Update: It’s been a while since I’ve sent in a travelling student article as my schedule got a bit hectic. A lot has happened since and I’ve had the chance to continue my travels in Thailand, Alaska, Quebec for a French immersion program, and Newfoundland where I recently finished a semester as a visiting student. I now have an apartment just outside Montreal and look forward to telling these stories of the course of 2016.
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 instalment we stopped in Byron Bay, Australia, for the night, making our way to the main street for a night on the town.
Both being exhausted from our travels, and excited for a cold beer, Dylan and I headed into the first bar from the beach: a large patio bar?half indoor, half outdoors. After grabbing a beer we went to the outdoor half to enjoy the combination of music, beer, and beautiful scenery. With the Australian summer starting we weren’t the only ones, though in Byron Bay the difference between summer and winter is just the difference between ?the water is perfect? and ?the water is almost perfect?.
By our second round we had joined three Australians, Jen, Sarah, and Kyle, at their table. Kyle and Sarah were a couple from Sydney who were meeting up with their friend, Jen, whodunnits’d moved to northern Australia. Dylan and I told our rag tag story of joining forces to get my rental RV and ourselves across the country. While Kyle told us of his experience taking a working Holiday in Canada living it up at Whistler and flying back to Sydney broke.
As we finished the last drops of our drinks it was decided we’d head to our new friends? hotel room for another round?or two. It was a nice place only a block behind Main Street. We sat up on the balcony drinking rum and laughing at anything and everything. At some point I agreed to get an Australian flag temporary tattoo. For the rest of the night we forgot of the journey ahead and the many hours of driving we’d have to do the next morning.
After we finished the rum we found ourselves with our new friends at Byron Bay’s self-proclaimed backpacker bar, Cheeky Money. The bar is far from classy, as the 2.2 star rating on Google maps will tell you. Despite this, having the cheapest beers on the strip keeps it packed with young people from around the world. Playing a game of giant Jenga I even ran into the two German girls I had met in Sydney.
As the night went on the hours blurred until closing time, when the bouncers started kicking us out. It was only walking back to the RV ready to get some sleep that I remembered the distance we still had to drive (not to mention the mounting deadlines for class assignments). I jumped into the top bunk of the RV dreading the early morning ahead.