By Oren Burks
What's up guys, I'm checking in from Sydney, New South Wales in Australia. I will be blogging over the course of this trip to keep everyone updated on my travels.
For those who don't know, I am a senior linebacker on Vanderbilt's football team and was awarded the great opportunity to participate in a Maymester Study Abroad program studying Biodiversity: Corals, Koalas, and Cassowaries in beautiful Australia.
Our class doesn't actually start until May 22 in Cairns, Queensland, Australia, but my good friend Karlin Compton and I decided to leave a little early to spend a couple days in Sydney.
This has been quite the trip so far! We started in Nashville with our flight leaving Thursday, May 18 at 5:30 p.m. for LAX. During our layover in Los Angeles we decided to try our luck and grab some food from an In-N-Out Burger around the corner from the airport. The risky trip was well worth it seeing that it was Karlin's first time trying In-N-Out and we were still able to make our connecting flight to Australia. Wanted to give a quick shoutout to our Uber driver Kenneth for waiting for us to get the food - you're the real MVP.
We landed in Sydney May 20 around 7:30 a.m. and headed to our Airbnb in Redfern to wash up and drop off our bags. Spent about 90 minutes walking around Redfern to look at the cool murals throughout the town while waiting for Karlin's friend to meet up with us on the Sydney Harbour. We took the train up to the harbor to see the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Felt pretty cool to actually see one of Australia's main attractions and the site of a major scene from the movie Finding Nemo (P Sherman 42 Wallaby Way Sydney).
Next, we walked around some shops for a little, then headed to a Sydney Giants vs. Richmond Tigers Australian Football game in Olympic Park, site of the 2000 Summer Olympics. My understanding of Australian Football is a hybrid between American football, rugby, and soccer. The rules were somewhat hard to keep up with at first, but as the game went on I gained a better understanding and genuinely enjoyed the game. Both teams played with relentlessness and grit that got me excited to get back with my teammates stateside to attack this upcoming 2017 football season. It's amazing how unifying sports are, no matter where you are in the world, one can truly respect athletic performances where everyone works together towards a common goal -- to win! The Sydney Giants rallied an early deficit to win an exciting game within the last 3 minutes with a score of 78-75.
Much more coming later after the flight to Cairns and we join the rest of the Vanderbilt students for the class.