Thoughts on an Unexpected Summer

Summer 2017 turned out differently than I expected. When I was in Australia, I was set on making a bucket list filled with adventures like camping and visiting waterfalls. I thought I would be posting my videos and blogging about my awesome recent trips. However, by the time I got back to New Jersey, I was worn out. I just wanted to sit on the beach, and that’s exactly what I did.

20545523_10214416925201795_5372893438475473295_o-2.jpg
A view from my summer

This summer has opened my eyes to a few things:

Schedules

I am notorious for being a diehard supporter of my paper planner in which I write everything. In fact, a new planner was one of my first purchases I made in America. It was the end of June and also the end of my planner, and I knew my life was over as soon as the calendar ended. However, when I bought my new pretty planner, I did not use it and reverted back into my old high school days of just memorizing everything in my head.  It’s summer, so of course I don’t have many obligations, but not using my planner really helped me feel relaxed. I wasn’t concerned about when I was doing what, yet my time was always filled with family and friends. I realized it is okay to not have everything planned to the tee. However, as the school year approaches, I will return to my highly organized days, but with a higher appreciation for those numbered boxes without anything scribbled in them.

Relationships

Another huge reason I didn’t blog as much as I wanted to is because I went through a huge break-up, which no one would realize because I don’t talk about that much on here. Earlier in the year, I said I went through heartbreak; little did I know that was only an iota of the abundance of pain I felt in my heart this summer. However, it is something that everyone needs to experience and I am glad I did. I solidified my thoughts that if it is meant to be it will be, and if you think someone is bad for you, you should go with your gut feeling. Trusting my instincts is a huge thing I struggle with, but I know I am now going to place higher value on my own opinion.

Where I want to be

As I have said before, I have really been all over the place this past year, physically and mentally. When I started college, I desired to move to the Big Apple as soon as I could. It’s not that I don’t want the city life any longer, but I am so happy with my home in New Jersey with my family and friends. I love where I live because I can commute to Philadelphia and NYC in less than an hour and a half, and return to the beautiful shore where all my memories are. I won’t stay here forever, and maybe I will leave and come back. I am in no rush to make any huge location changes; unless it is to take another trip around the world, of course.

Life is insanely beautiful. Sometimes it is unfair, and sometimes it seems to be playing on your side. Regardless, everything that happens is a lesson and it is up to the receiver to decide what to do with the newfound knowledge.

Whitmanythought 1: Why is summer over?

Whitmanythought 2: Get motivated for the school year!

 

Advertisements

Why You Should Visit the Jersey Shore

I think the Jersey Shore is a magical place, especially in the summer. The coast of New Jersey consists of about 140 miles of beaches and boardwalks, but I am biased to the Toms River/Seaside Heights and Park area, of course, because that’s where I was raised. From boating to beaching, I seem to never get bored at this summer paradise and I hope others feel they could take advantage of some of my favorite activities around the area:

14055170_1476753569020164_2845461802334733848_n

Boating

If I am not lounging on the beach on a beautiful summer day, I am most likely on my boat. My favorite activity is waking up early to ski on the river with my dad and grandfather by 7:00 a.m. to take advantage of the glassy water. Other activities people can do include tubing, eating at dockside restaurants and anchoring for the day to enjoy food, drinks and swimming. Tices Shoal is a popular spot to hold a raft-up, but if you do not want the crowds, the area behind the governor’s beach house at Island Beach State Park is also fantastic.

You don’t own a boat? No worries! There are plenty of spots to rent from: Route 37 Water Sports, The Dock Outfitters and more.

Beaching

From Seaside Heights, Lavallette, Island Beach State Park and more, there are so many spots from which to choose. I can always be found at Seaside Park with my seasonal badge which costs $60 or $55 before a certain date. Senior season passes are $20, single day passes are $10, and weekly are $35. Finally, children 11 and younger and those with military I.D. are free. Time to soak up that sun!

14046045_1477925775569610_8165415636122373229_n.jpg

Sailing

Do you prefer a more relaxed cruise on the water? Try using one of the best natural resources we have: wind. There are plenty of areas from which to charter sailboats, so go ahead and get out there!

Parks

The general Toms River area is full of parks and outdoor escapes, so if the beach or boat don’t draw you in, you can try other places to explore: The Barnegat Lighthouse, Double Trouble State Park and Cattus Island County Park, just to name a few. I have spent countless days at these places, and they never get old.

IMG_0866.jpg

Amusement

I grew up visiting the Seaside Heights boardwalk, and despite the wild reputation it received from MTV’s Jersey Shore, I can confidently say that partying is not what it’s all about. We rose up from literal ashes after Hurricane Sandy demolished our boardwalk in 2012 and a fire burnt the rest of it down the following year, and we are back and better than ever. From arcades and eateries to brand new rides, this is a place to have fun for those of all ages.

I could go on and on about the great things that the shore has to offer, but I hope this gets some people thinking about how great the Jersey coast really is! Regardless of where I go, I will always remember Toms River for the beautiful place that it is.

Whitmanythought 1: There are so many things to do around here I barely scratched the surface.

Whitmanythought 2: Why do I ever have to leave?

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.

Untitled-2.jpg

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?

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.

IMG_1030.JPG

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: Rottnest Island Day 2

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

IMG_1249.jpg

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.

IMG_1247.jpg

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.

IMG_1236.JPG

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!

IMG_1245.JPG

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.

IMG_6923.jpg
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.

IMG_6953.jpg
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.

IMG_7029.jpg

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.

IMG_1111.JPG

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.

IMG_1077.JPG

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: Weekend Whereabouts

Another beautiful weekend in Straya is down in the books.

Friday began with of course, a fantastic pancake breakfast. I had a few too many, but I had to eat enough to cover the pancake-less two Fridays that are in my near future. I spent Friday relaxing and chatting by the pool with Nicole and Jordan. It was my first time really spending any time at the pool, and it was actually quite satisfactory.

IMG_1659.JPG
Jordan and Nicole by the pool

That night, Brian, Ethan, Sierra, Nicole and I ventured to South Perth to Confluence, which is an art exhibit set up along the water. According to the Facebook event page, it is a “dense network of cone-shaped forms” with responsive lighting that illuminates the path as one approaches a cone. We were warned not to go, and I understand why. It really was not “dense,” nor interactive. The most interactivity I saw was all the little kids punching and jumping on the art, and ignorant parents encouraging the the kids to run wild. The view of Perth lit up at night was worth it, though.

IMG_1668.jpg
Sierra, Nicole and I at Confluence

Saturday was another day spent at the beach with Sierra and Nicole. This was the most gorgeous beach day by far. There was a slight breeze, only a few clouds and the temperature was perfect for warming up to go into the water, without dripping sweat. The water was crystal clear and gorgeous. I felt like I was on a tropical island.

IMG_1679.jpg
I was excited about the pretty shell I found

We headed back from the beach to go food shopping and to buy some items for our upcoming 10-day trip. Sierra and I made it back to campus in time to participate in a village craft event, where we made dream catchers.

dream.jpg
My masterpiece

To end the already successful day, Sierra, Jordan, Nicole and I headed out for the night to Tiger Lil’s in Perth for a girls’ night out.

IMG_1693.JPG
Left to right: Me, Sierra, Nicole, Jordan

Finally, to top off the fantastic weekend, I met up with a nice guy I met on the way to Newport last week to go cliff jumping at Blackwall Reach into the Swan River. It was the highest I had ever jumped; he said it was about 8 meters, although it seemed much higher. Regardless of the height, it was super fun and I also enjoyed climbing up the rocks and wood to get back up.

IMG_1706.jpg
View of the Swan River from Blackwell Reach

We ended the night by going to my first casual dining chain restaurant in Australia, Sizzler’s, where I had a steak and calamari combo platter, preceded by great salad, and followed by a delicious apple crisp dessert. We spent some time at City Beach before he dropped me off at Murdoch.

My fourth weekend in Perth turned out to be fantastic. I feel so grateful I was able to spend so much time with my American friends and enjoy a popular local spot with my new Australian friend.