July 16, 2008
ATLANTA – While many college students use the summer to relax by the pool, go to the beach and work as waiters and waitresses, members of the Georgia Tech Softball Team are making full use of their time. Some are traveling the world, while others are getting a head start on their careers with some unique and interesting internships or jobs. RamblinWreck.com will give you a feel for what some of these student-athletes are doing with “Summer Diaries.” In part one, rising senior All-American first baseman Whitney Haller checks in from Australia where she is studying abroad. In the next few weeks, several members of the team will give you an inside look at what they have been up to, including redshirt junior Jen Yee and 2007 graduate Caitlin Lever who are on the Canadian National Team and preparing for the Olympics in August.
Softball Summer Diaries Part II: Whitney Haller in Australia
Hello again from Aussie Land! I have been on the go ever since I wrote to y’all last, so I am back to catch you up on my life in the past few days. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride through Sydney…
Last Thursday was the first day of my recent marathon of activities. I decided to be a huge tourist and rode to the top of the Sydney tower. It is the tallest building in the city at ¼ kilometer, and I had a 360-degree view for miles at the top. I could see everything I had read about in my travel book, and I spent an hour just watching the bustling city below. Afterwards I went on a virtual reality ride called OzTrek. With my 3D glasses, I rode in a helicopter over the harbor, climbed Uluru in the heat of summer, and scuba dived in the Great Barrier Reef. It was quite the 30-minute trip!
Friday I had class in the morning from 9-1 then went on a chartered bus tour of the city. We drove through the harbor, Chinatown, the Olympic park, Centennial Park, The Rocks marketplace, and trendy King’s Cross. It was great to see all the sites of Sydney, and I will definitely go back to spend some time at each place. That night I attended my first rugby game–the Sydney Roosters versus the Gold Coast Titans. What a violent sport! I was right at home in the athletic atmosphere and had an awesome time. Go Roosters!
We have free weekends while we are here, and I took full advantage of the time. On Saturday I woke up early and went to the Taronga Zoo. Since it is across the harbor, I took a ferry to get there and got a fantastic water front view of the Opera House and the bridge. At the zoo, I saw the customary animals, but my favorite exhibit was definitely Wild Australia. Here I saw kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, dingos, Tasmanian devils, platypuses, echindas, emus, and tons of poisonous snakes. I even got to feed and pet a kangaroo. They are so soft and fuzzy–too cute!! Later that day I toured the harbor and walked all the way across the harbor bridge. It was a wonderful day.
Sunday I went on a wine tasting tour in Hunter Valley–one of the premier vineyards in the world. This was my first wine tasting experience, so I felt all grown up!! Over the course of the day we visited four different wineries and tried over 20 different types of wine. The dessert wines were definitely my favorite, but they were all very pleasing to the palate. The vineyards themselves made for breathtaking scenery along the way, and the sunset over the acres and acres of grape vines was unforgettable.
Monday, after class, I came back to athletic roots–I went surfing! Bondi Beach is one of the best surfing beaches in the world, and I “got gnarly off the lip” all afternoon. I even rode one wave for 75 yards all the way to the beach and ran off on the sand. Surf’s up, dude!
Tuesday held the excursion I have been looking forward to ever since I planned the trip–a show at the infamous Sydney Opera House. I got to dress up in my finest, trade my tennis shoes for high heels, and sit with Sydney’s finest while watching My Fair Lady. The inside of the building was just as majestic as the exterior, and the play was everything I had hoped for. As said by Eliza Doolittle in the play, “I could have danced all night…”
On Wednesday, I went with my class to Darling Harbor and watched the new Batman movie on the biggest IMAX screen in the world. As it turns out, our viewing was the world premiere for the movie, so I was one of the first people to see the superhero in action (and in a very large way!). The movie was incredible and seeing it on the IMAX made it feel like I was in the action. Darling Harbor was very crowded with all the World Youth Day pilgrims here at the moment, but the hustle and bustle made it fun.
Next up on the itinerary are a trip to the Blue Mountains and Canberra, a climb OVER the harbor bridge, a bushwalk through the Royal National Park, white water rafting, and snorkeling in the Great Barrier Coral Reef. There is definitely never a dull day here!
I hope everyone is doing well and having a fun-filled summer in the states. Australia is fantastic, but nothing compares to Atlanta–it is my home and where my heart will always be. Go Jackets!
See you all soon!