Diving Down Under

Diving Down Under

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By Nailah Russell

G’Day Hood College

Wow! Six weeks has already gone by and just like that, I’m halfway through my time in Australia. Don’t get me wrong, I miss my Hood family dearly, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t having an absolutely amazing time.

My internship just keeps getting better and more challenging. Although I come back in the door huffing from a long day, nothing is more rewarding than knowing I was able to get someone the help they need in a dire situation.

Just the other week, I was faced with a pretty daunting test. A woman calling our line for the first time who only spoke Arabic called with an interpreter. Everything was fine until the line dropped our interpreter. In a panic the woman began to say the small amount of words she knew in English and was clearly distressed.

I knew exactly how to fix her problem, which is why my supervisor told me to do my best communicating in English before the company would need to spend money on an interpreter.

After grasping at what I thought would be my last hope by asking if any of the interns spoke Arabic (as we have quite a few who do) and getting no response, I struggled in English until I had to do what I was most afraid of: I was going to have to speak to her in Arabic. The last thing I wanted was for her to think I knew more than I did.

I bit the bullet, told her I only spoke a little bit of Arabic, and much to my surprise was able to communicate my message. I even answered a few more of her questions until the answers she needed became too complicated for my limited Arabic and her limited English. That’s when I forfeited and called the interpreter.

All was well, but I knew that I’d be telling that story to my Arabic-speaking friends when they returned the next week. (I also hope my Arabic-speaking friends at Hood and Dr. Wright are reading this and proud of me!)

After another week at RACS, I packed up and headed to Melbourne for my Spring Break. I gotta tell you guys, this city is off the hook! At first it seems quiet and underwhelming, especially for a lot of us Americans who are used to louder and busier cities. Sydney’s quite busy itself, but the volume is nowhere near that of D.C. or New York, and the city goes to bed eventually.

Wondering around at 9:30 p.m. on a Wednesday for food and seeing no one around almost made my friends and I question if we would enjoy our time as much as students that ventured off to Fiji, New Zealand and the Great Barrier Reef for their break.

The next day, we just realized that Melbourne still has all of the dynamic atmosphere and convenience of any other city, it’s just missing that dizzying rush everyone is always in in a city like Sydney or New York.

Before booking my trip, I had always heard Australians say Melbourne was the country’s fantastic little city with a European flare. Even though I’ve never been to Europe (hopefully someday though), I can see why.

After visiting the Shrine of Remembrance, a breathtaking World War I/II memorial, my three friends and I wandered the city. We passed the contemporary art museum and the immigrant museum which sits in a part of the city splashed with a row of Spanish flags billowing above the tram stops.

We ate delicious Malaysian food, shopped at a vintage thrift store, and got tidbits on how to reach Melbourne’s secret pubs and venues. We passed through Hosier and Rutledge Lane covered in graffiti and street art, found alleyway cafes and tucked away book stores, and shopping centers that opened into whole new worlds like we had just casually traversed Diagon Alley.

At night, we melted into more graffitied walls on AC/DC Lane to find a little pub with live soul music. Then, we headed over to Brunswick Street where we found heaven in a dimly lit snake path with little coves and live music to dance and sing to.

All of that happened the night before (technically the morning of) Friday the 13th, otherwise known as the day I became a meteor. That’s right folks. Ya girl made the decision to skydive over the Great Ocean Road, a scenic destination with beautiful pillars of rocks jutting out from the water like an audience to my daring and audacious stunt.

I was excited, but not truly nervous. Even as I sat in the lobby with two of my other crazy friends watching tutorials on how to land so as not to “remove” your ankle, I had yet to feel the tremble in my knees or the shake to my insides.

I got in my gear, hopped onto the plane, and with the three of us strapped to our instructors like newborn marsupials, we prepared to jump out over the earth at 12,000 feet. While my friends sang “Breaking Free” from High School Musical, I still felt calm, even as I looked out the window during our ascent.

In a split second, the door was snatched open, my friend Sam shut her eyes and turned away in fear, and she her instructor were gone in an instant.

Then, it happened.

My instructor inched me toward the edge and when I could only see lines of water and the bottom coast of the country, my stomach dropped into my shoes and almost took them directly off my feet.

Before I knew it, I was screaming as I was plummeting towards the earth, trying desperately to remember “legs up and hips forward.” I felt a tap on my shoulder and out went my hands. I was in full free fall, taking in the beautiful sight and hollering as my fight or flight senses tried to tell me I was going to die.

All the while, a go-pro camera lay straight on my face. As I carefully took in gulps of air, I gave some meme-worthy faces to the film. With a snap of the fingers, I was snatched back up for a moment and gazed around in suspension.

My instructor guided my over the stunning scenery and let me steer the parachute for a little until we landed. As Sam put it, I felt like “a million bucks.”

It was the most incredible experience I’ve ever had and 1000% recommend it.

Well folks, that’s all I’ve got for this update. Stay tuned for more and good luck with the second half of your semester.

Cheers!

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