Ryan Donnelly-Study Abroad - Carnegie Mellon University

Ryan Donnelly

Lessons Learned

I live next to the Adelaide Zoo. Like, 100 yards away. I wake up to lions roaring sometimes. And the monkeys take great pleasure in making themselves heard. When you combine that with the variety of native parrots and exotic birds that just sort of fly around here, its a veritable cacophony of wild sounds that is always present. There really is no other place like Australia - and I've been to a fair number of places. Eighty percent of the flora and fauna in this country exists nowhere else. Which is amazing, considering Australia is the driest, flattest, hottest, most infertile of all the inhabited continents (Antarctica, again, stands in the way). And much of is entirely unexplored. It is home of the largest living thing on earth - the Great Barrier Reef, the largest monolith - Ayers Rock (actually named Uluru). It has more things that can kill you than anywhere else in the world. Of the 10 most poisonous snakes in the world, all of them are Australian. And five of its creatures: the funnel web spider, box jellyfish, blue-ringed octopus, paralysis tick, and stonefish, are the most deadly of their type in the world!  Not only that, but somewhere between 45,000 and 60,000 years ago, the Aborigines were here, which is long before there were modern humans in the Americas or Europe. Plus, they have no racial or linguistic kinship to their neighbors in the region... which would indicate that they must have somehow sailed here at least 30,000 years before anyone else and then devoted themselves to living in the harsh desert. (Picked up these facts from various places, but mostly from Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country - a hilarious and informative read for those interested.) It's definitely a wild place. And, despite all the ups and downs thus far, I really like it.

Ryan Donnelly

Ryan Donnelly

HNZ '10- MS Public Policy & Management
Adelaide, Australia
Fall 2009