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Hey there Everyone!

Sorry it has taken me so long to write you all again.  I have been so busy. I can't believe I have been here for a month already.  It is amazing how fast time flies.  The first couple of weeks we just spent going to barbies and meeting people.  It took a while to get all my classes settled and to decide which ones I actually wanted to take.  I am taking a Public Relations class but then I am taking Time Travel and Philosophical Psychology.  Get this there are no rules about wearing shoes in public buildings here.  So my professor for Time Travel often comes to Lecture barefoot.  It makes for a cool atmosphere.  Everyone is just so relaxed here.  Everyone's favorite phrase is "No worries"

I was able to get an awesome schedule.  I am in class for four hours on Tuesday and Thursdays and then one hour Wednesday mornings and that is it:-)  You are probably all wondering how I manage to be so busy then.  Well with four day weekends I have been traveling about Tassie and then that means I have to use almost all my other free time to do my readings.  People here are assigned a lot more reading than back home.  And you have to keep up with the readings for discussion in Tutorials or then you have no idea what is going on.

The first weekend in March there was a trip for Exchange Students out to the West Coast which I went on.  It was such an awesome time.  It took us five hours to get there so I went right to sleep Friday night.  Oh though here's a story about our trip there.  We were all on this little bus winding up through the mountains and someone yelled out that there was a Wallaby.  This was the first wild Wallaby most of us had seen so we were all leaning to see it and "THWACK...THUMP....THUMP" We had run the poor thing over.  The bus driver had to get out and check to make sure there wasn't a baby in its pouch because if there was we would have had to take the baby to the nearest wildlife organization.

So after that adventure we arrived at the Youth Hostile in Strahan.  There were ten of us sleeping in bunk beds.  It was quite an experience to be in a cabin again.  I haven't done that since I camped with Girl Scouts in Middle School.  The next morning we all went on a River Boat Cruise on the Gordon River.  It would have been great if I hadn't been freezing cold.  I had only packed one warm outfit so I had to wear that all weekend because I hadn't realized how cold the west coast was.  The cruise took us out through Hell's Gates and onto the Southern Ocean.  Because the next body of land is south America they get waves up to thirty meters around there.  It was beautiful.  There were just rolling mountains everywhere and bright blue water as far as you could see.

The boat took us to Sarah Island where we had a tour of the old penal island ruins and learned the history.  It's really rather interesting but I won't bore you with everything that I learned:-)  However one piece of advice.  If you are ever offered a pepper leaf while in Tassie don't eat it.  I did and my mouth was on fire for hours.  It was horrible.  But I am sure it would taste good when grounded up and in food:-)

We then went back to Strahan and saw the play called "The Ship that Never Was"  It was hysterical.  The was one actress and one actor in the play and then they had members of the audience participate.  Six people from my group ended up in it.  It was just hysterical watching it.  We then had dinner and went down to the Ocean to watch the Sun Set however it had clouded over so we didn't get to see a sunset.  That evening we did the only thing there is to do in Strahan at night.  We went to the one bar located in town and hung out and played pool until two in the morning and then walked back to the Youth Hostile. 

Then on Sunday we woke up and went to tour the Teepookana Forest and of course it was raining.  But it was still fun.  You can see the pictures I got while on the tour.  That afternoon we were suppose to go sand boarding but that got canceled because of the rain but we still got to go four wheel driving out on the Sand Dunes.  That was one of the greatest experiences in my life.  They took four people out at a time for half an hour.  We just raced all over the sand dunes, up and down huge hills.  And not only was that thrilling in itself but it was beautiful.  To one side you could see the mountains and to the other there was the forest and then in front of you was the Southern Ocean.  And here I was driving a four wheeler over miles and miles of beautiful sand.  At first I thought I was going to be scared but it was absolutely amazing.

Then on Monday we came back to Hobart.  Though we stopped at a couple of places on the way back and took walks to see water falls and the view on top of a big hill.  I posted pictures of that.  While we were hiking I felt like someone had stuck me in the middle of a movie scene.  You know when you are watching a movie and you think it would be awesome to be in a place like that?  That's what it felt like.  IT was so neat.

I made a lot of cool friends that weekend too.  I met two girls from Canada, and a guy from Sweden. 

Then this week I spent doing work. I have my first assignment due this week but it should be really easy.  I have to read a chapter and present the important ideas and then generate one or two thoughtful questions to spur discussion.  Sound familiar Audra?  I am sure that I had to do this for your class last semester?  The topic I have to read on is whether or not there is love at first sight and about love and jealousy.  It should be interesting.

And then of course my parents came to visit me this weekend.  I was so excited to see them.  Of course they were exhausted on Friday but we still visited for a little while.  Which was okay because Friday night was our housewarming party at my place.  I met so many people and had a blast.  The whole house was full.  It was funny.  When I went to bed the house was full of people., our living room furniture was on the front lawn and there were beer bottles everywhere.  I expected to wake up and find a mess.  But I woke up at seven o'clock and the whole house was clean.  Now tell me if you have ever seen a clean house the morning after a college party?  I am still baffled by this.

On Saturday morning I met my parents in town and we walked around Salamanca Market.  Every Saturday morning there is this outside market in town where they sell all these fresh fruit and have souvenirs and tons of clothes and little trinkets.  It is a really awesome place and a fun way to spend your Saturday mornings.  This is the third Saturday I spent there and I still haven't tired of looking at everything.  We then headed out to the Tasman Peninsula for the afternoon.  You would be amazed that there are places like this that still exist in the world.  The water is the beautiful green blue and it is so clean and clear; you can see so far into the water.  Then there are all these natural land formations.  You'll have to look at my pictures but even they don't do it justice.  Just imagine being in a place of solitude with rushing waves crashing upon the shore and mountains and hills all around.  No city smog or noises nothing.  Because except for Hobart there isn't a city in the state of Tasmania. And Hobart isn't even really a city.

We ended the day with a Ghost Tour around Port Author which is another penal settlement but much bigger than that of Sarah Island.  Once Sarah Island closed down they shipped the prisoners to Port Author.

We spent Sunday touring other parts of Tasmania. We got up to Wine Glass Bay but we didn't walk down to the beach because they walk there is five hours.  We just did the two hour hike up the mountain to the lookout.  The beach is beautiful and so deserted.   It's very hard to get to so it's amazing.  It's breathtaking to see sites like this and to realize that they still exist without boardwalks and tourists and huge hotels and everything.  But they are preserved just as they always were.  Changing only with nature.

Being here is amazing.  But what is so amazing really is that it is untouched.  That you can drive along miles and miles of beautiful coastline and there are no houses at all. 

I will try to continue writing about every two weeks.  And to those of you who respond individually I promise to respond even if it takes me a couple of weeks.

I miss you.  I hope everything is going well back home and would love to hear how you have all been doing.  Take care!

Love, Michelle

PS I know that I missed some people or had the wrong addresses in my last mass email.  If you notice that I have left someone out or would rather me email a different address please let me know.

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