Looking back on this trip to Australia I think it is safe to say that this was a truly unique and once in a lifetime experience for all of us. Although this trip provided each of us with many challenges such as long travel days,15 hour plane rides and jam packed schedules, our group never lost their resolve and everyone always seemed in good spirits. I think most of us would agree that no matter what challenges the day held in store for us we were always ready to meet those challenges and eagerly accepted the task of enjoying everything this beautiful country had to offer us.
Some of the experiences that this trip provided us with included walking through the oldest rainforest in the world, rafting down the Barron River, swimming at Mossman Gorge, working at a wildlife sanctuary with exotic animals, milking cows and planting trees to help rebuild the rainforest. Not only did we get to share these experiences with each other but we also shared them with the people who were kind enough to guide our group through our time in Australia.
I think it is easy for many us to define this trip by what types of activities we did each day, however I believe that it was the small things that brought this group together and made this trip more enjoyable for everyone. The long bus rides, early mornings and lack of technology forced us to come together as a group and we became more comfortable with each other each and everyday. The closer our group became the more it seemed like the days weren't as difficult to get through and the long bus rides felt shorter, which in turn, made our big experiences like walking through the rainforest together that much more enjoyable. Even on days where things didn't work out in our favor we were able to make the best of it. When our trip to the Great Barrier Reef was cancelled due to a cyclone, you never heard anyone complain. Instead, we all rallied together and made the best out of the situation.
When reflecting on this trip as a whole I couldn't say enough about the people from NEC who attended it or the people in Australia who helped to make the culture shock more bearable and our trip as fun as it could possibly be. As a group we gained an understanding of not only modern day Australian culture, but also Aboriginal culture as well. We were able to hand-feed kangaroos and hold Koala's. We planted trees, mulched gardens, and walked thorough the rainforest. We explored tourist attractions like the town of Canberra, walked the beach at Port Douglas and experienced Cairns nightlife. We went on wildlife tours, swam in clear blue rivers and watched the stars at a cattle ranch surrounded by a campfire.
Although the trip is at an end as we sit at LAX writing this blog post I can say that each of us wish we could have stayed longer and experienced more. This trip was filled with great people, great friends and was the best experience of our lives for many of us. Although each of us took something different from this trip home with us the times we shared in Australia will always be an unforgettable memory for all of us.