Thoughts on Turning 21: Continued

If you told me I would be celebrating my 21st birthday in Australia, I would have deemed you crazy. While I was in Italy last summer, another person on the trip celebrated his 21st birthday at the Amalfi Coast, and I thought about how grand it must be to celebrate your birthday in such a fantastic place. Little did I know that I would get to feel exactly what it is like a year later (it feels awesome).

I already gushed about how incredible the past year has been in a previous post, and touched on the fact that I felt so lucky this birthday, but I really just need to explain how fortunate I truly feel. I have never felt rich as many times as I have in the last few months in my entire life. This is not rich with money, of course, but rich with friends and happiness.

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Birthday dinner

When I planned my trip toAustralia, I did not intend to do anything for my birthday. I thought everyone can already drink and I will be with people I just met, so why would it matter? Well, my friends showed me it mattered.

First, I am one of the luckiest people ever because I get to celebrate such an important day in such an incredible place. I’m in Australia, baby!

Second, my friends made it clear that I would not be doing nothing for my birthday. As soon as I met them in Fiji and I told them when my birthday was, they were down to go out. I told them I did not want to do anything, and they thought I was crazy.

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Out with my girls on my birthday

Third, my friends went out of their way to make sure I had a fantastic birthday. Nicole said we could do whatever I wanted, and when we were talking about my party, she decided to create a Facebook page for it, complete with a picture of Justin Bieber as the cover. I got a Facebook event for my birthday. Can you imagine?! Stivia, Hannah and Courtney’s housemate, Brent, really helped me out with deciding where to go. He put time aside during his busy week to email and call prospective places and would give me the low down afterwards. I am not even super close with him, and he cared about the night as if it were for him.

Before we went out to dinner on my birthday, Nicole was in my room ready to surprise me with chocolate cupcakes in pink wrappers and two chocolate bars. She even had a bunch of candles and sang “Happy Birthday” to me with Sierra. There I was, 21 years old, getting sung to by people I had just met, but might as well have always been inIMG_1430 my life. Unbelievable!

Before my birthday party, I went over to Jordan’s where she was kind enough to do my makeup. When I walked in, she had a present for me from her, Nicole and Sierra wrapped in, of course, a pink and black bag. Another surprise!

When I got to my party, there were pink and black balloons that Jordan and Nicole were kind enough to blow up for me to make the place festive. People showed up throughout the night and I felt like a million dollars.

The night out was incredible. Sierra stayed by me the whole night to make sure everything went smoothly. I felt like she was my assistant attached to me ready to fight off anyone who came too close. I am sure we just looked like a bunch of featherless peacocks trying to show off our feathers, but I felt pretty good.

I could just go on and on about how special my night was. It would not have been so extraordinary without my incredible friends, though. They truly made me feel so special and I cannot thank them enough. It is easy to celebrate one day, but with these people by my side, it is easy to celebrate every day.

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Oz: Birthday Week

The last few days I have felt nothing but loved and lucky. Turning 21 is a time I will never forget.

I started the celebration by heading to the beach Monday. I was supposed to go Tuesday, on my actual birthday, but we had a feedback session with the vice president of AIFS to attend. This was my first time skipping class, but it was only a lecture, which is recorded and available online to watch. It was a beautiful quick escape with my roomie.

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Well I was already fun, but now I am also 21! Tuesday was a low-key, but great day. I spent most of my day, and my week, talking to friends from home. I only had my wellbeing class Tuesday. This class focuses on the promotion of and facts around physical and mental wellbeing, but that day we got to experience what I think a wellbeing class should be: yoga. I got to take a free yoga course for class—what a birthday treat! I have never been good at yoga between my lack of flexibly and my racing mind, but I am still glad I could try it out again.

Tuesday night, Sierra, Brian, Nicole and I went out for my birthday dinner; or should I say dessert? We went to an eatery called San Churro, and it serves only churros and sweets. We split a platter of 18 churros with six sauces (dark, light and white chocolate, hazelnut spread, caramel, and salted caramel) and I tried a salted caramel popcorn hot chocolate. It was the sweetest dinner I ever had! Then, Brian and I split a savory salted caramel lava cake.  We literally had dessert for dinner and for dessert! My dream. I could feel the sugar rush coming fast and strong.

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Nicole said she had to buy me a drink since it was my birthday, and she didn’t let me argue, since apparently her surprising me with chocolate cupcakes was not enough. So afterwards, we walked the strip and settled at the National Hotel bar to listen to some live music. I had no worries and no complaints!

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Wednesday was an average day of class for me, but nighttime was nowhere near average. We invited a bunch of friends over to Courtney, Stivia and Hannah’s apartment and had a birthday party complete with pink and black balloons, my favorite colors! I could not believe I was all the way in Australia having a birthday party for my big day, and that I had made enough friends that cared to celebrate. Thankful does not even describe how I felt.

After my birthday party, we took the train to Raffles, a hotel and bar on the water. I was nervous that it would not be a satisfactory place to celebrate, but it ended up being mint. Everyone had a blast! I am so delighted everything worked out so well.

Between last weekend and this week, this has to be up there with the best birthdays ever (maybe the ponies at my sixth birthday has it beat). The best part is that the celebration is not ending here—Friday morning I was set to depart for a weekend getaway to the Southwest region of Western Australia!

Thoughts on Turning 21

I remember turning 10 years old and having my mom say, “You’ll be in double digits for the rest if your life!” I thought that was scary. I recall becoming a teenager and having some friends over for some Wii Olympics. I remember deciding whether or not I should have a sweet 16. Turning 18 was an exciting day because I was finally a “legal adult.” My friend surprised me with balloons and I had more friends over for a bonfire that night. Then, I left my teenage years behind and said hello to “the best years of my life.” Now, I am 21 and I am speechless.

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I turned 20 last year and I had just confirmed that I would be studying abroad during the summer. I did not do anything special on my birthday, but formal was right after it, so I counted that as my celebration. I was ready to take on a new year and navigate through whatever came my way. I had no idea that 20 would treat me so well. I visited Costa Rica with my father and sister, explored Europe with my Pop Pop, I lived in Italy for a month and made some memories that are not even comparable to those from Australia. I landed my first internship at a big company and I even tried the college dating scene last fall. Then, I was lucky enough to ski in Park City, Utah for the first time with my dad and head to London with one of my best friends for two weeks. Of course, it was not all happy—I lost one of my closest friends growing up and experienced heartbreak—but that is all part of life. Regardless, I am in awe when I think about the last year and I am forever grateful for it.

I usually don’t get too stoked for my birthday because it just means I am one year older. Of course it is always exciting to have people reach out to wish me a nice day and have a bit of attention, but I never got extremely into it. Although I usually don’t get too wild about my birthday, this year was different. With this birthday, I would finally be “legal” in the eyes of American nightlife. I would have finished 10% of my twenties. This year, I am surrounded by people I basically just met who told me I had no choice but to celebrate my birthday and it feels awesome. This year, I am actually eager to become another year older because it means I am growing, learning and experiencing.

I feel so much love this birthday from all around the world. I had people from America  texting me “Happy early birthday,” I had people from New Zealand and Europe wish me a great day and I had all my friends and acquaintances here showing me love. Nothing is better than feeling loved and celebrated on my special day. It is pretty cool, because I feel like I have two birthdays since it is May 2 in Australia 12 hours before it is in America. I’ll have to keep this in mind during my birthday celebrations in the future.

I am so grateful for all the things I got to experience, all the new people I got to meet and all the new places I got to see during my twentieth year of life. It will be hard to top what I think was the best year of my life, but who knows what the future holds. With that being said, I am so thrilled to see what this year has in store for me. Wow, 21.

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: Second Week of Classes

I am definitely adjusting to the new style of classes and am much less stressed than last week. I actually switched from my indigenous studies course to a photography course. I did this because neither course will count towards my degree, and I can do much more with some extra photography skills than historical knowledge. It’s not that I am not interested in the history of the indigenous people to Western Australia, I just thought that photography would be much less stressful. This is the first time I have ever switched classes. Usually I would make myself stay, but I am trying to enjoy myself as much as possible here.

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A view of campus

Monday night was by far the best night of the week, and most definitely the best night of my time here in Australia so far. Tuesday was awesome because after class I went to a time management workshop. Although I am pretty good with organizing my life, I figured the small workshop could pump up my motivation. Following that was Italian Night put on by the village, and I was fortunate enough to indulge in delicious pasta carbonara with bacon, spinach and mushroom. I wish I took a photo!

Wednesday was another night at Newport in Freo. I had respectfully declined the last two times my friends went out, so I promised them I would. I actually had a fantastic time and it made me look forward to going out again, whenever that will be. Nightlife is not always my scene, but I can always have a really good time dancing the night away.

Finally, Thursday was a low-key day of class and catching up on various things such as ordering an external hard drive and filling out an academic application. I rewarded myself for getting through another week by working out twice and having a huge chocolate ice cream sundae, courtesy of the village.

I am glad I am adjusting to the academics here, and I can say that I am enjoying my classes so far. I am also remembering where my classes are more easily than I expected. Of course, the thing getting me through the week is Pancake Friday, and the fact that I leave for a 10-day trip in one week. Cheers!

Oz: Surf’s Up!

Surf’s up down under! One of the days I was looking forward to the most was here: surf lessons! I have surfed a few times in my life, but I am absolutely horrible at it. I was looking forward to having a lesson with other beginners so I would not feel as ashamed of my poor skills out in the water.

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Surfing actually went very well, and differently than I imagined. The waves were no more than two feet high, and they were crashing one on top of the next. These are not ideal waves to surf by any means, but they worked out better than I expected. There really was no time to paddle into a wave, because they were crashing so frequently, so it was more of catching any wave I could and hoping for the best. Apparently, this worked out for me because one instructor told me I looked like I was brushing invisible dirt off my shoulder when I stood up so casually, and that it looked easy for me. A few other people told me I was better than anyone, so that definitely felt nice. I hope I can come home this summer and have the confidence to try again.

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That night, we planned a surprise birthday party for my roommate, who was turning 20 the next day. It was black-out theme, so we all dressed in black, including her, who had no idea what she was getting herself into. The party ended up being a huge success.

From surfing to a surprise party, it was another eventful and fun Saturday.

Oz: The Beach Life

Luckily I do not have classes on Fridays, so you can guess where I ended up: the beach. That was after the free chocolate chip pancakes I ate for breakfast with Nutella and syrup, of course. It definitely seems like a sweet life, that’s for sure!

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After Nicole, Jordan and I returned from a splendid time at Leighton Beach, I cooked for myself and got ready for the evening’s festivity. The on-campus tavern was finally open after a renovation, and it was holding a beginning of the semester beach-themed party.

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The party was not as happening a I had hoped, but there were free cookies that I indulged in and some pretty good music to dance to. I ended up staying until the end and then spent some time with Brian and fun people he met that night.

A day at the beach, and a beach-themed party. The beach life is the best life!