Maria Andersen: Wake up call to the wanderlust

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When you’re at school it doesn’t matter whether you’re an undergraduate in medicine or a post-graduate in biology, sometimes you lose sight of the opportunities in front of you and eventually, you lose track of the days. Even if you’re a wanderlust explorer far away from home, it’s easy to get caught up in the routine of being a full-time student: wake up, go to class, eat, study, sleep (maybe), repeat.

Being a student, we forget about the outside world because we’ve tucked ourselves away in this cozy little bubble where time is measured by deadlines and exams rather than birthdays and tax season. Not that academic life is easy or is stress-free, but being in this cozy academic bubble shelters us from the storm of being in the real world and lets us put the thoughts of the future on hold for a little. Having our academic routine drives out the thoughts of ‘what will I be doing in 5 years’  because there’s no room for anything else other than that 8am lecture we have to attend or that paper we have to write to meet the deadline coming up. But that’s the double-edged sword of being a student: it feels like there’s no room for anything else. You lose your days to a computer screen and forget that there’s more than just grades or assignments and all of a sudden, your whole day is over and you’re pushing those fun activities important to your mental health further and further away.  But it’s ok, or at least we justify it as being ok because there’s always a supposed ‘next time’ or ‘tomorrow’.

But what happens when your ‘tomorrows’ are dwindling down as the semester ends?

1. Don’t panic. 2. You still have time. In hindsight, that came out a little bit more depressing than intended but think of this as your wake up call: you’re in a foreign country (or another part of your country if you’re a domestic student) so this is your time to explore it while you still can.

DSC00159.jpgYou’ve walked the Fort’s walk and snorkelled at Magnetic Island, caught a sunset at Orpheus Island, slid down the water slides at Crystal Creek, road-tripped to Cairns and swam in Alligator Creek but now you’re looking for something new and exciting to do?

 

Why not visit the Great Barrier Reef one more time?

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Why not visit this World Heritage Sight again while you can still see it in all of its splendor?  You’re probably thinking, “That’s great Maria, but how can I do that as a student?

Join the JCU Dive Club for the liveaboards and day trips out to the Outer Barrier Reef. You can even get certified past your basic open water certifications through PADI if you really wanted to.

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With crystal clear water and pearly white sand 30 meters down, it’s hard not to appreciate just how vast and beautiful the ocean is or even have a care in the world when you experience the life under the waves.

 

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The sheer number of brightly colored corals itself is enough to overwhelm your senses. Sprawling over 2,300 km, the Great Barrier Reef is host to over 400 types of hard coral and 1,500 species of fish alone.

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What’s even more exciting is the explosion of activity as the sun drops below the horizon. Exploring the reefs by day is an unforgettable experience but revisiting these sites once the sun sets offers a new perspective on life as a marine animal.

Not only is the GBR a biodiversity hotspot, but it also has over 800 documented shipwrecks, one of which is 4 hours south of Townsville. Enroute to Cairns, the 107 meter long S.S. Yongala sank in 1911 and is now considered one of the largest and intact historical shipwreck in the world. Recognized globally as a leading recreational dive spot, you can expect to see some exceptional megafauna the GBR can offer. Sea snakes, bull stingrays, manta rays, eagle rays, turtles and sharks are only the beginning of what you’ll encounter here.

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Semester is almost over, why not treat yourself one last time to the amazing region we are so fortunate to be studying in?

 

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