The Travelling Student – The Giant Banana

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. This is the story of how Athabasca University has allowed me to create my own study abroad program. In the last issue we settled down in Crescent Head, Australia for the night with hours of driving ahead of us the next day.
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We woke up the next day with the sunrise and went for a quick morning swim. The area had transformed from the black night to sun reflecting off the water, and a handful of tourists had arrived to take photographs of the stunning view. After a few minutes I found a picnic table on the shore where I set up my laptop.

As Dylan swam I flipped through my e-commerce textbook, sipping on a cappuccino. Strangely, my regular drink (a plain black coffee) isn’t available at 90% of stores in Australia. With a strong Italian influence, Australia has developed a distinct coffee culture. In the big cities coffee carts can be spotted downtown offering a variety of espresso drinks, including Australia’s signature espresso drink the ?flat white? (now available at your local big chain coffee shop).

If You’re in one of the many rural towns across Australia you’ll find the best place to get coffee (aside from making it yourself) is the local bakery, but the main attraction at any Australian bakery is the meat pies. Next to vegemite, meat pies are the most iconic Australian cuisine. According to my unofficial guide, Dylan, even the smallest of Australian towns has bakery with meat pies.

I ordered an exceptionally good ?brekkie pie?, at Crescent Head bakery which consisted of bacon, cheese, and eggs, best served with tomato sauce (which in fact tastes different from ketchup).

After breakfast, I packed my textbook and Dylan, his Casio camera. We started down the highway toward Brisbane and the Gold Coast. The time passed quickly, listening to music and watching the changing scenery as we drove. By the time we made it to Coffs Harbour, another 140km north, the air had become noticeably more humid. While the change was likely slow, the giant Banana (one of Australia’s many giant things) at Coffs Harbour got me thinking about the fact that we’d entered a more tropical region of the country.

While summers are hot in the south, the north has only two seasons, and both are hot: the dry season and the wet season. I later found out that most sane people avoid the very north of Australia (our final destination) in the wet season, due to the intense heat and humidity.

We pulled up to the big banana at Coffs Harbour to park. Beside the banana was a building containing a restaurant, café, and information booth. A good combination since Dylan wanted to find a beach and I was in need of another cappuccino. As I waited for my order I fired up my laptop to stop in at my second home at my.athabascau.ca.

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