Once again, another busy week in Australia took place. One of the highlights of the week was attending an Intercollege competition of Battle of the Bands. Each college puts together a band to compete at the local Tav. Decked out in our Trinity polos, shorts, and socks, everyone goes to support their college bands. Most of the music I have heard so far in Australia seems American. For some reason I didn’t recognize many of the songs played by the bands that competed. The atmosphere was still great fun as we cheered on Trinity. Our college ended up getting second out of five. Not bad, I suppose.
Each week I try to take a long run in Perth and try out new trails and places. These long runs typically entail ten or more miles, which give me time to get lost and found if needed. Over the weekend I went on a long run. My plan was to go to the beach, but I never found the beach. Instead I followed the railroad tracks for far too many miles. When I turned around in an attempt to find my way back, I thought I knew where I was going. A few miles in, when I realized I was completely lost, I stopped an old man mowing his lawn to ask for directions. Of course I was running in the complete opposite direction to where I needed to be. When I told him where I was headed he looked shocked, as if there was no way I would make it back within an hour. This slightly concerned me, but I had no other way of getting back. The distance to the right path did not end up taking as long as the old man’s face led me to believe. I still have to laugh at myself for getting lost in a foreign city. In any other country doing so probably would have been dangerous, however, I feel extremely safe and secure in Australia.
Part of the reason I chose to study abroad in Australia stemmed from my major in marine science. With Australia being known for its crystal clear waters and diversity of underwater life, I came hoping to take some interesting classes that would put me in my element (the water). Unfortunately, all of the marine science classes I was hoping to take are only offered during the first semester, leaving me without any marine experience besides the few dolphins I see on my morning runs. Luckily, a lab I volunteer in at NC State had some connections in Perth. Coincidentally one of my professor’s at NC State served on a researcher’s thesis committee. That researcher, Cindy, has since moved to Perth and is now working for the Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW). Cindy has graciously offered to let me help on some projects she is currently running. Therefore, on Friday I took the long commute to the DPaW offices to meet with Cindy and get set up on my research. I came across the first unhelpful bus driver along my ride, but made it to the office anyways. Cindy has set me up ground truthing satellite data collected at Shark Bay, an area north of Perth. A few years ago there was a massive warming event, which killed off sea grass in the area. My role is to look at videos of the sea grass abundance and classify the species. Occasionally these videos will pick up an interesting bamboo shark or sea snake. Being able to get back in the lab and do some analysis this week was fantastic.
There is an amazing atmosphere of living in a residential college. Everyone attends the events and invites everyone to everything. The diversity of people and eagerness to help provides an incredible environment and community. Another huge highlight of the week was STUMPS. STUMPS is a large car rally put on by Trinity Residents Club. The rally entails a full day of events and challenges. Teams get together and decide on a theme for their cars beforehand. Our car chose to be fairies. With a car composed of two English guys and a Japanese guy, I think we pulled the fairy costume off quite well. Once we were organized the day of, we received a booklet with directions and challenges to complete along the way. These challenges included things like getting pictures with a family having a picnic, making a human pyramid, and reenacting the Lion King. While trying to complete challenges in the booklet, different committee members would be at different stops with additional challenges, such as spinning around looking at a broom then going down a slip and slide. The entire day leads you to a barn about three hours outside of Perth where you stay for the night. My explanation of STUMPS sounds lame, but I can assure you, it lived up to all the hype that surrounded it. Just take a glance at the pictures below.