By Keiko Wilkins
I arrived in Australia with 3 other LOREX students a little over a week ago. It still feels a little unreal that I traveled over 9,000 miles, from winter (it was snowing when I left) to summer, and from the northern to the southern hemisphere. My first week in Australia was filled with lots of learning and site-seeing. My first 24 hours consisted of a half-day layover in Sydney, a flight to Gold Coast and a drive to Lismore where I will be living for the next 2 months.
Sydney Opera House (left), entrance to Southern Cross University (SCU)- Lismore (right)
During our first few days, so many things happened in both Australia and back home. Our first Friday, I drove with my advisor to the National Marine Science Centre (Southern Cross University-Coffs Harbour) to explore the research facility where we will be conducting my experiment. While at SCU, I will be working with Dr. Elisabeth Deschaseaux on my first marine research project working with live coral. We also celebrated the lunar new year (January 25th), my Master’s graduation from Miami University in Ohio (January 25th) and Australia Day (January 26th) at Byron Bay for the long holiday weekend.
Kangaroos grazing at Look At Me Now Headland (left) and sunrise at Byron Bay (right)
I am admittedly nervous, but also very excited for these 8 weeks that I will be spending in Australia. When I applied to the LOREX program, I decided that I wanted to choose a project that was very different than my current research or any research that I had done in the past, but something that I would enjoy. Both my undergraduate and graduate research at this point has been working on freshwater zooplankton in lakes. I have always wanted to be involved in a marine research project, but living in Ohio has its limitations. I saw LOREX as a way that I could finally do something that I had always wanted to do. Preparing for my time in Australia has not been easy, but I have learned so much and I am enjoying it every step of the way. With so many new experiences in just my first week, I can’t wait to see where the next 7 weeks will lead and all that I will learn.
Sunrise at the easternmost point of mainland Australia located near Byron Bay (New South Wales)