When Mitch Came To Stay

Hello everyone! And by everyone I mean me, because I’m the only one who reads this. But that’s okay-a little writing practice never hurt anyone. Currently I have 33 days left in Australia… So this is me freaking out for a quick second: #(%U)(Q*#%(*)%&))JHTHOIA(#)*%_! It’s starting to really hit me that I have one month left in this beautiful country and I have to say, in white-girl terms, “I’m totally having anxiety!” I keep catching myself mentally noting all the things I’m going to miss when I go back to the States- from the path I take on my daily run to how I can immediately tell when my air-conditioning shuts off by the absence of muted humming in my room. I was just at the library thinking “How am I going to finish all the books in the ‘popular’ section in the next four weeks?” From here on out, I’ll be trying not to take anything for granted and squeezing as much as I can into the last part of my trip. Somehow, I still can’t believe how fast this semester has gone by…

Anyway, enough with the depressing thoughts. This weekend my best friend since fourth grade came to visit me. Mitch is staying in Melbourne where he goes to RMIT, but he made the trek up to the Gold Coast, which is ironic because even in the States we have yet to visit each other at school! I thought I had a great itinerary laid out for us- I’ve been thinking about the places I want to take him for weeks- but it turns out I forgot how life here really is… Essentially, the best part of being here is just “chilling.” What I’ve loved about Australia is the laid-back atmosphere, how I can do whatever I want and not feel rushed or stressed about things. This is a great mentality for reading on the beach or going on evening runs but unfortunately it meant I was very unprepared to satiate Mitch’s touristy expectations. I still managed to show him some cool things though so I really hope he enjoyed his visit. Here are some of the fun things we did:

Currumbin:

Like I’ve said before, one of the best places to go on the Gold Coast is the Currumbin Sanctuary so of course we had to go while Mitch was here. Even though I’ve been there before, it was still just as fun the second go-round. We even got to witness the most amazing, precious event I’ve ever seen: a baby joey emerging from his mom’s pouch! Contrary to what I pictured in my mind, this simple endeavor was not an easy thing. I guess I expected kangaroos to have some kind of innate sense of how to descend from their cozy hideaway gracefully but that was not the case with this little guy. Either he had missed the memo on proper joey technique or was doomed as the unfortunate loser in kangaroo Darwinism, but this baby just tumbled out of the pouch in a little ball of long feet and hairless skin. He rolled around in the dirt for a while and then pitifully chased his mom around, struggling to get back in her pouch through a series of pathetic hops and desperate clambering. Once again, totally not what I expected but absolutely hilarious and endearing to watch!

Little man begins the struggle

A little help from Mom

That night, a Friday, I took Mitch to my favorite bar/restaurant right on Broadbeach. We stayed there for a few hours just enjoying a few beers and the breeze, but I had a phone interview with a marketing company (midnight my time, 9 am back home!) so I couldn’t do anything crazy. On Saturday we spent the day at Surfer’s Paradise laying out and napping. Mitch was really impressed by how beautiful the beaches are here, something that I’ve actually been taking for granted. He says this is exactly how he pictured Australia, which I can definitely agree with. I’m blessed to be living out my dream of coming here and to be surrounded by such beauty. Afterwards, we spent a few hours watching rugby at an Irish pub called OMalley’s overlooking the beach. I loved the atmosphere of this place and thoroughly enjoyed trying to figure out another crazy Australian sport over a “jug” (the Australian equivalent of a pitcher) of beer.

On Sunday, Mitch’s last day, I decided to take him to Burleigh Heads. Thankfully, we had beautiful weather all weekend, an aspect that I was counting on after the torrential downpours we endured in Sydney. I’ve been to Burleigh Heads before and must say it’s my favorite beach around here. A lot of families and couples go there, yet it’s just far enough away from Surfer’s that it doesn’t seem too commercialized. You get the sense that you’re hanging out with a bunch of locals. I was looking forward to exploring a nature trail on an incline bordering the beach and I wasn’t disappointed. The trail was actually part of a nature reserve and extended for a few miles through dense vegetation and trees. Walking along the path felt like exploring in the rainforest and we stopped at various points to enjoy gorgeous views of the Australia coastline. When we popped out on the other side of the trail we were at another beach, although this one was much less crowded. The beach circled around a small inlet in which the waves filtered into still water, creating a kind of shallow natural pool with the clearest water I’d ever seen. I waded out up to my chest and was still able to look straight down and see shells beneath my feet. It was so peaceful and beautiful it almost seemed surreal. I’m hoping to go back there the next chance I get because I have yet to find a more beautiful place.

Burleigh Heads

Paradise

Afterwards, I had to escort Mitch to the train station. Thankfully I’ll be able to see him in just a few weeks when I take a trip down to Melbourne. I’m really looking forward to it and I know he’s excited to show me around! Anyway, that’s about all I have to report for today so I’ll post again shortly! 

 

A Weekend in Sydney

So I realize my last blog post was a little different than the others, but I needed a way to share a link to a writing sample while applying for Elite Daily. It worked- I was accepted as a contributing writer to the website and I’m super excited to begin working on articles! But for now, this blog is my travel journal and I have a lot to share about this past weekend!

First off, let me say that I never imagined I would love a city more than I loved London, England after visiting my junior year of high school. I really think I love Sydney just as much- if not more. I signed up for an excursion (my first as I have to pick and choose selectively to meet my parent’s budget) and wasn’t sure what to expect, but this trip far exceeded my expectations. We never had a dull moment and it was all so well run (props to our tour guides). We left last Thursday night, lugging our weekend bags and boxes of goon (the cheap wine marketed towards poor uni students like myself). The charter bus ride was brutal- it took ten hours to get to Sydney and as you can imagine, trying to sleep on a charter bus is no simple feat. We entered Sydney in a torrential downpour- which was indicative of the weather we would endure the entire weekend, unfortunately. It rained every single day and we rarely saw sunshine- but we still managed to have an absolute blast and get as much as we could out of the experience! I’ll break the weekend into subtitles so I can hit all of the important parts of the trip…

Walking Tour & Harbor Cruise Around Sydney
As soon as we got there we had a small breakfast and then set out into the city to explore. I made my most important purchase early on- a $6 umbrella from 7/11 that became my best friend in the misty weather. The first stop on our walk was the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park. The Anzac memorial is a memorial to Australia’s soldiers in World War I, but every year on April 25th Australians celebrate Anzac Day as a tribute to their veterans (similiar to our Memorial Day). Anzac comes from an acronym for Australia and New Zealand’s Army Corps. We learned that Australia is the only country to have taken part in all major world wars, a factor that I feel is vastly underappreaciated. It’s hard to imagine the people from Australia’s sunny beaches being anything more than peaceful and content, but I now know that Australia is extremely proud of their military culture. I would love to do more research on this in the future!

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Inside view of the Anzac Memorial

We also toured St. Mary’s Cathedral, which was absolutely magnificent. This is the oldest cathedral in Sydney and the walls told pictures of Jesus’ crucifixition and ressurection. My favorite part of the walking tour was the Royal Botanical Garden. It houses Australia’s most beautiful plants and flowers, many with colors I could never capture on a camera. Because of the rain, we got a little “bonus” and were able to go in the Art Gallery of New South Wales for a few minutes. It reminded me of visiting the art gallery in Chicago with my mom when I was little and I knew she would’ve appreciated it. My favorite part was the Aboriginal artwork, including an exhibit of funeral poles that looked like Native American totem poles.

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One of the gorgeous flowers in the Botanical Garden


From there we went on to see the Sydney Opera House. It was surreal to be able to see this building because it is so widely talked about in the United States. I must say- in the spirit of honesty- it was smaller than I expected. I was picturing massive shell-shapes but in reality they were about the height of a medium-sized building. The area was a little flawed by construction, but I knew that the grandeur of the architecture would be more impressive from a harbor view (it was, as I found out later). Finally, we ended the tour by going halfway up the Sydney Harbor Bridge. The view was insane- it gave a beautiful perspective from the city and was a prime spot for our touristy picture-taking. The whole city is like a much warmer London, which might explain why I loved it so much, and is also incredibly impressive given that Australia really has only had about 200 years to develop its culture (outside of the original Aboriginal culture of course).

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Sydney Opera House from the Sydney Harbor Bridge

After that we returned to our hostel and took naps- we were wiped out after the bus ride and walking tour. That night we went on a cruise around Sydney Harbor- a tour rightfully dubbed the Booze Cruise. The cruise bar was free all night, which we all thoroughly enjoyed. I love being on boats of any kind- just being able to look over the railing and see water all around makes me feel so free. We got a great view of the city at night and the Sydney Opera House looked much better from a frontal view, especially lit up in the dark. It was such a great night being able to meet and socialize with the other group members (there were 100 of us!) and I was dead tired by the time we got back to the hostel.

The Three Sisters/Mardi Gras
On Saturday the rain really began to take its toll. We woke up early in the morning to take a bus to the Blue Mountains to see ‘Australia’s Grand Canyon.’ I was really looking forward to this event because I love the Grand Canyon in the United States (I’ve hiked it twice already and am hoping to go back next year). When we got off the bus, however, all we saw was a blank sheet of white in front of us. Looking off from the lookout points it seemed like you were on the edge of the universe, with nothing on the other side. You could barely see a person ten feet in front of you, much less miles of rocks and canyons. You can’t bargain with the weather but I was truly disappointed. Therefore I’m using this as motivation to come back someday (hopefully at a time when the sun decides to come out)! We managed to make our way down a flight of insanely steep stairs to a tiny bridge adjacent to one of The Three Sisters. The Three Sisters are three giant pillars of rock and our guide told us the Aborigine myth behind them. According to legend, three beautiful sisters, identical triplets, all lived together in an Aborigine tribe. One day a prominent and wealthy man from another tribe came in search of the most beautiful wife he could find to take back with him. He chose one of the sisters, but the trio didn’t want to be separated so they began tricking him and substituting themselves for each other whenever he wasn’t looking. They planned to all three go back to the neighboring tribe with the man. Unfortunately, their scheme was found out and the man was so angry at being deceived that he turned all three sisters into stones. I wasn’t sure what the moral of this was supposed to be, but I’ll pretend it was something about how men are mean and that’s why you should always stick with your girlfriends. :) Anyway, so that was the story behind the three sisters. I only wish I could’ve actually seen them through the fog!

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The only decent view of Sister #1

When we got back from our rainy excursion we had a few hours to get ready for the main event: Mardi Gras. I have never been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans (although it’s definitely on my bucket list), but apparently Mardi Gras in Sydney is much different. Our tour guide told us that Sydney has a huge gay community and is one of the most accepting places for homosexuality in the world. I thought this was very revealing about the laid-back culture I love in Australia so I was excited to take part. The Mardi Gras parade is essentially a festival to celebrate and support the gay and lesbian community. Although homosexuality is and always has been a huge controversy in the United States and I have yet to identify my own feelings on the matter with complete certainty, I am a true believer in exposing yourself to other perspectives and lifestyles. I think you don’t necessarily have to agree with something in order to like or love people who feel differently. I wouldn’t want anyone to judge me on my beliefs so I choose not judge others based on theirs. Anyway, our tour guide told us that the dress code is basically anything-goes at the parade so my friends and I went to a nearby market to pick up cheap boas and fake eyelashes and whatnot. I love dressing up so I was super excited about the opportunity. The parade itself was wild! We had our own club on the main street the parade ran through, so we could grab drinks at the bar and dance in the club or go down to the street to see the festivities. Everyone- gay, straight, young, old, female, male, and in-between- stood on milk crates to be able to see the colorful floats celebrating sexuality and the LGBT community going by. After the parade ended, the streets were filled with people celebrating and walking around in wild costumes and coming in and out of clubs and bars. I had a great time dancing in our club and I absolutely loved the dj. It was such a fun and unique night!

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Picture taken by my friend Taylor Larkowski of the parade going by

Ferry Ride/Manly & Bondi Beach
The next morning we set out early again and took a ferry from Sydney Harbor to Manly Beach. Once again, it rained but I still wore my bathing suit and even got in the water for a little bit. There were surfers everywhere enjoying the choppy waves the weather brought- they are truly fearless. I spent the majority of the time in a bar near the beach in conversation with one of our tour guides, Lawrence. This kid literally has the coolest lifestyle ever and I loved his stories. He builds yurts for a living (had to Google that one but it turns out they’re like little tiny houses), surfs, thinks that all Westernized government is corrupt, hates pedophiles with a passion (then again, who doesn’t), and looks like Jesus. After leading the tour he was heading off to Thailand for two weeks for ‘holiday.’ I have to admit, I’m insanely jealous of his lifestyle- he seems genuinely content and like he has all kinds of adventures. I would love to live like that- to do something I love, feel strongly about things and want to change them, and to be able to travel wherever I want. I hope I can have a future like that- actually, I know I can if I choose to. Anyway, from there we took the ferry back across the Harbor and took the bus to Bondi Beach. It was STILL raining when we got to this famous beach but the views were absolutely magnificent. We took a little walk around the edges of the beaches and got to play on the cliffs for awhile. The cliffs, the ocean, the crabs hiding beneath the rocks- it was all just so perfect. I couldn’t imagine being able to look out your window and see that every day. It was the perfect finale to an incredible weekend.

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After that we said goodbye to our tour guides and got back on the bus for another long trip home. I was really sad to be leaving Sydney but I am really hoping to go back there someday. I read a statistic on the back of a bathroom stall in the hostel that said 94% of travelers will only visit Australia once. I definitely hope to be part of the 6% who break that trend. Time is catching up to me- I realized on returning back to Bond that I only have 38 days left until the date of my final exam… and then it’s time to go home. I feel like there is so much left to do and see so I’m going to squeeze as much as I can into these next few weeks. My friend Mitch is coming to visit this weekend so I can’t wait to show him around the Gold Coast- I know he’ll love it. I’ll be sure to share all about our weekend!

More Than My Resume: A Message For Young Job-Seekers in 2014

Recently, it has come to my attention that I, an ambitious junior studying at an expensive private liberal arts school, am drastically under-qualified for life. I made this shocking discovery upon spending several weeks searching for a summer internship. I began optimistically, thinking that no prospective company could deny my impressive educational background and hefty resume of campus activities. Surely my future employers would be able to recognize my eagerness to learn and enthusiastic attitude through a few cover letters and phone calls! After pouring over online applications, however, my initial optimism quickly plummeted. It seems that internships in this day and age require an individual with pages of relevant work experience in a highly specific field, the ability to create elaborate websites from scratch, the know-how to compute and analyze complex financial data and statistics, an extensive knowledge of every type of digital media known to mankind, the entrepreneurial spirit of Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates combined, positive references from everyone from your childhood babysitter to the president of your university, and the will to sacrifice a comfortable summer job for little-to-no payment and the slim possibility of actually ending up with a job with said company in the future. Oh, and an uncle in a prominent position wouldn’t hurt either.

To say I felt inadequate would be an understatement. At the tender age of 21 I had already failed miserably. There was no way I could compare to my peers who undoubtedly had all of these qualifications and more. Furthermore, where was I when everyone was acquiring these coveted attributes? Why hadn’t I begun my quest for success at a much younger age so I wouldn’t be so incompetent now? Why had I wasted precious years riding my bike and playing with my friends when I could have been volunteering, networking, starting my own company? Why had I thought that a few years of college courses and a dream to become someone would be enough?

What began as an exciting opportunity to earn experience and knowledge in the field that I loved spiraled into harsh feelings of frustration. Life had slapped me with a reality check and was laughing in my face with every application I filled. How could I have bypassed so many hidden opportunities to improve my puny resume in the past? Who would give someone as naive as I had been a chance when so many other applicants could make up for the qualities I lacked? I would never qualify for an internship, much less an actual job.

It took days of beating myself up inside and half-heartedly listening to my parents’ encouragement over the phone before I finally realized something: a resume is just a piece of paper. A piece of paper that could never encompass everything I have learned or the accomplishments I have made in the past 21 years- much less predict the remarkable things I will do in the years ahead. A 12-point Times New Roman font description is not enough to even penetrate the life skills, relationships, and series of events that will prepare me for the future. After all, how can you include on such a short list the tears, love, realizations, dreams, and hard-learned lessons that define who you are today? How can my resume explain that I didn’t learn the value of leadership in a human relations course, but rather when my high-school soccer coach took a hard-edged and insecure young girl and made her team captain as a junior- a first in the program’s history? How can my resume show that my lowly position as a server at Cracker Barrel taught me everything from how to gracefully soothe the complaints of stubborn old women to the value of cooperation and understanding with your coworkers for the benefit of the entire company? It certainly cannot explain how I have fostered an understanding of the hard work and commitment required to succeed by watching my grandaddy, the most strong and just man I have ever met, serving an entire county for years as the judge executive. Nor can a resume sum up the hunger for learning that drives me every day or the undying dream I have of becoming someone that the world can be proud of.

It’s understandable that every company or business wants to hire the best possible employee. It’s inevitable that many of us just starting out in the “real world” may fall short of a potential employer’s expectations and be forced to place our hopes elsewhere. I’m not advocating that we begin slacking off and relying solely on our dreams and belief in ourselves to earn a coveted internship or job. The ability to market oneself and impress at an interview is invaluable. After all, the world is full of dreamers but has been built upon the work of doers. What we must remember, however, is that our worth as a prospective member of the working community is not determined by the rejection letters we receive or a recruitment director’s decision to “go forward with other applications.” The successes we’ll have and the contributions we’ll make to society cannot be dictated by the number of organizations on our resume or the menial jobs we held as sixteen-year-olds. Rather, the determinants of our potential value can be found in-between the lines of our carefully-worded resumes and cover letters. They are found in the persistence with which we strive to acquire an internship or job, despite numerous rejections and disappointments. They are found in the difficult situations throughout our lifetimes which we have overcome and moved past. They are found in the people who’ve inspired us to do better, as well as those who firmly stated we couldn’t. They are not found in the words we have typed, but rather in the actions we engage in every day.
I began my search for an internship with a sunny optimism that eventually gave way to despair. However, I must say that now my unshakeable hopefulness has returned. After all, I have realized that no matter what my competitors have accomplished or which coveted skills I have yet to develop, my resume will never be able to accurately reflect everything that I have learned from life. No, I did not publish my first novel at age fifteen. No, I have never been on a founding committee and built a company with my own bare hands. No, I have not visited the White House, or presented to thousands, or created a program to benefit AIDS victims. But yes, I will do great things. I will lead and I will learn and I will develop. I will create and I will teach and I will improve. But first, I might fail and I might disappoint and I might fall short. To my fellow job-seekers, I encourage you to keep pressing forward in your quest. Be competitive, seek guidance, and put yourself out there in today’s job market! But never forget, no matter what obstacles may be placed in front of you, that you are worth more than a sheet of paper and that your achievements are far greater than any you could begin to list. Your life has barely begun and your journey will be full of moments you can incorporate into your resumes and cover letters, and many, many more that you could never describe. So to you I say do not dwell on rejection, nurture your hopes and dreams, and remember that you are more than your resume! Keep learning and striving to improve yourself in every area, whether it can be included in a cover letter or not. After all, isn’t the best part of growing up the actual growing itself?

Finally A New Post

So… I have discovered that keeping up with a blog is a little more difficult than I thought. Maybe difficult wouldn’t be the right word, maybe ‘lazy’ might be a better adjective for my current blog situation. Truthfully, I only find it easy to write about things when I am under pressure or completely inspired. I’ve had the same journal for about two years now because I only feel the need to write every so often and I typically wait until a week before a major paper is due to begin putting anything down on paper. That might not be the best strategy, although it’s been sufficient, however I have decided I will try to write once a week the rest of the time I am here. My friend Mitch has a brilliant blog (go check it out at mitchvsmelbourne.blogspot.com) and he is much better at this than I am, so I’ll adopt his strategy of dividing an entry into subtitles. Here are a few of my favorite moments from my trip so far:

Currumbin Sanctuary

If you ever find yourself on the Gold Coast of Australia, one of the best things you can do for yourself is catch a bus to this animal sanctuary. Not only does it have every animal you picture when you think of the Outback, you also get to interact with them! We paid $20 to hold a koala named Baby and get our picture taken, but the price was worth every penny. Baby literally felt like holding a big, furry baby, although his claws were much longer than I expected. My friends joked about pulling one off a nearby tree, which the keeper overheard and then told us we could “if we wanted to get our face ripped off.” So, if you’re like me and thought koalas were cute and cuddly, it turns out that looks can be decieving. We took a little zoo-train (the kind you love taking when you’re little and which doesnt really lose it’s affect in your twenties either) across the sanctuary to a big open enclosure where humanized kangaroos were allowed to roam free and humans could pet, take pictures with, and even cuddle with them! These kangaroos were completely indifferent to us, but we loved every minute of it. One smaller kangaroo even turned out to be a mom with a little joey in her pouch. You could catch him squirming around every so often and once he even poked his head out to catch a glimpse of his paparazzi! The experience was truly amazing and I will never forget it.

Australian Football League

A few days ago one of our Australian friends, Zoli, invited us to attend a preseason AFL match with him to watch the Gold Coast Suns match a team from Melbourne. We were eager to go and see what Australian sports were really about, since we can never tell what’s going on on tv. After watching the game, I can honestly say I wish we had this sport in the U.S. The stadium was very well-kept and no matter where you sat you had a great view of the huge, circular field. Zoli kept us well-informed about the game, although he was probably incredibly annoyed by our constant stream of questions, and by the end we felt like we were really part of the enthusiastic fan base. Basically, the ball, which is a kind-of hybrid between a football and a soccerball, is volleyed or punted from team member to team member. At each end of the field are four posts and the goal is to kick or punch the ball between the two middle points for six points or between the outer posts for 1 point. The trick, however, is that although you can’t touch a player in complete control of the ball, when the ball is loose it is a free-for-all for everyone. The players scramble around tackling, kicking, and fighting each other for the ball and no one wears any helmets or pads! It sounds really dangerous but these players were actually really toned and lean and made the game look easy. The Suns played horribly in the first half, according to Zoli, but had a major comeback and ended up winning the game by 1 point! I really loved it and I was so glad I got a glimpse into the unique world of the Australian Football League.

Surfing

One of my main goals in Australia was to try my hand at surfing. I have an athletic build and a good sense of balance so I wanted to see if I was actually cut out for the sport, because I have heard it is pretty difficult. We spent a Saturday on the beach in an area called Burleigh Heads and my friend Kenny spent almost an hour leading me through my first surfing lesson. At first I couldn’t stay on the board and I looked like a flopping fish sliding around on my belly. I couldn’t find my center and kept rocking the board back and forth, with no hope of keeping it steady, much less standing up. Then, (this is going to sound really corny but I swear it worked) I thought about how I’ve heard surfers who feel like they’re one with the ocean… so I just breathed deeply and allowed the waves to lead me- and it worked! I managed to get up on one knee more than once and ride at least a couple waves. Kenny said I did a great job for my first time, especially because we were practicing on a short board which is apparently a lot more difficult to stand up on than a long board. After only an hour I can truly understand people who surf for a living because it is such a rush when you feel yourself sailing along the top of a wave. I am really hoping I get a chance to practice again because I would love to get to a standing position!

Life at School

Although I came into the semester believing that classes would be a breeze, the other students and I have actually found that our courses are increasingly challenging! We have very few assignments for our classes, but the ones we do have are typically worth a significant amount of points so it is important to get them right. So far I’ve had to give a presentation on Fear Conditioned Stimuli and Aversive Conditioning for my Learning and Behaviour class, a presentation for my Love, Sex, & Relations class, and a midterm worth almost half our grade for the latter. On Thursday I have another presentation and today in Learning and Behaviour we are starting a major case study project. I only have classes three days a week but my work requires a signficant amount of time. Although it was kind of a shock for us, as we were intending on laying out on the beach each and every day, it has ultimately reminded me why we are here- to gain an education in a new environment and really expand ourselves as scholars and individuals. I think that is worth some time and dedication.

Coming Up

I am really excited about the next few weeks. This weekend I am going to Sydney with two of my girl friends and we have a full itenerary ahead of us so I can’t wait to report (and I promise I actually will). The weekend after that, my best friend Mitch (the one with the blog) is supposed to be flying in from Melbourne so I’ve been spending some time planning all the places I want to show him and touristy things I want to do. I am so excited to share Bond with someone else who means a lot to me, as I am constantly wishing that my family and friends back home could see how beautiful life here is. I feel like time is going so fast so I’m determined to make the most of it. We only have 51 days left (!!!) so I will be sure to write as often as I can and to enjoy every minute of this unbelievable experience!

Where I’m Meant To Be

I think what I value most (so far) about this trip is the freedom that staying in a different country for a decent amount of time brings. Four months is the perfect allocation of time- not too long that you feel as if you’ll never see home again, but just long enough to not feel panicked or rushed to see or do things. Furthermore, it allows you time to try or do things you wouldn’t normally at home for whatever reason. This is the most liberating feeling for me because there are many different parts of my personality that I’ve been wanting to explore but needed space and time to do so. And what better place to find that space and time than a far-stretching country nearly completely cut off from the rest of the world? Needless to say, I’ve been enjoying every care-free moment of it and devoting nearly all my time to myself. This may seem selfish to some, but I think it is a necessary event in my development as a young woman. Last semester I really found myself in a rut: my long-term boyfriend and I had just broken up, I felt like some of my best friends had abandoned or forgotten me, and my family had just moved hundreds of miles from my hometown, creating both financial and personal hardships. Most of the time I felt completely alone and found myself retreating further and further inside myself. I knew I needed a change, which is ultimately why I decided to take this trip- not so much to escape my problems, but rather to take a step back, evaluate my life, and redirect in a more positive way. And so far, I feel like I’ve been able to do just that. Although I’m surrounded by new sights and places, I find that I’m reverting back to things that I used to love. I’ve always loved to read but during the stress of being a college student I feel like I only ever read what’s required for class (and sometimes not even that). Now I’m taking the time to read books that I actually want to read, but I’m also trying to challenge myself by choosing books about different countries or cultures. I’m really excited about Bond’s library and I just checked out my first book today. I’ve also been going on long runs outside, which is so much better than running on a treadmill or even running around High Point’s campus and wondering who’s going to see you all sweaty and disheveled. I’ve also been wanting to expand my work-out and have been especially curious about the lap pool on campus, so today I decided to take a look. I used to be a competitive swimmer and have always loved being in the water, but somehow I’ve never really gotten back into it, usually because of “time”. (Time really can be such a blessing or a curse, can’t it?) I didn’t have goggles or a cap or even a one-piece bathing suit, but they sold equipment at the front desk and I wore a sports bra and bikini bottoms and got at least a few laps in. I can’t describe how great it was to be back in the pool, even at the slow pace I was going. I probably looked ridiculous with my sports bra billowing out, but I was so giddy I didn’t even care. I truly felt free, like I was doing something I loved and didn’t care who saw. 

One of the many views of the Gold Coast on my run

Anyway, maybe this isn’t what most people my age expect from a study-abroad trip. I know most of my peers are more interested in the local clubs and parties. Personally though, I am achieving what I set out to do- to rediscover old parts of me that have somehow been lost over the years and to reveal new, better pieces of me that could never thrive by staying in one place. I know that this trip is temporary but for now I believe it’s exactly where I’m meant to be.  

Another precious gem on my path

Fresh Beginnings

One of my many New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 was to begin a blog, particularly to keep record of my semester at Bond University. I have always kept a journal- I think writing is the best form of reflection- but that is for God’s eyes and His alone. So, the goal is to type up at least a few posts about my travels and hopefully stimulate some deep thoughts and/or wow people with my travels (not that I expect that to happen, but part of traveling is dreaming right?) 

Anyway, at this particular moment in time, life has led me here: 

Yes, here… the beautiful Gold Coast of Australia. The whole being-here thing is still very new to me, kind of like how you wait all year for Christmas and then it’s suddenly Christmas Eve and you’re stuck feeling very confused and almost missing the waiting part. Only this time, the being-here is just as wonderful, if not better, than the waiting-to-be-here! And I have to say, Australia is everything I imagined it to be… sunny and open and laid-back and free. And the feeling that accompanies it- the feeling of being independent and knowing you’re really doing something worthwhile with your life- is just as amazing. I feel like I’ve already learned so much, not just about the country, but about myself. Each day I have new revelations, some that stick with me and others that pop into my mind and leave just as quickly. Here are a few:

1. It’s important to be your own best friend. 

The older I get, the more I value my alone time. I love to be social and have friends and all that, but to be able to do things alone and genuinely enjoy yourself is something that not many people are capable of. In the week that I’ve been here, I’ve gone on a run through the suburbs of Gold Coast, taken unfamiliar buses to and from the beach, had a beer at a little place called Kitty O’Shea’s a few steps from the ocean, and people-watched throughout the streets of Surfer’s Paradise. And I must say, I absolutely loved every minute of it.

Surfer’s Paradise

2. You can make the best adventures out of life’s most mundane moments.

A few days ago, my friend Kenny and I set out for a little walk off campus so I could show him some pretty spots I’d noticed on my run. Six hours later, we had walked all over the Gold Coast and somehow made it to the Pacific Ocean. My feet were torn to pieces by my new sandals, but it was so worth it to end the journey with a $12 “jug” (pitcher) of beer and the best cheesy bread I’ve ever tasted at a restaurant in Broad Beach. Just this morning, I was eating breakfast alone at The Brasserie (the cafeteria on campus) before heading to the beach, when my friend Ryan walked up and asked to borrow my phone to use the Lost iPhone App. Apparently he had lost his at a club in Surfer’s last night, so I offered to help him find it. We took a bus to Surfer’s, then followed the app across a bridge and into a little neighborhood where we knocked on people’s doors in the area the little dot was indicating. Obviously, we didn’t find the phone and had no idea how it could’ve ended up in a little neighborhood off the Gold Coast, but we met a friendly middle-aged man who took us on a tour of his house, and received free entertainment from some little kids with plastic guns who insisted that they were “shooting” us but seemed to have no idea why. So far, these little moments have been my favorite of the trip and I can’t wait for the mini-adventures that lie ahead.

A gorgeous flower blooming on the side of the road

3. Waking up at 6 am is underrated.

Since I’ve arrived at Bond, my internal clock has been somewhat backward, but what a blessing it has been! Back at home I usually never fall asleep before 1 am, but here I’m so worn out I’m usually in bed by 9. Therefore, I’ve been naturally waking up between 5 am and 8 am every day. Here the sun is high in the sky by 7 am and I like to leave my curtains pulled back so it’s the first thing I see. The Bra has great breakfasts (toast, eggs, hash browns, sausages, etc.) so I eat a huge meal and then start my day. This way I feel like I’m not wasting any part of my day, which is usually a struggle for me because I love to sleep, like most twenty-somethings.  

Bond at 8 am

Anyway, today has been a long day. Besides the hunt for the missing phone, I played at the beach with Kenny, spent an hour trying to catch the right bus back to Bond, and attended a special dinner to mark the end of Orientation Week. There was a man there who brought two snakes, a lizard named Lucy, and a baby crocodile for us all to pet and we also tried kangaroo (which has a sausage-y taste) and crocodile (which tastes like white rice with a fishy flavor). So now I need some sleep!

Jaqueline the snake