Oz: Week Nine of Classes

Week seven of classes may have been the most uneventful, but week nine of classes was the laziest. Well, the week was not lazy; I was.

I got home from the best trip with Pop Pop late Sunday night and I was so upset that it was over. The fact that I had to go to class the next day made it worse. The sad thing is that I only had one class on Monday, and I could barely pull myself out of bed to go. I could barely even get myself to hang out with my buddy that night. I did not have classes at all on Tuesday because it was Anzac Day, which is a day of remembrance for all who participated in the first major military action fought by Australia and New Zealand in World War I. For such a relaxed week, I was riding the struIMG_8140.jpgggle bus for sure.

My week took a turn for the better Thursday and my spirits started lifting up. After finishing classes, I told Sierra I would go into Perth with her so she can pick up and item she needed. Before heading out, my friend sent me the cutest picture of a seal, which definitely made my day. Then, I noticed I had letters from my sorority sisters on my desk! I was so ecstatic, I definitely screamed multiple times. I felt the love all the way from America and I could not be more thankful for my friends.

It gets better. I thought maybe I would do some light shopping in Perth, even though I keep telling myself to stop buying things. Well, I found some incredible sales and scored four dresses for $60 AUD, which is even less in USD! I was so excited about my purc
hases. I am pretty sure that after this trip I will have enough dresses to last me through my twenties.

ghjggkuiOnce we were done shopping, Nicole and Brian met us in the city to have some Hungry Jack’s. I was excited to try one of Australia’s most popular fast food chains. People told me it is the same thing as Burger King, but I thought they just meant they are similar. However, I learned that Hungry Jack’s is Burger King, but with a different name. Oh well!

Sierra and I finished the night by watching one of my favorite movies, Jersey Boys. I am so glad she enjoyed it as well!

The week ended so much better than it started. It went by much further than I anticipated as well. Of course, no day is that bad, because I am in Australia!

 

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Oz: Halfway There

I leave Australia and return to “normal” life in exactly two months from now. How?! I have been here for just over two months and I really do not know where the time went.

I often think about what life will be like when I go home. I wonder where I will end up working this summer. I worry about my school schedule for next semester. I freak out because I only have one year of undergraduate university left. I remind myself I need to make this summer count. I feel like everything in Australia will become just a distant memory. Will I talk to any of the people I met here again? Will I ever see my Australian “little brother again?” The questions and concerns go on and on.

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And then I think about all the incredible experiences I’ve had while here. I have met so many fascinating people. I have gone to the outback and gotten stuck in a cyclone. I’ve spent my day at the beach countless times. I’ve watched the sun set behind the Perth skyline. The list goes on and on.

I noted that I never got the “Wow, I’m in Australia” feeling. But every day I wake up and say to myself, “Wow, I’m in Australia,” and I feel like the luckiest person ever. I saw myself switch from a nervous student who had no idea what was going on to someone who could be a tour guide of Perth. I have really thought about life, and although I still have no idea where I will end up, I am more confident than ever in my journey to find out. It really is difficult to put into words how thankful I am for this adventure.

Australia has been an experience of a lifetime. I am so thankful for all the memories I have gained and friends I have made. I also am thankful for the fact that I feel just as close with my friends at home, despite the distance of space and time. I am not excited to go home, but I am excited to be able to carry all these amazing experiences with me going forward.

I still have two months left, and although May is going to be a month full of tests, papers and projects, I am determined to make the most out of any free time I have. Here’s to the second half of my journey!

Oz: Something Special

I switched from having the best week of classes to having the most uneventful week of classes. The only thing I did all week that was not related to conquering my homework or to-do list was watch a British television show with some mates that were accompanied by some delicious onion rings and a game of Uno. However, this is a special week and it will be followed by an even more special week. As I am typing this, my best friend and my world travelling buddy, my Pop Pop, is on his way to Australia!

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It just seems like months ago I was planning this abroad semester and had the hope that Pop Pop would be able to come visit. Well, it was not easy to get him here, and after thinking he would not be able to visit at all, we broke through the ice and planned a trip to Sydney and New Zealand. And by “we,” I mean he planned it and I simply put in my feedback. Pop Pop is a professional trip planner, and I am glad I got to see him work his magic one more time.

If we had endless time and money, Pop Pop knows I would be flying all over the world with him until we saw every last place on Earth.

I am beyond thankful that I have another opportunity to travel with this incredible man. From Paris in sixth grade and Italy and Spain in high school, to our European adventure last year, I have seen so much of the world all thanks to Pop Pop. He is so special to me and so selfless. It brings tears to my eyes that I get another chance to explore a new place with him.

This is probably going to be our last international trip together, as heartbreaking as that is for me. If we had endless time and money, Pop Pop knows I would be flying all over the world with him until we saw every last place on Earth.

I so look forward to seeing him Friday and making our trip just as marvelous as our last. I truly hope Pop Pop realizes how special he is to me and how thankful I am I get to do this with him. I also would not be able to do it without my grandma for letting him go, because she thinks we are crazy for all these travels (Thank you Grandma).

The next time I write, I will be on the East coast!  Here’s to my next adventure!

Oz: Rottnest Island Day 2

I woke up to quokkas and peacocks outside my door on Sunday. What a way to start my morning!

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For those who do not know what a quokka is (I did not until I got to Oz), a quokka, in my own definition, is a mixture between a rabbit (because it hops and of its size) and a rat (its body and tail). The island literally got its name from these cute critters with its name meaning “rat’s nest.” Rottnest has successfully marketed quokkas, which only inhabit a few islands off of Perth, as selfie attractions. It took some time, but I got some selfies along with a few kisses.

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Nicole, Sierra, Barry and I biked almost the whole island again Sunday, but it was definitely a more relaxing ride. We stopped at a series of bays, including Parakeet, Little Armstrong, City of York and Stark. We ended the day sitting on a bench in the shade, watching people wipe out on the blow-up course in the water.

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We cut through the middle of the island on the way back to base. To my surprise, we came across a pink lake! I am so happy I finally got to see one up close. In person, it is really just loads and loads of salt that turns into an icy pink color, that eventually mixes with the water. It was an exciting sight to see!

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Rottnest definitely treated me well, and I could not believe that the picturesque piece of land was so close to where I live. With its crystal clear waters and cliffs that lend a phenomenal view, this is a special place that the people of Western Australia are lucky to have.

The perfect weekend turned into the best week of classes yet and was followed by yet another perfect weekend. I could not be more thankful.

Oz: Rottnest Island Day 1

Rottnest Island, or what I like to call a little slice of paradise, is located about 20 kilometers off of Perth and is a huge attraction to the inhabitants of the region. I was lucky enough to spend my weekend at the beautiful playground.

I hopped off the ferry around 10 a.m. on Saturday and was given a bike and helmet. From there, I was left to find my way around the island with Nicole, Barry and Sierra. We really had no idea where we were going, where our accommodation was or what to expect. Barry and I grabbed a map, talked to an information lady and we were on our way.

We were encouraged to visit the West End, which is a piece of land jutting out on the western side of the island and boasts magnificent views of the sea. It was a long trek, and unfortunately Barry and I lost Sierra and Nicole along the way. However, once we finally reached our destination, we were able to relax by eating lunch and taking in the beautiful scenery.

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My view for lunch

Barry and I spent the rest of the day checking our different spots along the coast, such as Strickland Bay, which offers phenomenal surfing and the Wadejemup Lighthouse. The lighthouse is perched on the tallest point of the island, and views of Fremantle and Perth can be seen from it.

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Wadjemup Lighthouse

We returned to Thompson Bay to check into our accommodation, which is done at the information center, and grab some food. I was excited to munch on my very first meat pie, which is a popular food in Australia. I was definitely not disappointed. We then biked a bit to explore one of the nearby beaches and watch the sun give way to night.

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Barry and I finally found our accommodation, which was the Kingstown Barracks, a converted military base. We finished the night by mingling with Nicole, Sierra and a few others at the Rottnest Hotel, which is a hotel and bar with live music and good eats.

It was a great first day, having biked over 25 kilometers and checking out the whole island. I looked forward to the next day, however, which would be a more leisurely.

 

 

 

Week Six of Classes

Week six of classes turned out to be enjoyable, especially since I was powered by my strong surge of happiness I received from the previous weekend.

IMG_1116Tuesday was special because the weather warmed up and it turned out to be a fantastic beach day. Plus, Ben & Jerry’s was hosting its annual free cone day, so after the beach, we went to the B&J’s store in Fremantle to claim our prize. We also took advantage of the fact that we were allowed to hop back in line and we scored a second cone. It turned out to be the perfect day.

The rest of the week was filled with classes and assignments. However, Thursday and Friday nights were packed with celebration. Thursday I went to a different section of Perth to a bar called Mustangs to celebrate Jordan’s flat-mate’s birthday.IMG_1123.jpg I met up with Mitch Friday at his friend’s boat before heading out to the city again to celebrate our coordinator Brodie’s birthday.

The week could not have gone better. The perfect weekend lead into my most enjoyable school week yet which lead into what would become another perfect weekend.

Oz: The Weekend of Bliss Continued

My weekend of wholesome bliss did not end Saturday night. Something I try to live by is to not let a beach day go to waste. So, of course I went to Leighton to soak in the beautiful sun and warm weather. Despite dropping temperatures, I hopped in the beautiful, clear water and fully enjoyed it.

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After the beach, I worked on some essays and then met my friend Mitch, who drove me to Hillary’s Harbour for some yummy fro-yo. The only other time I had been to Hillary’s was a short visit after a village trip to Floreat Beach. To my surprise, there were some amusement rides set up and plenty of people enjoying the marina.

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From two nights of Embargo and wine-touring around the Swan Valley, to the beach and Hillary’s Harbour, this was a weekend for the books. Thankful and overjoyed is the least I could say, but at this point, it’s all I can do.

 

Oz: The Weekend of Bliss

I without a doubt just experienced the best weekend ever. Let me show you where it began.

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Yes, right here, with these beautiful chocolate chip pancakes. I am absolutely obsessed with the pancakes the village make for us every Friday, and my chocolate-loving self can’t turn them down. I may have had too many…again…but life is too short to not have as many pancakes as I want.

Fast forward a few hours and it was time to go out. Embargo is a pop-up bar at Elizabeth Quay, and it was its last weekend until next summer, so all my friends decided to go out. The night can be summarized as this: I started the evening on a 40-foot sailboat, enjoyed some time with my friends at Embargo and then ended the night on a 44-foot boat on which I danced for hours with some really kind people followed by a cruise back to South Perth Yacht Club. I could not believe Friday night treated me so well, and I could not help feel anything but thankful for experiencing it.

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Sierra, myself, Nicole

The next morning, I embarked on a wine tour to the Swan Valley that was organized by the Murdoch University Village. The Swan Valley is Australia’s oldest growing region and is itsq first Humane Food Region, which means it is committed to animal welfare and producing quality foods. It boasts wineries, farms, cafes and restaurants that serve anything from specialty wines, oils and cheese to chocolate, nougat, nuts, preserves and beyond.

To start the day, we hopped in our rented bus, which we turned into a dance party with our pre-made playlist. We stopped at a wine and chocolate producing venues, where I enjoyed home-made ice cream, chocolate sauces and jams.

After this short taste of what our day would be like, we drove to our next destination: Sandalford Wines. Here we tasted an array of red and white wines, some sweet and some dry. I did not even bother to try the dry wines, because I know I prefer sweet. I actually quite liked Sandalford Founders Reserve Liqueur Tawny, which is an extremely sweet dessert wine. It recently underwent a name change so it would be within fortified wine regulations, but it is basically port, which is a strong, sweet wine originally from Portugal. I also enjoyed a few crackers with cheese before heading to the next stop.

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Wine and girlfriends

After the enjoyable wine tasting, we were taken to Mondo Nougat for some nougat samples. I actually didn’t love the nougat, but I I did get to taste some great flavored nuts.

Following the nougat stop was Kimberley Rum Company for a taste of their Canefire concoctions. Canefire is brewed longer than any other spirit, as the company claims, and uses sugar cane right from the Kimberley region of Western Australia. I sipped on what is called the Boody Frog, which contains butterscotch and melon liqueurs and a few other ingredients. I also got a taste of Nicole’s booze-infused slushy, which I thought was fascinating. I also enjoyed watching people around me get happier as the day went on…

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The fifth spot was a lunch break at Whiteman Park. I enjoyed a sandwich and laid out on a blanket with some people I met on the Northwest Trip. Unfortunately, we only had one more stop after this, and I was sad the day was ending.

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The final venue to the tour was Elmar’s, a really small, but cute outside venue that had live music and an assortment of food, beer and cider. We got a ticket for a free beer or cider, and I picked the pear cider because that was supposed to be the sweetest. However, I only had a few sips before I let someone else actually enjoy it.

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Cheers

The venue had such a fantastic vibe. Some people were dancing, some people were sitting at picnic tables and some were lounging on the grass. I enjoyed laying on the grass, taking in the sun and enjoying the music before I got up and danced with a really fun person I met from our group and random people he found. It was the perfect place to end the day.

After such a fantastic day, I was feeling so happy and thankful that I am living this life (well, more than usual). I did not want my day to end. So, my roommate and I took a nap after the tour, rounded up some friends and headed out to the city. We actually ended up at Embargo again and then moved to The Aviary, which is a cute rooftop bar.

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Embargo

Needless to say, it was a wild 24 hours. I constantly say how thankful I am for everything I get to do, but I cannot say it enough. I felt nothing but pure happiness between Friday and Saturday. I met new people, created new memories that I will surely never forget and enjoyed time with my friends, and that is all I could possibly want.