Hi to CIEE Family & Friends! We've had a busy few first days here in Western Australia and are loving life down under! After landing in Perth, we settled into our new home at beautiful Murdoch University. We are sharing apartments with balconies overlooking giant eucalyptus trees, and have a pool, a basketball court, and a ping pong table to enjoy throughout our stay. All 24 of us come to Australia from unique backgrounds and with our own stories, and it's incredible to see how close we are becoming as friends already. On our first full day together, we had the chance to get up close and personal with some of Australia's most iconic animals. We got to pet koalas, take selfies with kangaroos, and hang out with a wombat. We spotted emus, dingoes, and interesting creatures like the echidna and quenda. While at an exhibit called snakes alive, we all bravely took the chance to actually wear two native snakes on our shoulders. Do you know how to tell the difference between a venomous and non venomous snake? We do now - check the scales! To get to know the city and history of Perth a little better, we spent the second day of our journey exploring the heart of this booming cosmopolitan center. Perth is currently home to almost two million people and every street we walk down is full of life, interesting shops, and beautiful art. While Perth has gone thru many recent and beneficial changes, this land is also an important source of cultural heritage for one group of Australias' Indigenous Peoples. On Heirisson Island, or Matagarup, we had the opportunity to learn about the Noongar people who have called this land home for thousands and thousands of years. It's important to note, Indigenous or First Nations people are not one homogeneous group, but are rather comprised of a rich tapestry of nations, cultures, languages and beliefs. While now only comprising around 3% of the population, Indigenous people represent a vital link to the past, present, and future of this land. It's been an incredible first few days so far and we can't wait for everything that this place has in store for us in the weeks ahead.