Student Reflections – Veronika Jones

They say all good things must come to an end. I suppose that’s true, because here I am embarking on a 13 hour flight out of Sydney. As I reflect on my experience in Australia, it has been an eclectic balance of legal relevance and tourist appreciation. For example, when our scheduled law school functions ended Thursday morning, Kyle, Kevin, Jessie and I headed for the Sydney airport to catch a flight to Cairns, a city in Queensland, Australia — the port for the Great Barrier Reef. We arrived late to our hotel on Thursday, and basically went straight to bed. However, Friday morning began with the opening of our balcony doors, culminating in a view of paradise. Though the Cairns boardwalk is similar to that of Florida, lined with palm trees and quaint shops, our view puts Florida to shame. It’s a place where mountains meet water, and their magic is indescribable.

We boarded our boat, the Reef Experience, and cruised into the ocean on our upper deck beds, soaking up the sun. When we arrived at our first dive spot, we were briefed (by a very good looking Aussie, I may add) about the “Rules of Diving”. Here’s a recap: Rule #1- Just Breathe; Rule #2- Come Up Slowly; Rule #3- There’s gonna be water in your mask, get over it!

With over 50 pounds of gear strapped to me, I jumped in. *Freak out moment, and I forget Rule #1: Breathe. On my second try, *Freak out moment, and I’m overwhelmed by Rule #3: Water in my mask. At this point, I’m starting to wonder if this is even a good idea. Maybe I should just chicken out and spend my day basking in the sun. I decided to give it one more try, and this time I focused on listening to my breathing. Finally, some success; we dove deeper and deeper into the ocean.

All around me were the most beautiful colors I’ve ever seen! Fish that looked like rainbows, sun beaming through the clearest blue water, and so many types of coral! We got to a clam, and the diver showed us how to make it shut. I immediately realized that part of the wonder of diving is getting a chance to interact with the ocean world. We kept swimming, and we saw an anemone filled with clown fish. Imagine my excitement when I found out Nemo really does exist! Finally, my favorite part of the dive was swimming up to a sea turtle. Here I was, face-to-face with Mr. Turtle, and, in that moment I felt thankful.

My dive was unbelievable. But then, everything in Australia was. It is a country filled with welcoming people, beautiful landscapes, an amazing ocean, and a rich history. I am truly grateful for my brief visit, and many thanks to everyone that helped plan it!

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