Now that I have been home for a couple of weeks I have had a bit of time to think about the highlight of my year. With studying in Australia where the weather is almost always lovely and everybody spends a lot of time outside and at the beach, it has been difficult to decide on my favourite things.
After careful consideration I would say that the highlight of the year for me has been being able to spend 4 months travelling to places I would otherwise never get the opportunity to visit. The 4 month summer was a great way of breaking up the two semesters and made up for the lack of English summer that I had as there was a short turn around between finishing at Manchester and leaving for Brisbane. During this time I was able to travel to Fiji, New Zealand, Bali, Hong Kong and all along the East coast of Australia.
However, the highlight of my second semester was being able to go to Heron Island research station. Heron Island is owned by the University of Queensland and was one of the main motivations for choosing to study at UQ. It is also where David Attenborough filmed the Great Barrier Reef episodes for the Blue Planet series! This visit was a field study trip in which I was looking at the feeding patterns of starfish. While this may sound dull, it essentially involved 2 hours of work a day (snorkelling and reef walking), and the rest of the time was spent sunbathing and swimming as much as we liked.
While snorkelling we were able to see hundreds of sting rays, reef sharks and turtles, all happily swimming beside us. We were also able to complete a night snorkelling which was pretty scary at first but it was amazing to see how the coral and fish change as it get dark.