First, as the picture page shows, I explored the botanical gardens in a leisurely stroll and sensed nature. The gardens are a collection of displays ranging from succulents to tropical plants to endangered ones. The gardens even offered a natural history display to note the arrival of the First Fleet and the havoc white settlers caused on the Aboriginal people. This was really a garden for the mind.
Second, I saw my first ballet, thanks to Professor Ann Christiano, herself a former ballet dancer. She suggested seeing the ballet at the Sydney Opera House to watch a ballet she had always wanted to see, the Four Temperaments, and to experience a performance in the famous building.
I was struck by the mix of athleticism and grace in ballet. The art form is one that puts the dancer in the open floor with little more than an orchestra, a stage and a costume. It is, in a sense, the barest form of human expression: no voice, only movement. At one point in one ballet, the orchestra stopped playing and the two dancers were all alone for about three minutes. The experience was far more captivating than I could have predicted.
Best of all, we learned about the ballet through our students. Several saw it last night and others did so tonight. I'm so impressed by students who seize the moment and engage the local culture. They make all the hard work that goes into study abroad worth every moment.