Dave On Tour

From Thu, 01 Jan 1970 until Thu, 01 Jan 1970

The first two weeks

Added on Wed, 18 Jul 2012 17:24 GMT+10, from Australia

G'day mates!
That's how Australians say it.

For those whom I didn't speak to for a long time and who didn't hear the news through others friends or via Facebook: I'm going to study for one semester at the "Queensland University of Technology" (QUT) in Brisbane, Australia.

Finally, I manage to write the first post from Australia this year!

My flight(s) went well, although I had a little delay on the second one.
The first flight, departing at 10:20 PM was a 12-hrs direct flight from Frankfurt to Singapore, where I had a 2-days stopover. My father and Niklas had taken me to Frankfurt and also Jill came to see me and say goodbye to me. Thank you for that! In Singapore I didn't do too much, beside relaxing and watching the Marina Bay Sands' amazing light show with a few cold beer in the first evening, buying a new laptop and meeting friends on the other days.
The second 8-hrs direct flight from Singapore to Brisbane (planned departure: at 9.25 PM) took off about 30 minutes delayed and landed even 40 minutes late, as they had to fly around the city once before they were given landing permission. Also my disembarkation and immigration took quite a long time, because the plane was full and it was a long immigration procedure. It was the first time, that I experienced passengers having to queue in an additional line after the customs counters and put their luggage down on the ground, so that their dog was able to check each piece for any sorts of drugs or similar stuff.
Anyhow, after finishing immigration at about 9.00 o'clock in the morning, I tried to figure out how to be transported to my hostel, that I had booked just before departure in Singapore. But before I could do that, I found some guys from the university walking around, trying to catch the new international students and to provide them with information about the transportation, OSHC (Overseas Students Health Cover) as well as the next steps to take concerning the course commencement. They gave me a lot of information and a bunch of formulas to fill in after arrival. Then I took the train (translink) to the Brisbane central station for AUD 15.50, from where I could easily walk to the hostel. Actually, I had booked two nights, but as my permanent accommodation in the student home could be finalised on the second day already, I could move in to UniLodge on 6th July around 12.00 noon.
This student home is quiet expensive with a monthly rent of AUD 1,235.00 and a bond of AUD 1,132.00, that I would receive back by the end of the semester. BUT: it's in the heart of Brisbane, close the city centre and main pedestrian area and not even a 5-minutes walk away from the QUT Gardens Point Campus, where I will attend all my courses. That's very convenient to me. It's a tower block with more than 25 floors, having a nice view over the city. The rooms include their own bathroom, a small kitchen unit with fridge / toaster / microwave / water boiler / kitchen hood. Additionally, they have great service at their well-staffed reception, a huge common area on the 4th floor with laundry facilities / rec room with pool table / free wifi zone / sauna / swimming pool. You can meet many new faces from any continent. During check in already I met a Malaysian guy called William, who had just arrived and was moving into his room as well.
This residency is also a very safe place, as you need a non-contact swipe card to enter the building after the daily service hours and also to use the elevator at any time.

The first 10 days' schedules looked all pretty much the same, consisting of sleeping long, having breakfast either at home or in a cafe, shopping at day, working for the home company, having dinner and some beers in the evenings. On Fri Jul 13th I visited the campus for the first time and registered for OSHC, obtained my Student ID and a GO-card for the metro, joined a "New to Brisbane" session and registered for a Gold Cost Orientation Trip for Sat Jul 21st (AUD 55.00).
Also the university offers a bunch of orientation courses and activities, before the class commencement as well as throughout the semester. My choice out of the offered orientation courses at university includes the following:
- "New to Brisbane" Session, in which a student gave a brief overview about things we need to know for settling in to Brisbane
- "QUT Connect", in which two students gave an introduction to the university's offices / facilities / rules / IT infrastructure / grading scheme and so on ...
- "Amazing Race", which was basically a treasure hunting through the campus and city centre between many groups of 5 students each. The more we knew about the city / country / commonwealth, the faster we were.
- "Student Welcome Party" with food, drinks, talks, games and some draws
- Get a free QUT t-shirt

Those were my sessions so far. All of them were for free of course. On Friday there will be a "Mystery Bus Tour" in the early morning, which I registered for.

There are not only orientation sessions offered by the QUT or QUT's students, but also other social events. I will tell you more about those later.

Now, I'm about to leave for a River Cruise on the Brisbane river in a few minutes. I will update you during the next days.

Cheers!

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Orientation Week / Colombian Independence Day / Gold Coast

Added on Sat, 21 Jul 2012 21:29 GMT+10, from Australia

Well, as the title says, I basically joined these 3 trips during the past days!

As I mentioned before, when writing the last post on Wednesday I was about to leave for the boat trip, which was really awesome! I arrived at the university and we were divided into two groups. One group for the upper deck of the boat, one group for the lower deck. At first we were seated at the tables on the boat for having dinner. The tables numbers have been assigned to every student by the group leaders, so that we get to know new people and each country's students won't cluster together in one group. However, I met one German, 3 English, one Norwegian and more. Outside the boat at the pear I had met another guy from Italy, a girl from Norway, called Gyna and two Colombian girls (Paula and Lina). The buffet was opened as soon as the boat hat started to move over the Brisbane river. After the dinner we were able to run around, go upstairs and meet other people. A DJ started to play songs on the lower deck and people began to dance. It was the first time that I had lunch and kind of a party on a moving boat. Pretty awesome!
Of course we exchanged phone numbers and Facebook names with some people, because we were planning to meet up during the following days.

The Thursday was free, so we decided to visit the QUT Kelvin Grove Campus (KG) and join an event called "Australiana", at which they offered cheap lunch and presented some typical Australian animals. But as we (I) got some wrong information for that day's timetable, we arrived there at 11:00 AM instead of 3:00 PM. So, we used that free time to have lunch somewhere else and going to the on-site bar to have some cool beers and enjoy the view over the campus.
In the group: the Italian guy from the River Cruise, the to Colombians Lina and Paula, Natasha from Germany, and me.
Finally, the Australiana started and the started with the animal presentation, e.g. a small nonpoisonous Python, a golden opossum, a two-headed lizard and a Tawny Frogmouth. I took the Python on my arms and around my shoulders and took a photo.

On Friday I had to get up at 7:30 AM, as the "Mystery Bustour" started at QUT Gardens Point Campus (GP) at 8:30 AM. As soon as everyone was aboard, the bus took us along many interesting spots in the city, through some suburbs and finally to a lookout point outside of Brisbane, from where we had a nice view over the city. During the bus ride, the 3 guides were commenting every spot that we passed by and explained a lot about the city's history, special places of interest and much information about what to do within and around Brisbane.
On this trip I met 4 girls from Singapore, that could talk to throughout the trip. Right after the city tour, the bus brought as back to the campus, where we had free BBQ.
In the same evening I met Paula and Lina in the city near King George Square Station. As it was July 20th (Colombian Independence Day), there was a big event going to take place close to King George Square. They offered lots of typical Colombian food, had a DJ who played Colombian Music, had built up a stage, where a Colombian Salsa Band was going to play and, of course, a dancing area. Before the band started to play, a guy gave some salsa lessons to the interested people (including me, as I did not remember all the steps).
The band started at about 8:00 PM and this we started to dance. That pretty much filled the whole evening, during which some more friends joined us. The whole place was filled with Spanish-speaking people / couples, that were just enjoying the music.
I know, that sounds weird: dancing salsa on the Colombian Independence Day celebration party in Australia. However, this was a lot of fun! Thanks again to Lina and Paula for this good idea! Hope you had as much fun as I had!
At about 10:15 PM we left the party and went home, as we were quite exhausted and I had to get up early today.

So did I, at 6:30 AM, and arrived at GP campus at 7:45 AM. The bus to Gold Coast left a little delayed, as we had to wait for some students that got lost in the city on the way to the campus.
The first stop was as the "Wildlife Currumbin Sanctuary", which is a theme park about 100km south of Brisbane. Beside the animals, that we had seen on the KG campus already, we could see Kangaroos, Koalas and Emus for the first time. That was a really amazing experience being able to see these (for Europeans exotic) Australia's national animals live. For sure we took lots of photos of and with them as a proof of having been there!
The second stop was for the lunch. The restaurant was located close to the beach, so we had the chance to take make nice shots.
The last stop before returning home was the Surfers Paradise, which is basically a long beach, located in Southport. Today it was really windy and chilly, especially in Southport, and also the water was really cold, so I did not swim. Some of my fellow students did though.

I came back from this trip a few hours ago and I'm really tired now. Tomorrow I'll add the first pictures, before I'm going to the southbank beach.

See you!

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Southbank Beach / Semester Opening Party / Lamington National Park

Added on Fri, 03 Aug 2012 10:47 GMT+10, from Australia

G'day!

On Sun 22 Jul I met many friends and joined them going to the Southbank beach, which is located close river, right beside the Clem Jones Promenade. Considering that it's in the middle of the city and close to the QUT Gardens Point Campus, it's a nice beach to relax after a demanding uni day.

For the following Saturday, 28 Jul, I met friends in the New Farm Park to have a small picnic. For later this day, a semester opening party had been organised and a huge number of student were supposed to come there. As soon as we arrived ad Lukas' house to have some beer before going to the actual party, we received a message that the party was canceled. Well, this was about 2 hours before the official start. We couldn't believe that this party was canceled so spontaneously, so after some beers we went there anyway. And unsurprisingly, the party was taking place. Of course at the beginning it was quiet lame as many people stayed at home after receiving the new. Anyhow, later this evening the room got filled.
We had a lot of fun as we went there in a large group!

Two days later, Mon 30 Jul, four of us (Lukas, Soeren, Alessandro and Me) had a free day and we decided to go and see the Lamington National Park, located 110km south of Brisbane, as Soeren was having his hired car for the last day. That's what we did and I'm glad that I joined them. It took us about 90 minutes to the first tourist information centre and restaurant, where we had lunch. From the balcony of the restaurant we had an great lookout over the valley as well as on mountains at this amazing horizon. During our lunch we were also visited by other small guests who were very interested in our food. See the pictures!
Well, we made two hikes through small part of the huge National Park. The first one was a 40 minutes hike to lookout point over the valley and on the Morans Falls with a total height of 80m. The second hike took as 20 minutes to another point that provided as a view over wide parts of the National Park. During these hikes, we saw the ancient and tall trees, for which the National Park is so well known.

That's it pretty much.
In the coming weeks, I won't be blogging too much, as the second week of my semester is over now and the workload is rising. However, I will update you, if something interesting happens.

Cheers!

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Brisbane, Ekka

Added on Fri, 31 Aug 2012 19:44 GMT+10, from Australia

Okay guys!

Finally, I get the chance to update you about the last 5 weeks. As you might have recognised, I've been really busy with work and university and many things happened within these weeks. That includes the foundation of my own company in Germany, studying for uni exams, as well as working on assignments, that are due during the semester.

How do I start?
Well, just a week after out trip to the Lamington National Park, I bought a tripod for my camera and then finally managed to take some photos of Brisbane at night, with view from the Victoria Bridge. See them in the gallery!
On a Saturday actually planned visit a Koala Sanctuary, but by the time we met at the Cultural Center altogether in order to take the bus, we realised that it's too late and it won't make any sense to go there on that day. Unfortunately, we didn't catch up with that yet. We're planning to do that soon though. We needed an alternative plan for that day. We went down to Southbank along the Brisbane river, grabbed some lunch and made a long photo session. After that, we took the ferry to Lukas' home, rented a movie and made a movie night.

This ferry called "CityCat" is part of the public transport service in the city, and it serves all the ferry stations that are spread along the river throughout the city, included the adjacent suburbs. There are ferries going about every 20 minutes from any station in both directions. This service is very convenient, as there is no actual traffic that can produce jam. The fares are not too expensive - at least for students -, and it's payable with the contact-less "GO card", that we all got from the university. Students will get a GO card in a different colour (green), which enables us travelling for half of the usual price. Beside that, one can see really nice spots of the city and take awesome shots from perspectives, that you wouldn't have from any other location. See the gallery for some inspirations!

So, this post is probably more about the photos of Brisbane than about any events that happened. The only special event that we had, was the "Ekka 2012", which is an agricultural shown, that takes place every year. The interesting parts that we watched were the famous horse judging and a crazy car and motocross bike stunt show, both in the ENERGEX Community Arena, as well as the firework at the end of the day.
That evening ended with a few beers in an Irish Pub in the city.
A strange thing about bars and pubs here in Australia is the fact, that they all close at times that usually in Germany we would just start partying. And some of the pubs, including the one that we were sitting in, close at a certain time sharp. They will shout across the room telling the guests to finish their beers fast, light up the whole room about 15 minutes before the official closing time and start cleaning/putting the chairs on the tables. That's awkward and uncomfortable and many guests would consider this behaviour impolite.
So, we finished and finally left home.

After that day, we didn't go out, since all of us have been really busy with assignments for university. We had to work all days and sometimes even nights. And obviously, we're not the only one. It's rather normal over here to work on assignments at night. To support this, the QUT provides a 24h lab in the Library building, that is accessible with the student ID cards. This is a huge room with a 100 or more desks and computers for the students. Especially Soeren and me studied there several times until 5 o'lock in the morning. Some of the students even work until 3 o'clock in the mornings, lay down on one of the really comfortable armchairs to have a short nap, before they attend to the lectures in the morning.
I was surprised how many students I saw working there all night.

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Latin Club / Getting a car for Uluru

Added on Sun, 09 Sep 2012 20:13 GMT+10, from Australia

Just a short update:

On Friday 31 Aug, after finishing the last blog post, I joined my friends at GPO Hotel (a Latin club) for Astrid's birthday celebration. Although, actually, I don't like clubbing, this night was really awesome, as they played cool Latin music, we were a large group of people, were dancing Salsa/Merengue/... all night and had a lot of fun. We stayed until the early morning.

After that day, I went on working on my assignments and, finally, handed in my last assignment today!! That feels so good!

Also, this week, Soeren and I went to the "Queensland Government - Department of Transport and Main Roads" to get out Queensland driving licence. They gave us temporary licences and would send the card via mail within the coming 2 weeks. As soon as we receive these cards, we won't have to carry our German and international driving licences with us all the time.

On Friday 7 Sep, Soeren and I drove around Brisbane and to Dalby and visited car shops to look at some Toyota Landcruisers that Soeren might buy. We found some pretty good ones, but did not really find the perfect one.
Yesterday, we drove all the way up to Bundaberg (about 360km north from Brisbane) to see another Toyota Landcruiser, that looked awesome on the internet and would most likely be the one buy. This time, Lukas and Alessandro joined us on our journey, as we were going to stop at the Sunshine coast for one hour to get some sun and have a swim in the sea. Unfortunately, we didn't find any parking slot in Noosa - the major centre of the Sunshine Coast - , so we drove a few kilometres back south to find a secluded beach. And we found one and stayed there for 45 minutes, before we went on to Bundaberg.

In Bundaberg, finally, we saw the car, inspected it and took a test ride though the city. Soeren decided to buy it, did all the paperwork with the seller and made a deposit. In the coming week, he's going there by train to collect the car.
This is the car we're going to drive to Ayers Rock with. As we will be going straight through the Simpson Desert in the center of Australia, we definitely need a 4WD (4 wheel drive). Now, we got that and can soon organise the rest for that trip.

Cheers!

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If you want to browse all trips, see my timeline.