My name is Philip Kirkbride. I’m a college graduate from Ontario studying at AU. I’ve always wanted to do an exchange program or study abroad but never found the right time to do so. This is the story of how Athabasca University has allowed me to create my own study abroad program. In the last issue I skipped a day of cherry picking to work on my studies in the sun.
As the days passed I found myself needing to dedicate more and more time to my studies. Not wanting to hide from the boss while I studied, I decided I would hit the road in search of adventure and opportunity and on my last night in town we went to a cherry picker gathering hosted by the local church. It was interesting meeting pickers from all over the world. Despite pickers coming from four continents we’d all ended in Young, an Australian city of 7000.
I found another picker who planned to leave the next day. His name was Jaque and he spoke virtually no English. He was heading to Sydney for one last party with some French friends before going back to France. The next morning Jaque and I split the fare on a cab to the bus, that would take us to the train station, and then eventually to Sydney. I noticed a German girl sitting at the bus stop and struck up a conversation. I was relieved to find she spoke almost perfect English, as trying to speak French with Jaque was getting exhausting
As we sat, an Australian drove up in a truck “you guys looking for work”. Our group, now three, all shook our heads no. We’d had enough of hard labour, and our group was bound for Sydney, the biggest city in Australia. After a short bus ride to the train we all boarded and went our separate ways. I’d called in late, so the only seat left was in first-class. I made my way back to the private cabin, which sat three people, but I had it all to myself. As a side note for anyone at Athabasca planning to travel to Australia or New Zealand. Get your ISIC international student identity card! I would have saved $50 on that train ride alone had I had one.
The train ride was amazing. It seemed every 30-60 minutes the scenery changed. We’d go through sections of lush green forest, followed by dry brown fields, and every once in a while I’d see a wallaby hopping its way up a hill. I hooked my computer up with my mobile internet stick and let time fly as I made some finishing touches to a case study.
After a few hours the beautiful scenery slowly became replaced by roads, buildings, and graffiti. We were nearing Sydney, where I’d start the next leg of my Australian adventure. I didn’t have an exact plan, but I was excited to be there. The train slowed as we pulled into Central Station. I got off the train and strapped 70L bag to my back and walked out into the city.