I touched down in Sydney, Australia, on June 8, exhausted from a 15-hour flight from Vancouver. This probably contributed to me missing my connecting flight to Perth; which was my final destination. I was put on the next flight without any problems two hours later. At 3:45 pm, I walked into the Perth airport. I reclaimed my bags and waited at a coffee shop for my family to arrive. Kasper, my exchange student, Florence, his sister, and Laura, their mother, greeted me and we all drove back to my new home. Upon arrival, I was introduced to Kasper’s father, Torben, as well as their two dogs, Gonzo and Daisy. I ate dinner and went to bed early. Despite serious jet lag, I planned on going to school the next day.
My first day at Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School was a blast. I made many new friends during lunch and recess and I took part in my first field hockey practice on the school team. It was my first experience with this sport, which introduced a few problems. The main one was that we had a game the next day and I didn’t know any of the rules, positions, or how to play. I did fine, aside from accidentally slashing a player on the other team in an attempt to get the ball. I learned the important lesson that field hockey is not played quite like ice hockey.
I signed up to play on the school AFL (Footie) team in a tournament that Friday. I had three days to learn the sport, but with field hockey, I was forced to pick it up in one day. I learned the rules and basic gameplay of Footie by watching videos on YouTube, as well playing for two hours in gym class. I was as ready as I was going to be. It was awesome! We lost every game, but it was still awesome.
We woke up quite early (by my schedule) at 9:30 am on Saturday and we headed out to motorbike on dirt trails in the woods. I learned how to operate the gears and went off on the trails for a spin. I came back a tad late and in the distance, close to where I’d started, was a group of about 10 kangaroos bounding across the road into the woods. We got home around 2:00 pm and I ended the day with a run and some training. The next day, we went out kayaking in a bay near the house and dolphins swam around our kayaks.
I got back from the weekend relaxed and ready for the start of another week. Nothing new happened on Monday, but I had my first aquatics class on Tuesday. Aquatics is a class for surfing in the sea, which lasts two hours without breaks. I figured it was going to be a nice day relaxing in the sun. I didn’t think of bringing a wetsuit for the cold water and the wind. Those two hours were quite uncomfortable, to say the least.
After that, I practiced with the field hockey team after school. When I got home, Laura told me I had two opportunities to consider: I was invited to play for the school Footie team for a weeklong tournament, or I could work at the Dolphin Discovery Centre (I’m still trying to decide what to do).
The next day, I had a field hockey game. We lost, but it was still fun. On the car ride home from the field, Laura told me I had the opportunity to skydive over the weekend in Busselton. I signed up to skydive as soon as I got home.
We ended the week early and started our weekend on Thursday at 3:30 pm. I went to Busselton, or “Busso,” for the skydiving trip. Friday was a pretty chill day. We visited a few tourist shops and ended off the day relaxing at the hotel. I didn’t sleep too well that night because I was too excited for the next day.
The wake-up call for skydiving was around 8:00 am. While pulling into Southern Skydivers parking lot I got my first glimpse of the plane. It was a small plane that fit around five people. I got suited up and acquainted with Jake, the person I would be jumping with. Around 15 minutes later, I boarded the plane with three other skydivers and Jake. We took off. At 10,000 feet, the plane doors opened and two people in the plane jumped. We flew another 4,000 feet and then it was our turn. I inched my way toward the open door, with Jake close behind me. We waited a few seconds and, when ready, we began the free fall. The wind blocked out all noise as we plummeted toward the ground at around 200 kilometres per hour. Another skydiver flew with Jake and I for around a minute of the free fall, then separated as we deployed our parachutes.
I’m lost for words to describe the experience, but it felt like I was in a dream, flying high above the clouds. On the descent I had the view of my life, as I overlooked the whole town of Busselton and the jetty from a height of around 5,000 feet. After landing, I thanked Jake and left with my family for whale watching. It was an awesome day. The next day was spent buying souvenirs for my family and friends. We ended the day with a tour of an underground cave called Jewel Cave. It was about 40 metres underground, and when lit up, it looked like a huge, intricate jewel. The next day was dedicated to rest – and I slept.
- Garrett Doyle ’17