Arcadia organized an excursion to the Blue Mountains as part of our stay here in Sydney and I'm really glad they did. The weekend started by driving up to the Featherdale Wildlife Park where we had the opportunity to pet—yes, I repeat PET—kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, and a cockatoo. I had to snap a picture of myself sleeping with a koala because they are just so cute. Did you know that koalas spend 18 of the 24 hour day cycle sleeping. It's the only time they digest the eucalyptus leaves and it's pretty difficult for their bodies to digest. As a result, 18 hours is spent digesting the food they consume in their 6 waking hours. Koalas feel woolly like a sheep, whereas kangaroos feel soft like a puppies. Wallabies have courser fur and the cockatoo (which I was pretty surprised let me pet him) felt bony under those feathers. I had visited other zoos during my stay here in Australia and my trip over to New Zealand, but this was the closest, literally, that I came to the wildlife. Once we left the zoo, our group headed over to Scenic World and got a glimpse of the beautiful Blue Mountains. Scenic World is home to the steepest railway which we took down the mountain. It was definitely a ride. To cross the canyon, you can take a cable car across the way. It was neat hanging from so many feet up and looking down at the canyon below. The other side had a path which my friends and I took to the Three Sisters. These three points are iconic of the Blue Mountains. The sight was indescribable from the openness of the canyon, the abundance of trees, and the setting sun. The night was ours as we were taken to the hostel and provided dinner. A bunch of people stayed in the common area to play games and a few of us, myself included, played cards in someone's room. It was a great occasion to bond with the other members of the program. I feel before this point, I had my friends, roommates, and familiar faces, but still running into new faces. After all, there are 53 people in the program and I'm not that great with names.
Sunday, our group went abseiling. For those of you (like myself) who have no idea what abseiling is, don't worry because it was thoroughly explained before anyone went jumping off any cliffs. Hooked to a harness and a rope with a spot at the top and the bottom, you then lower yourself down the cliff enjoying the view around you. There were three different stops. The first stop was the practice round if you will. It was 5 meters high. We were able to practice twice (and more if needed) before moving onto the 15 meter cliff. I chose to stop at the 15 meter cliff while others moved on to the 30 meter cliff. The view, however, was incredible. It was hard psychologically to get myself over the cliff but I understood what I needed to do while abseiling. That definitely helped. I can't necessarily say I would have gone out of my way to do that but I'm glad I had the opportunity to do it. That's one thing I did like about this weekend. Arcadia organized a well-rounded getaway which included Australian culture, country and courage.
Michelle Handy is a student at Gwynedd Mercy University and is blogging from her summer abroad with the Sydney Internship Program Summer in Sydney, Australia.