokhara which was an eye opener :) chocolates were found and bought have to keep up our sugar levels.
This trip can only get better.