Student Reflections – Melissa Hoffman

The trip to Sydney, Australia was the trip of a lifetime! Every moment of the trip was fantastic – except for maybe the 20-hour plane ride, but even that went flawlessly. Now that I’m back in Carbondale and looking at the pictures I took in Sydney, I really wish I was still there.

The last few days in Sydney were some of the best. On Friday, I spent the day visiting the Blue Mountains. One of the highlights of the Blue Mountain trip was feeding wallabies, emus, and kangaroos hay out of an ice cream cone at the zoo. We got a great view of the Blue Mountains and the Three Sisters after the fog cleared. The mountains were breathtakingly beautiful and made me appreciate the variety of landscapes Australia has to offer.

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On Saturday, I went to Bondi Beach and had lunch with Professor Dervan and his family, Drew, Bill, and Tom. Afterwards, I went to Manly Beach and went scuba diving in the shark tank at the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary. I swam alongside huge nurse sharks with rows of sharp teeth. The guide assured the divers the sharks were peaceful, but I couldn’t help but hope the sharks had been fed recently. There were also two sea turtles in the tank that had found a good home at the Sanctuary after they were injured in the ocean. The sting rays inside the tank were massive; one was the size of a queen-sized mattress. As I stood in the aquarium, the huge sting ray glided right over my head and brushed against my arm.

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The last day in Sydney, I went to the Wild Life Sydney Zoo with Jessie to see the koalas. As we enjoyed a buffet breakfast, we watched the koalas munch on eucalyptus leaves right next to us. We pet the koalas, had our picture taken with them, and learned more about koalas from the zoo keeper. The zoo keeper told us koalas spend the majority of the day sleeping and their waking hours eating. Not a bad life. We also got a tour of the zoo before it opened to the public and saw a Tasmanian devil, a crocodile, wombat, kangaroos, wallabies, and reptiles native to Australia. Jessie and I were glad to see the Tasmanian devil come out of its hiding spot because we didn’t get a chance to see one at the Taronga Zoo. The zoo keeper told us Tasmanian devils are struggling in the wild because of a cancer they developed from pesticides used on crops. Zoos are working hard to establish a healthy Tasmanian devil population. We also learned the crocodile ended up at the zoo after it posed a problem at a popular picnic spot where it had been snatching picnickers’ dogs.

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The trip to Australia was full of a variety of learning opportunities – white collar crime, Australian history, and wildlife. It was the chance of a lifetime and one I will never forget.

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