Oz Through Sara’s Eyes: Northwest Outback Trip Part 2

This video features many clips of of quad-riding along the coast of Coral Bay as the sun set, which was an incredible add-on that only my friend group did, some aboriginal artwork sighting and waterfall climbing at Karijini National Park and a whole lot of smiling.

As I said last week, I took an abundance of video during my nine day Northwest outback trip and I could not just throw away the footage, so I made several videos. This is the second video in my three-part outback trip documentation. Let me know what you think!

Whitmanythought: I would sleep in a van all over again if I could just go back to this trip

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Oz Through Sara’s Eyes: Northwest Outback Trip Part 1

At this time last year, I had just gotten back from a 9-day trip to Australia’s Northwest outback. The trip was planned by Murdoch University’s study abroad and exchange office in tandem with the company Australian Adventure Travel and I was fortunate enough to get a spot on the trip along with about 40 other students.

We got to see so many amazing sights, from bluffs that dropped right off into a roaring ocean and gorges that snaked through red rock to old indigenous wall carvings and new animals of which we had never heard. We explored so many beautiful places from beaches and national parks to reefs and caves. We had early mornings and late nights. We ate surprisingly tasty food and had many laughs.

On the other hand, almost everything that could go wrong on this trip went wrong. We ended up getting stuck in a three-day cyclone which made us leave the trip early and cut us off from exploring everything we could. We definitely roughed it by sleeping in damp tents and sometimes not even having access to running water.

All of this combined, though, is what made this outback trip so memorable, even if some of it was uncomfortable. I mean, who gets to say they got stuck in a cyclone in the outback of Australia? I captured so much footage from this trip that I actually made three videos for it: two containing video from my above water adventures, and one video dedicated solely to my underwater explorations.

Here is the first video to my three-part Northwest outback adventure.

Whitmanythought 1: The song I used says, “It’s a beautiful life,” and man, that is exactly how I felt on this trip.

Whitmanythought 2: I keep imagining the deep black night sky dusted with shining stars. It was the most beautiful sky I had ever seen.

Oz Through Sara’s Eyes: O-Week

The time I have been so excited for since I first started rolling out videos from Australia is finally here…I am posting my videos for public viewing! I have had some of these videos completed for over a year now, so you can imagine how much suspense has built up to show people my experiences through motion picture.

The first video to my “Oz Through Sara’s Eyes” series is about orientation week, or “O-Week.” This is a week prior to the start of classes, when students are learning about the rules and expectations of dorm and university life. The week also included many trips, such as a beach visit, a night tour and a wildlife park adventure.

I remember being so confused my first two days at Murdoch, and then slowly learning information and acclimating to my new life. I would take two weeks’ worth of confusion if it meant going back to my parallel universe.

I hope you enjoy my videos as much as I enjoyed shooting and editing them!

Keeping up with AIFS Part 2

This semester is flying. We are almost halfway through March and I really don’t know how that happened. Then again, I never even know what day of the week it even is.

I have been overloaded with work, my internship, classes, extra-curricular activities, and other obligations, but I have thankfully found time to keep my beloved blog updated. Plus, I began writing celebrity and lifestyle content for Her Campus, and online college magazine targeted at female students!

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Take me back!!!

For the last month, I have also been reminded that my life a year ago was way cooler than it is now, as Facebook’s “Today in the Past” feature shows me every day all my old blog posts and pictures from my semester in Australia. I bet you know what I want to type next: something along the lines of “I wish I was still there!” Well, you are right and it is true.

I actually just had my AIFS representative from headquarters come to campus to meet with me about my experience as an AIFS Alumni Ambassador and to finally meet with my campus’ study abroad director. It is really mind-blowing to me that AIFS actually sent a person to check in on me, who has encouraged me and helped me throughout the year. The post-AIFS and study abroad experience has truly been incredible.

As part of the ambassador program, I am required to write at least one blog post for AIFS and create one video for it. I thought I would share my AIFS content in case it could help someone out. Below are the posts I created, followed by my video:

There is a reason why I wanted to talk about AIFS: it is now time to start sharing my videos from Australia!

The next time you hear from me will be when I post a video that takes you through O-Week (orientation week) before classes started down under. Make sure to stay tuned!

Whitmanythought 1: I am so thankful I chose to study with AIFS

Whitmanythought 2: I am so excited to start sharing my videos!

Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl Victory Parade

What happens when you send an ecstatic journalism student to the first ever Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl parade? Watch to find out.

Whitmanythought 1: I just posted about Philly two times in a row. What’s going on?!

Whitmanythought 2: Yes, it was worth skipping my responsibilities for the day and driving home at 10 p.m. in the middle of the week for this.

A Reflection of My Blog 2.0

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I am laughing at myself for calling my blog “mediocre” last year. I mean, it still is, but guess what—it is still making me happy!

Like I said in my “reflection” post that I wrote just over a year ago, I have thought about changing my blog into a “.com,” but I decided against it. Why? I have no idea what the future holds and I do not know how much time I will be able to put into my blog after graduation and once I start graduate school. What if I have nothing about which to write? What if I never leave Hofstra’s campus again and will have no more stories to tell? I’m kidding of course; I know that will not happen.

As I reflect on my blog again, (because why not), I wonder if the person sitting next to me is reading anything I type (go ahead, it’s free advertisement). I also wonder how many people have actually read my posts or even benefitted from them. I know a few have, and that makes me feel accomplished. This of course is not the ultimate travel blog that is going to tell you how to explore every city around the world, but I do hope people who come across it hear my voice, relate to it and it helps them in some way.

I am actually quite proud of myself for keeping up with the blog this past semester. After my hiatus in the summer after Australia, I told myself I would not let myself go without posting with the excuse of school in my way. From my transitioning tips post (which may be my biggest hit) to my Fall Concert Series 2.0, I published reviews, thoughts and advice of which I am proud.

I am super excited to continue my blog and see what direction it takes as a chapter of my life closes and a new one begins. To finish this post off the way I did last year, I will leave you with this: “To whoever reads this, I hope I have interested you.”

Whitmanythought 1: February is against me. It does not want me to post. I shall persevere!

 

Spring 2018: Not Australia

This time last year, I had just gotten back from an incredible two weeks in London and was preparing to study abroad in Australia. It is absolutely crazy to me to think that was my life just 12 months ago. Believe me, I want it back! However, I cannot dwindle on the past.

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I am saddened that I cannot declare that I am studying abroad in some exotic place this year, but I do have some things that may excite some (mostly my family). I am heading into my last semester of undergraduate at Hofstra University and I have just begun an internship with NBC Weekend TODAY. Although I just started, I have already been given so much to do, such as researching, running updated scripts to the control room during the show and logging music the show uses so royalties can be paid. It is a weekend morning show, so I am in New York City by five in the morning on Saturdays and six on Sundays, and I go in two to four times a week.

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Me in the studio at NBC TODAY

Due to my hectic schedule this semester (I am still juggling my sorority, fraternity, my school’s television station and a job on top of being an intern and full-time student), I will not be able to produce as much content as I did last semester (unless I can). Therefore, I plan to post a new video from Australia almost every week, one year after I experienced such incredible travels. My goal is to start this in March, as I do have some posts from winter break to share and maybe one or two new posts to type up in February.

I have said before: this is no top-of-the-line travel blog, but it is something I hold important to me and enjoy doing. So, with that being said, I hope some people take a liking to my upcoming posts and Australian adventures!

Whitmanythought 1: I cannot wait to share my videos! Most of them have been done since I was in Australia

Whitmanythought 2: Maybe I should just delay graduation and study abroad again

 

London: One Year Later

One year ago today, I was spending my last night in London and begrudgingly preparing to leave behind the most exciting and fulfilling two weeks of my life.

Today, I began my new internship at NBC Weekend TODAY which will hopefully cultivate an exciting and fulfilling semester.

Two years ago, I never thought I would have just finished frolicking around London with great friends. One year ago, I would never believe I would be making my way into an incredible pre-professional opportunity. Isn’t it crazy what time can do?

Here is the video that documents the travels of my dear trip to London in 2017.

Whitmanythought 1: Take me back to London, please.

Whitmanythought 2: I feel so under-qualified for this internship.

How to Budget Your Money While Studying Abroad

Studying abroad, in my biased opinion, is one of the best investments you’ll ever make. That being said, it is an investment that involves large sums of money. Before you leave, you will have your visa, plane ticket(s), tuition, and accommodation paid. However, you will be paying your living expenses as you go, which can be a daunting task. I am here to show you exactly how I managed my money while abroad so you can have an inside look at what your expenses may resemble.

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Have a place for your budget

The first step in managing any budget well is making a spreadsheet. This can be written on paper or saved on a computer. I used the Numbers application that comes on my Mac to create a spreadsheet and saved it onto my desktop for easy access. I have an example of a spread sheet using Microsoft Excel below.

Categorize

Something I did that made seeing and handling my budget super easy was breaking my expenses into categories. I had my budget broken down into:

  • Groceries and Supplies – This was for necessities such as food from the grocery store to toilet paper to my Wi-Fi plan
  • Trips – This accounted for all travel plans I made for my time abroad such as my trips to Rottnest Island and Thailand. This was not set in stone prior to arriving, but a growing list of all the trips I scheduled along the way.
  • Travel – This included all my public transport such as riding the bus and train, which was essential in Perth. You can also include Uber/Lyft and taxi expenses here.
  • Extras – This category was for all the “extras” that were of-the-moment entertainment decisions such as the Justin Bieber concert and music festival I attended, or even just going out to eat.
  • Pre-Paid Card – This is very unique to my circumstance, as AIFS provided me with a debit card that was reloaded with $250 U.S. every month to help offset costs. I kept track of my spending on my own and would compare that to the transactions listed on the card’s website to make sure everything added up.
  • Cash – While abroad, I mostly used card to pay for things. However, I did come over with some cash, and I kept track of my losses when I spent and gains when people repaid me with cash. I do think it is essential to say that most people come with hundreds of dollars of cash, so bring what you feel is necessary. I luckily only needed to use an ATM once when I made a last-minute decision at the end of the trip.

Of course, there are plenty of ways you can break down your budget. Hopefully this guide can help you start that process.

Know Your Budget

The most crucial thing to managing a budget is knowing how much you have to spend. At the top of each category, I wrote a number that I tried not to pass by the end of the trip. If I needed more money for one category, I borrowed from another. Of course, how much you can dedicate to each category is your personal decision. My advice, however, is to give a few hundred dollars to the extras and necessities categories.

Stay Dedicated

 A very important thing to sticking to your budget is to write every single thing you spend money on down, even if it is just a cup of coffee. Be sure to update your budget sheet at least every two days, or you may forget some of your purchases. Also, have it in a visible area so you are forced to remember to update it.

Below is an example of what your budget sheet will look like with the categories, respective budgets and expenses.

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After reading this, I hope you feel a bit relieved and confident to manage your budget while abroad. Remember: stay on top of your budget sheet so you know where your money is going!

How to Buy Gifts for Others While Abroad

It is the season of giving, and if you are abroad or beginning your journey soon, something that may cross your mind is how you will go about buying presents for friends and family. It is easy to get lost in a maze of tourist-aimed souvenir shops and feel at a loss when it comes to making a gift decision. Here is a quick guide to help your gift-buying thought process.

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Make a List

Before you decide what presents to get, you need to know for whom you are shopping. Making a list of friends and family you want to purchase gifts for will give your direction and organization during your present search, which will take some of the stress away. Of course, you can add people on as you go, but it is always efficient to start with a general outline.

Know Your Budget

Knowing how much money you have to spend is vital. Give yourself an overall budget, and then break it down by the money you have to spend on each person. For instance, you may set aside $20 for your mother and maybe $10 for your cousin. Of course, this is all up to you.

Think of the Gift

When it came time to buy presents for people, I knew for whom I wanted to get special items and whom I planned to give general souvenirs. For instance, I had a group of friends I bought a pack of Perth shot glasses for, but there were a few closer friends I wanted to give personalized gifts. Here are a few tips when it comes to buying gifts.

  • Personalize: Getting presents for friends and family is a nice gesture, and of course is not expected. However, if you are purchasing presents, it is better if the person can really use it. I gave shot glasses to my young adult friends who I know could put them to good use. I bought my mom a wine holder with aboriginal design because she loves wine. I got my friend a stone elephant from Thailand because elephants are her favorite animal. I also try getting something that is meaningful to the spot I was in: I bought the elephant from a sanctuary at which I volunteered, for instance.
  • Size: Think about the size of the presents you are buying because you need to fit them all in your suitcase, unless you are willing to send them home separately. When I was in Rome, I brought home tiny bottles of Limoncello for my friends and family to try. I also bought hand-painted bottle stoppers from Tuscany. These were meaningful and useful, and also tiny gifts. Presents do not need to be great in size to be great to give!
  • Durability: Remember that your presents are most likely coming home with you. Get items that can go through some bumps! If you are bringing something fragile home, make sure it is well wrapped and placed in soft items in your suitcase.
  • Customs: There are many restrictions when it comes to bringing items from country to country. For instance, if you are bringing a plant-based product such as a grass fan or wood carving from Fiji to Australia, it needs to have a stamp that says it is treated to be legally transported into the country. Make sure you are aware of these regulations so you do not end up having to throw out your souvenirs or pay a fine.

Keep this list in mind and you will be a pro gift buyer in no time. Happy shopping!