Home at Last

Long time, no blog! I cannot say I am pleased with myself for not posting in so long, but you know, life happens. And by life happening, I mean I have been home from Australia for just over a month. I considered the options for first blog post after I got back from my Australian adventures—tips on transitioning back home, dealing with post-trip depression, what I learned while I away—the list goes on and on. I didn’t want to do anything too fancy or pretentious, so here are my responses to questions I’ve repeatedly received.

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My last picture from Australia

“So you’re actually going to be in America, Miss World Traveler?”

I cannot tell you how many times I heard this phrase or something similar. Yes, I was just traveling the world, but I did not forget where my home is! To be honest, exploring the world is still so important to me, but coming home to sweet New Jersey in summertime was the best timing possible. I do not want to be anywhere else than the Jersey Shore with my family and friends for a summer full of beaching, water-skiing and fun before I head back to Hofstra to begin my senior year of college.

“How was transitioning back to reality?”

Despite popular assumption, coming back was super easy. I luckily had a job lined up as soon as I got home, quite literally. I walked in my door at 11 p.m. on June 25, and started work at 8:30 a.m. the next morning. Jumping into work and a schedule made it simple and necessary to transition myself back to home life.

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Fourth of July at home for the first time in two years

“What was your jetlag like?”

Luckily I slept/cried for almost the whole duration of my first two flights, and stayed awake for my last, so my sleep pattern was not too far off. Waking up early the next morning for work was easy and I almost flawlessly transitioned into Eastern Standard Time. Of course I was tired, but my sleep schedule was nowhere near backwards like some people thought.

“How sad are you to be back?”

As cliché as this sounds, I am sad that my adventure is over, but so thankful I have heaps (still using popular Australian terms) of memories to look back on and new friends to outlive these memories. Like I said, there is nowhere I would rather be in the summer than New Jersey with my friends, family, awesome job and of course, my pets. If I returned in winter, it may be a different story…

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The best part about coming home

“Where to next?”

People who know me know I will go anywhere I can if I have the chance. I plan on staying in America for quite some time to finish my undergraduate studies and earn some of the money I blew through back. However, the next large trip I want to take is a cross-country road trip through America. I feel like I have seen more of “the world” than I have of my own country, so I’d like to focus on that.

Coming home after living in another country for months can be a huge change, but I think it is all about perspective. Yes, I was upset to leave the new life I created while away, but I had so much goodness waiting for me at home. It has been a beautiful and crazy ride, and I plan to continue my journey of world and self-exploration one day at a time.

1 Year of Whitmanythoughts

A few days ago, a sweet little memory popped up on Facebook: my first blog post on Whitmanythoughts. I cannot believe it has been a year since I started writing about my travels. I feel like I have written so much, yet have so much more to share.

I have expressed over and over again how amazing of a year it has been and how thankful I am for all I have gotten to experience. From traveling around Europe for two weeks with my grandfather to skiing in Park City, Utah with my dad, it has been a thrilling ride.

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I often wonder what will happen to my blog after I finish my time here in Australia. I know I won’t actually be traveling for quite some time, so I won’t have so many new and exciting things to write about. I can definitely see my content changing a bit to adapt to my (not as cool) lifestyle back at home. I do want to focus on my feelings a bit more and incorporate them into my writing so it is not so cut and dry. In the end, I realize I control my blog and as long as I like it, everything is dandy. In reality, every day is a new adventure, and I know I will have things to talk about.

Plus, this is WhitmanyTHOUGHTS for a reason: I have oodles of thoughts and I want to share them. I have so many things constantly swirling through my mind that I would love to turn into “thought” posts. I am not looking for fame with this site, and I am so happy with the 100 followers that I have. Although it would be nice to turn this blog into something larger in the future, I am so contented writing for the sake of my own memory and for my family.

I do have so much to still share. I have posts from my weekend getaways in Italy last summer as well as my extended trips in Australia this semester saved in my computer, yearning to see the light. Although I won’t be “traveling,” I have so many exciting things coming up in the second half of the year, from summer at the shore to a Fall Concert Series 2.0 to hopefully spending some time with international visitors…but I will just keep it at that.

My global travels may soon be over, but the adventures continue. Life is beautiful.  It is not always perfect, but one thing I have been reminding myself is that life does not give me obstacles that I cannot handle. Here’s to the last year of travel, here’s to my time left in Australia and here is to the next year of Whitmanythoughts.

Whitmanythought1: This has been the most epic year of my life and I am so thankful.

Whitmanythought2: How do I still have friends on Facebook with all the posts I share?

Whitmanythought3: Can I just keep travelling for another year?

The South Pacific Awaits

As I sit here ad type, I cannot believe that I am on a plane to my next journey: a semester studying abroad at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, with an additional week-long course in Suva, Fiji to start off my adventure.

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People often ask me, “Why Australia?” I honestly could not see myself studying anywhere besides Australia. I have always wanted to visit the land down under, and I cannot foresee myself easily flying there for a vacation anytime soon. So, I figured studying there was my best bet to visit Aussie land for a long period of time. Plus, I have always said I want to escape to and island, and that is exactly what I am doing!

Many people also do not know that I am going to Fiji to start the trip. There is no rhyme or reason as to why I am studying there first. Quite simply, there was an option to take a week long course at the University of the South Pacific, so of course I took it. Seeing more of the world? Sign me up! I am excited to visit, as I know I will be immersing myself in Fijian culture by staying with a family as well as small excursions AIFS has planned for the handful of students partaking in this extra outing.

People also ask me if I know anyone going on the trip. I know absolutely no one. This is an independent American company that connects students to universities abroad, so any college student can apply. Luckily, I have been connected with people in my program through a Facebook group, and a girl took the time to add all of us to a GroupMe, so we have been able to group message each other leading up to the trip. The wonders of technology!

I am definitely nervous for what the future holds, mostly because I have no idea what to expect in Fiji and I am still working on class registration for Murdoch University. But hey, I have my Visa, Nadi and Perth are expecting me, and I have a smile on my face and an eagerness to see what the next few months have in store.

Goodbye America!

I am doing it again; I am fleeing the country. After a life-changing experience studying abroad in Rome for the summer of 2016, I made up my mind that I would try to study abroad during the spring semester of 2017.

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I actually tried studying abroad twice before: once during the summer of 2015 and then for a semester during my sophomore year. The first trip got cancelled and the second trip was costly and I was having issues with professors signing off on the classes I would take abroad. By then, I decided I would not pursue a whole semester abroad and would be thankful if I could at least go on Hofstra’s Lawrence Herbert School of Communication trip to Italy. All things happen for a reason, right?

Well, after my splendid experience in Rome, the travel bug was deep in my veins and I knew I had to try to go somewhere else. I browsed a few programs online with some recommendations form friends who had studied abroad before. With some research, I decided I would use AIFS (American Institute for Foreign Study). Not only was it cheaper than a semester at Hofstra, but the company offered a wide array of destinations and additional excursions.

I was so stoked for this that I planned out all the classes I would take, and I even tried getting some classes signed off for, but the study abroad director at my school said it was too early and to come back in the fall. This was around the same time I finalized my trip to Rome and bought my ticket to London.

Fall came around and as I was ready to start having classes approved, I realized that most of the courses that I planned on taking were not no longer offered. How could this happen? I went into panic mode and although I did not think I would actually be able to study abroad in my dream destination, I applied for the program and crossed my fingers that something would work out.

Long story short, I was accepted into the program, I scavenged through the university’s course offerings and with much determination, I got a handful of courses approved. After much paperwork, many emails, worried thoughts about my financial situation and an approved visa, I am off to see new sights.

Where to? Perth, Australia.

Why I Started Traveling in 2016

2016 was an absolute whirlwind of a year, and despite all the angst towards 2016 I have seen on social media, I am so thankful for everything I experienced—I can’t believe I can say it—last year.

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Repoting for Hofstra Today

My 2016 (and now 2017) was motivated by what I call my “mid-college crisis.” I had a great first two years of college, don’t get me wrong. I joined a sorority, a pre-professional fraternity, Hofstra’s radio station, did some reporting for Hofstra Today, the school of communications’ news show, started a job and had two internships. I made many friends, better yet, family, and continued my fantastic friendships with people from home that have molded my college experience into something better than I could have imagined for myself.

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My friend and I seeing On the Town our freshman year

When I went to college, I set a goal for myself to focus a teeny bit less on school and more on making memories. This may seem fairly cliché, but I decided I worked a little bit too hard in high school and I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss out on any opportunities in college. So with that mindset, I ventured through my first two years of college spending much time in New York City and engaging with my friends at school. One and a half years flew by and I was nearing the end of my sophomore year. I was pleased with my grades (almost straight A’s) and the myriad of incredible memories I accumulated. I was fairly satisfied with my school-social life balance, but I was not thrilled.

Something did not feel quite right. I was restless—more so than usual. I was doing so many entertaining things, but I wasn’t seeing anything different. With some deliberation, I made up my mind that I could not stay in the country during the summer and I had to leave. That was the only thing that would cure my restlessness. So, with the very fortunate support of
my family, I signed up for a study abroad trip in Italy for the summer of 2016. I was finally traveling; something I have always found pure joy in. I could not wait.

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Olivia and I

Around the same time that I was finalizing my study abroad plans for the summer, a very special person came into my life: my little in my pre-professional fraternity. Just like
myself, who was still restless and ready to leave, Olivia loved traveling and had just returned from studying abroad in London. Olivia and I got along so easily as we spoke about our yearn to travel and she explained how much she wanted to go back to visit her new family in London. You can probably figure out what happened next. By the last few weeks of the spring semester of my sophomore year, we purchased tickets for London for January of 2017.

My family thought I was nuts, and maybe I am. Or, maybe, I just have a longing to see the world while I can. Regardless of the case, 2016 brought me some of the best travels of my life and ignited my ache to continue traveling, which will definitely not end after London.

Opportunities are Meant for Taking

When I wrote the article, “How to Plan a Study Abroad Trip,” for my first internship last year, I had never actually been on a study abroad trip. I wrote it with the advice of others who have planned trips abroad, common sense and with a hope that I too would one day get to travel abroad for my studies. That time is less than a month away.

I have always been ready to go wherever, whenever. I recall playing at my friend’s house in elementary school, who then invited me on a trip to Maryland with her family the next day. I went in a heartbeat. My first time traveling outside America was also in elementary school when I flew to Jamaica for a family vacation. blog1My first time traveling to Europe was with my Pop Pop, when he took me to Paris in sixth grade (How was that almost ten years ago?). I did not find out until recently that apparently I begged him to take me to the City of Love for years. I’m pretty sure I got the travel bug from him, and I am sure glad that it bit me.

Some people don’t have the opportunity to travel abroad, while some don’t see a good reason to. There are some people who enjoy a relaxing beach vacation (me) and others who appreciate a fast-paced and heavy itinerary  (also me). My point in all of this is that I try to take advantage of every opportunity I can and to live life to the fullest. I have been so fortunate with my life experiences thus far, and I hope to be able to expand my horizons through travel throughout my life.

No matter what it is, as long as it is legal, I encourage all people to find something they enjoy and to pursue it. Whether it is seeing concerts, trading cards, singing karaoke, or anything else, it is important to have something that makes one’s soul lively. Taking advantage of every opportunity I can is my way of helping my soul stay lively.

“To travel is to live.”

I saw this quote by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. I do have multiple other things that make me “live,” but traveling is definitely one of them. This resonates with the feelings that exploring new places gives me.

I cannot wait to see where my travels take me whether it’s through a study abroad program or by own endeavors, and I would love for you to come along for the ride.