Rachel Down Under!

Rach Down South

Posted in Australia, Georgia, Virginia by rssmith218 on June 3, 2012

Over the past few months, I have officially transitioned from Rach Down Under to Rach Down South, as I have left my digs in Bondi for a new life in Savannah, Georgia. During this move, I have unceremoniously neglected my blog, but now that I am finally settled into life “Down South”, I figure it is time to catch up on my last few months in Australia, Virginia, and finally- Georgia!

I rode the rainy Sydney summer through February and March, and during these last two months, I was mostly busy with work, although I did manage to fit in some remaining bits of Aussie joy. I enjoyed some freshly-speared fish caught right from Maroubra,

Perfect shot, James!

attempted to catch some waves out at Bondi,

Surf’s up, ladies! And yes, we did actually take these boards out into the water…

and experienced my first Korean bbq.

…complete with some special Asian drinks….thanks Shin!

I turned 24 to great fanfare,

(and some midnight tequila shots!)

became addicted to the local sushi shop,

and even ran in a Warrior Dash!

Compare before the race when we were still clean…

with halfway through while we were still crushing the course….

to the muddy end!

My last few weeks in Sydney quickly turned into a “Rach-a-palooza,” during which I said goodbye to my favorite Sydney hang-outs, bars, and of course, my mates. From Fancy Cocktail night and Roast-n’-Games night (neither of which I was sadly able to document), to the infamous Ladies Night and my final Goodbye Dinner, I truly sent Sydney out in style. You can see yourself from the photos…

Ladies night started out with a few glasses of bubbly at Katie’s…

…but quickly escalated into some full-on karaoke madness!

We were joined by my lovely housemates…

my fellow labmates,

and some of my favorite Sydney-siders!

My time in Sydney was also brought to a close with my final lab discussion group,

Thanks for the cake, Graeme!

and a final lab dinner at my favorite, Lebanon & Beyond…

….where Luke and Wills tried unsuccessfully to finish the cake! You can already see the defeat in Wills’s face….

After one last barbecue at Tamarama,

I said my final farewell to Bondi and began the long journey back to the States….

Finally home! Do I look exhausted or what?

During the short time I was home, I took in my favorite Virginia sights with a visiting Aussie…for once I’m not the biggest tourist!  I showed James around my hometown of Richmond, including Belle Island and Maymont Park….

…and we even snuck in a quick trip up to the mountains before my big move down to Georgia!

From the top of Old Rag!

After conquering Old Rag, I was ready for my next big adventure….Georgia! Welcome to the South, and more specifically, to Skidaway Island, my new home!

I’m living out at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, where there is plenty of solitude among the live oaks, Spanish Moss, and the beautiful views of the marshlands…..

Pretty gorgeous, eh?

There’s also been plenty of time for science,

which happily includes boating around the marshlands….

…and playing in the mud!

Even though I have spent a good amount of my time here wallowing around in the mud, I’ve also enjoyed some local Savannah events, such as the SCAD Sidewalk Arts Festival,

bringing in the Super Moon with a few cold Blue Moons down at the Skidaway dock,

and I even got to take in the Savannah sights in the company of my mom, who came down for a weekend!

I also had some Skidaway visitors that came from even further away to soak up the Southern lifestyle….hello to Luke and Jenna who came to visit all of the way from Australia!

Having trouble lighting that true American barbecue?

There we go!

And as long as we have the barbie on…why not try an American novelty- SMORE’S!

What do you think Luke? Pretty good?

The next morning, we awoke to a full day of sight-seeing around Savannah. We engaged with Savannah’s many squares….

wandered around Forsyth Park,

and took in the many mysteries of Savannah, including the existence of squirrels (!),

Savannah’s oyster tabby streets,

and salt-water taffy!

After a long day in the city, there’s only one thing to do…relax with a Gin and Tonic for some good ole’ southern porch-sittin’!

But our night was still young, and we soon headed to a minor league baseball Sand Gnats game, prior to a crazy night out in Savannah.

Go Gnats!

A big difference from Australia….$3 beers!

Our tour of Savannah continued the next day with a trip out to Fort Pulaski, where Jenna and Luke kept an eye out for Northern invaders….

We then headed to lunch out at Tybee Island, where we enjoyed some fresh Georgia shrimp- yum!

Our day of touring concluded with a relaxing afternoon at Tybee Beach…it’s not Bondi, but it has its own charms….

Finally, time to relax!

And lastly, it’s not a trip to Skidaway if you don’t get a little bit dirty with some fieldwork! Jenna and Luke joined us in the field for some heavy-duty mud digging…having fun, guys?

We made it back to the boat!

I was sad to see Luke and Jenna go, but like any good visit, I am left looking forward to the next adventure. The same can be said for my time in Australia. I’ve had an incredible year-and-a-half down under and I am left with amazing memories, great friends, and an appreciation for a vast and beautiful country.

Hopefully I will be able to return to Australia someday soon, but until then, I will enjoy my new adventure….Down South!