The Life of an Intern

Alright, everyone. This post is going to be very long because I have three busy days to cover. I don’t promise that they’ll be interesting, but they might be. You should probably read the whole thing, just to be sure.

I spent Wednesday and Thursday this week at Nudgee Beach Environmental Education Centre, the site of my internship for the semester. On Wednesday I got up at 7:30 am to travel out to ACU where someone from Nudgee Beach would pick me up. The center is really more of a school; Mary Ann, my supervisor, is the principal and the other people who work there are all teach classes of some kind. They teach from prep (preschool) to grade twelve, so I will probably get to see students of all ages. After a very brief tour of the building that serves as an office and the surrounding grounds, I was thrown in to my first event: a class of “preppies”.

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Our first activity of the day was to go to the beach! Really, Nudgee Beach is actually part of Moreton Bay, and you can see Moreton Island just a little further out if you look. We went at low tide so that the kids could do some different activities and explore the beach. At one site they made sand castles, at another they pumped for yabbies, these little crustaceans, and at a third they looked for very small crustaceans that live in the top of the sand. I got to help with the fourth station: beach detectives. Along with Mary Ann, the students and I scoured the beach looking for snail trails in the holes left by stingrays, hoping to find a snail at the end; we looked through the mangrove roots and found the much larger shells of mug snails and learned about the trees. One group even found a small crab. It was a very cool way to learn about the local wildlife along with the kids.

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After trudging back from the beach and cleaning up, the students had some lunch and prepared for their next activity. Students, lead by groups of parents, went to one of five stations on the grounds. At one, they were able to look at and pick up hermit crabs and toad fish. At the next, they got to play with puppets of different sea creatures and read a story. At the third, they got to make their own sea creature out of clay. At the fourth, they crab walked through different buckets with different textures found on a beach. At the last station, they got to sort through shells and learn about the animals that they came from. As they rotated through these stations, students were meant to develope cognative and motor skills while learning about marine wildlife. It was very cool to watch; I mostly helped out with the hermit crabs and toadfish. For the most part, kids would scream that the fish were slimy or that the crabs tickled, so it was all very cute.

As the intern, I was of course tasked with cleaning up. A gentleman named Kerry, who takes care of the wildlife on the premise, showed me where to clean the beach equipment and where everything was to be stored. Kerry seems to be an interesting character; he’s kind of a cross between a sweet grandfather and that guys that yells at you to get off his lawn. He didn’t say a lot that wasn’t giving me directions, but when he did it was to teach me about the different fish and crabs that they keep there. I think I like Kerry.

After everything was cleaned up, the kids and I watched a presentation on mud crabs. We were shown the differences between males and females, the different anatomical structures of crabs, and how and what they eat. Kerry even pulled out a big live one to show everyone; the kids loved that! When the students and parents left, my day came to a close. I was tasked with making some posters with “Did You Know?” facts and pictures from the Centre’s website and finishing up the cleaning. This job isn’t all glamour. Mary Ann drove me back to ACU around four, and I was back at my apartment at five; long day!

Wednesday was wrapped up by watching the premier of the Australian Bachelor with the girls (we needed a new reality TV show since Master Chef ended…). Jess made the group some cookies and brownies and we opened up some wine so that we could openly judge all of the contestants, and the bachelor himself, properly. We’ve decided that Wednesday night is girls night and will probably also include family dinner from now on.

On Thursday I had to get up at six thirty so that I could get to the train station where someone from Nudgee Beach would be picking up myself, and some aboriginal high schoolers. When I got on the shuttle bus to go to the Beach, the aboriginal students were excited to meet an American student (and I was pretty excited to meet them). My day at Nudgee beach was pretty much the same, except the activities were in a different order to accomodate the tides. You can’t really take 40 preschoolers to the beach at high tide; there’s not much to see and you’ll probably lose a few. The difference was that on Thursday I actually got to run one of the activities at the beach.

We were supposed to be pumping for yabbies, but the tide had just gone out and there was too much mud to find any. Instead, I had the kids find hermit crabs in the pools. I had to tell them what to look for and how to hold them in their hands. Some of them were scared, but they got over that when they realized that the crab would only tickle their palms. They were so cute and totally enjoyed themselves. I even set up some buckets with the larger crabs and snails I caught to show them. Overall, I liked the activity a lot and I think they did too.

I got to leave a little earlier on Thursday because a lot of people in the office had meetings. I didn’t get to go back to my apartment because I was going to see a play that night for my drama class. I hung out at campus for a few hours, got myself a snack, and studied some biochemistry (yuck). At six, I met up with Keish and some other girls from my drama class so we could go to the play together. We drove out the the Sandgate Town Hall to see The Untouchable Juli, an Australian play. The town hall had a cute little stage, but it was larger than what we had in high school, so what do I know? The play was about a boy named Juli (short for Julian) who is different from everyone else and was always outcast and ridiculed. His story is told from the point of view of his best friend, the narrator, who tells us about Juli’s early life, his mother, and his interest in music. One day something really bad happens (no spoilers) and Juli is put on trial; the narrator’s father defends Juli and gets him acquited with a very moving closing argument, but Juli is never the same. It was a really good show; the actor playing Juli did an incredible job with his character, who you could tell was probably somewhere on the autism spectrum. I kind of want to read the book it was based on so that I can understand the story even better.

The play got out around 9:30, and my friend Meg and I were going to try to catch a train back home. After about 8pm the trains come in further and further apart, so we ran down the block, up and down a flight of stairs to our platform, and just made the 9:40 train going South. Meg was even in heels; I was impressed. We talked the whole way back, which was nice. She’s probably the first person I’ve met who is (a little) older than me, so she has a different perspective on things. I walked back into my apartment at 10:30 and settled down to do the last of my studying forr biochemistry before going to bed.

This morning (Friday) I attended my third and final class of the week: Theories of Human Nature. It turns out the one of the guys in our school group, Wally, is also in my class, so I had someone to sit with and talk to during breaks. The class looks like its going to be very interesting; its a philosophy class, so we will be talking about human nature and what they really means during this semester. I tried to speak up in class and the professor seemed to like my input. When class was over, one of my classmates even came up to me and said that she enjoyed my input in class. Guess I’m doing something right!

After class, I went to eat lunch and do some last minute review for my biochem final. I was SO STRESSED. I started this class in Feburary and it was finally going to be over. On top of that, I need a 70 on the final to pass the class with a C as the final is worth fifty percent of my grade. The more I looked at my notes, the more stressed I got. Twenty minutes before I was to meet my proctor, I decided to pack up and go to the campus chapel instead. After about ten minutes sitting there in silence, I felt a lot better about my coming exam (or at least I was at peace with whatever would come). At one, I sat down for my exam and banged it out in about two hours. I felt a lot better after taking the test; I think I may have even done well.

I got back to my apartment at 4 and was finally able to relax. My friends decided to go to the Sunshine Coast this weekend. I was supposed to go with them, but decided not to at the last minute. I want to get over the last of my allergies/cold from last weekend and I was just so stressed from today I couldn’t handle a three hour train ride. I have all semester to go places, so I will spend this weekend nearby. Tim Johnson, one of the coordinators for international students, told me about a farmers market that is close and cheap, so I will be checking that out tomorrow.

Oh, I didn’t mention that we got a new flatmate! We had an empty space in our flat, so the urbanest people have been trying to place someone there. On Wednesday night, a Canadian student named Nina moved in with us. We hope that she will not find us too strange, especially since we’ve spent the past two weeks becoming comfortable with each other. She seems to have her own friends here and will be at a different uni, so it may not even be a problem. Time will tell!

Well, you’ve made it to the end. I hope you found it interesting, but if not, I warned you. I hope you have a great weekend (TGIF) and thanks for reading!

Luisa

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